Building a PC for audio production
Hey everyone! Casey here. I'm always seeing questions on what to look for when buying/building a computer for audio production. So today we're going to shed some light on the subject to hopefully make your life easier. First off is the debate between Mac and PC. I personally have never used a Mac for audio, but I know the high end models are very reliable and used regularly all through out the music industry. My only problem when looking to build a system is Macs are very expensive when comparing the parts to a PC. But that doesn't change the fact that they are still awesome systems none the less. Now, on to what I have most knowledge with, buying/building a PC. There are plenty of pre-made computers that are capable of handling intense mixing sessions, but for my needs, I found it better for me to build my own to the specs I like. First up on the list a processor. This is the main part you don't want to skimp on! The top two processor brands for PC are Intel and AMD. I went Intel because of the continuous reliability and performance. They're a little more expensive but worth it. The two things to look for in a processor is the speed and the amount of cores. For audio, cores is more important than the speed. Audio production wants to use all the threads in the cores it can. You're going to want to at least 4 cores, but the more the better. I use an i7 6 core Intel processor and its incredible. If you can afford an i7 6 core(or more) definitely go for it. I'll leave links to all my parts I used at the bottom as well. Next is RAM. This is how much memory your system can handle at one instance. You will want at least 8Gb's, but preferably 16Gb's. I went 16Gb's and it's been perfect.
Next up is a motherboard. Have you ever look into a computer tower and seen the big microchip looking thing that everything is plugged into? THAT is your motherboard. There's a lot of motherboards out there, but the main thing is to make sure it is comparable with all the components you are purchasing. You can check out all your parts comparability on pcpartpicker.com. It's a great website for browsing PC components.
Up next, storage. For audio, you are better off having 2(or more) hard drives for your system. You're going to want PLENTY of storage. The way my system is set up is I have one 250Gb SSD(solid state drive) to run my operating system and all my programs and my DAW. I have a second 1tb mechanical hard drive to store all my audio, recording sessions, and sample libraries. The reason for this setup is because a SSD writes much faster than a mechanical hard drive so your sessions will run faster and more efficiently with all your system software running from your SSD. Think of your mechanical drive as a "dumping" drive for all your libraries and audio/sessions to save to.
That's the bulk of the important components. Not that the rest aren't important, but those are what makes your computer powerful.
So next up is a graphics card. This isn't super important as long as you're using this computer only for audio production and basic use. I went cheap and bought a small graphics card. The main thing is to make sure it's compatible with the motherboard and has the slots you'll need to plugin your monitor or multiple monitors. Usually being one or more HDMI slots.
Next, optical drive. This is super basic drive. You'll just want any optical drive that's compatible to your system and has the ability to read/write cd's. This part is optional, but preferred.
A CPU cooler. I live in Southern California where it gets really hot and I put a lot of use on my system so I went with a liquid CPU cooler. It's awesome to keep your system from overheating or working too hard.
Almost done here, next is a power supply. Again, super simple. You'll just need to buy one strong enough to power your whole system. Better safe than sorry on this component. I went 750 watts for mine. AND FINALLY, a case! Without a tower case where do you put all these parts? This is all preference for looks, but you just have to be sure it's compatible to house ALL of the components you just bought. It needs to have room for your optical drive, enough hard drive slots, and the room to fit your motherboard. But again, pcpartpicker.com can help you find compatible cases. Well guys, that's the bulk of the build! I covered all the components you'll need to have your system up and running. Again, everything is PREFERENCE! This is from my experience/research and what I chose and am beyond stoked with. But you're probably going to want to pay to have a professional put your system together at your local Fry's or other computer store. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to reach out to me! I'll leave links to my PC build below. Mine ran me around $1400 and it's incredible.