Fifteen years ago, you could have gotten by as a musician without a computer. But let's face it, that would be near impossible today. Musicians today use computers everything. We use them to create our music, promote our music, reach out to our fanbases, and those fans in turn listen to our music on their computers. Many of us even use them while performing. With such demand placed on these devices, they eventually need to be replaced, sometimes due to damage, and sometimes just for a necessary upgrade.
With the high cost of quality computers today, it can be expensive to purchase a new one. Most people likely understand that electronic devices become outdated at some point, but it can be hard to tell when it's the right time to buy a new computer.
It's often exciting to buy a new computer that loads software quickly and has nice hardware features. Before you know it, though, you notice the tons of new models offered from the same manufacturer and just about every other computer company on the market.
How old is too old?
Being left behind with old technology can be worrisome, but is your computer actually too old? Answering that question largely depends on the types of software you use and the expectations you have for performance. Using music software that is more demanding on a processor, sound card, and other computer components may mean your current computer is too old. And new music software is constantly being developed to advance these requirements and upgrade sound card specs.
Modern Software's Growing Demand on Hardware
Even without high-end music production, to just play current games with top-level visual and audio settings, a higher-end computer is usually required. Other technology elements like network connections and internet service are also involved with delivering a high-quality gaming experience. So your computer may not be the only thing that needs to be updated. Conversely, if you don't have decent internet speeds, for example, upgrading really isn't going to help you.
Other online activities that involve significant processing power include video streaming, video editing, and other digital media-related activities. If these activities are a major part of your life, particularly your career, then it can be a wise decision to upgrade your computer and related technology as needed.
The extra cost in buying a new computer might end up saving you time by giving you faster processing capabilities, which can save you time and money in the long run. However, there are circumstances where buying a new computer might not be a good value.
If you use relatively simple applications like word processing programs, spreadsheets, and web browsers, buying a new computer may not be necessary. Performing simple tasks such as writing and editing text documents and watching YouTube videos typically don't demand a huge load on your computer, so you should be fine with using your existing computer for a while.
Basic Tasks for Basic Computing
In time when overall technologies get more advanced, you might notice some performance declines for basic computer tasks, but if you have a computer that is only a few years old, you should be able to manage basic tasks without a problem. That is assuming you're using your computer for common music activities, and not high-end music production.
You should bear in mind that using basic software with advanced hardware might introduce a new set of issues where a new computer might be needed. For instance, even though viewing video on a computer is a generally basic task, adding a VR (virtual reality) headset into the mix could add to your computer's processing load.
Digital Audio Workstation Requirements
Also, if you're using a wider range of DAW software that isn't available for your current computer's operating system, buying a new computer could make it easier to access the latest versions of applications like FL Studio or Ableton Live. For example, a Mac computer may not be able to load software strictly developed for the Windows operating system. If you really need that software for work, you might be better off buying a Windows-compatible computer.
Though it is possible to run the Windows operating system on a Mac computer with a program called Boot Camp Assistant, that might be too much of a hassle for some people. So if you are considering buying a new computer, you should not only factor in your software and hardware needs, but also your technical capabilities.