Time for a New Computer

Hi everyone.

Today I finally got fed-up of bouncing audio tracks around so that my computer doesn’t choke when I open more than a handful of instances of Kontakt. My trusty AMD Phenom processor is almost a teenager, and as with the parallel case with many humans, once they hit their teens, they become useless and don’t like doing what you want them to do. Time for the bin.

I’m looking for a new PC. My budget is hampered by the fact that music is a really small portion of the business, and I can’t really justify spending big on it. That being said, I do want to solve my plugin count woes and have fair longevity from the upgrade.

I’ve not been impressed with the cost of new, or used computers. Maybe I’m out of touch with where to look for bargains over here in the UK, but I couldn’t find anything that blew my mind for my £400 budget.
I figured my old case, PSU, GPU and fans are decent, so really, I just need a CPU, Motherboard, RAM and a small-ish SSD for the system drive. Oh, and some thermal paste and a 4-to-8way Molex adapter.

It’s a short list of items, but the options are endless. I’m enjoying getting up to speed on all the latest computer jargon, but much of the information I find is geared towards gamers. (wtf is all this RGB nonsense!?)

I would love to pick your brains.

My thinking so far is that I’m going to go with an AMD Ryzen, since the benchmark tests seem to deliver more bang-for-buck than Intel currently. The Ryzen 5 1600 is looking like a good deal at around £90.
Since I’m never going to be wanting to overclock, I thought about getting a fairly cheap motherboard, but one which has the potential for 64GB RAM for future upgrades.
RAM-wise, I’m going to go for a single stick of 2400MHz 16GB for the time being, which gives me the option to expand later.
I also want to get one of those NVMe SSD sticks for the system drive. I think it would make things run much more snappy.
This is my first draft:

  • AMD Ryzen 5 1600 3.2GHz 6-core Processor
  • B450 Chipset Motherboard with 4 slots max 64GB RAM
  • 16GB 2400MHz DDR4 RAM on 1 stick
  • 500GB WD Blue SN550 M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD

All-in this is going to cost around £260, so I think there’s a bit of room for upwards manoeuvring if needs be.

I’d love to open this discussion out to you guys, so if you’re also looking for a new computer, or if you’re just interested in the topic, please comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Perhaps I’m missing some vital information, or maybe my choices aren’t up to the task. I’m interested in Intel vs AMD debates and whether these impressive benchmark results for the Ryzen processors are really telling the whole picture.

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I own Ryzen 1600 for two years now, and I never saw it loaded more than for 50%, but I don’t build projects with hundreds of Serum or Kontakt instances (usually no more than 10-15).

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Ryzen CPU’s don’t work well with one RAM stick I believe, they work better with pairs.

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That’s good to know, thanks. It sounds quite promising.

Sometimes, when I’m making a big orchestral tune, I can use 40-50 Kontakt instruments, spread over maybe 15 instances. I’ve never had the ability to do this with acceptable latency levels, and it would be nice to finally be able to work unhindered. What ASIO buffer settings do you work at? are you able to keep it at around 256 samples?

Thanks for the info. I know that memory in general works faster over two channels rather than one. My thinking is that I want to keep slots available for future expansion by adding sticks rather than replacing, but if it’s going to be too detrimental to performance, I’ll get two 8GB sticks. I didn’t know that Ryzen processors were particularly poor performing with single channel RAM. I’ll look into that.

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I have Intel core i7, as far as I know it is better to overpay for intel than messing with AMD. My opinion,
Intel is faster than AMD works to my knowledge.

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Yes, I’ve heard this said in other forums too, but I’ve not been able to find much data to back up the claims. Overpaying isn’t something I really want to do, but I guess there is a reason why Intel are so much more expensive, yet still way more popular on the whole, which is partly why I’m confused by these benchmark test results which greatly favour AMD. But I’m wondering how relevant they are for audio production since a lot of benchmarking is aimed at gaming performance.
Also, for my purposes, stability is definitely an important factor, but I’ve been reading that new AMD chips are pretty solid in that respect.

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As for the performance of games, in most cases the graphics card affects (this is if you want a universal computer). What you need for a quiet (without nervous making music) (15 to 25 Kontakt 5,channels) RAM 16-32 Gigabyte, Intel core i7 with a frequency of 3.6 Ghz. This is enough to write tracks of 50 tracks without wav.

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Thanks for the info. Can you recommend any particular Core i7? there are so many and the price varies greatly.

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7700 quite enough. 3.6 Ghz.

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Phew!! It’s nearly my entire budget! :sweat_smile:

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It is not expensive! Invest once, but you will work without problems and glitches! :wink:

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Thanks for your advice. I have much to consider.

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Heya @criskcracker!

Some killer combo you are planning to get. Like CMA, I have been using an Intel I7 3.6GHz with a single 16GB DDR-4 stick and it never gave me any issues. I don’t game a lot, and when I do I go mostly indie (Celeste, Ori and the Blind forest, Inside, that sort of stuff) so I don’t push the graphs too hard either. Also, I must say that normally I am way below 50 instruments spread in 15 instances of Kontakt.

Anyways, what has been a HUGE GAMECHANGER for me was the cabinet. I invested in a silent Fractal Design Define R6 and it was worth every single penny. Call me nuts, but I feel it even boosted my PC performance. So that’s my two cents.

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Hey Wormwood!

Interesting thoughts about a silent case. I decked out my old case with some silent Zalman fans, so hopefully they will be able to cope with a new processor, but I’ll keep the Define R6 in mind if those fan speeds start creeping up, so thanks for the recommendation. Those three massive fans must hardly need to move in there!

Good to know that a single stick of RAM is working well for you too.

As far as gaming is concerned, I’m a retro game fan. Modern PC gaming always gives me headaches, being so close to the screen! I want this PC to be dedicated to audio production, which is why it’s hard to find useful information because the people online, recommending PC components seem to be obsessed with frame rates and components that light up like a Christmas tree!

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“I have been using an Intel I7 3.6GHz with a single 16GB DDR-4 stick and it never gave me any issues”

Intel works fine, we were talking about AMD Ryzen CPU’s.

It works well for me with 256 samples buffer most of the time, but occasionally I switch to 512, e.g. when I’m using big and complex multi from Omnisphere. The bottleneck in my PC config is a bit poor HDD, so if something starts crackling, popping, etc., I guess it’s not related to CPU or audio interface.

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:+1::+1::+1:

I just want to say a huge thanks to everyone who commented. Your advice really helped me focus my research and come to a decision on what to buy.

For anyone interested, this is what I ended up with:
- AMD Ryzen 5 3600 Processor
- ASRock B450M Pro4 Motherboard
- Timetec 16GB DDR4 3000MHz RAM
- WD Blue SN550 500GB M.2 NVMe SSD
Total cost came to £352 GBP
I chose the AMD cpu after reading this great article by the guys at Scan Pro Audio. They do DAW bench-testing using Reaper, Kontakt and a plugin called SGA1566.
Their results were pretty positive, with the 3600 having comparable results to the Intel i7 9700K. Granted, these results were taken at max clock speeds, but generally, it gave me the confidence to buy AMD without feeling like I was getting a hugely inferior chip. (Plus, the Intel chips are more than double the price currently.)

With the RAM stick, I went for the single-channel option, knowing that the performance would take a hit. @Abandon87, I couldn’t find any information concerning specific issues with single-channel memory with the new Ryzen chips, but I’m sure that I’ll be upping to 32GB dual-channel fairly soon anyway, and I wanted to leave my upgrade route open to a possible 64GB to cope with sample libraries 2 or 3 years down the line.

I’m most excited by the SSD that I got. It’s four times faster than my Sandisk 2.5" SSD, and over ten times faster than my current system drive, so I’m looking forward to experiencing that extra speed.

When it all arrives, I’m going to have to do some jiggery-pokery to get it all up and running because I want to carry on using Windows 7. I know it’s unsupported now, but it’s still awesome IMO. I know I’ll have to upgrade at some point, but that means getting a new audio interface, and spending anything less than £200 on that would be a downgrade from my M-Audio Ultra 8R as far as I can see.

Thanks again for the help guys. I’m eagerly awaiting the postie now. Maybe I’ll put up some piccies when I get round to building this thing.

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Hi Criskcracker. I have to say i have a Fractal case…the R6 Define and it is awesome! I built a new system a few years back and everything went into this case. It houses 8 drives, some from my old machine but i’m gradually thinning them down. I keep them going in case i need refer to old stuff. (some of which wont open in Cubase 10 as they date right back to Cubase 5, some even earlier)
At xmas time this year i switched to Win 10 on a brand new ssd, fresh install and reinstalled all software which i had no issues with. I have to say it’s been fantastic and had no problems with older software. I think you should maybe think about switching if you are installing a new ssd, probably the best time do it. It did take some messing about getting some current projects up and running again but that was mainly due to Cubase as the latest version seems to see some 64bit plug ins as 32 which are not supported anymore, anyway all is working well now :crossed_fingers:
How i got around this was to keep the old win 7 ssd installed but disabled it (by disconnecting) and the old drives whilst doing a fresh install on the new ssd with win 10, then i use the boot menu to switch between the two drives whilst i got the new drive up and running. Works fine and if i need to open something in win 7 i can always go back to it.
Anyway food for thought, good luck with it and don’t forget the paste :wink:

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