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  #1  
Old 07-14-2014, 07:13 AM
benherron.rrr benherron.rrr is offline
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Default Need urgent help trying to decide what computer to get

Having had to deal with a pretty un-stable PT system for some years I have finally got to a place where I cant deal with having to spend most of my time trying to solve issues opposed to working, it is costing me time, money, projects and most of all my love of what I do. So it's time to bite the bullet, pull some money from my new car fund and purchase a workable computer, however I am in a big dilemma regarding what I should do.

Possible solutions:

Buy a custom PC, using components recommended on this forum in an attempt to build a stable windows based PT machine. One thing that puts me off this idea is stability, I don't want to go and fork out £1.5k for a windows machine that could keep me in the same position I am in now for the sake of saving cash.
I have thought about making a Hackintosh, but with limited technical knowledge and being as sick as I am of an unstable system, I want a bit more of a plug and play option.

Move over to an apple based system:

An imac would be a good option but I do not want a built in screen, the size and placement would ruin the stereo field in my studio and I currently run a 2 screen setup which is perfect for my workflow.

Mac Mini, a tempting solution but the current hardware is no better than what I am running now and if I'm going to upgrade I may as well upgrade rather than crossgrade. I find the expansion a bit too limiting, I would be stuck with this machine with little room for it to allow expansion in the future.

Used 5.1 Mac Pro: Getting a good machine will cost me around £1.5k plus a few hundred for the hard drives I would need to buy and install. These are good workhorses that would serve me very well and allow for the growth of my studio into the future. However, one thing that bothers me is with the new Mac Pro's seemingly taking a new direction in connectivity and the new architecture I don't want to buy a tower Mac Pro and have it obsolete in a year or 2.

New Mac Pro: I am in an advantageous situation when it comes to these things as this would be my first Mac and a computer that I am considering more for the purpose of growing into over the next 5+ years. My current studio setup is pretty simple and well thought out for my needs which means, unlike many, I don't have to worry about losing money or having to lay out a lot of money to transfer my system to the new "everything external" approach. If this is the way technology is going it could be a big money saver over the years. However, the cost is massive, not un-affordable but more than enough to make me think really hard about making this jump. The graphics cards are just overkill, but given the technology to be able to off load processing onto the cards, this could be advantageous looking into the long term but useless now. I don't particularly like not having in tower expansion, spending that much on a PC and being un able to throw hard drives into it, pci cards etc. just sends shivers down my spine. I don't particularly like apple as a company, spending that much on a pc and them not even being willing to throwing a keyboard and mouse is just a bit cheap IMO, I just don't agree with their business ethics.

These are my options, I have done a good deal of research but I can't reach a conclusion. I'm looking for a good quad core, at least 16GB RAM (preferably expandable) the ability to run 2 monitors, have a 4 hard drive setup (OS, Recording/playback, Sample libraries for VI's and USB Back up drive) Be future proof for at least the next 5 years and have enough power for me to grow into without me wasting money on having an overkill system. I enjoy and participate in almost every angle in the industry, from being an artist, composer using pretty heavy VI's (EastWest, BFD3 etc), doing recording/mixing work for people, I need a machine that can handle it all. I don't mind going Apple OS or staying with windows 7, I just want a very stable, capable system out of the box that I can grow into and guarantee will be supported and cater to my needs for at least a 5 year period, if not 7-10 years.

Thank you very much for any light you can provide to my personally very difficult situation.
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Old 07-14-2014, 08:51 PM
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zedhed zedhed is offline
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Default Re: Need urgent help trying to decide what computer to get

If you haven't done so already, take a look at this thread;
http://duc.avid.com/showthread.php?t=238426

For the most up to date stuff, start reading from the end of the thread. It is very long but full of great information on home builds (some with proven track records for compatibility/reliability).

Personally, I'd suggest 'building your own' if you decide to go the PC route. But if you go down this road, do plenty of research first. The above link is a good place to start.
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Old 07-15-2014, 06:21 AM
benherron.rrr benherron.rrr is offline
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Default Re: Need urgent help trying to decide what computer to get

Cheers thanks,

I have reading through that thread a fair bit recently. As I mentioned, although I am competent with computers I am not so much when it comes to builds and complex settings, given the instability my current PC has given me I don't particularly trust myself to take on a build like this. At the moment I am siding with a mac mainly to give myself an easier time. . . but its hard to bring myself to drop the extra cash on apple tax
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Old 07-15-2014, 11:43 AM
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Default Re: Need urgent help trying to decide what computer to get

The most current builds are on the first page. Make a parts list, post it in the thread for comments, finalize the list, take it to a trusted computer parts store and have the machine built and Windows loaded and burned in. Bring the box home, do all the documented optimizations for your version of Windows and the ones DUC members have discovered, load on Acronis True Image Home and make a backup image for "ground zero". Install the drivers for your interface, Pro Tools and the Air Creative Collection, open Pro Tools and make sure its working properly. When it is, make another ATIH backup and continue to make ATIH backups before you do any update, upgrade, install or uninstall.

My build is on that first page. I'm on Windows 8.1 Update and Pro Tools 11.2.0 and, except for the odd hiccup, all has been well. As always, YMMV.

Another option to DIY is to get in touch with guitardom from here on the DUC or visit this/his website - there's a US and UK option.

Cheers,
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Old 07-15-2014, 12:19 PM
propower propower is offline
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Default Re: Need urgent help trying to decide what computer to get

Before you talk computer what is:

1) Your hardware configuration - your software configuration
2) Max inputs at once
3) Most demanding DAW/Computer task (VI's, super low latency, etc...)
4) Tolerance for latency in realtime recording
5) What is your current set up and what does unstable mean??

Without this kind of info computer suggestions are not going to be so useful
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Old 07-15-2014, 05:32 PM
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Default Re: Need urgent help trying to decide what computer to get

Good points ^^^^

Post a Sandra report on your current computer and others may be able to offer suggestions to get it going. All optimizations done?

Cheers,
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Old 07-16-2014, 05:43 AM
benherron.rrr benherron.rrr is offline
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Default Re: Need urgent help trying to decide what computer to get

Thanks The Weed, The Pro Tools PC looks very impressive and the specs are very similar to the build I was trying to work out. If I decide not to go the apple route I think one of this will be my choice.

Good points Propower, something I overlooked when writing the thread.

By unstable I mean that I pretty much constantly have issues with Pro Tools, ever since I started on 8LE If I'm honest. It can be anywhere from freeze crashes, plug-in instability, crashing on save or mid recording, VI's being very touch and go, odd CPU spikes that cause crashes. . . etc, I have posted a good few sandra reports on here before when I have had numerous problems and the general response I seem to get is that my problems are related to hardware issues. It has just got to the point where my constant issues are ruining my love and motivation and I am constantly letting people down as well as myself in terms of projects due to it.

My computer isn't particularly the problem, it has the power to do what I need it to (i7 2.8, 8GB RAM) and generally runs very fluently except when it comes to Pro Tools, I have done the win7 optimizations and even done multiple fresh installs over the years but have never been able to make a stable system.

My setup at the moment is very modest, Dell 8100 (computer), running multiple HD's for OS, Audio and samples, Pro Tools 11.3, a new mbox pro, control surface and graded hammer action keyboard. My main VI's are EastWest pianos and SO, BFD3/2, a couple select waves/NI plugs. When I'm not working on my own projects as an artist, I am composing music for media or am working on mixes. Call me a jack of all trades but I love almost every area of music and like to keep things fresh by doing multiple things.

I have really had enough of working on a system that I just can't trust any more, I have lost too many hours of work either from crashes mid-take or having to solve problems that magically appear over night. As I said, while my setup is rather modest, If I decide a new computer is the way to go I want to make sure my studio can expand around the comp over the next few years, I may have a laughable Mbox3 Pro now, but in the future I will be looking to upgrade to something along the lines of an appollo to meet my growing needs, I will be expanding to more, better quality VI's as I look to improve the quality of my ITB media compositions etc. My studio now is a very workable place, but the time is nearing where I will be looking to do my second round of upgrades. This is why I have been tempted by a new mac pro, if modular computing is the way its going I may as well jump on the train while I have no large investments in PCI/internal gear, money spent now could be saved 3 times over a few years down the line, if you get where I'm coming from.
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Old 07-16-2014, 09:47 AM
AudioEngineer591 AudioEngineer591 is offline
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Default Re: Need urgent help trying to decide what computer to get

Buy a gaming PC. Get an MSI laptop. I brought one and I'm good for years to come. And their CPUs and GPUs are upgradable.
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  #9  
Old 07-16-2014, 10:12 AM
propower propower is offline
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Default Re: Need urgent help trying to decide what computer to get

Can't help on the Windows side anymore - been too long

On the Mac side - everything from the lowly i7 Mac Mini to the nMP are very workable machines - with minimal if any hardware issues with PT. PT is very fussy about Plug ins and some VI's work great whilst others tax the crap out of even a nMP. So in general - the new computer will certainly solve some things - plug in specific things you will still have to work through.
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  #10  
Old 07-16-2014, 11:12 AM
benherron.rrr benherron.rrr is offline
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Default Re: Need urgent help trying to decide what computer to get

I don't really want to go the gaming PC route, when I bought my current PC I had a fairly small budget to go by so I went for a cheaper option to spend more on other pieces of equipment. I learnt from my mistake so am choosing to get a proper machine for the job.

Propower, I have been trying to work out how I should spec a nMP. I would go for 16GB RAM, double what I have now which will be perfect for my needs and upgradable in the future when kits will be a bit cheaper. I was going to go for the 512gb flash memory, but aren't sure if I should keep the stock 256gb and opt for the 6 core processor, or have more memory and keep the standard 4 core.

I have read that the flash memory is upgradeable which would be a plus for the future and seen as my current set-up uses slightly under 100GB on my OS drive I felt like 256GB would suffice for now.

Hard drives are also an issue, I was planning to get a couple of lacie d2 3TB thunderbolt drives to use as sample/recording drives. I currently have a lacie d2 1TB drive that I use for samples connected though eSATA (also FW800 and USB2 connections available) It would be great to utilize this drive, but would firewire 800 (via TB-FW800 cable) have sufficient bandwidth? Would this set up work or would you suggest another solution?


Computers are computers, they are always going to have problems, I just feel like a mac may give me less headaches and be a bit easier to work through these issues and since they are quite the standard format in the creative industries I feel like they have more support and compatibility from developers. It is foolish never to expect problems, it just good to have an option which leaves you with less downtime.
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