What Type Of Computer Do I Need For Audio & Production?
One of the biggest questions I've seen from engineers when they're starting up a home studio: what type of computer do I need?
The computer is one of the most important pieces of your home studio, and one you shouldn't skimp on either. It's responsible for running your DAW, storing all of your files, and much more. Now that we know we need a good computer, the question arises: how good?
Let's start off with Windows computers. These seem to be hit and miss for audio, as I myself have had difficulties with it and so have many others that I've seen, while some have no problem at all. Therefore if you'd like to build one and test it out, just be wary of some problems you may not anticipate.
On the other end, we have Mac. Every professional studio that I've been in houses a Mac Pro, while I myself use a 2010 Mac Pro. My unit has dual Xeon processors that give me 12 cores, 1 Solid State Drive for boot-up speed, and 4 hard drives for storage. Macs do not have a limit on size for hard drives, whereas Windows has trouble with anything over 2TB. This may seem like a first world problem, but when you're dealing with large files consistently, such as high sample rate sessions and virtual instruments, this is crucial.
Having dual processors with a total of 12 cores ensures that I always have enough processing power for any plugins or virtual instruments I want, no matter the count. I purchased my computer from eBay with 64GB of RAM installed, and that's been more than enough to this point, but you also have the option of upgrading to 128GB since the 5,1 is fully modular.
My graphics card is nothing incredible, having only 1GB of VRAM and 2 DisplayPort outputs, but it's gotten the job done. I've been able to work in Photoshop and Premiere with no issues to this point, rendering out 1080p 60FPS videos.
The beauty of the older Mac Pros (and the reason why professionals hate the trashcan model) is the expandability, via PCI-e slots. Your video card will take up 1-2 of them, but what you do with the rest is up to you. Mine house the startup SSD, and a USB-3 expansion card, as older Macs outdate the technology. If you have FireWire drives instead of USB3, you can install other things such as Pro Tools HD cards, Universal Audio digital signal processors, anything your heart desires really.
In short, my recommendation for audio computers will always be Mac, whether it's a modular Mac Pro (before 2013) or a MacBook Pro, of which I use when on the road.