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Suitable computer for a DAW?

For anything relating to music-making on Windows computers, with lots of FAQs. Moderated by Martin Walker.

Re: Suitable computer for a DAW?

Postby Musec » Sat Sep 14, 2019 10:29 am

But Windows 10 is free when it comes to updates from what I understand?
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Re: Suitable computer for a DAW?

Postby CS70 » Sun Sep 15, 2019 10:02 pm

Musec wrote:But Windows 10 is free when it comes to updates from what I understand?

Yes. Microsoft these days makes their money elsewhere.

And my guess is that it'll stay like that (aka free) for a while: the continuous updates mode allows them to bring in even fundamental changes without having to release a "next number" version (unless it's useful for marketing).

My wild guess is that at some point they will drop the "10" and name the OS just "Windows".
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Re: Suitable computer for a DAW?

Postby miN2 » Mon Sep 16, 2019 11:43 am

Musec wrote:A couple of SSD harddrives with several Tbs.

Lots of advice above but i can't help but have this catch my eye. Several TB's in SSD is kinda pricey. Do you really need that much fast storage? Sample libraries benefit from loading and streaming from an SSD as does the OS, but the difference for working projects is not all that great an advance, and when the project is loaded the difference is practically negligible.

If budget is tight i'd change that and get an SSD for the OS, an SSD for sample libraries and the rest of the drives mechanical so you get a lot more space for less money. Throw the amount you save into a better CPU since getting the best CPU (fastest speed with the most cores, not sacrificing too much speed for cores) that you can afford is never wrong. Just maybe overkill at the current time (but that's not a bad thing unless you've overstretched your budget to achieve it).
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Re: Suitable computer for a DAW?

Postby Musec » Mon Sep 16, 2019 6:43 pm

I've decided to let a company put all the parts together that I choose so now I have to understand so much about all of this. They charge about $70 but no "unnecessary" components will then be present. The company checks for compatibility but the more I google, the more questions arise that I have to understand. I've googled for about 2-3 weeks now and am starting to understand more and more but still new issues and questions arise. For example, it seems that Photoshop use a GPU only sometimes when it comes to more advanced features.

I have a really crappy, old computer right now (good for surfing and calculations/writing) that I've used for many years. Did a lot of Photoshop with it for a few months recently and now I'm also going to start using a DAW so I might just as well buy a "super-computer" that lasts for about ten years.

I haven't really cared about being updated regarding all the new hardware that's been invented and all the new computer terms: Thunderbolt, CPU-developments (the last I remember is Pentium :headbang:), VRAM, Meltdown and Spectre, PCIe, SSD, M.2 and so many new terms I haven't cared for (or even heard about) earlier. And they have liquid coolers for CPU:s? Wow and puuuuh. Hello World.

Regarding harddrives, My current ones are 70 Gb for system disk and 500 Gb for data and they are almost full. I've decided to go with 500 Gb (M.2) for the system disk. Photoshop temporary files can get really big (20 Gb or something) for one image. I also have to empty my iPhone-photos to the harddrive every once in a while. In the long run it is going to take up space.

One source told me that one normal song 3-5 minutes could be between 1-10 Gb of data on a DAW? 100 songs would be max 1 Tb. Things build up over the years. I'm thinking a 7-12-year span with this computer.

I also want back-ups, so one 2 Tb-disk might have roughly about 25 % of that (the most important data) on the other disk. But perhaps you're right:

SSD 500 Gb (M.2) for system disk and for quick data 1 SSD (2 TB) and then perhaps 1 HDD (4 Tb) + one external drive (2-4 Tb) might be more optimal?

Perhaps I'll go with Intel i9-9900K since it was "only" about $100 more expensive than the i7 when I checked.

All in all this would roughly be $3 600 including Reaper and an audio interface (Focusrite). But I have to research audio interfaces as well. I've decided to go with Reaper because of a lot of positive remarks, it's cheap and more or less open source (?) when it comes to extra features such as plug-ins etc.
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Re: Suitable computer for a DAW?

Postby Musec » Mon Sep 16, 2019 10:13 pm

Perhaps a little bit off-topic (since this is a DAW-forum), but this link was really interesting. Tests show e.g. that anything above a mid-range video card (higher end video cards are at least twice as expensive) only improves Photoshop with a few percent.

Also, Photoshop cannot as of this writing use more than eight cores.

https://www.pugetsystems.com/recommended/Recommended-Systems-for-Adobe-Photoshop-CC-139/Hardware-Recommendations

Perhaps similar tests show similar results when it comes to DAW:s in some areas?
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Re: Suitable computer for a DAW?

Postby CS70 » Mon Sep 16, 2019 11:21 pm

Musec wrote:Perhaps similar tests show similar results when it comes to DAW:s in some areas?

Being as they are more based on plugins (effectively self-contained, fully independent little applications which happen to use the DAW, and not the OS, as a host and provider of basic services), DAWs tend to be way better at multicore and parallel processing that monolithic, single-task oriented applications like Photoshop. Not all of course and I would not be surprise that some DAWs are better than others in that respect.

The same goes with most video NLEs, with effect plugins during preview. There, the graphic card drives also the rendering time. Unlike audio, rendering time of a video is a significant factor in the workflow, so even little performance improvements may translate to physical hours of difference.
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Re: Suitable computer for a DAW?

Postby Pete Kaine » Wed Sep 18, 2019 4:15 pm

Musec wrote:I've decided to let a company put all the parts together that I choose so now I have to understand so much about all of this.

Do they have any experience in setting up and tweaking an audio system?
The fact you're doing the legwork would suggest that they don't.

Find yourself a supplier local to you that understands what they are doing with audio setups. If you're stateside (assuming that's an American dollar sign) then you've got half a dozen reputable firms to choose from.

Yes, the build fee is going to be more than $70, but you'll have access to a support team that is experienced in the software you want to run and they'll be able to advise you on pre-tested components that are known not to send the DPC levels scatty.

I can easily see you spending a few days on this, picking the components that the internet thinks are good and then having it built by a firm that has no idea on what they are doing when testing and optimizing for real-time based audio applications.

An extra $100 in exchange for not banging your head against the wall for a few months isn't that bad a deal.
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