computer specifications=?

I know I've been outdated a bit with technology, since majority of the work I do is by hand and ear, and then I transfer music on a really old computer. I decided it is time to buy new one, but since I have to move around a lot I was thinking of buying a laptop.

So, here is my question (since I've never had one and doesn't know anybody to ask), what specifications should I look when buying a laptop if I mainly want to use it to write down, record and make music (using Sibelius, Cubase etc.)? And are there any labels that are better then others?

I really don't know what to look in a computer, so I would be really grateful for any advice!

Thx in advance :)

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  • I've got a laptop with an i5 and 4gbs of ram and finale works allright with it (using a kontact instrument or two, I don't write for big ensembles anyway). Ableton live also works allright usually, but I'm mainly using softsynths with it and not sample libraries, which propably makes a difference. There are some vst effects and some instrument patches that give it a hard time, though freezing the track lets me get over any inconveniences.

    Unless mobility is essensial I wouldn't go for a laptop. I got that laptop when I got into the uni, about 2 years ago, becuase I had to  travel to my hometown almost twice a month. It served that purpose well, but I don't see myself using it over my desktop, which is a 5 yo computer with good specs for when it was bought (before the i proccessors, ssd's, huge cheap rams, sata 3, usb 3 showed up on the market). With a 1000-1100 euro budget I can get a new desktop  (new tower, same screen, mouse and keyboard, not including windows) that will propably serve my uses (some light music software use, games, some pspice, maybe a little bit of matlab) well for another 4-5 years. I don't think you can get equal specs from a laptop at that same price. And since you're not looking for a gaming pc, you can throw more money on space, ram, proccessor.

    Plus, when a desktop is outdated it can be put into good use as a media centre, a downloading/media server, that sort of thing. And laptops, unless they come from a good, trusted manifacturer, have the tendency to start breaking after 2-3 years (that's why service sould be on top of your list when looking for brands). that ofc depends on your use as well.

  • Thanks so much to all three of you! You really helped me with your comments to get my head clear and think about what exactly would I need a laptop for.I was writing here with this question, because at stores salesmen tell me nothing of use. So, basically if I needed a laptop (because I move quite a lot), I would need it to have some basic things on it and a program like Sibelius or Finale - i that case are basic laptops ok? And as far as I can understand it is best if I rather have a good computer for sound production, right? Thx again! :)

  • I'm a Mac user but my advice would be the same for Mac or PC. Get the fastest processor, the largest amount of memory, the biggest and fasted HD either internal or external (USB 3 and thunderbolt) and the best quality audio interface that you can afford.

    Hardware is something you don't want to invest too often but once you start down the technology route you will often buy/update/upgrade software. Software is cheaper than hardware and there are always mouthwatering new sounds and programs that will eat up your computer's resources very quickly so I would say get a 'monster' machine that will last a good many years and be able to handle memory and processor intensive software.

    I think firstly decide on a budget.

  • and clarify what kind of music you write. My two computers are all I need to write piano music with a decent production quality too, if I want to bother with that, but they'll propably explode if I ever try to load an orchestra's worth of sample libraries ;)

  • Raymond Kemp said:

    It is always advisable to use a separate physical hard drive for any streaming of audio (sample libraries etc) from the hard drive you boot your operating system and applications from
    Is it extremely important? I don't quite understand why, if so, since most of the heavy duty work is done from RAM anyway. Enlighten me there, please :)
    computer specifications=?
    I know I've been outdated a bit with technology, since majority of the work I do is by hand and ear, and then I transfer music on a really old comput…
  • Actually you can use the same drive as long as it has a fast enough rotational speed (7200 rpm minimum). My MacbookPro has a dual core i5 2.53Ghz processor and 8 GB of ram and I can run Cinematic Strings in Logic with no problem on it's internal 500GB drive.

    I agree with Ray that it is advisable to spread the workload if possible because the less each drive has to do the better.

    I know a lot of this can seem like gobbledygook to someone who just wants to make music with little hassle and if I had invested the same amount of time in actual musical activity that I have had to invest in techie stuff.......blah blah...still, that's the world we find ourselves in!

    My advice to Ursula is decide what software you are going to need ( Sibelius, Cubase or whatever), check the recommended system requirements for the software- not the minimum requirements and then get something more powerful than that!
    Raymond Kemp said:

    I NEVER read and write to the same physical hard drive at the same time. Seems to be pretty straightforward laws of physics to me. No matter how much ram you have you still don't copy all the sample material on to it at any given time. The most practical answer for a laptop user is to have both an internal SSD and larger capacity standard HD in it. These are available now from DELL etc. but still pretty pricey. In time the price of SSD will drop and the capacity will rise but until then there is compromise depending on disposable income.
    Any external drive for our use needs connection by eSATA or on macs I hear talk of thunderbolt. USB external drives are good for storage only. NOT for real time streaming.
  • Honestly, I didn't expect so many answers. I am very grateful to all of your comments, they helped me to get some things clear on how and what to decide. I am actually looking on buying DELL or MacbookPro. Hope I will find something powerful enough for my needs that isn't too expensive :)

    Just one more question-do you think it's the same if I order computer let's say, via ebay, or should I better go to some local store to buy it? I know this question is a bit silly, but I don't have experience buying computers via web, so I'm asking, if anybody does  ...

  • If you decide on a MacbookPro, get it from Apple. You won't find it cheaper anywhere else. You can go to the online store and customise with extra ram etc. They are however much more expensive than PCs.

    I bought mine problems!

  • Yes, I know about the prices from Apple-they certanlly don't come cheap. I don't like the fact, that they don't have CD drive as well, but I think you can buy external CD drive ... I really have to think this through.

    You like Toshiba? That's interesting, because I've heard from some people that they are not worth buying, that they had huge problems with them ...

    On other hand, what's a puzzle to me is a fact that several of my friends at Academy have laptops like Acer, Asus etc. which are not that "powerful", but they use Sibelius, Cubase etc. quite normally ... But since I've put aside some money for this and want a good computer, I will firstly look on how compatible are they with the programs I want to use :)

  • It's the MacBook Air that doesn't have a CD drive.  The Macbook Pros do. 

    While not wanting to turn this into a Mac v PC thread (either machine with a good spec will do the job) I will just add that with a Mac you'll never have to worry about anti virus software.

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