I use a Lenovo T60p laptop to record 32 tracks over USB just fine. It has a Core2 Duo processor and 2gb ram
An i3 should be plenty of processing power for recording 8 tracks. Get aas much ram as you can and if there is an option for a solid state hard rive, it will help, but not required.
After eight excellent years of service, my MOTU 896 Original died around Thanksgiving last fall. MOTU no longer repairs these, so I was left with no choice but to buy a newer model. Angry at the abandonment of my investment, I looked at competitors products, but found nothing with 8 phantom powered XLR inputs in an affordable under $2K package that could do 24/96 sample rates.
Now this system worked perfectly with my Sony GRX560 laptop for eight years. No problems with firewire at all. Ever.
Reluctantly, I came back to MOTU with my tail between my legs, and bought the 896mk3 Hybrid to replace my Original.
Problem: the Sony laptop didn't even SEE this new MOTU, so although the driver's installed fine (after updating Windows XP to SP2 and then SP3), the MOTU acted like it was not connected. I spent 3 weeks on that problem, reinstalling everything, trying different service packs, etc. Something is different with the firewire on the new MOTU, as it is no longer detected on the laptop.
So I decided, since that laptop was getting long in the tooth, I bought a Lenovo W500 to replace it. Optimistic that my problems were over, and this having Windows 7 Pro 64-bit installed, I merrily installed the MOTU drivers, which went without a hiccup, plugged in the MOTU 896 mk3H and waited.. but nothing happened. No MOTU devices found. :-( I spent weeks on this little problem, but to no avail.
Finally, I gave up on the firewire and tried the USB capability. MOTU detected and fired right up! But I soon discovered the weakness of USB for realtime audio. The recordings it made had dropouts every few seconds. Even the pass through echoed audio was dropping out! I spent a week researching Win 7 tweaks for audio, and disabled everything. The biggest help was disabling ACPI Battery Device. That reduced the dropouts by 50%. But I was still getting dropouts.
Now my ancient Sony laptop with probably not 1/10th the processing and disk speed of the Lenovo was able to record multi-hour 8 channel concerts at 24/96 with never a dropped sample, ever. So why couldn't this brawny dual CPU core laptop with a drive that reads and writes 108MB/sec record without dropouts? I figure it must be the USB ports. I researched the issue and found that USB, unlike firewire, does not go directly to RAM--it passed through the CPU and a bunch of other stuff along the way. CPU background processes can disrupt the audio stream and samples get dropped.
I found that I could only minimize, but not completely eliminate the problem. I've gotten it down to one dropout per hour, but this is still unacceptable for classical concerts synched to multiple HD cameras. It's a very frustrating search to find a box that works well. Maybe the best thing is to buy a used MOTU 896 Original and go back to what works.