Mac on a Budget?

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
Baron von Case
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Post by Baron von Case » Sun Dec 21, 2008 4:23 pm

Thanks for the input so far!

For the people backing PCs (and to those who are because they think it's a cheaper alternative, I couldn't have spent more on a laptop) here are the specs on my Dell Latitude D610:

Processors
Intel® Pentium® M Processor 770 (2.13GHz, 2MB L2)
Intel Pentium M Processor 750 (1.86GHz, 2MB L2)
Intel Pentium M Processor 740 (1.73GHz, 2MB L2)
Operating Systems
Genuine Windows® XP Home Edition
Genuine Windows® XP Professional

Memory
Up to 2048MB using 533MHz DDR2 SDRAM
2 user accessible memory sockets on system board

Graphics
Mobile Intel® 915PM Express Chipset w/ ATI MOBILITYTM RADEON® X300 with 64MB DDR video memory
Video type: 128-bit hardware accelerated

Displays
SXGA+ maximum resolution of 1400x1050 pixels, 16.7 million colors (The D610 graphics chipset supports up to 1600x1200 pixels with external monitor, 16.7 million colors)
XGA maximum resolution of 1024x768 pixels, 16.7 million colors (The D610 graphics chipset supports up to 1600x1200 pixels with external monitor, 16.7 million colors)
Easy-to-see 14.1" XGA and SXGA+ active matrix (TFT) displays

System & User Security
Passwords
- Primary system password
- Administrator password
- Hard disk drive password

Cable Lock Slot: Lock slot to secure system and docking solutions

Integrated Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 1.1b: Integrated security device on the system board that will hold computer generated keys for encryption.

Integrated Smart Card reader: Provides strong industry standard two-factor user authentication (when used with a smart card and applicable software)
-Cards supported: ISO 7816 1/2/3/4 microprocessor
cards (T=0, T=1), 3v & 5v, Java Card;
-Reader certification: WHQL certified for Microsoft
PC/SC, EMV Level 1, 9600 to 115200 BPS
Optional : Smart Card Security Software
- OtaniumSuiteTM Pro
- OtaniumSuiteTM PKI
Optional : TPM Security Software
- Wave Systems Embassy Trust Suite

So... uhh.. is this good enough?

If so, then why is Live running slow as fuck?

Would a previous generation Macbook work any better?
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twisted-space
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Post by twisted-space » Sun Dec 21, 2008 4:39 pm

Thats just a little faster than my dell inspiron, which runs live 7 pretty well.
If your having issues I would suggest it's more likely to be software related.
Have you thought about maybe getting it looked at by someone that knows what they're doing with pc's, could be lots of thing causing you problems.

If you really want and can afford a mac then go for it, but if you're going to have to struggle to find the money why not get what you have working correctly.
just my 2c.

pulsoc
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Post by pulsoc » Sun Dec 21, 2008 4:55 pm

What? You have 3 processors??

In any case, you're running a single core with a much slower cache than the current models. And how much RAM do you have? If you only have 512mgs it may be worth getting a 2gig update and see how that impacts it. But frankly, a $900 macbook core duo is going to smoke it. You will want 2 gig of RAM for that as well.
Baron von Case wrote:Thanks for the input so far!

For the people backing PCs (and to those who are because they think it's a cheaper alternative, I couldn't have spent more on a laptop) here are the specs on my Dell Latitude D610:

Processors
Intel® Pentium® M Processor 770 (2.13GHz, 2MB L2)
Intel Pentium M Processor 750 (1.86GHz, 2MB L2)
Intel Pentium M Processor 740 (1.73GHz, 2MB L2)
Operating Systems
Genuine Windows® XP Home Edition
Genuine Windows® XP Professional

Memory
Up to 2048MB using 533MHz DDR2 SDRAM
2 user accessible memory sockets on system board

Baron von Case
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Location: Youngstown, OH USA
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Post by Baron von Case » Sun Dec 21, 2008 5:03 pm

twisted-space wrote:Thats just a little faster than my dell inspiron, which runs live 7 pretty well.
If your having issues I would suggest it's more likely to be software related.
Have you thought about maybe getting it looked at by someone that knows what they're doing with pc's, could be lots of thing causing you problems.

If you really want and can afford a mac then go for it, but if you're going to have to struggle to find the money why not get what you have working correctly.
just my 2c.
Sounds like good advice, really. I have tried moving everything to an external hard drive, uninstalling programs, reinstalling Live, etc. but nothing has worked. I assume Live is not meant to take 40 seconds loading a patch from Simpler, right?

Never been a conformist or anything, but I don't know how else to say it: Why is there such a preference for Macs among electronic musicians if a lot of PCs can function just as well?
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twisted-space
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Post by twisted-space » Sun Dec 21, 2008 5:45 pm

Don't know mate. I guess it's a bit like why do most graphic artists use macs.
I've been using pc's not mac's to make/record music for 15 odd years and I know that there is no intrinsic difference.
I think that maybe os x is a little bit easier for non tech users to work with, people that don't want to learn how to use a computer as much as want to use an application. I work in IT so I'm happy to deal with fixing problems myself.
A mac is the same as a pc now only the o/s is different. You can run xp or vista on a mac and if you hunt around online you'll find instructions showing how to install os x on YOUR d620

If I was having the problems your having I'd wipe the thing clean and do a full re-install, start from a clean sheet so to speak. Then get the basics you need to run live going and work from there. There is plenty of info online if your not sure what your doing, + I'm sure people on here will chip in if you get stuck.
Have a look at SOS's PC notes for advice on setting up a pc for audio. Takerith's guide is good too http://tarekith.com/assets/XPTweaks.htm
What I can say for definate is that your dell is more than capable of running live 7.

Good luck. yell if I can help in any way.

jackjack
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Post by jackjack » Mon Dec 22, 2008 5:00 pm

Baron von Case wrote:
twisted-space wrote:Thats just a little faster than my dell inspiron, which runs live 7 pretty well.
If your having issues I would suggest it's more likely to be software related.
Have you thought about maybe getting it looked at by someone that knows what they're doing with pc's, could be lots of thing causing you problems.

If you really want and can afford a mac then go for it, but if you're going to have to struggle to find the money why not get what you have working correctly.
just my 2c.
Sounds like good advice, really. I have tried moving everything to an external hard drive, uninstalling programs, reinstalling Live, etc. but nothing has worked. I assume Live is not meant to take 40 seconds loading a patch from Simpler, right?
I would wipe the machine. When I reconfig my laptops, I wipe it all. Start with a fresh install of windows.

Also, add ram. It is cheap online. You need 2 gigs at least I'd say.

adventurepants_
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Post by adventurepants_ » Mon Dec 22, 2008 9:57 pm

jackjack wrote:
Baron von Case wrote:
twisted-space wrote:Thats just a little faster than my dell inspiron, which runs live 7 pretty well.
If your having issues I would suggest it's more likely to be software related.
Have you thought about maybe getting it looked at by someone that knows what they're doing with pc's, could be lots of thing causing you problems.

If you really want and can afford a mac then go for it, but if you're going to have to struggle to find the money why not get what you have working correctly.
just my 2c.
Sounds like good advice, really. I have tried moving everything to an external hard drive, uninstalling programs, reinstalling Live, etc. but nothing has worked. I assume Live is not meant to take 40 seconds loading a patch from Simpler, right?
I would wipe the machine. When I reconfig my laptops, I wipe it all. Start with a fresh install of windows.

Also, add ram. It is cheap online. You need 2 gigs at least I'd say.
Only do it once, setup your lappie, then take an image with something that lets you do incremental backups like TruImage.

Never again will you have to install windows from scratch. I can have my audio partition up and running within 30 minutes of any failure.
nathannn wrote:i will block everyone on this forum if i have to.

wilxon
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Post by wilxon » Mon Dec 22, 2008 10:38 pm

adventurepants_ wrote:
jackjack wrote:
Baron von Case wrote: Sounds like good advice, really. I have tried moving everything to an external hard drive, uninstalling programs, reinstalling Live, etc. but nothing has worked. I assume Live is not meant to take 40 seconds loading a patch from Simpler, right?


I would wipe the machine. When I reconfig my laptops, I wipe it all. Start with a fresh install of windows.

Also, add ram. It is cheap online. You need 2 gigs at least I'd say.
Only do it once, setup your lappie, then take an image with something that lets you do incremental backups like TruImage.

Never again will you have to install windows from scratch. I can have my audio partition up and running within 30 minutes of any failure.

Alternatively of you do get a mac - use time machine.

even if you need to do a full re-install, you wont have to install windows.

Kodama
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Post by Kodama » Tue Dec 23, 2008 3:23 am

Don't get a G4/G5, you won't save any money.

Get an Intel Mac, even a 2nd hand mini! (Just try to make sure it's a Duo, although there are tutorials on upgrading their CPUs).
GO VEGAN!!! - Macbook Air, Bass Station II, Some Korg shit, Live Suite, U-He, Audio Damage, Microtonic, Ohmicide, more soft stuffs, awesome controllers, euro rack modular synth,an awesome cat.

pulsoc
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Post by pulsoc » Tue Dec 23, 2008 3:56 am

Kodama wrote:Don't get a G4/G5, you won't save any money.

Get an Intel Mac, even a 2nd hand mini! (Just try to make sure it's a Duo, although there are tutorials on upgrading their CPUs).
True, there is always the mini. Make sure you have the 2gigs RAm whatever you do!

wilxon
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Post by wilxon » Tue Dec 23, 2008 9:44 am

Kodama wrote:Don't get a G4/G5, you won't save any money.

Get an Intel Mac, even a 2nd hand mini! (Just try to make sure it's a Duo, although there are tutorials on upgrading their CPUs).
I thought all intel macs were duo's,

i say make sure its a Core 2 Duo.

spkey
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Post by spkey » Tue Dec 23, 2008 10:18 am

Your Dell machine should work fine for Live. Audio and MIDI applications are not demanding so you really don't need powerful machines to run them so all this PC not good enough for my audio thing is just teenage moans (and this isn't directed at anyone). Take this from someone who's been working in the video industry in post production studios for a few years and has never seen a pc not working good enough for audio apps. My personal pc is a 5-year old Dell machine with Windows XP SP3 and 2G of memory. I do my own personal video editing there (and that is one of the most demanding things you'll ever be doing with a pc), surf the web and use a few applications including Live, Reaper, Renoise, Pure Data and a ton of VSTs for my music with high specs (24-bit/48K).

My advice is to format your machine and install A SINGLE OS as you currently have both Home and Professional editions. Make a research on which of those two OS needs less memory and choose that one for your Dell laptop. Install 2G of the fastest memory your motherboard can handle and install Live there.

It will work.

Baron von Case
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Post by Baron von Case » Tue Dec 23, 2008 8:07 pm

Thanks again, everyone. I'm narrowing in on a decision, which I'll let you know as soon as I reach it.

Fact is, I do have a little money to burn in terms of audio equipment. I'm spending some of the cash I have left over from student loans having not bought textbooks for the past two or three semesters. I'm actually not on quite as much a budget as I thought I was when I started this thread. :oops:

Support for buying a new laptop:
What I have now only has a single core processor. Also, it's only logical that technology moving as fast as it does has made certain things faster and more efficient for the same price and that old things have become more cost-efficient. The only other things I need to buy at this point are a Novation Zero (which I can live without while I write/record some songs), microphone (which I'll need very soon), new sound card (which depends on the laptop I get).

Support for a Mac: http://store.apple.com/us/product/FB403 ... MjE0NDk5Mw
If I get any Mac, it will be a previous generation Macbook. Therefore it will have Firewire (which is much better than USB, no? I have zero experience here). Also, for approx. $900 I could get a 2.47gHz Intel Core Duo processor, 2G memory. Also, it will afford me the possibility of looking into Logic, which has been on my mind for some time.

Support for HP: http://www.shopping.hp.com/webapp/shopp ... v7t_series
I can get a quality HP on sale through Best Buy, for about $700. The thing is, you have to buy exactly what's on sale. Online, you can modify what you want in your PC (2.0-2.8 gHz dual core processor, 2-8G memory, etc.). But I might get stuck with the bare minimum if that's what's on sale. Also, I'll be operating Vista, which is, from my experience, not quite up to par with Leopard.

Alternative:
I can wait till I get my Triton (http://forum.ableton.com/viewtopic.php?t=103208) sold and go for a Powerbook or a roided out HP with all the best shit. But I have no clue when that might be. I'm trying to make the best decision while staying practical.

You've all been tremendously helpful; I can't thank you enough.
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wilxon
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Post by wilxon » Tue Dec 23, 2008 8:29 pm

Baron von Case wrote: Alternative:
I can wait till I get my Triton (http://forum.ableton.com/viewtopic.php?t=103208) sold and go for a Powerbook

by powerbook - do you mean Macbook Pro?

The powerbook is old technology whilst the Macbook pro is the new powerbook intel equivalent.


Personally - i have a macbook pro that is 2 years old, a 2.33ghz C2D with 3GB ram, and it runs Live, Logic, Soundtrack Pro all of the native plugins without a single glitch. 2 years old and nowhere near its sell by date.

i have a pro audio store in UK, on display i have a macbook, 2ghz, 1gb ram and is 8 months old.

That runs Live, Logic, Soundtrack Pro & loads of plugins without a glitch, yet is less comfortable with it than the macbook pro.

My opinion is that if you go with an older laptop then you should try and get a C2D Macbook Pro.

Kodama
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Post by Kodama » Tue Dec 23, 2008 8:44 pm

wilxon wrote:
Kodama wrote:Don't get a G4/G5, you won't save any money.

Get an Intel Mac, even a 2nd hand mini! (Just try to make sure it's a Duo, although there are tutorials on upgrading their CPUs).
I thought all intel macs were duo's,

i say make sure its a Core 2 Duo.
There were some solo mini's, which are upgradable.

Not a huge diff with the Core 2, but there may be a better cpu upgrade path?
GO VEGAN!!! - Macbook Air, Bass Station II, Some Korg shit, Live Suite, U-He, Audio Damage, Microtonic, Ohmicide, more soft stuffs, awesome controllers, euro rack modular synth,an awesome cat.

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