The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 All  This Thread  Reviews  Gear Database  Gear for sale     Latest  Trending
Best PC Laptop for audio apps?
Old 11th March 2003
  #1
Lives for gear
 

Best PC Laptop for audio apps?

I am totalling re-vamping my live-performance rig. it will be based around one Mac laptop and one PC laptop. I have thought about rack-mount units, but I really need the convenience and small size of the laptops.

The Mac side is easy, not a lot of choices, but the pc side is making me nuts.

I will NOT be running a DAW on this pc (though I may run Logic on the Mac) The PC will be for the following:

Gigasampler. I have Gigastudio on a sep PC for the studio. This pc laptop will only need to play back a few sounds, so I want to keep it simple.

2: An 'Intelligent arranger" software, for occasional auto-accompaniment.

3: A DJ-type software, for playing back and cross-fading cd tracks or mp3's.

that's it.

What I want to know is:

1: what is the best laptop for this purpose, cost no object? Obviously I need fast hard drives and lots of ram.

2: What, if anything, do I need to interface an audio-midi card? IE do I need a docking station?

3: How do I strip the thing down, to get rid of unneeded hardware and software. I certainly won't need the modem. I want to make this pc as stable as possible.


4: I assume I want to use XP-pro. If the laptop doesn't come with it standard, are there any features to look for that are important regarding XP-Pro?


-THANKS IN ADVANCE.
Old 12th March 2003
  #2
Lives for gear
 

Nobody has any thoughts on this?

I did a little research today, and it's pretty frustrating. It's really hard to get detailed specs on the laptops. here are a few of the important questions I have:
-----------------------------------------------

internal drives: none seem to be 7200 rpm, I guess because of heat issues. Assuming that I kept sampler audio (Giga) on an external drive, will the slower application drive make any difference? I need to have 3-4 applications running at once.

$1600 Toshiba and the $3600 IBM both have 512K L2 caches. Could there be significant differences between these, or are all L2 caches basically the same? Again, I'm worried about having 3-4 apps running concurrently, without crashing.

The IBM is rated to 95 degrees and 95% humidity. does that mean that I can’t safely use it outdoors on a hot summer day, or under a tent during a rainstorm? The toshiba is only rated to 80% humidity. Are they just being more conservative than IBM, or could the IBM be somehow better sealed or something?

Only the IBM has a firewire option, but $3600 for a laptop pc? Yikes. If I go with a lesser pc without firewire, I'm stuck with just one drive. Can I even THINK about running 3 apps, plus Giga, all on one internal drive? I don’t need tons of insts or voices from Giga, but I’ll be looking to minimize latency.

LCD’s: No pc gives brightness or contrast figures. I will ABSOLUTELY need to be able to see the screen outdoors. No chance? Any idea how I can find out the brightness and contrast specs on various models? any idea if the ultra expensive laptops have BRIGHTER screens?


-thanks.
Old 13th March 2003
  #3
Gear Maniac
 
alfonso's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by speerchucker
Nobody has any thoughts on this?

I did a little research today, and it's pretty frustrating. It's really hard to get detailed specs on the laptops. here are a few of the important questions I have:
-----------------------------------------------

Q) internal drives: none seem to be 7200 rpm, I guess because of heat issues. Assuming that I kept sampler audio (Giga) on an external drive, will the slower application drive make any difference? I need to have 3-4 applications running at once.

Application data are opened in ram, so no problem...fast hd are needed only for data streaming. for that purpose firewire is necessary.

Q) $1600 Toshiba and the $3600 IBM both have 512K L2 caches. Could there be significant differences between these, or are all L2 caches basically the same? Again, I'm worried about having 3-4 apps running concurrently, without crashing.

512K L2 cache is a very great improvement on 256k for performance, don't miss it.

Q) The IBM is rated to 95 degrees and 95% humidity. does that mean that I can’t safely use it outdoors on a hot summer day, or under a tent during a rainstorm? The toshiba is only rated to 80% humidity. Are they just being more conservative than IBM, or could the IBM be somehow better sealed or something?

sorry, i don't know...but that price must have a reason...

Q) Only the IBM has a firewire option, but $3600 for a laptop pc? Yikes. If I go with a lesser pc without firewire, I'm stuck with just one drive. Can I even THINK about running 3 apps, plus Giga, all on one internal drive? I don’t need tons of insts or voices from Giga, but I’ll be looking to minimize latency.

One drive only is foolish. Consider also expanding ram as much as you can.

Q) LCD’s: No pc gives brightness or contrast figures. I will ABSOLUTELY need to be able to see the screen outdoors. No chance? Any idea how I can find out the brightness and contrast specs on various models? any idea if the ultra expensive laptops have BRIGHTER screens?

you should check the models on daylight....

BTW i don't have any laptop, but i run a pc daw.

ciao.


-thanks.
Old 14th March 2003
  #4
Lives for gear
 

"Application data are opened in ram, so no problem...fast hd are needed only for data streaming. "

-How sure are you of this staement? I've heard some "experts" say just the opposite, hence my question. Application write and read invisible files, and perhaps there are other things also going on in the backround.

Can anyone else confirm or deny this?
------------------------------------------


"One drive only is foolish."

Why, if as you say applications are opened in ram?

Granted, a second drive is the BEST way to go, but
I can runa 50 track Protools session off of my Mac's start-drive, with several other applications open. Yhat's not optimum, of course, but it does work. -And lots of people edit DAW sessions on laptops, so it obviously works to a certain extent.

Making firewire happen with a laptop is incredibly expensive, and takes up more room as well. I'm looking for some benchmarks or general guidelines of some kind, not generalizations.
-----------

"512K L2 cache is a very great improvement on 256k for performance,"

I guess I should have been more clear, what I meant was:

Are all 512K L2 caches the same? -I'm trying to figure out what could possibly make the IBM worth so much. Even with an added docking station, the Toshiba is $1700 less than the IBM, and they seem to have almost exactly the same specs.
Old 14th March 2003
  #5
Gear Maniac
 
alfonso's Avatar
 

About the fact that application data are loaded in ram there is no doubt.

The real problem, and I'm sorry that i forgot to mention, is virtual memory. In fact, that is a frequent write and read operation, and it's the real enemy of performance if done on the same hd in wich audio data are streamed to and from.

Other small writings in app folders, like preset updates etc. are not very important.

Of course, if you have plenty of ram you can turn off virtual memory, and you will see a great performance improvement if you have only one disk.

the difference in two L2 caches of the same size is just related to the quality of the processors...

but i think that the difference in price is due to other things, like the global quality process in production and economical policies of the brands (dumping, agreements etc.), so it's hard to give any opinion without having tested the machines.

ciao :-)
Old 14th March 2003
  #6
Lives for gear
 

Thanks for the info, alfonso. This helps a bit.

I sure wish i could find out more. I've been told that it may be possible to build a custom laptop, with two drives, as long as I don't mind fan noise.

I have to look into this further....
Old 14th March 2003
  #7
Lives for gear
 
tommyd's Avatar
 

Speechucker,
Sorry I'm so late to the dance, but hope this info will help. I use an older Dell Inspiron 5000e laptop for Protools editing, with the following added goodies. MBox attached via USB ( I was skeptical, but it works flawlessly)
An Adaptec FireConnect 1394 firewire cardbus pcmcia card,
and an external ide drive enclosure of my own making. ( I'll post pictures and parts list if I can find the digital camera)
The cool thing about the external case I made is that I put in a Storcase removeable drive caddy, and have one in my home pt rig as well. I can work on a session at home, pop out the drive, take my laptop and drive enclosure in my backpack to edit on the run, plug the firewire drive into other studios rigs, etc.
Mind you I use this is for PT, not Giga, but it should work. 'll try to get those pics up today with parts list.
rollz TommyD
Old 17th March 2003
  #8
Here for the gear
 

yo, don't know if you've made your purchase yet, but if not - check out the Sager line...

www.sagerforums.com
www.pctorque.com

probably something there you'd be interested in. either that or one of the new dell d800's should do you right.

peace.
Old 18th March 2003
  #9
Lives for gear
 

Yowsa! The Sager stuff looks VERY good. I didn't know you could get a laptop customized to that extent. and a 3.4 ghz P4, with TWO ATA drives. Boy Howdy!

-AND Adam at PCTorque somewhat understands the specialized needs of daw users. He even knew which model had an LCD with the best contrast and brightness. (surprising it's the 5660, NOT the top-line 8887)

Thanks, Dissenter, I think this will do very well.

The one big stumbling block is onboard audio, though. There is no way to get rid of that, though it can probably be turned off in the bios.
Old 19th March 2003
  #10
Lives for gear
 

tommyd,

I would indeed like to know more about your custom FW caddy. I will likely use a Sager 5660 with an external FW myself, though I'll likely get a pre-made unit from somewhere. Did you have any any considerations regarding heat, humidity, and anti-shock?
Old 19th March 2003
  #11
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally posted by speerchucker
tommyd,

I would indeed like to know more about your custom FW caddy. I will likely use a Sager 5660 with an external FW myself, though I'll likely get a pre-made unit from somewhere. Did you have any any considerations regarding heat, humidity, and anti-shock?
hey glad you dig the sagers! i'm personally waiting for the 5760s to come out this summer (i hear 3 months or so) with the p4's that use an 800mhz fsb. know that these things won't have a great battery life, but that really doesn't matter as i always have mine plugged in anyhow!

if you're looking for a quality f/w audio interface i'd REALLY check out the new yamaha o1x mixer!

not only is it a control surface, digital mixer, and midi interface, but it runs vst plugs on its dsp chips!!!

definitely the way i would go if i were setting up a laptop system.

http://messe.harmony-central.com/Mus...ha/PR/01X.html

man i love technology!
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Forum Jump
Forum Jump