You’ve have probably scoured every end of the internet regarding this very topic. Hours of your life you will never get back on a constant hunt for the dream computer to run your audio, video, or audio/video production studio! You aren’t alone! We all had to start somewhere, and we weren’t born with the answers.
There is actually a very simple answer to the question though….”which computer is the best for my setup”. If you have $3K to $5K to drop, just go buy a top of the line Ibuypower, or MAC! It will handle EVERYTHING you can throw at it, then 10 times more if you are the do it yourself, home studio professional. However, the rest of us can’t do that!
We underlyings have to deal with an economic term called scarcity which forces us to pick and choose which components we need vs the ones we can live without. This alone requires a MAJOR learning curve as you delve into topics such as processing speed, Ram, Overclocking, SSD’S and the difference between SATA, M.2, and M.2 nVME , USB 2.0, 3.0, Type C, etc…. There is just so much to learn! So where should you start?
1. The Processor.
Your computers processor is the muscle of your system. A lot of time this is the bottleneck of an audio/video setup. Find one that has a bare minimum of 4 cores….6 or more is ideal, and make sure the speed is no less than 3.0 Ghz. Can you get by with less than this? Yes, but if you are serious about audio/video production you will quickly notice how much horsepower your computer needs to render footage during the editing process with 1080 or 4k video, as well as using multiple VST instruments when conducting sound design!
Intel or AMD? The million dollar question….I know. They are both really good products. If you can afford the Intel, go for it….but you won’t be dissapointed with the AMD. Checkout their Threadripper series for unbelievable performance. Intels i9 lineup is equally unbelievable. However, any Intel i7 8700 series, or AMD Ryzen will be more than sufficient for the average do it yourselfer.
The hard drive.
Why would I say that a hard drive is more important than the RAM? There is a simple reason…..speed. The solid state hard drive, or SSD is just that. No moving parts. Whereas the old school disk drives need to spin at incredibly fast rates to find information….aka…loops, VST’s, Projects, etc… Unless you had one that was capable of 10,000 RPM, it took forever to load up programs, projects, musical intruments, etc… A SSD does the same work in mere seconds. It really is the one component within your omputer in which you will notice an IMMEDIATE increase in performance! Check out the Samsung EVO SSDs!!!
When you are loading a video to the timeline in Premeire Pro, your computer is performing millions of mathematical calculations in the form of binary….or 1’s and 0’s in order for you, the artist to be able to see your masterpiece on screen. Now….let’s say you open a few more windows while you are still transferring that 4k file. Without fast Random Access Memory, or RAM….your computer will begin to go on the fritz! This is because it can only multitask so fast. The fix is to add faster RAM. You can also add more RAM as well. For what we do….stick with DDR4, not DDR3. At least 16 gig…..you don’t need much more than that (unless you’re recording an entire orchestral ensemble) so save your money for better lenses, or VST’s for sound design! Faster is better than more! If you can afford both…then obviously you’re cool and we are not!!!
Make sure every program that will be ran on your computer….i.e. the Adobe Creative Collection Suite for video, your DAW for audio (Sonar, Pro Tools, Ableton, etc), as well as all of your VST’s and plugins are installed on your SSD. If you can find a 1TB SSD….get two of them and run your audio/video programs on one….and your VST’s/everything else on the other.
For regular storage of your videos, either buy an external hardrive, or get a 3 to 4 TB internal Disk Drive that spins at least 7200 RPM. This extra storage space is cheap, and needed for all of that B Roll you will be filming!
The Graphics Card!
I listed the graphics card last because while it is important, it’s not going to be your bottleneck because you should be rendering your footage before editing it.
However, to watch your video in 4k, or 1080/4K HDR you will need a decent graphics card to truly see the masterpiece you’ve created! I’m a huge fan of the Nvidia lineup!
If you really want to take a deep-dive, or to continue learning about the specifics of a great audio/video setup, check out this article.
As always, thanks for reading! Don’t forget to ask us any questions you might have on our Facebook page below!
Black Hills Audio Video Productions