PC: should I upgrade it?


I have a desktop PC which I mainly use to run Reaper and plugins. I have a tech guy coming in to fix an ethernet issue and I was considering upgrading while he’s at it.

I don’t really feel like it is too slow or anything but I like having some headroom and being comfortable, I don’t want to feel scared when I load a project with loads of plugins in it, especially if I am doing it with a client next to me.

I know very little about PC’s. Here’s my current setup below. Do you think upgrading is not really useful or would I benefit from upgrading something and what?

custom built desktop PC with Windows 10
Intel Core i7 4770K clocked at 3.50 GHz
16 GB total memory type DDR3 to 799.28 MHz
Graphics card NVIDIA GeForce GT 630
SSD SamsungSSD840PROSeries of 238.47 GB SATA III
Harddrive WDCWD1000DHTZ-04N21V1 of 931.51 GB SATA III

My audio interface is a Roland Octa-Capture connected through USB.

I am not computer savvy, but I would hesitate upgrading if you are not experiencing any issues with your current rig. Especially with the specs that show your current system is capable.

Only allowing to upgrade when your system cannot keep up with your workflow/demand, this will let you save your money up so when you do need to upgrade, you can go big.

Make sure the mfr has Windows 10 drivers for your interface, if you don’t intend on buying another interface.

I’d say it’s money and convenience, if you don’t want to worry about maxing out your current system, or the embarrassment of a glitch in front of a client. If you’re really concerned about your current system, push it hard with some test mixes with all the plugins and potential stressors you can throw at it. For some years I did heavy mixing on an old Macbook Pro with 4GB RAM, and it held up quite well even running Pro Tools (a big resource hog). My current Windows 7 setup (similar to the specs you listed) doesn’t max out at all, and even the heaviest load has never pushed past 8GB RAM IIRC. One school of thought is don’t upgrade until something causes you a problem that you can’t live with.

Also consider other aspects of Windows 10, there are difference in how the OS works and things you can do, and how resources are handled. There are workarounds, and some have made it work for them, but be prepared for that if you go that direction. Personally I’d still have a custom built PC loaded with Windows 7 (or do it myself to save cash) - licenses are still available from Microsoft when I checked a few months ago, and will be for some time.

Your computer looks pretty solid on paper, but it all depends on your workload. The only way to be certain is to do some tests to see what your limits are. The real hogs are audio libraries and video rendering, if you don’t do any of that you’re probably OK.

You could load up all your favorite plugins and record on all your inputs and pile up tracks until you see a problem, that way you know what to expect. For me with Win 7 -64 and 4 GB ram I usually start getting either a slow down or some pops and crackles, occasionally a crash; all related to overloading something. I can pretty well tell in advance how far I can go before I’m in trouble.

Computers always screw up sooner or later, the only way to avoid problems is to do constant back-ups and have extra gear on hand in case of hardware failure.

As some others have mentioned, your rig looks like it should be quite capable. The i7 4770K looks to be pretty high up on the CPU benchmark list and with 16GB of RAM you should be comfortable loading up your plugins. Hardware-wise it sounds like a nice setup. Of course, your mileage can vary if you’re loading up lots of big samples, patches or sound libraries to suck up that RAM. Try stressing your system with a big project and keep adding tracks and plugins and see if you can force a performance issue. That might give you an idea of how hard you can push your system under normal conditions.

I agree - it sounds like a good solid PC. The only upgrade I would consider in this setup would be an extra 16GB RAM. But that’s only if you notice that you have slow downs on big projects, as you said - when you load a project with loads of plugins.

Reaper is known for low CPU overhead and your current system has plenty of horse power.
You may want to look into optimizing Windows for real time audio processing.

Google “optimizing Windows for real time audio processing” and you will find a plethora of articles that will show you how to tweak certain settings to minimize clicks and pops.

I tweak all of my PCs and yes, it does make a difference.

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Here is an article that may help:

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Thanks y’all, this sounds like reasonable advice. I’ll run the tests and see how close I am to needing an upgrade.

JayGee and ColdRoomStudio thanks for the tips I’ll look into that right away.