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Buying My First Studio Laptop <£650

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Buying My First Studio Laptop <£650

Postby AardvarkG » Sat May 12, 2012 6:46 pm

Hey, this is my first EVER forum post! Here goes...

I'm looking to start recording to promote myself as a young, hopefully, upcoming guitarist. First thing I need, is a laptop! I was originally looking at an apple mac, till i saw the price! Can anyone recommend a good laptop, fast enough to use midi software and run guitar plugins with minimal/no latency, record up to 12 tracks and use as an everyday computer for less than £650.

Thanks for your Help

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Re: Buying My First Studio Laptop <£650

Postby DAGGILARR » Sun May 13, 2012 6:58 am

A second hand Mac
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Re: Buying My First Studio Laptop <£650

Postby ezza » Sun May 13, 2012 10:21 am

If you go for second hand mac you need to get an intel one so you can install windows on it.

Have you looked at the sticky thread re laptops at the top of this forum?

http://www.soundonsound.com/forum/showf ... r=414373&a mp;page=0&view=collapsed&sb=5&o=365&fpart=1#414373

If you can try out laptops in a shop you should put DPC latency checker on a usb stick and run it on the laptop. Instructions and download here:

http://www.thesycon.de/deu/latency_check.shtml]http://www.thesycon.de/deu/latency_check.shtml]http://www.thesycon.de/deu/latency_check.shtml

If you get a bad result on the model you want try disabling wifi and test again. If you need wifi you could leave the built in one disabled and get a more well behaved USB model. I use an Edimax EW-7811Un.

Finally remember that the latency is as much to do with the audio interface you choose. There's a lot of info here that would help.

/erol
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Re: Buying My First Studio Laptop <£650

Postby DAGGILARR » Sun May 13, 2012 12:20 pm

ezza wrote:If you go for second hand mac you need to get an intel one so you can install windows on it.


I agree intel mac a must but why would you want windows on it ? other than maybe a VM for odds and sods
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Re: Buying My First Studio Laptop <£650

Postby Agharta » Sun May 13, 2012 5:29 pm

DAGGILARR wrote:
ezza wrote:If you go for second hand mac you need to get an intel one so you can install windows on it.

I agree intel mac a must but why would you want windows on it?
This is a Windows forum so why wouldn’t the OP want to install Windows!
A more pertinent question is why you would recommend a Mac on a Windows forum? Trolling maybe!
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Re: Buying My First Studio Laptop <£650

Postby DAGGILARR » Sun May 13, 2012 9:49 pm

Agharta wrote:
DAGGILARR wrote:
ezza wrote:If you go for second hand mac you need to get an intel one so you can install windows on it.

I agree intel mac a must but why would you want windows on it?
This is a Windows forum so why wouldn’t the OP want to install Windows!
A more pertinent question is why you would recommend a Mac on a Windows forum? Trolling maybe!

The OP mentioned a Mac I did not recommend one I merely pointed out that they may consider a second hand one. I would, however recommend the use of OSX should they get one. I fail to see how your question is more pertinent; pertinent to what? chill out man
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Re: Buying My First Studio Laptop <£650

Postby ezza » Mon May 14, 2012 9:47 am

DAGGILARR wrote:
Agharta wrote:
DAGGILARR wrote:
ezza wrote:If you go for second hand mac you need to get an intel one so you can install windows on it.

I agree intel mac a must but why would you want windows on it?
This is a Windows forum so why wouldn’t the OP want to install Windows!
A more pertinent question is why you would recommend a Mac on a Windows forum? Trolling maybe!

The OP mentioned a Mac I did not recommend one I merely pointed out that they may consider a second hand one. I would, however recommend the use of OSX should they get one. I fail to see how your question is more pertinent; pertinent to what? chill out man

As long as the OP can get an i5 or i7 macbook for 650 quid. If it's an i5 pc vs a core 2 macbook then I would go for the pc.

/erol
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Re: Buying My First Studio Laptop <£650

Postby AardvarkG » Mon May 14, 2012 5:25 pm

I did think about a second hand mac. If I did, I wouldn't install the windows software as apparently this allows apples to get some microsoft viruses. + the very little teaching I've had on recording was on Logic. Though I dont want the risk that it might break down in 6months leaving me computerless! The laptop ideally needs to last me a good 4-5 years.

Thanks for your advice everyone! I Have seen this... anygood? http://www.johnlewis.com/231577589/Product.aspx

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Re: Buying My First Studio Laptop <£650

Postby Sabbs » Mon May 14, 2012 6:13 pm

Hi

Unpatched machines using any operating system whether Linux,Windows,Apple's OS are vulnerable to viruses.

Keeping your machine patched, firewall on and an antivirus client whatever the OS is always prudent.
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Re: Buying My First Studio Laptop <£650

Postby shufflebeat » Mon May 14, 2012 7:02 pm

Your requirements seem quite modest. There are many folks on here and in other places using bog standard machines, xp, w7, even the dreaded Vista with no issues. I'm a hobbyist as far as home recording goes but still manage to rack up 20 odd tracks when I'm having friends round. My aging XP Toshiba runs Reaper and a fair few plugins without much of a struggle.

There's a great thread about recommended laptops, many of which can be found second hand, the thread's been running so long.
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Re: Buying My First Studio Laptop <£650

Postby johnny h » Mon May 14, 2012 7:10 pm

Generally Mac laptops last much longer than pc ones before they get all slow and weird. Not exactly sure why but it's always been my experience and that of many others...
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Re: Buying My First Studio Laptop <£650

Postby AardvarkG » Mon May 14, 2012 7:38 pm

johnny h wrote:Generally Mac laptops last much longer than pc ones before they get all slow and weird. Not exactly sure why but it's always been my experience and that of many others...

Thanks for passing that on. My friends have said similar, but again surely that depends on what the machine has been used for? That's my main concern about buying secondhand, I dont want to buy one thats been used to run thousands of programms, never been rebooted or whatever. Should this be a Concern??

Thanks for all your advice everyone.

P.s Shufflebeat may you send me a link to that forum??

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Re: Buying My First Studio Laptop <£650

Postby johnny h » Mon May 14, 2012 8:40 pm

AardvarkG wrote:
johnny h wrote:Generally Mac laptops last much longer than pc ones before they get all slow and weird. Not exactly sure why but it's always been my experience and that of many others...

Thanks for passing that on. My friends have said similar, but again surely that depends on what the machine has been used for? That's my main concern about buying secondhand, I dont want to buy one thats been used to run thousands of programms, never been rebooted or whatever. Should this be a Concern??

Thanks for all your advice everyone.

P.s Shufflebeat may you send me a link to that forum??

Aaron G

Any laptop can break down. Usually it's fixable fairly easy. If you're a student you can get a hefty discount. Or know any students that could get it. For some reason apple really overcharges over here. Another option is if you are going to america buy one there,but throw the box away before customs, you don't want to pay duties on it!
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Re: Buying My First Studio Laptop <£650

Postby DAGGILARR » Mon May 14, 2012 9:42 pm

AardvarkG wrote:
johnny h wrote:Generally Mac laptops last much longer than pc ones before they get all slow and weird. Not exactly sure why but it's always been my experience and that of many others...

Thanks for passing that on. My friends have said similar, but again surely that depends on what the machine has been used for? That's my main concern about buying secondhand, I dont want to buy one thats been used to run thousands of programms, never been rebooted or whatever. Should this be a Concern??

Thanks for all your advice everyone.

P.s Shufflebeat may you send me a link to that forum??

Aaron G

I got my second hand macbook pro for £650 with one years apple care to run that meant that I could get any fault that showed up fixed virtually the same day, it is a 15" 2.73 core2duo. It is unlikely that you will get an i5 for that but not impossible. If you do go for the used mac option I would recommend you make sure it has some apple care left.

Apparently the average time before upgrade of PC laptops is 3 years where the turn around on mac laptops is 5 often 7 this was what I found out when I was deciding. On average I would find I had to do a full reinstall on PC's at least once a year to keep them crisp, (sometimes more often) my iMac is only just beginning to show signs of slowing after 2 years

Those I know who use PC's for music tend to have dedicated machines they set them up for music and use them for nothing else, I use my Mac for everything.

Whatever you decide to get do not forget to budget for a back up drive
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Re: Buying My First Studio Laptop <£650

Postby Jimplunkett » Mon May 14, 2012 11:27 pm

I think you should go cheap and cheerful, but dedicated..

I have an acer 5742 i5, bought for 220 s/h and I spent 40 quid on 8gb ram upgrade. So for 260 I have i5, 500gb,8gb Ddr3 ram. It doesn't have a FireWire slot or an expansion slot but has USB 2.0. Some will frown on that, but it makes for a stable, non complex, cheap machine. I have disabled the wifi and uninstalled all software apart from music creation stuff and the USB soundcard driver. It just does music , nothing else. No anti virus, no internet, nothing else plugged into the USB ports.

I'd look for something similar and ensure it is a dedicated mchine. Then buy a classic vibe squier strat and a USB soundcard with the change
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Re: Buying My First Studio Laptop <£650

Postby Exalted Wombat » Mon May 14, 2012 11:47 pm

AardvarkG wrote:The laptop ideally needs to last me a good 4-5 years.

Laptops are expensive to repair, and therefore one of the few items of consumer technology on which an extended warranty is highly desirable.

Check the maximum period for which any manufacturer (including Apple) will sell you a warranty. That will give you a fair idea of the design life of a laptop computer.

MUST it be a laptop? You get a lot more control over what components go into a desktop, you get a lot more computer for your money, and DPC latency isn't generally an issue. And a desktop model is repairable and upgradable.
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Re: Buying My First Studio Laptop <£650

Postby johnny h » Tue May 15, 2012 2:51 am

Jimplunkett wrote:I think you should go cheap and cheerful, but dedicated..

I have an acer 5742 i5, bought for 220 s/h and I spent 40 quid on 8gb ram upgrade. So for 260 I have i5, 500gb,8gb Ddr3 ram. It doesn't have a FireWire slot or an expansion slot but has USB 2.0. Some will frown on that, but it makes for a stable, non complex, cheap machine. I have disabled the wifi and uninstalled all software apart from music creation stuff and the USB soundcard driver. It just does music , nothing else. No anti virus, no internet, nothing else plugged into the USB ports.

I'd look for something similar and ensure it is a dedicated mchine. Then buy a classic vibe squier strat and a USB soundcard with the change

Those are decent specs on paper but it's a terrible faff not having wifi on a laptop. These days it's really not unreasonable to expect one computer to do everything you need, and MacBook pros do this perfectly well. A better solution than having two bog standard of laptops for sure. Recently the 13 inch mbp has become very popular and a lot of pc users have made the switch. I have yet to encounter one who regrets the decision.
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Re: Buying My First Studio Laptop <£650

Postby shufflebeat » Tue May 15, 2012 8:33 am

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Re: Buying My First Studio Laptop <£650

Postby Exalted Wombat » Tue May 15, 2012 8:44 am

johnny h wrote:Thanks for passing that on. My friends have said similar, but again surely that depends on what the machine has been used for? That's my main concern about buying secondhand, I dont want to buy one thats been used to run thousands of programms, never been rebooted or whatever. Should this be a Concern??

No, because the first thing you will do is wipe the drive and restore the machine to the way it was on the day it was bought, using the disks provided. If these disks aren't available, don't buy that computer.
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Re: Buying My First Studio Laptop <£650

Postby Exalted Wombat » Tue May 15, 2012 8:49 am

johnny h wrote:Any laptop can break down. Usually it's fixable fairly easy.

In your dreams! Unless it's a failed drive (which you can swap yourself) the classic laptop repair involves a replacement main board. This is uneconomic unless done under warranty.
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Re: Buying My First Studio Laptop <£650

Postby ezza » Tue May 15, 2012 9:01 am

AardvarkG wrote:Thanks for your advice everyone! I Have seen this... anygood? http://www.johnlewis.com/231577589/Product.aspx

Aaron

As I said above, put DPC latency checker on a usb stick, go into John Lewis and ask them to let you run it on the model you are interested in.

Also, re security, it's a state of mind rather than something you set and forget. As other people have said, make sure your firewall is on, you pc is patched to the latest version and install a good anti-virus (I use avast).

Macs suffer less from viruses at the moment. That's because they aren't targeted by virus writers not because there is a magic bullet.

Good luck with it!

/erol

Good Luck
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Re: Buying My First Studio Laptop <£650

Postby robinv » Tue May 15, 2012 9:21 am

(has a sneaky look around)
Would it be absolutely terrible of me to point out that Rain have £50 off their Livebook during May? So at £599 you could get a laptop supported for music use without any of the trouble working out whether something will work or not. I don't like to self-promote but if you forgive me it does seem to answer your original question - http://www.raincomputers.co.uk/livebook-le-a/257.htm

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Re: Buying My First Studio Laptop <£650

Postby johnny h » Tue May 15, 2012 9:24 am

Exalted Wombat wrote:
johnny h wrote:Any laptop can break down. Usually it's fixable fairly easy.

In your dreams! Unless it's a failed drive (which you can swap yourself) the classic laptop repair involves a replacement main board. This is uneconomic unless done under warranty.
I really don't know where you get your endless source of misinformation, womb. Most laptop problems are simple software or hard disk faults, along with battery or charger problems. A replacement main board is absolutely not the 'classic' laptop repair. Unless you've spilt water all over it...

But if you do buy a laptop on eBay using PayPal that someone has spilt water over you are entitled to a full refund.
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Re: Buying My First Studio Laptop <£650

Postby Exalted Wombat » Tue May 15, 2012 9:45 am

johnny h wrote:
Exalted Wombat wrote:
johnny h wrote:Any laptop can break down. Usually it's fixable fairly easy.

In your dreams! Unless it's a failed drive (which you can swap yourself) the classic laptop repair involves a replacement main board. This is uneconomic unless done under warranty.
I really don't know where you get your endless source of misinformation, womb. Most laptop problems are simple software or hard disk faults, along with battery or charger problems. A replacement main board is absolutely not the 'classic' laptop repair. Unless you've spilt water all over it...

But if you do buy a laptop on eBay using PayPal that someone has spilt water over you are entitled to a full refund.

I get it from personal experience! I can think of one household where a Toshiba, an Acer and an Asus (all top-range models) have all needed repair within the 3-year extended warranty requiring mainboard replacement. The machines were worked hard, but not abused. As you say, "beverage incidents" are also common (and SOMETIMES covered under warranty). Maybe I forget about the small, easy-to-repair incidents :-)
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Re: Buying My First Studio Laptop <£650

Postby Exalted Wombat » Tue May 15, 2012 9:57 am

ezza wrote:Macs suffer less from viruses at the moment. That's because they aren't targeted by virus writers not because there is a magic bullet.

Highly questionable. There's no shortage of michievous PC users who would love to wipe that smug smile off the Mac-users faces. And there are companies who would love to sell protection software in the Mac market (and Mac users LIKE paying for stuff:-)

This is the one area where Apple can claim an advantage. Their big disadvantage is being a closed system, and the way they are steering that system. "Lifestyle" and integration with all the i-toys is the plan, and a successful, lucrative one. It may leave us out in the cold.
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Re: Buying My First Studio Laptop <£650

Postby johnny h » Tue May 15, 2012 10:08 am

Exalted Wombat wrote:

I get it from personal experience! I can think of one household where a Toshiba, an Acer and an Asus (all top-range models) have all needed repair
There is nothing 'top range' about those brands. They are typical rubbish pc laptops full of crapware that change their specs every other week. The reason why MacBooks work reliably is they only manufacture a very small select range in vast quantities. No surprises, no downloading dpc latency checker.
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Re: Buying My First Studio Laptop <£650

Postby Airfix » Tue May 15, 2012 10:08 am


Of course portability greatly increases the lightlyhood of an accident.
Even a short fall can be enough to break a laptop and I've seen people flinging them around.
Slamming the lid shut is another nono.
Laptops are fragile.
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Re: Buying My First Studio Laptop <£650

Postby jaminem » Tue May 15, 2012 10:33 am

robinv wrote:(has a sneaky look around)
Would it be absolutely terrible of me to point out that Rain have £50 off their Livebook during May? So at £599 you could get a laptop supported for music use without any of the trouble working out whether something will work or not. I don't like to self-promote but if you forgive me it does seem to answer your original question - http://www.raincomputers.co.uk/livebook-le-a/257.htm

(you haven't seen me right)

What a useful post that answers the OP's original question.
Rare on here these days...

Hopefully he didn't miss it trawling through all of the 'other' posts.
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Re: Buying My First Studio Laptop <£650

Postby Exalted Wombat » Tue May 15, 2012 10:37 am

johnny h wrote:
Exalted Wombat wrote:

I get it from personal experience! I can think of one household where a Toshiba, an Acer and an Asus (all top-range models) have all needed repair
There is nothing 'top range' about those brands. They are typical rubbish pc laptops full of crapware that change their specs every other week. The reason why MacBooks work reliably is they only manufacture a very small select range in vast quantities. No surprises, no downloading dpc latency checker.

I meant they were near the top of THAT brand's range! I know all computer gear (including Apple) comes out of the same factories in Taiwan and, though reliability is generally OK, "quality" doesn't exist!

Naturally, the first thing you will do with ANY new computer is clear out the crapware.

The big question remains - why would anyone in his right mind base a DAW around a portable computer?
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Re: Buying My First Studio Laptop <£650

Postby robinv » Tue May 15, 2012 10:49 am

Exalted Wombat wrote:

The big question remains - why would anyone in his right mind base a DAW around a portable computer?

Perhaps, dare i state the obvious, but to be "portable". It's hard lugging a desktop computer around to do recordings in your mates bedroom or in your rehearsal space - or maybe you're in a small space and don't have the room for a throbbing behemoth taking up loads of desk/floor space. Perhaps, like me, you need both so that i can take my music out and perform it - for that i need the laptop to be more reliable than my desktop - and i'm in my right mind most of the time.
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