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Suggestions for a PC laptop for MCH

kap'n krunch

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#1
since nowadays laptops are RIDICULOUSLY CHEAP... I gotta get one since I left my heart.. well, my COMPUTERS back in Madrid and I have about $500 bucks to spend on one..
What are the features to look for?
All you computer savvy Quadheads...ROLL CALL!!!
 

jimfisheye

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#4
I like the pro Apple machines made from 2008 - 2012. I strongly recommend avoiding all the disposable models they went to after that (even with "pro" in the name).
You can get a much nicer and faster machine (and put a SSD in it) for what you'd pay for a more phone-like "netbook" new. 2011 & 12 had some quad core i7 3.36GHz models if you want modern fast. Overkill for just listening to music of course (even HD MCH).

Absolutely put a SSD in whatever you get. Even a SATA SSD on a SATA2 bus is blazing fast FYI. You won't see the benefit from the pci connected M.2 SSD drives unless you're streaming uncompressed video files around.
 

Frogmort

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#5
A friend of mine just updated his years old i7 to a SSD and he said it starts up in less than 30 seconds. My 4 year old i5 HDD takes about 2 minutes. I'd love to get an SSD. (y)
 

LuvMyQuad

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#6
I think SSDs are great for startup and such but if you plan on storing a lot of files it may not be the way to go. SSD prices start to get very expensive as you approach common HDD sizes.

I would also make sure your new laptop has HDMI.
 

The Bright Side

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#7
Hey! So first off, obviously, it must have HDMI.

Secondly, I agree with everything said about SSDs, with the caveat that of course they don't take much data, so get a laptop with 2 hard drives in it. One SSD (256 GB or some such) and a second conventional hard drive with 1 TB. Otherwise, you won't be able to store much multichannel music on it to begin with, and you'd have to get an external USB HDD.

Apart from that, you should be fine with 16 GB RAM, a decent modern CPU, an your regular on-board graphics. Of course, gaming will be out of the question, but this should meet your everyday needs.
 

DuncanS

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#8
I would use an SSD for programs to gain speed, and an HDD for data. The new generation of SSDs are pretty reliable, but if the interface on one of the FLASH chips fails you can't get data back out of it. If your HDD fails it is possible using software tools to recover data, not easy, but possible unless its been a head crash etc.
 

jimfisheye

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#11
Decide what you want internal in the laptop vs. what would be fine external when thinking about drives.
You will have two drive bays internally. Stock use is a SATA 2.5" drive and an optical drive.
They make caddies to mount a 2.5" drive in the optical bay.
As an audio guy, I like a 480GB SSD for OS/apps/high performance work space and then a 1TB 7200rpm HDD for storage that still gives me higher performance (for an HDD) in a pinch.

If the machine was to be used for an audio archive and only streaming 2 - 9 channels of 24/96 audio I might put two 2TB 5400rpm drives in. (The slower spinning HDD's can be larger storage.) The I/O performance needed for streaming HD MCH audio is trivial.

If this was aimed at live performance stage use, I'd do the audio guy setup I noted and then make a 2nd partition on the 7200rpm HDD for a backup clone of the primary SSD. If something goes wrong on stage, you can boot into your backup. Maybe you're compromising by not recording the rest of the show if you really needed that SSD for what you're doing but at least you're back in action in about a minute.
Or maybe not stage use but some other critical use where regularly scheduled backups are important. Having that backup partition internally would eliminate the need for an external for the primary drive. (You'd still need one for the data drive of course.)

Just a couple examples. Plan your hard drive config for what you're using it for.
Think of drives as accessories, not part of the computer. Doesn't matter what might have been sold stock with the machine, you can do what you please.
And buy any external drives you will be using for backup clones at the same time. If you don't back it up, you're planning to delete it!

Note that many of the more phone-like "netbooks" will have a single drive bay (usually 2.5" SATA) and the newer disposable Apple machines have a single M.2 pci connected SSD. Careful what you shop for. Having to go external for everything on such machines can cost more than starting with a more pro model with internal drive bays. Shop for convenient ports too. Got TB3/USB-C accessories and ports on all the rest of your gear? If not, don't buy a machine with only TB3/USB-C ports! re: HDMI You don't always see this option but in this case a TB/display port to HDMI cable just works and is common.
 
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bluelightning

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#12
So much good advice. I would first start with what your use cases are for this laptop. As for data drive, my preference would be to use an external network storage drive or NAS and 480 GB SSD . Many of the SSDs allow to use a 1or 2 or more chips for data redundancy in case a memory chip fails. In any case I would most store data in the NAS. Dont forget an ethernet connection or whatever form of network wired connection available.
 

LuvMyQuad

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#13
Kap,

it would help a to understand the intended function. Is this is a laptop that can play music when needed, or a machine being acquired for the purpose of playing music?

Decide on how much storage you feel you need on the machine itself. Its all good advice that was given above. The bottom line here is SSDs excel at speed because there are no moving parts. Program statups and some tasks are all done faster, which is great for running software like media players and sound manipulators and such, Their down side is their high cost and a lower reliability compared to HHDs. Storing music files themselves requires a lot of capacity and it does not need to be fast. So the cheaper, more reliable, spinning HDDs are preferred.

If you plan to stream to Bluetooth make sure the Laptop has a Bluetooth transmitter... don't laugh, not all do. Although you can use an external dongle xmitter if you need to.

Will you be connecting to a network? The internet? with a wired connection, a wireless connection, or both?

It used to be that not all HDMI equipped laptops allowed sound transfer through the HDMI port (they were intended only to support dual display). This may have changed over time. It may be more standard now.

What kind of optical disk drive will it need? You a disk guy? You gotta burn blue rays? Ya gotta read em? My preference is for an external optical drive, just because they seem less trouble prone than the ones inside of laptops. Probably due to the amount of movement and abuse my laptop likely sees. I actua;;y use a BRD burner made for a desktop and connect it via USB to the laptop. I process and rip all my music on my laptop, then store the completed files on a NAS.

Don't be afraid to do this in pieces. Laptop now, and music storage later when more funds are available. You can always use large thumb drives to store a small music collection in the beginning and the copy it over to a larger NAS or external drive later.

One idea I just found out about a few weeks ago was this: I replaced my home router with a Synology model. The new router has a USB port that you can attach an external drive to. In effect, it gives you a NAS without needing to buy a NAS box. You only need locate the external drive and the router in the same place.
 

jimfisheye

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#14
With 10 years of SSD use behind us now, I still see more HDD failures than SSD failures. I believe the worry over SSD reliability is unreasonable. NO hard drive is perfect. They are all consumables and they will ALL fail one day. Not if, but when. Anything you don't have backed up is something you are in the process of intentionally throwing away. I think the freaking out over SSD potential failure is based on erroneous thinking that they were supposed to be permanent while at the same time not realizing HDD's were even more fragile devices.

For large storage however, the HDD is still more bang for the buck. Don't pay for a SSD if you aren't really going to use it. Like I suggested for a "music machine only" example above, two 2TB 5400rpm HDD's would get you 4TB internal storage that is still magnitudes faster than required for streaming the highest quality (largest bitrate) HD MCH music for under $200.

A 240GB SSD is around $70 and a 480GB SSD is around $140 these days. And there are often sales that knock $20 off.

The pci connected M.2 SSD's are still at least 2x the price. Consider that even with a SATA connected SSD on a SATA2 bus (max about 250 MB/s) that you have eliminated the drive as any kind of bottleneck in your system. (HDD's are usually 80 - 120 MB/s but there's also seek time.) Going to a SATA3 bus and getting full speed of these SSDs (around 500MB/s) would even be a moot point most of the time. Do you really want to pay 2x for a drive to get 4 GB/s speeds? This only comes up editing raw 4k video. (Raw. Not the compressed 4k you get out of even high end consumer cameras.)
 

kap'n krunch

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#15
Thanks again all for chiming in...
Start from the beginning...
I am a Mac guy, got a 2005 G5 (in Madrid...coming next year) and I left an iMac in Madrid with my ex...
But
I am embracing a PC laptop setup for my new place in the US..
Planning on doing some live and Multitrack recording, playing, QC of MCH discs, so, yes, I'll need an external optical drive, which I have already..
I think that the option of SSDs and normal HDs is a great idea...
Why a laptop? Cause I wanna keep my clutter to a minimum at home=not a lot of space...
But, basically it will be a home audio playback/production PC
 
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bluelightning

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#16
With 10 years of SSD use behind us now, I still see more HDD failures than SSD failures. I believe the worry over SSD reliability is unreasonable. NO hard drive is perfect. They are all consumables and they will ALL fail one day. Not if, but when. Anything you don't have backed up is something you are in the process of intentionally throwing away. I think the freaking out over SSD potential failure is based on erroneous thinking that they were supposed to be permanent while at the same time not realizing HDD's were even more fragile devices.
Agree with you. I consider SSDs as far more reliable and durable especially in a mobile/rugged use situation. This is simply due to the lack of moving parts. HDDs can be very sensitive to shock. If you drop or bump the laptop , there are very good chances the drive head will be damaged rendering data on it inaccessible. I would just put a 480 GB SSD on the laptop and be done with it. Use a portable USB3 external drive for additional on the go storage. Augment that with additional network storage.
 

jimfisheye

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#17
Already spoiled with Macs? Live multitrack recording?
Yeah, you want one of the pro Macbook Pros Apple used to make. late 2008 thru mid 2012.
480GB SSD for your primary drive and then either a 1TB 7200rpm HDD or a 2TB 5400rpm HDD for a 2nd data drive.

If you're adventurous, a late 2011 MBP with a failed AMD GPU in the 2nd graphics card (these machines had a feature of a 2nd graphics card that would run wall sized cinema displays - and AMD screwed up) goes for as little as $200 on Ebay. There's a firmware hack to turn the 2nd GPU off and use only the first with full support of the built-in display. Get a $1000 street value Mac for $200. I'll share the hack with anyone on this forum. (FYI the 13" machines and most of the newer disposable 15" models only have a single graphics card. The "card" is physically part of the logic board which is why it can't simply be swapped out.) I'm currently sporting one of these late 2011 MBP's with a single GPU for my laptop. Runs the latest OSX and still supports back to 10.6.8. Nicer than anything you can buy new today at any cost IMHO.
 
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