If you are looking for something better than the one provided by your PC, then it is best to look for another type of computer that might be more suitable for production purposes or a business-related purpose. In this article, we will talk about hardware selection for computers and software, such as operating systems and applications. We will also discuss what parts are most suited for manufacturing computer components.
The following points explain how to choose a right part for production equipment:
1) Keep in mind different hardware types have different functions;
2) There are lots of products to choose from. As a result, make sure you check each kind carefully;
3) Each piece can function as an individual component or several parts;
4) Make sure you know what makes them work before purchasing them;
5) Don’t buy all kinds of machines at once. The price for the parts varies depending on the quality of the product;
6) Think about whether it is necessary to install multiple pieces of equipment or not;
7) It is easier to find some spare parts or even just add extra memory;
Choosing what hardware to purchase for a project
The first thing that you may want to think about when choosing whether to buy new or used parts to build a machine is the cost. This rule applies to both computers and printers. A person with no background in electronics should do research about which parts are needed for a given type. Also, there are usually three stages in building a desktop computer. First, the motherboard and graphics card should go first. But it depends on which part the machine has, i.e. whether it is a laptop, a gaming system, or a server. You may also have a case and a monitor in your choice. Second, you will need the RAM. Thirdly, you can choose the processor, which is the heart of your machine. Some laptops come with two processors, while others can have four in their configuration. Depending on the size of the machine, you should try choosing one. The processor makes it possible to manage data faster. With so many different models, make sure you select one that you like. However, if the CPU does nothing but work slowly because it was not built for heavy operation, you may consider another option. The third stage is the hard disk drive. They store everything you download, do a lot of work, and they can sometimes get stolen. So, let’s say you are saving files on your thumb drive or maybe a micro SD card but you don’t want to loose your important ones. And finally, the motherboard may have an HDD. Its main job is connecting the chips with other components on the motherboard. When selecting hardware, you don’t need to talk much about its speed. I mean how much power it may produce, how large is its capacity, what kind of voltage regulation it provides. The most essential part is how well it works. What I mean here is that the motherboard shouldn’t produce too much juice just to avoid overheating. At least you can control your computer’s temperature. Therefore, there are different manufacturers. These include HP, Gigabyte, IBM, NEC, Toshiba and other producers, so please keep in mind that the manufacturer’s reputation can influence the final cost. It is worth noting that you may have various options for the motherboard.
The second step in the process is deciding what kind of motherboard you want to use. After the motherboard selection, you can also pick the motherboard’s chip packaging. Most manufacturers offer some choices for both solid and liquid chips, either of them can be a normal USB bay or a SATA port. For example, Intel and AMD give you different versions of the same board, whereas the Nvidia GeForce gives you only the GT520G version. Here, you need to be aware that the company doesn’t always follow the standards and offers additional features when compared to the standard product.
Now you are ready to deal with the last step: choose the GPU. Many people buy a single GPU, such as NVIDIA GeForce GT 550 series or the AMD Radeon HD 4500MX. Some people prefer a dual GPU pair. Others prefer a quad-core GPU. Either way, it is up to you when choosing hardware. That is an easy decision since all the major manufactures make different cards for a variety of users and have different prices, but one thing that you should be aware of is that it can become a problem for anyone who needs a huge amount of performance without the appropriate hardware. Another point to remember is that you get most of those GPUs at the beginning. Thus, it is advisable to install a few hundred dollars before making the purchase.
When you start thinking about purchasing parts, one rule that you should keep in mind is that you need to consider every feature of it before buying it. A good rule is to pay attention to “what you need”, “what you need now”, “why there are still spare parts”, “how long it will take to reach where you want it”, and “how much it costs” to consider each option. An example is a video game console versus a personal computer. In general, the next best option is the game console as an alternative to personal computers. Yes, the consoles are expensive, but they will give you a higher level of comfort than any of your computer will ever have. Let me clarify: I am saying this as an advice, not to tell someone else what to do with their money without checking on it and seeing what benefits and drawbacks they can get. When talking about the advantages, it means that both can play games. Both can also provide services such as remote support so that someone out of town cannot help you on your device if you cannot leave home. So, what is the difference between playing games in PCs and PS4? Well, the biggest advantage is that both can stream and watch movies and TV shows on the internet. Although, the game console is going to consume less electricity, you won’t be able to access the full Internet content. As for the disadvantages, there is obviously a big difference. Because you cannot run an entire game on your own, the chances are slim to get the full story. Also, you need to rent it and purchase it so that nobody can bother you about the money. On the contrary, your computer will keep humming until everything happens at the end. Which you cannot do with the console.
In closing, it is up to you to choose a computer to develop your business operations. There are lots of brands and products from companies which manufacture similar things, and it is up to you to decide which one is best for your operation or even your home. Also, make sure you know everything about parts and your computer’s capabilities. Then, you can be certain that you will get the best computer for your office or home.
The CPU (Central Processing Unit) or microprocessor is the brains of the computer. This is where all the work happens, i.e. the instructions contained in software are all executed. Modern CPUs are capable of executing millions, even billions of instructions every second.
There are a couple of important properties that a CPU has, that are of interest to us as music software users…
- Clock speed – Measured in GHz, the higher the clock speed the faster your CPU can execute instructions. Typical values range from 2 GHz up to 4 GHz.
- Number of cores – This boils down to how many things can the processor do at the same time. The greater the number of cores it has, the more things it can do at once. The number of cores modern processors have ranges from 4 up to 12 cores.
If you pick a CPU that doesn’t have enough cores or a clock speed too slow for your music software, you may experience the software starting to feel slow and unresponsive. At worst, you may even hear audio glitches – clicks, pops or drop-outs. This is extremely unlikely with today’s microprocessors; you would have to be doing something really extraordinary with your software to get to this point.
You can consider 2 GHz clock speed with 6 cores (typical of an Intel Core i5 processor) the minimum requirement for a music production computer.
Memory or RAM (Random Access Memory) is temporary storage inside your computer. It is needed by the CPU to store intermediate data for all the calculations and work that it does. As such, RAM is very important and the more of it you have the better. RAM is measured in GB (Gigabytes); typical values are 4GB, 8GB, 16GB, 32GB, etc. Don’t confuse memory with storage, which is the subject of the next section.
If you didn’t have enough RAM, the computer would start to use the hard disk as a sort of pseudo-RAM, swapping in and out blocks of data between RAM and hard disk as it needs it. The problem with this is that hard disks are much slower than RAM, so when this happens you are likely to notice a slow-down with your computer. If this happens too much, you may even experience audio glitches.
I would suggest that these days, 8 GB of RAM is the minimum a music computer should have. You might get away with 6GB or even 4GB, but I think 8 GB is a safer starting point.
This is where all your data, including all your music files are stored. It holds all the files the computer uses and all the applications that it has installed. There are two main types of storage…
- HDD (Hard Disk Drive) – traditional hard drives, which contain a mechanical moving head that magnetizes a tiny area of a disk to change it from a “0” to a “1”. HDD’s are cheaper and can hold more data than SSD’s, but they are slower.
- SSD (Solid State Drive) – do not contain any moving parts; stores the data entirely in semiconductor “chips”. They are more expensive than HDD’s for the same amount of storage capacity, but they are much faster.
There are two main considerations with storage; capacity and speed. Capacity is measured in GB (Gigabytes) or TB (Terabytes) : 1 TB = approx. 1000 GB. Speed is measure in Megabytes per second (MBps). HDDs are best for capacity, whereas SSDs are best for speed.
Storage is not just used to store data; it is also used to run your software from. You want your software to run from the fastest storage possible, so it launches quickly. In practice, this means that the most efficient storage set-up is to have a lower capacity SSD to install your software to, and a higher capacity HDD to store data.
The implications of not having enough storage are fairly obvious; you won’t have enough room to store all your data or install all your software. You would have to delete, uninstall or archive data to make room.
The storage space that music software, especially software that uses libraries of sounds, is ever increasing year-on-year. For example, Superior Drummer’s full sound core library currently weighs in at a whopping 230 GB. So it is always worth getting large capacity storage, more than you currently need. Fortunately, this is one of the easiest components in a PC to upgrade, and you can always add more external storage at a later date.
In my opinion a 500GB SSD or a 1TB HDD is the minimum requirement for a music computer. Preferably you should have both; the SSD to install your software on, and the HDD to store your music projects, recordings and data.
The basic rule with monitors for use with music software is….get the highest resolution you can afford!
There is usually so much to keep track of when you’re working in a music project; maybe 20 tracks in your DAW, the mixer, several plugins, several virtual instruments, multiple amp sim instances, meters…the list goes on. So it is very easy to use up screen real estate very quickly. The higher resolution monitor you have, the more you can fit on screen at once. I have a full HD (1920×1080) monitor, and to be honest I could do with a bit higher resolution.
Notice I refer to monitor resolution, not monitor size. The two are obviously closely related, but it is resolution that decides how much you can fit on screen. Laptops tend to have higher resolutions on smaller screens than desktop monitors.
1680 x 1050 is probably the minimum you can get away with today. Although personally if I was buying a music computer tomorrow, I would pick a full HD resolution (1920 x 1080) as a starting point, and work up from there to the highest resolution I could afford.
The components already discussed (CPU, Memory, Storage, Monitor) are the most important specs when considering a computer for music production. I just want to mention a couple of other points here, not as important but worth keeping in mind…
- Motherboard – this is the main electronics board inside your PC that everything else connects to. It is worth considering as it will determine how upgradable your PC will be – how much RAM you can fit, how many hard drives you can connect, etc.
- Ports/Connectivity – for music production, the most important ports are USB and Thunderbolt. There are different types of USB port – it’s always worth checking that the port you require to connect your audio interface to is provided.
As I own and use Superior Drummer 3, I am in a position to provide some information on its resource use. These figures come from my own testing, using the methodologies already discussed. These were performed on the same computer that I used to obtain the figures for Reaper.
- Install folder size: 4.57 MB
- Sample library folder size: 240 GB
- Memory use, standalone (default kit loaded): 1264.3 MB
- CPU use, standalone (default kit loaded): 2.4%
- Memory use, as a plugin in Reaper (default kit loaded): 1202 MB
- CPU use, as a plugin in Reaper (default kit loaded): 1.6%
Superior drummer can be used in standalone mode (running as a program on its own) or as a plugin in a DAW. I have provided figures for both above.
You can see that Superior Drummer is relatively heavy on CPU and memory use, without being overwhelmingly so. This is generally fine, as in most music projects you are only likely to have one instance of a drum program running. It’s not like a guitar amp sim, where you could have several instances running, one for each guitar part in your track.
So although Superior Drummer uses a fair portion of the computer resources, that is not likely to be a problem. In my opinion that trade-off is well worth it for the quality of the sounds and patterns that it provides, and the quality of the software in general.