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What Type of Computer is best to begin this process?

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I don't currently own a personal computer, and I'm looking to get one (laptop or desktop) that would work when I start needing to sequence my own songs, or at least combine purchased sequenced songs. I just bought the LOR TSO package for this year, which includes the miniDirector and the Pro Level license for ShowTime Designer. I had the show up and running, and it looked great. I've got 48 channels currently. I would love to add a lot more in the future, including some pixels. 

What type of computer would be best to look into? I'm having trouble spending to much $ on a computer just for this, as I wouldn't use it for anything else at home. In the near term I basically just need something I can combine the sequenced songs onto to play with the director. Would it make sense to get a cheap laptop for now, and buy a better machine in a few years as the need arises?  

Secondly, in terms of combining the songs, I'm not exactly sure of the process yet, but I'll do more searching on here over the next few months for next year's show. I'm assuming the miniDirector will be enough for now, and only once I start adding pixels will I need to probably upgrade to running off a computer? If that's the case, is it better to run of a desktop or a laptop? 

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Posted (edited)

I have had good luck with refurbished computers... both desktop and laptop, Check out NewEgg or TigerDirect.

 

I run my show of a Gateway 10" netbook running Win10. I did a clean install of Windows and only have the basic/minimum stuff on there. Only used to run the show, the programming is done on a different laptop.

Edited by rcktpwrd

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Best Buy is having a huge sale right now on Open Box computers. I picked up a win10 i7 processor, 16gb ram and a 512 ssd for $700. Walked past a new model on the way out and it was priced at $1,400. And that was a week before the sale. Wish I had waited, lol...

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I have also had very good luck with refurb computers from either Tiger direct or Dell.  Saves a ton of money.

For a show computer, you don't need all that much.  For sequencing, a faster computer with better video is a big help.

 

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15 hours ago, rcktpwrd said:

I have had good luck with refurbished computers... both desktop and laptop, Check out NewEgg or TigerDirect.

 

12 hours ago, k6ccc said:

I have also had very good luck with refurb computers from either Tiger direct or Dell.  Saves a ton of money

I have as well. I'm lucky enough to have a Micro Center nearby. Last year I bought a refurb desktop for $79. The nice thing about it is that it has EIGHT USB ports. They guys in the store looked at me REALLY funny until I explained what I was going to use it for. The only drawback was it's onboard video card wouldn't support this year's upgrade to S5. I think I spent $29 for an add-on card and it's been great ever since.

You can find Micro Center online. This looks like the newer model of my $79 which is now $99, but more  memory and faster speed. Not sure what shipping would be.

$99 Refurb desktop computer

 

 

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3 minutes ago, tlogan said:

The only drawback was it's onboard video card wouldn't support this year's upgrade to S5. I think I spent $29 for an add-on card and it's been great ever since.

Let me guess - the required OpenGL driver version could not be upgraded on the onboard video?  I have the same issue on my file server (which runs the year round landscaping show from January - mid October).  For me, it's not that big of a problem as I don't sequence on that computer.  I can use any of the LOR S5 programs except Sequencer.

 

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1 hour ago, k6ccc said:

Let me guess - the required OpenGL driver version could not be upgraded on the onboard video?

DING! DING! DING! WE have a WINNER! That was fast on the buzzer....are you on the Jeopardy Tournament tonight?

Yes, onboard was OpenGL1.0 and because it is a refurb was out of support by Lenova AND the board manufacturer. I tried for a about week to update it but it was faster and easier to just put a minimum board in there that supported the OpenGL version for S5 and, thankfully, it can be upgraded as as it is from one of the major third party manufacturers. Still, it was a GREAT bargain.

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On 1/6/2020 at 9:30 PM, k6ccc said:

I have also had very good luck with refurb computers from either Tiger direct or Dell.  Saves a ton of money.

For a show computer, you don't need all that much.  For sequencing, a faster computer with better video is a big help.

 

So would you suggest having two separate computers, one cheap one to run the show and faster, better video card one for sequencing? Is sequencing on a laptop vs desktop more just a personal preference? 

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6 minutes ago, PostmasterX said:

So would you suggest having two separate computers, one cheap one to run the show and faster, better video card one for sequencing? Is sequencing on a laptop vs desktop more just a personal preference? 

Yes.  I paid less than $200 for my current show computer in 2017 (it's a middle of the road Intel i5 based Dell desktop), so I don't really mind having it sit out in my data cabinet and turned off (unplugged) for 9 months of the year.  It gets turned on in mid October and I spend a while getting all the Windows updates taken care of and update the LOR software.  It then runs Halloween and Christmas and gets turned off in early to mid January (it got shut off last Monday after moving the year round landscape lighting show over to my server).

For sequencing (especially if you have lots of pixels), you want something that is faster and more importantly, has better video.  Multiple monitors are a HUGE plus.  My current family room computer which is what I use for almost all of my sequencing is a fairly high end gaming computer with what was at the time, the next to the best video card on the market.  It is driving two 24 inch monitors, and I will be adding a third monitor when I re-arrange the desk some and make space.  I am also sequencing about 22,000 pixels.

Laptop vs desktop.  This comes up very regularly.  Unless you NEED portability, stick with a desktop.  I have a laptop and I do occasionally sequence something on it, but the lack of screen space is a big limitation.  Also, for a given amount of money, you get a lot more computer with a desktop.  A desktop is easier to repair or add on to than a laptop too.

 

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3 minutes ago, k6ccc said:

Yes.  I paid less than $200 for my current show computer in 2017 (it's a middle of the road Intel i5 based Dell desktop), so I don't really mind having it sit out in my data cabinet and turned off (unplugged) for 9 months of the year.  It gets turned on in mid October and I spend a while getting all the Windows updates taken care of and update the LOR software.  It then runs Halloween and Christmas and gets turned off in early to mid January (it got shut off last Monday after moving the year round landscape lighting show over to my server).

For sequencing (especially if you have lots of pixels), you want something that is faster and more importantly, has better video.  Multiple monitors are a HUGE plus.  My current family room computer which is what I use for almost all of my sequencing is a fairly high end gaming computer with what was at the time, the next to the best video card on the market.  It is driving two 24 inch monitors, and I will be adding a third monitor when I re-arrange the desk some and make space.  I am also sequencing about 22,000 pixels.

Laptop vs desktop.  This comes up very regularly.  Unless you NEED portability, stick with a desktop.  I have a laptop and I do occasionally sequence something on it, but the lack of screen space is a big limitation.  Also, for a given amount of money, you get a lot more computer with a desktop.  A desktop is easier to repair or add on to than a laptop too.

 

Thanks for the response. I currently have a home "office" room that I've had to turn into storage for all my lights. I recently had a fire that burned down all my storage areas outside, and insurance refused to cover replacing them. Since I don't use a computer at home now, I was trying to decide if I go ahead a get a decent desktop, clean out the office and try to find other storage, or do I get a laptop that I could just use to sequence in my living room. I'm hoping to get into pixels this year, and to learn the hardware/software process with those. I figure with CES just happening, there may be some good deals on computers right now. I've got an old desktop lying around that I built about 10 years ago, that I honestly don't remember what all I put in it.  

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So for the past few years I've done all my sequencing on a Dell laptop i3 processor with 4gb ram and a 512gb 5400 rpm hard drive. I did not run any smart pixels with it (some dumb rgb this year), but between it and an external monitor it was more than enough to sequence in S4. The external monitor is a must as I put my visualizer on the laptop monitor and the sequencing software on the external monitor and it made it much easier. The laptop also runs the show, so I would stop sequencing about a week or so before my start date. Some days though I would unhook it and add a song if it was a slow Saturday or Sunday.

Then came the video editing, which was just unbearable.  Using just one camera angle and audio it was killing me to edit that video. So, this year I picked up the laptop I describe above just because of the video editing and I'm also planning to add a lot of smart pixels. So now the old laptop is just sitting there waiting to play shows again this November.

I say, once you sequence with two monitors you'll wonder how you ever dealt with just one. It's also nice to just turn around every now and then and cast it to my TV and watch the video on the big screen. This year I filmed 3 camera angles for the show (I have a lot of trees in my yard to film around, lol) and editing it on the new machine is a breeze.

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My eyesight went on the fritz this year. I plugged the HDMI port on my laptop into the 50" Samsung HDTV (1080) using a 15' HDMI cord.

YES! There are tiny little RGB boxes to sequence 😀

No extra HDMI/DVI ports on your Laptop /desktop. ?   https://smile.amazon.com/Diamond-Multimedia-Graphics-1920x1080-1600x1200/dp/B00BN5FI8K/ref=pd_cp_147_2/145-4610184-3189205?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B00BN5FI8K&pd_rd_r=5ff5b310-ed5d-46b0-9d02-c1b68ecee1df&pd_rd_w=0rD4m&pd_rd_wg=2uehT&pf_rd_p=0e5324e1-c848-4872-bbd5-5be6baedf80e&pf_rd_r=E9B3QGZSXPGMK113PJ56&psc=1&refRID=E9B3QGZSXPGMK113PJ56 (I have the USB2 version on my desktop 👍. Plug and play W10)

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I have been using an old iMac for the first 5 years I have used LOR. I set up bootcamp with Windows 10. Following the 2019 show season, I purchased a new Lenovo Ideacenter, open box at Best Buy, for about $150. I chose this because it had 4 USB ports up front and 3 in the back. Then I purchased an LG ultrawide display at Microcenter for about $150. I upgraded my mouse to something nicer than what comes with the standards, so for about $400 and change I have a new Win10 desktop, display and all the goodies. It has made life a little easier than using a Mac with Windows. The sales people thought I was crazy when I said I did not care how fast it was, that drive storage and usb ports were more critical. So far so good. I say go find the best deal you can. I even asked my friends on facebook if anyone had a PC to give a way, and while I got some yes answers, the delays in getting the unit made me choose to buy new.

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So what laptop would be best. Since I do most of my programming away from home . Right now I am just starting into pixels . Two sets of ccp might add two more . 4 rgb ribbon arches . Would like to add two matrixes , and hopefully I can add the p10 panel I bought 2 years ago but ran into problem of getting custom mounting panels. I do have 14 controllers

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4 hours ago, kingfish said:

So what laptop would be best. Since I do most of my programming away from home . Right now I am just starting into pixels . Two sets of ccp might add two more . 4 rgb ribbon arches . Would like to add two matrixes , and hopefully I can add the p10 panel I bought 2 years ago but ran into problem of getting custom mounting panels. I do have 14 controllers

Something with a 17" display and loads of RAM :)  and a DVI port for when you want a to use another monitor or TV with it.

My old L675 Toshiba had a 2 core AMD , it seemed to do fine.  To me, the touchpad operation is most important if you can't use a mouse with it. Try before you BUY.

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My daughter gave me an old Dell desktop   Dell OptiPlex 755      Processor Intel (r)  core (tm) Duo CPU    2.66GHZ    Ram 4.00 GB    64 Bit   Can I run the  S5 show on this computer ?  Sequencing on a different computer.  Thanks Dennis

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It will run it just fine.  Could be a bit slow for sequencing except for a very small show, but as you plan on sequencing on a different computer, this should be fine.

 

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Thanks Jim appreciate the knowledge as always .  Dennis

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I have a Optiplex 780, w/8G RAM  Core Duo 3.07GHz and it runs 4.4.4 just fine. If you can, ADD/UPGRADE  RAM to 8G

W10 uses a good chunk of that before Apps.  Older DDR3 RAM should be cheap (2 @ 4G strips $33)

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thanks  TheDucks  I'll look into upgrading the ram.  Dennis

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