#1
Hi guys.

Basically, i'm looking into buying a new desktop PC for recording purposes among other uses like occasional gaming, school work, and internet usage, and want to know what the minimum system requirements i should be looking at are.

That was the short of it... The long story is i'm a hobby-ist. I want to record some songs that me and a few band members make using an audio interface (probably firewire). My 3 year old laptop really isn't up to this at the moment, and having no idea about computer specs until about a month ago really didn't help me identify what i was actually looking to get out of buying a new PC.

One of the main problems for me is budget. After buying a DAW, mics, an audio interface, monitors, etc, i will inevitably rack up a pretty big bill. Being a student i can't particularly justify spending about £1000 all at once on all this stuff. I don't want to get a load of crap for a few £100 just to have it outdated and have my recordings a muddy mess, but at the same time i want the money spent to be justified.

Another problem is i really don't want to over do it. What i mean by this is going out and buying a PC with 8gb RAM, an i7 processor, and windows 7, when i simply may not need it. I understand that hardware and software is constantly evolving but are these products mentioned too advanced for the interfaces/sequencers on the market? I.e, when i get my PC home, will my presonus interface and Pro-toolsnot work on it?


Maybe it would help if i ask what you guys use? E.g what system specs, audio interface, the purpose of the equipment you own, and your opinion of it?


Note: I was looking at getting a Dell Vostro 430 desktop, but have heard everywhere that Dell are very poor quality. I am slightly blinded by owning a Dell laptop for tha past 3 years and never having a problem with it. Are the complaints about Dell legitimate or 'bandwagony'?


Thanks in advance, i appreciate any and every response!
Ibanez RG370DX
Schecter C-1 Classic
Valveking 112 w/ Celestion V30
Bad Monkey
Tanglewood TW28 Acoustic
#2
It's good that you are sticking with a desktop over a laptop. I would look into a quad-core (i5 should be enough) Definitely 4gb ddr3 ram or higher would be good. Win7 would be a good investment since it's got the most compatibility plus u would need it for newer games and what not (yeah vista runs new games but... Win7>>>>>Vista). What presonus interface are you using? I saw that people have gotten most hardware to run on Win7. Pro Tools does support Win 7 in beta meaning eventually there will be a stable driver.

Also, for the Dell desktop, you may need to be more specific as to what processor, ram, and other components due to there "customize everything"-ness. And also give the price quote on that model.

This is what I got online for $600 ---> i7-920, 6GB DDR3, 7.1 Realtek Sound Card, ATI Radeon HD 4350 GPU, 300 PSU, Windows Vista (which I immediately upgraded to Win7) HP refurbished desktop. This thing runs wicked fast and is perfect for my recording stuff. Currently I use Ableton Suite 8, FL Studio 9 XXL, and I use a Line 6 POD X3 Live for recording (USB 2.0). I'll eventually be purchasing a Texas Instruments Firewire chipset (not that expensive, I would urge you to get one if you plan on using firewire for recording)
#3
i7 is not needed (but rather fancy!) nor is 8gb of ram, i run on a computer i built for about $1000 USD but that was because it was right when Intel Core 2 Duo came out. I run and record fine with dual core processor, 4 GBs (good with 2 GBs but gaming made me upgrade), GeForce 9500 Video Card, i have an on-board sound card and the Line 6 UX1's sound card. Something like what I have will probably run you between $400-700 USD or even less.

As for the Dell I have bad experiences with their desktops so I decided to build my own. Nowadays I don't know how they're doing but I'm just gonna enjoy switching out parts quickly on mine especially since i plan on getting an i7 later this year
#4
The only reason I stated quad-core was to make use of multi-threaded goodness!!!
#5
Thanks to both of you for the fantastic responses - exactly the type of info i was looking for!!

In response to lextexrex:

You say Windows 7... would you go with the 32-bit or 64-bit version? And say if i got the 32-bit version and wanted to go to 64-bit, would that cost me money or is it just a simple upgrade?

I am not using any interface at the moment. I was thinking about the Presonus Firestudio Mobile, but i also thought that for £250 i can get a USB interface with 4+ XLR inputs instead of 2. Plus i kind of had second thoughts that maybe the extra speed of the Firewire may not be needed since i'll rarely go over 2 simultaneous inputs.

Furthermore i only suggested Pro Tools as an example. I used to use Cubase LE4 which i got with a zoom G2.1u but i wouldn't be opposed to trying out other brands.

As for the Dell, i was thinking basic warranty, then:

- i5-750 or i7-860 processer for £60 more (although if not necessary i'll ha[[ily not cash out on i7.
- 2x2gb RAM
- Win7 32/64 bit (depending on advice)
- 2x250gb HDD no raid***

Then all the extras it comes with, which amounts to £600-£700 after VAT with/without the monitor depending on which package i choose at the customisation menu.

*** I got recommended by a pretty knowledgable guy on another website that 'no raid' is the way to go. What am i gaining/losing from not having raid? I have no idea


Huskyplayer:

I have considered building my own, but i have no knowledge in the area and don''t want to make silly compatability mistakes or anything like that. The thing is that it is so much more cheaper... Would you still advise building your own given my lack of experience?


Cheers guys.
Ibanez RG370DX
Schecter C-1 Classic
Valveking 112 w/ Celestion V30
Bad Monkey
Tanglewood TW28 Acoustic
Last edited by Darkpagey at Jun 22, 2010,
#6
Definitely want to go with the 64-bit. With 32 bit, it has a 2GB ram limit, so that's an immediate throw away. I don't believe there's much of a price difference anyway. When purchasing Windows 7 upgrade discs, it usually includes both. Since you want 4gb, 64 bit is mandatory. Don't worry too much about the HDD. The guy who told you to go with no Raid probably knew something about compatibility issues that I don't know about so it would be safe to not go with RAID (i don't have one). Most would advise you to purchase a 7200rpm over 5400rpm HDD but it shouldn't make too much of a difference.

As for your software and hardware options, it's most important to see what's compatible atm.

What works with Windows 7:

Cubase 5, Cubase LE4, Ableton Live/Suite 7 & 8, Sony Acid Pro 7, Sonar 7 & 8, Pro Tools 8 and that should be a good start.

As for specific hardware, I suggest you check online for the specific drivers of the interface you intend to get. That would be the most reliable way to figure if yours will work. I know Line 6 hardware and M-Audio hardware are Win7 (x86/x64 compatible).

As for Firewire/USB debate, it's your call. USB does work but Firewire also helps on the latency factor.

Building your own comp isn't a bad idea. It's not very hard and there are many tutorials online. Of course, you have to keep track of all the things you need to order/purchase but usually it is cheaper.
#8
Quote by lextexrex


What works with Windows 7:

Cubase 5, Cubase LE4, Ableton Live/Suite 7 & 8, Sony Acid Pro 7, Sonar 7 & 8, Pro Tools 8 and that should be a good start.



It should be noted that currently Pro Tools 8 is only available in a beta version for Windows 7.

Double check on all of these programs, also check out Nuendo, it's the big boy version of cubase.
#9
The rest of the software should be fine. I checked all of them on their official's website. Cakewalk doesn't talk about Sonar 7 but according to people on their forums, they've got it to run smoothly.
#10
Thanks again guys.

64-bit it is !! Seems like a no brainer to get 32-bit to me...

As for HDD, would you say going the 2 x ZZZ is the right option for recording, or just go with say a 1tb HDD? Will it really make a difference to me?

I'm going to go away, build up some kind of list and see how much it will amount to if i was to build it myself. I guess the best thing about Dell is by the time you factor in the Norton security, Windows 7, and Office 2007 it actually becomes a decent deal.

I'll update you guys within the next few days but as of now you've really helped to clear my mind on the issue. If anything else springs up please don't hesitate to post it here.

Ibanez RG370DX
Schecter C-1 Classic
Valveking 112 w/ Celestion V30
Bad Monkey
Tanglewood TW28 Acoustic
#11
Any size you feel comfortable with should work, you don't really need two. There have been people complaining on and off about stability with 1TB HDDs but it's really up to you. I would prioritize speed over capacity because remember, eventually all disk based hard drives will eventually die (it'll be a while though ). Just make sure to look up tech reviews about everything you are purchasing.
#12
Would you happen to know any up-to-date websites with useful information on components that will be needed just so i don't forget any? Or any website with any useful information on building your own PC for that matter? Cheers.
Ibanez RG370DX
Schecter C-1 Classic
Valveking 112 w/ Celestion V30
Bad Monkey
Tanglewood TW28 Acoustic
#14
Thanks.

How does this look to you:




Me and a friend compiled a list. Obviously it doesn't include mouse/keyboard/operating system but by the time i add those i'm looking at £800... better start saving!!!
Ibanez RG370DX
Schecter C-1 Classic
Valveking 112 w/ Celestion V30
Bad Monkey
Tanglewood TW28 Acoustic
#15
Looks good to me! Be aware, though I've done plenty of research on them, I've never actually built one myself so don't take my word as final.
#16
Fair enough buddy, thanks for all your help!
Ibanez RG370DX
Schecter C-1 Classic
Valveking 112 w/ Celestion V30
Bad Monkey
Tanglewood TW28 Acoustic
#17
Quote by lextexrex
Any size you feel comfortable with should work, you don't really need two. There have been people complaining on and off about stability with 1TB HDDs but it's really up to you. I would prioritize speed over capacity because remember, eventually all disk based hard drives will eventually die (it'll be a while though ). Just make sure to look up tech reviews about everything you are purchasing.


Speed tends to be directly proportional to capacity, since areal density is the main thing that's likely to vary from one consumer desktop hard drive to the next. Just divide the total capacity of the hard drive by the number of platters and you'll get a pretty reliable indicator of drive speed.
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#18
Quote by Darkpagey

Basically, i'm looking into buying a new desktop PC ...

I understand that hardware and software is constantly evolving but are these products mentioned too advanced for the interfaces/sequencers on the market? I.e, when i get my PC home, will my presonus interface and Pro-toolsnot work on it?


That's why it's so hard to, at the same time, keep up to date, preserve compatibility with existing hardware and maintain the reliability of systems you depend on. Your question suggests you are more interested in having a reliable, working setup than just trying to get things to work with all those constraints.


... but at the same time i want the money spent to be justified.
Another problem is i really don't want to over do it. ...

For 200 quid, you can find on Ebay a second hand PC Athlon dual core clocked at least at 2.6 GHz, w 2 GB ram, 2 250GB hard drives that perfectly runs Windows XP.
That's plenty enough to run a RME 9652, 52 track DAW w 16 simultaneously recording tracks. I have such a setup running right now.

Just keep your PC clean, no office software, remove all useless software and network services like anti-virus. firewall, internet explorer, windows media player, and so on.

That PC will ALWAYS be faster than a 1000 quid pc with vista or win7, 32 or 64-bit.

I understand that hardware and software is constantly evolving but are these products mentioned too advanced for the interfaces/sequencers on the market?

Apparently you've got the idea.

I.e, when i get my PC home, will my presonus interface and Pro-toolsnot work on it?

Yes.
#19
Quote by lextexrex
Definitely want to go with the 64-bit. With 32 bit, it has a 2GB ram limit, so that's an immediate throw away.


What audio software uses more than 2 GB ram today ?