Topic: Laptop success...
Just thought I would post my positive experience with finding a budget laptop that works very well with my Multiface 2. Please see my previous post: http://www.rme-audio.de/forum/viewtopic.php?id=10596 relating to this subject.
The laptop is the Lenovo/IBM Thinkpad T60 (T60p). Please note that this is a 4-5 year old model, but there are many available on the used market. I’ve purchased 2 in excellent “low milage” shape. Paid around $300 US for each.
The reasons I wanted this particular model are very specific:
1) It has the Merom chipset which can take a Core 2 Duo T7200 (this is what I have)/T7400/T7600 and has TI PCMCIA and Expressport.
2) It is basically an Intel/TI box. It has some Atmel security stuff and the Analog Devices audio chip, but you can disable these in the BIOS and/or Device Manager.
3) It is a sturdy unit.
4) Parts are cheap and plentiful...lots of documentation available on the web for DIY.
5) Can run a 64 bit OS with a C2D CPU.
6) Good battery life. There are 2 battery options...a 6 cell and a 9 cell.
7) Double insulated 2 pin 90W power supply (http://www.soundonsound.com/forum/showf … ber=690190).
8) Has the Ultrabay which can be used for a 2nd drive or battery in place of the standard DVD/CDRW.
This model is in kind of a “sweet spot” for audio laptops. It is fairly powerful (SATA 1/C2D)...but precedes the Penryn and beyond laptop chipsets (T61 for example) with all of the inherent and confusing audio symptoms. It is not a replacement for a high powered DAW...RAM is capped at 3GB (you can run 2 x 2GB interleaved, but the chipset will only address 3GB) and the T7600 is the fasted CPU you can install...but nevertheless it is a very capable performer.
I put a 60GB OCZ SSD on the main SATA bus and a 500GB 7200rpm drive in the Ultrabay. I have a very streamlined/tweaked (nLite) XP Pro-32 sp3 OS with all firmware and drivers up to date.. I have turned off all of the peripheral hardware in the BIOS except for the Intel wireless which I enable/disable in the Device Manager as needed. I also disable ACPI battery management in the Device Manager. I’m using the RME PCMCIA card although the T60 will also take the Expresscard. The T60 does not have built-in firewire, but because of the onboard TI circuitry, I’m fairly certain a TI firewire card would be troublefree for Fireface users.
Testing with DPC Latency Checker ( www.thesycon.de/eng/latency_check.shtml ) I get excellent average readings of between 8-12 microseconds with the occasional 20-30 microsecond blip. I can record all 18 Multiface audio channels at 64 samples (3ms) of latency without a hitch...and with all inputs and outputs activated in software (Reaper). The Reaper performance meter reads at about 15-20% during recording. The MIDI response is as good or better than my desktop DAW. I have not tested maximum track/VSTI/plugin count but I’m sure I could easily mix a modest project if necessary.
The one annoyance is the fan which can be controlled somewhat with a dedicated app called TP FanControl, but this certainly is not your silent 120mm desktop variety. I’m looking into modding this for better noise performance.
So...suffice it to say that I am more than satisfied with the T60, with kudos to the Multiface 2 which lives up to its excellent reputation.
I hope this post may be of some help to those seeking a budget mobile recording setup.
(PS: I’ll be cross-posting this in the SOS forums)