Laptop choice (specifically for Ableton 11)

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Laptop choice (specifically for Ableton 11)

Post by AdmiralRed » Sun Jun 20, 2021 11:56 am

Hi everyone,

First of all, I tried to use the searchbar for "hardware" / "laptop" / "specs" / etc. assuming there would be a thread to gather this kind of requests but I haven't found one. So if there is a rule against asking for this kind of help (or another place where I should ask), my apologies in advance and I will relocate to the proper thread or forum! :oops:

Otherwise, my question is pretty simple: the laptop that I currently use with Ableton 9 is getting old (Lenovo W540 - bought in 2015) and I start to encounter issues (random crashes when using Ableton, BSOD, etc.).
I am therefore looking for a new one with a windows OS and I plan to take the opportunity to upgrade to Ableton 11. I read the Ableton article explaining that mostly 3 parameters are important (CPU / RAM / memory) and I guess I should go with something like i7 (~3ghz) / 16Gb of ram / 500gb SSD + some HDD). I would also like to have a 17" screen so it doesn't feel too crowded on my screen and I don't care about the GPU since I plan to only use my computer for music production. When checking on Amazon, I found so many different configurations (with seemingly subtle variations in the type of Ram, number of cores, etc.) translating in big price differences and it makes it hard to know which is actually the best fit for my needs since I am no hardware expert.

I am also keeping an open mind about buying a desktop but only if there are some that aren't too big (a few years ago desktop where pretty massive but if there are now smaller ones that are pretty easy to carry over - like shoebox size I guess? :P - why not!).

So I was wondering if someone who is more experienced with computer hardware could help me figure out what would be the best type of deals so whatever my purchase is, it really fits the use I plan to do and doesn't waste money in stuff I won't need (like a gaming GPU). Budget wise, I am expecting that there should be something around 1500 USD and I intend to take good care of it and keep it for at least 5 years.

Thanks in advance and please let me know if there are other relevant information to provide :)

Have a good day

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Re: Laptop choice (specifically for Ableton 11)

Post by yur2die4 » Sun Jun 20, 2021 5:22 pm

It really is a tough call on this. I’m sure many of us have been in this situation on various occasions.

I’ll mention what I’ve learned so far.

1. With Intel i-processors, there are a few different levels of performance. So, one kind of laptop i7 may be quite different from another kind of laptop i7. Not sure what their current practice is, but it’s good to get brushed up on what the different versions are (usually signaled after the number). Though, it does also help to use what you’ve already been using, specs.

2. A number of years ago, I’d have agreed that it’s a safe bet to go Intel. Today, it’s a lot more complicated. And you can get great performance, stability, and a sweet spot of power usage, from competitors at a fair price. (In fact, I’m pretty much a Windows user exclusively, except recent progressions in the Apple department have me kind of peeking over the fence at possible future alternatives).

3. If the model you’re looking at is also available at a local store with a display model, that’s always a nice thing to be able to do, getting a feel for the keys. Feeling how the build is. Opening and closing it. Trying the touchpad. This might not necessarily be an option, but for me it is usually helpful.

4. Ports may or may not be important. If you’re looking at a bigger screen, then the options should ideally have plenty of connection options (that is, if that’s your thing. Maybe you want fewer connectors going into it and less ports?)

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Re: Laptop choice (specifically for Ableton 11)

Post by AdmiralRed » Mon Jun 21, 2021 10:28 am

Thanks a lot for your reply, really appreciated :wink: On a side note, I feel like I haven't been on a forum like this one for the last 15 years (at a time where forums had the same design as here :p) and it's good to see that there are still people out there willing to help.

I have been reviewing different options and discovered some desktops that are particularly interesting (Lenovo ThinkCenter), they seem very portable, are much cheaper than a laptop for similar specs and would allow me to have something really great for a cheaper price while keeping the possibility to upgrade it later on and make sure I can get the keyboard and side stuff with the right "feel".

In terms of portability, I don't really plan to bring it places but it can still easily fit in a backpack for the couple of times a year I'll have to move it somewhere else.

I have two specs related questions :
- Can Ableton 11 make use of more than 16Gb of ram? I have read that as a 64bit application it can use up to 16Gb only and beyond that would be useless but I am not sure it applies to Ableton 11 or if it was for older versions only?
- Memory wise: is it good to only have SSD? 1Tb of SSD for example? Or is there a reason why it would make sense to have SSD for the OS / software but to actually store stems/audio tracks/etc. on a HDD 7200rpm?

Thanks in advance!

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Re: Laptop choice (specifically for Ableton 11)

Post by AdmiralRed » Mon Jun 21, 2021 7:38 pm

A quick update after some research: I found these two desktops and I feel like it's pretty good for my needs (with no budget wasted on GPU)
If anyone passing by could let me know if that's a good choice for its value or share comments, I'd be greatful :)

Lenovo ThinkCentre V50s SFF Intel Octa Core (8 Cores) i7-10700, 32GB RAM, 500GB SSD, WiFi Intel-AC 3165, W10P Business Desktop
> 1060$ ... op?ie=UTF8
comment: my only issue with this one is that it's not sold directly by Amazon or Lenovo store, it's rearranged by some IT shop and some comments indicate that they upgrade with ram or memory that's not necessarily of the best quality (+ in some instance the warranty is already a few months in when people buy it) ... hard to tell since some review say this while most are 5 stars

HP ENVY Desktop Computer, Intel Core i7-10700, 16 GB RAM, 1 TB Hard Drive & 512 GB SSD Storage, Windows 10 Pro (TE01-1022, 2020 Model)
> 860$ ... pc&sr=1-28
comment: seems like a better value for money (+ upgrading 16gb of ram shouldn't be particularly hard) and sold by Amazon directly ; only downside is that it seems a bit less portable

The first one seems better, but I feel like it's playing the roulette and since I will be shipping overseas, I feel like I'd rather play it safe with the second one and something really brand new. Open to any comment :)

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