Why should you build a PC instead of getting a more powerful laptop? Because Laptops are non upgradable, get real expensive real quick on an exponential curve, and for all of that they get lost and stolen. Building a PC is going to give you the most bang for your buck in your PC. A PC processor is going to be just plain faster than it’s laptop counterpart, it’s physics one of these sits at the wall using more wattage the others run on a battery.
There’s a lot of points in my “Best Laptop for Music production” post I won’t be addressing here but I recommend checking it out.
For DJ’s/mobile use I believe your budget should be 60% on your desktop 40% on your laptop. For example if our budget was $1000 we might look at a $600 dollar PC build like this:
and a $400 laptop like this:
This way at your workstation you have fast quad core performance an SSD for your programs and a 1tb external hard drive for backups(for the love of God back up your work) that you can take between both devices. You have a laptop that if you’re a DJ or performing artist is capable of connecting with your gear and getting you through your sets. Are either of these particularly elegant systems? No, the Laptop only has 4gb of ram, is a dual core, is using an hdd instead of SSD. But you could spend up to $1000 on the Razer Blade Stealth or USED Macbook Pros even and still find yourself with a dual core. (and yes quad cores can be had for cheaper I’m just using those as examples of systems I’ve seen people pick)
You can definitely GET BY with a dual core but why not put your money where you will get the most performance the place you do most of your work, THEN have an adequate mobile kit you don’t feel too bad about losing/getting rid of when the time comes.(because laptops age like bananas)
If our budget was $2000(macbook range) we could do a lot better. With a desktop like this with a faster 3.5 ghz quad core processor 16 gb of ram, 480 gb ssd, 3tb hdd
a laptop like this with a quad core, 8 gb of ram, 256 gb ssd (We’ve got some change left over so you could get a USB sound card, take your girl out or maybe even pay rent this month!) oh and both of these have USB ports, regular ass usb ports you can plug anything into that currently exists.
If you got the $2000 macbook pro you would get:
- 2.9GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor
- Turbo Boost up to 3.3GHz
- 8GB 2133MHz memory
- 512GB PCIe-based SSD1
- Intel Iris Graphics 550
- Four Thunderbolt 3 ports
- Touch Bar and Touch ID
Yes ASIO and sound drivers on windows sucks both of these budgets leave room for whatever USB sound card you want or even add in cards from ASUS and Creative bypassing that entirely. These motherboards on the desktops also have room for firewire cards.
Let’s really look at mac equivalents.
first of all don’t even look at the Macbook retina for music production please. Now I own one and really like it for writing, day to day tasks, if you want something extra and want to write a book on a light quiet slim device, and in my case needed to own a mac to develop apps for their platform sure check it out. At $1299 though don’t tell people I’m advertising it’s price to performance ratio. Even our $400 laptop has more performance.
I like the iMac a lot not because it’s really quiet. You also get a lot of screen real estate. Working on a large project with over 60 tracks on a small laptop screen and though it’s do-able, I found myself squinting and scrolling all over my DAW.
As you fill your DAW with tracks, you’ll start to crave for more screens to work upon. The iMac also has lots of ports for connectivity. I like to think of the iMac as a big laptop. Because it is, it’s a big laptop with laptop components in a nice monitor. And oh, you have to buy as much as RAM as your budget allows when you buy the iMac. Sucks, I know. We could buy the 2nd laptop that is way better and any 4k/ultrawide monitor/TV up to $1000 and get better performance.
I’m not kidding about that, it’s called a Hackintosh there is a guide on how to do it https://www.tonymacx86.com/threads/guide-dell-inspiron-15-7559-skylake-i7-6700hq-intel-hd-530-using-clover.191921/
You’ll have LESS functionality in Mac OS with the 960m graphics card and the card reader not recognized. Other than that get a mac keyboard and magic mouse and you have a portable iMac with OSX.
Got all the budget and want to go big? Then get the Mac Pro.
and you’ll be retarded. Stop reading my guide if you even considered that. I can’t help you. If you’ve read this far and think it’s a good idea to spend $2999 on
- 3.7GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon E5 processor
- 12GB 1866MHz DDR3 ECC memory
- Dual AMD FirePro D300
with 2GB GDDR5 VRAM each
- 256GB PCIe-based flash storage
or $3999 on:
- 3.5GHz 6-Core Intel Xeon E5 processor
- 16GB 1866MHz DDR3 ECC memory
- Dual AMD FirePro D500 with 3GB GDDR5 VRAM each
- 256GB PCIe-based flash storage1
Then there’s nothing I can do for you. I don’t even want to look or think about you right now.
Ok I guess I’m going to really do this:
We end up with a 10 core processor at 3.0 ghz, 16 gb of ram, 128 gb m.2 ssd for our OS 2 256gb ssds in raid for our programs, a GTX 1080 for some reason but still better than the graphics cards in the Mac Pro. 1 ultrawide monitor, AND STILL have 65 cent left over as a down payment on the first laptop we picked out. I’m not recommending this unless you have money to burn, the type of person that needs this would already know and have it. I’m just saying even getting stupid we can do better builds and even if you don’t like to build yourself Microcenter will do it for $99 with warranty you can take it and yell at them if there’s a problem.
To stay with the spirit of the article get the 6900K which is $700 cheaper with 8 cores and the same laptop we picked above or this one if you want to spend a little more Point is there’s no price point we can scale to where this doesn’t make more sense than buying an expensive macbook even if you have more money than sense…
For everyone else I hope this article has been informative and educational. I’m not writing this to be a fanboy(God knows I have no love for Windows either but to educate and encourage fair competition from Apple to make a bloody useful device again.)