I bought an Asus laptop with 15.6 inch HD display (touch screen), Intel i5 processor and 12gb of ram.. It has 3 usb3 inputs/outputs, a backlit keyboard and runs the latest Windows 10 Anniversary Edition. I was using JRivers 21 set for DSD output connected to a Wyred4Sound DAC2DSD with Femto Clock.. I used it for music only like you want and turned off most of the unnecessary services. I believe I spent around 800.00 at Best Buy this summer as it was a brand new item that had just came in. I am no longer using it now as I went with a Sony Music Server to save space on the audio rack. If interested, pm me as I am selling it at a very reasonable price. Here is a link to the model:
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You would probably get more info on the Win10 forum.( www.tenforums.com/)
FWIW, why not build your own machine?
It's pretty easy and you can get all the things you want or need and not spend on unnecessary items.
I built my win10 micro atx pc so I can stream music throughout the house and it works like a charm. I like streaming/digital music so much that I have not played a CD in months
My setup is getting a bit old, so I am sure there are better setups.
As far as turning off superfluous programs, I have found Win10 to be pretty good at managing. For a home system, Win 10 home edition should be more than adequate.
First, as you undoubtedly realize the answers to most questions regarding configuration of a computer for audio applications figures to be dependent on the specific computer, the specific DAC that is being used, and the specific system, and therefore to not have a great deal of predictability. So I would resist any temptation to extrapolate too broadly from experiences you may see reported. One reason for that, among many, being the rapid pace of changes in computer technology, meaning that experiences from just a year or two ago may no longer be relevant.
That said, my perception has been that approaches which seem to be recommended with a high degree of consistency include playback of music files from a drive other than the one on which the operating system and programs are running (which you are already doing); running the operating system and programs on an SSD rather than on a mechanical hard drive; and having a goodly amount of RAM (e.g., 8 or 16 gB).
Beyond that, my suspicion is that choosing the generation of the Intel CPU that is used is likely to be a much more significant factor than choosing between an i3 or i5 or i7, each of those designations having been available across multiple generations. Specifically, I would suggest that your choice be one of the latest 6th generation Intel CPUs. Due to their considerably reduced power consumption, compared to CPUs from previous generations having comparable speeds, I suspect that the 6th generation devices will generate significantly less digital noise, that may ultimately affect jitter at the point of D/A conversion.
Regarding Windows 10 Home vs. Pro, I have no direct audio-related experience, but having looked at descriptions of their differences, and having used both for non-audio purposes, I see no reason to not go with the less expensive Home version, as Bob (Gdnrbob) suggested.
Regarding AMD processors, I have no basis for an opinion.
Regarding eliminating "fluff," assuming a reasonably capable recent generation processor I suspect that a more important factor than turning off unneeded Windows processes would be having the machine free of useless third party "crapware." Which these days seems to come copiously pre-loaded on machines from most of the major (and even minor) manufacturers, and can often be troublesome to fully eliminate.
Which brings me to my specific recommendation, if you decide to go with a laptop as you indicated, rather than building your own small computer as Bob suggested (which is also an approach well worth considering). Having owned laptops made by Asus and Sager, and having significant experience helping others deal with problems involving laptops made by HP, Dell, Lenovo, etc., (and also having built numerous desktop machines myself), by far my most positive experience with a laptop and with a laptop supplier has been with one I bought earlier this year from a company called Eluktronics. Like Sager and some other small companies they customize laptops OEM’d by a Taiwanese company called Clevo, but they do it well, and by virtually all accounts (including mine) are a great company to deal with. Especially among computer manufacturers :-) And the Eluktronics branded computers they sell are totally devoid of crapware, with only the Windows OS and necessary drivers installed. I wanted a powerful model for non-audio applications, and so I purchased one of their somewhat upscale models, the PRO15RE, configured with a number of extra-cost options, but I suspect one of their lower priced models would serve you well for audio.
Regarding your preference for a backlit keyboard, btw, the PRO15RE I bought includes a very nice one, as well as a beautiful IPS display. I haven’t checked, but I believe that many and possibly all of their less expensive models are similar in those respects.
I have no affiliation with Eluktronics or any other computer (or audio-related) company, other than as a very satisfied customer.
Good luck. Regards,
Some great ideas. As usual Al as posted an very thoughtful & informative response. Been digging through the net hoping to enlighten myself a little further. Once again my mind has been douched with an onslaught of information. Makes me want to drop the needle on some vinyl.....
Like others now I almost never spin disks as I use the computer and the awesome Benchmark DAC. Looking forward to getting this put together.
Cheers to all,
My earlier post wasn't very detailed as I am not the most current with PC technology- I only do lots of research when I am building my new PC's- so I tend not to look at things for 4-5 years.
As Al said, and thanks for the kind words Al, getting something with the latest chip iteration is my favorite way to build.
The new Intel Skylake processors have been on my radar for a while now.
If you are only using it for music playback, even an I5 should be overkill.
8 gigs of memory should be fine, but 16 gigs is always nice. I think a Win 64 bit is the best way to go for an operating system. And, a SSD for the main drive, say 256 gb, should be more than enough for running the OS and adding programs. An external drive can slow things down, it would be better if it was a separate drive in the PC, but it should not be a problem/bottleneck if it is connected by USB 3, or the newer USBC or Thunderbolt 2.
The Eluktronics laptops Almarg mentioned look like a very reasonably priced way to get what you need without the bother of assembly- though I assure you, once you have built a PC, you won't buy a pre-assembled one again. It is easily accomplished and rewards you with the knowledge of what makes it work.
I really like a laptop for ease. They are so powerful now & I can move it any place with such ease. I even want a very small screen size. I dig my Samsung series 9 just for that reason. Perhaps another one is in order. It has an SSD hard drive, it is super thin, light and reliable as a rock. Maybe I can get my IT guy at work to strip the fluff programs off it so i can run JRiver and listen to Radio Paradise & Tidal without any back round junk running.
John, I have to say those laptops Almarg recommended can not only be configured to your needs, but are a very good deal, IMHO.
I spec out one with 16gb memory, a 1TB hybrid drive and 128gb M2 (C drive for under $1K
They also seem like they wouldn't have the usual bloatware that major laptop manufacturers would add, but don't quote me...
They also seem like they wouldn't have the usual bloatware that major laptop manufacturers would add, but don't quote me...Yes, that's true, Bob. The only software they install on Eluktronics branded laptops is Windows and necessary drivers.
Also, until the end of November they are offering a promo code discount on configurations pricing out at $1K or greater.
BTW, M.2 SSDs are amazing! I have a 256 gB "Eluktro Pro-X Performance M.2 PCIe SSD" (which is actually a Samsung) in my Pro15RE, for which HD Tune measures read speeds of around 1150 MB/second. That's not a typo!