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Mobile workstations
Old 23rd April 2019
  #1
Here for the gear
Mobile workstations

Hi!

I'm currently running on a bootcamped mid-2012 MBP with 16GB RAM and two internal SSDs, so it's pretty much maxed out. I no longer need Mac-specific software, therefore I'm thinking of moving to a PC based system. Portability is important for me, so desktops are not in question.

Are there mobile workstation users out there who could share their experience with these machines in the context of music production (recording in the studio and live, and mixing)? Specially the Dell Precision 7530, HP ZBook 15 G5, or Lenovo ThinkPad P52, which are my three shortlisted options.

The basic configuration I am considering is:
Intel Core i9-8950HK or Xeon E-2176M processor
16 GB RAM (maybe later expanding to 32 GB)
512 GB SSD
15" FHD non-Touch screen

Would you say mobile workstations are generally more reliable than "conventional" laptops with similar specs for applications such as live recordings?

Thermal throttling seems to be an issue with the models I mentioned. Have you any of you also had this problem? Anyone tried repasting and got better results from it?

Thanks a lot!
Old 27th April 2019
  #2
Old 27th April 2019
  #3
Here for the gear
 
snoskit's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by fbaldauf View Post

Would you say mobile workstations are generally more reliable than "conventional" laptops with similar specs for applications such as live recordings?

Thermal throttling seems to be an issue with the models I mentioned. Have you any of you also had this problem? Anyone tried repasting and got better results from it?

Thanks a lot!
Used many of the hp/dell workstation type laptops over the years, it's very model specific
Some have been hopeless - rapidly overheating and wearing out internal fans
Others have been rock solid despite running quite hot

Laptop cooler fans very helpful
Got some cheapy Trust thing which help waft that extra bit of air through the case

I've been pondering Eurocom's kit for my next setup
Old 6th May 2019
  #4
Here for the gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by snoskit View Post
Used many of the hp/dell workstation type laptops over the years, it's very model specific
Some have been hopeless - rapidly overheating and wearing out internal fans
Others have been rock solid despite running quite hot

Laptop cooler fans very helpful
Got some cheapy Trust thing which help waft that extra bit of air through the case

I've been pondering Eurocom's kit for my next setup
That is really frustrating, spending loads of money and still being subjected to chance.

Have you tried different laptop coolers and could say which one is more silent?

I haven't heard about this brand before. They seem to have powerful machines!
Old 6th May 2019
  #5
A PC in a rack mounted case with a separate display all in one enclosure is also portable, yet offers every advantage of a desktop... being a desk top and all.
Old 6th May 2019
  #6
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by fbaldauf View Post
Hi!

I'm currently running on a bootcamped mid-2012 MBP with 16GB RAM and two internal SSDs, so it's pretty much maxed out. I no longer need Mac-specific software, therefore I'm thinking of moving to a PC based system. Portability is important for me, so desktops are not in question.

Are there mobile workstation users out there who could share their experience with these machines in the context of music production (recording in the studio and live, and mixing)? Specially the Dell Precision 7530, HP ZBook 15 G5, or Lenovo ThinkPad P52, which are my three shortlisted options.

The basic configuration I am considering is:
Intel Core i9-8950HK or Xeon E-2176M processor
16 GB RAM (maybe later expanding to 32 GB)
512 GB SSD
15" FHD non-Touch screen

Would you say mobile workstations are generally more reliable than "conventional" laptops with similar specs for applications such as live recordings?

Thermal throttling seems to be an issue with the models I mentioned. Have you any of you also had this problem? Anyone tried repasting and got better results from it?

Thanks a lot!
I left the laptop path after years of having overheating Mac Book Pros. I know you're looking into Windows, but I had to take the same decision and I went for a used 6 Core Mac Pro 6.1. That's the small black one. It's super portable. Get something like a Asus MB169B+ screen that's USB powered. This set is really super small and light weight and you get a serious Intel Xeon 6 Core. It simply never overheats, has plenty of headroom in processing power and it's just reliable. They are expensive for what they are, not the newest generation of anything in hardware. But they just run. I don't know any smaller workstation with full size Xeon processor and really good thermal design.
Old 6th May 2019
  #7
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by shahstlz View Post
I left the laptop path after years of having overheating Mac Book Pros. I know you're looking into Windows, but I had to take the same decision and I went for a used 6 Core Mac Pro 6.1. That's the small black one. It's super portable. Get something like a Asus MB169B+ screen that's USB powered. This set is really super small and light weight and you get a serious Intel Xeon 6 Core. It simply never overheats, has plenty of headroom in processing power and it's just reliable. They are expensive for what they are, not the newest generation of anything in hardware. But they just run. I don't know any smaller workstation with full size Xeon processor and really good thermal design.

i like that! It might be worth considering using one of the new mac minis combined with a usb powered screen instead of the mac pro for such a setup. the mac minis are highly portable as is but i reckon they could easily be mounted in a nice rack with a screen along side all the other usual rack things (mixer, fx, interface etc.)
Old 8th May 2019
  #8
Here for the gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by shahstlz View Post
I left the laptop path after years of having overheating Mac Book Pros. I know you're looking into Windows, but I had to take the same decision and I went for a used 6 Core Mac Pro 6.1. That's the small black one. It's super portable. Get something like a Asus MB169B+ screen that's USB powered. This set is really super small and light weight and you get a serious Intel Xeon 6 Core. It simply never overheats, has plenty of headroom in processing power and it's just reliable. They are expensive for what they are, not the newest generation of anything in hardware. But they just run. I don't know any smaller workstation with full size Xeon processor and really good thermal design.
Yes, that's worth considering! The thing is I run windows-only software, so I'd have to rely on Bootcamp. It's hard to assess what the best option would be considering overall performance and reliability. Andrew Scheps mentioned in the Q+A here that he also stopped using laptops because of thermal throttling and this makes me wonder again.
Old 8th May 2019
  #9
Gear Maniac
 
pcaudiolabs's Avatar
 

Properly-built Pro Audio PC in a rack is your best bet, or a solid laptop. Wouldn't trust anything from the big-box guys.

GL,
Old 4 weeks ago
  #10
Here for the gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by shahstlz View Post
I left the laptop path after years of having overheating Mac Book Pros. I know you're looking into Windows, but I had to take the same decision and I went for a used 6 Core Mac Pro 6.1. That's the small black one. It's super portable. Get something like a Asus MB169B+ screen that's USB powered. This set is really super small and light weight and you get a serious Intel Xeon 6 Core. It simply never overheats, has plenty of headroom in processing power and it's just reliable. They are expensive for what they are, not the newest generation of anything in hardware. But they just run. I don't know any smaller workstation with full size Xeon processor and really good thermal design.
I'm currently considering the HP Z2 Mini G4 with the following specs:

Intel® Xeon® E-2126G vPro™ (3.3 GHz base frequency, up to 4.5 GHz with Intel® Turbo Boost Technology, 12 MB cache, 6 cores)
NVIDIA® Quadro® P1000 (4 GB GDDR5 dedicated)
32 GB DDR4-2666 ECC SDRAM (2 x 16 GB)
512 GB HP Z Turbo Drive PCIe® SSD.

Added to that this portable touchscreen monitor: https://www.trytaihe.com

Seems to be still a quite portable system and hopefully more efficient thermally.

Any thoughts? Anyone using the Z2 Mini?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #11
Gear Nut
 

Seems to be good, except for getting loud:
https://www.tomsguide.com/us/hp-z2-m...view-5697.html

I'm sceptic about the screen. Up to 5 hours battery means that it makes half of that at decent brightness? My recording sessions are usually way longer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fbaldauf View Post
I'm currently considering the HP Z2 Mini G4 with the following specs:

Intel® Xeon® E-2126G vPro™ (3.3 GHz base frequency, up to 4.5 GHz with Intel® Turbo Boost Technology, 12 MB cache, 6 cores)
NVIDIA® Quadro® P1000 (4 GB GDDR5 dedicated)
32 GB DDR4-2666 ECC SDRAM (2 x 16 GB)
512 GB HP Z Turbo Drive PCIe® SSD.

Added to that this portable touchscreen monitor: https://www.trytaihe.com

Seems to be still a quite portable system and hopefully more efficient thermally.

Any thoughts? Anyone using the Z2 Mini?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #12
Gear Maniac
 
pcaudiolabs's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by shahstlz View Post
Seems to be good, except for getting loud:
https://www.tomsguide.com/us/hp-z2-m...view-5697.html

I'm sceptic about the screen. Up to 5 hours battery means that it makes half of that at decent brightness? My recording sessions are usually way longer.

No properly powerful laptop for audio production can run on battery -- the CPU needs the juice to run properly.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #13
Here for the gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by shahstlz View Post
Seems to be good, except for getting loud:
https://www.tomsguide.com/us/hp-z2-m...view-5697.html

I'm sceptic about the screen. Up to 5 hours battery means that it makes half of that at decent brightness? My recording sessions are usually way longer.
The screen can also be powered from an external power supply, so that shouldn't be a problem. The battery would be an "extra" functionality for other applications.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #14
Here for the gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by pcaudiolabs View Post
No properly powerful laptop for audio production can run on battery -- the CPU needs the juice to run properly.
The battery life shahstlz was mentioning was for an external computer monitor. I'm actually considering a mini workstation (desktop), not a laptop.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #15
Gear Maniac
 
pcaudiolabs's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by fbaldauf View Post
The battery life shahstlz was mentioning was for an external computer monitor. I'm actually considering a mini workstation (desktop), not a laptop.
Ah! Well, that works, too
Old 2 weeks ago
  #16
Lives for gear
 

Intel announced equipping its NUCs with i9 mobile CPUs. Wouldn´t be surprised to see i9s in Mac Minis before.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #17
Lives for gear
I'm going to step back quite a few paces and ask the OP the nature and extent of his recording, production and mixing tasks. Does it involve large sample libraries, soft synths, multiple plugins on every track etc ?

The task of recording audio streams alone is a trivial load for a CPU made in 2000-2005... yes, really ! If you need to immerse yourself in the highest core number, biggest RAM processing power, that's always (ie back in 2002, and now) going to entail heat production....necessitating noisy fans to dissipate it !

People are happily recording, producing and mixing on iPads and Surface tablets, modestly equipped with computing power, and fanless too !

I'm not decrying your quest for powerful mobile computing power per Se, but just highlighting that you might be overestimating the amount of hardware necessary to accomplish what you need to do, while the tablet/Surface revolution has been quietly gaining power and momentum in parallel to more conventional (MacBook, NUC, MacMinis) solutions.

People were recording 32 tracks of 24/96 back in 2003 with G5s and similar hardware.....the bitrate transfer requirements today are the same, but the computing hardware has evolved out of sight, so perhaps a much more modest system would actually achieve all your goals, even including future proofing for tomorrow's plugins and sample libraries....without generating so much hot air !

We still have problems with DPC, crackles pops and dropouts etc (like in 2002) but these don't simply vanish with more RAM, cores or clock speeds. Do you really need the audio equivalent of a gaming computer to achieve what are likely very modest goals, which could be easily met by much cheaper, cooler hardware ?
Old 1 week ago
  #18
Gear Maniac
 
pcaudiolabs's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lllubi View Post
Intel announced equipping its NUCs with i9 mobile CPUs. Wouldn´t be surprised to see i9s in Mac Minis before.
NUCs are awesome, been working with them for awhile, great solutions for small systems. As for Apple getting there before the NUC, not so sure about that...
Old 1 week ago
  #19
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by pcaudiolabs View Post
NUCs are awesome, been working with them for awhile, great solutions for small systems. As for Apple getting there before the NUC, not so sure about that...
Apple registered 7 new portable computers lately with the EEC. Just speculating.
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