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Topic: Laptop recommendations ?

  1. #1

    Laptop recommendations ?

    I haven't posted to the forum in a long time, although I've checked in from time to time. The GPO forum has really grown into a wonderful community. I need a little advice. I've searched the forum and found some good information on laptops for use with GPO. However, I'm looking to find out specs for the essential components for a laptop to replace a desktop running only GPO with Cakewalk Home Studio, Overture, and maybe GPO studio. I'd like to make this a composing machine that would primarily be used at home in different rooms of the house, so it would be connected to AC power most of the time. Battery life would not be a primary consideration (I could always purchase extra batteries). I'd like to be able to load a full orchestral template (ex. quadruple woodwinds, expanded brass, etc.) and monitor in real time without freezing tracks. It seems a given that I'd need a laptop equipped with 1.5 to 2 gb of ram. I assume the ram speed makes no difference. It also seems a given that I'd need at least a 2.8 mhz processor. However, I have not seen any information about types of processors that work well with GPO. People seem to use mainly P4s, but what about Celeron, Pentium M, and other PC processors that seem to be much cheaper than P4s? What speed of processor would I need if I go with something cheaper like a Celeron, or am I asking for trouble by buying one? As for hard drives, since I won't be disk streaming, I would think that I don't need to worry about the speed, only the storage capacity (30 GB?). Is it important to upgrade the sound card in a laptop if I'm not really concerned with great fidelity (just monitoring through headphones) and only want to burn my compositions to a CD? Finally, can it be done on a budget of about $1200?
    Any input would help.

  2. #2

    Re: Laptop recommendations ?

    The Dell I bought (while lacking in the RAM department, upgradeable though) seems to cut the mustard pretty good. It ran about 1500 bucks. It is 2.8 Ghz. I would recommend upgrading the sound card though. This will give you better performance with better realtime performance. I'd go with a full fledged P4 since the Celeron is lacking in the number crunching department. I don't know how the mobile P4's fare against the full fledged desktop versions, but that may be an option. Hard drive speed won't matter without streaming, so I'd shoot for capacity. I think you can get what you want around 1500 bucks.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Styxx's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    West Seneca, NY

    Re: Laptop recommendations ?

    Ha ha ha ! I logged on and took a quick glance at the posts saw this on and thought it said "Lap Dance" recommendations.

    Never mind! HA!

    I concur with J.B. if it matters at all. I had the same inquiry a while back and most steered toward the Dell with pretty much the same recommendations as JB.

  4. #4

    Re: Laptop recommendations ?

    Lap dance recommendations...

    Well there's this place about 5 miles... Oh, you said laptop. Boy I feel like a maroon.

  5. #5

    Re: Laptop recommendations ?

    I recently got an HP ZT3000 after much research. I am very happy with it. Admittedly I have not pushed it with GPO yet, but given what I heard from other people with other laptops with similar or less power, I don't expect it to have any problems with full orchestra.. I liked this laptop for a lot of reasons. It sorta came down to this one or the IBM thinkpads, which are a bit more expensive. You can read a lot about this laptop on Cnet and also there is a dedicated forum:


    In any case, I would definitely reccomend Centrino (Pentium M). Mine is the 2.0, which is the equivelant of 2.8 or 2.9 P4. Plenty of speed. You could probably get the Centrino 1.7 and save a lot of money and will still be PLENTY of power. That is equivlent of around P4 2.5. My desktop is only a measily P4 2.4 and it is plenty of CPU power for GPO and much more.

    But I get approximately twice as much time out of a battery charge than a P4 under normal use, and it runs a lot cooler (which means quieter fans...I hardly hear them.. The juicy P4's have pretty loud fans and are larger laptops and don't run as long on a charge.

    Get as much memory as you can. Buy seperately, its a lot cheaper.

    Try to get a 7200 rpm Hard drive (Hitachi is the one everyone is getting). So order your laptop with the cheapest drive option they make and then swap out the HD for the faster one.

    I also got mine with upgraded screen, my screen is 1680x1050, which is really nice and worth it.

    Make sure to get one that has firewire, USB2, wireless, etc.. and if possible bluetooth.

    I seriously dig this laptop. My GF has been getting jealous.
    "Music is a manifestation of the human spirit similar to a language. If we do not want such things to remain dead treasures, we must do our utmost to make the greatest number of people understand their secrets" -- Zoltan Kodaly

  6. #6

    Re: Laptop recommendations ?

    Funny you should mention...

    I just purchased an eMachines M6810 from Best Buy and actually GOT the rebates (miracles??) so the final price was...$1200.

    See: http://www.emachines.com/products/pr...Machines_M6810

    Now before you all puke onto your screen concerning eMachines, I did the research in terms of everyone knows that eMachines tended to be the bottom of the barrel in terms of components. It seems that somewhere around March of 2004 (I think?), Gateway bought them out, revamped their product line (including putting much higher quality parts in them) and decided to keep the name eMachines to avoid consumer confusion. The result? Reasonable prices for good quality computers. I love mine!!

    If you go to the above link, you can see all the specs, most interesting of which is the AMD Athlon 64 3200+, which so far is PLENTY of processing power (this thing plays games like you wouldn't believe!!).

    It came stock with 500 Mb of RAM and I just installed GPO on it last night (that's my second machine with GPO on it, so I'm tapped out on licensing apparently). I installed the Direct-From-Disk streaming patch thingey for Kontakt because in my recent work with GPO on my desktop (which has 1 Gig of RAM), I had some situations where I got warnings about getting close to RAM limitations, so I can only assume that since the laptop only has 500 Mb of RAM, I will probably get warnings unless I give DFD a shot.

    A 1 Gig RAM upgrade for the M6810 is around $275 or so, so I may wait until that comes down in price, but I definitely will go that route. Apparently there is 256 Mb of RAM in an inaccessible place inside the laptop, and then another 256 RAM chip that you can replace with a 1 Gig RAM chip giving you a total of 1.256 Gig of RAM. Also...some folks have actually replaced the inaccessible chip with a 1 Gig chip and thus gotten the laptop to house 2 Gig of RAM. Hoo boy wouldn't that be great!

    Anyway...I have used Sonar 3.11 PE on the M6810 (and an M-Audio Firewire 410 connected via firewire as my sound card) without a single hitch...it was awesome...but I haven't used GPO on it yet, so we'll have to see how it handles GPO. The real problem is that my wife has glommed onto it and I have to snatch it out of her grasp to use it. Sigh...

    My two cents (or in this case, $1200).


  7. #7

    Re: Laptop recommendations ?

    Thanks for the input folks. This is helpful. Please keep the recommendations coming.

  8. #8

    Re: Laptop recommendations ?

    I was very happy with my HP laptop (zd7000) until I started researching hardware to improve sound capabilities. This is what I found a few days ago from:


    "It appears that some recent Pentium 4 laptops use PCMCIA controllers that won't work with PC Card or CardBus audio interfaces. The problem one hears is bursts of "white noise" interrupting the recorded sound. This behavior is caused by the PCMCIA controller not being able to continuously feed the audio data to the audio interface. One PCMCIA controller built by a company named ENE is known to have this problem. This ENE controller is used in some laptop models sold by Hewlett-Packard (e.g. the Pavilion zd7000 series)"


    "According to the most recent Digidesign Compatibility Documents, current Hewlett-Packard laptops do not meet the minimum requirements for use with the Mbox or Digi 002 systems and Pro Tools LE. Digidesign is recommending laptops from Apple (PowerBook G4 and "ice white" dual-USB iBook), Dell (Inspiron 8500 with P4-M or Centrino), Gateway (400 series), IBM (A and T series) and Toshiba (satellite 1900 series)."

    If I understand the first quote correctly I can't use my PCMCIA for sound at all. The second quote has me wondering for what else my HP laptop "doesn't meet the minimum requirements". Had I been aware of these issues I never would have bought one.

  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Lincoln City, Oregon

    Re: Laptop recommendations ?

    I use a Sony VAIO laptop with a PIV@2.66 gig and 1 gig of ram. I have no problem with anything I presently run but don't yet have GPO but will be getting it after the 1st of the month (november) and will know for sure then, but so far, I love this laptop.


  10. #10

    Re: Laptop recommendations ?

    Don't freak out about your HP. Digidesign is notoriously finicky.

    Anyway, you wanna use firewire audio, not PCMCIA...
    "Music is a manifestation of the human spirit similar to a language. If we do not want such things to remain dead treasures, we must do our utmost to make the greatest number of people understand their secrets" -- Zoltan Kodaly

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