This series of articles is based on experience and advice is given in good faith. Ultimately, choice of computer is your responsibility. If it all goes wrong, it's not our fault! However, you would be well advised to adhere to the following:
Do not poke around inside the case of a PC/Mac unless you know what you are doing. Always adhere to the manufacturers' recommendations. Follow the rules for prevention of damage by static electricity - if you don't know the rules, don't open the case! Above all, NEVER EVER open the case of a power supply, even when it's disconnected from the wall outlet.
There is no one definitive answer to what computer equipment is required for VTPO work. The best advice that can be given is to follow the Rolls Royce description for one of its limousines, where the top speed is listed as "Adequate"! Do your research well and don't just buy either because it has the latest "whizz-bang" or someone's offering a not-to-be-missed deal.
The first thing to be decided is whether you want to go the Apple Mac route or the PC route. The "Macs" generally seem to come pre-built and some VTPOers have even been known to run their organ from a MacBook (laptop). There will probably be a shower of screaming over this, but it seems that the major reason for choosing a Mac or a PC is the Operating System, the case and the price! In earlier days the Mac was THE computer to have when you wanted the ultimate in graphics capability. These days, both Macs and PCs come with similar processors, buss speeds, hard drives, memory and graphics capabilities. The aesthetics of the 'box' your PC/Mac is in is left to you as is the decision as to whether you want the Apple logo on the front of your screen or something else. For pure VTPO this is irrelevant. When it comes to your wallet, only you can decide.
In the remainder of this page, we will assume that you are going to use a dedicated PC for your VTPO. Of course you are free to use a multi-purpose PC as you wish. Most comments about choosing and building also apply to Apple Mac.
If you are going to use the stand-alone version of MidiTzer running from a thumb drive under Linux, almost any reasonably recent PC will do to get you going, from an Intel PIII based system upwards. However, do remember that the PC must have sound capabilities, either in the shape of dedicated sound chips built onto the motherboard, a separate sound card or an externally connected box (See our Audio section). Also bear in mind that some older PCs may not have sound card drivers available for Linux, and some sound cards (especially external ones) don't have drivers available for Windows Vista or Windows 7, although in the case of PuppiTzer, the latter is irrelevant. Having said that, don't expect miracles from MidiTzer, Haupwerk, Artisan or any other sound engine. If you don't provide an adequate environment for them to work in, you're headed for disappointment.
I don't believe that buying a PC 'off-the-shelf' or choosing a so called 'custom-built' one from one of the major distributors, is necessarily a good choice. I would urge anybody that has the knowledge to consider spending a bit more time and probably a bit less cash, sourcing exactly the right parts for the job and building your own PC. Even lovers of Macs can do this, as some outlets will allow you to buy the 'bare bones' Mac and add your own upgrades, extra HDDs, memory etc. If you're not sure how to build a PC, perhaps a friend may know and would be able to help, otherwise there are many online forums where newbies can get started and some specialists supply 'kits' to get you going.
Let's start with an overall view, as you need to have an 'end product' in mind before you know what parts you'll need. Decide what software you want to run and whether you might want to run more than one organ definition using more than one system. Check with the supplier of each system as to the suitability of what you propose. You need to know whether your chosen software is main memory based or hard disk based. Of course this could be both if you are running multiple systems. If your system allows for it (and your pocket is deep enough).
There is no separate category here for DVD drive or Floppy drive. It is assumed that you will decide to fit one or both of these items as you feel necessary, according to the type of software that you intend to load, or you may prefer to boot and run from a thumb drive provided that your operating system and VTPO software will allow for that. Do bear in mind that unless you are running later operating systems such as Windows Vista and Windows 7, you may not be able to upgrade the BIOS or setup RAID, without resorting to use of a floppy disk.