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Newbee - Need new computer advice

The “quick” question is…
Narrowed it down to 3 computers for home recording.
For personal (hobby) use; Cubase 10, Focusrite 18i8; Music genre – Light rock (Wild Feathers, Matchbox 20); Budget $2800-ish;

iMac – 27” monitor, i7, 16GB, 2TB Fusion drive.
MacBook Pro – specs (?) to be determined
Lenovo Thinkpad – Probably P52 – specs (?) to be determined

The bigger story, if interested, or if more info helps...

Complete amateur with a lot to learn. I recorded very little about 15 years ago but never stopped playing drums, and some guitar, etc. Worked with Cubase 5. Now I am 47 and want to re-visit for hobby, hopefully for life, and have some $$ to work with – Already settled on going with Cubase 10 and Focusrite 18i8.

Read TONS of recommendations on preferred computers – Too many. I want to make recording quality stuff as easy as possible. I am not familiar with Mac’s but figured I could learn it enough for recording, and I’m intuitive enough to look stuff up and figure it out. Saw the 27 inch iMac and fell in love with it. Read tons of stuff to figured out what specs I needed/ wanted – Even details regarding Fusion drives versus SSD’s, etc.

Then I can’t decide between the iMac but then MacBook Pro. I’m iffy (and unfamiliar) about Mac’s but their suppporters are quite passionate – I’m considering making the jump. I’ve had about 5 laptops and they all pretty much have annoyed me… But had a Lenovo (Yoga) before and loved it! Best computer I’ve ever had. I was ready to make a move on the iMac, then considered the MacBook Pro… Then I read a lot of articles praising the Lenovo which made it a little more complicated. The ThinkPad (P52) is quite impressive. I simply can’t decide between these three. PLEASE ADVISE. And if you think MacBook Pro or Lenovo Thinkpad - What specs would you get with $2700-2800 to work with? THANKS!

Comments

pcrecord Thu, 01/03/2019 - 05:02

The focusrite 18i8 is a good choice because it is affordable but will let you grow into external preamps if you wish in the future. It has line inputs which goes direct to the converters and a digital input(Spdif) for preamps that has digital options.

As for computers, anything with an I7 will do these days. I'm not 100% for laptops tho. Most of them have power saving features that ends up giving you less power or at least a lot of work deactivating everything. A desktop is better for studio work. The first thing with them is, it's easy to add a seperate SSD for audio data. Having data seperated from the OS is a blessing in case of crashes and it's easier to backup on an external drive (which you should also get)
Don't bang your head too much on the specs, I'm doing 20 inputs recording at 96khz with an old I7 first generation.
Also there is so much going on with the drivers of the interface regarding latency that having a better computer usually only gets you a few ms faster..
So I guess both your choices will do a great job... But Windows and Mac OS give very different experiences.. You should decide on the OS first.

kmetal Thu, 01/03/2019 - 13:46

My issue w macs is the lack of support for NVME drives which are the current state of the art. With read write speeds of 2300/2100 mpps, they smoke the sata3 ssds which are abput 500/500, and dont cost a whole lot more.

Their performance will be noticed on the os drive when running the daw, dumping data back and forth to the ram.

ram capacity is the strongest suit to the imac 27" which can hold 64 gb. Lesser models hold less ram.

You may be interested in the newest mac minis which can be had with the 8th gen i7 which is 6 cores/ 12 threads, vs the 4 core/ 4 thread imac. It also has a sata3 ssd, and up 64gb ram, and 10gb ethernet option. And its cheaper than the imac. To me a much better option.

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1442175-REG/apple_z0w1_mrtr26_10g_mac_mini_i7_16gb_256gb_ssd_10g.html

For laptops, MSI cant be beat right now. I got the first one in the links below for my folks for the holidays, along with a samsung 860 evo 1tb drive. These models come stock with nvme drives, and the newest i7 mobile chip, which is 6core/ 12 threads. To me the 800$ model is imposdible to beat for performance for the dollar. Tbe workstation models are the same processors, but have 64 gb ram capacity. These would smoke the iBook by a large margin, and leave tbe imac in its tracks as well. @$2k, with a 17" screen, 512g nvme drive, and 32gb installed ram (64gb capacity), the bottom one i linked is one of the highest specs laptops out there, and at a very reasonable price relative to the competition. To me its what id get if looking for a pro audio laptop, and didnt have a desktop. Otherwise id go w the 800$ model since it cant be beat specs vs dollar. What i like about them is they all have room internally for your addidtional audio drive. So you dont have to have usb drives.

https://www.microcenter.com/product/510720/msi-gf63-156-gaming-laptop-computer---black

https://www.microcenter.com/product/505843/msi-gs65-stealth-thin-156-gaming-laptop-computer---black

https://www.microcenter.com/product/601224/msi-we73-8sj-076-173-mobile-workstation-laptop-computer---black

Having just purchased a 6 core intel acer aspire (400$ microcenter) and parts for a 16 core and 2x 8 core amd ryzen master/slave rig, its a great time to buy a computer right now as the newest gen intel processors is 50% more powerful than last gen, and similarly priced. And ryzen is the most power for the dollar by a large, very large margin, when considering building your own.

kmetal Thu, 01/03/2019 - 13:55

Id use tbe money i saved getting one of the computers i linked (800-1500) and upgrade my interface. The mac mini has thunderbolt 3 so you can get an apollo X for around 2000$. This gives you much more power with realtime dsp, and much, much higher conversion spec than the otherwise decent/entry level focusrite.

This for the same overall budget is a night and day difference from an imac/scarlett. The apollo/mac mini is state if the art, professional quality, the other is 2015's entry level quality. Not that the imac and scarlett arw bad, just the imac/apollo is soo sooo much better for the Same price!

If i went with one of those killer laptop pcs, they dont have thunderbolt, so id be looking int RME, motu, or antelope for a step up in interface, while staying in budget.

Or keep the scarlett and add a pre w digital outs like marco said

kmetal Thu, 01/03/2019 - 14:05

Having just looked at the lenovo p52, the i7 ones look nice as well and seem to be of similar spec and price to tbe MSI workstations. The MSi laptop for 800$ still seems to kill its competition in its range due to its nvme drive. Seems the msi and lenovi workations are similar although it seems you get more ram in the MSI for the money.

RichyRihc Thu, 01/03/2019 - 18:44

Ugh. Thank Kmetal. I'm too amateur for all of this. I'm overwhelmed with options and likely need to make some mistakes to really figure things out. As far as the NVMe, I've read that the MacB Pro has it. So I don't know. I like the MSI too. I will likely be doing some minor video editing and personal use with the computer too. I think that different components make priority over others for different people depending on how involved in this stuff you are. The apollo is ridiculous for sure, but it would practically be offensive for me to get something that nice. But the computer will also be used by my wife, etc. Then as I get my feet wet in recording I will figure out what I need and where I could have done better, and need improvement, as my personal demands and necessities (for my application) expose themselves. I appreciate your input... Now you have me looking at MSI again. And I got to learn more about NVME. But to someone whos not familiar this stuff is overwhelming.

kmetal Fri, 01/04/2019 - 16:53

We are here to help anytime. Regardless of model and make, if your in an i7 6core / thread processor, and an nvme drive for the OS, your cooking with gas. 64gb ram capacity is preferred, but 32gb of ram is reasonable for most recording situations, its nice to have room to grow in that area.

Those are what id classify as critical specs among the myriad of combinations out there.

Also, it is easy run windows on a mac, should you have a particular need to.

Cheers!

RichyRihc Sat, 01/05/2019 - 07:56

Ok, so this sound pretty stupid but I have a gaming laptop that I bought in 2017 to be used for some video editing. Its an Eluktronics. I dropped it outside once on the (concrete) driveway. It still works but I don't love the computer and never used it for video creating/ editing. It works fine but sometimes it'll just freeze up for about 10-20 seconds, restart, and then be okay, without any (open) projects being erased, etc. After it does this it never repeats it. Its only sometimes at initial startup.

Well, I decided to check the specs and the specs on it are MUCH better than I could have ever guessed. I'm scratching my head on this one. but here it is (see below). SO... I am going to take it to a repair shop and just have someone run a full diagnostic on it and make sure its okay and use it to get started. Then maybe in a few years get a new one. But I should at least be able to get my feet wet with this one. But now I need to look into a monitor (maybe 27 inch) to go with it. I will post a new thread on recommendations. Thanks for your help everyone. Sucks being so new and amateur at this and I appreciate the help.

Eluktronics P650RS-G
2.60 GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ Quad Core
32 GB DDR4 2400MHz RAM
512GB PCIe NVMe SSD
1TB HHD
8GB GDDR5 VRAM NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 1070 + G-SYNC
Windows 10 Home 64-bit

Focusrite 18i8
Cubase 10 Artist

kmetal Sat, 01/05/2019 - 13:42

Looks like a good start, presuming it functions ok. Thats plenty of power, especially for starting out in the DAW world.

You might want to install w10 pro, as its better suited for audio because you can disable more un-needed functions like windows update, and others.

Either way, youll want to optomize windows for audio. Focusrite and sweetwater have easy to follow guides to do this. I use both.

Glad you have what you need, and kudos for taking the time to investigate what tools suit you best. Cheers.

kmetal Sun, 01/06/2019 - 09:54

One thing to note on W10, make sure you get the one titled "retail version". The "OEM" version is a few bucks cheaper, but its registered to your hardware. This means if there's a failure on your hardware, you cant just swap in a new part and reinstall windows. With the Retail Version, you can keep it on a flash drive or backup drive and be up and running instantly.

Sweetwater and focusrite have the guides online.

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.sweetwater.com/sweetcare/articles/pc-optimization-guide-for-windows-10/&ved=2ahUKEwj79YWr29nfAhUJneAKHfSSB9AQFjAUegQIARAB&usg=AOvVaw3SASI0IkDD_dF7TEQKZJq5

https://support.focusrite.com/hc/en-gb/articles/207355205-Optimising-your-PC-for-Audio-on-Windows-10

pcrecord Mon, 01/07/2019 - 04:52

RichyRihc, post: 460076, member: 51500 wrote: Ok, so this sound pretty stupid but I have a gaming laptop that I bought in 2017 to be used for some video editing. Its an Eluktronics. I dropped it outside once on the (concrete) driveway. It still works but I don't love the computer and never used it for video creating/ editing. It works fine but sometimes it'll just freeze up for about 10-20 seconds, restart, and then be okay, without any (open) projects being erased, etc. After it does this it never repeats it. Its only sometimes at initial startup.

Well, I decided to check the specs and the specs on it are MUCH better than I could have ever guessed. I'm scratching my head on this one. but here it is (see below). SO... I am going to take it to a repair shop and just have someone run a full diagnostic on it and make sure its okay and use it to get started. Then maybe in a few years get a new one. But I should at least be able to get my feet wet with this one. But now I need to look into a monitor (maybe 27 inch) to go with it. I will post a new thread on recommendations. Thanks for your help everyone. Sucks being so new and amateur at this and I appreciate the help.

Eluktronics P650RS-G
2.60 GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ Quad Core
32 GB DDR4 2400MHz RAM
512GB PCIe NVMe SSD
1TB HHD
8GB GDDR5 VRAM NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 1070 + G-SYNC
Windows 10 Home 64-bit

Focusrite 18i8
Cubase 10 Artist

The only thing I would change is the OS for a pro version.. Home versions come with bunch of gizmo apps and unneeded stuff that slow down the performances...

Guelph_Guy Thu, 01/10/2019 - 14:54

I can't comment on cuebase but I run pc ..its a new 8th generation build running windows 10. It needed to support thunderbolt and nvme drives . You daw software will most likely have large libraries and to reduce load times to memory the nvme drives are preferable .. the board used in my computer supports 2 nvme drives ..one for the operating system and the second for libraries. Projects are stored on a 3rd sata ssd its more then fast enough..but large samples drive large sample memory requirements . Which takes time to load from your drive storage . I have projects at 100+ tracks that consume 22 Gig of memory..So faster drives and more memory is very beneficial

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