Thursday, October 1st 2020

XMG Announces DJ 15 laptops with Intel 10th Gen Core U-Series CPUs

For years, MacBooks have been the de facto standard for digital DJ setups. Apple's recent product iterations, however, have left much to be desired in terms of professional connectivity - using industry standard DJ equipment with a MacBook requires the purchase of expensive and impractical adapters or hubs. XMG responds to the DJ community's growing demand for a functional, reliable alternative by releasing the DJ 15 - the first ever laptop designed, optimised and tested specifically to meet the needs of professional DJs. Weighing in at a mere 1.6 kg, this machine features a 15" non-glare Full HD IPS display and a wide array of standard ports. An entirely bloatware-free Windows 10 Pro installation, perfectly tuned to the DJ 15's hardware components, ensures ultra-low, stable DPC latency out of the box, even running off battery with WiFi and Bluetooth activated. On top of that, XMG offers unique and highly specialised support - by DJs, for DJs.
Made to Create with DPC latency values below 1 millisecond
The XMG DJ 15 is ready to go straight away - all DJs need to do is pick their favourite software to install, followed by ASIO drivers for their mixer or audio interface. None of the tweaking typically required for using a regular Windows-based computer for DJing is necessary either, as low DPC latency values of below 1 ms make sure nothing interferes with system stability while performing. The machine has also been tested in real-life settings with most common DJ software like Native Instruments Traktor Pro, Serato DJ Pro, Pioneer Rekordbox DJ and Virtual DJ 2021 - as well as several mixers, controllers, audio interfaces and modern accessories like MWM Phase. XMG calls this certification "Made to Create", which will soon include more laptops optimised for different pro A/V use cases.

Thin, lightweight and powerful
The XMG DJ 15 is available in a classic silver and a more extravagant red. Both models are powered by 10th-generation Intel processors, each with 4 cores and 8 threads. The efficient Core i5-10210U will handle any DJ software with ease, while the i7-10510U offers plenty of power for more ambitious tasks. The aluminium chassis with a resin mold on the underside keeps the weight at just 1.6 kg - and measuring just 360.4 x 244.5 x 19.9 mm, the machine will easily fit into any DJ backpack.
The DJ 15's 54.5 Wh battery makes it easy to work on playlists while on the road, and the 15" non-glare Full HD IPS display is a pleasure to use even over longer periods of time.

Professional connectivity and plenty of storage
Unlike many other portable laptops, the DJ 15 features a wide array of standard connectors, making adapters entirely obsolete. This includes three USB-A ports (2x USB 3.1, 1x USB 2.0 for compatibility with older peripherals), one USB-C / Thunderbolt 3 combo port with charging functionality (20 V / 3 A), full-size HDMI, mini DisplayPort, an SD card reader, an RJ45 Ethernet port - and of course, standard 3.5 mm headphone out and microphone inputs. An M.2 SSD connected via PCI Express offers fast loading times and up to 2 TB storage, and RAM can be upgraded to a maximum of 32 GB thanks to two SO-DIMM slots.

Tailor-made support by DJs for DJs
The Made to Create concept is based on an intense cooperation between XMG and Ray Arkaei - a DJ, producer and audio-visual live showcase artist who also acts as technical & creative lead at Berlin's Sample Music Festival. He oversees the new audio-optimised product line. This unique relationship allows XMG to offer customers an outstanding level of dedicated support for the DJ 15 and all subsequent audio-optimised machines. Due to Ray Arkaei's long-standing relationship with top brands in the industry and frequent involvement in beta tests and hackathons, he can offer highly specialised expert advice in regard to pro A/V applications on Windows, and will take over from customer support when necessary.

One tech demo to rule them all
To demonstrate the full capability and stability of the XMG DJ 15, Ray Arkaei has prepared an elaborate showcase performance, using the top 4 market-leading DJ apps (Serato DJ Pro, Native Instruments Traktor Pro, Pioneer Rekordbox DJ and Virtual DJ 2021) simultaneously - together with Ableton Live, an all-in-one DJ controller (Roland DJ-707M), the Allen & Health Xone:96 mixer and the Ableton Push 2. The video, available on Youtube, includes live desktop capture, showing all programs running on one screen, with live DPC latency readout from LatencyMon. Despite the tremendous stress placed on the system, DPC latency is clearly shown to remain well below 1 ms, even with WiFi and BlueTooth activated - and with the laptop being flipped shut mid-performance. This proves beyond any doubt that the DJ 15 can handle significantly more of a workload that any DJ would typically require.
Pricing and availability
The XMG DJ 15 and XMG DJ 15 RED are immediately available from bestware.com. The default configuration is priced at € 1.220,44 (incl. 16% VAT, different tax rates may apply in some countries), features Intel's Core i5-10210U, 16 GB DDR4 RAM, a 1 TB Samsung 970 EVO Plus M.2 SSD and also includes the optimised Windows 10 Pro installation.
Add your own comment

7 Comments on XMG Announces DJ 15 laptops with Intel 10th Gen Core U-Series CPUs

#2
ebivan
So, what exactly makes it a DJ Laptop?
The XLR-Ports?
The build-in MIDI-Interface?
The build-in 6,35mm connectors?
The specially decoupled PSU that prevents any buzzing sounds?
Oh wait, it got none of those!

Its just a regular laptop that has a "perfectly tuned Windows 10 installation to ensure ultra-low DPC latency". So basically its just a regular laptop!
OMG! I gotta have one of those!
Posted on Reply
#3
Vayra86
ebivan
So, what exactly makes it a DJ Laptop?
The XLR-Ports?
The build-in MIDI-Interface?
The build-in 6,35mm connectors?
The specially decoupled PSU that prevents any buzzing sounds?
Oh wait, it got none of those!

Its just a regular laptop that has a "perfectly tuned Windows 10 installation to ensure ultra-low DPC latency". So basically its just a regular laptop!
OMG! I gotta have one of those!
Don't forget the mandatory shitty onboard audio. Perfect for DJs
Posted on Reply
#4
Caring1
ebivan
So, what exactly makes it a DJ Laptop?
The XLR-Ports?
The build-in MIDI-Interface?
The build-in 6,35mm connectors?
The specially decoupled PSU that prevents any buzzing sounds?
Oh wait, it got none of those!
.......
You living in the past?
USB is all that is needed for connectivity.
Posted on Reply
#5
ebivan
Caring1
You living in the past?
USB is all that is needed for connectivity.
So why need a specialized Laptop?
Every Laptop has USB.
Why only 3 USB ports, if USB is so important?
Posted on Reply
#6
julizs
Its pretty much a standard 600€ laptop being sold for 1200€, because why not.
Posted on Reply
#7
XMG Support
Uroshi
Why not fanless?
Because the CPU is allowed to take up to 17W PL1 and 51W PL2 power under full load. The mainboard is quite complex with a lot of 3rd party controllers and wants good airflow, even in hot and damp environments like some nightclubs.
ebivan
So, what exactly makes it a DJ Laptop?
ebivan
So why need a specialized Laptop?
Thank you for asking.

Now, real-time music is all about the audio buffer size. If you want your digital audio controls (lever and switches) to give you instantaneous feedback, you want to set your music production software to have the lowest buffer size possible. The problem is: if you set it too low (lower than the capability of the system) and there are any random spikes in DPC interrupts (as in, how long the system needs to complete or answer a certain action), your audio will have audible gaps and glitches. That's a big no-go in the music production scene and might happen all the time with Windows-based laptops from other brands. The common workaround is to use very large buffers, but this will make your production feel sluggish. Live Music needs low latency - much more than gaming, video production, rendering or any other typical PC workload.

If you have every tried using a random Windows laptop for low-latency, audio production, you might have stumbled upon dozens of situations where unoptimized firmware, bugs, bloatware and weird manufacturer decisions are causing DPC latency spikes. Such situations might include:

(in random order)
  • Running the laptop in power saving mode
  • Closing the LCD lid (while continuing to run it)
  • Disconnecting the charger
  • Using the touchpad
  • Charging the battery
  • Random driver interrupt events
  • Using the keyboard
  • Having the fans spin up
  • Connecting a USB device
  • Using Fn keys to change brightess or power profile
  • Connecting/disconnecting a Thunderbolt device
All these situations might provoke measurable DPC spikes well beyond 1ms in your hardware/firmware/driver logic chain. Sometimes these spikes occur randomly in Idle, sometimes they need to be triggered by common and recurring user action.

These spike are on top of the base "floor latency" that is inherent in every system and that can widely differ from system to system.

Besides the rich I/O port layout and fast and stable computing performance, XMG DJ 15 is all about lowering the latency floor and getting rid of those spikes!

Apple has always been great about keeping DPC latency low and stable, because they have absolute control over all hardware, firmware and drivers. In Windows PC, that's quite different. The mainboard bunches together of 3rd party controllers, slaps a generic BIOS from the stack on it and calls it a day. Especially laptops are full of non-standardized, proprietary functions such as performance profiles, fan control, various ACPI sleep functions for power saving, various Fn key functions with closed source real-time calls to the EC and BIOS. All of this stuff adds up.

Besides the clean and pre-configured Windows installation, In XMG DJ 15, we worked together with our ODM to optimize the firmware and drivers to avoid any DPC latency spike that might be caused by actions listed above. This requires a lot of testing in real-life situations and documenting every little quirk down to the T and reporting them to the original vendor of either the motherboard or the 3rd party component vendor that we suspect of being the culprit. This is a long and time-consuming process because - again: this is not open source. We have to convince suppliers in Asia (who already have their heads in next-years products) to go back and fix their little bugs, optimize their code and get rid of the quick-and-dirty workarounds that cause the DPC latency spikes you would otherwise see in laptops from other brands.

To reduce the base latency floor (as in, the average latency in Idle), we also found funny little secrets such as those:

1. ACPI 5° C temperature difference signal

This is an old mechanism that was used in the 1990s for fan control of Windows PCs. Every time the CPU temperature changes 5 ° C up or down, the BIOS sends a signal to the operating system. Modern CPU's cycle up and down several times in the course of milliseconds, depending on the load, so that the measured core temperature also oscillates at extremely short intervals. This sometimes results in a real firework of superfluous ACPI signals and provides a certain DPC latency background noise.

Superfluous because: This signal is obsolete in modern laptops, since the fan control is done via its own embedded controller chips. Nevertheless, this signal is implemented by every laptop manufacturer, since it has been part of the ACPI standard since the 1990s - and who would like to voluntarily deviate from the standard?

Well, we do. The ACPI 5° C difference signal is disabled in our BIOS, which allowed us to reduce the DPC latency peaks by several milliseconds.

2. HDD LED with PCI Express SSD

The ACPI standard provides for the control of an LED, which serves as a hard drive activity indicator. However, this standard only works with hard drives and SSDs that are connected via SATA. In the meantime, however, we are connecting SSDs via the significantly faster PCI Express and NVMe standard. The activity indicator in the BIOS must be emulated with this port, which in turn has a negative impact on DPC latency. This emulation works in all large laptops - we have deactivated it. Result: no annoying LED flashing and no annoying DPC latency spikes during SSD activity.

All of the stuff written above has been tested and tested again by our project manager Ray Arkaei. When you buy an XMG DJ 15, he will also be able to answer any of your questions, troubleshoot any scenarios. He has a long list of DJ and Music Production equipment in his lab (partially from often being sponsored by the hardware makers of audio production peripherals). If you have some exotic combination of Thunderbolt and USB controllers and software that raises a question mark in your daily production routine, we can troubleshoot it for you and solve it.

If you want to read more about this stuff, please check out the launch thread of XMG DJ 15 in our sub-reddit.

I also recommend to read this user's take on the situation in the DJWORX community who deal with this stuff every day, including his links/sources on how to optimize DPC latency.

Also, this comment by Craig Reeves a.k.a. nem0nic (product manager for various music hardware manufacturers) on Reddit.
julizs
Its pretty much a standard 600€ laptop being sold for 1200€, because why not.
No offense, but this is not quite correct. Let me go on Geizhals (a German/European price comparison and filter machine) for you and filter the specs of XMG DJ 15:
  • 15.6" Screen with 1920*1080
  • Intel Comet Lake U CPU with 4 Cores and 8 Threads
  • 16GB RAM
  • 1TB SSD m.2 PCIe
  • Thunderbolt 3
  • Full-Size HDMI
These will be your filter results:

geizhals.eu/?cat=nb&xf=10123_M.2+PCIe%7E11609_1920x1080%7E12128_15%7E12_16384%7E14264_U%7E1482_Intel%7E17610_HDMI%7E2991_960%7E31_Thunderbolt+3%7E6752_Core+i-10000%7E9594_Comet+Lake-U%7E9595_4

Pricing for this config starts at ~1700€ at other brands. XMG DJ 15 is 500€ below that.

If you remove the RAM and SSD (but keep 2x SO-DIMM DDR4 RAM Slots + 1x M.2 NVMe/PCIe Slot) because you might argue that you could upgrade those by yourself, you end up here:

geizhals.eu/?cat=nb&sort=p&xf=10123_M.2+PCIe%7E11609_1920x1080%7E12128_15%7E12826_2%7E14264_U%7E1482_Intel%7E17610_HDMI%7E31_Thunderbolt+3%7E6752_Core+i-10000%7E9594_Comet+Lake-U%7E9595_4#gh_filterbox

This starts at 850€ - but then you need to add the extra RMA and SSD.

If 1TB of RAM is too much for you, you can also downgrade the XMG DJ 15 to M.2 SSD 500GB Samsung 860 EVO and save 137€ on the original configuration price.

If you buy from another European country and you can't find a decent configuration with your specific specs with your keyboard layout, we got you covered: we can make up to 25 different keyboard layouts, including fan favorites such as US, UK, Russian, Turkish, Arabic, Dovak and Croatian. This all can be freely configured on our official BTO online shop platform, bestware. You can find it by following the links in the original news article.

If you have any more questions, please let us know.

Cheers,
Tom
Posted on Reply