Computer Building?

Has anyone here build a computer for running vst plugins.

If yes, what components did you choose and where is the best place to buy them?


There obviously are many - not to say countless - possibilities.
It all depends on your requierements:
is it mostly sample-based plugings? -> go for more RAM and better/bigger SSD
is it mostly realtime plugins (like synths)? -> go for better processor.
what is more important: price or reliability/expandability?

I myself got 2 different Intel NUCs and am quite happy with them.
One with 32GB RAM and the latest i5, Samsung SSD 256GB. Does the job easily - but I don’t use processor intensive plugins like Omnisphere or hight sophisticated SoftSynths.
The other one just 16GB RAM, bit older CPU. Still, for what it’s meant to do it’s all up and running.

Where? Amazon to be honest.



I totally agree to Jeff and add:

SSD is a good decision anyway. For sample based plugs absolutely necessary but even if you only use algorithmic plugs there are two additional aspects:

  • load time of OS, plugs and sounds
  • no mechanical parts that could be damaged when carrying equipment from stage to stage, independency from acoustic vibrations,…

CPU - you should have a look on the power consumption here: every additional watt stands for higher temperature, stronger cooling systems (making more noise) and shorter livetime. Here a decent i5 system can be superior to many of the amd cpus.

Soundcard: can play an important role: a lack of performance in the low latency area means more cpu power for similar latencies.

Last not least: modern cpus provide more than enough power for most applications - no need for high speed or overclocked systems. Most probably a good mid range workhorse will do the job.

If you like you could tell us a little about the things you’d like to do with c3 - maybe we can give some more precise info here.

My 2 cent, kind regards, humphrey

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I would agree with all of the above, but with special emphasis on sound card / interface. It can make a huge difference in reliability, latency, and the number of plugins you can run smoothly.


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Yep, and that probably comes down to the quality of the driver more than anything else.

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A few years ago I built a homebrew. I work for HP (now HPE) so it was nothing new. At the time, it was hard to find a laptop with 16GB memory, SSDs, etc. Also, I wanted a Firewire interface for max reliability. I built a 1u rack mount with space for a single PCIe Firewire card (by SIIG). It’s worked pretty well. Due to cooling problems with 1u and noisy fans, I reworked it into a 2u case. Much better, but still a luggable–reminds me of the first Compaq.

I used an AMD low-voltage processor and ASUS MoBo. In retrospect, I should have used Intel Ivy Bridge or newer. My interface is a Focusrite Saffire Pro 40, definitely overkill for (just) running VSTs. The other issue with rackmount is finding a satisfactory monitor. I finally found a monitor that was the right size for portability and readability. It’s some off-brand China-made thing that actually works pretty well and is touchscreen. The trick was mounting hardware and modifying my Ultimate Support KB stand to work with it. Most components came from Amazon or New Egg. Amazon had faster, cheaper shipping.

With the cost of memory and laptops still coming down, I will eventually (soon) replace my rackmount with a lighter, more portable laptop with 16GB and (hopefully) USB-c interface. I’m not sure a reasonably-priced Thunderbolt 3 audio interface is available yet, though. I have a Presonus USB on my studio desktop I could repurpose.

As far as audio interface, it is all about the driver. Working for a manufacturer, it is ALL about the drivers. The main reason you ever get a BSoD is a driver.Compaq used to spend a lot of development money on rock-solid drivers. Most drivers these days are outsourced by hardware engineers to the cheapest generic shops who know nothing about the hardware they are writing for. With Win10, MS has taken on most of the generic components and made them (mostly) reliable.