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New (old) pc?

Postby Adamamam » Sun Jan 10, 2021 10:28 am

I have an old PC that I built years ago that still just about works, but is starting to struggle a bit when working on collaborations (projects come from a more modern pc).

Cpu is q9550, 6gb ram, couple of hard drives, old gaming graphics card (dual monitor).

It's virtually all audio, almost zero vsti/sample work.

I use Reaper, Windows 10 and a couple of old interfaces (tascam usb 8 channel and Lexicon 4 channel, both USB).

My question:

Could anybody recomend a pc that I could find used, maybe a couple of years old that would be faster? Budget is small; few hundred max.

Also, I understand that laptops are now viable, but how is dual monitor done with a laptop?

I used to be fairly up on this stuff, but I'm really out of touch with modern pc hardware.

Any tips would be great!
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Re: New (old) pc?

Postby blinddrew » Sun Jan 10, 2021 2:22 pm

I think Dell do a refurbished programme still? Might be worth checking. If you don't need the portability then i would avoid a laptop. You'll get better bang for your buck with a desktop.
Something from a couple of years ago should still give a significant speed increase, I've recently replaced my old machine and the new one is literally 10 times faster.
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Re: New (old) pc?

Postby James Perrett » Sun Jan 10, 2021 3:53 pm

Unlike Drew, I'm more of a laptop fan.

I like the Dell Precision range which were originally sold for high end CAD and data processing on the move. We used these extensively at my old job and now I use one that I bought refurbished on Ebay for all kinds of recording tasks. I've used mine with a Zoom U44, a Behringer X32 and an RME Digiface USB.

They will handle the built-in screen and two external monitors with ease. In fact, even my cheap ancient Acer laptop will easily handle the built-in screen and an external screen at the same time.
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Re: New (old) pc?

Postby manwilde » Sun Jan 10, 2021 4:13 pm

Whatever you get, make sure it has SSD drives. All other specs are important, but, specially if you deal mostly whith audio, this is paramount.
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Re: New (old) pc?

Postby CS70 » Sun Jan 10, 2021 4:38 pm

Adamamam wrote:I have an old PC that I built years ago that still just about works, but is starting to struggle a bit when working on collaborations (projects come from a more modern pc).

Cpu is q9550, 6gb ram, couple of hard drives, old gaming graphics card (dual monitor).


Any tips would be great!

If you don't use software instruments, the CPU is really needed mostly for plugins.
But a big project session can easily be 6 or 7 Gb - Windows 10 is 64 bits and that means that any integer takes double space. For larger projects, so little memory often means disk swapping, which is definitely a no go for audio.

So if you could upgrade the RAM and use SSDs instead of rotating driver, you might find that your current machine is more than enough.

Otherwise, I second Drew's suggestion. While most laptops are viable (but it still may be a bit of a lottery), unlike desktops, they are designed with a compromise between processing power and electrical power saving. This affects everything from the CPU used, the throttling mechanism and the assumptions behind it, the I/O, etc - all of which you are going to disable first thing, in order to stay as near to realtime performance as possible.

All that means both that you pay for features you don't need, and that at everything else being equal, a desktop will have a higher performance ceiling (not necessarily big, but definitely noticeable when you're nearing it).

Obviously laptops have one major advantage: they are easily portable. If that's significant, it clearly trumps any other consideration.
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Re: New (old) pc?

Postby ef37a » Sun Jan 10, 2021 8:46 pm

With a latop you are also paying for (rather crap) things you already have. Screen, keyboard, trackpad (a mouse is much easier and quicker)

A few years ago I built a pretty decent music PC* I looked around for a motherboard/CPU combination as I was not PC cute enough to risk matching them up my self. I found an Asus MOBO with an AMD Black 3G 6 core processor. I installed W7 64 on a 500G 7,200rpm HDD (would use an SSD now) and the machine seems even slicker than this W10 i7 Lenovo.

I will admit it was the fashion a bit then to build your own machines but for a seriously fast (and quiet!) desktop there is not a lot in it costwise compared to buying an off the shelf, optimized tower from the likes of the excellent Scan. However, for something a bit less "Deep Thought" I think you can still build your own for a few hundred quid and get good performance?

*If you 'look me up' don't let my infamy in the world of electronics impress you one jot! I knew JACK about computers and know little more today! No, PC construction is beer into water if you can handle a pozi #1 and have a modicum of DIY nouce.

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