13 or 15 inch macbook for Ableton Live?
October 28, 2013 8:03 PM   Subscribe

I want to buy a new Retina Macbook Pro for live performances with Ableton Live. For all other purposes I'd go with the 13-inch model because it is more portable, but I'm worried that 1) the screen will be too small to see all the tracks, or 2) the dual-core processor won't be fast enough compared to the quad-core in 15-inch models. Can anyone speak from experience? Was a 13" good enough?
posted by scose to Technology (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The Ableton forums are probably a good spot for this question, too. You'll get in touch with a wider userbase that is probably already using the 15" Retina MBPs.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:49 PM on October 28, 2013

You'll be fine with either one. I like more screen space, but I ran Ableton for years on a 13" MacBook, way less power than the current models.
posted by unreadyhero at 9:24 PM on October 28, 2013

It's going to be kinda tough to read in a dark club, but as long as you basically know where your tracks are you should be fine... especially if you have a hardware controller.
posted by empath at 11:07 PM on October 28, 2013

i just exited ableton on my rMBP (15")... it looks fine here. i use the "disco" skin to make things more visible.

used to run fine on my older MBP as well, so dual- v quad- core shouldn't be an issue :)
posted by raihan_ at 11:12 PM on October 28, 2013

My understanding - and it's a totally amateur, uninformed, anecdotal perception rather than an 'understanding' in any rigorous sense - is that it's RAM rather than CPU speed which has the greatest effect on the performance of a DAW.

But yes. Unless Ableton's system requirements have increased dramatically over the past few years, the 13" should be more than up to the task. Whether the screen is big enough or not is a matter of personal preference - perhaps you can demo the machines in a store and see for yourself.
posted by Ted Maul at 3:43 AM on October 29, 2013

I've used a macbook air as a dj and had 0 problems with cpu. Might run into issues if you're running a bunch of vst's/au's, though.
posted by empath at 4:01 AM on October 29, 2013

Seconding what empath said above. A lot of it will depend on what exactly you're doing with Ableton. If you're just looking to "mix/DJ" tracks that are already rendered, you'll have zero problems.

If you're looking to do some live performances with multiple RAM-thirsty VSTs (like Kontakt or Omnisphere), you may start overloading things.
posted by kuanes at 5:26 AM on October 29, 2013

The 2.5GHz i5 used on the new (Late 2013) Retina MacBook Pros has two cores but four hardware threads. The distinction between that chip and an actual four core, four thread chip is technical but slight for most applications.
posted by wnissen at 12:35 PM on October 29, 2013

should be fine with the 13. if you're going to do serious production work in ableton, live 9 includes dual monitor support, so you could always get a cheap second monitor.
posted by thatgirld at 1:57 PM on October 29, 2013

Best answer: I run Ableton on a 13" Air sometimes; it's fine for DJing and using just a few tracks, but anything requiring even moderate processing can make it choke. Since you'll be using mostly soft synths, that might be a consideration. Screen size IS a consideration, and I breathe a sigh of relief when I switch to a 15" screen. My quad Macbook Pro is pretty flawless wrt everything Ableton. I think you could be happy with the 13" (my 13" is awfully nice to carry around), but I know how much you stress over screen size. Even though the 15" is more expensive, I'd suggest you splurge on it. Do you really want to watch movies in your bed on a 13" screen for the next 3-5 years, anyways? :P
posted by semaphore at 4:44 PM on November 26, 2013

I see this was posted around a month ago. Are you still within the return period? Return it. Get the 15". Trust me ^_^
posted by semaphore at 4:46 PM on November 26, 2013

Response by poster: Hi Semaphore, I just ordered the 15", maxed out everything except no 1TB SSD. I think I will not regret it :)
posted by scose at 9:59 AM on December 2, 2013

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