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Are modern laptops a suitable replacement for old tower PC

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Re: Are modern laptops a suitable replacement for old tower PC

Postby banterbanter » Mon Jul 01, 2019 5:52 pm

Hi,

Not sure of your budget but this laptop I can at least vouch for in term of no DPC latency issues ( https://www.resplendence.com/latencymon_using ):

https://www.amazon.co.uk/ASUS-VivoBook- ... way&sr=8-2

Well, I have the previous i7 model but should fine. DPC latency is a huge issue because, unless you buy a laptop from a Specialist Complany like Pete's, then it's just a lottery - even with a good make of laptop with the best of specs.

I was able to open this laptop up easily (guy on youtube to watch) - and add another 8 gigs of RAM making 16gigs. It also has two HD slots an M2 for OS and a separate SSD slot for samples / audio so no external HD's needed.

With a focusrite 6i6 2nd gen I can works at 128 samples live with multipe VSTi's on the go.
Or when mixing with 256 samples I can run a full project with no freezing/rendering of tracks needed. The CPU does heat up a fair bit to the 70's degrees C but the fan is not too obtrusive at all.

If space and portability isn't an issue then a desktop will always win for spec per £ and for upgrades etc but this laptop at least you can change the RAM and hard drives easily.

I use an HDMI cable to a 27" monitor and with a wireless mouse and keyboard it can act as a desktop tucked away - but with the option to unplug it and take it away for gigs etc.

Recommended.

Cheers
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Re: Are modern laptops a suitable replacement for old tower PC

Postby OneWorld » Mon Jul 01, 2019 7:01 pm

I too have considered the laptop option, to save space and to use the laptop with an external 40" 4K monitor - but I have several external MIDI controllers/synths. These I hope to replace with VSTi alternatives but as I increase the use of VSTi I find I need more RAM and am considering going to 64gig. And of course a desktop allows several drives, in my case c:SSD for OS/Apps, a separate SSD for samples and libraries and a third SSD for drive imaging.

Before committing I would try and anticipate any circumstance where you might want to expand the system, for example in my case I used to have an external UAD QUAD rack unit. I replaced it with the equivalent PCIe card, one less wall wart, one less occupied space in the rack, one less cable trailing about.

If portability is an issue a friend of mine bought a powerful rack server PC, mounted that into a 6u rack, along with the RME FF800, a patchbay and a couple of EFX rack units. He mounted all these in a box with of course a couple of good fans, and in the lid mounted a monitor with the qwerty keyboard/mousepad exposed when the lid was lifted. He recorded on location and it worked fine. When back at home he wheeled it into the cubby hole under the stairs next to his studio and plugged it all in and he was away, ready to edit/mix
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Re: Are modern laptops a suitable replacement for old tower PC

Postby hobbyist » Mon Jul 01, 2019 11:32 pm

Yes.

They will more than replace the old tower.

But a new tower will still surpass the current laptops.

I did not have the money to replace the tower.
So I got a DELL on one of their black friday sales cheaper than the original tower cost.
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Re: Are modern laptops a suitable replacement for old tower PC

Postby GilesAnt » Tue Jul 02, 2019 10:26 am

hobbyist wrote:They will more than replace the old tower.But a new tower will still surpass the current laptops.

Looks like this is a fair summary. Luckily my needs are middle of the road - normal home computing plus making music as a hobby on a limited scale. Cubase 10 Pro, plus NI Komplete, and a few others, plus a little home recording. I was lucky enough to have access to a couple of VCS3s as well as a massive EMS Synthi 100 as a student.

So following the advice of Pete and others above I am looking at a laptop now.

I do however recall when I used to go to lots of business meetings that people would always be complaining that their laptop batteries only lasted a few minutes - the business laptops would have been middle of the road, and usually not more than 4 years old. And so the meetings would be a safety hazard with all the mains cables involved. Before the days of Wi-Fi there would be a similar scramble for the limited Ethernet ports in a conference room.

The lifespan of laptop batteries is therefore a concern, although 80% of my work would be desk based.
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Re: Are modern laptops a suitable replacement for old tower PC

Postby N i g e l » Tue Jul 02, 2019 1:43 pm

Please excuse as Im probably Stating the obvious here but just in case...

Its good to plug an external monitor into a Laptop for music purposes, not only for a bigger screen but because the desktop area can be extended across both screens (in windows, I don’t know about apple). The extra screen can be placed in portrait mode, landscape or even upside down.

Also, for convenience, I connect my laptop thru a hub, so that I only have 1 USB connection to make to my laptop, a bit like the docking station idea.
The USB hub can handle keyboard, mouse, printer, sound card and synth keyboard. I have heard some stories that not all music kit works through a hub but Ive not had any problems myself.

hobbyist wrote:The lifespan of laptop batteries is therefore a concern, although 80% of my work would be desk based.

The battery packs have a limited lifetime of maybe 5 years [ ? ]. It doesnt pay to try to save battery use as it doesnt prolong the life. If youve got a lot of accessories plugged in, that might be quite a drain on the battery anyway. I tend to only use battery power for catching up on email/internet when out & about as Im down to about half an hour of juice now.
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Re: Are modern laptops a suitable replacement for old tower PC

Postby IvanSC » Tue Jul 02, 2019 9:36 pm

I have an i7 4770 quad core cpu in my desktop, the guts of which go back far longer than your ten years, as I have a really great Lian-Li case & just keep serially upgrading its innards. Most recent addition was replacing my boot drive with a SSD, which has of course really speeded things up significantly.
It is running a very old RME HDSP 9652 pci crd I bought used a long time back, but still great great latency performance.

And my portable rig. An i5 quad core fourth generation like the desktop but using an RME Babyface for an interface. Mostly because it will happily take one of the Focusrite Octopres from my desktop, giving me 8 extras ins and outs.

I would still recommend you to go with a desktop, ideally salaaging anything you can from your current build, even if its only case, power supply and maybe hard drive(s)

Mostly because the laptop, even with TWO SSDs in it comes nowhere close to competing with the desktop.
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Re: Are modern laptops a suitable replacement for old tower PC

Postby blinddrew » Tue Jul 02, 2019 10:45 pm

I would suggest that most laptop batteries are pretty good these days actually, way better than they were just a few years ago.
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Re: Are modern laptops a suitable replacement for old tower PC

Postby ef37a » Wed Jul 03, 2019 6:54 am

I would like to say that if starting from scratch then a good laptop is probably the answer but, since there is a desktop with monitor keyboard and mouse, a laptop means you are "buying the wheel" again, a bit? Trackpads also are not IMHO as handy as a nice mouse. Yes you can plug in a USB mouse but, DOH?

Then, if the Firewire AI is still giving good service a desktop can have a FW card fitted and maybe another card for multiple USB 3.0 (3.1?) .

I also like the "getatability" of a tower.

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Re: Are modern laptops a suitable replacement for old tower PC

Postby N i g e l » Wed Jul 03, 2019 4:12 pm

blinddrew wrote:I would suggest that most laptop batteries are pretty good these days actually, way better than they were just a few years ago.

Yep, the Sony Vaio's no longer catch fire ! I think the charging circuitry has matured for lithium batteries so its no longer a problem.
Battery lifetime seems to be spec'd in terms of charge/discharge cycles.
500 is a figure of magnitude at room temperature.
= once a week for 10 years,
= once a day for 16 months

I mainly discharge the battery when I return to my desk and forget to plug my laptop into the mains. A marketing department will tell us that this demonstrates the "uninteruptable power supply" advantage of having a battery on board when the mains goes off. If the lights and amplifiers have gone off too then it might not be so important.
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Re: Are modern laptops a suitable replacement for old tower PC

Postby hobbyist » Mon Jul 08, 2019 12:37 am

ef37a wrote:Trackpads also are not IMHO as handy as a nice mouse. Yes you can plug in a USB mouse but, DOH?

Dave.


I use a wireless mouse using a usb port for the receiver. Works great.
You can a real keyboard too.
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Re: Are modern laptops a suitable replacement for old tower PC

Postby ef37a » Mon Jul 08, 2019 7:19 am

hobbyist wrote:
ef37a wrote:Trackpads also are not IMHO as handy as a nice mouse. Yes you can plug in a USB mouse but, DOH?

Dave.


I use a wireless mouse using a usb port for the receiver. Works great.
You can a real keyboard too.

Son and I used a wireless keyboard and mouse (15 quid Sainsbury) for years with two desktops because,
1) It cut down wire tangles.
2) Allowed him to be 20ft from the PCs with a mic and AC guitar.

Now, we have been told since Adam was a lad that "wireless" systems on computers can be bad for audio? The dongles and kbds we used never seemed to cause any problems. Different system perhaps?

Dave.
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Re: Are modern laptops a suitable replacement for old tower PC

Postby Pete Kaine » Mon Jul 08, 2019 5:13 pm

It used to be and it's classed as networking by the system so sometimes those head-scratching "NDIS.sys" can come down to wifi or Bluetooth.

It's got a lot better over the last few years and a lot of the drivers are native to windows now and more standardized, it's one of the things they got right in the move over to W10 it seems.
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Re: Are modern laptops a suitable replacement for old tower PC

Postby hobbyist » Mon Jul 08, 2019 6:31 pm

ef37a wrote:
hobbyist wrote:
ef37a wrote:Trackpads also are not IMHO as handy as a nice mouse. Yes you can plug in a USB mouse but, DOH?

Dave.


I use a wireless mouse using a usb port for the receiver. Works great.
You can a real keyboard too.

Son and I used a wireless keyboard and mouse (15 quid Sainsbury) for years with two desktops because,
1) It cut down wire tangles.
2) Allowed him to be 20ft from the PCs with a mic and AC guitar.

Now, we have been told since Adam was a lad that "wireless" systems on computers can be bad for audio? The dongles and kbds we used never seemed to cause any problems. Different system perhaps?

Dave.

I think you got told nonsense.

Mouse and keyboard have nothing to do with audio quality.
Dongles on the other had were a real problem. Worse when the software would also phone home in the middle to cause clicks cause it stole too many cycles from the pc.

I refuse to use any software with dongles as well as any that has to phone home to verify you are a real user.
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Re: Are modern laptops a suitable replacement for old tower PC

Postby Eddy Deegan » Mon Jul 08, 2019 7:57 pm

hobbyist wrote:I think you got told nonsense.

Mouse and keyboard have nothing to do with audio quality.

Not nonsense at all. As Pete said above, although things are now a lot better than they used to be, historically (and possibly with bad modern implementations) wireless devices are a form of networking which can definitely cause audio problems on some systems due to the way that the OS prioritises the things its giving attention to.

Later systems should not have a problem but if under heavy load or there is some other resource bottleneck, wireless/bluetooth connectivity could conceivably cause audio glitches, especially if the devices in question have proprietary vendor-specific drivers.
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Re: Are modern laptops a suitable replacement for old tower PC

Postby hobbyist » Mon Jul 08, 2019 8:18 pm

Eddy Deegan wrote:
hobbyist wrote:I think you got told nonsense.

Mouse and keyboard have nothing to do with audio quality.

Not nonsense at all. As Pete said above, although things are now a lot better than they used to be, historically (and possibly with bad modern implementations) wireless devices are a form of networking which can definitely cause audio problems on some systems due to the way that the OS prioritises the things its giving attention to.

Later systems should not have a problem but if under heavy load or there is some other resource bottleneck, wireless/bluetooth connectivity could conceivably cause audio glitches, especially if the devices in question have proprietary vendor-specific drivers.


Not convinced.

You can set priorities in the opsys.
None of mine needed any drivers not already in windoze.
Now interfaces may need a driver or use ASIO instead of windoze's.

There is no delay from mouse or keyboard that I am aware of which would cause audio problems.

I suppose some wireless version could somehow interfere with something in the audio chain from the RF but that does not mean they are all a problem. Our church had unexpected squeals when the pastor turned on his mike the day a gospel quartet was performing who had set up their own gear for a concert to be done after lunch.
But I have never had any problem with a wireless mouse or keyboard.

You will certainly have bigg problems from windoze and all the free bloatware crap that PCs come with on top of not your tweaking all the things you should before trying to use it for audio. Worse if you keep the antivirus running and are connected to the internet too.
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