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New computer

Discussion in 'DAW's, Computers & Software' started by ChrisIbanez, Oct 13, 2009.

  1. ChrisIbanez

    ChrisIbanez Guest

    At the minute i'm trying to record on a laptop which has rather limited power to process properly, as I type actually i'm listening to a playback of something I recorded and its breaking up

    I'm more of an enthusiastic amatuer than artist but I partially blame my equipment for lack of inspiration, i've been slowly upgrading my equipment, the computer is next on the list because the laptop is pretty weak, I can't record more than 2 tracks on ableton live lite 7 without the recording breaking up and when I go to add drums from ezdrummer, forget about it.

    I want to build a new PC and i'm willing to throw around £400-£450 at the thing, possibly more if its good enough, can anybody help me out because I primarily want the thing to record music but also do day to day functions and the odd game.

    The only things I know I want are an AMD quad core processor and around 6GB of RAM, can anybody suggest what else i'll need other than the obviously large hard drive, dvd drive and power unit?
  2. jg49

    jg49 Distinguished Member

    Oct 16, 2008
    Frozen Tundra of CT
    Can we assume you are building a desktop computer or by build do you mean ordering a laptop?
  3. ChrisIbanez

    ChrisIbanez Guest

    Building a desktop
  4. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Distinguished Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Scotland, UK
    1) Multiple hard drives (nominally 2, both SATA)
    These are now so cheap they scare me... £55 for internal 1TB drives off ebuyer.com

    2) Dual core, or go quad core if you demand boatloads of power such as if you want to add lots of realtime reverb processors.

    What particular bits of kit you get is up to you and your budget, and recommendations. I'll only suggest a general idea.

    Also, don't skimp on the Power Supply or the case. Bigger case = more air = generally cooler = quieter.
  5. Johnny_B

    Johnny_B Guest

    I'd be glad to help, but you may not like what I have to say :lol:

    1.) Ditch consumer based laptops and desktops-if you are building and want the best setup for your money period.
    2.) For DAW usage I would avoid AMD, not like the plague...but avoid them. Intel is the way to go.

    For components:
    Don't skimp on the PSU. Calculate the usage, and add 20% to it.
    Quad Core minimum, not C2Q. Minimum i7 920, preferrable 940 or 950.
    Mushkin RAM=stable RAM. Use 1066, or 1333.
    Corsair Dominator is factory overclocked, and isn't needed at 1600mhz.
    Motherboard: Gigabyte UD5.

    SDDs are the best for read access/streaming, not for writing to.
    SataII, eSATA for OS drive: I use VelociRaptor 300GB, you don't need 300GB, more like 75-150GB.
    Streaming sample library drive(s) depending on size.
    Remember, after 50% capacity, your streaming performance will diminish.
    Drive for Projects, plugins.
    Drive for backups (use an external)

    7200RPM minimum.
    The newer Caviar Blacks are great values If VR's are too much $$$.

    DAW recommendation: Cubase 5.
    C5 and PC i7 are a powerful combination!
  6. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Moderator Resource Member

    Mar 20, 2008
    currently Billings
    For the casual user or enthusiastic amateur, Johnny_B's recommendations are very much overkill. I would tend to agree however with the recommendation to stick with Intel vs AMD. The i7 architecture is great but just remember that it is not necessary for good recordings.

    I regularly make recordings with 16 channels at 88.2/24 on a Dell laptop with Core 2 Duo cpu and 4 gigs of ram. Plugins aren't that much of a problem either though I don't use a very many.

    Know your needs and then you'll know the direction to go with computing power.
  7. Johnny_B

    Johnny_B Guest

    This is true, but to what extent?
    The OP will get opinions from everyone who range from a Pentium 4 setup with 512megs of RAM, to a Dual Quad Xeon user with 48GB of DDR3 E.C.C. RAM. The question is: Does the OP wish to upgrade with every new opinion that entices him/her, OR does the OP want a PC that will at least last a few years or more? Soon we'll see 16core PC's, then the skies the limit. I've been in the OP's position...Everytime I've had issues, until I decided to spring for a real DAW. Since then?
    -Smooth sailing
    -unimpeded workflow
    -Creativity is oozing out from every pore (now)

    Well, this is good news!
    WHY on earth would a *new* DAW builder or DIYer really take a step backwards on getting a C2D, or C2Q/E? The Socket 775 is all but extinct, and the gains to be had with even the basic i7 920 are something to behold! Sure, you don't need it, but the OP' budget allows for it, so why not?

    You must either be lucky enough to have had a Texas Instrument FireWire chipset, or use a MultiFace.

    I guarantee you your laptop would suffer if it ran the software I employ, so really it's like you said....It's based on the needs of the user.

    If this is just a hobby, then please completely disregard my entire post!
    For professional results, using mid-fi gear and solutions anything less than an i7 is asking for limitations galore, and bouncing tracks, unless you are
    running very light weight plug-ins and VSTI's (if any)
  8. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Moderator Resource Member

    Mar 20, 2008
    currently Billings
    I'm not lucky. I don't believe in luck. I believe in being competent at what I do. Period.

    I've lived on the cutting edge of technology and I have supported technology that should have been thrown out long ago. I get the job done regardless. Improvise. Adapt. Overcome. It isn't just a motto that I lived by when bullets were in the air.

    I have no doubt that you (Johnny B) enjoy your setup and that is as it should be. I don't believe that makes it a universal recommendation even for a professional recording engineer. I know that I utilize multiple systems configured for the purposes I need them. That doesn't make any of them a universal recommendation either.

    And here is where we come back to agreement. Know one's own needs/goals and then develop the platform to fit those needs/goals even if it is not the leading or bleeding edge of technology.
  9. Johnny_B

    Johnny_B Guest

    True, but you have omitted the one glaring truth when a DIYer/DAW builder chooses to see:

    You already have your systems, and I doubt (due to your wording) you've just recently built them/acquired them.

    You can say your laptop works perfectly, but you don't elaborate on your work ethic, template usage/resources, so we can only go by what you have already said....

    Consumer laptops are NOT the best choice for a professional period.
    Sure, you CAN use it, this does not make it *the* choice, but rather the "what works for me" argument. (in this case: what works for you)

    You canNOT attain high track counts/nor have a higher ceiling of CPU/RAM power usability unless we're talking a CLEVO i7 using a desktop mobo/processor. Like I said, heavy VSTi's would eat your laptop for breakfast, there is no doubt.

    Heavy VSTi's:
    EastWest Pianos Full edition, 270GB, streams 3 mic positions @ 21-26,000 samples PER piano. Libraries such as these require not only CPU power, but RAM power as well... a 2.1ghz processor won't cut it.
    A laptop hard drive won't cut it....an external FW drive is also not enough oompf.

    Since the OP is building NOW, there is no reason to buy backwards, and buy what you did "then" NOW (concerning the OP) Repeating the opposite does not deem it true nor valid.

    Seriously, there are no down sides to buying an i7 920.
    If you consider the price a down side? Then wow.

    Since I have been in the exact same position of the OP, I truly know what is the best course of action. A C2D lappy? Definitely NOT.

    You call it plenty of power?
    Running Omnisphere, EWQL SO, and other libraries from them,
    will tax the CPU with precision.

    I hope you don't have a personal attachment to your gear...
    If you do you might actually take my comments personal, and this is not my intent. If anything I am attacking your argument.
  10. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Moderator Resource Member

    Mar 20, 2008
    currently Billings
    I don't take it personal. I just don't agree with you.

    The OP is a hobbyist and not starting a pro studio. If we were discussing becoming a professional engineer or developing for a professional then I would recommend a different path. I've been recording concerts and making recordings a long time-not as long as many here at RO but more than a couple of years. My needs are different than a beginner. Never buy the bottom end of gear but one doesn't need the top end either. Lavry would be under utilized in this case.

    [edit] My earlier post was necessarily brief due to typing on a phone and because I was at a job so here is a continuation.

    I am not necessarily recommending a Core 2 Duo or a four year old laptop. I built my first machine myself after having written a (business) plan of what I wanted track count/resource-wise immediately and where I wanted to be five years later. Then I researched what computing hardware/software was required for my plan. That desktop is still a useful machine and it was built a long time ago. It did not have the most cutting edge components but they were well suited for compatibility and configuration. This last is much more important than raw power. Efficiency is the key.

    I have since built other machines for studios and for friends (some DAWs and some non music related) that needed purpose built pc's. Each time I jointly evaluate the needs and future needs rather than just throw parts in just because they are newer or "better."

    The key is research and a well thought out evaluation of needed resources.
  11. Johnny_B

    Johnny_B Guest

    FYI Jack: The OP does NOT (repeat) does NOT need to avoid an i7 simply because he's not starting out with a pro studio.
    I spent long hours researching the matter....consulting with DAW building professionals and then researched some more. I can't afford a "pro studio" (whatever that means?) -and guess what?
    *I* purchased a professionally built 2.93GHZ i7 DAW complete with 12GB mushkin RAM amongst other pieces of hardware *I* deemed prudent and necessary to my work flow.

    I've been playing since I was 5 years old, started recording when I was 8, began sequencing when I was 10...Should I avoid an overkill system (whatever that means) simply because I'm not signed for Sony, or don't do post production work for David Geffen?
    No, of course not.

    The OP wants a DAW.
    He can go C2D, C2Q, AMD....heck he can even go Celeron, P4, Dual Core.
    Before even crunching the numbers (which I've already painstakingly done) I can tell you the difference in money is negligible for the performance value in an i7.

    A Pro DAW?
    Dual Quad Xeons 48GB of RAM. Cost: 6Grand easy.
    An i7 can be whatever you want it to be.

    Obviously it's as you said: all about research.
    Knowing how much power you need is vital.
    My posts stem from the value of an i7 (in dollars) versus an inferior CPU.

    He should save the money and buy a solid system, not just get by with an inferior one he will wish (later) that he should have gotten...

    Are you telling me that if one of your solicited buyers asked you to build a DAW, giving their budget to you as a basline, yet due to them only needing to run small size templates/track counts you would recommend them use a C2D, or C2Q to save a few dollars?

    This has NOTHING to do with pro versus amateur, or professional versus connoisseur...

    If so? O.k.
  12. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    Nov 23, 2008
    Rainy Roads WA USA
    I'm going to have to agree with Jack and Johnny....
    Were talking about a $1000 DIY build here!!! according to the OP's original post if my british pound to dollar conversion is correct.
    The last system I built was twice that price and was not a quad core, PhenomX4 or an i7...it works perfect as I'm sure Jack's setup does!
    So Johnny...How much will your screaming latest technology SSD system cost you to build?....I would really like to see that broken down with real numbers!
    My now old school XP Pro Corsair RAM AMD FX60 dual core, ASUS MB, eSATA 250G/OS 500G/project drive and 250G/ext library drive. Cubase 4/RME FF800 rock solid performance, never had a problem with anything..sample libraries, VSTi's, no runs no drips no errors....
    If I was building a new media content PC it would almost match exactly what you described...but can you really build it for under a grand???!
    If so then it's a no brainer....your system wins hands down over any consumer system
    But then two years from now you'll want to build an octo i8 system with Win10 or something....where does it all end?
  13. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Moderator Resource Member

    Mar 20, 2008
    currently Billings
    An I7 950 runs about US$570. Over two thirds of the OP's budget of $748 at today's conversion rate.
  14. Johnny_B

    Johnny_B Guest

    Hi, DjMukilteo...
    My post wasn't an absolute DAW build, but are keen reqisites for the *best* performance, which were listed from average>better>best...
    I don't use SSD's (because to me they are too expensive)
    I run 4 X 300GB 10,000RPM VelociRaptors, and a 1TB 32MB 7200RPM drive for projects...My system took 6 months from acquisition to modification to get from where I was 6months ago to the present...
    Meaning=it is truly attainable to get what I have, whilst on a budget.

    That's great but unlike the OP and I, we did not, or don't have a working alternative besides the DAW build and $1,000 budget.

    Yes, you can build it under a grand...
    1st off the OP does not *need* an i7 940/950. An i7 920 will suffice.
    Unless he was adept to overclock, I recommended the 940/950...

    Two years from now, I'll assemble or buy a new DAW, and use my current system as a slave Or run the host from it :)

    Btw, I never pay full retail: (not my system, just pricing out one for OP)
    I7 920: $199.99
    1366 Mobo: $179.99 (or cheaper) Gigabyte UD4, or 5
    6GB of RAM: $99.99 (1066)
    PSU: $50-60 (MIR may apply) Check SlickDeals.net for some of the best
    pricing available...

    Case, Fans are subjective to the builder: Cost: $60-???
    HDD's: (The OP probably needs just two to start) I recommend 3)
    1.) OS drive
    2.) Samples
    3.) Projects

    Total cost for 2 drives (7200RPM Caviar Blacks) 640GB 32MB

    Totals: call it $750.00 even
    Of course if the OP wants a more expensive case, add it to the 750 total...
    Either way, he comes out below his budget and gets a nice system.

    If he doesn't add in an OS (presuming he already has one)
    Visa Business 64bit with free W764bit upgrade is around $139.00

    Worst case, he meets his budget...

    If he had extra money I could refer him to a *HollyWood* builder than would build him a C2Q 8400 OC'd to 3.2Ghz, 16GB of RAM and other goodies (running Mac OSX) for around $1400.00

    -Sure it's not an i7, but it's running Mac OSX, a much lighter OS than Window ever could be as of late.
  15. frshwtrbob

    frshwtrbob Guest

    Thank you for the useful and detailed info about the new computer and what parts one should buy specifically for a DAW. I'm in the same boat as the OP and needed to be steered in the same direction. Can you recommend places to look for this hardware besides tigerdirect and egghead?
  16. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Moderator Resource Member

    Mar 20, 2008
    currently Billings
    There are some other places out there. The main thing to remember is that you want an established company that will stand behind a warranty. The two companies you mention have always provided good customer service for me. If you find online stores that are cheaper make sure you do some background on them to ensure your deal isn't too good to be true.

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