Help me choose a mac laptop

Hi all,

I am in love with vcv rack and I think developpers should have been awarded Peace Nobel prize. First time I have so much fun using a music software, and I even like my prods like never before !!!

I am currently running vcv on mac mini 2018 i7 3,2, in low res mod and 44/2048, so not ideal but doing ok.

Now, I need a mac laptop (do not want/can’t try another OS for now…). I have the oportunity to purchase a macbook pro 15’’ 2019 for a good price, either with i7 2,6 or i9 2,3, both 16gb ram and AMD Radeon pro 555x 4go ram. I am currently not considering 16 inch mac as they seem too big and too expensive.

I know that there can be a lot of problems running vcv on mac and I need your advices as I am a bit confused about it. All I know is that an eGPU and fastest processor are advised.

Should I rather purchased a second hand older macbook pro that may have better compatibility. Are they some years of production to prioritize ?

Thank you in advance for your help!

The newer and more powerful the CPU and GPU, the better your experience will be.

There are no particular problems running VCV on Mac that I’m aware of and I run VCV on Mac :slight_smile:

I think I read about very loud fan or mac getting very hot here and there… Can I ask you what are your mac’s specs ? thank you

Well pretty much all MacBook Pros get hot and have loud fans when run at high load - but the newer ones will give you better performance.

I mostly use a 2017 27" iMac 4.2GHz i7 Quad core with 40GB RAM (I use the machine for work) but also run it on a 2018 MacBook Pro (don’t have it in front of me right now so will add specs for that later). The iMac can certainly run bigger patches but the MBP is definitely usable.

Based on my own experience with my 2019 MacBook Pro:

  • Get as much RAM and CPU oomph as you can. Not just for Rack. :smiley:
  • Plug the power cable into the right-hand side. You’ve no idea how much that helped tame the fans.
  • Be prepared for dongle world.
  • I’ve rolled back to Mojave as Catalina has been a bit of nightmare for me and some of my pals. Also, sticking with Mojave means you get to keep using still great 32-bit applications like SoundHack, QuickTime Pro 7 and Portal 2. :smiley:
  • Maybe have a read through Michael Tsai’s blog to get a feel for the current fun and games with Apple hardware and software.
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Thank you for the nice tips!

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I was looking for a new Mac last year, and I realised that I could only afford a second hand one if it was a few years old. So I bought a new one. In the UK at least, Apple do zero percent finance, and I can afford £28/month for a mid spec 27" iMac, rather than, say, £1200 for a reconditioned 2017 lower spec model that won’t run next year’s OS upgrade. This machine runs VCV Rack just fine.

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Yep, Macs hold their value very well for the first few years. I just ordered a new 2020 8 core i7 as I realised that it would cost about £1,200 more than what I expect to get 2nd hand for my current 2017 iMac. I will probably keep this one for 3 years before upgrading again so if I spread the cost out over that peroid it works out at about £33/month. I use the computer for both work and play and I hope to get some significant increase in the size of patches I can run with the new generation 8 core.

The 2017 runs VCV perfectly fine but I do often run out of CPU before I run out of things to patch…

i have a 2018 and 2016 macs, top specs. After a year or so it is pretty much unusable, 10 minutes into moderate vcv set it heats up, starts venting like crazy and then skipping. in fact I suspect that gpu just makes it worse, as i cannot even touch some parts. So I am looking into replacing it with something with more reasonable cooling, and meanwhile use my ryzen desktop [almost perfect experience]

Yup. Because of poor cooling, laptops in general and Macbooks in particular often have problems with VCV Rack (and other CPU intensive applications). If you have to use a laptop best to use one of the “gaming” kind.

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as a previous responder mentioned, make sure you plug in on the right side of the laptop, that should tame the heat problems for the most part.

also, a good eGPU helps quite a bit - no need to even connect a monitor to it, as the eGPU will automatically get used for rendering as long as it’s plugged in.

Thanks for answer and tips. I am now caressing the idea of going to windows again ha ha …

Unless you really need an Apple laptop for other purposes, the best answer is a Windows or Linux desktop. I just upgraded an old PC to an Intel Core i9 10900F, ASRock Z490 motherboard and 16Gb RAM. I also got a beefy low noise cooler, and my biggest patches aren’t even making it warm yet.

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I have pretty recent mac laptop (2019 16", 2.3 GHz 8-Core Intel Core i9 CPU, AMD Radeon Pro 5500M GPU). As others have said, it gets rather hot running VCV rack although I have also never had a stutter on it (my patches are perhaps somewhat small compared to others though). The heat is not that bad, but you just can’t run it on a battery, it destroys the battery in a very short time.

Really anything that uses the GPU tends to stress the machine, and I’m sure Apple have gotten a lot of complaints about that, so I would recommend maybe waiting for the next generation which I suspect will be much better at power consumption.