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Thread Maximizing laptop for DAW

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1 Maximizing laptop for DAW
This is not to ask "which laptop." I'm just looking for general ideas to maximize/optimize a laptop for use as a DAW. Not looking for software/OS specific recommendations unless they are very relevant to taking advantage of a hardware feature.

The obvious/easy ones:

- Add more RAM
- Better hard disk (faster access, more space)
- If laptop has a socketed-type CPU, upgrade it (not likely for most)

I will need a way to record audio into the laptop. Although current onboard audio chips seem pretty capable, there is usually at best only a 1/8" stereo line-input jack.

The choices I see are:

- USB or Firewire audio interface that accepts XLR and 1/4" mic and Hi-Z instrument inputs
- Analog converter/mini-mixer to accept above-mentioned input types and output to line-level

As long as there is not some unavoidable noise/interference from the onboard line-in, I think this would be better simply to conserve USB/Firewire bandwidth. But I can't find such a device. I suppose I could build it. BUT if it can't be properly isolated, or if the laptop line-in ALWAYS adds some noise, then I'd have to use USB/Firewire.

The problem with the USB/Firewire interfaces I've found is that they are also audio output devices. I would prefer to use one only for digitizing to conserve USB/Firewire bandwidth, and let the onboard audio chip handle output.

I'm also looking for ideas on how to take advantage of a memory card reader and an ExpressCard/54 slot.