Which laptop?

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richradio2001
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Which laptop?

Post by richradio2001 » Wed Nov 25, 2015 10:42 am

Hi

I'm thinking of buying a laptop which I'll be using to create music as well as use for live gigging.

Software wise I'm looking at Ableton Live.

Can anyone recommend what kind of spec I should be looking at? The obvious 2 choices are a MacBook Pro or Windows laptop. With the former, there is quite alot of difference in spec, i.e. 4GB, 8GB, 16GB, i5 processor vs i7 processor etc. The price differences can be quite large - I don't really want to be spending anymore money than I have to....but I do need something that will be,

a) solid and reliable
b) no latency - MIDI hookup

I'm really not bothered whether it is a mac or windows - I'm happy with either. I just want to make sure I get the right machine for the right money.

Any help or links to products would be most appreciated!


Richard

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Re: Which laptop?

Post by meatballfulton » Wed Nov 25, 2015 1:42 pm

Some may disagree, but having used many laptops at work and home over the years, I will say Macs are more reliable and better built. That is why they cost more than seemingly equivalent Windows machines. With current Macs, you cannot upgrade the RAM yourself so you should buy as much as you can afford and the fastest processor you can afford. That's true of any computer, actually. I would at least get 8GB of RAM and an i7 processor if you can afford it. Even more importantly, I'd suggest getting an SSD (flash storage) rather than a HD because it makes the machine much faster.

As far as Windows, I think Toshiba makes the best laptops. I have had very bad experiences with HP/Compaq machines literally falling apart. I have not used laptops a lot live but every Windows laptop I've used had ground loop problems unless run off batteries. Mac laptops never had that problem.

Bad news is that new Macs come with the El Capitan OS (10.11). This is still relatively new and many vendors are still not compatible with it. I went through this 6 years ago with Snow Leopard, bought the laptop in December but couldn't run all the software I owned until the following April...ouch. Ableton says Live 9.5 will run on 10.11. You should check about any other software or hardware you will be using.

I'm not sure what the situation is with Windows 10 at this point.
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Re: Which laptop?

Post by tomorrowstops » Wed Nov 25, 2015 4:14 pm

I've got a 13" Retina Macbook from 2013. I went with 8gb of ram and a 250gb harddrive. Definitely wished I had just spent the extra $200 on 16gb of ram. Just for some of the heavier third party pieces of software (Aalto, Diva, East West). But, multitracking Logic and Arturia instruments happens without issue, and thats all I really need. I'm pretty militant with file management, so harddrive space isn't really an issue.

I've owned several Mac laptops over the years. In 2010, I switched up to a Quad Core tower, because I couldn't stand the fan noise and underpoweredness of my black Macbook. After a couple of years I wanted to simplify/minimize my computer world again, so I bought into the newer Macbook Pros and then just traded into my Retina I have now. I absolutely adore my current one, from the beautiful retina screen graphics to the lightning fast start up/shut downs and especially how it doesn't make ANY noise, even under full load. Its amazing how much audio work I can do on this machine.

I run a Focusrite Saffire Pro 14 via Thunderbolt and its rock solid. Its got 5pin midi in/out ports which are also rock solid; wouldn't hesitate to gig with it - and its bus powered for a maximum compact setup. I whole-heartedly recommend any of the Saffire line of interfaces!

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Re: Which laptop?

Post by richradio2001 » Wed Nov 25, 2015 5:06 pm

Thanks both for the replies

I have a Focusrite scarlett 20/18 which I guess is similar to your Saffire....

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Re: Which laptop?

Post by Stab Frenzy » Thu Nov 26, 2015 4:44 am

Another vote for a MBP here. You might as well get 16GB of RAM for audio work. I personally think the 15" quad cores are the way to go if you're doing real-time synthesis. The upside of them is that they haven't really increased the speed of the processors since 2013, so you can buy an older one refurbished and have quite similar performance to the current models. If you are intending to spend the money on a new one I'd wait until the new quad core skylake MBPs are out early next year, that's when I'll be upgrading mine.

All things considered you can easily make music on even a Macbook Air, I made whole albums on a 2006 white polymer Macbook with 2GB of RAM for a while. Sure it's nice to have the latest and greatest thing but if you can't afford the newest it's not going to stop you from making music.

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Re: Which laptop?

Post by SSquirrel » Sun Nov 29, 2015 11:14 pm

Look around on the web for the 2014 MBP models. appleinsider.com has a link on the right side to the best prices for all Apple hardware online. i7 MBPs are quad cores, aim for 16GB of RAM and at least 256GB SSD since you can always pick up a multi TB external drive for almost nothing for bonus storage.

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Re: Which laptop?

Post by Ashe37 » Mon Nov 30, 2015 6:56 am

meatballfulton wrote:Some may disagree, but having used many laptops at work and home over the years, I will say Macs are more reliable and better built. That is why they cost more than seemingly equivalent Windows machines. With current Macs, you cannot upgrade the RAM yourself so you should buy as much as you can afford and the fastest processor you can afford. That's true of any computer, actually. I would at least get 8GB of RAM and an i7 processor if you can afford it. Even more importantly, I'd suggest getting an SSD (flash storage) rather than a HD because it makes the machine much faster.

As far as Windows, I think Toshiba makes the best laptops. I have had very bad experiences with HP/Compaq machines literally falling apart. I have not used laptops a lot live but every Windows laptop I've used had ground loop problems unless run off batteries. Mac laptops never had that problem.

Bad news is that new Macs come with the El Capitan OS (10.11). This is still relatively new and many vendors are still not compatible with it. I went through this 6 years ago with Snow Leopard, bought the laptop in December but couldn't run all the software I owned until the following April...ouch. Ableton says Live 9.5 will run on 10.11. You should check about any other software or hardware you will be using.

I'm not sure what the situation is with Windows 10 at this point.
The internal components for Apple laptops are made by the same folks that make the internal components for HP laptops- Foxconn. If you want similar quality, then you need to buy their business class laptops, not consumer laptops. Their high end gaming laptops and workstation laptops are of similar quality, but the workstation laptops are going to use more expensive Quadro or FirePro graphics.

Most 32-bit clean windows applications work fine in windows 10. Some older applications (mainly games) have problems in win10. (one non-game program i specifically know of is SAM Broadcaster, the older version of which broke with windows 8) Windows 10 also runs fine on much older hardware.

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Re: Which laptop?

Post by meatballfulton » Mon Nov 30, 2015 12:47 pm

Ashe37 wrote:The internal components for Apple laptops are made by the same folks that make the internal components for HP laptops- Foxconn. If you want similar quality, then you need to buy their business class laptops, not consumer laptops.
Yes, the business class laptops are much closer in price to Macbooks. I have been using HP laptops at work for a while (the last one even had Firewire!) but the trackpads are still not up to Apple quality...I always use a mouse.
I listened to Hatfield and the North at Rainbow. They were very wonderful and they made my heart a prisoner.

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Re: Which laptop?

Post by Ashe37 » Mon Nov 30, 2015 1:15 pm

i hate trackpads no matter who made them, and hate the lil eraser nubbin things even more.

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Re: Which laptop?

Post by Ollimac73 » Tue Dec 01, 2015 12:08 pm

"more" cores .... SSD ....at least 16gb RAM

richradio2001
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Re: Which laptop?

Post by richradio2001 » Mon Dec 14, 2015 10:43 am

hey all!

Thamks for all the feedback.

Decided on getting a macbook pro.

Anyone tell me...is it worth paying the extra money for a 15" screen over the 13" ? I'll be using Ableton 9



Thanks


Richard.

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Re: Which laptop?

Post by Stab Frenzy » Mon Dec 14, 2015 12:09 pm

Yes, not just for the bigger screen but also for the four cores instead of two.

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Re: Which laptop?

Post by meatballfulton » Mon Dec 14, 2015 2:44 pm

The main advantage of the 13" is that it's more portable. If the 15" offers more powerful CPU, then go for it. Computers become obsolete so quickly you should always buy as much machine as you possibly can. Now that Apple has made user upgrades difficult (impossible?) don't shortchange yourself on RAM or drive space.

Ableton Live is a single window program so it works well on laptops in general, no need to constantly maneuver popup windows. I used it on a 13" MacBook for a few years, now on a 27" iMac. The 27" screen is way more than I need (my projects aren't that large) but a 15" screen would be worth having.
I listened to Hatfield and the North at Rainbow. They were very wonderful and they made my heart a prisoner.

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Re: Which laptop?

Post by richradio2001 » Mon Dec 14, 2015 2:57 pm

Hi

thanks again all.

I went for the 15" retina display in the end.....and got

i7 quad core
16GB RAM
256GB Flash HDD.

Got it off the Apple website refurbished with the usual 12 months guarentee for nearly £300 less than a new one.

Nice Xmas present to myself!

:)

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