#1
Hi Guys,

I am in the process of arranging for a local computer company to build a new PC for me.

At the moment they are suggesting an Intel i7 4770 instead of an i5. The price difference is ~$100 or so. Based on what I can find, an i5 should be fine. Main usage will be to play and record guitar through, with some vst’s.

It will have 16GB ram, 250GB SSD and 1 TB HDD. I am thinking that an i5 will be OK and maybe I should spend the savings on changing the PSU (from 450W to 550W).

They also asked about a sound card but I figure that wont be required as I plan to use an audio interface. But on second thoughts if I'm not using the audio interface, will I still have sound ? or maybe its all integrated in the i5/i7 ?

So: Is an i7 worth the extra money over an i5 ?
Last edited by Tiger17 at Apr 12, 2014,
#2
i don't know much about the main computer stuff you're asking. but as far as the sound w/o audio interface question you should just be able to change the audio output settings on your computer and that should do it.
#3
I could do anything I wanted on a intel duo running at 1.8 ghz with 6 gb of ram.

You honestly don't need that much, that would be more for a gaming computer, not a recording computer, if you want a good recording computer, a quad core running at least 2.8 ghz and 8 gb of ram is more than enough to run anything you want, the interface is more important than the computer really.
#4
Thanks for the input. I get the feeling that i5 with 8gb ram is fine (more can be added later if needed). So I might save a bit of money here and invest it elsewhere.
#5
If you're getting a video card for it too I'd suggest looking into the Xeon E5-1230 V3. It's the same chip as the 4770 minus integrated graphics and overclocking but is about $70 cheaper.
#6
No I dont plan to add a graphics/video card - I dont play computer games so I figured not needed. Can always be added later if required.
#7
Okay so there are few things to consider.

First do you want to do a lot of actual recording, or also arranging (a lot of tracks) or even music production and use a lot of (heavy) plug-ins.

For that a better CPU is better.

If you use sample libraries a lot, then the hard-drive sees a lot of spinning, a SSD drive would be better for this, but costly.

A fast hard drive or raid formation would suffice fine for most things on both sides.

Ur setup now seems good enough hard drive wise though.

As for a graphics card. What you see on your computer uses that, as well as the software, and the wave forming in real time when recording for example.

It's not as big as video games, but it's still stress and should be taken away from the general cpu for your music software.

So get a decent one.

Also to consider is good studio monitors for recording. These are essential to anything you put out in any way, anywhere. Especially if you use VST plug ins you will get more optimal guitar sounds.

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Last edited by xxdarrenxx at Apr 12, 2014,
#8
If you don't play games and you want to record, you're starting from the wrong point: you don't want a pc for this.
And even if you wanted it you wouldn't want one particulary powerful.

So, get a mac.

Or if you hate apple or macs for some reasons and they're overpriced and stuff because of which you'll never buy one, be sure to get a motherboard and a GPU that work with hackintosh.

As for the CPU, unless you wanted to run particularly processor heavy stuff, so lotsa processors and lotsa virtual instruments (lotsa means seriously a lot, like fifty tracks each one playing a lot of notes, each one loaded with a virtual instrument and five plugins or so), the ram will make a lot more difference and it's not like you're getting a weak processor in any case, so unless you needed it for something else I'd get the cheapest.
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#9
Unless you run a boat load of effects and virtual instruments, the i5 will be fine.
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#10
i5 is more than enough unless you plan on running a boatload of intensive plugins (like complex reverbs, or synthesisers). Also I would disagree with Spambot_2, there's nothing you can do on a mac now that you can't do on windows. There's a few DAWs (Logic, Garageband) that only run on macs, but then IIRC there are some that only run on windows too so as long as your DAW runs on your preferred system then there's no reason to swap.
#11
An i5 should have more than enough power for what you're planning to do. Get a basic graphics card (you don't need the latest and greatest, but you do need something to even run Windows properly), get 8gb of ram and that i5 and you're pretty much set.

You could technically get a Mac and be set (and get some pretty kickass recording software), but you already seem set on having a custom job built for you.
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#12
On big (100 track+) projects, I'm finding my i5 750 is bottlenecking me way more than my 4 gigs of ram.
#14
what diabolical said^^
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#15
Same thing about graphics - try if you can to get a PC with dedicated graphics GPU, it will consume less RAM cycles and it will free it up for more processing. Some laptops especially with built in (onboard) GPU suck down too much RAM power for the graphics and you don't know when that will happen (Windows OS decides pretty much whenever it feels need for more processing), so it could really take a hit while recording.

Not saying that you can't get away with the i5 but when I decided to go for new system I made sure I got it all, having learned my lesson from my last portable system where I skimped on "a few things" like GPU and RAM support.
#16
Depends on how large your projects are, how many plugins you're using, and how many virtual instruments.

I'd go i7, if it's not a whole lot more. It'll last you longer and you have peace of mind that it'll run everything you need.
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#17
Quote by xFilth
On big (100 track+) projects, I'm finding my i5 750 is bottlenecking me way more than my 4 gigs of ram.


Why on Earth would you ever run 100+ tracks in a DAW for ONE song?!?! I've never run more than 15 tracks at a time, even if I could find a reason for more.
#18
Quote by ethan_hanus
Why on Earth would you ever run 100+ tracks in a DAW for ONE song?!?! I've never run more than 15 tracks at a time, even if I could find a reason for more.


On most usual studio projects I recorded I had about 18 tracks of drums.

3 or 4 tracks per guitar x2 = 8

2 tracks bass

keys in stereo = 2 tracks

Several tracks vocal say 4

and that is a pretty typical pro session.

So about 40 for a normal rock session mix.

My guess is this is a samples / midi triggered synths kind of guy that probably never submixes.
Last edited by diabolical at Apr 13, 2014,
#19
Wow guys thanks for all your awesome replys.

From what I can gather i5 with 8gb is fine in the desktop PC build. Im just starting to get into computer recording and I only plan to use a few tracks (guitars, bass, drums). Though if I want spending extra for an i7 and ram it wont hurt. At the moment other gear will most likely be JBL 305 monitors with komplete audio6 or presonous interface.

Thanks for the suggestions about graphics card. Will look into getting one even if low end.

One more question - sound cards - im thinking dont need one as I will be using an audio interface ?
Last edited by Tiger17 at Apr 13, 2014,
#20
Quote by diabolical
On most usual studio projects I recorded I had about 18 tracks of drums.

3 or 4 tracks per guitar x2 = 8

2 tracks bass

keys in stereo = 2 tracks

Several tracks vocal say 4

and that is a pretty typical pro session.

So about 40 for a normal rock session mix.

My guess is this is a samples / midi triggered synths kind of guy that probably never submixes.

I've had projects with well up over 80 tracks. Gets real interesting with that many tracks.
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#21
You don't need a sound card if your getting an interface. A lot of interfaces can be setup for your DAW and also for other things like iTunes/internet/games.
That said. If your using this computer for more than just recording i would also get a sound card - reduces hassle.

IF you get something like PT10 (or any DAW that is 32 bit) you won't need HEAPS of ram as they only utilize 4gb of ram.
#22
Quote by oneblackened
I've had projects with well up over 80 tracks. Gets real interesting with that many tracks.



Haha, had those too, in 24 bit / 192khz, what a mess! A few choked my super fast (at the time) G5 system, and the poor converters didn't know what hit 'em. I am a bit old school so I kinda submix as I go along but the mainstay I've listed above I like to leave open.

Audio interface = sound card

Most PCs come with one that is usually crap. Some people I know installed PCI or PCIe audio cards (RME, etc. make these) and got motherboards whose audio could be disabled from bios which also shaves a few clicks on the old processor. Depending on your country there are also specialist music PC brands that will do the whole PC, OS, audio card and software install for you for about $100 more or so. I think the Brits are more lucky in that regard as it seems to be more of a thing there.
#23
I went through this about 6 months ago, deciding on i7 and i5. the only difference is i7 does hyperthreading (quad core is seen as 8 cores in OS). this is only valuable if your DAW has support for Hyperthreading. For me, it wasnt worth the $100 - $150 it was going to cost for the hyperthreading ability.

As for the video card, either way works. its one of those things that I would try without a card, and if you feel it is taking to much resource to run, then you can buy a cheap card (note: this is if you feel comfortable installing your own card. Also note, I have a video card because I do game, so cannot comment of how much resources it takes, but this will save you money possibly)
#24
My two cents on the matter, as a mac user (so ymmv) are this:

I went with an i7 when I bought my macbook pro, because it was the ONE thing I couldn't upgrade later that would make a difference. I skimped on ram (4gb) and hard drive (5400rpm 500gb) because those were an easy upgrade.

That was two years ago, and this past week I installed a 500gb SSD ($275 for a top of the line model, not bad at all) and 8gb of ram. My macbook is now even better than it was when I bought it new, and I've now extended its life by another few years (and finally installed the 64 bit version of my DAW).

All of that has worked out really well for me, not sure if my info will make a difference to you, but either way, there it is!

I won't get into mac vs. PC here but I saw the argument show up, and I will say that I have found multiple scenarios in which having a mac has made things WAY easier for me such as aggregating devices (combining interfaces for extra i/o) and core audio driver support which is a fantastic lack of hassle that I only recognize when I come by here and see people having latency issues and needing asio4all etc. Also, I love my Apogee equipment and I'd never be able to use it on PC. Sure, there are alternatives, but I'm damn happy with my hardware and how it works for me.

Are macs right for everyone? No.

Is either one better for recording? Not really, but they have different strengths and weaknesses so you need to research those strengths and weaknesses and see which matter most to you before making your decision.
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#25
Quote by diabolical
Same thing about graphics - try if you can to get a PC with dedicated graphics GPU, it will consume less RAM cycles and it will free it up for more processing. Some laptops especially with built in (onboard) GPU suck down too much RAM power for the graphics and you don't know when that will happen (Windows OS decides pretty much whenever it feels need for more processing), so it could really take a hit while recording.

Unless you're on a really low end laptop, the integrated GPU has a negligible effect on performance in modern computers.
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#26
We are talking hits on performance from all these things. It really depends how good you want your system to run.

Had 5200 rpm drive on Mac and was a pain, had to use 7200rpm external drive until I finally dug out the screwdriver and changed the internal drive, so much for portability there

Integrated graphics take a bump in performance and the problem is that you don't know WHEN.

Same thing with having i7 - your underlying system will seem to take less.

To comfortably run Win7/8 you need 2GB RAM.

I am just saying that this will be something you will be stuck with for a while and can't change. You can skimp on RAM or HD since these are easily upgradeable.
#27
I'm currently watching a video in Youtube using HTML and playing a flash game. I'm running 2 displays at 1080p. My GPU usage is currently 4% with 300MB of GPU memory usage. Take the money you'd spend on a low end GPU and throw some more/better/faster memory in there instead.
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#29
Personally, I don't think you'll need a GPU unless you decide to run multiple monitors, which is great for recording. I use my three monitors typically to run Reaper on one, Reason on another, and to watch Guitar Pro on the last. You'd be amazed how much time you save from clicking back and forth. Sound card is definitely not necessary with an interface, and yes, you will still have audio provided by your motherboard while not using the interface. Also, I can't be totally sure as I don't use Intel parts, but the i5 should be more than enough. I'm not an expert or anything so I don't know quite how to understand all of the specs, but I understand the ghz and the cores, and judging by those two things my AMD CPU seems to fall somewhere between most i5's and i7's. Using that CPU, I've ran a session of REAPER using Reason in one track (with maybe 5 or 6 tracks within it), 6 tracks running Garritan Personal Orchestra (each with 4 tracks inside them), a track running Superior Drummer, and maybe 8 tracks running Guitar Rig, not to mention various EQ's and compressors and other VST's on top of all of those and I've never seen any kind of flaw in performance. Also, I'm using 8GB, so I don't 16 is necessary. Somebody more professional and knowledgeable than me may disagree, but that's what I've got from my short amateur experience.
#30
Maybe this will be of help:
http://www.cpu-world.com/Compare/436/Intel_Core_i5_i5-4670_vs_Intel_Core_i7_i7-4770.html

Look at the intensive jobs and you'd see that you can get a bump in a few departments, media rendering, graphics intensive, etc.
To me, if I can afford it, I'll go i7.