Live gear setup recommendations

I'm trying to find a live gigging setup that allows me to do this at the same time:

  1. Run a local server with Tidal and Hydra (Flok or VsCode)
  2. Send MIDI to VSTs in a VST host and OSC to lights
  3. Project my screen
  4. Record screen and audio

My Lenovo X270 (i5-7200 dual-core @ 2.5Ghz, Intel Graphics 620, 16GB RAM) is struggling with all this. Check this recording I took with my laptop. You can hear MIDI lag and audio cracks e.g. on minutes 2:08, 4:25, especially when I scroll with the mouse and not line by line on my text editor.

Does anyone have recommendations? My budget is $600-1000; I'm happy buying refurbished or used. Some options I'm considering:

  • Dell Precision tower: Intel Xeon W-2133 (6 cores @ 3.6GHz) 32GB RAM, $200. Would need newer PSU, GPU, monitor and a tower carrying case (Amazon has some for $130)
  • Used gaming desktop from Marketplace: i7-7700 (4 cores @ 3.4GHz), 16GB RAM, NVIDIA GTX 1070 (8GB DDR5), $450. Would need monitor and case.
  • Lenovo Legion laptop: i7-12700H (14 cores @ 3.5Ghz), NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti (4 GB DDR6). More portable, but also $200-300 more expensive than a desktop build, and I wonder if the hardware will be enough.

... VsCode ... lag and audio cracks ... especially when I scroll with the mouse and not line by line on my text editor.

before spending money on hardware:

  • check your audio driver/routing settings ( PipeWire - ArchWiki etc.)
  • measure the actual CPU load to find what process is the busiest. Your observation indicates that it could be the editor, so
  • try a different one? E.g., emacs. Perhaps even in text mode ( Initial Options (GNU Emacs Manual) )

I don't present/perform with visuals (hydra), so me experience is limited.

I'd agree with @jwaldmann on actually measuring where the bottleneck is before spending money. My gut feel is that there's a good chance hydra + those absolutely base level intel graphics are at least one major point of contention.

I've been using an 11th gen i7 laptop cpu with Iris XE graphics (having upgraded from an 8th gen i7 with the 620 graphics), and it's streaks ahead in terms of performance - although I use punctual, not hydra for my visuals.
Having said that, I still bottleneck the graphics at tims, and I feel like a discrete card like the 3050 Ti would have been a worthy investment choice if I had my time again.

The laptop cpus are also potentially not the best choice - a compact desktop ITX case with desktop cpu and portable monitor is definitely something I would consider if I was gigging more regularly...

Those M1/M2 macs also look great ... if I could afford one :wink: