Laptops for live sets - sub £600 is it possible?

Pricey

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I'm thinking about going mobile for the sake of taking the 'music to the masses' - and I've been roped into DJing at a few parties - so need to either put a lot of wheels on the bottom of my studio set-up or invest in one of these 'Laptop' thingies.

I know there's a 'barebones + TFT + mouse + keyboard + all the other shite' argument, but really - I'd like to keep things simple!

I've seen a few laptops out there, but I'm lost amidst all the jargon of Sempron 3000+ this and L2 cache that. Does anyone really KNOW whether it's better to have a few extra GHz processor speed, more CPU cache or faster FSB?!?

Answers on a postcard to...

Seriously; I'd imagine some of you guys know the answers - any guidance welcome!
 

trancetheory

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its a complicated answer, it depends how much you want the computer to do, if your just wanting to Dj using for eg Live!, with a few FX channels then yep you can get a laptop to handle that for less than 600 (eg 1.5Ghz, 512Mb Ram, external firewire HDD, possible a external audio card)

But if you want to run multiple tracks, synths and FX, Live, then no, your gonna need ~2.4Ghz+, 1Gb Ram P4, which you wont get for less than 800-900, if your lucky...
 

psyfi

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Yo mate. This would be one of those cases where cutting corners will later bite you in the bum. There is allot less upgrade options when it comes to lap tops and knowing that you would be looking at twiddling your VSTs with your midi controller and playing them live of a keyboard through live or even having midi parts playing your freebass then waiting and saving up for a better system would be the best idea. I'm sure it wouldn't take a very long time to put aside the extra few hundred for the centre of your live performance kit.
Plus lumping your main PC around clubs is an idea that sends shivers down my spine.

also play around on this site at customising your perfect laptop
http://www.nusystems.co.uk/category/Audio.Laptops/11/
 

nik

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so whats the deal with this AMD turion processor? Is it like, athlons answer to the centrino?
 

SteveJ...

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It's AMD's 64 bit Laptop processor with associated low power and power saving ingredients - Centrino is just a name for a 32 bit Pentium M in conjunction with a specific wireless chipset.
 

ChrisCabbage

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I think the current general consensus is that the Intel processor and chipset make for a better overall system than the current AMD equivalent (I'm talking about the Pentium-M/Centrino vs. the AMD low power processor and chipset).

They do often leapfrog each other though...
 

nik

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thanks, i this is just the first time ive heard of the turion. btw i know a few people who have bought laptops from nusystems and are v happy. i think their cheapest model comes in at £700, was thinking of getting one...when i have enough ££.
 

Pricey

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Cheers guys,

The Novatech stuff does look pretty decent for the dollar - will bear them in mind. Point taken about running VSTs, etc. alongside Live! and all that. I know I'm asking for something that's a compromise, but it's just meant to do the job for now and I'd upgrde (or get work to upgrade me) within a year or so. Maybe the barebones kit really is the way to go after all. Perhaps I can sellotape a keyboard, TFT and stuff to it to get the right 'package' ;-)

On the processors front does anyone know what it means in the 'music sense' to have a bigger L1 (or L2) cache, faster processor, more RAM, or faster FSB speed?

My thinking is more RAM is good, but it's better to have less RAM with a faster FSB if you had to choose between the two.

An L2 cache is better than an L1 cache (I'm guessing here), and this acts as a buffer for the CPU - so a slower CPU can handle data more ably than a more powerful CPU with a smaller cache. I'm guessing, so please put me right here if you know what this is all about.

Processor / cache is THE most important thing for VSTs, whereas RAM and FSB speed are going to make big differences in playback of the pre-recorded sections of tracks.

Anyone want to point out exactly what shit I was talking there, and why, I would be most grateful...

Cheers
 

SteveJ...

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Your CPU has onboard memory that is available to it before it has to look to the RAM for data. The L1 cache is the faster but you tend to have less of it, then the slower (but generally larger) L2 cache. Your CPU will try and keep the most important data in the L1 cache. When that runs out it uses the L2 cache, then your RAM, then your Harddrive.

If your going for a laptop I would say go for the best processor (L2 cache and FSB) over larger RAM - it's pretty inexpensive to up your RAM so get the best processor you can afford.

Like you say - Processor is the most important factor with modelling VSTi's and plug-ins that use a lot of maths like Reverbs. For wave based VSTi's RAM is important as the VSTi itself isn't requiring a lot of processing (Trilogy for instance). For using audio the RAM and, if you are running a lot of audio, the hard drive spindle and buss speed are probably the crucial aspects, more so with spindle speed - the difference between 5400RPM and 7200RPM will be more than the difference between ATA100 and ATA133.
 

Pricey

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Thanks for all the advice. I've ended up netting a 3.06GHz laptop with respectable FSB and L2 cache. Just need to pick up a bit more RAM for it and job's a goodun.

Good ol' eBay! All in for less than £500!!!

The advice was useful though - cheers guys! Glad I did it this way around rather than buying a shite processor and loads of RAM.
 

evilwill

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in case anyone's interested i've used novatech loads and they're pretty good. cheap and friendly though their tech support was a bit shite last time i used it!

have had stuff turn up broken but they've always replaced it really quickly and easily... tis the danger of posting things like hard drives!
 

JohnnySideways

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Im kinda in the same boat here..looking to move away from lugging hardware about to using a simple lappy,ableton,midi controller setup+external HD+SC
altho in my case i would be looking to use the machine producing as well coz my main pc is on its way out..
Iv got an external drive im going to use with it to store my work so the lappy will just run the proggies...but am i gonna need a more powerful machine than some of those talked about above? will be running a fair few vst's/softsynths simultaniously...pretty much on a £600 budget too
 
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