Author Topic: Wanted: buying advice for refurb laptop - home use & with audio interface  (Read 315 times)

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Offline close2u

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I need some good buying advice from those with tech knowledge.
Both my desktop and laptop are ancient (in tech terms) and my tech savvy (which was very limited at it's best) is about as many years out of date in knowing what is what in terms of tech spec.
I would like a laptop and am happy to buy refurbished to gain a higher spec for my budget.
Budget about £350-400.
It is mainly for home use but also in conjunction with an audio interface to record (which is another purchase I have to get my head around).


I read somewhere to seek:

SSD (for low noise)
Both USB 2 (for interface compatibility) and USB 3
Windows 10
8gb RAM
Intel U series processor ... i5 or i7
1080 (minimum) monitor

Are DVDRW drives out of date now?
What about other connections?
I'm not a gamer nor a 'heavy-demand' user.
What else do I need to know / to consider?
Thanks.


« Last Edit: August 12, 2017, 04:46:10 pm by close2u »

Offline DarrellW

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This looks like a good buy to me, 6th gen processor is good that said mine is the same spec but Dell and 3rd gen i5 and it's plenty good enough.
https://www.encore-pc.co.uk/stone-notebook-i5-6200u-2-30ghz-128gb-hard-drive-8gb-memory
« Last Edit: August 12, 2017, 04:46:34 pm by close2u »
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Offline close2u

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Thanks Darrell.

That has hdd and I would like ssd.

There was some advice in Darrell's recent thread which I read and tried to comprehend.
Clock speed, processor speed, etc etc etc ... all the technical stuff went over my head tbh.

I found a few on Amazon uk with ssd and i5 or i7 ... but subsequently found out that they are basically old machines long since superseded.


Offline Majik

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There was some advice in Darrell's recent thread which I read and tried to comprehend.
Clock speed, processor speed, etc etc etc ... all the technical stuff went over my head tbh.
...
I found a few on Amazon uk with ssd and i5 or i7 ... but subsequently found out that they are basically old machines long since superseded.

The crux of the technical bits is: faster/newer processors don't necessarily translate to better at audio.

Certain aspects of audio work, such as software plugins, do require a lot of processing power and, for these, the faster the processor (and the more CPUs it has) the better.

But many aspects of audio work, such as transferring audio to/from a USB bus, are are not usually limited by the processor speed. They are normally limited by other factors, the main one being "interrupt latency" which is how long it takes for the processor to react to the messages from the USB bus that indicate when audio data needs to be transferred.

If the interrupt latency of the system is poor, then this means you need to store more of the audio data before the processor can get around to handling it. If the buffers used for this are set too low, then data will be lost resulting in audio glitches, clicks, dropouts, etc. Increasing the buffers will reduce the Interrupt load on the processor, but will increase the latency.

This is what the buffer/latency settings are for on ASIO and JACK: for tuning the buffers to suit the system you are running.

Faster processors often sacrifice interrupt latency to gain raw speed as most tasks (spreadsheets, video editing, etc.) benefit from speed over latency. But this means you have to be careful when it comes to audio I/O work which tends to benefit from low-latency over speed.

Also, it's not just limited to the processor specification but also the support capabilities of the surrounding components (the "Northbridge" and "Southbridge" as well as the chips used in the USB interface).

Unfortunately, it's a bit of a minefield. To be honest most modern i5/i7 and the new AMDs should be able to handle several simultaneous channels of USB audio, but it depends on so many factors that it's really difficult to give a generic answer. Even if I gave you a specific model of CPU to aim for, you could buy a laptop and be unlucky and find the USB chipset is rubbish.

The only way to be sure is to purchase a system that has been specifically built and optimised for audio work, as this will comprise components that have been selected and tested to create a low-latency system. But these tend to be expensive.

In general, I wouldn't be too worried about getting the fastest CPU going if you are doing audio work, and you are on a budget. I would aim for lots of memory and a decent SSD.

Also make sure the memory is the appropriate speed: a trick PC sellers often do is to put in a fast processor, but then load it up with cheap, slow memory which restricts the speed.

Cheers,

Keith
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Offline DarrellW

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Thanks Darrell.
That has hdd and I would like ssd.
If you look at the product specification it is a SSD, them calling it a HDD is confusing - I did check that before I recommended it, mine actually has the same SSD.
I would guess that they would use DDR3 ram which is OK because it's latency is often better than DDR4 so it should be a decent machine.
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Offline Majik

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I would guess that they would use DDR3 ram which is OK because it's latency is often better than DDR4 so it should be a decent machine.

They can be, but the difference is usually very small:

http://uk.crucial.com/gbr/en/memory-performance-speed-latency

And, just to be clear, RAM latency shouldn't impact audio interface latency in any way.

Cheers,

Keith
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Amps: Bugera G5 Head, Boss Katana 100
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Offline close2u

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Thanks Keith & Darrell.
Some of it is starting to make sense ... a little bit.

Offline close2u

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Of course, the hunt continues ....

 

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