Music PCs – part 2

So continuing from last time let’s move on and look at what else can affect our sequencer performance.

Hard Disk Drives

Hard Disk Drives are where data is stored when the computer is powered off. The most important factor is the rotation speed. The faster the disc rotates the faster it is possible to access the information on them. They vary in speed from 5,400 RPM for laptops to 10,000 RPM. 7200 is a common and a good compromise.

It is often a good idea to have separate drives for software and audio files so that Windows and software background tasks don’t interfere with audio streaming.

Be sure to buy 2.5 inch for laptops and 3.5 inch for desktops. Alternatively you could buy an external USB drive but beware of ones which require a separate power supply if you are running a laptop and need to work outdoors. Solid state drives (SSD) can be very fast but very expensive.  If budgets are tight, don’t bother. More memory will probably serve you better.

Expansion Cards

These include graphics cards, modems, sound cards, network cards and many others. All of these cards place a drain on system resources and will slow the system down to some degree so where speed is crucial minimising these is ideal.

I personally have a separate PC for audio use with no network card, and no internal sound card (I have a USB module.).

Fans

Fans can be noisy. If your computer will be used near microphones, this could be an important factor. You could try replacing yours with one from  Corsair, NoctuaScythe or Cooler Master.

Windows

All modern processors are 64 bit (avoid 32 bit which is far less efficient and will waste processor time) and so you should get a 64 bit version of Windows, and where possible all other software including music software. Some software such as Ableton Live is only available in 64 bit. Windows 7 is still perfectly good (at the time of writing Windows 10 is not yet out). I have personally not tried Windows 8 and have rarely heard anyone say anything good about it and so unless your chosen software demands it (check before you buy) stick with Windows 7.

Summary

The most important things to focus on when buying a PC for music are processor and memory. Other things are less important overall. While it makes some sense to get the best you can pay for, if budgets are tight AMD processors are much cheaper and will cope with all but the most extreme abuse. It depends on your needs. Intel is unlikely to let you down but unless you are running a professional studio for hire, in which case buy an Apple Mac (all of which use Intel), AMD will do a perfectly good job in most cases. If you must use a laptop, go for Intel, but where possible a desktop will almost always be more powerful.

And don’t forget, if you can cut down on the number of reverb processors by using sends this will save a lot of processing power.

Now, let’s go make some music. 😉

 

 

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  1. Pingback: Music PCs – part 1 | MusicBizHow2

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