I have a miniature music studio at home and I am pushing the limits of the Windows XP machine I purchased a year or so ago. I have 512Mb of RAM and 2 x 40 gig hard drives installed. The first and obvious steps are to throw in at least 1 gig RAM and get 160 gig hard drive. This would mean me burning at least $160 which may not happen until after the Christmas season.
There are quite a few tweaks to the XP environment that enable you to get every last bit of processing power available. I found this MusicXP site that goes into step by step detail on what to tweak and what the effect of the tweak will be. I am sure these tweaks would be useful even for hard core gamers. Someone should write an application to help do this, may be store your previous settings and then enable them once your liaison with musical production is over for the evening. Maybe that someone should be me!
"Music with dinner is an insult both to the cook and the violinist." - Gilbert Chesterton