Re: Computer Setups
(Preface: I have a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering, a master's degree in computer science, and I have been a professional software developer for over 20 years. So, I know something about this stuff. However, due to the vast variety of options available, you may have had a different experience than me.)
Funny, I too have HP dv7. But mine has quad i7, not AMD. I like it a lot. However, my one big complaint is that it does not have firewire, and there is no way to get firewire on it. A lot of good recording interfaces use firewire (like, the one that I had which is now essentially a paperweight). Let me anticipate some responses:
1. "You can get a USB to firewire adapter" - sort of, maybe, but they don't really work, especially for recording interfaces.
2. "Just get a USB audio interface" - I did. However, generally speaking firewire is ever-so-slightly superior. Because of the difference in architectures, USB is more prone to 'interference' (delays, latency, drops, etc.) from other software than firewire is. Firewire is a bit more consistent and reliable. I know there are multiple different versions of both, but all firewire throughput is more consistent than USB, which is far more important to recording.
3. "Lots of newer PC's don't have firewire" - Yes, no argument here. The next PC I buy will have thunderbolt. And then will begin the search for a good thunderbolt audio interface, ugh.
The good news is that computer technology today is so vastly superior to what it was ~10 years ago, that almost any decent computer will do. I run multiple web servers, multiple databases, multiple browsers, a few different remote desktop sessions, etc. and my machine runs just fine. That was unthinkable 10 years ago. For recording, Macs seem to be better. But that is due to the fact that all Macs and their operating system, come from one company (which has relatively high performance standards), so the situation is simpler. The variety of PC hardware is what MIGHT cause problems. Some people get lucky buy a PC, plug it in, and everything works. Of course, Macs are more expensive. I never recommend one over the other. I always tell people, you have decide how much you want to spend, and how capable are you at problem solving. Couple other random thoughts:
1. RAM is uber-important. I always try to get as much as I can afford. 2GB is really anemic today. 4GB is okay, 8GB makes everything nice.
2. For recording, hard disk performance is important. Specifically, try to get at least 7200 RPM disk (not a problem today). 10,000 RPM would be better. An SSD would be way better, but of course, way more expensive.
3. I have usually found over 20 years of buying computers, that you pay a high premium for getting the top of the line processor. If you take one step down (usually in clock speed), you can get a significant price break for something that is almost as good.
I have a Presonus AudioBox1818VSL. I like it. Number of inputs/outputs, instrument/mic/line inputs, and included Studio One DAW make it a great value. But latency interferes with how I would like to use it. My research tells me that no other USB or firewire device would be much better in that regard. However, it might not be an issue for you.