Live setup (not Max for Live): One Mac Pro or two MacBooks Pro ?

    Sep 02 2010 | 1:23 pm
    I have been developing a big patcher for a live setup, with sound recording, effects with pattr presets and interpolation, some gesture control with a Wacom, sensors, MIDI keyboard and faderbox.
    I have reached the limits of my Core 2 Duo 2 x 2,33 MacBook Pro (7,2k RPM HD, RAM 3 GB). Hence I want to upgrade my configuration but I hesitate between adding a second MBP to the old one (meaning exchanging audio streams between the 2 computers) and replacing it with a Mac Pro.
    What would you do ? Any experience to tell about either configuration ?
    Thank you in advance.
    Roald Baudoux

    • Sep 03 2010 | 9:00 am
      I guess it depends on what Mac Pro you can get? An 8-core Mac Pro will surely outperform two Macbook Pros, but it's expensive. Trading your current macbook pro for a new one with i5 or i7 processor might also suffice.
      Practically, there are other considerations to think about: - Two laptops need to be connected with each other. This increases the complexity of your setup, introduces latency and possibly requires extra hardware (extra audio interface, depending on what you are doing). - A mac pro is bulky and heavy, requires a separate display and keyboard and doesn't run on batteries (obviously).
      There are quite a lot of DJs that have two macbook (pro)s on stage. Other than one VJ I've seen very few perform live with a mac pro.
      Hope this helps somehow.
    • Sep 06 2010 | 10:08 am
      "Trading your current macbook pro for a new one with i5 or i7 processor might also suffice."
      How can I compare the processing power of a 2 x 2,33GHz Core 2 Duo and a 2,66GHz Core i7 ?
    • Sep 06 2010 | 12:33 pm
      According to, the i7 Macbook Pro is 40-45% faster than the previous generation Core2Duo Macbook with the same clock speed (2.66 GHz). The difference between 2,33 and 2,66 GHz is 14%, so the total difference in speed between 2,66 GHz i7 and 2,33 GHz C2D would be approximately 45-50%.
      Mind you, the real world (noticable) difference in performace may be less, or more, depending on how well the application uses the available processing power.
      With two laptops, there will be considerable overhead because the two systems need to communicate, plus you're running two operating systems and two times the Max/MSP backend, so you surely won't have double the power. More like 60-80% extra, also depending on how much data is being transferred between the two computers.
      Edit: here is another overview with benchmarks, showing that the i7 2,66 GHz is 52% faster than last year's 2,53 GHz C2D. So it's safe to say that there is about 50% of extra performance in the new i7 MBP.
    • Sep 06 2010 | 12:57 pm
      Thanks for these data, EMV !
    • Sep 13 2010 | 4:40 pm
      The global Geekbench Score looks about 60% better on a 2.66Ghz i7 MPB ( ) than my 2.4 Ghz core2duo MPB ( ), but when i look down in the page on the "Floating Point Performance", specially "multi-threaded" ones, in blue, it look like some msp stuff inside a poly~ (Floating Point & multi-threaded) should make a difference of a factor of two (or 100%). One day, i'll go to an apple store to make a test on a 2.66Ghz i7 MPB, with my patch.
      But i'm also curious how these kind of PC laptop compares to MacBookPros using max :,&vw=builder&c=us&l=en&oc=DKPDFV2&cs=19&kc=9&X=9&Y=6
    • Sep 13 2010 | 5:17 pm
      I used in some cases to run 2 macBooks - that was a G4 and an intel mac, both had their sound card (an RME in both cases) and were communicating audio by ADAT optical cable and data by OSC. All I can say is that it worked, i had no special problems, and it all fit in a back pack - which then was on the heavy side.