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Other Musical laptop

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by ModSquid, 26 Jul 2019.

  1. ModSquid

    ModSquid Member

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    Hello yes please.

    A quick one this time - need a laptop to run Ableton on/do music. Any idea what the best option is? Not doing Apple (bleurgh). I'm thinking Surface but I am not in any way hooked into the current laptop scene. I THINK I need a minimum of i5, more RAM the better (apparently), no gaming requirements, erm...can't think of anything else. Probably doesn't even need stellar sound if going to use headphones on train etc..

    Recommendations required.

    Word, yo.
     
  2. ModSquid

    ModSquid Member

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    Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?
     
  3. ModSquid

    ModSquid Member

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    Harumph.
     
  4. Gareth Halfacree

    Gareth Halfacree WIIGII! Staff Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

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    Budget? Size constraints? Weight constraints? Are you interfacing external audio hardware, i.e. do you need multiple USB ports? Analogue audio in/out? Will you need decent internal speakers, or will all your work go through headphones? Do you need a touch-screen? Do you want hi-DPI, or would 1080p do you? Are you going to be running it from battery for any length of time, or is it going to be tethered to the mains for most of its life?

    I would tell you to avoid the Surface range, though. I've a Surface Pro 128GB, and it's shite. It's also impossible to use on your lap, and the keyboard cover thing's too floppy to use on a train or plane's seat-back table - unless you'd be happy doing everything on the touch-screen.
     
  5. liratheal

    liratheal Sharing is Caring

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    While I agree with the lap thing, as a portable desk computer I don't think it's fair to call them shite :p

    I've known more than a few being successfully used in various industries, by various users.

    But yes, as a lap device they're arse. The Surface Book might be better, being as it's more traditional laptop, but I've not used one personally.
     
  6. Gareth Halfacree

    Gareth Halfacree WIIGII! Staff Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

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    I mean, *mine's* definitely shite. If I'd bought it new, it'd have gone back - but it was second-hand, and sits around for the odd time I *have* to use Windows and a VM won't cut the mustard. Other than that, it doesn't get used. Because, again, it's shite.

    Ignoring Windows itself, it's: heavy, poor battery life, screen's too shiny to use in daylight, can't use it on your lap, can't use it handheld 'cos again it's heavy, the cooling's woeful, both the Touch and Type Cover keyboards are absolutely awful to use for any length of time, it has a clever magnetic catch to keep the pen but it's also where it charges so you inevitably lose the pen when you plug the thing in (don't take my word for that, have a look at how few second-hand Surfaces still have their pens with 'em...), nothing's user-replaceable, the kickstand extends out the back and makes the thing take up too much room to use on seat-back tables where a similarly-sized traditional laptop would work fine...

    Yeah. Shite.
     
  7. edzieba

    edzieba Virtual Realist

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    I've got one (the older "maybe its a 940M or something" GPU version), no real problems with than when it is docked with the lid closed and you press the sleep button it will occasionally decide to wake up again immediately 1-2 times before staying asleep. Not all the time, maybe once a week or two.
     
  8. liratheal

    liratheal Sharing is Caring

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    Sounds like you have one of the early ones. Squat, fat, black, and best used as a mouse mat.

    They're infinitely better these days, but as mentioned, I heavily prefer them for somewhere on a desk. The later editions do have magnets for the pen on the other side (Although until the more recent pens, the pens were worthless anyway, worked barely better than fingers), although it will stick to either side.

    The second hand pen thing I think is because most of the pens translate between Surfaces, and at ~£100 a pop, it makes more sense to keep the pen (Especially if you have the 3XY or EYU models, preferably the EYU models..). As for the type cover.. Ehh. It feels like any other laptop keyboard to me. I'd be hard pressed to say I like it any more or less than any keyboard that isn't mechanical.

    That said, if I could have the Surface in the same form factor as the Dell Studio 1555 (I think that was my favourite laptop I've ever owned), maintaining the detachable touch screen doodad without spending the Surface Book money, I'd be interested.

    As for user serviceability, having replaced my fair share of parts on various Surfaces, eh.. It's not that much worse than phones that make excessive use of adhesive. It's worse on the newer models (IE: 5+) because the storage is not an m.2 or msata drive any more. Which is a shame.

    IMO they do need a somewhat specific kind of user to make the most of them - If you're often trying to work on trains, planes, or the back of a car then the Book variant would be better than the regular - But I've known a decent number of people who do exactly that and love their Surface.


    Interesting. Depending on what any new employer offers, I might be trying to swing a SB for work.
     
  9. Gareth Halfacree

    Gareth Halfacree WIIGII! Staff Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

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    Yurp, that's the puppy.
    Good to know they've improved, but I don't think I'll be upgrading any time soon...
     
  10. liratheal

    liratheal Sharing is Caring

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    Knowing your .. enthusiasm for the various flavours of penguin, I can't say I'd ever have imagined you would!
     
  11. Gareth Halfacree

    Gareth Halfacree WIIGII! Staff Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

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    Got to admit, it does come in handy when I need to use FLIR Tools for my thermal camera. Haven't figured out how to get that working properly in WINE.

    Bonus points: combine FLIR Tools and OBS Studio, and I can record video - something my bottom-end thermal camera can't do on its own. It's low resolution, and you can't disable the overlay, but still.



    But I digress. OP, buy a Dell XPS13. Job done.
     
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  12. sandys

    sandys Well-Known Member

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    Not sure Dell is the best place to go for music laptop, they had DPC latency issues for a long time.
     
  13. yuusou

    yuusou Well-Known Member

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    Not on the new gen.
     
  14. RedFlames

    RedFlames ...is not a Belgian football team

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    Dell XPS or Dell Precision, depending on budget and/or other needs.
     
  15. sandys

    sandys Well-Known Member

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  16. ModSquid

    ModSquid Member

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    Chaps - you have done your community proud. A warm thank you.

    Many things to consider there so I will start with replying to stuff in order (been away for a while from a machine that will let me respond outside of a firewall and I can actually type on):
    • Budget? About a grand-ish. Not because I think that's either fair or affordable, just because I think I'm in a corner on this one. Give or take a bit, but not a lot
    • Size constraints? Currently have a (don't laugh, it's still serving its purpose but ain't gonna cut it for the Ableton) Acer 6930G for comparison, which is 16" and not appropriate. So the suggestion of an XPS13 is sounding attractive
    • Weight constraints? Lighter the better. Will be amobile unit
    • Are you interfacing external audio hardware, i.e. do you need multiple USB ports? Erm...don't think so (EAH-wise). I'm assuming I save everything down on the mobile and re-do it on the desktop if required
    • Analogue audio in/out? Will you need decent internal speakers, or will all your work go through headphones? Thinking headphones for the mobile unit
    • Do you need a touch-screen? No
    • Do you want hi-DPI, or would 1080p do you? 1080
    • Are you going to be running it from battery for any length of time, or is it going to be tethered to the mains for most of its life? Battery
    • I would tell you to avoid the Surface range, though. I've a Surface Pro 128GB, and it's shite. Noted!
    • It's also impossible to use on your lap, and the keyboard cover thing's too floppy to use on a train or plane's seat-back table - unless you'd be happy doing everything on the touch-screen No Surface then. Ta!
    • If I get an XPS13, am I getting b-fingered on price vs user upgrades ie. I used to buy a low-spec laptop and pull it apart (my 6930G is now running an X9100(??) Core chip but the system is slowing down a bit, although I think this may be more due to the memory limitations and the amount of crud I have open). I think the newer stuff is soldered/non-user upgradeable....??
    • I like the sound of the XPS13 but not sure if the aforementioned dpc issue is the same as the latency/apic thing I've read about...? Grateful for further advice!
     
  17. ModSquid

    ModSquid Member

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    Also - cheers all!
     
  18. Gareth Halfacree

    Gareth Halfacree WIIGII! Staff Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

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    Mine's a 9360 bought in October 2017, so not exactly the newest model, but the bottom cover pops off with the removal of a bunch of screws to reveal the innards. You can replace the battery, M.2 SSD, and Wi-Fi card. You cannot replace the memory or the CPU, so buy what you need now 'cos upgrading ain't going to be an option.
     
  19. RedFlames

    RedFlames ...is not a Belgian football team

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    Dell Precision 3540 - https://www.dell.com/en-uk/work/sho...40/spd/precision-15-3540-laptop/n019p3540emea

    The RAM is a little anaemic, but iirc it is upgradeable [can't speak for how upgradeable or not the rest of it is]. They do offer a configurable one but for reasons known only to dell it's more expensive for the same/worse spec.

    Or the current Spec XPS13 - https://www.dell.com/en-uk/shop/lap...ps/new-xps-13/spd/xps-13-7390-laptop/cnx73901

    iirc, they've gone even further down the apple route of everything being soldered on/glued in but... included for comparisons sake. They also have the newer 10th gen intel cpus fwiw.

    EDIT: Both come with thunderbolt if that a consideration for any external audio interfaces, though i can never remember what windows compatibility with them is like over TB.
     
    Last edited: 12 Sep 2019

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