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Ideal Production Computer?


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I've been around this site and it's forums for about 2 years now.

Around a year ago, I was into remixing and tried my hand at it. I could never really get anything going because whenever I loaded up a few big VSTi's, my computer would lag and create artifacts in the track, thus leaving me without the ability to create what I wanted. I just wanted to find out the ideal specs on a audio production computer.

My current RAM: 512 RDRAM

My current Sound Card: E-MU 0404

My current processor: Intel Pentium 4 2.4GHz

My computer is so old that I would basically have to rebuild a new custom one. My current motherboard only supports RDRAM, which sucks.

If anyone has any advice in this field, then by all means, help me out. :]

Thanks.

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Ideally, you want to be on Windows XP Pro, NOT Vista. An intel e6850 processor (dual core, 3ghz) will be absolutely killer - for the same price, you might also consider a q6600 (quad core, 2.4ghz) but not all applications right now are really optimized for quad core. Either way, a MOBO that can support either of these processors can be upgraded later - but compared to your Pentium 4, either will run about 8x faster (eg. 8x as many plugins can be used.)

You should have at LEAST 500gb of storage. I personally recommend one or more 7200RPM storage drives for samples and audio recordings, and then a 10k RPM 30-80gb drive for Windows and your applications.

As for RAM, go for 3GB. Any one application won't be able to take advantage of more than 2, but with some system tweaks, all 3 can be used (eg. 2 for your sequencer, 1 for Windows.) 4 is not useful right now unless you're on a 64bit OS, which I don't recommend just yet.

You'll want an interface with good drivers and low latency. I use a Presonus Firebox, which is about $300 new. Connects through Firewire, has ROCK-solid drivers, hasn't failed me yet. $99 or so will get you an EMU 0404 which is a nice lower-cost solution.

All this will not cost more than $1500.. in fact it might not even cost more than $1000. So if you want to go all-out, I would consider Powercore or UAD products, which allow you to connect cards/devices through PCI or USB/Firewire that add extra processing power to your machine. For example, a UAD-1 card can run a number of special plugins (coded just for the UAD-1) without even touching your normal processor. They sound great, introduce only minimal latency, and work just like normal plugins.

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Thanks for such a quick reply.

I do own the E-MU 0404 right now, so I think I'd stick with that.

The only problem is that with my budget right now, I really only have about $500 USD to spend, for the time being. Sorry about that; I should've mentioned that in my first post.

I'll look into those processors though, for sure.

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Hmm, $500 is pretty tough. You definitely want at least an e6600 (2.4ghz dual core, no more than $250) and 2GB of RAM ($100 at most) - a decent mobo that can run that might be $100-130. Asus P5N-E is what I use, works great.

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As far as I know, the Core 2 Duos are fairly efficient. To be safe, I use a 500W power supply, but I honestly don't know what the minimum is - and it probably also depends on what other devices you're using.

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I'm running an e6600 with 430W power supply and I've have no probs so far (integrated graphics card though). I've also have no problems with Kingston's 'budget' RAM . A little while ago, 4GB (DDR2 667MHz) went for $120 at newegg.

EDIT: zircon's right about the 4GB or RAM not truly being useful to the 32bit OS, but the addition RAM can be allocated to an onboard video card so that ALL of the rest of the 3GB that windows will recognize will be used for programs. Of course this only goes for folks like me who are too cheap or strapped for cash to get a dedicated video card :)

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