How Much Computer Do I Need?


I know this is slightly off-topic, but not when you factor that the question is motivated by running VDL:2 efficiently, it fits the forum.

I will be purchasing a new computer this spring and want to be able to run all of these components:
Sibelius 4
Virtual Drumline 2
Garritan Personal Orchestra (Sibelius Edition)

I'm a long time Windows user and, even though I've strongly considered Mac, I'll most likely buy a PC.

In the research that I've done, it doesn't look like I can find a machine that's fast enough and has enough RAM through the usual suspects: Dell, HP, Gateway. So, that's where I need your expertise.

And because I'm relatively new at the world of Kontakt, Virtual Drumline (all I've ever done is enter notes into Finale or Sibelius until now), if I'm listing something component-wise that doesn't make sense or if you have a better way to go, I'm very open to other options.

Thank you in advance for your insight!

Not sure what you budget is or if this will be a ";music only"; PC or a ";everything else too PC.";  Of course your best way to go is a ";music only"; PC, that way you don't load it up with programs that can possibly conflict with your setup.  You should check out and the creation station at Sweetwater.  Here is what I think you will need to get started, I am sure the pros will add their input too.

-intel Pentium 4 2.2 GHz

-1 GB RAM at least (if possible get as much RAM as you can afford).


-7200rpm 120GB Drive X 2 ( You should store all of your samples on a seperate hard drive than your programs are running)

-Pro audio card that supports ASIO.  M-Audio and Edirol make great cards.

-Microsoft Windows XP

Plus all of the standard stuff, ethernet, USB 2.0 slots, etc.

Firewire ports if you plan on eventually using racks.

Hope this helps some.

This is a pretty easy answer.  Most everything that's new these days is cool.  2 exceptions, and one gotcha.

#1 -- to run all of that, without hiccups, you need 2g of ram.  It's usually cheaper to get something like a dell with 2 512's and 2 slots, and then buy your own aftermarket ram and do it yourself.  Can save between $20-60 to do that.

#2 -- Get a good sound card.  You don't need to go 'naners; I'm quite happy with an Audigy 2.  I also have a good 5.1 desk set, and it does the trick.  I won't even pretend to tell you about studio monitors, headphone monitors (though I love my Sennheiser 595's!), and all the periferals.  But an Audigy 2 is just fine if you don't have any intention to record audio with a mic, etc.  I never do; it's stuff I either am listening to or create.

The gotcha is hard drive speed.  Don't get stuck with a 5400 rpm basic model.  Nothing could bottleneck your performance worse.  Best is to have two drives; both at least 7200.  Keep your synth installs on the separate one.  Short of that, make sure that your single drive is a 7200 or better, and is well defragmented when running samples.  If you only have one drive, the ram becomes more than just helpful; it's a dependency.

I hope that helps. 
In addition to the great advice from drumcat and Cobybos,

Both AMD and Intel offer Dual-Core CPUs that are reasonably priced and are [i]extremely fast[/i] -especially in a multi-tasking environment such as running more than one audio program at once.  It's like having a dual processor machine, only cheaper.  Look for Pentium D or Athlon 64 x2.  Dell has insanely good deals on their ";Dell Outlet"; page- takes a little digging on their website but worth checking out.  Just last night I saw a Dell Dimension 9100 desktop for only $1,000 that has a dual-core 3 GHz, 2 GB of DD2 RAM, a fast 160 GB HD, GeForce 6800 256MB video card, 16X Dual Layer DVD, and a SB Live! 24-bit sound card.  Dell's prices are so good that I no longer build my computers anymore. 

You can probably find coupons online to bring the price down further, and they have new deals everyday.  This is something you can take out of the box and not worry about upgrading for years.  You would have to pay about $3600+ to get similar specs in a Power Mac.  As much as I like Apple and OS X, from a price/performance standpoint Dell wins out.  You can get a really good warranty from Dell too.  My laptop came with 3 years of next-day in-home replacement for any problems- if even one pixel goes dead on my screen they will replace it before noon the next day.  Hard to beat that!
Wow! That's a lot of really useful information. Thanks for all of the advice.

Just checking, but this will be a big enough/fast enough machine to run Kontakt 2 along with GPO, Sibelius and VDL2...

Thanks again,
Even the top-end of computers will still struggle if you try to throw an entire battery + pit + band at it and expect it to play back smoothly through your notation software.  [i]Maybe[/i] the new Apple Quad G5 or a Dell Quad Xeon might, but then you're looking at $4,000 for a system like that after you upgrade the RAM etc.  Also, if you are running Kontakt, then there's no need to run VDL2 or GPO at the same time.  Load it all into Kontakt. 
Instead of throwing thousands into hardware, you may also be better served with software that will ";freeze"; synths, such as Sonar or Cubase.  They can clear ram for your largest projects, allowing you to work on a somewhat normal machine, and although a smidge slower in process, you end up with the best product .
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