Eluktronics Mag-15u mini review: A nice PC laptop for music

Configure and optimize you computer for Audio.
Schmidi
KVRist
220 posts since 23 Apr, 2011 from Seattle WA

Post Thu May 21, 2020 8:42 am

I have been researching a new laptop for the last month, and I believe I've found a winner for audio work. I thought I would share my findings in case it help in anyone's quest for a good audio production and gig ready laptop.

Initially I was all about getting a gaming laptop. I know from my own experience that a dedicated GPU really helps when you have a lot of GUI elements moving in real time (VU meters, etc), and plugins are getting more GUI fancy all the time.

The big thing I learned when researching is that most gaming rigs are pushed to the absolute limits of their thermal possibilities, yet manufacturers are still trying to make them slimmer and lighter while at the same time overclocking them. This often causes thermal throttling, and when you look on forums you repeatedly read about having to perform UNDERvolting (as opposed to overclocking). There are fancy liquid metal cooling/heatsink solutions, but you must realize that these are recommended to be reapplied every six months! That's a lot of maintenance and room for errors!
I've read tons of thermal throttling complaints about the major brands. I absolutely wanted to avoid that as I regularly perform live with my laptops.

If all this power has to be tuned down in order to not overheat the laptop, what is the use in having so much power in the first place! So I went a different route and started looking at 2in1s and ultrabooks (which slim sizes present their own thermal issues). Last week I demo'd and returned a nice Lenovo C940 2in1, due to terrible wifi speeds and very poor DPC latency (beautiful design, sh!t components)

After that I found a very nice alternate to the gaming machines that still has a dedicated GPU. I just received an Eluktronics Mag-15u yesterday and it appears to be an excellent production and performance machine at a very reasonable price. Initially I was looking at a gaming machine, but I wanted more portability and battery life (something gaming books suck at).

This is the config I bought: https://www.amazon.com/Eluktronics-MAG- ... r=8-1&th=1

The i7 in this is a bit older, but raw speed has really not changed a ton over the last 5 years, and honestly audio work doesn't require a billion gHz if you work efficiently. (The new RyZen 4000's are the only CPU I wish it had due to their low power consumption vs performance)

Basically this is a super long life battery, super lightweight but well constructed (all magnesium alloy) 15" that still has a dedicated GPU. That's exactly what I wanted.

DPC latency (THE most important bench for audio work) is excellent so far (measured with latencymon).

Windows: no bloatware at all!

Build: feels sturdy, 2nd only to my old Elitebooks (which I rate as "take into battle" tough). very minimal fingerprints too!

Keyboard: (I am no great typist mind you), has a satisfying travel and click. Backlight is a NON-blinding solid white.

Trackpad: plenty good, but I very much wish it had left and right dedicated buttons.

Screen: plenty good for me (I believe around 320 nits per youtube reviews). (I'm no RGB power user mind you)

Thermals: appear to hover around 40c which is great. The laptop remains cool to the touch on all surfaces.

Graphics: haven't really tested games, but this does have the higher 25 watt MX250. All benches I've seen rate it well above 100FPS in Overwatch if that's any marker for you.

Battery Life: Best I've ever had in a laptop, bar none. I have downloaded and installed over 50 plugs, 15 sample libraries, Three DAWs, performed windows audio optimizations/updates/driver installs and I still have 40% on my battery (I've at least had it running for 10 hours on battery + a full 8 hours on sleep not plugged in). I'm estimating 20 hours + of actual use is possible here!

Fans: so far silent during the above tasks.

Cons: only 1 ram slot but many bench's show that this doesn't effect the majority of processing tasks nearly as much as we think. (I had to see some online benches myself to get over this belief as well)

Wish it had a few more USB ports, but I'm spoiled by my old beast tank HP 8770w (multiple of every port you could think of including 5 USBs!)

Anyway, I promise to update if things go south. So far it's about the best mix of features and performance to price that I have found outside of 2011-2015 used Elitebooks.

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