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Although not a computer expert, I have just ordered a 4 core 4GHz 16Gig RAM USB3 capable computer to address my audio needs. Speed and capacity are not particularly expensive these days. The total cost of the computer is £580. It has 120Gb of Solid state memory for the programmes and 1TB of HDD for the files. I specified an optical (SPDIF) output to isolate the computers electrics from the monitoring. Other than that it is not special, it does not even have a separate sound card although there is space for one later.
The computer will be used for the number crunching, the analogue will get no closer than the input to the QU16 mic amps or the outboard optical DAC’s output.
I only mention this because I have been going through the business of choosing a system for audio myself in the past few weeks and await delivery tomorrow!
If I had confidence in building myself, I might have gone down the route of a fanless Haswell SSD, low power computer but they are expensive, double the price above and I couldn’t justify the price or be bothered learning Linux.
However, as I mentioned in the first sentence, I am not an expert, far from it and the above solution should be blisteringly fast with no audio drawbacks. My present computer takes up to 4 minutes to render an EQ change and ages to load up a project and had to go!