Planning new PC for recording

Need a bit more info than the FAQ

Searched for this but didn’t find it yet. nTrack has apparently revealed limitations in what I thought was a good PC. I have 785MB RAM, 120GB HD and a 750mHz Athlon processor. But nTrack is S-L-O-W, despite “very high buffering” etc. I thought about getting a new Dell with the fastest possible processor. But I’m told they’re wanting around $2,000 for their best desktop PC. I’d like hardware pointers before I go into debt. If this has been discussed, please point me in right direction and I will seek/find. Thanks!

If it isnt in the FAQs, it should be: You ALWAYS want a second (separate) hard drive to record your audio on.

Preferably 7200rpm with a big cache.

I don’t know if that’s true anymore. I still have 2 drives, but I’ve read in various places that one 7200 RPM (or greater) is all you need now.


I should add, I have an Athlon 1333, and before I swapped CPUs, had a 950. I haven’t noticed that anything is slow. I’m currently working on a 14 min song with 29 tracks and about 15 - 20 plugins with CPU usage at around 55%, with 512 RAM.

What do you mean by S-L-O-W?

The slowdown could be in something else, such as video or something else running on the system that don’t make a noticeable difference in other less intense apps. V4 does use a lot more resources than V3 and V2 though.

What video and sound card do you have? Are you using onboard video? What’s the motherboard and chipset?

Many of the cheaper Dells are pretty peppy for the bucks. A lot of the price of the higher end Dells is gamer stuff, like video cards.

I put together a 3.2 ghz P4 machine with parts from NewEgg, based on this MB…&depa=0

I’ve been REALLY happy with it.

H, Do a search for “Red sub” and “Philip Rees” who both make specialist audio PC’s and see what components they use to give you an idea of reliable motherboards etc.


I’ll ask the same old question, do you have DMA configured correctly?

As for one drive for everything, yes, you can get by with one drive. But two separate drives is ideal.

I’ve got an ASUS P4P800 mobo and that works fine with N

One thing with the 2 hard drives… make sure you have them on separate IDE controllers otherwise it probably won’t make much difference between 1 or 2 drives…



I’m the new kid here but I do have a lot of computer and audio experience.

Is the machine that you say is running slow ever used for other purposes by yourself or anyone else?

I wonder if you coincidentally picked up a virus or some spyware. Other possibilities are changed BIOS or antivirus settings and/or network problems (try to make sure you are disconnected from your network and your antivirus is off when recording).

Another possibility is that you have a hard drive that is just starting to go south and doing retries. You may not be notified about this if the error detection stuff is turned off in the BIOS. Sometimes it is easy to hear this by listening to your drive but, in my experience, usually by that time you will get hard read or write errors.

Hope you find the cause and don’t get stuck having to shell out the big bucks.



Build a box or have a friend do it. For under a $1000, you can build a killer computer (monitor extra…lol).

I would disagree with Ali on the choice of parts. Get a good, quiet power supply, it’s the heart of your system. Next pick up an AMD Athlon XP mobile chip around 2600+. They run cool and overclock easily. Stay away from Intel CPUs unless you wanna grill sausages on your CPU. Get a gig of fast memory (the fastest you can reasonably afford). If you are not going to be running 3d games on this comp, get an N-Force 2 motherboard with built in video. DFI makes a few that overclock easily and are quite reasonable in price with all the trimmings (USB 2, Firewire, NIC, SPDIF I/Os…etc.).

Lastly, get (at least) 2 large (100+gig) harddrives that run fast (7200+rpm) with a large cache (8+meg). Use one for programs/OS and the other for audio files only.

Even with all this, you can probably still get an LCD monitor and stay onder the $1000 mark.

Buy the way… this system will scream… :)

Have fun.



Wow, I didn’t expect all the detailed replies. What a cool forum! When I get home I’ll pull up some more system details for those of you who want to better diagnose my existing problem.

My top end DAW is $1,299.99 - see Custom DAW. A fellow from this forum just purchased one at the end of last year & is happy. I keep my audio & OS on a the same, RAID-0 drive(s) & I’ve had very good results, but some like to do the 2 drive split.

Mr Soul

I won’t try to steer anyone one way or the other on AMD/Intel CPU choice. My best advice would be to decide what soundcard your going to base your system on and build your DAW around that. Hit Google and the soundcard support groups to research the complimentary hardware. Some cards don’t play nice with particular chipsets etc.

Quote (Earache @ Jan. 24 2005,12:44)
I won't try to steer anyone one way or the other on AMD/Intel CPU choice. My best advice would be to decide what soundcard your going to base your system on and build your DAW around that. Hit Google and the soundcard support groups to research the complimentary hardware. Some cards don't play nice with particular chipsets etc.

What he said..........Find out what's going to work with your chosen audio interface and OS. Then build it yourself and save a buttload of cash.


AMD has sure taken a bad rap because of those issues with crappy chipsets and BIOS implementations. No doubt about it.

I hang out over at the Digidesign forum guite a bit asking stupid questions and dreaming of some day owning a ProTools rig. The guys on the forum over there are overwhelmingly recommending AMD systems. Why? Bang for the buck. The latest AMD 64 systems they are recommending run rings around a Mac dual processor 2.5 Gig system. “Oh, thats hogwash TG!” No. The big time guys run the Macs for the HD and TDM systems. HD and TDM systems do the audio processing on the Digi cards except for the odd plugin they can’t buy in TDM or RTAS format. ProTools LE uses the HOST CPU for ALL the audio processing.

Lessee…Mac 2.5G Dual…$2700
AMD 64 system…$800

I know which route I would take!