Upgrade or replace? (PC, Ableton Live 9)
natrixgli
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#1
26th October 2013
Old 26th October 2013
  #1
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Upgrade or replace? (PC, Ableton Live 9)

Hi There -

I've got an Asus K53E series laptop which is in good physical condition, but has been frustrating the hell out of me since I upgraded to Live 9. It's vital specs:

- Windows 7 HP 64 (installed for 1.5 years, no re-installs, up to date)
- 4GB RAM (3.78 usable)
- 500GB 5400RPM SATA HD
- Intel i5-2430M @ 2.4ghz

The biggest issue for me is disk I/O speed. I could replace the disk with a SSD and re-install Windows which I reckon would fix me up for some time. When using Ableton Live 9's sample based instruments, or even running several tracks of audio (or groups in Maschine) i'm experiencing audio dropouts and disk overload. As you can imagine this is a huge buzzkill given I recently invested $1200 in Live 9 Suite + Push, as well as Maschine.

I suspect a decent, adequately sized SSD (~480-512GB) will run me between $300-400. I'm debating if I want to spend that, or save the money and get a new MBP instead. Both the PC and Mac are capable of doing what I need, so i'm not interested in debating Mac vs PC in any way. I will opt for a MBP next simply because I like the hardware and they can aggregate multiple audio devices. I know it's tempting to tell me I'm an idiot for buying a Mac but please don't. I know the difference, I work in IT and run Linux as my primary OS.

Bottom line, should I spend the cash to upgrade, or pocket it and replace the machine with something better?
#2
26th October 2013
Old 26th October 2013
  #2
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I wonder if bumping the RAM (decreasing your reliance on memory swap to drive) and imaging your current drive to a 7200RPM 2.5" would make the machine a lot more useable for less expense than an SSD.
natrixgli
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#3
26th October 2013
Old 26th October 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Techmonkey View Post
I wonder if bumping the RAM (decreasing your reliance on memory swap to drive) and imaging your current drive to a 7200RPM 2.5" would make the machine a lot more useable for less expense than an SSD.
Thought about it, but I don't want to spend money on something that either may not solve the issue, or may only have a marginal performance improvement.

Essentially I want to go with a solution that will guarantee smooth playback of both Live's multisample based instruments, as well as some recordings I have with lots of audio. (lead singer can't help but record vocals on 18 separate tracks sometimes....)
#4
26th October 2013
Old 26th October 2013
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dark blue man's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by natrixgli View Post
Bottom line, should I spend the cash to upgrade, or pocket it and replace the machine with something better?
I always wonder how people get by trying to do serious production work on a lap top. Sooner or later you're bound to hit the brick wall of physics. There is just no way a lap top with its tiny fan and miniature PSU is capable of delivering the shear grunt available to a well cooled desk top with a juicy 700 watt PSU. Ok for live work mind.

It's a shame to spend a small fortune on software only to be let down by hardware.
natrixgli
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#5
26th October 2013
Old 26th October 2013
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Originally Posted by dark blue man View Post
I always wonder how people get by trying to do serious production work on a lap top. Sooner or later you're bound to hit the brick wall of physics. There is just no way a lap top with its tiny fan and miniature PSU is capable of delivering the shear grunt available to a well cooled desk top with a juicy 700 watt PSU. Ok for live work mind.

It's a shame to spend a small fortune on software only to be let down by hardware.
Well it's awfully hard to drag a desktop with a juicy 700 watt PSU to a remote recording site. I've been using a laptop for quite some time, and have managed to do two full length albums, an EP, and tons of singles on it.

I record with people scattered across two states and sometimes it's easier for me to pack up my laptop & soundcard and head over to their houses or practice spaces to record. So a desktop is impractical for my purposes.
#6
26th October 2013
Old 26th October 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by natrixgli View Post
Well it's awfully hard to drag a desktop with a juicy 700 watt PSU to a remote recording site. I've been using a laptop for quite some time, and have managed to do two full length albums, an EP, and tons of singles on it.

I record with people scattered across two states and sometimes it's easier for me to pack up my laptop & soundcard and head over to their houses or practice spaces to record. So a desktop is impractical for my purposes.
For that kind of work, I would replace the laptop with more rugged and workstation-class laptops, like HP Elitebook or Thinkpad W series. You could have 1TB 7200rpm 2.5in drive in the optical bay, SSD for the OS drive, and another mSATA SSD. Bigger Elitebook allows you even two 2.5in HDs inside, so 2SSDs and 2HDs without using external drives. Then, you can use either FW or USB2.0 interfaces as well (since they have expresscard slot).
#7
26th October 2013
Old 26th October 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by natrixgli View Post
Well it's awfully hard to drag a desktop with a juicy 700 watt PSU to a remote recording site. I've been using a laptop for quite some time, and have managed to do two full length albums, an EP, and tons of singles on it.

I record with people scattered across two states and sometimes it's easier for me to pack up my laptop & soundcard and head over to their houses or practice spaces to record. So a desktop is impractical for my purposes.
You can have and use both you know. My lap top is great for DJing (which I don't do too much of theses days), playing films and other none production related stuff. But for hard core hands on producing, tracking and mixing ITB with multiple audio channels, VSTi's and plug-ins, a desk top must surly be champion. Hell, I've got a modern-ish PC with two UAD cards and a PowerCore Element, and still crave more power.

Not saying it can't be done. It obviously can. I just think it puts an early ceiling on what can be done and how effectively. Mind you, my lap top isn't as powerful as yours but even a top of the range lap top I reckon would be toast in minutes in my studio....
natrixgli
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#8
26th October 2013
Old 26th October 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Masaaki View Post
For that kind of work, I would replace the laptop with more rugged and workstation-class laptops, like HP Elitebook or Thinkpad W series. You could have 1TB 7200rpm 2.5in drive in the optical bay, SSD for the OS drive, and another mSATA SSD. Bigger Elitebook allows you even two 2.5in HDs inside, so 2SSDs and 2HDs without using external drives. Then, you can use either FW or USB2.0 interfaces as well (since they have expresscard slot).
I appreciate the recommendation, that's fair advice. However as I mentioned previously, my next laptop will be a MacBook Pro. Right now I'm just trying to determine whether it's worth prolonging the life of my existing laptop briefly, or rather than throw good money after bad, I should just go for the MBP now.
natrixgli
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#9
26th October 2013
Old 26th October 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dark blue man View Post
You can have and use both you know. My lap top is great for DJing (which I don't do too much of theses days), playing films and other none production related stuff.
I used to use a desktop for mixing, but for me having to transfer projects back and forth and keep them in sync is a pain. If Live had GIT support or something I might consider it. But it's too much of a workflow killer to have to spend time transferring projects back and forth prior to working on them. So I'd like to stick with one computer for the foreseeable future.

So let's assume that the limits are:

1) Laptop only
2) Replacement will be a MBP 13" with 8GB memory and a SSD.

What I'd like to know is, and perhaps people with similar experiences could offer their observations, will replacing my HD with a SSD achieve an improvement worth the price? Or am I wasting my money plugging more money into a laptop that's already nearly 2 years old and probably not worth much more than the SSD I would put into it?
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