Advice on buying a specific, affordable laptop for DAW use?

Discussion in 'Recording In Progress' started by chris m., Apr 10, 2019.

  1. T Prior

    T Prior Poster Extraordinaire

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    any modern era Laptop such as a Dell in the $300 to $400 range will fit the bill. They all have a modern era processor, beefy hard drive and probably 8,10 or 12 gig of ram. WIN 10 is not an issue as long as you "contain" updates and other things such as programs that start when the Laptop boots. You will have to clean it up for your DAW before you put it to work. The stuff running in the background is the issue, not the DAW. Also as mentioned, try not to use this Laptop for daily purposes if you don't have to. Separate the two worlds.

    I run TWO Pro Tools systems no issue with either. PT 8 on an XP with 4 gig ram, max allowed (actual 3.5) and Pro Tools 12 on Win 7 with 10 gig of ram. Both dedicated. Both PCs built specifically for the DAW. Never, I repeat, never, have I had any operational issues. Not even a single crash in a decade. The XP system with 4 gig will have processing resource limits if you run a program such as Amplitube which is a memory hog with too many active occurrences.

    Setup the laptop for it's primary purpose and all will be well. Just keep them dang Auto Updates off if you need to connect to the NET to grab a driver. Keep the NET disabled until you need it. Remove all programs that you don't need and self start at boot up.

    Also consider an ext drive for sessions, keep your programs on the internal drive. This is pretty typical and common these days.
     
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  2. 3-Chord-Genius

    3-Chord-Genius Poster Extraordinaire

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    RAM would be the major consideration, I'm thinking. That and processor speed. You'll know whether or not the machine is up to it when you're rendering a mix to MP3.
     
  3. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    If the 3 OSes the performance under heavy load from best to worst IMO as a software engineer is:

    Linux (by far)
    Windows
    OSX

    OSX really doesn’t do as well once you start getting near the limits of the hardware. If you’re pushing the RAM hard and the machine needs to swap OSX doesn’t do well. It’s a noticeable weakness.

    Whether or not you need to care about that for audio is another concern.

    On a more practical side modern Mac laptops might require you to budget for a dock or other adapters to plug your stuff in. If you find a PC laptop with the ports you need that saves a lot especially if the PC is cheaper.

    We use MacBook Pros at work, they’re about $3000 each but IT ends up having to spend $400/desk on docks and adapters since all the MacBooks have is USB-C and nothing on the desk plugs into that.
     
  4. fendrguitplayr

    fendrguitplayr Poster Extraordinaire

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  5. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    Great sruff!
     
  6. Rolling Estonian

    Rolling Estonian Friend of Leo's

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    I know you said affordable but if you can save up for a bit it could very well be worth it. I'd go as big as you can, you can get a 17" laptop with i7, 16gb ram, 500 gb ssd and 1tb 7200hdd for a bit over a grand and if you need more you can up the ram.

    M
     
  7. dalezjc

    dalezjc TDPRI Member

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    I'm also running Reaper on Linux and would never go back to Windows. I missed Amplitube and other Windows plug-ins, but then realized I was spending way too much time screwing around with that stuff and not enough to time playing and recording.
     
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  8. magicfingers99

    magicfingers99 Friend of Leo's

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    The Dell E6 series, was never too highly rated because they were expensive (over 2 grand). well now that they are dirt cheap, they are a great bargain.
    magnesium frame, lid and base, make them light and strong.

    they come in size from 12.5 screen to (e6220) to E6530 - 16 inch

    i3, i5 and i7 models available,

    upload_2019-4-16_16-9-28.jpeg
    e6220, typically around 125$ with 4gb of ram i7, will run 8gb of ram with windows7 64bit. (typical ebay price)

    makes a good portable daw, only 3 usb on the E6220, and no dvd drive, you can add a pc card with 2 usb3 ports for around 15$, and an external usb cd/dvd iof thats important to you..

    Windows7 runs quite well on these. if you want a bigger screen plug in an external monitor...

    some models come with a backlit keyboard, nice for working in low light conditions.

    they'll run windows10, but why would anyone do that to a computer?

    I've got 4 of them now, all on windows 7 64bit, and to tell the truth the speed difference between the i5s and the i7s are miniscule.

    buy these and blow the extra dough on vst plugins...

    the entire bottom cover comes off with one screw. makes it easy to put in an ssd or upgrade ram. BTW Dell lists it at 8gb max ram, but the chipset supports 16gb, I upgraded one to prove it to myself.
    works like a champ.


    "Designed to withstand more abuse than the typical business notebook, the 12.5-inch Dell Latitude E6220 packs plenty of performance into a durable and light 3.6-pound design. With its amazingly tactile keyboard, blistering SSD, and striking tri-metal design, this notebook has a lot to offer business users on the go. But do the added resilience and premium components justify this laptop's whopping $2,447 price tag?"

    from the 2012 review of the then new Dell E6220

    https://www.laptopmag.com/reviews/laptops/dell-latitude-e6220

    currently 249$ on amazon

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01GGGQ70S/?tag=tdpri-20

    cheaper on ebay, but you should know your way around a computer if you buy off ebay, or you might not get what you think your are getting....
     
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  9. getbent

    getbent Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I use a mac mini. Not a laptop... but inexpensive, I can use old parts for keyboard, mouse, monitor.... I run final cut, garage band, motion, logic pro X... lots of samples and plugins... I grabbed a used raid to store long term stuff... I time machine the whole thing too, so when I get a new mini, I can swap in in a couple hours without hiccup....
     
  10. RLee77

    RLee77 Friend of Leo's

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    :lol::lol::lol:
     
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  11. Ian T

    Ian T Tele-Holic

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    What software do you want to use? This is the primary question in deciding PC vs Mac.

    In other words, you'll need a Mac to run Logic.

    If you will be using something else, a PC with a 4 core processor, SSD, and 8GB minumum ram will do the job.

    You don't need it to have a soundcard; use an audio interface for that.

    You don't need a gaming graphics card, either.

    A high res screen is very nice to look at.

    Good value would be to buy something like a Dell 9530, refurbed from NewEgg with an i7, 16GB ram. You can upgrade the SSD if you are handy. I'm sure there are many other similar computers to be had for pretty cheap.
     
  12. Ian T

    Ian T Tele-Holic

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    Here is a good video that will give you a better idea on what specs you need to look for.

     
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  13. magicfingers99

    magicfingers99 Friend of Leo's

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    supposedly you can load OSx on th e6220 and make a hackintosh, I'm monkeying with the process, its a lot faster if you have a mac to create the bootable usb drive to load the drivers and os from..

    you can load Sierra, not sure about High Sierra

     
  14. getbent

    getbent Telefied Ad Free Member

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    As much as I enjoy music and playing music and recording music, it would never be such a pleasure that I would steal it. In fact, stealing would ruin it for me. So, the hackintosh thing is not on my menu of 'things that I will do' along with borrow tools from neighbors and not return them and borrow money from rich friends knowing they won't ask for it and rationalizing that they are so rich they don't need it.

    as my grandma used to say, 'you don't go to hell all at once, you go one step at a time and one excuse after the other.' I'd note she was very old and eventually died, so, you know... whatever, right?
     
  15. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    If you pay for the hardware and you pay for the OS I see nothing wrong with making a "Hackintosh".

    FWIW, I ended up buying a four year old refurbished MacBook Pro with Quadcore chip, 15" Retina screen, 500GB SSD, and 16GB RAM, for $844 with sales tax.

    I bought it from these guys, who happen to be located in my home town, so I could see the machine and talk to them in person. Most of their
    sales are on line. It comes with a 90d warranty and it will be easy for me to just go over there if there's an issue-- they're about a mile from my house.

    I am normally a PC and Linux guy, but I decided to make life easier on myself this time once I saw I could get a darn good machine with a really
    nice screen at a very affordable price. Not as fast as the latest iteration, but plenty fast for me. I have a Focusrite audio interface on the way from
    Sweetwater, too.

    They gave it to me with High Sierra on it, and I'm not sure whether or not I'm going to "upgrade" to Mojave. The main reason I would upgrade to Mojave
    is if I want to download XCode and mess with some Swift programming. They offered to load Mojave for me but I decided to stick with High Sierra for now.

    http://ipowerresale.com/

    I also might load a Linux OS onto it as well....
     
  16. getbent

    getbent Telefied Ad Free Member

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    You violate the terms of the license with apple. You may choose to just ignore the license and rationalize that you are right... but, when you buy stuff, the End User Agreement is a contract and by doing what you are saying 'is nothing wrong' you are violating that = doing something not in the agreement, which would be, well, wrong.

    And, at a whim, Apple can render your custom machine just another grey box with no OS... be careful about putting that machine on the internet...
     
  17. gusfinley

    gusfinley Tele-Holic

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    Nice thread! I'm also in the market for a light DAW laptop. I bought my wife a MIDI-USB interface, but could not get it running right on my old laptop ( Intel Dual Core 1.2 GHz, 2GB RAM - was MS Vista converted to Linux).

    I'm not pumped about Windows 10, but I'll probably need it to get everything working right. I read a lot of suggestions about getting off-lease Buisness class laptops and need to look into that a bit more.
     
  18. RLee77

    RLee77 Friend of Leo's

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    I disagree. You own the OS, and the hardware. You’re using it yourself, not reselling it, and it’s still a single-user case.
     
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  19. getbent

    getbent Telefied Ad Free Member

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    This is the thing... it is a small thing, but a thing. There is no 'disagree'.
    The End User License that you agree to when you make the purchase says that you agree NOT to put the software on other hardware. No equivocation. You can choose to violate the license, but there is no 'disagree' there is buy or don't buy. This isn't complex... it is simply choosing to violate or not.
     
  20. magicfingers99

    magicfingers99 Friend of Leo's

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    the generally accepted Idea is you already own a mac with a copy of the system software. the laptop I'm converting is for my brother who has about 6 macs, so i think he's paid for the ride.

    but if it makes your feel righteous, send me to blazes..

    btw I make cassettes from albums I own, and mp3's too.
     
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