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Just bought a new laptop....questions

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by Mon Rominee, Mar 7, 2008.

  1. Hey folks, for recording, I used to use an old Dell Inspiron 1100 and a P4 XP desktop. The desktop died unfortunately, and the laptop is just maxxed out, so I wiped it clean and gave it to my Daughter to use for school work.

    I bought a new Dell Inspiron 1525 with the CoreDuo (1.66) and 3 gigs of RAM...I want to run Mackie Tracktion on it, and decided on a laptop over desktop because I've liked having the whole rig being mobile (for when inspiration strikes...laptop / keys / Spike can fit in one bag with a set of cans)

    My questions are how long can I expect this rig to last (average life expectancy) and how should I have it set so it won't overheat while in use (I know this is a typical concern for laptop failures).... I know it'll get warm, but I would love for this thing to not up and die on me 4 months in or something (regardless of warranty)

    I run Tracktion, an M Audio Axiom, and a slew of VST's through a Mackie Spike XD-2.....along with the usual guit and bass.

    Any suggestions to make this new rig operate smoothly for a long time? It arrives in a week.

    Thanks guys.
  2. I'm a PC guy, but if the laptop is solely for recording I believe most people would argue that a Mac would be better.
  3. I hear ya, and Tracktion is indeed Mac compatible, but I can't afford a new MacBook, and honestly I never ever had a hiccup in Tracktion on the PC anyway, and that was running a gig of RAM or less. I'm kind of a noob at recording, and love the intuitive interface....

    When I record, it's usually on the fly stuff, demos and basic skeletal arrangements, nothing super intensive mixing or masteringwise, and I have fun with the kids (which is why I sometimes carry the rig around for spur of the moment goofy crap)
  4. msquared


    Sep 19, 2004
    Kansas City
    Those people would have been right 15 years ago. They are wrong now. PCs are fine and then some for recording. There's nothing about the OS or the hardware which makes them any better or worse than a Mac.

    Increase your laptop's life expectancy as well as your recording capabilities by getting an external hard drive which has decent cooling.
  5. I would suggest one of the laptop cooling pads($20-$30-ish). Mine basically elevates the laptop to allow air-flow underneath, and it also has a couple of fans that blow air onto the bottom of the laptop. If you look for some laptop cooling reviews, I'm sure you can find a good one at a reasonable price. Best Buy/Staples also sell some of the different brands, so it should be relatively easy to pick one up.

    This should improve the life of the laptop, but also make it run quieter, since the laptop's fans(which are usually louder) won't have to run as often.

    As far as lifetime goes, my cheap laptop that I bought in 2004 is still running well for me, although I also don't use it for recording/music production very often. You may also want some sort of external hard drive(Firewire) with a high RPM rating, since the hard drive that comes in the laptop might be a slow one. This has the added bonus of allowing you to keep your operating system and music files on separate drives, and you also have something to make backups on.

  6. Agree w/dcartoon. I use Tracktion w/Dell laptop(s) and have had no problems. Just treat it like a computer and don't bang it up.
  7. FretlessArt


    Jan 24, 2007
    Inspirons typically have an 18 month life span for most corporate road warrior types before they are given new gear. I have found XP professional the most stable for pro audio and video programs for PC enviornments. XP home edition crashed on me once resulting in a horrific loss of creative work. Just make sure you douche all of the stuff you dont need. I also had problems with windows wanting to default back to the on board sound card rather than accept my M-Audio Firewire 410 external interface. It would dump the M-Audio every 60 hours or so.

    I now store all my creative work on an external terrabit drive and access it almost like a network server. This leaves plenty of work rome on my c drive. a medium size video project can require 30 gig of work space.

    My brother just got a Mac Pro notebook with Logic Pro. 200 gig hard drive. If I were to do it all over again I would go with the Mac set up. I found Logic Pro to be better than Ableton Live and even slightly more robust than Pro tools.
  8. Cool, thanks for the tips guys. I usually treat my computers very well, and keep them updated and cleaned out / defragged often.

    I am not the biggest fan of Vista, but this new book is running it...(part of the package and decent deal I got on it price-wise)

    I feel it'll be cool, and if it doesnt work out, then I'll have to finagle a way to finance a nice shiny new gen iMac....
  9. winston

    winston Supporting Member

    May 2, 2000
    Berkeley, CA
    Just curious, are the Tracktion users here using T2 or T3? I have T2 which is great for what it is. I've heard so many horror stories about the stability/plugin incompatibility of T3 that I've held off on upgrading.
  10. dbcandle


    Jan 30, 2008
    My Dell laptops from work always seem to last several years, but I had a home laptop where the fan started to fail after a couple of years. In all cases, I treat it like a "desktop", and don't bounce it around.

    Heat is probably the best thing to guard against. If you keep the heat down:
    * Fans won't wear-out as fast
    * Everything else should last longer

    For the laptop "cooling pads", I've seen good and bad. The bad one was one that vibrated a lot (which I never used). The good one didn't vibrate (and cost less...).

    Still, I don't use cooling pads. I keep the laptop on all day (not at night), but make sure the ambient room temperature is below 80 degress (farenheit).
  11. Update: got the Laptop....yes, after all my hub bub about it, I got one with Vista. Why? Because the Mackie forums claimed Tracktion works great on it. But here's the problem: my copy of Tracktion came with a 2 channel Spike XD-2 USB interface, and unbeknownst to me, I cannot run the XD-2 on Vista because the asio drivers are not compatible, and since Mackie "discontinued" the Spike,they have no intentions of writing new drivers for it. Also, I cannot unlock my copy of Tracktion because I cannot register my XD-2 on this new laptop.

    So it's either I get a new interface and a new box-copy of Tracktion (around 250 just for the software...might as well just buy an M Box) or get another XP machine.

    And before you mention dl-ing Orca and modifying the .msi files, don't bother. I tried it. Doesn't work properly.

    Ain't that a bitch?

    Looks like the Missus gets the new laptop, and I buy an Apple. F this crap.
  12. hunta


    Dec 2, 2004
    Washington, DC
    You can probably manhandle XP onto that laptop if you want. You may have to slipstream some drivers to get it to work but I think most Vista laptops you can do it. I did it with a Dell Vostro I got with Vista a while back (ended up sending it back because the FW chip was no good). If you want some info on how to do it let me know.
  13. I would love some info. I actually might send it back to Dell to have them do it, but if it'll save me some money...


    Oh, and Winston: Tracktion 2. I have no interest in 3, as 2 is awesome.

  14. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Check out Ubuntu Studio (http://ubuntustudio.org/)

    It is free, and you can install it on a separate partition so that you can switch between Ubuntu or Vista at startup.

    Don't know if it works with the XD-2 though :(
  15. winston

    winston Supporting Member

    May 2, 2000
    Berkeley, CA
    You could see if the asio4all driver works with the Spike. I've used it with my M-Audio PCI card when the stock drivers were buggy--not sure how it works with USB, but worth a try. Good luck!
  16. I'll give it a shot, thanks very much, anything that gives me a glimmer of hope is a Godsend to me right now.

  17. hunta


    Dec 2, 2004
    Washington, DC
    Check this link out: http://forum.notebookreview.com/showthread.php?t=165176.

    It's for the 1520 not the 1525 but probably the drivers are mostly the same. You basically need to change some stuff in the bios so the XP cd will detect your hard drive, and then you just need to install the right drivers after XP is all loaded. The alternative is slipstreaming the SATA drivers into the XP cd, but I'd try the bios thing first and see if that works.
  18. Thanks Hunta! Ima give ANYTHING a try.

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