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Mac Mini as Slave for late 2013 iMac - Opinions Please
Last post Mon, Aug 10 2020 by 146887, 3 replies.
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Posted on Sun, Aug 09 2020 20:37
by 146887
Joined on Wed, Jul 01 2020, Posts 2

Hey All-

Wanted to drop this question out there and see what your opinions are-

Im currently using a late 2013 iMac (3.5 Ghz Quad core i7 -4th Gen) with 32 Gb of RAM. Im using Logic Pro X 10.5 as my DAW. I purchased VSL EP 7 to help lighten the load for Logic as Ive had some issues with libraries trading instruments with other Logic Pro projects that were open at the same time together and also some freezing and crashes. . Im interested in getting a slave computer to handle VSL EP / Kontakt Libraries and take the load off my iMac. (although I have considered running both Logic Pro X and VSL EP both on my iMac)...

30 - 40 Instruments open at the same time in one project file would be the max Id use. Most of them would not be sounding off at the same time.

Im currently looking at the 2020 Mac Mini 6 Core 3.2Ghz i7 - 8th Gen with 64 Gb of RAM. Is this a good choice? If I had more space Id just buy the 10 core i9 iMac that just came out, but living in Brooklyn NYC things are a bit tight space wise- Hah!

I have my doubts about the mini as its basically a laptop, but the form factor and 4 Thunderbolt 3 ports are really attractive. (as is the price!)

I would run Logic on my iMac and the libraries and VSL EP on the mini-

Additionally I have a Samsung 2TB T7 ssd that would house my sample libraries that I would connect to the mac mini-

Anybody used this set up?

Any and all opinions appreciated!

Thanks in advance!

Posted on Mon, Aug 10 2020 11:32
by karmakarmakarma
Joined on Wed, Oct 10 2018, Posts 12

While I don't have experience with the Mac Mini, I went through a similar process of adding a second machine this spring.  I ended up buying a 2013 MacPro (trashcan) with a 12 core Xeon processor and upgraded it to 128GB of RAM all for around the same price as the MacMini you're looking at (actually a bit less).  I use an external 2TB SSD to house my VSL and other libraries.  While it's an older machine, it's multi-thread processing score (Geekbench) is around 85/90% of my 2019 Core i9 iMac.  I run a setup with a large number of VEP 7 instances (around 200) and connect to Logic Pro X 10.5.  Typically my compositions have 20-30 instances playing at their peak, and the 2013 MacPro uses <20% CPU.  My iMac does its nails and has a nice cup of coffee while I'm working, it's so bored.  :) 

In my workflow, I let the MacPro just host the instruments in VEP7, and I do all of my scoring, mixing, and effects inside of Logic on the iMac.  The computers both have two ethernet ports, are connected to each other through a dedicated switch with static IP addresses.  This has been a very stable setup. 

I share all this to point out two things.  First, with VEP on a second machine and (importantly) setting Logic to only load plugins needed for playback, I can easily have several Logic projects open and switch between them quickly.  It's not instantaneous, but we're talking a matter of seconds.  Secondly, I went with the 2013 MacPro because it's dead quiet, takes up little space, still runs great and you can upgrade the memory to whatever you need.  Look at OWC for memory upgrades.  128GB of ram for the trashcan is currently $429.  Apple's memory prices are absurd. 

Just food for thought.  Hope this helps in some way. 

Posted on Mon, Aug 10 2020 14:14
by 146887
Joined on Wed, Jul 01 2020, Posts 2

Thanks for the thoughts! Yes, the Mac Pro would be awesome, I'll take a look at pricing on those. Being that the Mac Mini is basically a laptop in a box I have doubts that it will be able to handle the task. It sounds like your set up is very logical and solid which is what Im looking for for sure. I don't mind if its not lightening fast. What Im really looking for is reliability and a straight forward and simple computer set up. 

I appreciate the feedback, thanks for taking the time to reply!

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