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Best PC for Digital Audio Recording ( on a budget)
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DECBEATS
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#1
15th December 2011
Old 15th December 2011
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Best PC for Digital Audio Recording ( on a budget)

Hey everyone,

I'm new to the site, and still considered a beginner when it comes to DAWs.

Have had 10+ years experience in live music.
I play Bass, Guitar, Piano and Drums. Currently learning violin.

I wanted to get that out there so you know that I am not new to the whole realm of music.
I will soon be purchasing FL Studios 10, and I have a budget of around $700 for a new PC to run it on.

I was wondering what direction you guys would go if you were in a similar situation as myself.

Thanks for your replies,

D.E.C
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15th December 2011
Old 15th December 2011
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Are you looking to build your own, or buy one that is already made?

You will need a good audio interface which can easily be half of your budget. Do you own a PC already? It might be best to spend the bulk of your money on an audio interface and other hardware, and then later buy a more powerful PC when you have more money.

~Jay
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15th December 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay M View Post
Are you looking to build your own, or buy one that is already made?

You will need a good audio interface which can easily be half of your budget. Do you own a PC already? It might be best to spend the bulk of your money on an audio interface and other hardware, and then later buy a more powerful PC when you have more money.

~Jay
Thanks for the reply, Jay.

I currently have a Mac, however it is beaten up (owned it for 6 years) very outdated and has been knocked around quite a bit. The 1/8" jack doesn't work, so headphones are out of the question. The budget I mentioned above doesnt include the purchase of the software and I will be looking to buy a PC that is already made. Could you enlighten me on some specs that a solid audio engineering PC should have?

Thanks again.

P.S. What other hardware would you recommend?
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16th December 2011
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I should add that I will be looking for a laptop (although desktops I hear are much better for music production) I live in two cities at the moment and I am back and forth very often so a laptop will have to do for now.

Which laptop would leave the most room for upgrades in the future?
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16th December 2011
Old 16th December 2011
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At that price I don't think you can be very selective. Any modern PC will be fast enough for small projects of 24 tracks or so.

How many channels of in and out do you need? I don't have any specific recommendations, but you'll need to know that, then once you have that budgeted you can use what ever is left for the PC.

Do you want a desktop or laptop? In either case, you'll want the fastest CPU you can afford such as an i5 or i7. In a desktop PC you should add an additional hard drive for audio. With a laptop you need an external drive for audio.

You might even consider a used 3 year old purpose built audio PC. That might be well within your budget.

If you spend some time searching this forum you can get an idea of what audio interfaces will work well for you. I would expect to spend about $200 or so for a 2 channel USB interface with mic pres.

~Jay
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16th December 2011
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Craigslist is your friend. Most modern fast systems there are specialized gamer systems, but if you keep looking, you'll find one that's useful for digital audio too, and may have a bunch of silent components already installed.

For example I recently picked up the following at your exact budget:

Intel 2500k CPU
ASUS Sandy Bridge "P" motherboard
8 GB Corsair 1600 RAM
Coolermaster Storm Scout Case
700 watt Coolermaster Silencer Bronze power supply
Coolermaster V6GT top of the line CPU cooler
Hitachi 1TB hard drive
Western Digital 2 TB hard drive
EVGA GT430 video card
Silent case fans already installed
Win 7 64 bit real license
Logitech wireless keyboard and mouse
DVD

So it can be done, and this is a great time of year to be looking. I added a third hard drive for $50 before the recent huge price increase due to flooding at factories in Thailand. I might have picked different components if money were no object and I was building from scratch -- then the price would have doubled for marginal, if any, gains.

Last edited by troggg; 16th December 2011 at 01:32 AM.. Reason: error
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I don't think you're going to get a computer, a decent interface and monitors/headphones for under $700.

No laptop really leaves room for upgrades. Unless you get something top of the line, it's almost a year by year proposition.
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16th December 2011
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Hey everyone, given all the advice, and wishing i could get a desktop, ive looked around (not craigslist yet) at some laptops and I found the HP Pavilion Dv6-6091nr 15.6" display 2GHz Intel i7 6.GB of mem.

According to HP, it is optimum for audio processing (I realize this isnt optimum by the standards of most rigs that the members here have, but I need the portability)

I also have a 500GB external HD for storing many things.

How does this sound to you guys?

It comes in around $800 dollars
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16th December 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DECBEATS View Post
Hey everyone, given all the advice, and wishing i could get a desktop, ive looked around (not craigslist yet) at some laptops and I found the HP Pavilion Dv6-6091nr 15.6" display 2GHz Intel i7 6.GB of mem.

According to HP, it is optimum for audio processing (I realize this isnt optimum by the standards of most rigs that the members here have, but I need the portability)

I also have a 500GB external HD for storing many things.

How does this sound to you guys?

It comes in around $800 dollars
Are you, in fact, wanting an interface to go with it? What you'll need will depend largely what you're planning to do: how many tracks, how much processing, how many virtual instruments, etc. Generally though, you want a fast, multi-core processor, and lots of ram. You don't need much in the graphics department, and in fact, fancy gpus in laptops tend to overheat and can actually cause you problems. Honestly, I'm very skeptical of using PC laptops for recording (particularly HP, based on some personal experiences). For a laptop, if you can swing a mac, I'd do it.

If you're looking to get an interface as well, you'll need to expand your budget. Your interface choice will depend entirely on your recording goals, and is a subject in and of itself.

Just fyi: Building a desktop computer is remarkably easy and cheap. I think you'll find a good, up-to-date discussion of options regarding building your own desktop here: DAW Computer Barebones Home Studio
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16th December 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AldenW View Post
Are you, in fact, wanting an interface to go with it? What you'll need will depend largely what you're planning to do: how many tracks, how much processing, how many virtual instruments, etc. Generally though, you want a fast, multi-core processor, and lots of ram. You don't need much in the graphics department, and in fact, fancy gpus in laptops tend to overheat and can actually cause you problems. Honestly, I'm very skeptical of using PC laptops for recording (particularly HP, based on some personal experiences). For a laptop, if you can swing a mac, I'd do it.

If you're looking to get an interface as well, you'll need to expand your budget. Your interface choice will depend entirely on your recording goals, and is a subject in and of itself.

Just fyi: Building a desktop computer is remarkably easy and cheap. I think you'll find a good, up-to-date discussion of options regarding building your own desktop here: DAW Computer Barebones Home Studio
I would love to build/use a desktop, however I will be traveling too much back and forth between the two cities I live in to want to lug a desktop and monitor back and forth.

I'm looking around the feild of 24-32 tracks in a project.

I havent thought much about interfaces considering the budget I am on. (The total budget may be upwards of $1000, all components and software included) So I am not sure I can swing an interface.

I realize it is a whole subject within itself, but my recording goals would be to deliver a desirable sound that is at least enough to stand out amongst the multitude of producers. I know that is probably one thing we all desire, however I dont know how to answer that without going on a two page rant. I want clear, well processed sounds that sound near-professional for what equipment I have. Its early in the game for me, I am 22 years old with very little DAW/ Digital Recording Experience. As I read thread upon thread in here I tend to get quite jumbled up on most terminology; which often leads me to google and wikipedia to brush up on it.

As you can tell I am very much in the learning stages, but you guys have been real helpful so far.

(I guess I could have written out my whole answer since I wrote a long entry anyway)

Let me know what you think.

P.S- I have a Mac right now, it is old and outdated and does not have the ability to run FL Studios, the program which I would like to start my digital audio journey with due to it being a Mac..

Thanks again.
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16th December 2011
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You're not going to get this -

Quote:
Originally Posted by DECBEATS View Post
I realize it is a whole subject within itself, but my recording goals would be to deliver a desirable sound that is at least enough to stand out amongst the multitude of producers..
Without this -

Quote:
Originally Posted by DECBEATS View Post
an interface.
If I was you i'd save up some more money before dipping in.

When you say how many tracks you need, what we're really asking is how many of those tracks will be recorded with real instruments, how many inputs you need to be recorded at once, etc.

edit -

Also, very much this -

Quote:
Originally Posted by AldenW View Post
Honestly, I'm very skeptical of using PC laptops for recording (particularly HP, based on some personal experiences). For a laptop, if you can swing a mac, I'd do it.
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16th December 2011
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You're not going to get this -


When you say how many tracks you need, what we're really asking is how many of those tracks will be recorded with real instruments, how many inputs you need to be recorded at once, etc.
OK, I've been checking out some interfaces. I mis-typed..thats way more tracks than I thought. I should have formulated a better response before I said that.

I found some interfaces that will fit in my budget. Any Brand Names that you would trust your Mixes to when it comes to an interface?

edit---

I see, any suggestions for a laptop that could possibly swing it better than an HP? If not, I might have to look into some DAW Workstations?
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16th December 2011
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Originally Posted by DECBEATS View Post
I see, any suggestions for a laptop that could possibly swing it better than an HP? If not, I might have to look into some DAW Workstations?
If you want portability, expandability and stability (all good things in a DAW), you can't go past a mac mini.

Might be slightly beyond your budget, but well worth the money.

As far as interfaces go, as I said, we really need more info to make recommendations. What we really need to know is the absolute bare minimum of inputs you think you'll need.
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16th December 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaoz View Post
If you want portability, expandability and stability (all good things in a DAW), you can't go past a mac mini.
I need to be able to run FL Studios, to my knowledge it cant be run on a Mac...so should I start looking into desktops more seriously? And If I go the desktop Route, Would an HP be more considerable?

Might be slightly beyond your budget, but well worth the money.

[/QUOTE] As far as interfaces go, as I said, we really need more info to make recommendations. What we really need to know is the absolute bare minimum of inputs you think you'll need.[/QUOTE]

I'd say 4 inputs..maybe 6. I overshot it earlier.

(couldnt figure out how to quote you separately so my responses are in red.
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16th December 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DECBEATS View Post
[COLOR="Red"]
(couldnt figure out how to quote you separately so my responses are in red.
Lol all good.

I think I saw earlier that FL is in testing stages for Macs, not 100% sure. Is there a specific reason you want to use FL? It's a whole different discussion, but there are definitely more versatile DAWS out there.

If you were wanting to go desktop, don't buy something prebuilt, especially when you're on a budget. Someone here will help you design a computer which will be cheaper and will run better than anything you can get prebuilt, and generally speaking, desktops are better than laptops when it comes down to a price performance ratio.

For the interface, 6 is a bit of an odd number with most of the big companies, so you'd probably end up having to get either 4 or 8, unless you can make use of digital inputs.
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16th December 2011
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I built an AMD six core 8gb of ram for 350! Barebones kit! And I have yet to max it out! (And I run some big sessions with tons of power sucking plugs!)
Something you may want to look into!

Sent from my Droid using Gearslutz.com App
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16th December 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaoz View Post
Lol all good.

I think I saw earlier that FL is in testing stages for Macs, not 100% sure. Is there a specific reason you want to use FL? It's a whole different discussion, but there are definitely more versatile DAWS out there.

If you were wanting to go desktop, don't buy something prebuilt, especially when you're on a budget. Someone here will help you design a computer which will be cheaper and will run better than anything you can get prebuilt, and generally speaking, desktops are better than laptops when it comes down to a price performance ratio.

For the interface, 6 is a bit of an odd number with most of the big companies, so you'd probably end up having to get either 4 or 8, unless you can make use of digital inputs.
In the past i have breifly used FL, logic 8, and Live. Out of those three i found that FL catered( and wasnt as confusing) to my way of mixing and tracking. I also realized that there are so many other DAWs out there and I have researched a few. I like FL the best. I have also read about some members shunning FL and calling it a lesser program only made for beginners but the recent additions to the program seem to make it a solid contender.

I will look into custom desktops more.

I could go with a 4 input interface.
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16th December 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by taylorsparks View Post
I built an AMD six core 8gb of ram for 350! Barebones kit! And I have yet to max it out! (And I run some big sessions with tons of power sucking plugs!)
Something you may want to look into!

Sent from my Droid using Gearslutz.com App
Is barebones a site?
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16th December 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by troggg View Post
Craigslist is your friend. Most modern fast systems there are specialized gamer systems, but if you keep looking, you'll find one that's useful for digital audio too, and may have a bunch of silent components already installed.

For example I recently picked up the following at your exact budget:

Intel 2500k CPU
ASUS Sandy Bridge "P" motherboard
8 GB Corsair 1600 RAM
Coolermaster Storm Scout Case
700 watt Coolermaster Silencer Bronze power supply
Coolermaster V6GT top of the line CPU cooler
Hitachi 1TB hard drive
Western Digital 2 TB hard drive
EVGA GT430 video card
Silent case fans already installed
Win 7 64 bit real license
Logitech wireless keyboard and mouse
DVD

So it can be done, and this is a great time of year to be looking. I added a third hard drive for $50 before the recent huge price increase due to flooding at factories in Thailand. I might have picked different components if money were no object and I was building from scratch -- then the price would have doubled for marginal, if any, gains.
Hey man where did you get all of the parts?
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16th December 2011
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Originally Posted by PaPi61 View Post
Unfreakking believable how mac fanboys insist that the only viable solution is a mac, even when the OP has clearly stated he doesn't want a mac and wants a PC... Not to mention that his software doesn't run on a mac. It really is a religion
God people like you annoy the shit out of me.

It's not fanboyism to give the OP our opinions and options, when that is exactly what he was asking for.

Grow up.

There's a reason why the majority of people who gig with laptops use macs, and that's because they're stable and reliable. The majority of windows based laptops aren't that at all, and tend to have a much shorter usable lifespan than a mac does.

Desktops are a different story obviously, but given the OP's initial reluctance to have a desktop, it seemed a little pointless to dwell on.

At least we all gave reasons for our opinions - what exactly makes that laptop you linked good for what the OP wants? Other than being over priced, and a windows based platform?

Protip - when you call someone a fanboy, make sure they actually own what you're calling them a fanboy of.
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16th December 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaoz View Post
God people like you annoy the shit out of me.

It's not fanboyism to give the OP our opinions and options, when that is exactly what he was asking for.
The guy was asking for PC advice, you told him to get a mac to run a PC-only application. If that's not fanboysm, what is?
Ah, and BTW, you told him to get a mac mini. Last I checked, it's not a laptop.
Lastly, the HP Elitebook is known for having very low DPC latency. Something obviously you're not aware of.
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Originally Posted by PaPi61 View Post
The guy was asking for PC advice, you told him to get a mac to run a PC-only application. If that's not fanboysm, what is?
I'm pretty sure he asked for computer advice.

Btw, a mac IS a PC.

As I said, the so called "PC-only application" is currently in beta for macs.

Again, it's not fanboyism, it's opinion. I run an AMD windows 7 based desktop, but no way in hell would I buy a windows based laptop for audio.

edit -

Quote:
Originally Posted by PaPi61 View Post
Ah, and BTW, you told him to get a mac mini. Last I checked, it's not a laptop.
No, it's desktop power and expandability with the portability of a laptop, which is obviously the best of both worlds.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PaPi61 View Post
Lastly, the HP Elitebook is known for having very low DPC latency. Something obviously you're not aware of.
No, I wasn't aware of that. But I hardly think that DPC latency is the only thing you should be basing a purchase off.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaoz View Post
I'm pretty sure he asked for computer advice.

Btw, a mac IS a PC.
So, to someone on a budget, you'd recommend a MBP with Windows 7. Oh yeah, it makes sense...

Quote:
As I said, the so called "PC-only application" is currently in beta for macs.
So, a beta of a PC application ported to mac is better than the Win 7 app. Yeah, once again you make complete sense...

Quote:
No, it's desktop power and expandability with the portability of a laptop, which is obviously the best of both worlds.
It's not a laptop and it requires a monitor. If someone on a budget needs a desktop, a mac mini isn't the best option.

Quote:
No, I wasn't aware of that. But I hardly think that DPC latency is the only thing you should be basing a purchase off.
It's only the most important thing in an audio laptop, besides the CPU. But clearly you don't know much about music computers.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PaPi61 View Post
So, to someone on a budget, you'd recommend a MBP with Windows 7. Oh yeah, it makes sense...
Where did I do that sorry?

Quote:
Originally Posted by PaPi61 View Post
So, a beta of a PC application ported to mac is better than the Win 7 app. Yeah, once again you make complete sense...
I never said it would be better. I presented it as an option, which is what the OP was looking for. Considering the only reason he wasn't looking at a mac was the software, it seemed appropriate to bring up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PaPi61 View Post
It's not a laptop and it requires a monitor. If someone on a budget needs a desktop, a mac mini isn't the best option.
I never said it was a laptop, and I never said it the best option, and I never said it was an option if the OP wanted a desktop. At the time the OP wanted portability vs a permanent desktop.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PaPi61 View Post
It's only the most important thing in an audio laptop, besides the CPU. But clearly you don't know much about music computers.
So a good DPC latency rating and a semi-decent CPU are enough for you to base a computer purchase off?

Sorry, but that's not the best advice either. It's obvious that you don't like Macs, which is fine, but I don't see a reason for you to get so rabid about it.
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16th December 2011
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Quote:
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Where did I do that sorry?
Your words, verbatim:

"There's a reason why the majority of people who gig with laptops use macs, and that's because they're stable and reliable."

Either it was a complete non-sequitur or you wanted to imply that a MBP was the best option, having forgotten you previously recommended a mac mini.

Quote:
I never said it would be better.
Again, your words verbatim:

"If you want portability, expandability and stability (all good things in a DAW), you can't go past a mac mini."

The irony being that the mac mini is not portable (it requires an external monitor and external keyboard), it's laughably "expandable" and as far as stability goes, no one has yet proven that OSX is more stable than Win 7. Only Apple fanboys take it for granted.


Quote:
So a good DPC latency rating and a semi-decent CPU are enough for you to base a computer purchase off?
Good DPC latency and a decent CPU beat a stronger CPU with inadequate latency any day. You're just spinning because you're too arrogant to admit I'm right.
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16th December 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PaPi61 View Post
Your words, verbatim:

"There's a reason why the majority of people who gig with laptops use macs, and that's because they're stable and reliable."

Either it was a complete non-sequitur or you wanted to imply that a MBP was the best option, having forgotten you previously recommended a mac mini.
I don't see what that's got to do with running W7 on a mac...And i'm still struggling to find where I actually said that was an option anywhere in this thread....

Quote:
Originally Posted by PaPi61 View Post
Again, your words verbatim:

"If you want portability, expandability and stability (all good things in a DAW), you can't go past a mac mini."

The irony being that the mac mini is not portable (it requires an external monitor and external keyboard), it's laughably "expandable" and as far as stability goes, no one has yet proven that OSX is more stable than Win 7. Only Apple fanboys take it for granted.
Sorry, you're talking about hardware where I was talking about software. Are you trying to be obtuse? You said -

Quote:
Originally Posted by PaPi61 View Post
So, a beta of a PC application ported to mac is better than the Win 7 app. Yeah, once again you make complete sense...
I replied -

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaoz View Post
I never said it would be better. I presented it as an option, which is what the OP was looking for. Considering the only reason he wasn't looking at a mac was the software, it seemed appropriate to bring up.
It's pretty obvious i'm not talking about hardware, so i'm not quite sure what you're getting at.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PaPi61 View Post
Good DPC latency and a decent CPU beat a stronger CPU with inadequate latency any day. You're just spinning because you're too arrogant to admit I'm right.
No, I just look at more when designing or purchasing a computer than two factors.
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16th December 2011
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You lost the argument, resorted to ad hominem and laughably keep digging yourself into a bigger and bigger hole.

DPC latency and CPU are just about all that counts in an audio laptop. But clearly you're dazzled by design and fashion trends and you laughably try to rationalize that. But then again, you do believe that the mac mini is very "expandable" and very "portable".

Et hoc totum dicit.
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16th December 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PaPi61 View Post
DPC latency and CPU are just about all that counts in an audio laptop.
So RAM amount and speed, hard drive space and type/speed, I/O options, screen size etc don't count at all? That's an interesting opinion. While the factors you listed are probably the most important, disregarding the rest of the computer is just silly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PaPi61 View Post
But clearly you're dazzled by design and fashion trends and you laughably try to rationalize that.
As I said, I don't own a mac atm, my main audio rig is an AMD Win7 machine with ATI GPUS. That's about as unfashionable as you can get.

Again, this is all a matter of opinion, and I honestly can't see why you're so rabidly anti-mac, and why you chose this thread to devolve into a Mac vs Windows argument when the argument wasn't even there to begin with.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PaPi61 View Post
But then again, you do believe that the mac mini is very "expandable" and very "portable".
I actually meant more expandable than most laptops, which is what we were talking about. And I can't see how it isn't portable - a mac mini, with power cord, keyboard mouse and a small 19in screen would just about fit in most decent sized laptop bags.

The OP didn't mention anything about working while in transit, all he mentioned was that he would be moving constantly between two cities. Keeping a monitor in each city would make the mini even more portable. Hell, you could even plug it into a tv.
#30
16th December 2011
Old 16th December 2011
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaoz View Post
So RAM amount and speed, hard drive space and type/speed, I/O options, screen size etc don't count at all? That's an interesting opinion. While the factors you listed are probably the most important, disregarding the rest of the computer is just silly.
You're still spinning. Prove that the HP Elitebook has little ram, slow and small drives and all the other things. In fact, that computer equals or outspecs any mac mini when it comes to those things.

Quote:
Again, this is all a matter of opinion, and I honestly can't see why you're so rabidly anti-mac, and why you chose this thread to devolve into a Mac vs Windows argument when the argument wasn't even there to begin with.
You made it into a mac/win thread when you suggested that the best choice for someone who clearly wants a PC is buying a mac. A suggestion based on ludicrous false and/or unsubstantiated claims.

You claimed that the mac mini is the best option when it comes to:

1. expandability (yeah, like 2 RAM slots, 0 PCIe and 0 SATA/eSATA is what everybody would call "great expandability", right?)
2. portability (the thing needs an external keyboard and external monitor, not to mention external audio drive. It's just as "portable" as a desktop PC.)
3. stability (a totally unsubstantiated claim based on the unfounded assumption that OSX is more stable than Win 7.)

And then, of course, you implied that a beta version of a Windows app ported for the mac is better than the well-established Windows app. When, in fact, pretty much every port (Cubase, Nuendo, VEP, Play etc.) runs much better in Windows.

Finally, you contested my much more appropriate suggestion with the allegation (again, totally unsubstantiated because you clearly are unfamiliar with the Elitebook line) that the Elitebook line is made with inferior parts.

That pretty much qualifies your remarks for what they are.
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