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Choosing a new laptop to use with Unify


funkninja
(@funkninja)
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Hey y'all,

I'm researching the best options for my new music laptop. Apparently quad core may be better than octocore as the quad cores individually run faster (3.3GHz) than each of the 8 cores (2.3GHz). HOWEVER, it's my understanding that Unify assigns each layer to a core (or some similar system for distributing the grunt work across the available resources), so would more but slower cores be better?

This will be a live performance system based around Unify as the hub for my vst synths, so latency is important, and I won't be running a DAW and recording with it. 

Also, any other pointers about things to watch out for would be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks 😀 


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getdunne
(@getdunne)
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@funkninja

For Unify (DAWs too), more cores are generally better.

Higher clock speeds often mean higher fan speeds, which you may not want in a music system.


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funkninja
(@funkninja)
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Great, thank you Shane 🙂


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SSquared
(@ssquared)
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@funkninja

You may also want to consider things like number of USB inputs.  Are they USB-A and/or USB-C?  Some laptops use up a USB-C port for charging, which will eat up one port.  If there are only USB-C ports, then you will need USB-A to USB-C adaptors.

Do you plan on using an external USB Audio device?  That is a huge help in limiting the latency.

RAM will be important.  I'd look for at least 16GB of RAM, though you can probably still get by with 8GB.  And get more if you can afford it.  Some VSTs load everything into memory, while others can stream samples off the drive.

Along with RAM, I highly recommend an SSD (solid state) drive.  The difference between SSD and HDD speed is noticeable.  Another important factor with the drive is size.  Do you have sample libraries?  These will take up a large amount of space.  512GB is the lowest I'd recommend.  You can also look at using an external SSD drive (USB 3.0 / USB-C) for storing samples.  This goes back to the number of available USB ports mentioned above.

Ableton Live 10, Omnisphere, Native Instruments (Pianos), Spire, Hammer + Waves, Heavyocity (Ascend and Mosaic Keys), Diva, SynthMaster, Alchemy 1.55, Addictive Keys, Unify


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funkninja
(@funkninja)
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@ssquared Thank you very much for your thoughts.

The model I'm looking at has 1 USB C type 3.2, as well as 2 x 3.2 and 1x2 (presumably A type).

I was looking at a 1TB main drive and 1TB 2nd drive (both SSD) for samples (I use a combo of samples and synths) with probably 32gb ram. Hopefully this will future proof it a bit.

My plan was to usb it to my Soundcraft Notepad desk (I'll have 2 keyboards and guitar to send to the pa). I'm hoping the D/A converters in that will do the trick. 

That's the current plan. I've got a few weeks until I have to firm it up and commit to a spec. 

Thanks 🙂


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SSquared
(@ssquared)
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@funkninja

Looking good.  I have started using an external 1TB drive which has been working out great.  I no longer have concerns about purchasing sample libraries and downloading the NI Komplete libraries.  I'm sure a day will come when I will need something bigger.  😀 

The only thing I would reiterate is to be sure the USB-C is not also used for powering the device.

Let us know how it works out once you get it all up and running.  It will be good to hear your experiences with it playing live.  I play live and am interested in reading stories from others.

Ableton Live 10, Omnisphere, Native Instruments (Pianos), Spire, Hammer + Waves, Heavyocity (Ascend and Mosaic Keys), Diva, SynthMaster, Alchemy 1.55, Addictive Keys, Unify


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funkninja
(@funkninja)
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@ssquared Thanks dude. I'm thinking to go for a 1TB 2nd drive and get an external in the unlikely event I need more.

The laptop comes with a power supply so I don't think the USB C is to power it.

Will keep you informed about how it goes 🙂


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funkninja
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Just to follow up. Here is the spec I went for:

Intel® Core™ i5 Six Core Processor i5-12600 (3.3GHz) 18MB Cache
Memory (RAM) 16GB Corsair 3200MHz SODIMM DDR4 (2 x 8GB)
Graphics Card NVIDIA® GeForce® RTX 3060 - 6.0GB GDDR6 Video RAM - DirectX® 12.1
1st M.2 SSD Drive 1TB INTEL® 670p M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD (up to 3500MB/sR | 2500MB/sW)
2nd M.2 SSD Drive 1TB INTEL® 670p M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD (up to 3500MB/sR | 2500MB/sW)

So after much deliberation I decided to trade 25% fewer cores for a 50% increase in speed and the next gen of cpu. It works great! As Shane pointed out, the increased core speed does mean the fans occasionally get louder, possibly enough to be picked up by a mic in a home studio, but as this is a live setup that isn't an issue and it runs quiet and comfortable with a regular Unify + Omnisphere patch. 

The SSD drives are VERY fast. Windows 11 starts from shutdown as fast as an HDD system from sleep, and even loading a heavier plugin like Analog Lab happens fast enough so as not to cause delays.

I'm still blown away by how easy Unify makes all this. It's the centre of the system and it's really great to be able to use my favourite plugins so easily.


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