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Which Laptop for Music Production/some Video Editing

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October 3, 2011 3:25:59 PM

I'm torn between two laptops. This laptop will be used as a Music DAW from which I can also do some video editing for my independent projects (I don't need a "professional" grade editing platform). I will be running things like Cubase 6, Reason 6, Various VSTs simultaneously and Native Instruments Maschine. As for video, I used to use FinalCut Pro, but have been investigating Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premiere and Vegas.

As this will be my primary computer, I will also do my web browsing, ms office and photo editing on this computer. Gaming is NOT a priority (I have an Xbox for games). If anything, I'd be playing Civilization or possibly Madden.

Other than being a home studio DAW, I will likely use the same laptop in live performance situations.

I like the Asus because of the screen resolution and the ability to expand to 16gb of RAM. Though I like the speakers, I will be using headphones and studio monitors more often than not.

I like the Samsung because of the ExpressCache Technology (the 8GB SSD on the motherboard would aleviate the desire to get a Momentus Hybrid Drive), the thin and light design, and having two usb 3.0 ports rather than having only 1 on the Asus. Additionally, the Samsung features the new Intel 2675qm processor and much greater battery life.

When I list the features, it seems the Samsung may be worth spending $200 more on. However, the Asus reputation for reliability, RAM expandability and higher screen resolution give me pause. PLEASE, someone help me rationalize this ongoing battle in my wallet!!! I NEED some sound advice!!!!

Here are some links so you have quick access to full spec's:

http://www.amazon.com/N53SV-XV1-15-6-Inch-Versatile-Ent...

http://www.amazon.com/Samsung-NP700Z5A-S04US-15-6-Inch-...

And just for the hell of it, what do you think of this VAIO for my purposes?

http://www.amazon.com/Sony-VPCF232FX-16-4-Inch-Laptop-M...

Thanks in advance...
a b D Laptop
October 3, 2011 5:05:56 PM

your links are not working
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October 7, 2011 5:40:43 PM

No opinions from 151 people. I'm SO glad I chose this forum for a bit of simple advice.
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October 7, 2011 7:29:58 PM

I don't know anything about the requirements for a DAW workstation, I'm a software developer and never dabble in that domain.

Reasons to choose each of the units you listed:
ASUS (full disclosure: I own this unit, see my sig line below):
* Expandable to 16GB using inexpensive 4GB sticks of DDR3.
* 1GB GT540M is a bit faster than the 512MB GT520M in the Sony, and about the same as the Samsung.
* 1 USB 3.0 port, compared to none mentioned for the Samsung, but the Sony has 2 of them.

Samsung:
* Sleek design, nice small chassis, significantly lighter than the ASUS or Sony.
* Decent AMD video card.
* "ExpressCache" HDD cache on motherboard (your mileage will vary)
* CPU is faster than that in the ASUS, and about the same as that in the Sony.
* Comes with 750GB HDD, rather than 500GB on the Sony and ASUS models.
* Comes with 6GB of RAM rather than the 4GB on the ASUS (but this is a cheap upgrade for any of these).

Sony:
* Larger screen than the ASUS, in the same size chassis.
* CPU is faster than that in the ASUS, and about the same that in the Samsung.
* Blu-Ray drive (if that has any appeal to you).
* 2 USB 3.0 ports, only 1 on the ASUS, and the Samsung doesn't even mention USB 3.0.

Of those choices, the Samsung looks like a winner for your needs, particularly if it actually has USB 3.0 ports (a bit of future-proofing), and if you need the portability. The only real limitation here is the 8GB max RAM, but that's probably not going to be an issue for you anytime soon.

If you do more memory-intensive things (hard to imagine, from what you've mentioned), then the ASUS and it's ability to use 16GB of cheap memory may be an option, but it loses to the Samsung big-time in terms of portability (physically larger, and 1.5 lbs. heavier), and I don't know of your audio work will really take advantage of the extra bit of CPU speed the Samsung (or Sony) offer.

The Sony wins out over the ASUS for having the larger screen in the same sized chassis, and a Blu-Ray drive, but loses for the weak video card and 8GB cap on memory.

Good luck.
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October 7, 2011 8:20:51 PM

Thanks for both of your replies, I was starting to think my question was going to be overlooked.

Shadamus, will give your comments about the Sony some thought. Admittedly, this unit is the dark horse in the race because I don't hear people rave about Sonys. How do you like your Asus? I see you installed an SSD which is what I was planning on doing. I can't help but feel that the Asus with an SSD would be be best option.
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October 7, 2011 8:45:37 PM

juggernaut9 said:
...Shadamus, will give your comments about the Sony some thought. Admittedly, this unit is the dark horse in the race because I don't hear people rave about Sonys. How do you like your Asus? I see you installed an SSD which is what I was planning on doing. I can't help but feel that the Asus with an SSD would be be best option.


The SSD is essential for my work since I deal with thousands of small-ish source-code files, which all get read by the compiler (multiply drive latency by number of files and suffer accordingly), and SQL Server (sometimes tens of thousands of random 8K reads per query -- same latency penalty, but even more so due to volume). For audio work, I don't think it would do as much for you. You'd see faster booting and quicker application loads and you'd be less susceptible to travel-damage than a spinning drive (if your machine will ever leave your desk), but I don't think your work is quite as intensive on the random I/O, .

If, like me, you use the laptop for serious money-making, you'll want to get an SSD known for reliability, even at the risk of a bit of speed. I personally use Samsung SSDs, even though they are only SATA-II, due to their excellent reliability. The other one I would consider is the Crucial M4, which is SATA-III, and crazy fast, but also turning out to be very reliable.

If you get an SSD, you'll probably want to get an additional harddrive to hold all of your audio project files, since the cost/GB of SSD is still pretty high. I went the route of removing my optical drive and putting in an adapter to let me mount the laptop's original 500 GB 7200 RPM drive there. You can still use the optical drive via a USB adapter cable, for those occasions when you need to load or burn something. Or, if you're primarily going to be using the laptop as a desktop replacement, you can just get an external USB harddrive (USB 3.0, if you get a machine with a USB 3.0 port -- makes it about as fast as an internal hard drive) to hold your extra material.

The ASUS I've got is just plain awesome for use as a dev workstation running multiple virtual machines. I'm one of the not-so-common folks who really has a need for more than 8GB of RAM, so was happy when laptops started offering 4 DDR3 slots for cheap upgrade to 16GB (cost me about $100 a few months ago, can be done for even less now). The quad-core 2.0 GHz CPU is plenty powerful for my needs, and I really appreciate the hyperthreading for 8 execution threads when running a bunch of dev tools, SQL Server, one or two VMs of Windows server 2008, and Wireshark sniffing packets being sent between the ASUS and the virtualized server. I also use handbrake (video transcoder) periodically to load DVDs into my media server, and it's about 40%-50% faster than my Intel Q6600 (2.4 GHz quad-core, without hyperthreading) desktop, so that really shows the efficiency improvements of the i7 Sandy Bridge architecture.

I like the aesthetics of the ASUS, but that wasn't a factor in my purchasing it. I would probably buy the same machine again, even though there are more choices now with a similar configuration (primarily rebranded Clevo white-box machines -- Sager, Malibal, XoticPC, etc.).
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October 14, 2011 5:06:39 PM

So, to summarize, my needs are:

-2nd Gen, Quad Core Sandy Bridge Processor (fast as budget and config allow)
-7200 RPM HD (I figure I can move it to the optical bay when I get an SSD)
-Screen Resolution over 1366x768
-Discrete GPU (Not for gaming, but to be helpful for intermediate level HD video editing)
-USB 3.0

Wants (Nice bells and whistles):

-As much RAM as possible
-Backlit Keyboard
-Matte Screen

I still haven't pulled the trigger on anything. With new models being announced everyday, I don't want to be hasty although the longer I wait, the less productive I am. With your analysis, I've continued to shop around though the week. There is a tremendous deal going on for the Dell XPS which brought it into my price range, although it is for a 17" version. I am considering the "heavier" laptops though I can't honestly say they are my preference. However, when you're looking for power, you cannot deny the extra chassis space. Again, I would consider the right machine to be anywhere from 13" to 17".

As far as making money with this machine, I am currently provided a Lenovo T500 by my employer. I'm happy with the machine overall and have entertained some Lenovo models. My plan is to take my modestly promoted music, and do everything within the power of my multimedia skills to up the promo, including performances which I'd like this lappy to be a part of. I'm even considering a Lenovo Y560 now but it doesn't quite match the spec of the other machines (screen resolution) for the spec.

I'd like to add (before firewire people start jumping down my throat) I use a USB audio interface. I will be performing solo. If DPC latency becomes an issue, I'll be moving to a USB 3.0.

Finally, could someone weigh in on Screen Resolution a bit? My goal with this machine is to make videos to accompany my music. I used to edit in college and briefly for a post house after graduating so I would say I have intermediate skills in FCP (I'm sure I can get used to the windows editing softwares). What I really need to know is, if my primary activity will focus on cuts, composition and compositing, can I get by with a mid range video card and a 1366 x 768 screen? I can always purchase a larger HD monitor later. This could potentially increase my options, while saving money for other purchases.

I think I've given the best amount of detail I'm capable of providing. Any other thoughts, anyone?
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October 24, 2011 1:22:51 PM

It looks like I'll be buying this Friday. After all this time where I thought the Asus would be the best option, I've reconsidered my priorities with this machine. Screen resolution is not as important since I will be investing in a small HDTV (32") a few months or whenever I can catch a good deal. With this in mind, I've found some coupon codes out there that can really save me a great deal of cash. There is a Lenovo Y470, HP Envy 14 and HP Probook 4530 that all have i7-2630's, 7200 RPM drives, discrete video cards and usb 3.0. Does anyone own any of these machines or the ones I asked about before? I've delayed for a long time and I really need something ASAP. My old Toshiba has an overheating issue that won't allow me to do any of the creative work I need to do.
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May 18, 2012 1:27:47 AM

juggernaut9 said:
It looks like I'll be buying this Friday. After all this time where I thought the Asus would be the best option, I've reconsidered my priorities with this machine. Screen resolution is not as important since I will be investing in a small HDTV (32") a few months or whenever I can catch a good deal. With this in mind, I've found some coupon codes out there that can really save me a great deal of cash. There is a Lenovo Y470, HP Envy 14 and HP Probook 4530 that all have i7-2630's, 7200 RPM drives, discrete video cards and usb 3.0. Does anyone own any of these machines or the ones I asked about before? I've delayed for a long time and I really need something ASAP. My old Toshiba has an overheating issue that won't allow me to do any of the creative work I need to do.



What did you end up going with? Looking for a similar computer for music production.
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