Help: best laptop for music production

Discussion in 'General Music Discussion' started by Sebski, Nov 30, 2020.

  1. Sebski

    Sebski SS.org Regular

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    So I'm planning to buy myself a new laptop so I can get back into mixing and producing and it's been a good 10 or so years since I last recorded anything properly so I'm well out of touch.

    Can anyone recommend what laptop to get to record and mix without facing laptop performance issues please. Happy to spend over a grand (£) and I'd rather a Windows, but could be swayed by a MacBook if it really makes the difference.

    I want to record a lot of old prog/djent/post-hardcore stuff I wrote but also some more recent neosoul and math rock kinda tunes, if that helps.

    I'll probably get myself Neural DSP, toontrack drums, Reason and some other DAW but any other thoughts are appreciated too.
     
  2. coreysMonster

    coreysMonster So long, Germany!

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    Laptops are so absurdly powerful these days, for basic recording usage any laptop with enough RAM and a decent CPU will work. Anything with a modern i5 or i7 equivalent and 16GB of RAM will be more than enough, just be sure it supports whatever output your audio interface has.
    I personally would advise against Apple machines at the moment purely because of their transition to their in-house produced CPUs.
     
  3. budda

    budda Do not criticize as this Contributor

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    www.macrumors.com - very helpful on what to buy when.

    That said yeah, 6-core+ and 16GB RAM and you should be good.
     
  4. Hollowway

    Hollowway Extended Ranger

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    Last edited: Dec 1, 2020
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  5. Marv Attaxx

    Marv Attaxx SS.org Regular

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    +1 the M1 Macbook.
    May have some compability issues in the beginning (as far as I know most stuff works perfectly with Rosetta) but they're very powerful for the money. And you can use logic, which is great, too.

    EDIT: Just checked out the Macbook Pro and those are way above 1000 grand in Europe. 256 GB of storage is basically just the superior drummer library and it should have at least 16gb of ram. This config would be around 1700 pounds. If it doesn't need to be a laptop check out the M1 Mac Mini instead. Way cheaper and even a bit more powerful due to better cooling :agreed:
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2020
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  6. Ataraxia2320

    Ataraxia2320 SS.org Regular

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    OP has stated that he'd prefer windows. The new macbooks have serious connectivity shortages also unless you buy a seperate dongle.

    I'd recommend either the Dell XPS series or the Razer Blade laptops although I'm sure there are better options out there sans graphics cards and with more of an emphasis on processor speed/ram/storage.
     
  7. Sebski

    Sebski SS.org Regular

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    Thanks everyone for the input so far. Sounds like 16GB ram is going to be essential to keep a smooth experience. Would 8GB be a deal-breaker for most of you?

    I've started looking at the Dell XPS series and this looks like the kind of thing I'm I think I'm after. Any alternatives to consider would be appreciated!
     
  8. Lorcan Ward

    Lorcan Ward 7slinger

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    16 GB gives a lot more room to have drum vst, bass sim + amp sim, 4-8 + guitar Amp sim, synths and all mixing/mastering plugins needed. I rarely exceed the 16 GB while recording but I’d regularly go over 8.

    The new Mac laptops are only 13” right now and it could be summer before we see the 16” models.
     
  9. DudeManBrother

    DudeManBrother Hey...how did everybody get in my room?

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    Honestly a new M1 with Logic Pro will basically be unbeatable at even 5x the price. Most companies are getting their software updated to work with it. Even the base model Mac mini M1 at $640 destroys most 2 year old spec’d out computers, at least when running native programs. One You Tube music channel was able to load 1,000 reverb/modulation plugins on a base 8GB Mac mini without slowing down playback.
     
  10. coreysMonster

    coreysMonster So long, Germany!

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    Absolutely, 8GB of RAM is not nearly enough these days for anything but the most casual web browsing. I checked and Firefox is eating 3GB of RAM alone right now (multiple video tabs), Discord another 650MB. I've never used it for audio work, but for work-work I use a Dell Precision 5540. It's a solid workhorse machine, and considering the workloads I throw at it audio wouldn't be a problem.

    One thing you might want to consider is extensibility - some laptops you can upgrade RAM or storage down the line, others have the components soldered in which means you can't upgrade them (all modern Macbooks). That doesn't have to be a deal-breaker though, I for one have never upgraded a laptop and always sell them and then upgrade to a new one because it's usually an issue of either the processor or the display being outdated at that point.
    Resale value might be another thing to consider; Macbooks will always keep their value longer than Windows machines. I see people on this forum selling Macbooks from 5 years ago for 1500-2000 dollars, an XPS is never going to keep its value like that.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2020
  11. Mathemagician

    Mathemagician SS.org Regular

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    WATCH THE REVIEWS.

    I am not an Apple evangelist. Apart from my phone all my gadgets are windows cause they are cheaper.

    The new M1 chip that Apple just released literally BLOWS AWAY much higher species equivalent laptops, and same for the Mac mini’s.

    Mac book pro M1, with 16gigs of ram and a 1tb hard drive.

    Seriously let me link the review.

     
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  12. JohnIce

    JohnIce Singlecoil Enthusiast

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    +1 to anything Apple M1. Being cheaper AND better than Intel equivalents, you have to REALLY want Windows to justify buying a PC laptop right now.

    FWIW, the MacBook Air also has the M1 chip at a very low price, but keep in mind it doesn't have any fans. So while it's nice to have a dead silent computer for music production, it might start limiting itself to prevent from overheating. The MacBook Pro is a better option then, but don't sleep on the Mac Mini either. That one is the most ventilated AND cheapest of them all. It also has the best connectivity.

    Since you mentioned Dell XPS, I saw this video just the other day:



    TL;DR: The M1 MacBook is better at essentially everything AND is cheaper. I get what you're saying, but what I get from OP is that they could go either way in which case the Apple is genuinely better value for the money.
     
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  13. Marv Attaxx

    Marv Attaxx SS.org Regular

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    Apple delivering on the value front again, who would've thought :lol:
    I'm still comfy with my spec'd out 2013 mac pro but might replace it with a mac mini when the 12 core M1X chip comes out next year. It's insane that literally the cheapest mac can compete with the mac pro now (in some cases even the current one).
     
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  14. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    I find this to be a really weird statement. The difference between Apple and non-apple stuff isn't just benchmark numbers, but it's also the ecosystem and user experience. I'm not anti-Apple, but there's lots of reasons to not want to be in that ecosystem - maybe you don't like Mac OS, maybe none of the software you use runs on Mac or has ARM builds, maybe you already have software you use often that comes from the windows store, maybe there's a worry that the upgrade path is going to make this particular piece of hardware obsolete and useless much faster than PC would be, some people maybe just don't like apple as a company, etc.
     
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  15. Mathemagician

    Mathemagician SS.org Regular

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    Why would any audio production software not be optimized for apple’s OS? It’s a valid argument if it applies, but for audio/video it’s just unlikely.

    And if you haven’t sat through the reviews, then the price/performance of the new M1 chip cannot be oversold. The cheap $1300 MacBooks are outperforming $3k+ Fully spec’d out systems from a year ago.

    Apple went the self-designed chip route because Intel dropped the ball for years on viable chip tech that could meet apples performance & energy targets.

    It’s literally not going back to Intel any time soon and ideally would be optimal to elect as a platform - if OP really is platform agnostic.

    Essentially outside of OS preference I don’t see a reason to buy a more poorly built, hotter, louder, laptop.

    And I don’t own an Apple laptop/desktop.
     
  16. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    Because it's literally just moved to an entirely different architecture, which is going to come with some growing pains. That's also not the point I was making. Some people just don't like Macs or Mac OS or don't want to be tied into the Apple ecosystem. That's a legitimate concern. Even if the hardware is 100x better on paper, some people just don't want a Mac.

    OP even said:
     
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  17. duffbeer33

    duffbeer33 Contributor

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    OP what is your preferred DAW? You mentioned Reason, have you used that in the past?

    I run a 2015 macbook with Reaper and have been very happy with it. Prior to that I had a PC with cubase that died on me. Mac ecosystem took some time to get used to, for sure. I haven't make the jump to Logic yet. For my $, Reaper is a great DAW. I have heard Neural can be a bit of a CPU hog but can't confirm that.
     
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  18. JohnIce

    JohnIce Singlecoil Enthusiast

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    Well, yes... which is why I said "You have to REALLY want Windows" :lol: Those are the reasons one would really want Windows.
     
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  19. Ataraxia2320

    Ataraxia2320 SS.org Regular

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    New macs are amazing for price to performance. If they could still boot camp into windows or had upgradable ram I would recommend without a seconds thought.

    Also the lack of usb A ports is a deal breaker for a lot of people.
     
  20. budda

    budda Do not criticize as this Contributor

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    Dongle vs power, the choice is yours :lol: (but it is)
     

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