Author Topic: Long term computer decisions  (Read 1339 times)

mozar

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Long term computer decisions
« on: December 07, 2017, 05:18:44 PM »
Thanks in advance mustachians!

I've been thinking for a long time what I'm going to do about my computer situation. I currently own one laptop, bought in 2011 that has been on the fritz for a long time. It's taking me a long time to type this because thee keyboard keys are dicey and I can't look at webpages with ads anymore because my computer fan starts whirring. I feel like an online version of a shut in- there are websites I just can't go to anymore.

I'm not sure what I should get. I have rehabbed this old laptop a few times but I haven't updated ram or anything. I'm not that computer savvy. It's a Toshiba portege.

I am getting into making music videos and making music in general. I would like to get protools. I'm using a free video editor and a separate free music editor. That's not going to work in the long term (and already sucks) as I want to be a producer.

I also want something for couch web surfing. I would get a tablet but I am the queen of tabs.  And I find tablets to be underpowered for my needs anyway. I am open to most suggestions. I'm not likely to use craigslist because i don't own a car and i would rather spend an extra couple hundred than take the bus and metro for hours trying to get a part.
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FINate

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Re: Long term computer decisions
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2017, 05:37:58 PM »
Your Toshiba is likely slow/unresponsive due to adware/malware/bitrot and/or memory pressure. Back up, wipe, reinstall is an option. Upgrading RAM is usually cheap and easy. Maybe you know someone with tech knowhow to help?

If you end up getting something new...pretty much anything can surf the web so Pro Tools is the only software you need to worry about. Anything you get should have the recommended system requirements (http://avid.force.com/pkb/articles/en_US/Compatibility/Pro-Tools-First-System-Requirements) - no point overspending on specs greatly in excess of this, except maybe RAM...more RAM is almost always worth it (depending on the cost -- there's a point of diminishing returns).


 

Mr. Green

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Re: Long term computer decisions
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2017, 06:01:27 PM »
Check out the Acer Swift 3. Lightweight so great for travel, plenty powerful unless you want to game, and it'll last another 5-7 years. It's what I'm planning to buy to replace my 7 year old laptop that won't work unless plugged in any more. It's fairly budget friendly too at $500.
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jooniFLORisploo

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Re: Long term computer decisions
« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2017, 06:09:54 PM »
I'm going to ask BiochemicalDJ if he can come over here. He does the music and the computer happinesses!
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mozar

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Re: Long term computer decisions
« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2017, 06:34:51 PM »
@FINate would that help my keyboard?  I can get a separate keyboard and mouse for editing but I don't want to hold a keyboard and laptop in my lap. I'm one of those people who still types.
And thanks jooniFLORisploo and Mr. Green.
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JLee

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Re: Long term computer decisions
« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2017, 06:41:30 PM »
@FINate would that help my keyboard?  I can get a separate keyboard and mouse for editing but I don't want to hold a keyboard and laptop in my lap. I'm one of those people who still types.
And thanks jooniFLORisploo and Mr. Green.

Doubtful -- keyboard failure is likely to be something wrong with the keyboard, not something that can be fixed with software or upgrading other components.

mozar

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Re: Long term computer decisions
« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2017, 06:52:02 PM »
Ok, and for a full wipe i probably need the cd right? I think that's what I needed when I did it a few years ago.
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lbmustache

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Re: Long term computer decisions
« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2017, 06:54:17 PM »
I feel that no one can go wrong with a Macbook. A Macbook Air can be had for pretty cheap right now, however if you are serious about the video and music, you'll probably want to look at a Macbook Pro due to it's upgraded capabilities (and MUCH better screen).

My computer is dying too. Best Buy just had a 13" Macbook Pro on sale for $1099 (as cheap as it gets, more or less). I bought it :)

Stashasaurus

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Re: Long term computer decisions
« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2017, 07:55:53 PM »
Hi Mozar,

We really need to know what your current system is before we recommend any changes/repairs. If your comfortable would you post your system specs? Typing "msinfo32" into the search bar and posting the result would give us all the info we would need. You should get a result like this:

Looking at the Pro Tools system spec, even if you have to purchase something new to you you are looking at sub $400.

mozar

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Re: Long term computer decisions
« Reply #9 on: December 07, 2017, 08:10:10 PM »
@lbmustache I've been resisting macs for so long :-)
I attached a jpeg does that work?
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jooniFLORisploo

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Re: Long term computer decisions
« Reply #10 on: December 07, 2017, 08:25:05 PM »
@lbmustache I've been resisting macs for so long :-)

Keep resisting, say I!!!

I bought my kid one several years ago on recommendations... I hate that thing so much... I have no idea why they say Mac stuff is intuitive. Never has a machine made me so crazy...
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Stashasaurus

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Re: Long term computer decisions
« Reply #11 on: December 07, 2017, 09:55:20 PM »
Mozar, some details got cut off, on that page it should tell you how much ram you have "Installed Physical Memory". If you can report back on that and what is wrong with your keyboard and we can have a recommendation.

Mr. Green

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Re: Long term computer decisions
« Reply #12 on: December 07, 2017, 11:11:12 PM »
With a Core i5 processor, your laptop has to have at least 4GB if RAM in it, but it's old enough it probably doesn't have an SSD hard drive in it. The hard drive is your bottle neck, not RAM if this is the case. By all means consider adding more RAM if you only have 4GB, but only after you put in an SSD. My spinning disk hard drive failed and when I replaced it with an SSD the difference was like going from dial up to broadband. Booting took a couple seconds vs. a minute. Every action was snappy, etc. The windows tool that evaluates all the components like processor, memory, and hard drive will even tell you your hard drive is you weakest link.

But if you're talking about a new keyboard, hard drive,and more RAM you may as well consider a new machine. It may cost a little more but eventually something will fail that isn't worth replacing and at 6 years old your machine is already getting up there in years. Nothing wrong with that, mine is 7, but eventually something dies.

Lightweight and decent specs are hard to find in a budget laptop. I found plenty with spinning hard drives but I'll never have one of those again.

The Acer Swift 3 has an 8th generation Core i3 processor in it from Intel, which is actually more powerful than your older Core i5, based on CPU benchmarks. It's sleek like a MacBook if that's your thing but won't kill tour wallet like a MacBook will. It also has some pretty phenomenal battery life at over 8 hour watching a movie, according to reviews.

I am looking forward to replacing my old 6.4 pound laptop with a 3.3 pound machine. Between that and being able to go more than 5 minutes on battery power it'll be a total game changer for me as portability goes.
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Mr. Green

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Re: Long term computer decisions
« Reply #13 on: December 07, 2017, 11:18:37 PM »
I should have mentioned that if you don't give a hoot about weight you can find something under $500 easily. If you're going to move around a lot it might be worth going light. Regardless, you should consider an SSD hard drive a non-negotiable. Trust me on that one.
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topshot

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Re: Long term computer decisions
« Reply #14 on: December 08, 2017, 07:52:16 AM »
With a Core i5 processor, your laptop has to have at least 4GB if RAM in it, but it's old enough it probably doesn't have an SSD hard drive in it. The hard drive is your bottle neck, not RAM if this is the case. By all means consider adding more RAM if you only have 4GB, but only after you put in an SSD.
+1. You've got enough CPU. SSD is like night and day. It will feel like a new PC.

For keys, it may be bits of debris under those that prevent the press from being registered. Try to blow (or vacuum with power off) them out.

If you keep the laptop, I'd definitely check Toshiba site to see if there's BIOS and driver updates since you're using Win 10 now.

FINate

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Re: Long term computer decisions
« Reply #15 on: December 08, 2017, 08:28:41 AM »
But if you're talking about a new keyboard, hard drive,and more RAM you may as well consider a new machine. It may cost a little more but eventually something will fail that isn't worth replacing and at 6 years old your machine is already getting up there in years.

+1

BiochemicalDJ

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Re: Long term computer decisions
« Reply #16 on: December 08, 2017, 02:03:25 PM »
... Regardless, you should consider an SSD hard drive a non-negotiable. Trust me on that one.

I've been asked to weigh in here. Mr. Green is right on the money here. I'd be hard pressed to find an upgrade in the history of computing with as good a performance per dollar ratio as going from a 5400 RPM spinning HDD to a SATA3 SSD (motherboard compatibility willing.)

I'd even do it before I upgraded RAM in most circumstances.

I don't have a lot to contribute as far as the upgrade vs. buy conundrum, but no matter what you do, make sure the end result is having an SSD as your Windows hard drive.
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mozar

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Re: Long term computer decisions
« Reply #17 on: December 08, 2017, 08:50:13 PM »
I have attached the second half for people still interested. Alright, I have to do some googling about solid state drives, which is what I assume you guys are talking about.
Thanks all.
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Mr. Green

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Re: Long term computer decisions
« Reply #18 on: December 09, 2017, 07:33:58 AM »
Yep, solid state drives. The specs on my laptop are very similar to yours, except it has a slightly less powerful 1st gen Core i3 processor in it. When my original spinning hard drive failed I was forced to take the free upgrade to Windows 10 because HP's restore process relied on separate hard drive partitions for recovery software and the 128GB SSD I put in wasn't big enough (the spinning drive had been 320GB). I was shocked at the difference the SSD made. My Dad had been praising SSDs for years, and I naively thought they couldn't possibly be that awesome. They're actually fairly inexpensive. I picked mine up for $40, and that was a price I was willing to pay to try and salvage my laptop. If your keyboard issue ends up being debris an SSD might just be all you need for the machine to feel "fresh" again. If you need to restore your system with a new drive you can still get a free upgrade to Windows 10 through the end of the year.

https://www.cnet.com/how-to/microsoft-windows-10-free-upgrade-offer-assistive-features/
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alsoknownasDean

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Re: Long term computer decisions
« Reply #19 on: December 10, 2017, 12:24:51 AM »
Some laptop models may have replacement keyboards available for low prices on eBay.

What's the condition of the battery like?

You could probably tidy it up for not a lot if you increased the RAM to 8GB, replaced the hard drive with a solid state drive and replaced the keyboard (and possibly the battery).

Although, if you're planning on using it to earn an income, it might be worth springing for a new machine. Time is money and all of that.

I'm running a laptop made in 2008 that I upgraded to 8GB of RAM and installed an SSD a while back. The performance is still OK, but I'll probably end up replacing it in a year or so as there's a few things going wrong with it.

mozar

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Re: Long term computer decisions
« Reply #20 on: December 10, 2017, 11:19:00 AM »
I don't know how the battery i doing since I almost always keep it plugged in. I think I can get a couple of hours at least. I doubt I'll make money until at least  couple of years from now. Oy, I'm about 50/50.
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BiochemicalDJ

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Re: Long term computer decisions
« Reply #21 on: December 11, 2017, 07:53:36 AM »
Batteries are ~$80, Solid State Drives seem to weigh in between $40-80 or more, and you may be able to find compatible RAM on Craigslist/Kijiji for ~$20-60. Though even without the RAM upgrade, just toss the Solid State Drive in and then brace for liftoff.

Good part about that is the drive can come with you afterwards- even if you scrap this laptop, that solid state can be pulled and used in literally any PC, whether it be a big desktop or your next laptop.

Just be sure to check the compatibility of your motherboard with the various SSD standards- The older one (still fine) is SATA II or III, (can't remember), but the newer ones seem to be the "M.2" standard, making the SSD look like a RAM stick instead of a hard drive.

Don't buy the wrong one. My friend got my an M.2, which was a nice gesture, but none of my computers are compatible and I had to drop $20 on an adapter just to fit in in the machine. Still haven't quite got it working...
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mozar

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Re: Long term computer decisions
« Reply #22 on: December 11, 2017, 02:46:44 PM »
Thanks for the thorough info. Hey, @BiochemicalDJ whats your setup? Are you plugged into a keyboard /drum pad/ just software on your computer?  I'm trying to decide what type of keyboard to buy. I wonder if I should get a keyboard with what extras. But you might be the wrong person to ask if just have a laptop / turntable set up.
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BiochemicalDJ

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Re: Long term computer decisions
« Reply #23 on: December 12, 2017, 08:17:24 AM »
Thanks for the thorough info. Hey, BiochemicalDJ whats your setup? Are you plugged into a keyboard /drum pad/ just software on your computer?  I'm trying to decide what type of keyboard to buy. I wonder if I should get a keyboard with what extras. But you might be the wrong person to ask if just have a laptop / turntable set up.

I'm running an ancient (2011) HP Dv6-6035 with 4 gigs ram, AMD quad core something or other (relatively slow) and a 120GB SSD. Took out the Blu Ray drive b/c it was killing battery. I use it exclusively for gigging and minor productivity- anything important and CPU intensive (read: Video editing) happens on the desktop, where it belongs. Laptops are not productivity machines; not if you like your wallet. They're just not designed for it.

When gigging, I have the HP laptop set up to a Hercules DJ Console RMX and run RCA or quarter inch out to the mixer/amp at the venue. The MIDI controller is also the sound card (external USB), and I use the ASIO drivers for it within my mixing software. I use Traktor Pro 2 to mix, and don't produce, but if I want to clean up a mix (which I still consider 'cheating'), I'll edit with Audacity.  Mostly just for quick and dirty silence removal or click/pop stuff. Traktor records direct to hard drive, so I don't need to worry about signal management during recording. I don't use a mouse or keyboard while gigging- my MIDI controller can do most song selection, and typing quick search terms or target BPMs during the set is fine with the built in keyboard.

I briefly had a Korg NanoPad 2 for triggering cue points (read: Beat juggling) but never really worked it into my mix flow properly. I feel I haven't fully stretched the capabilities of Traktor with the controller I have, so adding more buttons wasn't really the solution.

My laptop computer too starts to overheat and whirr if I have too many tabs open in Firefox or, god forbid, Chrome, so again. It's a typewriter and a DJ machine.

Important things happen on the desktop:

Antec 900 case (too small now, graphics card is stupid huge. Will go full ATX later, but this case is great)
Hyperthreaded Intel i7 Hexa-core 3.2 Ghz auto-overclocked to 3.7 Ghz (aging, but still fine) Socket 2011 CPU
MSI microATX motherboard (it was cheap)
16GB 1600Mhz DDR3
ASUS Nvidia Geforce 1070 8GB Graphics Card
180GB Intel SSD for Operating System / Productivity Apps
5TB of storage in regular spinny drives.
24" 144hz 1440p Gsync Monitor (Dell.(

Keyboard is literally a $9 Dell USB keyboard. Extra buttons are useless; as long as it has a numpad you're fine.
Mouse is a $18 Monoprice multi-DPI adjustable gamer model.

Note- If opening tabs is hard on your laptop, don't try to video edit on it. It'll be hot enough to fry an egg while rendering the first 5 minutes. Do yourself a favor and check out the build guides at www.tomshardware.com to find reasonable builds for a variety of price points and get yourself some real power. You'll thank me when your computer doesn't fry your legs while rendering effects :p
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mozar

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Re: Long term computer decisions
« Reply #24 on: December 13, 2017, 03:58:02 PM »
Thanks Biomedical DJ, I understood most of that! I'm in the market for a midi controller too. I do very light video editing on my laptop and that's ok for now. I'm thinking about getting a decent laptop for now until I'm ready to build a computer in a few years. Or not.
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Ocelot

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Re: Long term computer decisions
« Reply #25 on: December 13, 2017, 08:49:28 PM »
If I can weigh in here - I edit films in Davinci Resolve, produce music in Reaper, and DJ with Serato DJ. Each of these uses has it's own requirements. Serato/Traktor are both pretty easy, my gigging laptop is less powerful than yours and it handles Serato just fine unless I try loading on effects.
Music production is somewhere in the middle, if you don't load up a million tracks at once or use too many resource-heavy VSTs your existing PC will be fine. Since it sounds like you're just starting out you're probably going to be doing pretty basic stuff and you'll be ok, but a little more RAM wouldn't be a terrible idea, and a good external soundcard is a very good investment. They don't need to cost a lot. Any MIDI controller keyboard with a couple of assignable knobs will do 99% of what you'll ever want to do, I'm currently using an Arturia Minilab and the bundled software alone is worth the price.
For editing video you might be pushing the limits of your current machine, depending on your exact needs. Assuming you're editing 1080p footage at 24-30fps, basic editing should be fine. If you start adding more than a couple of video tracks or dealing with a lot of footage - ie once your timelines get beyond 10 minutes or so during editing - then more RAM will definitely be required, and eventually you'll reach the limits of what your machine can handle. If you start working assembling timelapses you might also hit this, and I wouldn't even try editing 4k footage.

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Re: Long term computer decisions
« Reply #26 on: December 13, 2017, 09:10:51 PM »
Antec 900 case (too small now, graphics card is stupid huge. Will go full ATX later, but this case is great)
Hyperthreaded Intel i7 Hexa-core 3.2 Ghz auto-overclocked to 3.7 Ghz (aging, but still fine) Socket 2011 CPU
MSI microATX motherboard (it was cheap)
16GB 1600Mhz DDR3
ASUS Nvidia Geforce 1070 8GB Graphics Card
180GB Intel SSD for Operating System / Productivity Apps
5TB of storage in regular spinny drives.
24" 144hz 1440p Gsync Monitor (Dell.(

Keyboard is literally a $9 Dell USB keyboard. Extra buttons are useless; as long as it has a numpad you're fine.
Mouse is a $18 Monoprice multi-DPI adjustable gamer model.

Note- If opening tabs is hard on your laptop, don't try to video edit on it. It'll be hot enough to fry an egg while rendering the first 5 minutes. Do yourself a favor and check out the build guides at www.tomshardware.com to find reasonable builds for a variety of price points and get yourself some real power. You'll thank me when your computer doesn't fry your legs while rendering effects :p
At home I have a case much smaller than an Antec 900 and a 1070 fits just fine in it. :)

BiochemicalDJ

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Re: Long term computer decisions
« Reply #27 on: December 14, 2017, 07:35:29 AM »
At home I have a case much smaller than an Antec 900 and a 1070 fits just fine in it. :)

You also don't have 6 hard drives- Hence the lack of room for the graphics card- the hard drive bays (full of drives) are in the way :p

Also, you're rolling a new M.2 motherboard, so you can fit a nice tiny SSD in there- that's a modern build. Nice sideways HDD mounts, and I couldn't even see where the hell you fit your PSU.

My stuff has been cobbled together since 2012, and I've had the case since 2009, and I'm not replacing it- I'll just have one of the front drive bays sticking out 3" from flush on the front of the case forever. I'll tell people it's for downforce.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2017, 07:38:48 AM by BiochemicalDJ »
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BiochemicalDJ

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Re: Long term computer decisions
« Reply #28 on: December 14, 2017, 07:42:20 AM »
Thanks Biomedical DJ, I understood most of that! I'm in the market for a midi controller too. I do very light video editing on my laptop and that's ok for now. I'm thinking about getting a decent laptop for now until I'm ready to build a computer in a few years. Or not.

Note- Re-reading your requirements, the below recommendations apply if you're interested in live mixing and playing out.

Otherwise, like Ocelot said- a few programmable knobs, maybe a slider or two, and (god forbid) a few drum pad buttons and you'd probably be golden from a production perspective. Get a little MIDI keyboard if you're really going bananas.

Live Mixing DJ Controller advice:

Check the Kijiji/craigslist market for MIDI controllers- DJing is a hobby that can burn out fast for most. For convenience (and your first one) I'd recommend one with an audio interface built in. There are a few Numarks that do this, and a few Hercules. Just saves a step in the gig setup.

I wouldn't spend more than $200 on your first one- then you can find out what buttons you need, what you don't, what you appreciate, and what you don't.

Hell, my first controller was a Behringer BCD 3000 (?) or whatever. It was like $120 and made out of plastic, but it showed me what features I wanted in the next one. Namely a steel chassis and not feeling like I was going to break it.

My RMX has had enough scrapes, bumps, jolts, drinks spilled on it... Thing doesn't owe me anything, but keeps on kicking. They don't even make the damned thing anymore.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2017, 07:44:56 AM by BiochemicalDJ »
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ketchup

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Re: Long term computer decisions
« Reply #29 on: December 14, 2017, 07:57:06 AM »
At home I have a case much smaller than an Antec 900 and a 1070 fits just fine in it. :)

You also don't have 6 hard drives- Hence the lack of room for the graphics card- the hard drive bays (full of drives) are in the way :p

Also, you're rolling a new M.2 motherboard, so you can fit a nice tiny SSD in there- that's a modern build. Nice sideways HDD mounts, and I couldn't even see where the hell you fit your PSU.

My stuff has been cobbled together since 2012, and I've had the case since 2009, and I'm not replacing it- I'll just have one of the front drive bays sticking out 3" from flush on the front of the case forever. I'll tell people it's for downforce.
I had a similar case to yours in use for a long time (2008-2017), an Antec P182.  I built this guy in March; it's really my GF's Photoshop editing machine.  There's actually two SSDs and one HDD in there.  One hilariously fast Samsung 960 Pro M.2 on the board and one still-fast 1TB 2.5" SATA mounted vertically on the front (and with a top slot-loading optical drive adjacent to it), plus the plain-Jane 7200rpm 5TB HDD below the graphics card.  The PSU is that little box under the mess of wires between the front 2.5" drive and the CPU fan.

After we moved to network storage for most of her non-current stuff, alleviating the let's-have-15TB-of-local-storage problem, I decided I wanted to try a smaller-build experiment (miniITX but still a no-compromises Photoshop monster), and I'm pretty pleased with the result.  The giant graphics card looks very silly but fits fine.  Wiring was kind of a bitch (as you can see), but the case doesn't have a window, so whatever.

BiochemicalDJ

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Re: Long term computer decisions
« Reply #30 on: December 14, 2017, 08:14:12 AM »
Realistically I know that most of the drives in my machine are likely worthless (Old seagate 1TB and 2TB drives; even got a 640GB in there!), so I should really just upgrade to a 4-5TB single unit and have done, but I'm cheap and they aren't broken. Yet.
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ketchup

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Re: Long term computer decisions
« Reply #31 on: December 14, 2017, 08:34:48 AM »
Realistically I know that most of the drives in my machine are likely worthless (Old seagate 1TB and 2TB drives; even got a 640GB in there!), so I should really just upgrade to a 4-5TB single unit and have done, but I'm cheap and they aren't broken. Yet.
I'm sure you do this already, but I'd be remiss to not say it anyway: BACK YOUR STUFF UP.  I don't trust old hard drives, and even new hard drives I just assume will fail immediately to spite me.  My rule of thumb is that nothing for GF's photography business is stored on drives more than three years old, nothing important at all is on drives more than five years old, and everything everywhere is backed up regardless of any of that.  The last three drives I've had fail were 4 years old, 6 years old, and 2 years old at the time. 

Also, old hard drives are often slow as hell, something I really didn't appreciate until pretty recently.

Mr. Green

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Re: Long term computer decisions
« Reply #32 on: December 14, 2017, 10:04:58 AM »
Drives can fail at any time. Even 6 month old drives. As cheap as cloud storage is, anything business related should be sitting in in multiple data centers, across multiple hard drives. I wouldn't have it any other way.
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ketchup

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Re: Long term computer decisions
« Reply #33 on: December 14, 2017, 11:39:46 AM »
Drives can fail at any time. Even 6 month old drives. As cheap as cloud storage is, anything business related should be sitting in in multiple data centers, across multiple hard drives. I wouldn't have it any other way.
Of course.  Two is one and one is none.  Files don't really exist until they are in at least three places.  It gets more complicated when one has 14TB of business data, but we make it work.

mozar

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Re: Long term computer decisions
« Reply #34 on: December 14, 2017, 06:20:53 PM »
Thanks all for the info. I'm not actually wedded to protools it's just what I trained on. As for the drives, I'll put that on my list of things to consider as well.
Embracing the absurd condition of human existence while also defiantly continuing to explore and search for meaning