Computer processors essentially determine the speed of a computer. There are multi-core processors, which have multiple processors built into one.
Most modern recording software can take advantage of multiple cores by splitting tasks amongst them. Hence, I highly recommend a multi-core processor.
With that said, almost any new computer as of 2012 has an adequate amount of power required for any recording application. The most popular processors at this time include Intel i3, i5 and i7.
8GB of RAM should be more than adequate for any recording situation, unless you are working with over 30 recorded tracks at a time.
RAM, or Random Access Memory, determines how many tracks and software you can open at the same time.
You probably can even get away with 4GB of RAM without any issues unless you are working with more than 30 tracks at a time.
The amount of hard drive you space required depends mostly on how many tracks you plan on storing on there.
Each song can take around 1GB depending on how many layers of recording it has.
Recording software such as Pro Tools require at least 15GB of free space. Windows 8 takes about 20GB of space. Considering you’ll have about 100 songs, a couple software like Pro Tools, a couple dozen plugins, each requiring 1GB of space, and a 100GB of other random files, I would recommend a hard drive no less than 256GB… and that is only if you’re getting an SSD!
Regular SATA hard drives are now dirt cheap and there is no reason you shouldn’t get at least 1TB of space if you’re buying a SATA. SSD hard drives are much faster, but much more expensive.
The ideal setup would have two separate hard drives, both preferablly SSDs, with one having the operating system and DAW installed, and the other having all of the music files.
You may want to go with a computer that has a USB 3.0 port as backing up data on an external hard drive will be a lot faster.
If you’re planning on connecting a midi controller, you will need a USB port for that as well. In addition, you will need a USB port for your recording interface.
Pro Tools requires an iLok USB key, which will require yet another USB port. Make sure you have at least 4 USB ports!
You will want a CD burner, which is standard in almost every computer.
Besides that, every other port is optional unless you are going to purchase a recording interface that uses firewire or some other unpopular way to connect to your computer.
Mac vs PC
That choice is completely up to you. Both Macs and PCs are perfectly capable of running professional recording studio software. It’s all about preference.
You usually get a better bang for your buck when you go with PC, but Macs are generally more friendly with Pro Tools in particular.