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These PC specs good enough?

Member for

21 years
Hi all,

First post here. Looking to buy a PC for a home studio. Will be using a Firestudio Project interface and I was wondering if the specs on a dell xps 420 will be good enough to get me started. I'm a total noob when it comes to recording so I'm sort of testing the waters right now to see how serious I'd be about this. If I do get serious, do you think the system below is something I can lean on a bit more? Any advice would be great.

core 2 quad processor 2.4ghz
320GB HDD 7200 rpm
3GB RAM 667mhz
Windows Vista (is vista horrible for recording?)

Thanks in advance for the help.


Member for

15 years 10 months

Kapt.Krunch Thu, 03/27/2008 - 08:04
Personally, I'd stay away from Dell for a dedicated recording computer.

Otherwise, most of the rest looks OK. Kind of high-priced. You may be able to build one better and less expensive.

Some things you need to know, first.

Intel® X38 (Bearlake) with 800/1066/1333 MHz FSB

Research which software you plan to use, first, and see if it is compatible with the above.

Which Windows Vista? Is the recording software compatible with this?

Is the software going to play nice with the Core 2 Quad processor?

Do you see a pattern here? Since you are just starting, it's probably best to make sure you decide on a software recording package, and any other ancilliary software, and make sure it all runs OK with everything in the machine.

Do you just want to use what came with the package? OK, go to the Presonus page, and search for other stuff about combinations, and see if anything in either pops up as problem. Go to the Steinberg Cubase LE site, and all the other software sites, and do the same.

Go to Cubase (and other software/hardware) forums, and ask about if anyone has had any problems with any of the particular combinations.

If no alarms ring, this may be OK. Then again, you may be the first kid on the block to attempt to use that one particular combination of all hardware/software...and you'll be the guinea pig. :shock:

You'll also want a second, fast hard drive for your audio drive. Factor that in.

Not trying to scare ya, just some things to consider...since you are starting new.

Kapt.Krunch :wink:

Member for

21 years

Member Thu, 03/27/2008 - 08:39
The Kaptn has covered most of it in his excellent post, just thought I'd add a few details based on my own experiences.

I'd be very careful about going with Vista. I'm running Vista myself on a Dell desktop (AMD dualcore), and it has caused me quite some problems. The Dell hardware does seem ok, I haven't really had any problems there, but as Crunch pointed out, Dell is pricey. I like them though, tend to be very good and stable.

Now, Vista on the other hand is NOT nice. Main problem I had was drivers. I've got an EMU 1616M PCI and I had to wait ages for Creative to get the Vista drivers out. This may not be a problem with the firestudio, but be very careful to check that it has Vista supported drivers.

Next, Vista is a hungry beast. It uses ridiculous amounts of memory. After startup it uses about 800MB of RAM, with just a few programs in the taskbar. You can reduce this somewhat by switching off all the Vista fancy GUI features, but it still ends up using way more RAM than XP.
Seeing as you're going to have 3GB RAM it may not be a critical issue, personally I just dislike the fact that the OS uses so much RAM as a matter of principle.

Most recording software seems to run fine on Vista (Vista has various compatibility modes you can run your programs in). I use Cubase, and so far no problems. It's always been the drivers which caused problems.
Another thing to be aware of is that Vista SP1 is now released, and I know several people who've had major problems after applying SP1. Software and hardware suddenly stops working and they had to restore their machines!

Oh, and definitely get a second hard drive. You'd be better off with two 160GB drives than one 320. Otherwise that PC should have no problems performance wise. Check to see if you can get it delivered with XP instead of Vista, cause Vista basically sucks....


Member for

21 years

Member Thu, 03/27/2008 - 12:12
I used to have all kinds of problems with PC just because it is not stable, viruses... etc. I would personally recomend If you go with PC don't hook it to the internet 8-) I know kind of bummer that was the only way it would stay stable for little while. I switched to MAC PRO. I pay arount 70 dollars a month righ now for it but it is worth it!

Member for

21 years

Member Tue, 05/13/2008 - 04:27
im glad i found this post. because i just also ordered the xps 420 from dell. but i decided to go the 4gig of ram and the 720gig hdd. and also use a 7200rpm firewire external hdd. although im not sure as to whether or not i will discard the vista os. it is the 32bit version and digidesign say that it is compatible with the 002rack and version 7.4. but as metalgod said vista is just such a ram hog. if anyone is using vista with protools let me know how its going. would u prefer to use vista or xp??