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Laptop recommendations for music production and hi-res video viewing.

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by TheHriday, Nov 10, 2011.

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  1. TheHriday

    TheHriday Thread Starter

    Sep 22, 2009

    I'm looking to buy a new laptop. I could say I'm spoilt for choice and just want someone to decide for me, but the truth is that I'm kinda bewildered by the number of options out there. The last time I bought a laptop was back in 2007, and with new-fangled things like i5s and i7s, I haven't a clue about what I should buy.

    I will be using this new laptop for the following things, in order of their importance:

    1. Producing music
    2. Viewing high-resolution videos
    3. Less-intensive stuff like surfing the Internet and listening to music

    Some more stuff of importance:

    1. The main software I use for music production is Ableton Live. I also use various other VSTs. My current laptop only has a GB of RAM [remember, I bought this in 2007], so it has a hard time running all these things together, poor thing. On top of that, my current OS is Windows Vista Basic 32-bit, so you can imagine how slow things can get. Considering all this, I think an i5 processor and around 4GBs of RAM should be good enough for me. All laptops seem to come with Windows 7 64-bit, so it's not really like I have a choice there, but that's alright.

    2. I watch a lot of anime [Japanese animation], which is mostly released in 720p/1080p resolutions. My current laptop has integrated graphics, so there's quite a bit of lag when it comes to rendering the aforementioned resolutions. So, something with a decent enough graphics card [say, a GB of dedicated memory] will be fine for my needs. I do play games once in a while, but not the latest games that require high-end graphics and stuff.

    3. What kind of a sound card should I have? I've visited some major retailers' websites [Dell, Lenovo, and HP], but none of them seem to mention what sound cards they have on their systems. To be honest, I don't really know much about sound cards and how much they'll affect my potential system. I have heard of some brands like Creative and Realtek, but I don't know which one is better. The most common sound card name I've heard is Creative's SoundBlaster. I've never really had any experience with it, so I can't really comment on that. I don't even know what sound card my current laptop has. I use ASIO4ALL for my music production purposes and the SRS Audio Sandbox software for general listening. I've also heard of something called Texas Instruments, which apparently produces the "best" sound card available on the market. Any additional advice on the topic of sound cards will be appreciated.

    4. Hard drive space isn't a major concern for me. I have 2 external drives of a TB each, amounting to a total of 2TBs, which is fine for now. The most common retail offering seems to 500GB, which is absolutely fine. Even 250GB is fine. What I'm concerned about is the RPM of the drive. Some of these drives come in 5400RPM, but it seems 7200RPM is the ideal speed. So, something with a 7200RPM speed will be preferred.

    5. I'd like a big screen on my laptop. My current laptop has a very wide screen, which I like very much. 1280 by 800, to be exact. I don't know how much that is in inches, probably around 14, I suppose? Anyway, I'd like it to be more than 15 inches. The most common screen size seems to be 15.6", which is fine.

    6. My budget is around $800, give or take a few. $850 at most, which was the price of my Compaq Presario v3000, bought in 2007.

    7. I'm not interested in Macs. They'd be way over my budget anyway.

    I've been looking at a couple of Dell XPS models, but I want more options and your opinions, so I can make an educated purchase.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. maarkr


    Sep 23, 2001
    I'm not going to recommend a model, just make a couple of comments. I have a 17" laptop and like the large view on it. I write/perform/produce music as well, so I don't know if I'd put money in a separate laptop soundcard. The cards you mentioned are not pro-level cards... you may want to look into a separate usb sound device from Focusrite, Tascam, or Avid. You can still use the internal card for portability, but for multi-I/O and midi recording and high fidelity you want a good audio interface. Look on zzounds.com, musiciansfriend.com, sweetwater.com or other music equipment sites.
  3. TheHriday

    TheHriday Thread Starter

    Sep 22, 2009
    Thanks for the reply.

    Does a sound card affect the kind of latency one gets? That's my primary reason for asking about them. Like I mentioned before, I really know nothing about sound cards. ASIO4ALL has suited my needs just fine for now, but I'm since I'm going to get a more powerful laptop than my current one, I thought I should take advantage of it and get a good sound card.

    I don't need hi-fidelity; the standard CD quality of 44.1kHz/16-bit depth is good enough for me. I don't have a studio or high-quality instruments, so I don't think the extra quality will be of any use for me.
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