Will this laptop cut it?

Discussion in 'Recording Studio' started by grail21, Mar 8, 2018.

  1. grail21

    grail21 SS.org Regular

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    I’m looking to put together a dedicated PC for recording and practicing. Nothing professional mind you – I’ll only use it to record myself, maybe the occasion jam with a second guitar or bass player – but I do want it to work well enough that I won’t throw it out a window.

    My planned signal chain will look something like this
    Guitar -> focusrite 6i6 -> laptop -> reaper w/ TBD vst amp sim -> studio headphones or monitors

    I’m sure there will be other VSTs I want to use when I get around to writing / recording. The only one I know for sure is Superior Drummer.

    Side note – I’m going with a laptop because I want it to be portable so I can take it with me on trips, so while a desktop would give me more options, portability is key.

    My question is around the laptop I’m thinking of using. I can get a great deal on a refurbished Dell that my brother has for $150. Here are the specs:

    Dell Inspiron
    Intel i5-6200U (6th gen) CPU @ 2.30GHz
    8 GB DDR3 [PC3-12800] Ram
    1TB HD (5400 RPM)
    Intel HD Graphics 520
    Realtek PCIe FE Family Controller
    Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 3160
    DVD burner
    Bluetooth
    USB 3 / HDMI / Webcam
    16” LCD
    Windows 10 Pro x64

    I know it’s not the most ideal laptop, I’d prefer to have 16GB of ram and a faster hard drive / SSD. But for $150 it’s cheap. So my question is: how well do you think it will hold up? Where will it fall short from a power / bandwidth perspective? Will it be fast enough to keep up? How quickly will it crap out when VSTs start getting stacked. It will be a dedicated workstation, so I won’t be using it for anything but music (I have a desktop as my primary machine).

    I’ve looked at newer / more powerful laptops but they’re obviously a lot more expensive. There is a decent deal on a Lenovo Legion gaming laptop with an i7-7700HQ CPU, 256GB SSD + 2TB HD, 16GB DDR4 RAM and 4GB NVIDIA GTX 1050Ti. Looks like a solid machine, a ton more power, but at $800 a lot more expensive.

    So that’s my current debate – what says you?
     
  2. makecamera

    makecamera SS.org Regular

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    The Inspiron should be fine if you're using it as a dedicated workstation. But I'd definitely swap the drive for an SSD. IMO, in 2018, 5400 rpm drives should only be used for storage/backup, or a simple machine with a very light workload.
     
  3. brutalwizard

    brutalwizard Pretty Your Petunia

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    I ran something similar for years, def wont have problems with a few guitar plugs and superior. Should def consider slamming a SSD in there tho, will literally save you 5-20 mins every day.


    If you dont own an interface yet i highly reccomend zoom uac-2/uac-8. Its the only 3.0 usb interface right now, and it has similar speeds to firewire/thunderbolt.
     
  4. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear Vendor

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    Expect to have to track in a minimal project with just one or two amp sims at low latency, and to need to up the latency significantly to insert many plugins. Standard practice but CPU usage on this laptop will be a bit tighter. Definitely worth the money though.
     
  5. Albake21

    Albake21 "Just get a used Ibanez Prestige."

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    Absolutely this! The laptop itself is fine as long as you throw in an SSD. I will never use a computer again without an SSD with my OS installed onto it. HDD's are fine for storage, but that's it now a days.
     
  6. grail21

    grail21 SS.org Regular

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    Thanks for chiming in guys. 100% agree on upgrading RAM and SSD. After some quick price hunting, looks like upgrading to 16GB of RAM and a 500GB SSD would cost an additional $275 - $300. That brings the total to $425-$450. It makes the price jump to an $800 i7 a LOT smaller. For the extra $350 I’d get a faster processor, additional storage, 4GB dedicated GPU and a generally more up to date system. I’d lose the DVD burner, but that doesn’t matter much to me – I have access to an external if I need it. An extra $350 is still a good chunk of money – that can buy a bunch of plug-ins, a decent set of monitors – hell, I’ve picked up many awesome guitars for less than that. That said, I’ve never had an issue investing the dough on better hardware – avoiding the frustration of slow, poorly performing computer is worth the investment. I’m not sure it will make much of a difference in this specific instance, but that’s the back and forth I’ve got to wrestle with.

    Thanks again for the comments, feel free to keep the debate going. I’m hoping to come to a decision in the next day or two.
     

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