Helpful ReplyThoughts on Laptops as Primary

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tonyzub999
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2017/08/01 17:17:41 (permalink)

Thoughts on Laptops as Primary

I have lots of gear, some of it outboard.  I have been thinking more and more of simplifying my setup.  How many of you are using laptops as your primary setup (no desktop) and are you satisfied with your output.  I am leaning toward using a mobile workstation and tracking and mixing completely in the box.  I am not doing a high volume of production.  What do you think. 
#1
AndyB01
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Re: Thoughts on Laptops as Primary 2017/08/01 17:39:52 (permalink)
I'm considering doing the same thing and downshifting from custom desktop to a laptop. Question is which one and what spec - the $64,000 question as always.

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#2
Jim Roseberry
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Re: Thoughts on Laptops as Primary 2017/08/01 18:24:49 (permalink)
A "laptop" can be anything from a $500 Walmart special... on up to a custom running a desktop CPU.
HUGE difference between the performance (and price).
All depends on what specifically you're looking to do... and how hard you're pushing the hardware.

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mesayre
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Re: Thoughts on Laptops as Primary 2017/08/01 18:30:21 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby Starise 2017/08/24 15:59:07
I'm actually heading the opposite direction and switching back to a desktop. Shopping right now for a cheap one.
 
I work entirely in the box. I bought this for mobility, but I can count the times my laptop has left my house on one hand. In 5 years. By the time I bring an audio interface, whatever monitoring equipment I need, a mini keyboard, and maybe a guitar, it's not like I'm all that mobile anyway. I work mostly as a composer for media, so your needs may not be the same as mine.
 
Also an annoyance - you have to make sure your laptop has a very, very quiet fan, or no fan at all. Because there's no way to get away from that fan, and almost no way to upgrade/replace it. Beware.
 
I might pick up a cheap laptop if I need to do edits on the go or something, but for the main machine I don't see the value. The tradeoffs in price, ergonomics, power, and upgradeability just aren't worth it. 
 
YMMV, of course.

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Sanderxpander
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Re: Thoughts on Laptops as Primary 2017/08/01 19:00:32 (permalink)
I've always had a strong laptop to go along my main production PC. But since I did more and more mobile work and I've been remodeling my home (and studio situation), I've stuck with my laptop as primary. I honestly haven't missed my desktop at all, but I'm pretty lucky with my setup.

I have a Clevo P771-DM1-G. It has a desktop i7 6700 (non-K, didn't see the need) in it, with 16GB RAM (room for 64) This particular laptop has room for two mSATA disks (I have one PCIe Samsung 950 Pro 256GB for OS) and two standard 2.5" disks (I have an old 500GB Samsung 850 Evo SSD for samples and a 1TB data drive). No DVD drive though. Also, three regular USB3 ports, one high power USB port shared with eSATAp and one USB-C port that doubles as Thunderbolt. And one HDMI port and two display ports. I struggle to think what else I could need on it. It has a lighted keyboard and a 17 inch full HD screen.

If you have any questions about it I'd be happy to answer them. I'm very happy with this setup. Most of the time I use it with an RME Fireface UCX, but I'll happily hook up whatever digital desk is at the studio I'm at.
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tonyzub999
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Re: Thoughts on Laptops as Primary 2017/08/01 19:13:44 (permalink)
Jim, I agree. If the laptop as primary works, I will go with a mobile workstation or higher end laptop. If not, I will opt for a less expensive laptop and get a new desktop. Right now both of my current computers are inadequate.
#6
soens
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Re: Thoughts on Laptops as Primary 2017/08/22 09:34:24 (permalink)
Higher end 17" gaming lappy here with 2nd 24" monitor and like it. Quiet and fast. Handles Sonar with outboard gear just fine. Cost is normally around $2500 but got this one on sale and upgraded it for $1500. Used as my main computer. Haven't turned on the old desk top in years. Just a big door stop now.
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fireberd
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Re: Thoughts on Laptops as Primary 2017/08/22 10:47:54 (permalink)
I'll keep my desktop.  I actually "hate" laptops mainly because of their keyboards.  I have a laptop that I use for on-site recordings but that is only for the recordings.  I transfer the projects to my desktop and do everything there.

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Sanderxpander
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Re: Thoughts on Laptops as Primary 2017/08/22 13:16:53 (permalink)
There are vast differences between laptop keyboards. I used to do exactly the same but with my laptops current config it's just unnecessary.
#9
fret_man
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Re: Thoughts on Laptops as Primary 2017/08/22 13:46:08 (permalink)
All I have is a laptop (from ADK, great company, great customer service) and I only have 2 issues: the fan can be noisy, I've run out of USB ports (I know, I know, I can get a USB hub - but I'd rather plug in a USB expansion card into a backplane). Other than those, I've had absolutely no problems running anything.
#10
Starise
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Re: Thoughts on Laptops as Primary 2017/08/22 16:45:29 (permalink)
Once I hook up everything I like to use, extra monitor, keyboard, mixing monitors. It isn't worth it for me. Even though some of the older nagging issues have been solved to some extent like heat issues and performance issues .vs desktop. I prefer to stay with a desktop for ultimate flexibility. 
 
IF I had to choose a laptop for portability and transport reasons I would be looking at a highly spec'd model for gaming. Fast cpu, lots of memory, Good heat dissipation, low noise. Nice touch screen. A laptop would make a great second computer if I was on the road. You could use it in the motel room and do rough mixes on headphones.
 
If you're confined to a small space I get it. Not too many other options.You can spend as much or more on a high end laptop as a desktop though.Laptops aren't quite as configurable as a general rule.Especially when looking at hardware upgrades.
 
It sure looks as if the big computer manufacturers are attempting to move to portable everything. It's probably less expensive for them to make smaller less powerful units that will do the basic job. Even the office market is seeing plenty of unified setups. Either tiny outboard cubes or everything built into the monitor. The average Joe doesn't look too hard at specs. Their only concern is whether or not is will do the job.
 
Many of the videos Cake has put out use laptops as demo units. When they go to NAMM or similar they seem to be using lappys. Maybe they see a trend away from  desktops?
 
If it was all I had I would use a laptop. Until or unless that happens. It's a desktop for me. One I'll build.

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synkrotron
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Re: Thoughts on Laptops as Primary 2017/08/22 19:00:34 (permalink)
I've been a laptop only use for getting on five years now.
 
When I want to do stuff in my "studio," which houses my hardware synths and what have you, I hook up to my OCTA-CAPTURE.
 
When I am out and about I take my QUAD-CAPTURE with me and I can set up virtually anywhere, even in my motorhome, which means I can be sat at the side of a lake in the middle on nowhere. Obviously I will be working "in the box" with all my VST instruments and effects.
 
Laptop wasn't cheap... And I have upgraded the SSD's since too, so I must have spent something like £3000 on my system, not including software.
 
Would I go back to a desktop?
 
Answer to that is no... Laptop suits my "limited" needs... I don't intend mic'ing up guitar amps and drum kits any more...

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Sanderxpander
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Re: Thoughts on Laptops as Primary 2017/08/22 20:29:54 (permalink)
If I only worked at home I'd totally stick with a desktop. If I only occasionally recorded a vocal on the road or did a hotel room mix I'd still use a desktop for most stuff. As it is, I do lots of production in various studios where they have lots of equipment to hook up to. It's just easier to plug in my laptop and have everything ready to go. Once I had all my plugins installed and went to do production on site for days, and my laptop coping fine with everything, it became far less compelling to keep transferring everything back and forth between desktop and laptop, not to mention keeping track of "latest versions" etc. Far quicker to just plug in my soundcard, trackball and extra screen at home.
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soens
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Re: Thoughts on Laptops as Primary 2017/08/22 20:53:18 (permalink)
When I was migrating between laptop and desktop I used an external USB HD for projects hooked to an A/B switch so they were all in one place and easily accessible to both systems. But since X2 I've only used laptops. Current gaming laps are far and ahead of what they were even 5 years ago. I came across this one sort of by accident and seems to have everything I'd want in a big clunky desktop including 3 internal HDDs. AND I can take it with me! It even has an onboard SoundBlaster card incase I should ever need to access it.
 
I used to spend time building desktops the way I wanted them. It was fun but also time consuming and a distraction from the ultimate goal of using a DAW. Now I just buy laptops that work for me already made and ready to go. Honestly I've seen no real difference in performance or functionality.
 
What to do with those 3 desktops sitting around with no purpose just getting in the way?!
 
YMMV
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Pragi
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Re: Thoughts on Laptops as Primary 2017/08/23 06:52:24 (permalink)
Working with a desktop in the studio ( see specs in my signature)
and a laptop (HP probook 6450 b) as a mobile device I can say
that the videomonitor of a laptop is to small and uncomfortable imo,
but a  good laptop with a external video monitor woukd do the job for
me.
On the other hand :
Ther is 1  hd and 2ssds in my desktop which keep this system
since 4,5 years very powerdul.I don´t think that it has to be renewed
within the next 2 years , don´t know if a laptop is so resistant.
A desktop also means to be able to change components easy.
regards

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#15
pwalpwal
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Re: Thoughts on Laptops as Primary 2017/08/23 11:07:01 (permalink)
laptop here, only issue is number of usb ports (never enough!)

just a sec

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Sanderxpander
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Re: Thoughts on Laptops as Primary 2017/08/23 16:47:17 (permalink)
Pragi
Working with a desktop in the studio ( see specs in my signature)
and a laptop (HP probook 6450 b) as a mobile device I can say
that the videomonitor of a laptop is to small and uncomfortable imo,
but a  good laptop with a external video monitor woukd do the job for
me.
On the other hand :
Ther is 1  hd and 2ssds in my desktop which keep this system
since 4,5 years very powerdul.I don´t think that it has to be renewed
within the next 2 years , don´t know if a laptop is so resistant.
A desktop also means to be able to change components easy.
regards

My laptop fits 2 M2 drives and two regular 2.5" drives internally. That's disregarding the eSata, Thunderbolt and USB3 ports it also has for external storage. It also has a 17" full HD screen, a HDMI port and two display ports. So as Jim alluded to in his very first post, there's a huge difference between off the shelf "multimedia" laptops or higher end custom builds. I would never want to rely on a generic multimedia laptop as my sole computer. With the custom build I have now, I found myself surprised that I really don't need a desktop anymore. I have one but it just sits there. It's enough of a pain to keep one system up and running with hundreds of plugins and pieces of software, let alone two. Plus it has a faster CPU than my desktop (i7 6700 vs i7 3xxx something) at the moment.
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synkrotron
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Re: Thoughts on Laptops as Primary 2017/08/23 18:40:01 (permalink)
pwalpwal
laptop here, only issue is number of usb ports (never enough!)




Yeah... I forgot about that...
 
I have one USB2 port, which I use exclusive with my Q-C or O-C and a further 3 USB3 ports. If I am sat in my "studio" I have to use a USB hub into which I plug my external computer keyboard and mouse. That leaves a port for my MOTU micro lite and one for my USB controller keyboard.
 
I seem to manage but I do wish that I didn't have to use that hub...

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#18
soens
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Re: Thoughts on Laptops as Primary 2017/08/23 20:58:20 (permalink)
I find no issues with a hub as long as my audio interface is not on it. Hub is for MIDI interface and peripherals - DVD, printer, HDDs, mobiles, etc.
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lawajava
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Re: Thoughts on Laptops as Primary 2017/08/23 23:59:10 (permalink)
I moved from desktop based for music to "everything music is in the laptop" about 5 years ago. A few upgrades like moving to giant, super-speedy internal SSD drives helped turn it into nirvana.

It is so freeing. I work on music way more now because I can detach from the main studio area and sit elsewhere as I need to and still work on various things musically. I can create stuff, or experiment around, in a coffee shop if I felt like it.

Then of course, plugged in to the main studio area with outboard gear, microphones and monitors I'm back to full studio mode.

I can't imagine not having a laptop as the primary for music production.

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Sanderxpander
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Re: Thoughts on Laptops as Primary 2017/08/24 06:27:10 (permalink)
^this
#21
abacab
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Re: Thoughts on Laptops as Primary 2017/08/25 14:39:55 (permalink)
I think we have reached the point where current high end hardware in a properly equipped laptop can replace a desktop.
 
But the price point for an effective laptop solution needs to be balanced with the cost/benefit ratio.  This of course, is an individual choice.  I don't think an inexpensive, off the shelf, laptop is likely to be suitable for serious DAW use.
 
The usage case outlined above by lawajava is a good example of the benefits of a totally mobile studio PC!

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Sanderxpander
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Re: Thoughts on Laptops as Primary 2017/08/26 11:11:45 (permalink)
All the Mac users are looking at this thread and wondering what the fuss is about - Macbooks have been excellent DAWs for years. Even the somewhat underpowered ones run stable, just with fewer plugins at the same time.
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kennywtelejazz
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Re: Thoughts on Laptops as Primary 2017/08/26 12:49:27 (permalink)
About 4 years ago I had to make a serious personal decision that involved either fishing or cutting bait
 
I had been locked out of upgrading SONAR for a long time only because my desktop was Win  XP 32 bit . Back then the last version of SONAR I had purchased was 6 PE ...I ran 6 PE until  2013 .
I missed out on Vista  , Win 7 ...SONAR 7 , 8 , X1 , X2 ...
When X3 came out I wanted to re up and get current with Windows and SONAR ...
Having another desktop built for me was out of the question because I didn't have the money and the way I saw it I still had to upgrade my SONAR and pick up a USB Audio device ...
That meant I had to leave at least $400 in my budget to solve that one
 
In 2013 I wound up picking up a brand new  Asus 15 inch i3 lap top w 6 Gigs of ram running Win 8 64 bit H.E. at a real good price ...
To some degree  my little rig is a lower end set up compared to what some folks around here consider to be acceptable . The thing is I run what I have
Once I had a current spec lap top that would run SONAR I picked up X3 and a Focusrite 2i4 ....
That put me squarely back in the Windows / SONAR game which I'm happy about ...
 
These days I'm running SPlat lifetime plus a number of other DAW's that also get a lot of Air Time in the real world .
I pretty much consider myself to be a Lap top only user these days ...2 Win 10 lap tops and an older Macbook ...
 
Most of my song projects rarely exceed 45 tracks and both my Win lap tops can pull that off easy most of the time.
My preference is to generally work inside the box and I like my personal space to be wide open and not cluttered ...
 
Working w a lap top suites me perfectly for that personal preference  ...
FWIW, a good deal of my time is still spent on learning how to use all the new features and plugs that have been added along the way ...
What that means is a lot of the times I'm not even pushing my lap top at all because it takes a lot of personal time and commitment to learn some of the deeper functions of what can be done inside the box
I was locked out of that type of learning for years and I feel it is much better to have the means to educate myself using a placeholder lap top as opposed to waiting around until I have the money to drop on a class act computer.
 
 
PS I would love to drop some serious coin and have Jim build me a lap top computer ...some day I hope ..
 
 
Sanderxpander
All the Mac users are looking at this thread and wondering what the fuss is about - Macbooks have been excellent DAWs for years. Even the somewhat underpowered ones run stable, just with fewer plugins at the same time.

 
+1000 ,  that is very true ....I feel very lucky to have that base already covered 
 
all the best ,
 
Kenny

                   
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#24
fireberd
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Re: Thoughts on Laptops as Primary 2017/08/26 13:45:17 (permalink)
Although I have, in a previous post, stated "I hate laptops" that is probably my old school of having been brought up working with (and on) mainframes "BPC" (Before PC's) and then desktop PC's in commercial environments when they came about.  
 
I have a laptop and it will be used for "on site" recordings (I have two coming up in September).  It has another use with my wife's embroidery machine.  Its a new Dell Inspiron 15, 5577 which is sold as a gaming laptop.  It has a 7th gen i5, and came with an M.2 SSD.  Visually, it loads and runs as fast as my desktop DAW which has an i7 6700K CPU.  Resplendence Latency Mon gives it a clean bill of health for audio.  Although I'm not a fan of keyboards on a laptop if I had to I could make this my DAW.  It only has 3 USB 3.0 ports and I use one for a mouse, but that leaves 2 and enough for my recording interface unit and either my Frontier Tranzport or Behringer X-Touch. 

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#25
Pragi
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Re: Thoughts on Laptops as Primary 2017/08/27 20:05:16 (permalink)
Sanderxpander
Pragi
Working with a desktop in the studio ( see specs in my signature)
and a laptop (HP probook 6450 b) as a mobile device I can say
that the videomonitor of a laptop is to small and uncomfortable imo,
but a  good laptop with a external video monitor woukd do the job for
me.
On the other hand :
Ther is 1  hd and 2ssds in my desktop which keep this system
since 4,5 years very powerdul.I don´t think that it has to be renewed
within the next 2 years , don´t know if a laptop is so resistant.
A desktop also means to be able to change components easy.
regards

My laptop fits 2 M2 drives and two regular 2.5" drives internally. That's disregarding the eSata, Thunderbolt and USB3 ports it also has for external storage. It also has a 17" full HD screen, a HDMI port and two display ports. So as Jim alluded to in his very first post, there's a huge difference between off the shelf "multimedia" laptops or higher end custom builds. I would never want to rely on a generic multimedia laptop as my sole computer. With the custom build I have now, I found myself surprised that I really don't need a desktop anymore. I have one but it just sits there. It's enough of a pain to keep one system up and running with hundreds of plugins and pieces of software, let alone two. Plus it has a faster CPU than my desktop (i7 6700 vs i7 3xxx something) at the moment.

@ Sander, 
sure a good laptop can handle nowadays running a DAW like Sonar,
never negated that.
 
I think it depends  on the needs of a musician, which
choice is the best:
For me the best  custom build laptop wouldn´t fit , cause 
I don´t record or arrange in a restaurant or places like that at all.
When recording not at home
I  have to carry  guitars fx devices aso to the studio so that a laptop
would make it  exhausting .
Like to have a stational desktop in my external recording room and 
a second one at home .
And like you said , it´s enough work to keep one system 
up to date (my external recording desktop has a basic configuration -
the good old Sonar 8.5 only ).Runs perfect for recording uses .
The small laptop is rarely used ,no need.
But that´s me.
regards 
 
 
 
 

Core I 7 3770,16 GB Ram ,Win 10 64 bit,
Sonar Platinum, Saffire Pro 40,  
GAP Pre 73, Nubert Nupro A 200 ,
Fender Strat  ,Ibanez As 103 
At long last it´s all about respect, or ?
 
#26
Sanderxpander
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Re: Thoughts on Laptops as Primary 2017/08/27 21:28:42 (permalink)
Totally behind that idea, especially if you have two fixed venues where you record. I sometimes see five different studios in a month and record live gigs and rehearsals in between, all with different hardware. In the studios I will often use the already present digital desks (e.g. A&H Qu32 or Behringer X32), during rehearsals I record from my own Behringer X18, if I play softsynths or have moderate input recording needs on location I use my Fireface UCX and if I need to multi track a gig from a Digico desk I'll borrow a Madiface. So it's not so much that I'm always tweaking in hotel rooms (I can probably count on one hand how often I've done that) as that with such a tiny package as my laptop and a little planning and using available gear, it's like I always have my own studio with me. With all my favorite plugins and all my older projects. I can premix during listening and compare to other projects, then continue at home without worrying about versioning etc.

For me, it's been a real revelation. Totally understand your situation though and to be fair, I'm not a big fan of touchpads - when I'm at home or at a familiar studio I always hook up my trackball and an extra monitor so the whole thing feels more comfortable like a desktop.
#27
Pragi
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Re: Thoughts on Laptops as Primary 2017/08/28 06:40:30 (permalink)
Good point , if I would see 5 or more differnt places to record aso,
a laptop is a must, even with a touchpad.
 
A good laptop is still more  expensiv as a desktop.
But anyhow , in arround 2 years I will be thinking
about bying a laptop or desktop - don´t know how much bucks 
a decent laptop will cost then .
Laptops aso are  the future of this technology and will be more 
cost effevtive the next years, but (mobile) I would miss my two 24 " screens.........
 
regards
 

Core I 7 3770,16 GB Ram ,Win 10 64 bit,
Sonar Platinum, Saffire Pro 40,  
GAP Pre 73, Nubert Nupro A 200 ,
Fender Strat  ,Ibanez As 103 
At long last it´s all about respect, or ?
 
#28
Sanderxpander
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Re: Thoughts on Laptops as Primary 2017/08/28 08:22:41 (permalink)
I think the real "desktop replacements" will always be close to the 2000 mark, depending on what you put in. Mine was just under 1700 and I scavenged a 500GB Samsung SSD sample drive from my old laptop along with a 1TB data drive. Definitely more than what a desktop would cost. But my choice is "desktop AND laptop" vs "just a good laptop" so altogether it's not bad.
#29
Pragi
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Re: Thoughts on Laptops as Primary 2017/08/28 16:33:47 (permalink)
Sander , 
thanks cause it´s 
good  to know the price of a decent laptop.
Was curious about it .
 
 
 
 
 

Core I 7 3770,16 GB Ram ,Win 10 64 bit,
Sonar Platinum, Saffire Pro 40,  
GAP Pre 73, Nubert Nupro A 200 ,
Fender Strat  ,Ibanez As 103 
At long last it´s all about respect, or ?
 
#30
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