PC Processor Speed / Minimum Spec Question

  • I am running a rather old home-built PC: Epox motherboard, AMD Athlon 2.1 GHz processor, 2 GB Ram, M-Audio Delta PCI card, WinXP. Up until now this has been working fine for me. A bit slow at times, but nothing I couldn't get used to. Lately, however, as I use the grayscale 64 to connect through Max and into Ableton I am hitting my processor's limit. I can't even use mlrV because of the processor hogging.

    It's been so long since I've looked at computers I have no idea how fast is fast enough what with 64 bit dual-core and quad-core technologies now available. Can anyone advise me on the reasonable minimum specs for processor speed and RAM to avoid significant processor choking when running Max and multiple devices in Ableton?

    (I used to own Macs and like them, but I plan on sticking with the devil I know, so only PC recommendations please.)

  • processor speed hasn't really boomed in the past few years.

    2.4 GHz is probably about standard, but the multi-core thing makes a huge difference, since i think windows supports running different threads on different processors concurrently.

    intel's core i7 processors are blazing fast, and i've had reasonably good experiences with them in an audio environment. the i5 is cheaper, but still pretty peppy, especially compared to something a few years old.

    with ram, get as much as you can afford. 4gb is probably enough, but more wouldn't hurt.

    i haven't really been up on amd's chipsets, but they probably have a few things to compete with the nehalem chips (core i7 and i5 use a nehalem architecture.. it's probably geekier than you need to get on it ;)

  • Thanks for the info. I have to decide if I want to build a new machine from parts or just look for a deal on a barebones box. I've seen some Dell server boxes on Dealnews without an OS for around $300, but I would have to add some RAM and possibly a new audio card if there are no legacy PCI slots. (Isn't PCI express the new standard?)

    I am waaaay out of touch these days, but I appreciate the geekiness. Trust me.

  • pcix is zippy, but i think it's backwards compatible to some extent (the signal specification, not the physical form factor), so you should be able to find a mobo that still has pci on it.