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Author Topic: Best 14" Laptop for AVL + IT  (Read 2674 times)

Nathan Riddle

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Best 14" Laptop for AVL + IT
« on: January 10, 2022, 04:59:24 PM »

Intro:

If you're like me you hate the 'dongle life'.

As such, I have been searching everywhere for a decent laptop that I can use and recommend for all the various things I do in production.

Enter the Dell E5420 2021 Laptop.

It has everything a AVL + IT tech would need.

---

Preamble:

I do a lot of IT work, so a network port was required.
I like snappy speed. I can't stand a slow computer.
Touchscreen is just useful in so many ways.

I debated on the new macs a lot, and many other MFG/models.
Ultimately ports were my highest priority.

We bought 11 of these for my day job. They're fantastic. I did a ton of research and finally landed on this model.
My requirements: ethernet port, touchscreen, under 2k, 14", Win10Pro
My wants: finger print, USB A, TB3, good battery life

I wish it had a SD card reader instead of micro, but it's hard to get everything in one package without spending more.
I was worried about GPU performance, but I find it has no issues.

15" started seeming a bit too large for all the portable stuff I was doing. 14" is more manageable. And once I discovered the extra power of a 15" isn't necessary 14 is a no-brainer.

OFC the new MBC M1 chip is amazing and all that, but sadly while I heavily considered making one my daily driver they had a few things that I couldn't get over. 1 - lack of Ethernet (pedantic people can go away), no USB-A. I'd deal with the touchscreen and no face rec'g for the M1 chip and better speakers. But alas, I hate dongles.

Other laptops I compared/used:
-X1 carbon
-E7470 (2015)
-XPS
-MBP
-HP
-Lenovo Flex 14 (Ryzen 3500u) [great laptop for price ~$500]
-Lenovo C940 (10750H)

---

Body:

CPU - intel i5-1145g7 is a very powerful 10nm CPU and comes very close to i7-1165/85 counterparts in terms of performance, while still keeping TDP low for increased battery life.

I can't recommend the 14nm (10750H) offerings as they are super sluggish. I can't really recommend the 10nm 11500H based on power draw.

You might consider the e5421 variant with 11750H processor if you do a ton of rendering. But then you should be doing that on a TR or 5950X anyways. (or MBP M1 Pro Chip)

RAM - no this isn't LPDDR4X which makes me a bit sad for performance, but it is a big plus for upgraders. Easily put in any SODIMM kit that you like. I used TTZD432G3200HC22DC-S01
I'd get 16GB for 99% of applications. Win10 isn't that bad with memory management. Still, I got 32GB cuz...well why not for $110. Cas latency doesn't matter for Intel CPU's and our applications.

NVMe - Another plus is this is easily upgradable. Get the smallest size initially and do the upgrade yourself. I used the XPG SX8200 Pro

GPU - the built-in G7 80EU is plenty good, even for lightweight gaming (AOE2:DE). Get the 1165 (G7 96EU) if you need a bit more; but it's unlikely. (or connect an external eGPU)

Touchscreen - 10 point touch screen, don't get privacy shield it lowers brightness and isn't all that functional. ~250 nits isn't very bright. It's okay in the sunlight, not direct sunlight though.

Touchpad - multi-touch capable, all the normal win 10 swipes and such. Can't complain.

Keyboard - backlit, it's okay; 99wpm, I can do ~115 on mechanical. I wanted a 10-key touchpad for IP addresses as I do a ton of networking. But found that just isn't that useful after using my 15" c940 for awhile.

Chassis - plastic, but IDC, build quality is 'fine'

Ports - Gigabit LAN, WiFi 6, HDMI 2.0, 2xUSB-A 3.0, 2x  TB4 (DP 2.0, 40Gbps)

Battery - make sure to get a 4cell battery; will last all day

Speakers - they suck, same with 3.5mm TRRS port. But they get the job done for speech. Compared to MBP... it's no contest.

Windows Hello/Fingerprint reader - 'They' already have your fingerprint from the super high-res wedding photos on Facebook and your retina scanned from all the facetime/selfies so don't bother with the 'too much tech' argument. It's convenience and it's nice, best feature for logging in by far. Why don't the new Macbooks have this yet but still have have a massive mustache. Plus the camera has a shutter so you can watch movies, naked, in bed if you want, without fear.

Extended Warranty - get it, seriously. Mine came (from eBay) with a trackpad issue. submitted for a replacement. Tech came out next day, took her all of  10min and problem solved. No cost.

Win10 Pro - is a must, delay updates (or disable all together), remote desktop, etc.

Get office products from somewhere like brytesoft

Go buy Mixing Station and get to mixing!

---

Where to buy?

eBay, seriously. Upgrade the RAM/NVMe drive easily on your own. Make sure it's 'new in box' and has a dell warranty. (or buy it after the fact). And you've saved ~$1k of sticker price.

https://www.dell.com/en-us/work/shop/dell-laptops-and-notebooks/latitude-5420-laptop/spd/latitude-5420-laptop/cto1l542014us?redirectto=SOC&configurationid=8ec0f607-1fc5-4aaf-acae-ddb8d3a7adcd
---

AVL+IT software I install:

+---1 - Main
|   |   Ninite.exe
|   |   
|   \---Windows10Debloater-master
|       |   LICENSE
|       |   README.md
|       |   Windows10Debloater.ps1
|       |   Windows10DebloaterGUI.ps1
|       |   Windows10SysPrepDebloater.ps1
|               
+---2 - Productivity
|   |   BraveBrowserSetup.exe
|   |   
|   +---Office 2016         
|   +---Foxit Phantom PDF
|   +---Chrome
|   +---Windows7Games_for_Windows_11_10_8
|   |   
+---3 - IT
|   |   Advanced_IP_Scanner_2.5.3850.exe
|   |   ccsetup586.exe
|   |   HandBrake-1.4.2-x86_64-Win_GUI.exe
|   |   ImageGlass_8.2.6.6_x64.msi
|   |   OBS-Studio-27.1.3-Full-Installer-x64.exe
|   |   Tftpd64-4.64-setup.exe
|   |   Wireshark-win64-3.4.9.exe
|   |   teraterm-4.106.exe
|   |   balenaEtcher-Setup-1.5.122.exe
|   |   AeroAdmin.exe
|   |   rufus-3.17.exe
|   |   vs_community__604981674.1635340116.exe
|   |   UserBenchMark.exe
|   |   SupportAssistLauncher.exe
|   |   
|   +---VNC
|   |       VNC-Viewer-6.21.920-Windows.exe
|   |       tightvnc-2.8.63-gpl-setup-64bit.msi
|   |       
|   +---HashOptionRightClick
|   |       AddHashOptionRightClick.reg
|   |       RemoveHashOptionRightClick.reg
|   |       Add Hash_SHA1-256-512-MD5.reg
|   |       
|   +---syncthing-windows-amd64-v1.18.0     
|   +---ffmpeg
|   +---iperf2.0.9
|   +---iperf3.1.3
|   +---always-on-top
|   |       always-on-top.exe
|   |       readme.txt
|   |       
|   +---oldcalcWin11Win10
|   \---ExpressPCBSetup
|                         
+---5 - Shortcuts
|       Network Connections.lnk
|       Syncthing.url
|       
+---6 - np
|   |   dLive-Director-1.90-Installer (1).exe
|   |   XilicaDesignerSetup_4.3.0.exe.zip
|   |   EASE_Focus_v3.1.160.zip
|   |   reaper642_x64-install.exe
|   |   Install_Waves_Central.exe
|   |   Studio-2-Software (1).zip
|   |   BvNet-USB-Driver-Install-2_08_28_B.zip
|   |   DNA-System-Engineer-7.02.22-Updated-Presets (1).msi
|   |   direct_win (1).zip
|   |   Custom-Control-App-1.2.4-Installer.exe
|   |   Custom-Control-Editor-1.2.4-Installer.exe
|   |   SQ-MixPad-1.5.0-Installer (1).exe
|   |   wireless-workbench-win-6.15.0.zip
|   |   Touchstone_Setup.exe
|   |   TouchstonePro_Setup.exe
|   |   PreSonus_StudioLive_24.4.2_AE.doc.zip
|   |   LightkeyInstaller.zip
|   |   Vista3_R3_21712.exe
|   |   foo_enhanced_spectrum_analyzer 0.9.4.2.zip
|   |   foo_musical_spectrum.zip
|   |   ImageGlass_8.2.6.6_x64.msi
|   |   CrystalDiskInfo8_12_1.exe
|   |   neets-soundbar-sb1.zip
|   |   NeetsProjectDesigner1.27.1.zip
|   |   NeetsCentralControl1.5.4.zip
|   |   v60hd_rcs_w300.zip
|   |   XTouchSetup_4.1.0.exe.zip
|   |   ArmoniaPlus-2.0.0.124.zip
|   |   EAWResolutionSetup-v2.8.1.8.exe_.zip
|   |   fat32format.zip
|   |   AFMG Licence Manager.zip
|   |   CD_EASE4.4.67(B26)_ProgramOnly.zip
|   |   EASE_Focus_3_GLL_Database_2020_07_29.zip
|   |   EASE_SpeakerLab_UserFiles_SL1REG-B00000-001-000-SDA-054752-254723 (1).zip
|   |   EASE_SpeakerLab_UserFiles_SL1REG-B00000-001-000-SDA-054752-254723.zip
|   |   EASEGuard_EA4REG-J00000-001-000-SDA-054751-707957.zip
|   |   rePhase 1.4.3.zip
|   |   REW_windows-x64_5_20_4.exe
|   |   ArtaSetup1941.exe
|   |   DATS_V2_setup.zip
|   |   OBS-Studio-27.1.3-Full-Installer-x64.exe
|   |   Stream_Deck_5.1.3.14750.msi
|   |   4KCaptureUtility_1.7.5.4825_x64.msi
|   |   DaVinci_Resolve_17.4.2_Windows.zip
|   |   4kvideodownloader_4.18.5_x64_online.exe
|   |   bbflbk5.exe
|   |   Wireshark-win64-3.4.10.exe
|   |   PacketSender_x64_v7.2.3.exe
|   |   DWGTrueView_2022_English_64bit_dlm.sfx.exe
|   |   Epic Pen Setup v3.9.117.0.exe
|   |   BEHRINGER_UMC_Driver-V5.12.0.zip
|   |   BEHRINGER_FLOW_v5.12.0_2021-06-15_setup.zip
|   |   SimplyPUT_PC.zip
|   |   AllenHeath_SQ_v4.86.0_setup.zip
|   |   Focusrite_Usb_4.65.5.658.exe
|   |   fut_usb_win.zip
|   |   driver_usb_win_1212.zip
|   |   friture-0.48.msi
|   |   Smaart8Setup.exe
|   |   DIALux_evo_10.0.exe
|   |   Capture 2019.2.9.msi
|   |   Capture 2019 Library.c2z
|   |   Central_Offline_v12-7andApps_Win.zip
|   |   ProPresenter7.7.1_117899527-Setup.exe
|   |   ProPresenter6_Win_6162 (1).zip
|   |   
|   \---Image_MetaData_Stripper_10-Win32-MSVC2008
|               
\---aoe2
    \---Age of Empires II Definitive Edition
« Last Edit: January 11, 2022, 12:15:54 PM by Nathan Riddle »
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John Schalk

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Re: Best 14" Laptop for AVL + IT
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2022, 09:36:42 AM »

This is a timely post as I'm considering replacing my current 2014 MBPro audio laptop.  I bought my Mac used before discovering that a couple of pieces of software that I use aren't supported on Macs.  I know that there are options like Bootcamp to run PC apps on Macs, but Armonia needs an Ethernet port and, like you, I'd rather not have to keep track of a dongle so I'm thinking about redoing my laptop platform choice.

I have my eye on a Dell Vostro 14 5410: Core i7-11390H.  I'm willing to forgo the touchscreen, and this has everything else you mentioned as far as ports are concerned.  I've seen them on eBay for ~$800.  Do you think the Vostro would meet my needs?

My Audio Apps:
Ease Focus 3
Powersoft Armonia & Armonia+
Meyer Mapp XT
Reaper
Room Eq Wizard
iTunes for Apple Lossless test tracks
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John L Nobile

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Re: Best 14" Laptop for AVL + IT
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2022, 10:16:30 AM »

This is a timely post as I'm considering replacing my current 2014 MBPro audio laptop.  I bought my Mac used before discovering that a couple of pieces of software that I use aren't supported on Macs.  I know that there are options like Bootcamp to run PC apps on Macs, but Armonia needs an Ethernet port and, like you, I'd rather not have to keep track of a dongle so I'm thinking about redoing my laptop platform choice.

I have my eye on a Dell Vostro 14 5410: Core i7-11390H.  I'm willing to forgo the touchscreen, and this has everything else you mentioned as far as ports are concerned.  I've seen them on eBay for ~$800.  Do you think the Vostro would meet my needs?

My Audio Apps:
Ease Focus 3
Powersoft Armonia & Armonia+
Meyer Mapp XT
Reaper
Room Eq Wizard
iTunes for Apple Lossless test tracks

I buy all the computers for our resort and Dell has been my choice for years. I stay away from Vostro as they seem like a consumer laptop. Keyboard, build and trackpad seems "cheap and flimsy". Nathan picked a good series. Latitude series are my first choice. There are 3 series. 3000, which is an upbranded Vostro, 5000, which is an excellent laptop and my first choice and the 7000 series which is what I really want but accounting always shoots down. They can get expensive.Of course, for them, I get the even more expensive XPS. They're "sexy", not my words. Nice laptops but I do prefer the 7000 series.

I have a new 5000 series in my office and I want to keep it. Nice keyboard and screen. My laptop is a 10 year old Latitude. Still runs great.
Dell has good sales and that's when I usually buy.
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Nathan Riddle

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Re: Best 14" Laptop for AVL + IT
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2022, 12:14:27 PM »

This is a timely post as I'm considering replacing my current 2014 MBPro audio laptop.  I bought my Mac used before discovering that a couple of pieces of software that I use aren't supported on Macs.  I know that there are options like Bootcamp to run PC apps on Macs, but Armonia needs an Ethernet port and, like you, I'd rather not have to keep track of a dongle so I'm thinking about redoing my laptop platform choice.

I have my eye on a Dell Vostro 14 5410: Core i7-11390H.  I'm willing to forgo the touchscreen, and this has everything else you mentioned as far as ports are concerned.  I've seen them on eBay for ~$800.  Do you think the Vostro would meet my needs?

My Audio Apps:
Ease Focus 3
Powersoft Armonia & Armonia+
Meyer Mapp XT
Reaper
Room Eq Wizard
iTunes for Apple Lossless test tracks

Vostro would meet your needs, but you'd give up a few things: TB4, USB-C charging. Processor is likely a tossup (they're all already thermally limited).
I think you'd miss the touchscreen more than you think once you use it some. But agreed; it isn't necessary.

You should use foobar2000 for the test tracks.

I buy all the computers for our resort and Dell has been my choice for years. I stay away from Vostro as they seem like a consumer laptop. Keyboard, build and trackpad seems "cheap and flimsy". Nathan picked a good series. Latitude series are my first choice. There are 3 series. 3000, which is an upbranded Vostro, 5000, which is an excellent laptop and my first choice and the 7000 series which is what I really want but accounting always shoots down. They can get expensive.Of course, for them, I get the even more expensive XPS. They're "sexy", not my words. Nice laptops but I do prefer the 7000 series.

I have a new 5000 series in my office and I want to keep it. Nice keyboard and screen. My laptop is a 10 year old Latitude. Still runs great.
Dell has good sales and that's when I usually buy.

7000/3000/XPS series all give up ports, but I too am a huge fan of the 7k series.
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Daniel Levi

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Re: Best 14" Laptop for AVL + IT
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2022, 03:21:40 PM »

I looked at the DELL/HP/Lenovo options when I brought my new machine a few months ago (replaced a Dell Inspiron 13 5000 i5 13" 2-in-1) and couldn't seem to find one for a decent price with 16GB RAM and a 1TB SSD, ended up going with an MSI Summit EVO 13, a bit confusing as to what spec is available in which countries but it seems the UK gets the black/rose gold with a 1TB Phison PCIe SSD, 16GB RAM and an i7-1185G7.

https://www.msi.com/Business-Productivity/Summit-E13-Flip-EVO-A11X

Seems powerful enough for my needs, well it runs Euro Truck Simulator on ultra graphics setting, good battery life (expected with an evo machine), fast charging, all aluminum construction and as for ports it has one regular USB A port, with one USB3.2 USB-C port and two TB4/DP/USBC ports (also used for the USB-C PSU), plus a microSD card reader (although you need a tool to remove the cover for it). No Ethernet (it's too thin) but has Wi-Fi 6E and that's fine by me as I've now had two laptops without ethernet so have got used to it.
On the security front it has hello facial sign in and a fingeprint scanner, plus the webcam has a physical on/off switch that physically disconnects the camera from the computer.

As for price I paid 1,098 in the UK though I believe in some markets it's a bit more expensive, making them less of a deal going by the reviews. Here is a bit cheaper than a simarily specced XPS or HP x360. 
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Nathan Riddle

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Re: Best 14" Laptop for AVL + IT
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2022, 08:55:41 AM »

I looked at the DELL/HP/Lenovo options when I brought my new machine a few months ago (replaced a Dell Inspiron 13 5000 i5 13" 2-in-1) and couldn't seem to find one for a decent price with 16GB RAM and a 1TB SSD, ended up going with an MSI Summit EVO 13,

No copper port. There are a billion of these types of laptops. Not the point of my review/post.
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Matthias McCready

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Re: Best 14" Laptop for AVL + IT
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2022, 11:34:32 AM »

I bought a Dell Precision laptop 3 years back, and haven't looked back. Incredible machine.

Dell Outlet regularly has pretty fantastic pricing. I got my laptop for almost 60% off of sticker price. You can stack most discounts/coupons on their site.

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John L Nobile

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Re: Best 14" Laptop for AVL + IT
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2022, 12:07:30 PM »

I bought a Dell Precision laptop 3 years back, and haven't looked back. Incredible machine.

Dell Outlet regularly has pretty fantastic pricing. I got my laptop for almost 60% off of sticker price. You can stack most discounts/coupons on their site.

My work desktop is a Precision. Great machine. Fast and lots of I/O ports. And I got it from Dell refurb Outlet. That's where I've gotten most of our work computers over the years. They have great sales but lately I'm not seeing stock and pricing as good as pre-Covid times. Value between new and used isn't what it used to be so I've been buying new Dells lately. But I'm seeing a lot of very long delivery dates on some models.
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Nathan Riddle

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Re: Best 14" Laptop for AVL + IT
« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2022, 12:23:28 PM »

I bought a Dell Precision laptop 3 years back

My work desktop is a Precision. Great machine. Fast and lots of I/O ports. And I got it from Dell refurb Outlet. -snip-  Value between new and used isn't what it used to be so I've been buying new Dells lately. But I'm seeing a lot of very long delivery dates on some models.

Precision 5xxx/7xxx does not have copper NIC (current version(s))

Precision is 15/17" formfactor.

Precision 3xxx is basically the 15/17" version of latitude 5xxx 14" series.

I highly recommend the 14" class of laptops over 15/17" for everything except coding.
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I'm just a guy trying to do the next right thing.

This business is for people with too much energy for desk jobs and too much brain for labor jobs. - Scott Helmke

Thomas Le

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Re: Best 14" Laptop for AVL + IT
« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2022, 05:21:52 PM »

Ditto on Dell. My personal laptop is a used Latitude e7470 i7, FHD, 16gb ram, 500gb nvme. I'd like to get something more beefy and bit more durable if I get around to do live multitracking haha ;P

My "audio work" / "mixer configurator/controller" laptop is a used Getac V110 that is stuck on w8.1 because it BSOD's when trying to install any newer OS, but I love the compact and swivel tablet form factor...

If I were to combine, I may have to look at Lenovo...
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ProSoundWeb Community

Re: Best 14" Laptop for AVL + IT
« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2022, 05:21:52 PM »


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