New gig laptop...Intel I7 or I9?

For around 1800 I can get a Lenovo with a tenth generation i7 1065 G7 at 1.3GHz… which of course is not all that fast. Or about 600 more I can get a 9th gen I-9 9980HK that clocks at 2.4 GHz, or a 9th gen I7-9700 at 3.0 GHz. Going to get 32 gig of RAM no matter which one I choose.

I’ve read up quite a bit on it and also remember Brad’s recommendation that single-core speed is one of the more important factors, but have also read that lately most software and VSTIs are optimized for multi-core performance now anyway. The I-9 has 8 cores, and of course the I7s have four.
Can anyone shed some light on this? It’s been a long time since I’ve upgraded my gig rig so I don’t mind spending the extra money, but I do want something that’s going to handle anything I can throw at it in a gig, running many plugins and VSTis plus several backing tracks on several songs as well. Thanks and happy egg hunting!

Several threads on this:

Personally, my son recently sent a refurb HP EliteBook 840 G2 14" Laptop, Intel i5 5300U 2.3GHz, 16GB DDR3 RAM, 1TB SSD Hard Drive, Win 10 Pro. It is blazing!! Never thought I would run Omnisphere/Keyscape at less than 20% CPU load. The i5 is amazing. Best part is he paid less than $400 US for it.

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This- save money, get a refurb. I have two i7s, something like 5th gen, 2.2 GHz speed range, 16GB RAM and they fly. No worries at all. a high gen i5 is gonna be fine too as Corky says.

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Great thanks guys. I’ve been using an old I7 too…2640M I believe 2.3 GHz but only 8gb RAM. Probably going with the 9th gen I7 3Ghz but need to verify hyperthreading first… but having the extra horsepower is always a good thing.

First, I want to excuse my bad English. But I hope my points gets clear.

I did the same before Christmas - look for a new laptop. And I did the same “mistake” as you currently do. CPU (cores and speed) are not the main topics to look for. Especially not with a lot of VSTs and effects.

My first choice was a Lenovo X1 Extreme 2nd Gen - nearly 2.400 EUR - heavy. And DPC latency was worse than my 5-year older Laptop (also Lenovo but a Thinkpad T41 Series). The result: I had to raise the buffer size for my Sound-Module to 512 samples to reduce clicks and drop-outs. I sent it back after failing to tweak it as needed. Now I have a Power-Horse ThinkPad P53. Same CPU, same clocking, same RAM - and a buffer-size for the same sound module that runs easily with 192 samples (and comparable projects even with 128 samples).

It’s the overall performance you have to look for. A light, slim (and nice) device normally drops performance. The P53 is thicker, has more weight and is less eye candy - but it works great - and was about 500 EUR cheaper. (Remember: Same CPU, same RAM and same clocking).

For me it was important to have all the modern ports (USB-C and Thunderbold) for any future devices. I’m planning to use this laptop for the next 4-6 years…

But it wasn’t the big jump camparing to my older laptop. Getting near real-time music is not only the CPU. To get that sorted: If you can render a song project in DAW faster than the song takes – then your CPU is not the bottleneck. Your CPU can handle even more – but for real-time there are some other components that’s have to go with the CPU. Looking back, I regretted the invest for the added performance – the step was to small.

Thanks, Joschic… your English is great, and thanks for info. While I mentioned that Lenovo, that’s not where I’m leaning, I’ll probably go with a custom build from a company I’ve bought 2 others before, and one is 15 years old and going strong :laughing: So yeah, I don’t want to get a slim laptop… this is primarily for live use with Cantabile, although I’ll definitely use it in my studio too. And fortunately I’m not in a penny pinching mode.

Other than DPC latency (and of course RAM and to some degree single thread speed,), what other factors have you found are important for Live use?

I may have 20 plugs open and several VSTi’s, including some cpu heavy guitar modeling and several Vsti’s, midi guitar, along with some backing tracks on some songs. And I’m considering running some mixing software from the interface simultaneously, if it works well and has the functionality I need (although I’m still not convinced that’s going to be solid enough for gigging). So overkill is OK!

Have you seen any important factors other than DPC latency, speed and to some degree cores?

I know Brad did some major work under the hood for multithreading a while back, but my understanding is that single thread speed, coupled with additional cores/multithreads, can also improve performance (depending on the plugs). I know many do fine with 2 cores/4 threads, and that’s what I have too, but my main Vsti’s support multithreads so I should get some performance increase. Of course, “should” is the operative word.

Anyway thanks for the info! I’ll report back when I get my grubby little hands on it and have tested it out.

In my search for a new laptop I posted this one just here…

I am checking all new features of new models.
New Intel processors seem promising (10th generation), but no solutions until now with H class processors (the fastest) outside gaming machines. Too big and expensive.
Keeping an eye open for new things coming out.
My experience is that good machines getting old (as my 4 years aged i7 Asus) would be perfectly right, but software drivers for cabled or aerial network, can be old and give latency problems.
In my machines NDIS drivers were always responsible for dangerous latency.
New machines are always better, because drivers are mantained.
This was my experience with an old Sony Vaio (latency on NDIS after Win10) and my current Asus.

Well, other factors… Proven drivers! ACPI-Drivers are a protentional troublemaker on Laptops – and they depend to the System BIOS (or UEFI). The same with the graphics card and its related driver. It’s not always true that a brand-new device runs as a charm. My current P53 received 3(!) BIOS updates before I was really happy with the overall performance. (Lots of tickets opened to Lenovo until they agreed to fix my issues.)

Regarding 10th gen CPUs. A share the opinions with the others here: Sound promising but very expensive. I wouldn’t go for this. The price is ~20-40% higher but the overall performance boost is about 3-10%. That doesn’t match for me – but maybe for you this is different.

My learning in the last years: Don’t try to put everything on one machine. Especially regarding mixing components. Nearly 2 years ago I separated mixing tasks to a 2nd machine and that was a big improvement for me. Taking care of 2 machines doesn’t sound that sweet but now the roles are clear.

One Device is only for mixing and recording. The other for VTSi’s and live performance. Depending on the occasion I can choose what I need and I got more flexible with that. My older Laptop takes care about the mixing and the new one is my sound workstation.

Hope that helps. :sunny:

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I think new generation machines are more expensive for some months, then they go down.
I use a laptop for live gigs. When I play I don’t mix.
But on my laptop I keep Reaper for small projects, like the one you can see on gig section. A good laptop is enough for me

If you’ve got the coin, go for it, but I bought a Dell Optiplex 990 Tower Desktop (mounted it in my rack), Quad Core i5, 3.4GHz, 16GB RAM, 2TB HDD, 500GB SSD, WiFi, Windows 10 Pro. Bought it refurb from Amazon…$174.99. 4USB 3.0 and 6 USB 2.0. The vendor is Skytech USA LLC. 2nd one I’ve gotten from them (bought one for my wife) and not one issue. It barely breaks a sweat. I run 5 media players and B-3X/Velvet simultaneously, as well as processing 3 vocals through an FX rack and haven’t hit the 25% plateau yet. Bought a B condition 17" monitor online for $22.00. A little over $200 and change for a system that does all I need and more if I ever want to.


Dang- I may see if I can snag one of those for myself…

Good luck…I’ve been looking.

Very interesting, SteveK, amazing price. I think/guess that one reason you’re getting such good performance is the 3.4GHz, the RAM and the SSD doesn’t hurt for large sample libraries too. Been busy lately but hoping to call my guy tomorrow and see what he says. And yeah, now I’m thinking of probably going with 9th gen, no need to waste $ on 10th… the i7-9700k seems promising and clocks 3.6Ghz. All good info, thanks everyone!

Currently running a Lenovo Legion Y740 8th gen Intel 16 gigs ram and never a stutter. 25 song set, multiple instances of SVT’s, samples, triggers and two controllers. All songs preloaded, fast switching. I actually think it’s kinda overkill.

I am sure. Those powerful legion gaming beasts are an option.
But I see a lot of weight and huge graphic performance.
I am looking for something with less graphics and weight, and same cpu performance.
Playing live I dream a 1 kilogram unit

Totally! Overkill as I stated. I ran an I5 Asus for 3 years also without a hiccup.

FWIW, here’s what I ended up with: a rack mounted 2U PC with Intel i7-9700k (3.6GHz), 32gb RAM, Thunderbolt 3 native, all on an Asus Z390 MB, 2 SSDs. I paired it with the new Quantum 2626 and I couldn’t be happier. It’s crazy quiet, and I use it in the studio too, although I added a small fan in the gator rack case for those summer outdoor gigs, just in case. I got a 6U gator ABS case, with the pc, Quantum, my wirelss, power codnitioner/surge. Pretty light, and very self contained… I throw the rack case and my guitar in the car’s trunk and I’m on my way.

I did look at mini ITX and similar, but I just don’t have the time to research/order components/build, so I went with a custom build guy. Plus I like the larger rack size for cooling and ease of repair/component swaps, and the ability to get that 9700K. I haven’t fully tested max plug capacity or run LatencyMon yet, but the moment I first plugged in, it felt like an amp… no noticeable latency at all! It’s probably around 4 or 5ms, at 44.1/64 samples. (And in the past I could definitely feel 10ms vs 15ms on my 2i4, so I’m pretty sensitive to that.) My highest load set list and songs, which sometimes choked/glitched at 44.1/128 (and in C3 load ran at 50-70%, doesn’t even break a sweat and is running at 5-10% on C3. I’m still loading software, tweaking it and setting it up to properly sync with my backup rig, but if anyone is interested in actual test numbers let me know and I’ll post when I get to that.

I’m sure this will be a great system for many years. Again, thanks for all the info from everyone!


Well, that should work lol Is it prying/rude to ask how much?? Like, ballpark maybe?

PC was around 2k. Could have saved several hundred building it myself but I just don’t have the time. Quantum was a steal at 600…best interface I’ve tried!

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