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Help a lifelong Mac guy switch to PC?

benmrx

Senior Member
OK...., so..., I can't believe I'm saying this, but I 'think' it's time for me to switch to a PC. I've used Mac's all my life, starting with OS8 and now currently running Sierra and El Capitan depending on which machine I'm on. I'm turning 40 next week..., yeah.. 40 and what nerdier thing to buy myself then a new computer. Travel to some exotic distant land, go on some wild adventure..., no... I'm a geek, and I want a new computer....haha.

What I'm hoping to get is a computer I can use for my audio work as a sound designer, my composition work as a composer, and my new found love for game audio/music and game development in general.

The software I use is as follows:

Pro Tools HD 12.7
Cubase Pro 9.5
Ableton 10
Unity 2017 - 2018
Audiokinetic Wwise
FMod
Visual Studio
Blender

Main Plugins I use are as follows:

Waves Diamond Bundle
Kontakt
The occasional synth plugin..., but I usually just use Kontakt or bust out a hardware synth.

Basically, I want at least 8 cores at around 4Ghz, minimum of 64GB of ram, a ripping video card with plenty of vram, a system SSD around 500GB, (x2) 1TB SSD, at least one standard 3-4TB spinning HD at 7200RPM, and a nice monitor (doesn't have to be too nice).

I would love to keep the budget around $3k, but could go up to $4k if needed..., but then it starts eating into other funds for new mics, monitors, etc.

I don't know jack shit about building a custom PC. Like I said, I've always bought Macs. I'm fairly nervous about the notion of building my own, and sourcing the parts myself. I've been looking into companies like 'MainGear', 'Origin', and 'Digital Storm'.

Any thoughts......, opinions..., am I gonna be super bummed on Windows 10 after using Macs my whole life? For instance, I've literally never once installed any kind of virus protection software, and I've never gotten a virus.
 

chimuelo

Star Of Stage & Screen
Why do this to yourself?

I’ve used the same host and audio interface for 9 years, before that 9 years on the other audio interface, made by the same folks.
I’m so fast with my apps the idea of changing things around seems counter productive.

I’m tripping for a week now just from going to Windows 10.
But switching over to Apple, aw Hell no.
I would love a nice Micro$oft version of App£€’s ESX 24 sampler.
 

Jeremy Gillam

Active Member
I built my first PC this year after using Macs for pro work for 8-10 years and so far it's been pretty stable and the satisfaction of making the thing turn on beats any Apple unboxing I've ever done. Windows is still uglier than MacOS by a long shot and Pro Tools especially looks like total ass on PC (Avid's fault), but I bought some software called WindowBlinds that let me skin my system to be more Mac-like which is nice for Pro Tools especially. Cubase runs great on Windows, super stable and according to many it is coded more efficiently for PC. I've had more problems with Pro Tools than with Cubase on this system (shocking right), particularly with my Waves plugins not being recognized as valid AAX 64 plugins, and Waves support hasn't been able to solve it yet after many friendly emails. But overall Pro Tools is pretty stable on Windows 10, and I have to remind myself that it was a pain in the ass when I ran it on Mac too. The crashes I get in PT are related to elastic audio mostly which might be a cross platform bug. They really need to update that feature. I'm using Kaspersky for antivirus which is easy to disable when I run Pro Tools, which doesn't seem to play nice with AV programs. I was mostly using Cubase for the past year and never had any issues with the build in Windows Defender but after switching back to PT for the most part I wanted a program I can easily disable.

I'm running the new i9 processor with 8 cores, 16 threads, 5Ghz turbo boost. It's awesome. And a hell of a lot cheaper than that iMac Pro which is the closest I could come from Apple. It's an ongoing experiment but so far it's been working out pretty well. But I like tinkering around with computers and trying to breathe some life into machines, if you don't, I might stick with Mac. Good luck!
 
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OleJoergensen

Senior Member
I build a PC 4 years ago and use it in a setup with my Mac.
I watched many youtube videos doing 2 weeks to prepare myself, it was exciting to build the Pc.
It is a powerhorse and works, with Ve-pro, great together with my Mac. After being used to Mac OS for many years it is a jungel with Microsoft but YouTube is your friend here :).
Im not sure I would like to use PC as my main computer but man, I would have saved a lot of money!
 

Killiard

Active Member
I switched to PC earlier last year and it was pretty painless to be honest. I built the whole thing myself and even that didn't take very long. PCs are pretty easy to put together nowadays and since I used an M.2 NVMe drive for the OS, windows 10 installed in about 5 mins.

After you spend 30 mins turning off all the crap you don't need running in windows and sorting out the auto updates (buy W10 pro), then it runs fine. It's not as pretty or clean as OSX, but once you start actually working you don't even notice it. You could be super adventurous and head over to tonymacx86.com and research building a Hackintosh, if you'd like to install OSX.

Jeremy is right though, Pro Tools looks like crap on PC! Thanks Jeremy for the WindowBlinds tip - though I'd be concerned with it messing up something. Does it run quite happily without adding any CPU hit?
 

iggyigoe

New Member
I'm building a PC at the moment after nearly 15 years on Mac, I'm nervous but have watched so many videos of peoples setup with a Mac & PC and think this is the way to go..

Had loads of help from this forum which is great!

Spec/Components are as follows...
  • CPU - Intel Core i9-9900X X-Series Processor = £1153.95
https://www.ebuyer.com/864655-intel-core-i9-9900x-x-series-processor-bx80673i99900x
  • CPU Cooler - Corsair Hydro Series H150i PRO (360mm) RGB All-in-One Liquid CPU Cooler = £139.98
https://www.cclonline.com/product/245666/CW-9060031-WW/CPU-Coolers/Corsair-Hydro-Series-H150i-PRO-360mm-RGB-All-in-One-Liquid-CPU-Cooler-/CLR1653/
  • Motherboard - ASUS PRIME X299-DELUXE II Intel Socket 2066 = £452.31
https://www.cclonline.com/product/266923/90MB0ZB0-M0EAY0/Motherboards/ASUS-PRIME-X299-DELXUE-II-Intel-Socket-2066-X299-Chipset-ATX-Motherboard/MBD2585/
  • Memory - HyperX Predator 64GB (4x 16GB) 3000MHz DDR4 RAM = £522.16
https://www.cclonline.com/product/210260/HX430C15PB3K4/64/Desktop-Memory/HyperX-Predator-64GB-4x16GB-Memory-Kit-PC4-24000-3000MHz-DDR4/RAM3259/
  • Storage - Samsung 970 EVO V-NAND M.2 500GB SSD = £109.98
https://www.ebuyer.com/836854-samsung-970-evo-v-nand-m-2-500gb-ssd-mz-v7e500bw
  • Video Card - Gigabyte Radeon RX 550 2GB Graphics Card = £111.97
https://www.cclonline.com/product/231989/GV-RX550D5-2GD/Graphics-Cards/Gigabyte-Radeon-RX-550-D5-2G-2-GB-Graphics-Card-GDDR5-Dual-link-DVI-D/HDMI/DisplayPort/VGA3806/
  • Case - Fractal Design Define R6 USB-C Case - Gunmetal = £126.00
https://www.cclonline.com/product/261613/FD-CA-DEF-R6C-GY/Cases/Fractal-Design-Define-R6-USB-C-Gunmetal-Mid-Tower-Case/CAS3487/
  • Power Supply - Corsair HX750- 750 Watt Fully Modular PSU = £114.98
https://www.ebuyer.com/788619-corsair-hx750-750-watt-fully-modular-psu-cp-9020137-uk
 

dzilizzi

I know nothing
I built a music pc about 2 years ago. Still working great. My big advice is to go to https://pcpartpicker.com set up an account and pick your parts making sure to click "only show compatible parts" You do not have buy through them. But it will make sure you don't buy something that won't work. You can also filter by what you are looking for. And it tracks the wattage so you know how much power you need.

Also, Gearslutz has a great build your pc thread if you run into problems. There's at least 2 pc builders who hang out there and are really helpful.
 

dzilizzi

I know nothing
Oh, and make sure you buy stuff that is upgradeable. I built to upgrade to 32GB RAM never thinking I'd want more. My motherboard won't go past 64GB. And more power is good because you will probably want more drives or fans.
 

Jeremy Gillam

Active Member
Jeremy is right though, Pro Tools looks like crap on PC! Thanks Jeremy for the WindowBlinds tip - though I'd be concerned with it messing up something. Does it run quite happily without adding any CPU hit?
It seems to be pretty seamless with PT at least. It doesn't play nice with some other apps though, but you can set exceptions so that it won't skin certain apps.
 

brek

Active Member
I switched to a PC for my home rig, but still use a Mac in my work studio. Probably the biggest pain point has been: the lack of a 3rd modifier key (option) on the qwerty keyboard. So a lot of my custom key commands had to be reworked/rethought. Then I have to adapt my muscle memory based on what rig I'm on. This is on Cubase. Somehow ProTools commandeers the "Win" key for itself so you do have 3 modifiers there. Would be great if Cubase could do the same...??

I also prefer the Mac keyboard layout, so did a registry hack to swap the CTRL and ALT keys. But... that really screws up Pro Tools so I have to revert it back normal every time I use it then switch it again when I go back to Cubase.
(...and that pretty much sums up the Windows experience.)
 

Jeremy Gillam

Active Member
I also prefer the Mac keyboard layout, so did a registry hack to swap the CTRL and ALT keys. But... that really screws up Pro Tools so I have to revert it back normal every time I use it then switch it again when I go back to Cubase.
(...and that pretty much sums up the Windows experience.)
I use an Apple keyboard and I remapped the command and control keys using SharpKeys so that the key commands are in the same finger position as on the Mac. I also swapped the physical keys on the keyboard so that it's visually correct (the command key becomes the Windows key when you plug a Mac keyboard into a PC). Using this method in Pro Tools the shortcuts are almost entirely the same as on the Mac. Also works great for Cubase, Photoshop etc. No need to remap when going between programs.
 

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Symfoniq

Active Member
OK...., so..., I can't believe I'm saying this, but I 'think' it's time for me to switch to a PC. I've used Mac's all my life, starting with OS8 and now currently running Sierra and El Capitan depending on which machine I'm on. I'm turning 40 next week..., yeah.. 40 and what nerdier thing to buy myself then a new computer. Travel to some exotic distant land, go on some wild adventure..., no... I'm a geek, and I want a new computer....haha.

What I'm hoping to get is a computer I can use for my audio work as a sound designer, my composition work as a composer, and my new found love for game audio/music and game development in general.

The software I use is as follows:

Pro Tools HD 12.7
Cubase Pro 9.5
Ableton 10
Unity 2017 - 2018
Audiokinetic Wwise
FMod
Visual Studio
Blender

Main Plugins I use are as follows:

Waves Diamond Bundle
Kontakt
The occasional synth plugin..., but I usually just use Kontakt or bust out a hardware synth.

Basically, I want at least 8 cores at around 4Ghz, minimum of 64GB of ram, a ripping video card with plenty of vram, a system SSD around 500GB, (x2) 1TB SSD, at least one standard 3-4TB spinning HD at 7200RPM, and a nice monitor (doesn't have to be too nice).

I would love to keep the budget around $3k, but could go up to $4k if needed..., but then it starts eating into other funds for new mics, monitors, etc.

I don't know jack shit about building a custom PC. Like I said, I've always bought Macs. I'm fairly nervous about the notion of building my own, and sourcing the parts myself. I've been looking into companies like 'MainGear', 'Origin', and 'Digital Storm'.

Any thoughts......, opinions..., am I gonna be super bummed on Windows 10 after using Macs my whole life? For instance, I've literally never once installed any kind of virus protection software, and I've never gotten a virus.
I became a Mac user in the late 1980s (System 6!), but own and use computers running macOS, Windows, and Linux on a daily basis. Here's my opinion, which might not be worth more than it cost you <grin>:

(1) I switched from macOS to a custom-built Windows workstation for my audio work a few years ago. The Windows workstation has been cheaper, quieter, more easily upgradable, and at least as reliable (no BSODs, not once) as anything Apple has released in the last half-decade. I'm running a 7820X CPU (8 cores/16 threads) with 64 GB of RAM (upgradable to 128 GB) and about 6 TB of SSD storage (mix of NVMe and SATA). Simply put, if you are a media composer needing a lot of cores and storage, nothing Apple currently makes is as cost-effective as a custom-built PC.

(2) There are *many* things about Windows that I still find clunky or downright annoying (Macs still have better font rendering; Macs still handle high-DPI displays better; I could go on...) However, Windows 10 has been a big step forward, and it does some things better than macOS (looking at you, window snapping). Which OS I prefer depends on what I'm doing, but macOS is increasingly relegated to development work where I need a UNIX environment (Microsoft's Windows Subsystem for Linux isn't there yet, IMO). For audio and video production, the Mac's historical advantages have waned (again, IMO). Unless you *really* need Logic Pro or you *really* need Final Cut Pro, the Mac is becoming a harder sell. Most of the video producers I know moved on a few years ago. I think the Mac is still more relevant in the audio world, but only because the less demanding nature of the work has allowed musicians, composers, and producers to hold onto their older Macs longer. As time forces them to upgrade, I expect more of them to end up in the Windows world, too. Again, just my opinion, based on anecdotal experience.

(3) It's going to be unpopular to say this, but I don't run anti-virus software on my Windows 10 system. I didn't run it on Windows 8.1, 8, or 7, either. I've never had a virus on any of those operating systems. However, I'm careful about what I install, and I tend to run things I'm uncertain about in a virtual machine (this is good practice anyway).

(4) Are you going to be bummed going from macOS to Windows 10? I have no idea, and you won't either, until you try it. I will say that I don't consider either OS to be ideal for everything, and I feel fortunate to have *both* at my disposal. But I'm increasingly finding the flexibility of the Windows ecosystem to be more conducive to workflows that require a lot of CPU cores, memory, storage, and GPU performance. On the other hand, macOS still wins if I just need a really nice terminal (iTerm 2) and awesome battery life in a POSIX-compliant OS, which is why I still prefer that my laptop computer be a Mac. But for me, the heavy lifting happens on Windows and Linux now.
 

EvilDragon

KSP Wizard
This is on Cubase. Somehow ProTools commandeers the "Win" key for itself so you do have 3 modifiers there. Would be great if Cubase could do the same...??
Reaper also supports using Win key for mouse modifiers and assigning keys to actions. However if a certain Win+key combination has been reserved by the OS, it cannot be used in other programs. But there's a way around it, simple tweak in Group Policy Editor (needs W10 Pro):

1. Press Win+R to get the Run dialog and type gpedit.msc, then hit OK
2. Now navigate to the User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > File Explorer in the left pane. In the right pane, locate and double click Turn off Windows Key hotkeys option.
3. Select Enabled, press Apply and OK to save.
4. Sign out then log back in. Or just reboot.

Now stuff like Win+E to open Explorer or Win+D to instantly show desktop, and other such shortcuts are not going to be used by the OS, freeing the Win+key combos to be assignable in other programs.
 

MartinH.

Senior Member
Don't have much to contribute but I just wanted to welcome all the Mac refugees in PC-land! Enjoy your new freedom. I've heard even a hardcore apple fan say he felt more connected to the first PC he built himself than to any Mac he ever owned.

I've built my own PCs in the past, but if I'd buy a new one tomorrow, there is a chance I'd buy a "pre-assembled" one from handpicked hardware. Some big online stores offer that service for way less money than the opportunity cost I'd have from doing it myself. Not sure if transport damage is an issue though...
 

Pictus

Active Member
OP
benmrx

benmrx

Senior Member
Thanks everyone for all the great info. Did some research over the weekend and I gotta say I'm getting cold feet now on making this switch. From looking around, it seems that Pro Tools on the PC is EXTREMELY picky about what hardware you're using, various configurations, etc. It is starting to feel like a massive risk.

For anyone here running PTHD 12.7 (or newer) on Windows 10, I'd love to hear what processor and graphics card you're using. I found a number of threads where people had to 'dumb down' their video card in order to get PT working, which causes some concern as the main reason I'm wanting to switch to PC is to delve deeper into game development and audio/music for games.
 

Killiard

Active Member
Oh and the other annoying thing about PT on PC is that it exists in one main app window. So if you use multiple displays you have to have the main Pro tools window start on the left screen and stretch the entire bloody window across your multiple displays. And god help you if you run displays at different resolutions! I've got a whacking great 43" display so I just keep everything on one screen.

Whoever ported Pro Tools to Windows needs a clip around the head!!

I'm actually about to use an old SSD to make a Hackintosh drive, just for giggles. If it runs well I might use it just for Pro tools!!
 
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