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Tips for choosing the best music production laptop?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #1
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Tips for choosing the best music production laptop?

Hi everyone,

after several years working through mac at home, i've decided to switch to windows computers.. I started with a so called nice mid-budget asus laptop, but actually I've had a catastrophic experience. This is weird because its specs are OK for music production (processor, ram,...).

Then I bought a desktop computer with quite similar specs, that was fantatic, my DAW is fast and powerful.

So why is my laptop so buggy while both computers' qualities are theoretically the same? I want to resolve this stuff as i'd like to buy a new but GREAT WORKING laptop !

Maybe should I go for a "simple specs" one, avoiding graphical card and other useless stuff that would corrupt my DAW's stability?

Thanks so much !

Maxime.

Last edited by Maxime Wathieu; 4 weeks ago at 03:38 PM..
Old 4 weeks ago
  #2
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ChrisLudwig's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maxime Wathieu View Post
Hi everyone,

after several years working through mac at home, i've decided to switch to windows computers.. I started with a so called nice mid-budget asus laptop, but actually I've had a catastrophic experience. This is weird because its specs are OK for music production (processor, ram,...).

Then I bought a desktop computer with quite similar specs, that was fantatic, my DAW is fast and powerful.

So why is my laptop so buggy while both computers' qualities are theoretically the same? I want to resolve this stuff as i'd like to buy a new but GREAT WORKING laptop !

Maybe should I go for a "simple specs" one, avoiding graphical card and other useless stuff that would corrupt my DAW's stability?

Thanks so much !

Maxime.
Hi Maxime,
When purchasing an off the shelf laptop from Asus, HP, Lenovo, Dell, etc. it is always taking a gamble. The companies design and optimize their systems for very different requirements then what someone is looking for a DAW system would require. These systems are designed for low power use, long battery life, and to be lightweight. Essential requirements for the typical home and business user, which is like 99% of their customer base. If a laptop or desktop ends working with minimal DAW compatibility and performance issues from these types of manufacturers, it is more by luck than design.
The manufacturers tend to configure a lot of this power management at the BIOs level and lock down their BIOs from any tweaking of these settings.

With any of these brands, you will tend to have better luck with their higher-end models. You do manage to get into the same price points as current fully configured MAC laptops but in most cases will end up with faster CPU, video card more abundant memory support options on the Windows laptops at that same price point.
Laptops or desktop form dedicated DAW builders will typically always give better CPU performance, stability, and expandability at similar price points to the higher end major brand laptops. You will also tend to get support staff who are more knowledgeable about DAW configuration and troubleshooting.
If you are in the US or Canada, then check out www.fundamentalav.com (my company)
https://www.fundamentalav.com/music-production-laptops
or www.pcaudiolabs.com
https://pcaudiolabs.com/rok-box-mobile-series/

We both offer a range of laptops for DAW use.

In the UK there is Scan UK
https://www.scan.co.uk/3xs/custom/da...on-laptops#anc

I'm not sure if there are any laptop DAW builders on the mainland EU.
Thanks, Chris
Old 4 weeks ago
  #3
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telecode's Avatar
Hi OP, I am/was in a same position as you. Switched from a OS X desktop to a mobile Windows laptop solution. The one a Lenovo which is considered a budget gaming laptop. Not really good enough for hard core games, but its more than enough specs for the music I make. i7, 24gb ram, and I added a m2 SSD along side with the build in 1tb SATA drive for storage. My experience has been fine. I use a lot of FL Studio, Cubase and NI stuff.

My only questionable area is, I can't really tell if the average quality realtek card is doing anything odd to the wav files I export. I cant really tell. I assume not.

What sort of instability are you having? Did you update and patch the BIOS, drivers and Windows OS? Did you adjust power management and throttling? You also *may* want to install the actual NVIDIA or graphics drivers of the graphics maker vs the ones the laptop vendor offer or MS offers on their site. In my case using the NVIDIA drivers made a huge difference in laptop performance and stability.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #4
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ChrisLudwig, thanks for help and links, your computers seem so nice. Actually, after several investigations, I finally agree that choosing something in these mid-budget laptops is gambling...

Can't remember the name, but found a nice website deeply testing lot of laptops, with a lot of benchmarks including that one : https://www.resplendence.com/latencymon

And I think that software can definitely help a lot about checking stability for DAW use.

Older researches on the web made me also think Nvidia drivers are the guilty ones corrupting performances of my actual crap laptop, but anyway, I wanna have a new one, since that one is definitely dead.

GREAT UPDATE: I think I'll get a used late 2013 MacBookpro from a friend, so friendly cheap price. It's a quad core I7, with 16gb of ram and an SSD. Can't refuse that!

I'm starting to be very interested installing both Mac OS (everyday use, maybe some Ableton or Logic Pro) and bootcamp's window 10 (exclusively for pro tools use).
Old 3 weeks ago
  #5
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ChrisLudwig's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maxime Wathieu View Post
ChrisLudwig, thanks for help and links, your computers seem so nice. Actually, after several investigations, I finally agree that choosing something in these mid-budget laptops is gambling...

Can't remember the name, but found a nice website deeply testing lot of laptops, with a lot of benchmarks including that one : https://www.resplendence.com/latencymon

And I think that software can definitely help a lot about checking stability for DAW use.

Older researches on the web made me also think Nvidia drivers are the guilty ones corrupting performances of my actual crap laptop, but anyway, I wanna have a new one, since that one is definitely dead.

GREAT UPDATE: I think I'll get a used late 2013 MacBookpro from a friend, so friendly cheap price. It's a quad core I7, with 16gb of ram and an SSD. Can't refuse that!

I'm starting to be very interested installing both Mac OS (everyday use, maybe some Ableton or Logic Pro) and bootcamp's window 10 (exclusively for pro tools use).
Hi Maxime,
Yes, we use Resplendense Latancymon for testing and support troubleshooting on our systems. It's a great tool to help narrow down performance bottlenecks and stability issues.

If you going with a used 2013 Mac Book Pro I'm not sure why you would bother with running Pro Tools on Windows 10. As long as you d not upgrade the 2013 MBP to the latest Max OSX version which is not compatible it seems with any audio software then you should be fine running Pro Tools on the MAC side.

I would only do the boot camp part f you had to run some windows only software.
Although the 2013 MBP will be slower technically than the ASUS you got it will most likely be more stable so will be worth the trade-off for now.
Good luck with the new setup.

Chris
Old 3 weeks ago
  #6
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I think you should start with what software you are running and what soundcard, usb, ethernet, and what your expectations are, ect. There are plenty of laptops that run fine and I've run HP's for almost 20 years. They work otherwise I would have left as there are a lot of choices.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maxime Wathieu View Post
So why is my laptop so buggy while both computers' qualities are theoretically the same? I want to resolve this stuff as i'd like to buy a new but GREAT WORKING laptop !
Impossible to say without more info. There is no inherent reason a desktop should work any better (or worse) than a laptop.

Quote:
Maybe should I go for a "simple specs" one, avoiding graphical card and other useless stuff that would corrupt my DAW's stability?
? Not sure what "simple specs" means but you really can't avoid a graphics card, nor would you want to; it's far from "useless." The good news is computers now days have one built in to the motherboard, so you don't need an "extra" one or one more powerful (maybe that's what you meant?). Regardless, they should not impact your DAW's stability.

Edit: Reading further, sounds like you've found a solution. A good i7 (keep in mind the chipset matters more than if it's i5, i7 etc...a top-end i5 will blow away a low-end i7) and 16GB RAM should enable you to do just about anything. Good luck!
Old 3 weeks ago
  #8
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telecode's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by bill5 View Post
Impossible to say without more info. There is no inherent reason a desktop should work any better (or worse) than a laptop.


? Not sure what "simple specs" means but you really can't avoid a graphics card, nor would you want to; it's far from "useless." The good news is computers now days have one built in to the motherboard, so you don't need an "extra" one or one more powerful (maybe that's what you meant?). Regardless, they should not impact your DAW's stability.

Edit: Reading further, sounds like you've found a solution. A good i7 (keep in mind the chipset matters more than if it's i5, i7 etc...a top-end i5 will blow away a low-end i7) and 16GB RAM should enable you to do just about anything. Good luck!
the only think to be aware is laptops generally have power management and cpu throttling enabled by default -- because they are mobile devices made for mobile use --- so power setting are in effect for cpu, usb, network and various other features out of the box to allow for longer battery life while unplugged.

I generally suggest, turn them all off for music production and also disable the virtualization features of the CPU if you dont use VMs.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by telecode View Post
the only think to be aware is laptops generally have power management and cpu throttling enabled by default -- because they are mobile devices made for mobile use --- so power setting are in effect for cpu, usb, network and various other features out of the box to allow for longer battery life while unplugged.
Good point, but much of that can be easily tweaked.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #10
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John Moran's Avatar
 

HP ZBook is a modern workstation laptop designed for high end engineering applications including CAD and Video rendering. It will have no issues running large audio sessions. These are very serious machines when you're ready to get serious about it.

https://www8.hp.com/us/en/workstations/zbook-17.html
Old 3 weeks ago
  #11
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Well, the OP said he already is getting an i7 with 16GB RAM...might not be an 8000+ series chipset, but not likely to worth the cost to upgrade to this.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #12
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I have an eluktronics for my mobile rig (a Clevo case and whatever specs you choose) that works great but I’m interesting in see how Razer specs their “studio” laptop.
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