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Which 'I chip' and which motherboard?

Discussion in 'Computers / Software' started by musoman, Jan 4, 2013.

  1. musoman

    musoman Active Member


    I am going to be buying or building a new pc for audio production at home. It will mainly be used for a couple of tracks and some midi lines. Obviously I need a bit of firepower to run all the plugins.

    My question or questions are?

    How much difference is there between an i3 , i5 or i7. Will the jump give me a noticeably better peformance?
    If I go for an i5 for example, does this mean that at some point in the future when I have more cash I could update it to the i7?

    Which motherboard, would you suggest. I am guessing usb 3 and obviously pci for my interface.

    I do have a budget for this, but I want to get something that I can upgrade as I go rather than something that will just be obsolete in the next 18 months.

    Any advice is greatly welcomed.

  2. Kapt.Krunch

    Kapt.Krunch Well-Known Member

    MIDI, itself, runs on virtually...very little. Don't need 'firepower' for MIDI.

    "Couple of tracks" with a reasonable number of plugins is no problem for nearly any computer. Don't need much 'firepower' for that, either.

    But, it's always good to have plenty of overhead, and plenty of power reserved for expanding your work.

    As far as recommendations...I can't say, at this point. Actually, nobody can, since nobody knows what all you want to run on it.

    Just letting you know that your "qualifications", for now, are light-duty for any computer that may still be alive. (Excepting the requirements of your OS version, and your programs, of course).

    Probably better off finding out what your recording hardware and software manufacturers and developers recommend, research forums related to all, and look for clues as to which is best. Also, keep in mind any possible expandability ideas that may be in the back of your mind.

    These days...everything's pretty much obsolete the minute you open the box. People get caught up in the "very latest", and pay premium price for something that will cost half that in 10 months, and be virtually worthless (as far as resale value) in that 18 months. In three years, you'll be lucky if the local thrift store even wants to mess with it (since they'd have to "dispose of it properly" if it doesn't sell...and that may cost money).

    Of course, you could always do the unthinkable and (apparently) unacceptable...like I still do with my old Win 98 PIII one...

    If it still works for the intended musical purpose that I built it for, I just continue to utilize it, and sync it up to the newer ones, if I want.

    Do you want the very latest, very greatest, highest horsepower monster (and be the beta tester), and pay way more for it? Or would another do just as well, and leave you enough money for a new mic, instrument, software, better interface, retirement, "necessarily skyrocketing energy costs", higher everything prices, etc?

  3. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Here's my two cents... and while I'm nowhere near a computer expert, as a user, I have fallen into the trap in the past of buying PC's that meet "minimum requirements".

    Things to consider:

    As Kapt mentioned, midi in itself is nothing..really no more than a word processor. Its just note on/note off information. A typical midi file in itself might not hold much more memory than 800k or so...


    Now you have to assign that information to something, and unless you are sending that midi info "outside the box" to external tone generators, you'll need soft synths, and they can be memory and processor hogs, of varying degree, depending on the quality of the samples, etc.

    You'll also very likely deal with processor plug ins... EQ's, Comps, Limiters, and again, depending on the quality and functionality, they can eat up memory and CPU. For example, from what I've read here, the newest version of Melodyne is a processor/CPU/Memory pig... it's got great features, but you'll need the power to take advantage of it.

    You also need to take into account that you'll be multiplying these various processors and plugs several times, maybe even many times, depending on how many tracks you are working with.

    Software capabilities are changing everyday.... and changing fast.

    So, if you do have the cash to get the latest and the greatest, the more you hedge your bets against obsolescence, which will inevitably occur, then you should. While none of us has a crystal ball, try to think into the future as best you can.

    Don't think about being able to record "just a few tracks of audio with a few tracks of midi..." You have no idea what your creativity will eventually command of you.

    It's best to have the power and not use it than it is to not have the power and need it. ;)


  4. musoman

    musoman Active Member

    Well the things I am going to be using are:

    Windows 7 64bit
    Cubase 5
    Superior Drummer - connected via midi to an electronic drum kit.
    EMU 1616 breakout box
    Guitar tracks
    (various plugins like amplitube etc....)

    The problem with my old pc, is the latency of playing something on the kit and hearing it back via the pc. I want this lowered so I can have drums and guitar tracks with processes playing together.
  5. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I would think that most any modern quad core PC would be able to handle that kind of workload... but again, it's what's in the future that you need to try and head off at the pass.

    If you are unsure about the chip/processor/MB you should get, you should contact the manufacturer(s) of the platform and plugs you plan on using.

    They'll be happy to tell you their recommendations.

    Although, and this is just me.... I'd steer completely clear of minimum requirements.

    You don't want to be stuck in a permanent state of "just getting by".

    **edit: you also want to make sure of platform/OS compatibility... just to be sure that all your progs, plugs, vst's, etc are Windows 7 compliant.


  6. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Any i3/i5/i7 will do what you want if you buy off the shelf. If budget is a concern and you are rolling your own, then go with an i5. For motherboards, the best and most robust hands down are server boards. In the non-server category ASUS and Gigabit are the goto brands.
  7. musoman

    musoman Active Member

    Why are server boards better? Which ones do you recommend?
  8. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    I have not kept up on server boards myself. The reason why they are the best are their robustness, the lack of extra crap on them, the quality control for these boards, and the fact they are designed to transfer data as efficiently as possible to and from storage devices.

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