Thinking of upgrading Mac by downgrading

Hey peeps,

So I may need some advice.

I’m a logic user and don’t want to move DAWs.

My current Mac is struggling at the moment so I’m thinking of getting another model. But needs to be under £1000… which is easier said than done with Apple.
My current specs are 2013 iMac i5 8gb. So as you can see I’m shocked it’s lasted this long doing full orchestral works.

I’ve been considering a 2010 Mac tower that I can upgrade the ram, ssd and memory in…


Get a 2012 i7 27” 32gig iMac.

There’s drawbacks to both… from what I can gather I’ll get more ram on the tower but won’t be able to upgrade the software past Mojave which will bottleneck the performance anyway… so I’m not sure how well this will perform… though they are usually i3 processors, they do have up to 8 cores.

The iMac option seems better taking into consideration I’ll have another 5 or so years before Apple stop updating the system but I won’t be able to expand past the 32gig of ram… but that’s also i7 and has 4 cores which should perform well.

So I have this dilemma, could any of you suggest anything or give experience to working on these sl j in can come to a conclusion.?

Thank you for your time it’s very much appreciated!

What’s that, like 1200 USD? I have no idea of all these currency conversions. :stuck_out_tongue:
Anyway, why not save up a bit more and get a better Mac after summer?

I made up my mind to wait until at least their big yearly conference in June to see if they have an announcement of new Macs in the line up, or upgrades I might be interested in. And if there is for example a new iMac announced (with new design) as there have been rumors about, there might be a drop in prices on older iMacs on the refurb market.

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Yes that’s around the conversion rate at the moment aha, maybe a little more?

That could be another option yes. The issue is that even 10 year old Mac models don’t depreciate in value and Apple are notorious for making their prices completely unattainable unless your a millionaire.

Their marketing tactics are basically “if you can’t afford our £10,000 then pick up one of our other macs”. But if you are doing huge scores or working on big projects that process a few things at once, those macs don’t cut it either… at the moment I’m constantly freezing and bouncing tracks… which is fine for making trailer music as if bounce them anyways. I find it better to commit to a bounce anyways, but it’s not good for feature length stuff. I think for now, this is my budget and I’ll have to just use that as I can’t see Mac putting their prices down any further. Who knows, I could be wrong.

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I can tell from my experience that an iMac is definitely a great option (value). My mom has an iMac from 2010 and it’s working incredibly well, when I rebooted it with a new SSD.

I was really shocked, basically like a new computer. 10 years, and it’s still like WOW, really. It’s a small machine with only i3, but for her basic work, it’s more than fine. After opening the iMac, I was shocked as well, how clean it was from inside.

When I compare it to my older MacBook, I cleaned it every single year. The iMac had little dust, but not like the MacBook just after one year. Big difference here. And opening an iMac every year, you just don’t want to do that.

I bought a new iMac from 2017 with i7 and 4 cores, and I love it. The big screen, just wow. I was comparing different options for a new computer as well, literally everything, but then I have decided to go with this insane screen, for music production it’s just a dream, so nice and clear. When I started to add all specs with other machines I have realized that when I have added another screen on the market, I was at the same price point almost, so after all it wasn’t a hard decision.

I think you won’t have any big issues with power really. 4 core and i7 even an 2012 is totally fine. As well as 32 GBs is totally fine, especially if print to midi here and there. Don’t forget that you will have less, maybe 28GB due to that the system eats up some RAM as well. But still, if you have already accomplished your productions with 8, imagine what you could do with 28?! :slight_smile:

Look, I have worked for 8 years with 8GB and had some serious sessions inside, it’s possible. And only i5 with two cores. I believe that an iMac, less power, but better screen is a better investment. And as you said, the updates as well. The cooling is totally fine. There are no big issues with that.


Sounds like you were in a similar position to where I am now.

Yes I’ve done some mammoth (200+) sessions on this that were mostly printed and it was fine. I’m also on a 2 core right now. In terms of music production I’m more concerned with the processor. So I’m mainly looking for an i7 with expandable ram. The ram is a side thought as the cores themselves will give a massive boost anyways. I have been doing some research today and talked to a few people and the consensus so far is to pay a little more for a Mac with more cores but less ram and then upgrade ram later as I need it. Hmm.

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True, more cores will definitely give you more power and less headache, however you have to have in mind that often the DAWs and logic as well sometimes aren’t getting out the max power of your computer even if the tasks are spreaded to all cores. I realized that with S1. So that’s why I don’t care too much about power as I already know that even with a small machine a lot of great stuff still can be accomplished. :slight_smile:

I see people are buying insane powerful machine and still wonder why they don’t perform as they would have liked. It’s software that is behind…

Yeah definitely some truth in that, though I’m regards to logic it’s the ram that’s the bottle neck. If you look at the manual it says that logic at any one time will only use 4gb of Ram. The rest of the processing is “apparently” supposed to be divided between your cores.

This is why I’d rather go for more cores and upgrade ram later. Though I’m a few years I think these sample libraries will get that big we are going to struggle to run them regardless.

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What about the Mac Mini with 6 cores i7? Then you upgrade the RAM yourself.

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That was my thinking too. It’s a small beast. And definitely a great value for that price point. 64GB RAM Max. which is nice. With two screens would be awesome :slight_smile:

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Yes, and you can actually upgrade RAM yourself, which is of course much cheaper. It takes some tools, but not difficult. Also, if you already have screens, or want another format than iMac perhaps extra wide screen…then the Mac Mini makes sense. :slight_smile:

Thank you for your suggestions this is helping a lot.

I can’t upgrade the ram on the Mac I have otherwise I would have done that aha, but yes that’s my plan if I get another soon. Much cheaper to get an upgradable system wnd do it myself. Right now that’s not possible as there’s non out there that I can find at least… but I’m guessing that’s due to the covid situation. There might be a surge of second hand macs after lockdown ends I should imagine. Then, fuelled with the info I now have I’ll purchase something and keep you all updated.

Also another thing Geoff, since I also researched the “used Mac” path. You can not compare simply CPU clock speeds. There are so many other things inside how the CPU works. From the benchmarks I’ve seen, the 6 core Mac Mini is almost exactly as fast in multicore as 12 core old 2012 Mac Pro.

On a new Mac Mini or iMac: The RAM will be faster, the cache on the CPU will be faster, you will get TB3 etc. And of course, you will be able to upgrade OS X, Logic Pro X etc. So be aware of these things if you still consider the old cheese grater.

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Ah yes I have been considering this somewhat. I’d read on a forum that the new Mac mini is around the same speed as the old cheese grater. I’ve been looking at iMac (27”) 2015 i7 16/32 gig models. Looks like I can pick one up for around £1000 if I look hard. They seem to work well on reviews too.

The iMac’s big advantage is that beautiful screen. Something few people online mention is that glass better than plastic to reduce glare and reflections. No other screen has glass that I’ve seen on the market. I have the window behind me so glare is a big issue for me when working during the day.

The reason I am more leaning towards something else personally, is that I am considering getting a different screen setup. With iMac you are locked into their aspect ratio and size. If that suits you it can of course be amazing. But if you have a different screen setup in mind, you get limited options.

If you are thinking of something else other than Mac, would you be switching DAWs,

Only other alternative for me would be hackintosh, but since I run a business that is a big “risk” as it might break from any driver/os/app update. I use Mac simply because I fell in love with the workflow and design ethos of the software I use: Logic Pro X, Final Cut Pro X, Screenflow, Affinity Photo. Plus all the ecosystem workflow boosts between apps/devices etc.

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Yes I was considering that too though it’s actually illegal apparently to put Apple software on anything other than an Apple device. Not that it really matters… you need to do an awful lot of research to see which hardware is compatible too which can be difficult… then it’s hard to set up after installation too. Looked into this for a few months.

I know it might be out of your budget, but I also looked at a used trashcan Mac Pro.

Especially after I watched Christian Henson’s video where he tried to “break” the Mac Pro (trashcan) with an insane project, and it still kept going! :stuck_out_tongue:

Yeah I would actually love to just upgrade to the trash can. Though it is out of budget by around £500. If I end up holding off for a while I’ll get something a bit newer but it just depends on work coming in.