Author Topic: Wanted: buying advice for refurb laptop - home use & with audio interface  (Read 936 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and laptop are ancient (in tech terms) and my tech savvy (which was very limited at it's best) is about as many years out of date in knowing what is what in terms of tech spec.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Are DVDRW drives out of date now?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 »

Online 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 but subsequently found out that they are basically old machines long since superseded.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 but subsequently found out that they are basically old machines long since superseded.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
Guitars: PRS Singlecut S2, Fender Tele Lite Ash, G&L Legacy Tribute, Freshman Apollo 2 OCBX
Amps: Bugera G5 Head, Boss Katana 100
All sorts of other stuff.

Online 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.
Having fun learning Guitar and Ukulele, what more could you want?

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
Guitars: PRS Singlecut S2, Fender Tele Lite Ash, G&L Legacy Tribute, Freshman Apollo 2 OCBX
Amps: Bugera G5 Head, Boss Katana 100
All sorts of other stuff.

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 ....

Offline close2u

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Bumping an old thread of necessity ...

So I didn't buy a laptop ... BUT ...

I am definitely 100% going to buy one soon.

So, using similar parameters as in my OP:

Refurb (thinking of bang for the buck)
Budget upto about £400
SSD
Connectivitiy - USB / ethernet / wifi
Windows 10
at least 8gb RAM
Intel U series processor ... i5 or i7 (but a later generation of those)
DVDRW drive

I will more than likely buy from Amazon as I have some credit there - but will go elsewhere if the deal is unbeatable.
They have a choice of mainly Dell Latitude, HP EliteBook, Lenovo ThinkPad in the refurb section.

My main uncertainty is about :
which generation of i5 or i7 to not go below
and
what numbers like this mean ... 3320M CPU @ 2.60GHz ... 4200U 1.6GHZ ...  i5 CPU @ 2.40GHz  etc


Thanks
« Last Edit: March 23, 2018, 12:17:08 pm by close2u »

Online DarrellW

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Having fun learning Guitar and Ukulele, what more could you want?

Offline Majik

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My main uncertainty is about :
which generation of i5 or i7 to not go below
and
what numbers like this mean ... 3320M CPU @ 2.60GHz ... 4200U 1.6GHZ ...  i5 CPU @ 2.40GHz  etc.

These may help:
https://www.techradar.com/news/computing-components/processors/intel-processors-everything-you-need-to-know-1282987
http://www.trustedreviews.com/opinion/best-intel-processor-core-i3-i5-i7-2937692
https://www.techradar.com/news/best-processors
https://www.gamingscan.com/cpu-hierarchy/

Beware these articles can get stale when it comes to specific models, but the essence of what all of these numbers means is there.

Cheers,

Keith
Guitars: PRS Singlecut S2, Fender Tele Lite Ash, G&L Legacy Tribute, Freshman Apollo 2 OCBX
Amps: Bugera G5 Head, Boss Katana 100
All sorts of other stuff.

Offline close2u

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I may have luckily had a mini cash boost for this so the budget is now closer to £600.
Does that put me in a different league?

Online DarrellW

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I may have luckily had a mini cash boost for this so the budget is now closer to £600.
Does that put me in a different league?
It sure does, you can have a much more up to date processor, this is an example
https://www.amazon.co.uk/LATITUDE-7280-ULTRABOOK-CORE-250GB/dp/B079HYJ3MT/ref=sr_1_7?s=computers&ie=UTF8&qid=1522296301&sr=1-7&refinements=p_n_condition-type%3A13736824031%2Cp_n_feature_fifteen_browse-bin%3A8322531031%7C8322530031%2Cp_n_feature_eleven_browse-bin%3A7472680031%2Cp_36%3A50000-60000%2Cp_n_feature_three_browse-bin%3A213559031%7C213558031%2Cp_n_feature_browse-bin%3A1481783031%7C1481781031%2Cp_n_pattern_browse-bin%3A213555031%7C213554031
It’s more future proof than older gen processors and the performance is better.
Also
https://www.amazon.co.uk/HP-Notebook-14-bp024na-Certified-Refurbished/dp/B07B2YV48L/ref=sr_1_2?s=computers&ie=UTF8&qid=1522296622&sr=1-2&refinements=p_n_condition-type%3A13736824031%2Cp_n_feature_fifteen_browse-bin%3A8322531031%7C8322530031%2Cp_n_feature_eleven_browse-bin%3A7472680031%2Cp_36%3A50000-60000%2Cp_n_feature_three_browse-bin%3A213559031%7C213558031%2Cp_n_feature_browse-bin%3A1481783031%7C1481781031%2Cp_n_pattern_browse-bin%3A213555031%7C213554031
And
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dell-Inspiron-TOUCHSCREEN-Certified-Refurbished/dp/B0799KMR81/ref=sr_1_4?s=computers&ie=UTF8&qid=1522296722&sr=1-4&refinements=p_n_condition-type%3A13736824031%2Cp_n_feature_fifteen_browse-bin%3A8322531031%7C8322530031%2Cp_n_feature_eleven_browse-bin%3A7472680031%2Cp_36%3A50000-60000%2Cp_n_feature_three_browse-bin%3A213559031%7C213558031%2Cp_n_feature_browse-bin%3A1481783031%7C1481781031%2Cp_n_pattern_browse-bin%3A213555031%7C213554031
If you prefer Lenovo
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lenovo-510-80SR008RUK-Processor-Refurbished/dp/B06XDQ5J5G/ref=pd_sbs_147_4?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=ZVPR3PA7FQGSM7ZXMQ4B
But you get an older gen processor.
All would do the job easily, all with ssd’s need external storage.
This has a conventional HDD so would be a bit slower but doesn’t need external storage
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06XDQ5J5G/ref=psdc_429886031_t2_B072C39TYG
HTH

Having fun learning Guitar and Ukulele, what more could you want?

Offline close2u

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I am notoriously slow to decide on any purchase, the bigger the slower!

Anyway ... today was D-Day and so I've made a decision and ordered (from Dell Outlet with a 15% off Easter deal for < £500)

Dell Inspiron 15 - 7570

Processor: Intel Core i5-8250U (Quad Core, up to 3.40 GHz, 6MB Cache, 15W)

Windows 10 Home (64bit)

8GB (1x8GB) 2400MHz DDR4 Non-ECC

256 GB Solid State Hard Drive

4GB NVIDIA GeForce 940MX

Intel 7265AC + BT4.2 [802.11ac + Bluetooth 4.2, Dual Band 2.4&5GHz, 2x2]

Primary 3-cell 42W/HR Battery

15.6-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS Truelife LED-Backlit Narrow Border Display

Internal UK/Irish Qwerty Backlit Keyboard

Thanks for all the help folks.

 

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