Choosing a laptop

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valgaer

Choosing a laptop

Postby valgaer » Mon Mar 01, 2010 5:56 pm

Hi guys! I've been using Forte a lot for some years now and the time has come for me to change my laptop to a more powerful one. Some questions come to mind:

1. First, which aspect is more important for Forte to perform well? RAM, Processor?, hard drive speed?
2. Does anyone knows about a brand or model which is the best for this? I don't want a recording studio on my laptop, just to be able to play smoothly with it.

Thanks a lot for any input you can give me!

JP

Dirk Offringa
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Re: Choosing a laptop

Postby Dirk Offringa » Mon Mar 01, 2010 6:27 pm

Hi,

That depends on what you use forte for. Not using samplers, I'm running forte happily with 1Gb Ram on XP pro, but others are lost without at least 8Gb. On the other hand, I would be happy with a powerful CPU. The performance of the graphic card is of no importance to me, any recent chip will do. I'd say that the heat issue is something to consider: depending on what region you live in, that can be important (I myself decided to stick with a rackmount PC with lot's of cooling: I live in the mediterranean region and do lots of outdoor gigs during the summer: not cool for a laptop!). Most of today's laptops have those brilliant screens: I hate those on stage with all the lights. I'd prefer a non-reflective screen. My opinion is that today's laptops offer a huge amount of processing power these days (I was looking at a Toshiba laptop wth an I7-820QM CPU, 8 GB for around 800 euros, incredible value for money) so it's more the pragmatic side that should be considered carefully.

Maybe Mike could drop in to tell us a bit more on the way forte would benefit from multicore CPU's using Hyperthreading with the new Intel Turbo mode like these I7-xxxQM series: there might be a cooling issue here.

Dirk
Life would be much easier if I had the source code.

valgaer

Re: Choosing a laptop

Postby valgaer » Mon Mar 01, 2010 10:33 pm

Thanks Dirk!. Will look into those Toshibas. Another thing is that I'm using a presonus Firebox as live interface, does the firewire chipset matters? cause I know TI chipsets are the best (I have them in my studio desktop) but I think none of the "non studio pimped up" laptops have them, so are there any "no no's" on the chipset area?

Thanks a lot!

Angel
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Re: Choosing a laptop

Postby Angel » Tue Mar 02, 2010 6:45 am

Have a look on the speed of the hard drive.

This is the most limiting factor when loading large sample libraries during scene change or if you need to reboot Windows or to restart Forte in case of any odd occasions. I recently changed the built-in HD with 5400 rpm in my 3 years old Dell Latitude 820 notebook to a 7200 rpm. The difference was quite impressive. Unfortunately, most budget laptops are equipped with 5400 rpm HDs at the moment.

Also check if the memory can be upgraded, for example to 8GB, even if 4GB seem to be enough for you now.

Get a laptop with a two-prong power supply unit. The PSU brick is then labeled with a smaller square in a larger square. That means double-isolated. Without that symbol the PSU needs to have a three-prong mains plug with earth contact. This is prone for all sorts of audio interference. Unfortunately again, there is usually no spec if you can't check what's in the box. My solution was to buy replacement PSUs with two-prong plugs.

Angel

Angel
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Re: Choosing a laptop

Postby Angel » Tue Mar 02, 2010 6:58 am

Some more thoughts:

I had not much luck with Firewire on both of my laptops, my old Acer Travelmate 803 and my actual Dell Latitude 820. I experienced stability issues with FW audio interfaces and my external backup HD is not working over FW at all. Information on FW chipset is also rare and could change quickly within the models. Quite difficult to make predictions. It takes one user up to some months to see if a configuration really works stable and in the mean time the chipset could have changed, bad luck for a second user which buys this model by recommendation of the first.

So my recommendation would also be to check if the model has enough USB ports and an express card slot at a convenient location, in case you might want to switch to some interfaces with dedicated express card adapters (Indigo Echo, RME). Or even for an alternative FW interface card.

Angel

valgaer

Re: Choosing a laptop

Postby valgaer » Tue Mar 02, 2010 9:15 am

Thank you very very much!. Another thought, Is there already tests with WIndows 7 and i7 processors? Will my old XP plugs work under these conditions?

Dirk Offringa
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Re: Choosing a laptop

Postby Dirk Offringa » Tue Mar 02, 2010 11:01 am

Windows 7 32bit is officially supported. Windows 7 64 bit in WoW mode (32bit compatibility mode) is known to be working but not officially supported (yet). A Windows 7 64 bit native build is in beta stage.
There are no known Win7-32bit specific issues with 32-bit plugins as far as I know. If they were Vista compatible, they should work in Seven.

Dirk
Life would be much easier if I had the source code.

valgaer

Re: Choosing a laptop

Postby valgaer » Tue Mar 02, 2010 11:07 am

The thing is that I work on Windows XP pro now.....do you think they will work on 7? sorry for not mention it before!

Dirk Offringa
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Re: Choosing a laptop

Postby Dirk Offringa » Tue Mar 02, 2010 12:12 pm

There's no possible answer to your question! As I said, there are no known specific Win7 32bit issues as of today, but vendors are responsible of their own software. I guess you should check compatibility issues per-plugin with their respective vendors.

Dirk
Life would be much easier if I had the source code.

valgaer

Re: Choosing a laptop

Postby valgaer » Tue Mar 02, 2010 12:53 pm

Thanks a Lot man!

Cheers
JP

fab
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Re: Choosing a laptop

Postby fab » Wed Mar 03, 2010 5:03 am

+1 to fast hard drives and express cardbus interfaces.

lenovo thinkpads have worked out for me relly well. you can get them used with warranty (t-series models have three years factory warranty). even if the processor is not he most current, they are rock solid.

i swapped the hard drive with a 128 gb SSD from samsung. it's great for sample loading! but there are some quirks (nothing too bad), for startup i need to press F1 and warmstart does not work any more. maybe with more recent SSDs these problems have been solved.

Dirk Offringa
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Re: Choosing a laptop

Postby Dirk Offringa » Wed Mar 03, 2010 7:14 am

Looks like Intel just released a budget line in addition to their pro (expensive) line of sdd's, and I have heard good reports on them.

Dirk
Life would be much easier if I had the source code.

hisdudeness

Re: Choosing a laptop

Postby hisdudeness » Wed Mar 03, 2010 8:10 am

Hi,

also have a look at the L2-Cache of the processor you want to choose. The larger the L2-Cache the better since all data is processed by the cache between HD und CPU. From my point of view it's more important than the CPU speed itself, e.g. I woul prefer a 2GHz CPU with a 4MB L2 cache instead of a 2.5GHz CPU with just 2MB L2-Cache.
I am working with a Lenovo T61 T7300 Intel CPU (2GHz, 4MB L2-Cache), 4GB RAM, 32GB Transcend SSD and a "nlited" XP pro 32bit. Works very well and it's faster than Win7 32bit on the same hardware.

Best regards
hisdudeness

Volker Grosch
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Re: Choosing a laptop

Postby Volker Grosch » Wed Mar 03, 2010 3:25 pm

Hi,

a small aspect from here: when using RAM-hungry VSTis (samplers, plugs like Omnisphere) I strongly recommend to think about 64Bit OS (f.e. Win7 64). I know forte isn`t officially supported for operation on 64Bit OS but a Win7 64 on Laptop and a Vista 64 work flawless here with forte 32. The reason behind is the limitation on RAM allocation in 32Bit OS (means ist is useless to have more than 3,5GByte of RAM available in 32 Bit OS as it cannot be adressed).

regards, Volker
hosts: Forte 4, AuxBusFaders, Cubase 8, Cantabile 2, Live9, jBridge
VSTis: u-he, Spectrasonics, NI, GSi, Synthogy, East West, TAL, Adam Szabo, Steinberg...
VSTs: u-he, Voxengo, Fabfilter, Lexicon, TB, PSP, NI, UVI, Waves,...

valgaer

Re: Choosing a laptop

Postby valgaer » Sun Mar 07, 2010 12:48 pm

Many thanks for all the advice guys!. Currently I'm installing my live setup on different computers to try things out, gotta do it on Windows 7 yet. Already tryied it on a macbook with bootcamp running XPpro, 3GB RAM and core2duo 2.1 with 3MB cache and it works really really well, I would like to use a more powerful processor and 1GB of RAM more at least but so far it works better than the one I have.


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