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Switching to Windows from Mac?

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Switching to Windows from Mac?

Postby james090 » Tue Nov 12, 2019 3:25 pm

I hope this is allowed here, as I dont want it to become a Mac vs PC debate, as I guess you don't either!

Started off on Windows 98se over 20 years ago, and then XP.
Then moved to Mac OS X mid 2000's and after a while, had a really old laptop running Windows XP again, (alongside) the Mac, then a slightly newer laptop running W10 always as a secondary pc for menial tasks and Windows Compatibility

I use the Mac for Ableton and Reaper, and any sequencing, DAW's etc and the PC for editing (Sound Forge, Acid etc) as their Mac equivalents were poor.

I've always had both, but more favoured Mac, as I don't really want to tinker or build a PC, and OS X just worked.

Now I am looking at preferable a good laptop or possibly iMac, and ditching the Windows laptop (again very old). I did think of latest Mac, and Parallels to run Windows 10, but then after some research, see that a lot of people are ditching Mac and moving to Windows in the last few years.

I did a pro's and con's for my particular set up and realised I do now use more Windows apps than I thought! So just wanted to know of a good fast Laptop on Windows as a workstation for Ableton live mainly to see if i can make the switch.
As mentioned I am used to OS X 'AND' Windows 10 and I both are fine for me, but would prefer to choose one now after all this time.

I was looking at the Dell XPS 15 with 32Gb and SSD which is supposedly good but know nothing of the Windows models around now.

Would streaming drives for Kontakt library content work on either platform, as its just the 'sounds/samples' once i had Kontakt for PC?

I am just weighing up the options of either and seeing which side would be best to stick or move to really.

Thanks for any help!
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Re: Switching to Windows from Mac?

Postby Eddy Deegan » Tue Nov 12, 2019 3:48 pm

james090 wrote:I was looking at the Dell XPS 15 with 32Gb and SSD which is supposedly good but know nothing of the Windows models around now.

I can't speak about Kontakt, but from a purely hardware perspective the Dell XPS is a good choice. I'm typing this on one (running Windows 10) right now (SSD drive, i7-7700HQ CPU @2.8Ghz) as I use it for work. After over 2 years of heavy, heavy use (hours a day on average, plus regularly being carried on flights) it's still absolutely fine. I would expect newer ones to have updated CPUs but the one I have is quite nippy enough for all my needs.

For fun on the road, I have Reaper installed along with the Arturia Collection v7 and a number of other plugins. Performance is fine, at least for the stuff I'm doing with it.

One thing to watch out for is that Dell used to, and may still do, ship some of them with a network card from a company called Killer Networks. They may no longer do this, but if they do then my advice would be to avoid it, it can be an absolute pain in the neck (random dropouts, terrible performance even though ironically it claims to be faster than others). I got onto Dell about mine, they sent an engineer round the next day to replace it with an Intel card without any argument and its been fine ever since.

I'm sure other laptops are out there that would suit just as well, and you could do worse than talk to Scan computers (big fan of them here). Just sharing my personal experience with the XPS.
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Re: Switching to Windows from Mac?

Postby james090 » Tue Nov 12, 2019 4:09 pm

Thank you Eddy, I will indeed look at Scan too! :)

I guess the Scan Computers, once configured, work out around the same price as a Dell XPS i7 32gb machine?
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Re: Switching to Windows from Mac?

Postby Eddy Deegan » Tue Nov 12, 2019 4:15 pm

I don't know for sure as I'm not up to speed on the latest prices of either but I would be surprised if they are not in the same ballparkfor similar configurations. Scan do know more about using them for audio purposes however, so I'd say definitely talk to them and see what they recommend as an XPS-equivalent platform before deciding anything :thumbup:
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Re: Switching to Windows from Mac?

Postby James Perrett » Tue Nov 12, 2019 9:08 pm

I've seen mention of certain XPS models having problems with DPC latency but, if you are looking at high end Dells, you might also want to look at the Precision range. These were our standard machines at my last job and worked well for general scientific computing (apart from the Firewire chipset on some older models which wasn't up to audio use). I've now got one here and use it for editing and have also hooked it up to an X32 for live recording. Not cheap unless you go for a refurbished one but very solidly built.
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Re: Switching to Windows from Mac?

Postby Pete Kaine » Wed Nov 13, 2019 12:19 pm

Eddy Deegan wrote:One thing to watch out for is that Dell used to, and may still do, ship some of them with a network card from a company called Killer Networks. They may no longer do this, but if they do then my advice would be to avoid it, it can be an absolute pain in the neck (random dropouts, terrible performance even though ironically it claims to be faster than others).

James Perrett wrote:I've seen mention of certain XPS models having problems with DPC latency but, if you are looking at high end Dells, you might also want to look at the Precision range.

Yeah, the Killer NICs are notorious for it and some of our range arrive with them from factory, so I end up switching them out for more suitable solutions too.

The Killer is a faster card when it comes to server response latency which is important if you're playing FPS games online. It does this by getting very aggresive with it's server communication, which in turn eats up extra CPU cycles and is given priority over just about everything so audio applications then get left behind.

Still, it's a gaming card and the XPS is a gaming range at heart, so James raises a fair point in that other none XPS models may have more sanity sparing solutions.
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Re: Switching to Windows from Mac?

Postby Eddy Deegan » Wed Nov 13, 2019 2:53 pm

Pete Kaine wrote:The Killer is a faster card when it comes to server response latency which is important if you're playing FPS games online. It does this by getting very aggresive with it's server communication

Indeed. I recall breaking out Wireshark and staring in horror at the stuff spewing out, some of which was blatently in breach of a couple of RFCs!

Pete Kaine wrote:Still, it's a gaming card and the XPS is a gaming range at heart, so James raises a fair point in that other none XPS models may have more sanity sparing solutions.

Good point. It's strange how one gets tunnel vision for your own working practices and disregard other uses sometimes. In my case, the purposes I use the XPS for are all 'in the box' and as such latency is not an issue for me at all, but I realise that it's not the way most people would work (nor is it the way I work at home, but I have the Scan desktop system for that!) :thumbup:

When I get back from my current trip I'll do some tests against my main studio interface out of curiousity to see what the latency really is on this thing.
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Re: Switching to Windows from Mac?

Postby 2pods » Fri Nov 15, 2019 2:41 am

Oh no !

Not trying to hijack the thread, but I've just purchased an absolute beast of a laptop from Scan sold as an audio laptop, and guess what's in it ?

Yep. I assume it has a Killer nic (I'm away from it at the mo, and am typing this on a Samsung tablet), seeing it has the Killer program installed.
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Re: Switching to Windows from Mac?

Postby james090 » Tue Nov 19, 2019 10:50 am

OK still looking at the Dell XPS newer models, as they look powerhouses!

also is there a definitive list of W10 tweaks for audio? I know there used to be back in my day for XP, but since then a lot of users say that there isn't anything that needs doing?

However I don't use any office programs, email, games, etc so i can do all that online via web browser, so as far as a laptop/pc is needed i could do with it as a pure music machine on W10 :)
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Re: Switching to Windows from Mac?

Postby 2pods » Tue Nov 19, 2019 11:36 am

Maybe have a wee look at this ?

https://www.scan.co.uk/3xs/configurator/3xs-scan-performance-17-music-production-laptop-with-thunderbolt

It's a beast anyway, but it can upgraded to the hilt. I'm well pleased with mine, and with brilliant Scan support :bouncy:
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Re: Switching to Windows from Mac?

Postby blinddrew » Tue Nov 19, 2019 11:02 pm

Amazingly this is 4 years old now, but probably still worth a read: https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/wi ... -musicians
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Re: Switching to Windows from Mac?

Postby MOF » Wed Nov 20, 2019 1:43 am

I’ve got a 2009 MacBook Pro and iMac which both still work.
I’m keeping the iMac to run legacy programs, I also bought a top spec’ iMac in 2018 to run Logic at 96khz rate and FCP X for 4k video.
The software updates are free and you decide when to update the OS, plus you can run an older/newer version from another boot drive.
So they might be more expensive initially but in the long run they are probably better value than Windows PCs.
I always use the analogy of vintage cars versus modern cars with Windows and Mac OS respectively. Windows is for the tweakers/speed boosters/software jail breakers etc who like to spend ages under the hood metaphorically.
Mac computers are for users that just want to get in and drive.
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Re: Switching to Windows from Mac?

Postby Watchmaker » Wed Nov 20, 2019 2:10 am

I have used many XPS over the years and to this day my archive sits in an old XPS410. Reliable gear in my experience. I use a precision 3520 laptop now. The business models are configured a bit different than the personal ones and though I forget what the deciding factor was now, the computers been running well for two years. (I killed nearly every background processes in WIN10 and did some heavy registry editing to tame the rapacious outflow of data, but that's not Dell's fault) Not that it gets a massive amount of audio use as what can be laughingly called my production environment is iMac based.
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Re: Switching to Windows from Mac?

Postby Watchmaker » Wed Nov 20, 2019 2:13 am

*oh I remember now. It was one of the few PC laptops at the time that had motherboard support for USB C/Thunderbolt which I need for my interfaces
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