Absolute Best Hardware for linux/ardour in 2023

And Behringer will produce an “Inspired by” version at a third of the price.



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To anyone who finds themselves in the same situation…
I was able to get an ASUS Pro A520M II which has a PCI slot. I found this through the site pcpartpicker.com. The machine is up and running and the RMI HDSP 9632 seems to be working fine.

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I bought a new laptop recently specifically for my audio workstation and here are some considerations that I needed to take into account.

Whether you need the “best” or a “decent” one depends on your usage. I had a decent one, a bit but not too optimized e.g. no peripherals, no unrelated processes running on the background etc. It was fine for recording and editing stuff in Ardour, it would start having issues if I would use many tracks and/or many plugins i.e. significant digital processing.

But where it wouldn’t cope was in live performances. I would use it, for example, with Pianoteq and it would pretty regularly throw glitches in the middle of performances. Add a couple of other plugins such as equalizing, distortion etc, with or without Ardour for recording the performance, and forget about it, I wouldn’t rely on it at all for live.

I therefore needed more processing power. I went for Asus ROG Strix G18 that has the i9-13980HX core. I liked the recent innovation from Intel with performance and efficiency cores and I thought I would try. I could only find it on gaming laptops. I only have it for a few days so far, without trying to optimize it at all yet, I tried to abuse it with Pianoteq - no sweat.

I needed a laptop vs desktop for portability i.e. live performances.

It also needed to be silent, both for not having to locate it in another room when making recordings at home, but also for not making noise in live performances. Fans are not fun. This laptop has a number of predefined and configurable modes, including a silent mode where the fans will automatically kick in only when needed. I have not tested its limits yet, but so far it’s been amazingly silent.

I added a WD_Black SN770 NVMe SSD hard drive, that is supposedly faster than other WD models. Both read and write is important, I believe. This is where I have found issues, I did sometimes get Ardour complaining that the hard disk was not able to cope with writing when recording MIDI. Which was surprising since I thought that recording MIDI should be more efficient than audio. I haven’t investigated the issue yet though, it may not be the laptop or the hard disk.

The battery seems to be defective, very short lived unlike what it is advertised as. Might ask for support, but I don’t mind so much because I wouldn’t rely on just battery either on studio or on live. I’m not going to be keeping an eye on the battery while recording, editing or performing, and I wouldn’t want undesired surprises in the middle of a performance.

The point of this post was not to promote the specific laptop in any way, just the different considerations I had to take into account for choosing it.

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