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Thinking of buying new desktop computer for recording only

Hefalump

Member
Messages
8,637
There is an affordable desktop computer that I am eyeing up. It is $599 on sale. It is an Acer.

  • 2.9 GHz Intel Ci5-10400 processor and 12 GB DDR4 RAM offer good power to easily handle your day-to-day multitasking
  • 1 TB hard disk drive offer plenty of storage space for your files, media and applications
  • 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet port, 802.11ax/ac/a/b/g/n, Wi-Fi 6, and Bluetooth 5.1 offer seamless and efficient connectivity options
  • One card reader, 5 audio jacks, 1 USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C port, 5 USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type A ports, 2 HDMI ports, 1 LAN port, 4 USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type A ports, 2 USB 2.0 Type A ports offer plenty of options for external device connectivity
  • High definition audio output with 5.1 channel audio support lets you enjoy incredible sound
  • Preinstalled with Windows 10 Home operating system that features sophisticated apps and advanced security features
  • Includes a keyboard and a mouse for convenience

This will be much better than our current laptop (AMD processor), I assume????

I want to buy it today.......


I realize this isn't a $3500 pro studio level computer, but in my experience, I do not require that level of gear.
 

MickeyJi

Member
Messages
1,939
Does it have to be a Windows box? The new MacMini M1 seems like a truly cracking little computer! Even the cheapest iteration with 8 gb RAM should be enough to handle anything you throw at it (within reason)
 

Hefalump

Member
Messages
8,637
Then i have to buy logic i guess, and learn it......i am using samplitude now.

Think i will stick to pc......we own a bunch of apple stuff...3 computers....and I much prefer PC.
 
Last edited:

edward

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,435
I'll let those seasoned in recording chime in with specifics. But having been in computers for quite a long time, I'd personally hold out for a bit more because you're looking for a desktop. Were this a laptop, then I'd say sure, why not, since it can always (or very often) be repurposed as a "just in case" computer. But for a desktop that is gong to sit there for many years, I'd personally look for more "future proofing" because it is less likely to be replaced/repurposed as a desk machine.

1. The i5 10th gen is ok for now, but an i7 10th gen is not much more dough. Go i9 and I've personally seen a much bigger jump in price so for my bucks, the i7 seems to be a sweetspot for performance vs cost.

2. I'd opt for SSD over an old HDD. An SSD will reap dividends with speed and access. HDDs are so cheap now that if you run out of space it will cost you a pittance to add an external.

3. I've found that 12GB RAM is plenty for now, but heck, I'm a very simple user with a 2i2/Reaper, and I don't use fancy anything; I'm a bare-bones user. So it's a good start, just make sure your RAM slots will accommodate far more RAM, which most current desktop motherboards do, but you definitely must check as some bargain-basement units will cap you pretty low.

BTW, I just went through this whole search several months ago but for a laptop, FWIW. Given we are in "Black Friday" season, all bets are off WRT pricing ...keep your eyes peeled. Everyone and his cousin is offering "deals" ...heck Home Depot started theirs at the beginning of Nov! So this coming two weeks or so will --perhaps? as everything is so wonky now-- bring you some options. Happy hunting! :)

Edward
 

eclecto-acoustic

Coal-hating feral hippie
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
10,215
@Hefalump it kinda depends what exactly you want to do, and what your current laptop specs are.

Basic audio capture is really not all that demanding of a task, and modern consumer hardware is easily capable of handling recording simultaneous track counts that far exceed that of even ambitious hobbyists. If that's all you're doing, that tower will serve you well into the future.

For real, I'm gonna stress the above point. Even using a bog standard mechanical hard drive and a USB 2 interface at typical settings, you could capture upwards of 24 tracks at a time with room to breathe. Don't get sucked into Thunderbolt or SSDs on this basis...they are useful, but NOT for that!

Where you need the extra RAM is for big sample libraries like drums and some synths. Raw CPU power is needed for real time instrument and effect processing like guitar amps, more synths, reverbs, delays, etc.
 
Last edited:

jogogonne

Member
Messages
442
I like to have my recording software on my surfing computer, because I use it as a metronome, click track, practice tools etc, etc.

Very convenient having all on 1 computer...
 

ProfRhino

Member
Messages
6,814
if you really want to do audio, I would strongly suggest to go DIY, if necessary ask a friend for help.
the problem with these affordable all-you-can-eat offerings is they are trying to do it all, but nothing really well. :rolleyes:
get a spartanic but quality board, Intel CPU, the rest according to budget, install a slim, de-bloated Windows, and that little machine will outperform all-in-one monsters at 3x the price !
especially if you resist the temptation of putting it online, so you can get by without all the invasive background tasks you would need for online security and privacy.
audio recording is the hardest task you can throw at a computer, it's the only job that is realtime by definition, you'll get no 2nd chance if there was a glitch. :dunno
the same is true for an amateur, recording a mono track of guitar noodling, as well as for Hans Zimmer doing a movie score ...
doing audio on a pre-installed consumer PC is like trying to do your tax declaration in the middle of an open air concert, simply impossible to focus on the actual task. :p

just saying,
Rhino
 

Hefalump

Member
Messages
8,637
if you really want to do audio, I would strongly suggest to go DIY, if necessary ask a friend for help.
the problem with these affordable all-you-can-eat offerings is they are trying to do it all, but nothing really well. :rolleyes:
get a spartanic but quality board, Intel CPU, the rest according to budget, install a slim, de-bloated Windows, and that little machine will outperform all-in-one monsters at 3x the price !
especially if you resist the temptation of putting it online, so you can get by without all the invasive background tasks you would need for online security and privacy.
audio recording is the hardest task you can throw at a computer, it's the only job that is realtime by definition, you'll get no 2nd chance if there was a glitch. :dunno
the same is true for an amateur, recording a mono track of guitar noodling, as well as for Hans Zimmer doing a movie score ...
doing audio on a pre-installed consumer PC is like trying to do your tax declaration in the middle of an open air concert, simply impossible to focus on the actual task. :p

just saying,
Rhino
I only connect recording computers to net to download files and software or to transfer files.
 

ProfRhino

Member
Messages
6,814
I only connect recording computers to net to download files and software or to transfer files.
ok, good ! :aok
so why not go the final, extra step and outsource these few tasks to one of your other PCs as well ?
all you'll need is a $10 LAN connection, or even simpler, a USB stick to transfer files back and forth (which will come virus-scanned from the internet PC already, so you won't need AV, firewall and all that junk on your audio PC !)

real world comparison, here are my two main PCs, home built like all my machines since the 90s (and dozens for colleagues) :
-- DAW
5820k, 6/12 cores @ 4.5, optimized for audio, no www
-- WWW
6850k (newer !), 6/12 cores @ 4.5, bigger VGA, having all the everyday convenience features "needed"
-- both
the rest is basically comparable, ASUS boards, 32GB RAM, RME interfaces and so on
guess what ?
the stripped down DAW performs about 40% better in Cubase than the newer multimedia monster !

the difference to a pre-installed consumer PC with the same CPU would be much bigger ...

QED, ymmv,
Rhino
 

Motterpaul

Tone is in the Ears
Messages
12,505
Coupla things...

1) You don't want to store your audio files on the same drive as your OS files (or your DAW installation)_ you want audio on a separate drive. If you can ADD an SSD on this computer and make it the OS drive that would make this ideal.

2) You generally do NOT need a lot of USB or audio in/out support for a daw machine because audio playback and recording are handled through the audio interface, which usually only requires one good USB port.

I think the best recording desktop has a few USB ports (for the interface and midi instrument input), an SSD for software including the OS, the fastest processor you can afford, a added 1TB hard drive for audio only, at least 16BG RAM and a separate graphics card. That's it.

You don't need ANY audio in or out, the Interface handles that.
 

Hefalump

Member
Messages
8,637
ok, good ! :aok
so why not go the final, extra step and outsource these few tasks to one of your other PCs as well ?
all you'll need is a $10 LAN connection, or even simpler, a USB stick to transfer files back and forth (which will come virus-scanned from the internet PC already, so you won't need AV, firewall and all that junk on your audio PC !)

real world comparison, here are my two main PCs, home built like all my machines since the 90s (and dozens for colleagues) :
-- DAW
5820k, 6/12 cores @ 4.5, optimized for audio, no www
-- WWW
6850k (newer !), 6/12 cores @ 4.5, bigger VGA, having all the everyday convenience features "needed"
-- both
the rest is basically comparable, ASUS boards, 32GB RAM, RME interfaces and so on
guess what ?
the stripped down DAW performs about 40% better in Cubase than the newer multimedia monster !

the difference to a pre-installed consumer PC with the same CPU would be much bigger ...

QED, ymmv,
Rhino
I am a little confused as to how I am getting my downloaded licenced software to this stand alone computer....ie Daw??
 

eclecto-acoustic

Coal-hating feral hippie
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
10,215
And this is the problem with running a DAW machine offline. Too much software needs to phone home at some point, at least for authentication purposes, and managing the various methods on an offline machine can be tedious.
 

ProfRhino

Member
Messages
6,814
I am a little confused as to how I am getting my downloaded licenced software to this stand alone computer....ie Daw??
95% of all DAW related software offers offline activation.
(NI being an ugly exception :facepalm).

3 main methods :
  1. serial / keyfile - by far the best !
  2. dongle (iLok, eLicenser, authorized USB stick) - authorize on any online PC, plug into the DAW, bam !
  3. challenge / response (generate a system ID (challenge) on the offline machine, enter it on the website using any online machine, get back a specific response code / keyfile for the DAW, enter it - bingo. A bit convoluted, but hey, it's only like 2 mins, and you'll be good until you do a major hardware change (which will require to renew the authorization).
personally, if I can't get #1, I prefer the dongle method - it's the least trouble in use. :cool:
not machine specific, no issues with HW changes or OS re-installs ...
(mobile users might see this different, but on a desktop it's pretty much a no-brainer, imho)

Too much software needs to phone home at some point
none of the major players, afaics. :dunno
do you have an example ?
sure, they all would love to spy on you, but hey - eventually they'll accept the cold hard facts ! :confused
auto-updates can usually be disabled in the settings, which is a good idea anyway.

ymmv, but my DAWs have always been strictly offline since the 90s, and I wouldn't want it any other way !
Rhino
 

zekmoe

Member
Messages
10,937
There is an affordable desktop computer that I am eyeing up. It is $599 on sale. It is an Acer.

  • 2.9 GHz Intel Ci5-10400 processor and 12 GB DDR4 RAM offer good power to easily handle your day-to-day multitasking
  • 1 TB hard disk drive offer plenty of storage space for your files, media and applications
  • 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet port, 802.11ax/ac/a/b/g/n, Wi-Fi 6, and Bluetooth 5.1 offer seamless and efficient connectivity options
  • One card reader, 5 audio jacks, 1 USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C port, 5 USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type A ports, 2 HDMI ports, 1 LAN port, 4 USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type A ports, 2 USB 2.0 Type A ports offer plenty of options for external device connectivity
  • High definition audio output with 5.1 channel audio support lets you enjoy incredible sound
  • Preinstalled with Windows 10 Home operating system that features sophisticated apps and advanced security features
  • Includes a keyboard and a mouse for convenience

This will be much better than our current laptop (AMD processor), I assume????

I want to buy it today.......


I realize this isn't a $3500 pro studio level computer, but in my experience, I do not require that level of gear.
It will probably work fine but more memory in my experience is better. See if you can go a bit higher for 16-32gb.
Pro studio systems are 10-20k easily. When you add protools or Dante gear, more.
 

ProfRhino

Member
Messages
6,814
It will probably work fine but more memory in my experience is better. See if you can go a bit higher for 16-32gb.
Pro studio systems are 10-20k easily. When you ad protools or Dante gear, more.
true, but there is a huge, more reasonable middle ground for all of us, including smaller commercial studios.
a player who only wants to jam to playbacks and occasionally record himself will be perfectly fine with a small DIY solution (see above), Studio One or Cubase Artist and a decent interface.
1000 - 1500 credits all in all, if you need to buy everything new.

16GB are affordable, and plenty, unless you use large sample libraries - but I wouldn't want to go lower either.
I use Superior 3, Kontakt and a few other heavy sample players on a regular basis, and never maxed out my 32GB yet, not even remotely. :dunno
but I'm doing "traditional", often guitar based material, no dance, hiphop or EDM.

ymmv,
Rhino
 

eclecto-acoustic

Coal-hating feral hippie
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
10,215
none of the major players, afaics. :dunno
do you have an example ?
sure, they all would love to spy on you, but hey - eventually they'll accept the cold hard facts ! :confused
auto-updates can usually be disabled in the settings, which is a good idea anyway.

ymmv, but my DAWs have always been strictly offline since the 90s, and I wouldn't want it any other way !
Rhino
As you mentioned above, NI was one of them. Anything iLok will use that system. Arturia has their own software center that does online activation...which has caused problems for some folks in the past, especially if you happen to get and try to activate your software during a busy season. They also offer an offline activation option, but it's a different process still.

My main point was that I just wish everyone did a simple machine-lock license with the option for a dongle for those that travel with their licenses. I've read more than a few horror stories of mission-critical software on offline machines that crap the bed and lose their license keys. It might be a vanishing minority, but it's not a problem anyone wants to deal with EVER.
 

ProfRhino

Member
Messages
6,814
As you mentioned above, NI was one of them. Anything iLok will use that system. Arturia has their own software center that does online activation...which has caused problems for some folks in the past, especially if you happen to get and try to activate your software during a busy season. They also offer an offline activation option, but it's a different process still.

My main point was that I just wish everyone did a simple machine-lock license with the option for a dongle for those that travel with their licenses. I've read more than a few horror stories of mission-critical software on offline machines that crap the bed and lose their license keys. It might be a vanishing minority, but it's not a problem anyone wants to deal with EVER.
well, iLok is dongle only for me (so trouble free), their machine activation sucks.
Arturia offline is completely painless (ok, avoid the few super busy days for activation - no big deal).
I always use the individual installers, "download assistants" are a nightmare. :hide2
NI lost my business for good (I used to buy Komplete Krap for many years in the past), I've found valid / better replacements for all their stuff, except for a handful of Kontakt libraries I still use, fortunately K5 is still activated from better days.
If this will stop working one day, I'll switch to Halion, VSL or a similar, dongle based solution. :dunno

the internet is full of horror stories that are almost impossible to verify, I go by 25 years of personal experience instead, and that of local colleagues who use my systems / services, all offline (with two exceptions).
it's more of a neighborhood help thing though, not a commercial operation - I do their computers, and they fix my car or do my garden.

we can certainly agree that options are always a good thing ! :aok
else, ymmv of course,
Rhino
 




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