#1
I'm an incoming college music major who intends on doing a lot of recording in the near future. So basically i don't have a budget for a maxed out Mac. My family is willing to drop some cash and buy a Windows system though. My stipulation being i have to do it on the cheap. So here are my two options...

1. Toshiba Satellite w/
15.6 Inch Display HD 720p
Intel I7 (6M Cache up to 3.4 gHz) w/ Turbo Boost
Windows 8 (unfortunately)
12GB Ram 8GB+4GB
1TB 5400RPM Harddrive
Intel HD 4000 graphics card
Bluray - DVD with read and write capability
2MP Webcam and Mic
WiFi Bluetooth and Ethernet
4 USB slots
6 cell Lithium Ion batt
$965

2. HP Envy dv6t w/
15.6 inch Display Full HD Antiglare Backlit 1080p
Intel I7 (6M Cache up to 3.4 gHz) w/ Turbo Boost
Windows 8 (Again... unfortunately)
12GB Ram
1TB 5400 RPM Hard Drive
NVIDIA GeForce GT 635 2GB Video Memory
Bluray and DVD Burner
HP Truevision HD Webcam with dual array mic
Intel WiFi and Bluetooth
3 USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0, HDMI out, VGA out
9 cell Lithium Ion Batt
$1104

I think the answer is pretty clear but let me know what you think. Thanks guys!
~My Gear~
68 Sunn Sorado
Acoustic 4x12
89 Epiphone LP Honeyburst
Boss ME-70

Fender Dreadnought Acoustic
Ibanez RG350DX
Blackstar HT-5R
Orange CR35LDX
Vox Tonelab ST
#2
First question is. Does it HAVE to be a laptop?

Cuz a Desktop WILL be CHEAPER.
All I want is for everyone to go to hell...
...It's the last place I was seen before I lost myself



Quote by DisarmGoliath
You can be the deputy llamma of the recordings forum!
#3
Yeah because i also need it for classes. I have a desktop i record with but a portable rig is what i'm looking for.
~My Gear~
68 Sunn Sorado
Acoustic 4x12
89 Epiphone LP Honeyburst
Boss ME-70

Fender Dreadnought Acoustic
Ibanez RG350DX
Blackstar HT-5R
Orange CR35LDX
Vox Tonelab ST
#4
Quote by festivalinhell
Yeah because i also need it for classes. I have a desktop i record with but a portable rig is what i'm looking for.

You might actually want to get a cheap portable (are netbooks still a thing?) or iPad instead, and have a separate desktop. Can you even build laptops without it being a huge hassle and having to track down all sorts of obscure parts?
#5
Quote by Cavalcade
You might actually want to get a cheap portable (are netbooks still a thing?) or iPad instead, and have a separate desktop. Can you even build laptops without it being a huge hassle and having to track down all sorts of obscure parts?


Well i could go that route but i lose power memory and recording quality. HP and Toshiba have a ton of customizable models which is how i took all of the cheap parts out of the basic models above and added better components.
~My Gear~
68 Sunn Sorado
Acoustic 4x12
89 Epiphone LP Honeyburst
Boss ME-70

Fender Dreadnought Acoustic
Ibanez RG350DX
Blackstar HT-5R
Orange CR35LDX
Vox Tonelab ST
#6
Really just make sure you have a good amount of RAM, a decent CPU and the right RPM of Harddrive so that samples don't rape it.

I'd also invest in a copy of REAPER due to it's incredibly low resource foot print.
All I want is for everyone to go to hell...
...It's the last place I was seen before I lost myself



Quote by DisarmGoliath
You can be the deputy llamma of the recordings forum!
#7
Quote by ChemicalFire
I'd also invest in a copy of REAPER due to it's incredibly low resource foot print.


I've got a few different software options. I'll probably just test a bunch out and see what works best. I have a trial copy of Cakewalk Sonar (userfriendliness is lacking), REAPER, Adobe Audition which i've used and like, and the ever awful quality but conveniently cheap Audacity.
~My Gear~
68 Sunn Sorado
Acoustic 4x12
89 Epiphone LP Honeyburst
Boss ME-70

Fender Dreadnought Acoustic
Ibanez RG350DX
Blackstar HT-5R
Orange CR35LDX
Vox Tonelab ST
#8
Quote by Cavalcade
(are netbooks still a thing?)

Not really, they are beaten out by tablets for portability and ultrabooks for lightweight computers.
#9
I'd honestly go desktop if you can. The mobile i7s are still bested in benchmarks by a desktop Core i5 by a landslide. For the price you're looking to spend, you could take $600ish & build a solid desktop with an i5 in it then buy a $300-$400 laptop with an i3 in it and have the best of both world. Plus, an i3 is more than enough to track on (hell, you can even track on a Netbook which you hastily disowned) and you have a powerful PC back at home to mix on.

Also, all newer Windows based laptop have stopped using FireWire so if you plan on recording a full band setting, be ready to spend $500+ for your interface. There aren't many USB interfaces that can track more than 8 inputs in a budget range (Except the US-1800 but read Kyle's post before buying one of those)
Derpy Derp Derp Herp Derp
#10
Whatever laptop you get, you're going to need to replace the HDD with a 7200rpm one.

In every other respect both of those laptops are more than powerful enough for any kind of recording and mixing. If you're not using loads of virtual instruments you could get something half the price that's just as capable for general tracking and mixing.


The biggest problem with laptops is that the components are considerably less powerful than their desktop-class equivalents.

Say you see a laptop and a desktop for the same price that both have a '3GHz Core i5'. Chances are the desktop will be a quad-core while the laptop is only dual, and the overall performance may also be pretty drastically different.


We had a similar problem with my live recording company, and we ended up buying an all-in-one PC. It's a little bulkier than a laptop, obviously, but we used an old wheeled suitcase and a ton of foam to make a fitted case to transport it around. Probably not something you'd want to drag to college every day though.

How about a teeny tiny little PC? I hate Apple but the Mac Mini with an i7 is cheaper than those laptops, and more capable. You could build your own using a mini-ITX case and motherboard for half the cost. Obviously this would require having access to a screen of some kind in the college, although Toshiba do a cool little portable 14" USB monitor for around £100 that would be awesome for this kind of thing. The whole system with desktop, monitor, mouse and keyboard would easily fit in a backpack.


For a great mini ITX case, I personally recommend the Lian-Li PC-CK101.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4cfgEaKKos




The last, craziest alternative is to buy a really good USB flash drive and create a persistent Live USB Drive, eithe rLinux or Windows 8 using the new Windows To go thingy. Just plug it into a spare college PC and you're good to go!
Last edited by kyle62 at May 29, 2013,
#11
Quote by kyle62
I hate Apple but the Mac Mini with an i7 is cheaper than those laptops, and more capable.


Compared to a laptop? No. The Mac Minis use the Mobile Processors as well so you're basically getting a laptop without a screen. I mean, its still probably better than a windows laptop but its still going to be around the same.
Derpy Derp Derp Herp Derp
#12
Quote by kyle62

The last, craziest alternative is to buy a really good USB flash drive and create a persistent Live USB Drive, eithe rLinux or Windows 8 using the new Windows To go thingy. Just plug it into a spare college PC and you're good to go!

Pff, "latest".
That presents its own set of problems. You need an existing computer, and you may need to set up the BIOS to boot off external drives if it isn't set up that way already. Some universities might not like that; others might have IT guys that do it all the time and leave it configured that way. If you're like me, and don't like people looking over your shoulder, that's another problem. This also means you have to assume the PCs you'll be using are powerful enough to mix on.
I've had good experiences with using live Linux (I keep a copy of Mint somewhere as a backup), but most good recording software isn't Linux-native. There are ways around that, though, and they've probably only improved since I went back to Windows.

Now, some questions about mini-ITX towers:
If I save up enough, I'm considering building a media PC some time (maybe later this year). Is there any major disadvantage to picking a mini-ITX case over a mid-tower ATX (other than not having as many drive bays), like not being able to use as powerful components?
Last edited by Cavalcade at May 29, 2013,
#13
Quote by lockwolf
Compared to a laptop? No. The Mac Minis use the Mobile Processors as well so you're basically getting a laptop without a screen. I mean, its still probably better than a windows laptop but its still going to be around the same.

I was under the impression Minis used desktop components. Screw em, Apple are shite anyway - build your own ITX system.

Some of these ideas may not be practical for the OP but I thought they might come in handy for somebody.