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View Full Version : What is the best computer for running Pro Tools for around $750?


Pentatomic
08-24-2011, 10:27 AM
I'm looking to purchase a desktop computer solely for the purpose of running Avid Pro Tools 8 or 9. I prefer to use Windows 7, but I know people swear by Mac. My current computer freezes and stalls when I use plug ins (which I use a lot). I looked on Tiger Direct and saw a lot of good deals, but I want to make sure I'm getting the most bang for my buck. Any advice is greatly appreciated. Links welcome.

Also, what specs am I looking for on the processor, Hard Drive, RAM, etc. to achieve optimum performance?

batsbrew
08-24-2011, 10:30 AM
i don't think there is a 'best' for that price range.

weshunter
08-24-2011, 10:33 AM
this will run it perfectly

http://store.apple.com/us/product/FC508LL/A?mco=MTkwMjE2MzY

it's a little over your price range, but easily the best bang for your buck you're going to find anywhere.

the other good option is to look into building your own hackintosh, there are a lot of good sites on that around if you google it, but it will be a lot harder and only cost marginally less --

if you can swing the refurb imac, you'll have a great setup.

you can also try an older used mac off ebay and it will probably work

Teleking
08-24-2011, 10:40 AM
Go MAC. I used three different PC machines. Even built and assembled them to Digi specs for PC and all three crashed constantly. Bought a Macbook and never had a problem again. Spend the extra and save the headache.

weshunter
08-24-2011, 10:44 AM
oh and yes, i agree -- you'll never be happy running it on a PC

if budget is your main concern though, consider a pc and reaper. you can still run your plugins and you'll save a ton of money.

there's no way to do pro tools on a budget pc, though

Pentatomic
08-24-2011, 11:15 AM
Thanks for the feedback! The only concern I have with Mac is all my software is for Windows. I am looking into Mac's, though, since they seem to be the most efficient. However, if I have to go PC, should I be looking at "high powered" machines, like a gaming computer?

guzman
08-24-2011, 12:57 PM
PC are ALWAYS a better value for the money.

For $750 You can go with a core i5 with 8 or 16gb ram. Get a cheap video card if the motherboard you choose doesn't have one onboard. Speaking of Motherboard, don't get the cheaper ones. With the money left get a hard drive or better, two (one for system, one for data/storage, the stuff you don't want to loose in case something goes wrong).

If it's not too old/weak, keep your current power supply.

Thanks for the feedback! The only concern I have with Mac is all my software is for Windows. I am looking into Mac's, though, since they seem to be the most efficient. However, if I have to go PC, should I be looking at "high powered" machines, like a gaming computer?

Looking at gaming computer is a bad idea if you dont want to play, because they'll focus mainly on the video card (aka GPU). And for audio stuff, you couldn't care less about video card, nowadays crappy onboard cards can run HD movies.

Pentatomic
08-24-2011, 01:40 PM
PC are ALWAYS a better value for the money.

For $750 You can go with a core i5 with 8 or 16gb ram.

Any suggestions on a good place to buy from?

Scott Whigham
08-24-2011, 01:45 PM
To take this sort of off topic, why Pro Tools? I'm a Pro Tools guy but it's overkill for a lot of folks. Reaper is way better on the wallet and on system resources. "If you don't need Pro Tools, don't buy it" is what I say. It costs almost as much as your computer.

Pentatomic
08-24-2011, 01:51 PM
To take this sort of off topic, why Pro Tools? I'm a Pro Tools guy but it's overkill for a lot of folks. Reaper is way better on the wallet and on system resources. "If you don't need Pro Tools, don't buy it" is what I say. It costs almost as much as your computer.

Because it's what I learned on and understand. I wouldn't want to start all over learning something new... it was hard enough for me to learn Pro Tools!

Scott Whigham
08-24-2011, 02:09 PM
Cool - that makes sense. I just see a lot of newbies coming in who think they need Pro Tools. For $750 you can buy a computer that can run Pro Tools for sure. My PT9 computer was $800 two years ago. However, I don't use lots of tracks but I do use a lot of plugins. I don't think I've ever even tried to go beyond six tracks (I record instrumental/solo guitar though - no band or vox).

For that money, I'd suggest two things -

1) Look for a used Intel i7 box - like this: http://chicago.craigslist.org/nch/sys/2561916092.html

2) Save about $200-$300 for a future purchase of an SSD drive

I'm assuming the $750 is just for the box and that you already have monitor, keyboard, mouse, etc.

In 2-3-6 months, plan on buying an 80GB or 120GB SSD drive. You can either make it your boot drive (I do that) or your audio drive. Either way, your PT performance will be vastly improved.

If you want to buy new, get a system that is bleeding edge and upgradeable. Systems today last longer than the systems of 3-4 years ago but still - it's better to buy a system with two 2GB RAM sticks than it is to buy a system with four 1GB RAM sticks!

fisticuffs
08-24-2011, 02:37 PM
ProTools is extremely picky about computer components. Just buying something with the best specs for the money isn't going to make life any easier. They have lists of approved RAM, Harddrives, OS, motherboards etc. etc. The easy answer for PT is to go Mac since they all meet PT's approved lists. otherwise there are companies that specialize in PC's for protools and other recording apps. We build these in house and also support them.
http://www.fullcompass.com/category/Desktop-Computers.html?&brand_id=QSP
The Project is a bit outside your budget in that base config but you may have options. Call and talk to Jose.

guzman
08-24-2011, 04:51 PM
Any suggestions on a good place to buy from?

I live in Europe, so no, sorry.

Scott Whigham
08-24-2011, 04:55 PM
ProTools is extremely picky about computer components. Just buying something with the best specs for the money isn't going to make life any easier. They have lists of approved RAM, Harddrives, OS, motherboards etc. etc.While this is technically true, it's not something that is always going to matter a whole lot. I've installed PT on several computers that were both off-the-rack and parts-based computers that I built. I've never once checked the list and I've never had a problem. That doesn't mean I won't have a problem later but I've done it on enough machines now that I wouldn't consult "the list" even if I was to buy a new machine.

YMMV of course!

Pentatomic
08-24-2011, 09:12 PM
this will run it perfectly

http://store.apple.com/us/product/FC508LL/A?mco=MTkwMjE2MzY




The more I research this, the more I think a Mac is the way to go. I run M-Powered 7.3 and I have the install disc for Mac, but I'm not sure if I'd have to upgrade to 8? Also, there's only 4 USB ports and I need more. That's probably an easy fix, though.

weshunter
08-24-2011, 09:35 PM
yeah easy fix with usb hub -- plus macs are so easy, no worrying about all that techie bs, just plug in and rock and everything works. i have 2 macs and 2 pcs, so I'm certainly not an apple fanboy or anything -- they both have their place. but the recording studio is the place for a mac.


if you like building computers from parts and getting all your software configured just right and all that, then you can save some money building a pc. but for me, i don't have that much time to play music b/w work and family and everything else -- i just want my computer to get out of the way and work right, and to make the actual creative stuff more fun. macs do this very well. i think you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who says "my recording setup got easier and better when i switched from mac to pc" except for people who are just anti-apple.

that's my more than $.02 anyway

whippoorwill
02-14-2013, 05:51 PM
I personally am sick and tired of the whole MAC world. I have a 4 year old Macbook pro, and put it through a tough time mixing and adding sound to a 30 minute short film. I was using Protools 10 and Media Composer 6. After 5 days the Macbook overheated to such an extent that the DVD drive warped and was no longer of any use. I decided to open up the mac with my special tools and discovered that the inside components are ALL manufactured my either Toshiba or Samsung. Also as a Windows user, recently I needed to reinstall my Mbox. The MAC did not allow me to give the USB port any extra power, but my new PC let me into the internal working of the machine and I was able to boost the USB port power and the MBox started working perfectly. I have friends that swear by their new PC systems and run Protools everyday.
Also: It is well known now that Media Composer runs better in a PC environment. As such if you are planning on using your system to edit both Video and Sound and sound for video... a PC seems a better alternative. Actually the price might not differ too much, but at least with a PC you can upgrade your internal components without having to pay APPLE a fortune.
Note: Since I upgraded to protools 10, my mac has stopped recognizing my 003 console and I have tried everything to get it working again... to no avail.
It does however work perfectly on my new PC platform...

deanmass
02-14-2013, 06:16 PM
Sigh.

FWIW- 20 years in large scale IT. Mac. By large scale, 1,000 machines.

however...

Pick your software, THEN pick yor hardware.

6shotsdown
02-14-2013, 06:19 PM
The learning curve isnt as bad switching from Pro Tools to Reaper. I just did it and it was a smooth transition. That said, if you know what you are doing, getting the DIY kits from Tiger Direct or Newegg are the way to go. You can get an i7 machine in your budget.

Regardless, Reaper will run much better on the PC then PT ever will.

Good luck!!!

Guitarist4u36
02-14-2013, 07:08 PM
Find a good used iMac and don't look back.

Guitarist4u36
02-14-2013, 07:09 PM
Or better still look at a new mac mini.

rog951
02-15-2013, 12:24 AM
If you absolutely MUST use ProTools, get a refurb MAC mini. Everything in the PT world seems to be geared toward Apple...you will likely have to deal with hurdle after hurdle running it on a PC. At least that was my experience with PT10. It worked, usually, but it was a hassle.

Or, switch to Reaper and just get any cheap PC with an i5 or above and 8G RAM! The "lite" versions of PT are crippled compared to Reaper, and the learning curve isn't THAT steep.

mattball826
02-15-2013, 01:04 AM
750-800 can get a good build pc and have no issues with pro tools 9 or 10.

i have pc and imac. i have no trouble running pro tools on either one. my newest build for about that price is running sonar x2 producer. fast and no problems with it either.

todays current hardware can run pro tools on pc or mac. neither are better imo. and i use both constantly. not a fanboy of either version.

B Money
02-15-2013, 07:05 AM
This is strange reading this thread, I've got PT10 running on a basic low-budget (~$500) Lenovo PC and it works great. The computer is nothing fancy, just your typical off the shelf PC with no upgrades or tweaking.

Guitarist4u36
02-15-2013, 08:27 AM
The way I look at it...and this is just my opinion, if I had a budget of only $700 or so to spend, I would want to put my money into a guaranteed investment. I use both Mac and PC. There's things I like and dislike about both systems. However, while you or I or anyone else might buy a PC and PT will work fine on it, we also must agree that there's a possibility that it won't on someone else's PC. Otherwise, we wouldn't be having this conversation. But I've never seen this conversation about using PT on a mac....mainly because PT seems to work without issues on a Mac. So to me, if I was a betting man, I'd put my budget in the most reliable choice. If money was no option and if I wanted to 'experiment' then sure, go PC. It just depends on if you're a risk taker or not I guess.

rog951
02-15-2013, 09:16 AM
This is strange reading this thread, I've got PT10 running on a basic low-budget (~$500) Lenovo PC and it works great. The computer is nothing fancy, just your typical off the shelf PC with no upgrades or tweaking.

Consider yourself lucky - I know the old saying "if it ain't broke don't fix it" but you should probably still go in and optimize your machine per Avid's guidelines. I'm surprised that machine is running PT so well with all the stuff Lenovo puts on there still running in the background!

mattball826
02-15-2013, 04:22 PM
The way I look at it...and this is just my opinion, if I had a budget of only $700 or so to spend, I would want to put my money into a guaranteed investment. I use both Mac and PC. There's things I like and dislike about both systems. However, while you or I or anyone else might buy a PC and PT will work fine on it, we also must agree that there's a possibility that it won't on someone else's PC. Otherwise, we wouldn't be having this conversation. But I've never seen this conversation about using PT on a mac....mainly because PT seems to work without issues on a Mac. So to me, if I was a betting man, I'd put my budget in the most reliable choice. If money was no option and if I wanted to 'experiment' then sure, go PC. It just depends on if you're a risk taker or not I guess.

today there are frequent reports of users having issues with both operating systems and pro tools. most of that is user error or really cheap interfaces. you get what you pay for goes further on interfaces than it does the computer choice. as long as you have decent spec computer and newer os, the rest is how good your interface is. ask all the maudio users that got their bundles of pro tools then ask the others with focusrite or rme or apogee.

its newer hardware and win 7 seems really stable with pro tools 9 or 10. it was mac happy with previous versions and xp was not a good platform for pro tools.

you also have to remember that most early pro tools mac systems were also dedicated. not used for word processing surfing yada yada.

todays systems and hardware can handle pro tools native software fine. fwiw most problems for both systems today has been avid itself.

different story for more advanced dedicated 20k+ hardware versions.

jb4674
02-15-2013, 05:29 PM
There's too many pc haters in TGP. Just keep in mind that no OS is perfect and as long as you configure it properly, it'll run any DAW application out there.

With that being said, Pro Tools isn't the end all be all DAW out there for a few reasons:

Pro Tools version 8 required specific hardware and while 9 liberated itself of hardware restrictions, there were still many bugs with it.

Pro Tools cannot benefit from a 64-bit architecture. Therefore, if you have more than 4gb of ram, PT won't take advantage of it.

In comparison, other DAWs will allow you to run either in 32-bit or 64-bit, there are no hardware restrictions and some of them are quite affordable (Reaper, Studio One Artist, etc.).

I built myself a pc that can smoke a mac pro any day of the week and it has never crashed/blue screened. In it, I have ran Reaper, Studio One and PT10. Of all those DAW's PT10 was by far the most finicky DAW to install and configure, while the others were a breeze.

soundchaser59
02-20-2013, 07:22 PM
To take this sort of off topic, why Pro Tools? I'm a Pro Tools guy but it's overkill for a lot of folks. Reaper is way better on the wallet and on system resources. "If you don't need Pro Tools, don't buy it" is what I say. It costs almost as much as your computer.

Because it's what I learned on and understand. I wouldn't want to start all over learning something new... it was hard enough for me to learn Pro Tools!

Why don't you get the same computer you learned on then? Why did you learn pro tools first? Some kinda school?

jefesq
02-20-2013, 09:06 PM
http://raincomputers.com/

runs both windows and mac os IIRC