So about five or six years ago a friend and I built a desktop PC for home recording; I wanted to record an album. After months of fiasco with some bad advice from a friend and general frustration dealing with a whole realm of new technology I ended up going into a professional studio to record, which was a good experience. I learned a lot through the sessions, and in the end I was doing a lot of basic editing on his Pro Tools setup. Later I invested in a new motherboard and rebuilt my computer myself. I installed a number of entry level recording programs and ended up using Mackie's Tracktion 2 as my main software, with a Delta 10-10 for I/O. It functioned well enough for me over the years, although I never did endeavor any large or finished projects on it. Also through this time I grew much more capable and comfortable with Windows and also hardware to some extent. So eventually that desktop was retired, and that brings us to now. I have decided to invest in a laptop and a new interface and to pick a more professional minded software to learn. I spent a bit of time with my friends setup and Presonus studio one this summer, it seems a very capable setup, although there were a few things I never figured out how to do (in a short period of time). So my budget is around 4k, i'd like to get the laptop, an interface capable of at least 8, possibly 16 tracks and some software. I think I will also upgrade my studio monitors, i'll leave that for a separate topic and budget. I have a fair amount of microphones, including about 4k in condenser mics, so thankfully i'm covered there. I also have a couple of mixing boards, a Soundcraft 24ch G4 and a 16ch Mackie, though neither has firewire or digital capacity. It seems getting a new board with a firewire out might be ideal. If any of you read this whole post and have any advice, that is awesome. I have always been a PC user, but I bet I could adjust to the Mac world easy enough if needed. I also kind of like the idea of buying a recording optimized system (I was just looking at some Rain computers) but this definitely costs more money. I want to do some pretty serious projects with this setup, but nowadays I can get laptops with greater processing speed, RAM and memory than I put into a desktop five years ago, so I think i'll go that route for now for portability and simplicity.