Pc for home recording, help

Discussion in 'Computers, Electronics, IT & Gaming' started by Rizzo, Aug 29, 2014.

  1. Rizzo

    Rizzo SS.org Regular

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    Hi guys, hope i'm posting in the right place.
    I need a performing pc for home recording an other multimedia use, but I'm in a really awkward situation. I'll explain it briefly.

    I actually got 3 PCs at home right now.
    1x Compaq Desktop - very old (8 yrs approximately. Slow as fack at anything but still working for reeeally basic use, like surfing the web and such. Think it as my "window on the net" terminal, nothing more. It was also a standard-equipped unit, absolutely average, so you can tell its handicap by now.)

    1x HP Notebook - 8 yrs old too, but it was actually a top-of-the-line HP business notebook at the time. It's got a Intel dual core and 1 gb RAM. It's been upgraded with 3 gbs RAM and a 500gb HD in time, so it always worked pretty well nonetheless. The bad news are that it's now physically damaged (damaged disk sector i think), and it's not working properly anymore. Basically, it works flawlessly but freezes if used over 2-3 hours non-stop, and you need to shut it down brutally. So basically you can't do any work with it any more, nor keep it powered on for any "long" time. A shame, but i' don't think i'm willing to spend extra money on it again.

    1x Compaq Notebook - this one is about 2 years old and going well (4 gbs RAM, i5, HD graphics, 640 gb HD) and was actually intended as my initial "decent-home-recording-and-stuff-pc-to-keep-at-home" until the above mentioned HP broke down and i moved this as my permanent "university pc". I couldn't work for the university stuff anymore with a pc that lasts whatever he wants and then it's gone, as the HP does.

    TL;DR I have basically no useful or sufficiently powerful pc to use at home for my stuff, finding myself with 2 "about useless" machines and 1 useful machine i can't get my hands on at the moment.
    I'd like to have a pc sufficiently powerful for home recording and other multimedia works, and i'd like to keep the Notebook option. I'm just starting out on those works, so i don't need something super powerful, but nonetheless it has to handle stuff properly. I don't want to spend again on another pc in a couple of years just because i didn't get an enough powerful one.

    This is my crutch: if i need a reasonably powerful PC that will last decently, is it better to make a custom build or to buy one aftermarket?
    Keep in mind i don't know anyone who could build a pc for me, i'm a little worried about warranties, i'd rather have a notebook and in either case i'm not willing to spend more than 1000 euros. That would be the absolute roof of my budget.
    I was thinking of a higher end Dell notebook by now.

    My main concerns for an aftermarket pc are the motherboard and soundcard. Will standard components react well in a home recording situation?

    PS I already have a Pod HD500, a pair of wireless open Sennheiser headphones (i will buy some closed cabled ones if things get serious), some old Roland monitors, some vocal mics and some other "studio" equipment here and there since my dad is quite an audiophile, hobbyist singer and used to be an hobbyist drummer.

    On to you. What do you think?
    PS Note that i'm not a gamer, so i don't care about those capabilities.
     
  2. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    I don't know what the market for PCs or parts is like where you are, but it's been my experience that building the pc (not getting someone to build it for you- but get the parts and assemble it yourself) has always been the cheapest route, assuming you get a desktop- which is always going to outperform a laptop of a similar price.

    My opinions/suggestions in point form:

    - A recording PC doesn't have to be an incredibly powerful machine. Pretty much anything you buy now will be able to handle the task unless you get a "netbook" or something.

    - If you get a laptop, just do a lot of research to find the best value for your budget and go with that. Maybe a Dell or HP or something is exactly that.

    - If you get a desktop, getting a pre-made dell/hp/etc. is probably the worst way to go in terms of value per the money you put into it. You're paying for not having to worry about assembly, buying your own OS, etc.

    - Paying someone to assemble a machine for you is a good way to inflate the cost of a build. It's not hard to build them yourself with a little research and some patience.

    - Fancy cases will inflate your cost. Video cards will inflate your cost. Fancy coolers can inflate cost. Anything with the word "gaming" in the description will probably inflate your cost. Peripherals inflate cost. There are countless ways to inflate costs with a desktop pc.

    - I'd do some research into hard drives. Recording can be heavy on hard drives, especially if you're recording multiple tracks at once, so a higher rpm drive might be worth it to prevent dropouts or disk failures.

    - RAM is your friend, but there's a lot of misinformation about it out there. Don't get less than 4gb. You probably don't need more than 8 unless you plan on editing video, or doing some heavy multitasking. Adding RAM will not increase the speed of your machine unless you're already exceeding their capacity.
     
  3. Rizzo

    Rizzo SS.org Regular

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    Any advice on how to assemble a desktop, just in case i'll take that route?
    EDIT Found some assembly guides.

    PS I found some pretty powerful desktop Dells like the XPS 8700 (i7 4th gen, 12 gb ram, 2 tb sata hd, nvidia geforce 2gb) with all other accessories except no monitor at 890 euros.
    I know that specs could be overkill right now but i'm very much uninformed about computing these days so i'm asking: could that be an acceptable price or would it be really inconvenient?
     
  4. Rizzo

    Rizzo SS.org Regular

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    Did some tests yesterday and one basic problem popped up: i need to record my drums, at least for pre-productions or to have a basic sketch of the drum line (that i will later program with midi).
    So i basically can't do it with a desktop and i would need a laptop to carry around the room with the Pod and stuff to shift everything close to drums when recording (i tried recording with wireless open headphones and i can't hear anything, plus i have to literally run to the drums when i hit record at my pc's place lol).

    So, unless i change my vision, any advice on laptops? Or notebooks or whatever you call them.
     
  5. d3monc

    d3monc SS.org Regular

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    Just a thought in regard to running back and fourth, get a wireless mouse and keyboard. Also depending on the size of your current monitor a bigger one might help to see from a distance. I use a wireless keyboard and mouse I got for $50 and a 40" tv I already owned to do similar stuff without having to run back and fourth.
     
  6. DiffuseReflection

    DiffuseReflection The Noisesmith

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    Well, I would definitely go into the DIY route. I've built my own Recording/Gaming PC a couple of years ago and it is going strong since. There are various videos on Youtube that teach how to assembly, install the OS and drivers, etc.
    As for the specs, if you want it to last, I would probably go for an i5 or i7 instead of an i3 or AMD FX-6XXX. The AMD FX-8320/8350 is also a good choice, as it has 8 cores, does good on single threaded applications (although, it's not better than the i5 or i7 on that), has a decent clock speed and it's cheaper.
    I would DEFINITELY invest on RAM, especially if you use a lot of plugins or mix entirely ''in-the-box'', 8GB is a good number. A good 7200RPM HDD would be a must too (1-2TB if you are doing a lot of recording and using your PC for something else).
    If you have any questions regarding the parts or assembly, I'll be glad to help!

    EDIT: Saw your last post, a quick advice would be to avoid any Intel processor that has a ''U'' on its model number. (i7 XXXXU, i5 XXXXU) as it's considerably slower than its non-U counterparts and it's really designed to save power more than anything. Your options are limited regarding notebooks, I would definitely go for an i7 XXXXQM if possible (''Q'' stands for quad-core, and yes the ''U'' i7s are DUAL cores with Hyperthreading). A Macbook will also be a good choice, as it is very stable and has a solid OS (it's just massively overpriced outside the US/EU for it's specs).
     

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