Minimum specs for different use cases

Hello. I’m looking to buy a new laptop to run Linux.

The manual doesn’t seem to say anything about specs. Does anyone have guidance about minimum specs for different Ardour use cases? User GMaq said recently that he runs his live rig with an old 2GB machine, but about how much more RAM is each effect/plugin likely to need per track? If RAM runs short, is rendering some tracks to .wav a feasible workaround?

I’d similarly be interested in tips about how much SSD would be useful, and CPU speed.

Thanks in advance.

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A specific answer to this question would require a lot more specifics to begin with. How many tracks you might be recording at a time, midi instruments, how many plugins, how extensively you would be using automation, etc.
But with that said… if you’re buying an actually new laptop, my guess is that you’ll be plenty fine. If you want, post the specs/build of the laptop you’re looking at purchasing and we can tell you if you’re more than good or cutting it close.

I can provide some data points from the machines I use:

  • My PC has an MSI B350 board, a Ryzen 7 1700 CPU, 32GB RAM and a spinning disk HDD.
    It can handle all of my projects very well. I upgraded from 16 to 32GB quite a while ago, because if I use DrumGizmo and all my guitar soundfonts at once, 16GB is just too less.
  • My laptop is a ~3 year old KDE Slimbook, with a Ryzen 7 4-thousand-something, 32GB RAM and a 1TB m2 SSD. In the BIOS I have set the CPU to “powersave” instead of “performance”, so the already great battery lifetime is enhanced a bit. Means: when fully charged, I can do a 6 hour recording session completely on battery for sure. Maybe even more.
    And it also can handle all of my projects very well.
  • An older laptop I used was a HP zBook with an Intel Core i7 (7th generation), again with 32GB RAM and an m2 SSD. This one definitely was too weak to handle some of my bigger projects (with ~80 tracks/busses and 96kHz sampling rate)
  • A much older laptop (some Thinkpad with some pre-i3/i5/i7 Celeron CPU) was just too slow to do even a single track recording at 48kHz into an empty session, even with 4GB RAM.

Some hints I could derive from this experience:

  • go with 44.1 or 48kHz sampling rate. 96k just isn’t worth it.
  • If the laptop still has a VGA connector and a built-in DVD drive, it might be too slow. :slight_smile:
  • if you do something with DrumGizmo or other kind of “synthesizers” that use multi-GB sample libraries in the background, then GMaq’s 2GB machine just would lock up completely. :sweat_smile:
    For cases like this, I’d say 16GB RAM is the absolute minimum you need and more might be necessary, depending on what exactly you want to do. Keep in mind that a super-fast CPU or SSD cannot compensate for too less RAM.


Great responses, thank you.

I’m thinking of the Linux laptops from the Spanish company VANT (I’m in Spain): MOOVE15 with 32GB DDR4/1TB SSD/i5 processor, that can be seen at the link below.

Their DDR5 machines are much more expensive. AIUI, the audio system is more or less completely standard.

I wouldn’t use the audio system built into any laptop I have come across for anything like serious work.

I would always use an external interface.




yeah what @Majik says. Even if you don’t need a lot of I/Os, I would grab a small 2i2 soundcard. The roland one or the focusrite scarlett should both be well under $80 on the used market.

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These look like Clevo’s. They will run Linux and perform fine but don’t expect much of the onboard audio. I’ve used a Clevo for about a decade, it still runs Ardour quite well.

Thanks for the tips: Clevo’s was a new name for me. Really I confused things by mentioning the onboard audio, which would not be for Ardour, but to play media. I already have a Tascam US2x2 interface which I use for recording.

I think I have things clear now. Thanks again.