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Topic: System Upgrade: What to do...

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  1. #1

    Question System Upgrade: What to do...

    EDIT: Sorry for the bump. Please see second page...

    Hi Folks,
    I know, I know, it's been a while since my last post (like... over a year!), but here I am!

    So I'm thinking that it's time for a new notebook computer and I could use advisement from people who know more than me. I've got a wonderful 4 year-old home-built desktop PC running Win XP Pro and is still running strong. I love it, but now that I'm at University I could really use a notebook for portability, as I seem to be on the move a lot. The fundamental question here is PC or Mac. Yeah, I know, I've read a lot of postings on this one and I don't want to start a battle, but I'm having trouble figuring out which one is better for me so I thought I'd turn to people who have done this before.

    To keep things tidy I'll make a numbered list of my questions/concerns:

    1. Longevity is a major concern. It was of major concern also when I built my desktop and I think I was successful. After four years I havn't had any major problems! Can I attribute this to the hand-picked quality components? Or the fact that it doesn't have any anti-virus software and has spent most of its life disconnected from the internet? Or that Win XP Pro is a solid platform? Do PC and Mac notebooks have quality components too? It seems that Macs are designed more for the long run, but there's probably more to it, which brings me to my next question.
    2. Maintenence is also a concern. I'm the type of guy that likes to do it once, do it right, and forget about it. This includes frequent updates and so fourth. So far I've been successful at that with my home-built PC (as you will see below my outdated software). It seems that Macs are designed with this in mind more so than PCs. I do plan on having this new one on the internet, so the fact that Macs are immune to most viruses makes me very happy.
    3. I've heard that Mac notebooks tend to be better quality (components) than PC notebooks. Is this true?
    4. If I got a Mac I would probably partition part of the drive and install Win XP Pro so that I could at least have Sonar and Giga there if I need it. That way I could also install my copy of MS office and not have to buy a new one for Mac. Does this seem sensible?
    5. If I got a PC I would probably reformat drive C and install XP Pro so that I could still use my Sonar and Giga (compatibility with Win 7 seems questionable--anybody know for surre?). Does this seem sensible?
    6. Is there an upgrade path for GPO that takes me from the old Windows version (the one using Kontakt with wet/dry samples and instruments not in score order on 3 CDs...remember that??) to GPO4 for Mac without buying the whole thing over again?
    7. I've heard that music software tends to be designed on Macs so it tends to work more smoothly on Macs. Is this true?


    Further considerations:
    • My gut wants a Mac really badly, but probably because I see all of the Macs at school are rock-solid and the PCs are always crashing and needing repair. I am also minding the fact that the Macs are top-of-the-line new iMacs and the PCs are rather old. My home PC is rock solid, but it hasn't been on the internet that much and it's made of hand-picked quality components.
    • Currently my workflow consists of some windows-only stuff: Sonar 4, Gigastudio 3, and GPO (Kontakt flavor). I know, I need an update. This is part of the plan too. GPO4 is on the list along with Sibelius 6. I am expecting a change in workflow with this new system, Mac or PC, because of the addition of Sibelius. I find myself wanting more pretty sheet music and less pretty audio files, so Sonar probably won't be used all that much after this upgrade.
    • I can part with Sonar and Giga if I have to on my new system. I'll still have them at home on my PC if I need them, but it sure would be nice to have it all on one machine even if I can't use them at the same time.
    • Macs are expensive, but I'm willing to fork it over if it means I can have a reliable, low-maintenance notebook for years to come.


    Thanks for the help!

    -Chris

    EDIT: I also see that 7200 RPM hard disks are recommended. The first Mac notebook with this speed hard disk as an option is pretty expensive. Will 5400 do? Is 7200 worth the extra $$? Thanks!

  2. #2

    Re: System Upgrade: What to do...

    Quote Originally Posted by cptexas View Post
    I find myself wanting more pretty sheet music and less pretty audio files...

    I also see that 7200 RPM hard disks are recommended. The first Mac notebook with this speed hard disk as an option is pretty expensive. Will 5400 do? Is 7200 worth the extra $$? Thanks!
    I am in a similar situation but will be staying PC and going with Windows 7 64-bit. I will be watching this thread for system upgrade info. I hope you get lots of readers and responders.

    I do have an opinion on the above two questions however...
    If you are getting all new stuff anyway I would recommend Finale over Sibelius any day.

    7200RPM disks are definitely worth the money for audio. For print I don't believe it makes that much difference, but I'm no expert. In addition I don't think they're that much more expensive (again - no expert!)

    Anyway good luck and I'm very interested in what you end up doing.
    In theory there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is.

    http://reberclark.blogspot.com http://reberclark.bandcamp.com http://www.youtube.com/reberclark

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    Re: System Upgrade: What to do...

    A couple things...

    First, a 5400 rpm hard drive is not a good idea. It is not fast enough to be able to stream samples well.

    Laptops in general have become much more tricky in the past couple of years - both Mac and PC.

    You did not mention the type of interface you would be using. If you will be using a firewire interface, detailed research will be required. The new firewire controllers (for new laptops that still have firewire) generally produce distorted audio when used as for a DAW. Even if one buys a TI chipset add-on firewire card, that card does not bypass the onboard controller. As a result, you may possibly be limited to a USB type audio interface. Scott at ADK has written a great deal about this issue, and it is worth doing some detailed research about it, if you are set on buying a new laptop.

  4. #4

    Re: System Upgrade: What to do...

    Thanks for the replies.
    I may have misused some terms in my initial post so I'll try to clarify:
    I guess this laptop wouldn't be a DAW proper. Everything I plan on doing on it would involve notation, sequencing, and virtual instruments. For any recording I'll just use my home system, which is a DAW... I think.

    As far as Sib/Finale goes, my school is all Sib so I don't have much of a choice. Sibelius 5 is what my school has and I really like it, so I don't think I'm going to deviate from it, even if Finale really is better, but we won't go there.

    Okay, 7200 RPM drives sound like the best option! Thanks!

    -Chris

  5. #5

    Re: System Upgrade: What to do...

    Hello CP and welcome back!

    It is going to come down to your personal preference. There are rock solid PCs and rock solid Macs. What OS do you prefer / will be more convenient for you? What OS `thinks' like you do? Either way you should be fine.

    Personal preference when it comes to Windows. Go with 7 and upgrade software to work with Windows 7. There are sooooo many benefits over XP it should be a no brainer.

    They aren't sexy, but Lenova Thinkpads are tanks. I've used them for years while traveling heavily. They can take a lickin' and keep on tickin'.

    BTW, Microsoft Windows is available on Mac, if that is a deciding factor. Works great.

    Get a 7200 RPM drive as others have stated, make sure the laptop has a firewire port and USB2 (USB3 is trickling out too) and (subjective) wide screen. Dont go with less than 4 gig of RAM. Avoid Dell like the black plague.

    Hope this helps!

    -Kevin
    We are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams …
    24" 2.4 Ghz iMac, OSX 10.4.10, MOTU 828 MKII, 2 Glyph 250 Gig external drives, Logic 9, Finale 2008 GPO, JABB, Strad, Gro, Reason 4, EWQL Storm Drum, Adrenaline, Symphonic Choirs, SO Gold,All Arturia Synths, Many NI Synths, Spectrasonics Synths, KH Strings, VEPro on a Windows 7 4x 2.8 Ghz 12 gig of RAM

  6. #6

    Re: System Upgrade: What to do...

    OK, no prob on the Sib/Fin Issue! Didn't want to start anything!

    USB 3 is coming out soon, I believe (if it's not already out), and will give firewire a serious run for its money (USB 2 works for me) - possibly something to consider.

    Good Luck!
    In theory there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is.

    http://reberclark.blogspot.com http://reberclark.bandcamp.com http://www.youtube.com/reberclark

  7. #7

    Re: System Upgrade: What to do...

    Ya know, I never actually considered another Thinkpad. That was my school laptop until just recently. It finally crapped out. I had had it for six years and I got it used. If it boots it's still fine but more times than not before it starts Windows it gives me an error message "allocation error static node no. 2" or something like that. Nobody was able to fix it, although it booted for me yesterday and I backed up all of my files. *whew* It was a great, stable machine.

    Well, that just might convince me to stick with Windows and get a Thinkpad... even if it's not pretty . Now I just need to be convinced that Sonar 4 and Giga 3 will run in Win 7. I suppose I could always install XP Pro and have two operating systems if I need to.

    Things to think about. This isn't a settled decision, though. I still welcome more comments/reccomendations!

    -Chris

  8. #8

    Re: System Upgrade: What to do...

    Quote Originally Posted by LFO View Post
    It is going to come down to your personal preference. There are rock solid PCs and rock solid Macs. What OS do you prefer / will be more convenient for you? What OS `thinks' like you do? Either way you should be fine.
    I was thinking about this and I think Mac would be a better fit for me, but there's got to be something more than just that to justify the price in my mind. I need a better excuse to spend $800 more, as much as I'd love to do it!

    ...just a thought,

    -Chris

  9. #9

    Re: System Upgrade: What to do...

    When I started out (many long years ago) I had an Apple IIe (I actually started with a TI99-4a). When Macs came out I was a solid Apple customer and wanted one but the elite price tag was too steep for me - I went PC and never looked back.

    That was almost 30 years ago and my decision to go PC works great for me. No complaints.
    In theory there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is.

    http://reberclark.blogspot.com http://reberclark.bandcamp.com http://www.youtube.com/reberclark

  10. #10

    Re: System Upgrade: What to do...

    I'm torn on this one. After my wife's HP laptop died for the third time last week (it was a replacement for her Dell laptop that died twice), I ordered her a MacBook pro. She loves it.

    I have a (still working) Dell 17" laptop, and a (still working) HP 15" laptop. I build all my own desktop/server systems.

    I've been staring at the Apple store, seriously contemplating making the switch myself, but every time I total out a MacBook Pro or a Quad Core Desktop, I think about what kind of PC I could build for that kind of change and still have enough left to buy a couple of Spectrasonics libs I want...

    Still, when it finally becomes time for a new laptop, I'm leaning toward Mac, just because I'm so filled with hatred for Dell and HP right now over my wife's systems.

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