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 Post subject: Does this sound like a well designed computer?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2004 6:09 am 
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I’m about to custom build a computer. I might have Monarch Computer do it for me. I’ve come up with a list of hardware and I just wanted to run it by some people who are more knowledgeable than myself to make sure everything is compatible and that it is the smoothest running machine for the price.

This machine will be used for recording, mixing, editing audio. It will be used to play back multi-channel audio (mostly home brewed music, and very occasionally DVD’s). It will be used for number crunching applications (largely experimental) and a little bit of non-programmer programming. It will also be used for internet applications and word processing. This computer is designed so that it will be powerful while at the same time minimizing noise. I am not a gamer and I have no intentions of becoming one. Below is the list of basic parts I have come up.



Case:
Antec Sonata

Power Supply:
380 watt TruePower

Motherboard:
Intel D915PBLL 533/800 MHz system bus, S/PDIF in and out, onboard 7.1 audio, (http://www.intel.com/design/motherbd/bl/index.htm)

Chip:
Intel P4 550 3.4 GHz LGA 775 1MB cache (Retail Box w/ fan)

Memory:
1 GB (2 pcs 512) DDR2 (533) PC-4200 Corsair (VS1GBKIT533D2), underclocked to 800MHz

Graphics Card:
Gigabyte ATI Radeon X300 Video Card, 128MB DDR, 128-Bit, DVI/TV-Out, PCI Express, Model "GV-RX30128D"

Optical Drive:
Aopen 16X Double Layer DVD+/- RW Black Burner, 2MB buffer, Model DUW1608, OEM, ATAPI / E-IDE interface

Hard Drive:
Samsung 160GB 7200RPM SATA Hard Drive, 8MB Buffer, 7200RPM, Model SP1614C, SATA interface

Sound Card:
Echo Mia MIDI, PCI interface


Does this setup sound like a good idea?


Some thoughts:

I do not know a whole lot about memory performance. There are many other options.

I’m not sure whether or not the motherboard has any kind of graphics support. So I may not need the graphics card. I chose this card primarily because it does not have a noisy fan.

Some one reccommended that I use two hard drives, onw for programs and the other for data. Would I need two hard drives for doing stuff like audio editing?

I have heard of compatibility problems with the Intel’s 915 chipset. As far as I know this only occurred with some Pro Tools product. They may have fixed it by now, and I, by no means, need to use Pro Tools.



Thanks a lot. Your opinions and feedback are appreciated.

-halfpower


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2004 7:32 am 
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That truepower is going to be noisy at stock, and there's really no point buying really dfast ram then underclocking it - just go for some rated at the speeds you'll use it at.

griff


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 Post subject: get the SLK3000B instead!
PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2004 7:43 am 
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Hello:

Get the SLK3000B instead of the Sonata! It is a much better case...

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2004 8:04 am 
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greeef wrote:
That truepower is going to be noisy at stock, and there's really no point buying really dfast ram then underclocking it - just go for some rated at the speeds you'll use it at.

griff


I think 533MHZ 240pin memory is probably a lot easier to find than 400MHz 240pin memory. As far as I know the FSB will run not at 1066MHz unless it is overclocked. I could be mistaken.


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 Post subject: Re: get the SLK3000B instead!
PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2004 8:08 am 
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NeilBlanchard wrote:
Hello:

Get the SLK3000B instead of the Sonata! It is a much better case...

why is it better? How is the Super Sonata Case Package offer at http://www.endpcnoise.com/cgi-bin/e/custom_sonata.html?id=5Kf7ff6n?
Its got a Nexus fan and a Nexus NX350 350W power supply.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2004 8:51 am 
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halfpower wrote:
greeef wrote:
That truepower is going to be noisy at stock, and there's really no point buying really dfast ram then underclocking it - just go for some rated at the speeds you'll use it at.

griff


I think 533MHZ 240pin memory is probably a lot easier to find than 400MHz 240pin memory. As far as I know the FSB will run not at 1066MHz unless it is overclocked. I could be mistaken.


sorry - i didnt notice either the 240pin statement and i al;ways get fonfused with intel pumped fsbs - amd man here.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2004 8:59 am 
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I find a lot to comment on so I'll just start by answering your question.

The Sonata is a nice looking case with a good potential for a quietish setup for a beginner. However, it is by no means a case to achieve a very quiet setup without excessive modding. I'm sure you've read all the plusses, I'll just skip to the minuses:

The case is cramped. Very little space to work inside and if you want to change anything, you usually end up taking out a whole lot of hardware to do so. The hard disk area severely restricts airflow (already hampered by a bad bezel) and the stupid location of the front fan doesn't help improve much. The side Antec holes are a potential for noise escape and dust intake. You could cover them up - several people here have done that - but I've personally found that it restricts airflow to the PSU. The PSU isn't quiet at all. As it is starved for cool air, it ramps up quickly in speed, also pushing up anything connected to its fan-only connector as well. There are ways to bypass most of these shortcomings but it's a lot of work you could do without. I'd suggest looking into the Antec 3000B. It's as good in looks and is much much better (larger insides, better hdd cage, very good internal airflow, doesn't have a lousy PSU you have to pay for). (Btw, the 350W Nexus PSU is good but is not Nexus' best.)

Coming to your platform/motherboard selection.
You say you chose the motherboard because it doesn't have a noisy fan. I'm sure the onboard S/PDIF interface and the 7.1 audio were also a factor as you're into music production.

However, the Intel LGA 775 platform CPUs are VERY hot (read 150W at full load) and require best-class cooling to get anywhere even "quiet". And since you're into music production, "quiet" won't be enough for you, you'll want to go for "near silent". No way with the retail fan. You need to look at the expensiveThermalright XP-120 if you want to cool it quietly enough. Or, better still, go for an Athlon64 system. Much much easier to cool (89W Max officially, i believe in reality it's much lower) quietly.

As for the onboard audio/interfaces, every onboard audio I've listened to picks up a lot of noise from onboard components. I'm sure you don't want your music to carry traces of your harddisk seeks. While I've not gone for anything better - yet - it's been suggested to me that I might want to look at m-audio products.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2004 2:24 pm 
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burcakb wrote:
I find a lot to comment on so I'll just start by answering your question.


A silent computer would be nice but also impractical.

I like having the s/pdif on the motherboard because I'm not sure whether the s/pdif on the sound card outputs surround sound formats or just stereo.

I like the idea of a cool 64bit chip, unfortunately none of my software is 64bit.

Quote:
every onboard audio I've listened to picks up a lot of noise from onboard components.


Are you refering to the audio built into the motherboard? the internal sound card? or both? I like the idea of having an internal audio interface. I might go for a some steel EM shielding. But I don't know, I definitely do not want my recordings to pick up any EM interference.

I like the Pentiums. I suspect that some of my software will run much better on it, but I'm not sure.


I was under the impression that the Antec Sonata is the quietest case on the market. Would you say that setup I've proposed is signifigantly quieter than say, a Dell?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2004 4:35 pm 
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halfpower wrote:
A silent computer would be nice but also impractical.

Ermmm, what do you mean exactly? The suggestions made here are practical ways of quietening a PC. You don't have to spend a lot of money, just buy the right components in the first place. Do some research around this site and you'll find plenty of quiet suggestions. However, if you literally mean "silent" (i.e. close to 0dB) I agree, that is almost impossible and impractical to achieve. (But it is the Holy Grail for some of us around here! :wink:

Quote:
I like the idea of a cool 64bit chip, unfortunately none of my software is 64bit.

Doesn't matter, the Athlon64 CPU runs 32 bit applications natively (i.e. 100% compatible) as fast or faster and cooler than the equivalent Pentium

Quote:
I like the Pentiums. I suspect that some of my software will run much better on it, but I'm not sure.

Where do you get that impression from? Check out benchmark tests on various other sites and you'll find that's not necessarily true at all.

Quote:
I was under the impression that the Antec Sonata is the quietest case on the market.

Absolutely not. It may have been when it was first introduced 2 (?) years ago, but please believe us when we say there are plenty of other better cases available. Particularly the newly released SLK3000B. Check out the reviews and recommended sections in the main site for other cases. If you take the advice around here you'll get a much quieter PC than a Dell.

Also don't forget the choice of CPU cooler is very important for quietness. A Thermalright or Zalman with the fan undervolted is probably your best bet.

I would suggest doing a bit more research, coming back here with a revised spec and we'll give you some more feedback.

Hope this has been helpful so far.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2004 4:37 pm 
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halfpower wrote:
I was under the impression that the Antec Sonata is the quietest case on the market.


That's just not true. The Sonata, while certainly quieter than the typical middle-of-the-road PC case, is handily bested by many cases. Look at the "Recommended Cases" article on the main SPCR site for a list. burcakb has already pointed out some of it's shortcomings but if you don't believe him, just do a forum search for "Sonata" and you'll quickly see what the general Sonata consensus is. You should also read the SPCR review of the SLK3700BQE as there's a bit of a comparison between it and the Sonata near the end of the article.

halfpower wrote:
Would you say that setup I've proposed is signifigantly quieter than say, a Dell?


Quieter, probably. Significantly quieter, probably not, but that would depend on how the Dell was configured.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2004 5:56 pm 
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Quote:
I would suggest doing a bit more research, coming back here with a revised spec and we'll give you some more feedback.


Will I need to put a thermometer in this machine?

Quote:
Hope this has been helpful so far.


Yes this has been helpful.


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 Post subject: Re: get the SLK3000B instead!
PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2004 6:36 pm 
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Hello:

halfpower wrote:
NeilBlanchard wrote:
Hello:

Get the SLK3000B instead of the Sonata! It is a much better case...

why is it better? How is the Super Sonata Case Package offer at http://www.endpcnoise.com/cgi-bin/e/custom_sonata.html?id=5Kf7ff6n?
Its got a Nexus fan and a Nexus NX350 350W power supply.


The front intake of the Sonata is definitely not as good as the intake on the SLK3000B, and the hard drive cage on the 3000B is also much better for the intake air to flow over the hard drives. The Sonata's shortcomings are pretty well documented on this site -- it is nowhere near the "quietest case". The intake needs to be pretty heavily modified to equal the 3000B, let alone the Evercase. HD temps in the Sonata run higher than in these other cases, all else being equal, and hot HD's is not a good thing...

You can also get the 3000B with a similar or quieter PS for a lot less than $214! The case is ~$70 shipped, and a good PS like the Seasonic can be had for ~$65. If the fan that comes with the 3000B is not quiet enough, buy a Nexus for $20 -- you still have spent $50 less. :P

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2004 10:56 pm 
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Guys, halfpower looks sold on the PressHOT and intends to run it with the stock HSF. The Sonata will be the LEAST of his worries with a small jet taking off inside.

Halfpower, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do some research on P4/Prescott & Athlon64 comparisons. Most of your beliefs are unfounded. Check the forum stickies in the CPU Cooling section. Athlon64 matches a given LGA775 performance on just about any application and uses up nearly half the power.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2004 4:14 pm 
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halfpower wrote:
I like having the s/pdif on the motherboard because I'm not sure whether the s/pdif on the sound card outputs surround sound formats or just stereo.

I like the idea of a cool 64bit chip, unfortunately none of my software is 64bit.

Quote:
every onboard audio I've listened to picks up a lot of noise from onboard components.


Are you refering to the audio built into the motherboard? the internal sound card? or both? I like the idea of having an internal audio interface. I might go for a some steel EM shielding. But I don't know, I definitely do not want my recordings to pick up any EM interference.


If you want high quality sound (both in and out) avoid on-board audio...avoid it like the plague!

They are built using very cheap chips and produce terrible sound in all respects, including noise, distortion, frequency range, etc. They also resample all audio signals to multiples of 48 kHz. This will really mess sources like CDs that use a 44.1 kHz sampling rate.

These problems also apply to Creative sound cards. They are focused on having flashy features for games, and put little emphasis on real sound quality (those numbers they publish are real exaggerations).

Don't be concerned about not getting stereo out of the digital outputs. All quality sound cards provide stereo, and in fact, they will even pass on signals like dobly digital or DTS (most can't handle these codec themselves, but are able to pass to the next device). But you have to get one from a company that make pro sound cards not those cheap consumer ones.

Get a real sound card like those made by m-audio or terratec. Their entry level cards are plenty for basic recordings. They are not really that expensive either, ~$100.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2004 4:33 pm 
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Hello:

burcakb wrote:
Guys, halfpower looks sold on the PressHOT and intends to run it with the stock HSF. The Sonata will be the LEAST of his worries with a small jet taking off inside.

Halfpower, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do some research on P4/Prescott & Athlon64 comparisons. Most of your beliefs are unfounded. Check the forum stickies in the CPU Cooling section. Athlon64 matches a given LGA775 performance on just about any application and uses up nearly half the power.


You're right, of course. We missed the forest for the trees! The Prescott is the hottest chip going, and with the stock HSF, it will be hot AND loud! Please consider at least the Northwood instead, but much better than either is the Athlon 64.

The Athlon 64 is a 64 bit chip, and it runs 32 bit natively, and it will do so at about half the power and heat that the Prescott will. Please do a search on this site for lots of info on this! Please?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2004 5:58 pm 
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Well actually, the Pentium 4 is known to be better for applications that involve streaming data, like audio and video encoding ( http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/di ... nm_10.html ). However, the same article points out that the Socket 939 Athlon 64 chips have relatively low power consumption, especially when compared against Prescott CPUs ( http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/di ... 0nm_5.html ). The question may then become whether the difference in performance is worth the difference in power consumption (which leads to heat, which leads to noisy fans).

For whatever it is worth, I have heard that the new Intel high definition audio is supposed to sound pretty good for integrated audio, maybe about the level of a Creative Audigy. It is not, however, the best audio you can possibly get. Seeing as how it is integrated into the motherboard, I suppose you can always try it out first to see if you like it. If you don't, go ahead and grab one of the aforementioned audio cards. You may also look at some of the stuff from ESI ( http://www.esi-pro.com ). It really depends on how hardcore you are about the audio recording thing, though.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 8:01 am 
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It would be nice to run cool. I'm uncertain of what the perfance trade offs will be. I'll be running Matlab 7.0 on this machine. I'll also be running some audio recording/sampling/editing/mixing/mastering/synthesis program (I don't know which one(s) yet). Most of time I will just be sleeping in the same room as this computer, but I will also be recording (I can get a 100ft mic cable), and on occasion doing the most massive number crunching I can with a GB of RAM (using Matlab).

Does anyone have benchmarks available for Audio editing software? how about Matlab?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 1:05 pm 
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Well, if you're using the Linux version of Matlab, there's a 64-bit version which should beat any P4 handily. Direct quote from their website:

Quote:
The computational performance capabilities of this version are among the best of any platform benchmarked

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 2004 10:58 am 
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I think I'll stay clear of the Linux thing. It would be nice to know, but for me its not worth the time spent learning.

64-bit Matlab on Linux w/ AMD64 is probably a good. Its probably signifigantly cheaper than any other 64-option option. A 64-bit chip is neccessary to manipulate matricies/data sets that are ~4GB+.

In the past Matlab ran best on Windows machines. With the most recent version this may no longer be true. I think for me it will run best on a Pentium, though this performance gap is probably not huge and it will depend on what exactly one is doing with Matlab.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 2004 12:15 pm 
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OK. I've read through everybody's posts and I've revamped the system a bit. Here is my revised set-up.


Case:
Antec SLK 3000B

Possible replacement case fan:
Nexus

PSU:
Seasonic

Motherboard:
Intel D915PBLL 533/800 MHz system bus, S/PDIF in and out, onboard 7.1 audio, (http://www.intel.com/design/motherbd/bl/index.htm)

Possible replacement CPU/motherboard cooler:
Lots of options here...somebrainstorming => Thermalright XP-120 on the motherboard. Now, if I really have a lot of free time I could run a duct from the XP120 fan to where the rear intake fan is supposed to be, and use the vent as an exhaust outlet. I can cut a hole somewhere in the case side and mount a 120mm fan there. Maybe this would be totally unnecessary.

Chip:
Intel P4 550 3.4 GHz LGA 775 1MB cache (Retail Box w/ fan)

Memory:
1 GB PC4300 (DDR2-533) DDR2
(512 MB PC4300 (DDR2-533) x2)


Optical Drive:
Aopen 16X Double Layer DVD+/- RW Black Burner, 2MB buffer, Model DUW1608, OEM, ATAPI / E-IDE interface

Hard Drive:
Samsung 160GB 7200RPM SATA Hard Drive, 8MB Buffer, 7200RPM, Model SP1614C, SATA interface

Sound Card:
Echo Mia MIDI, PCI interface


I think I might also need some way to monitor temerature inside. Also some way to control all the fans, or do most motherboards have this ability?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 2004 12:25 pm 
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U will need the thermalright 120xp to cool that cpu down to just make it quiet. If you going for "near silent" you have to work really hard.

And that soundcard i haven't even heard of. Though it maybe is highQ for soundrecordings as i don't know what it is. But you will need a good soundcard. I have (my father actually) a Hoontech and it works really good with apps like cubase. Other sondcards with good price is like someone mention m-audio.

For recording i do recommend 1 disk running the OS and one storing the recordings. For OS i would use win2k as this OS more stable and doesn't have as much "automatic stuff" as winXP. (U want as little things running in the background of the OS when u record music). If you want winXP to just make dual boot option.

Cubase doesn't need enourmus cpu power, RAM on the otherhand you cant have to much of :wink: . If you planing to have the computer in the same room as you record you HAVE to make it almost silent, and the p4 is just not the way to go. Go for the AMD 64 instead.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 2004 1:16 pm 
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Nevarion wrote:
U will need the thermalright 120xp to cool that cpu down to just make it quiet. If you going for "near silent" you have to work really hard.

And that soundcard i haven't even heard of. Though it maybe is highQ for soundrecordings as i don't know what it is. But you will need a good soundcard. I have (my father actually) a Hoontech and it works really good with apps like cubase. Other sondcards with good price is like someone mention m-audio.

For recording i do recommend 1 disk running the OS and one storing the recordings. For OS i would use win2k as this OS more stable and doesn't have as much "automatic stuff" as winXP. (U want as little things running in the background of the OS when u record music). If you want winXP to just make dual boot option.

Cubase doesn't need enourmus cpu power, RAM on the otherhand you cant have to much of :wink: . If you planing to have the computer in the same room as you record you HAVE to make it almost silent, and the p4 is just not the way to go. Go for the AMD 64 instead.


I'm not totally against the AMD thing. Its just that I am not a computer scientist, computer engineer, or a student studying the field. I've spent a lot of time learning about computers, and I'm starting to get impatient as the computer I've have now is slow and it is not very suitable for recording.

I've never seen a compelling reason to use XP instead of 2000.

I just need the sound card so that I have a decent input w/ MIDI. Echo Audio is comparable to M-Audio.

I'm not sure about the two disk drives thing, because I usualy don't record for long periods of time, and even when I do, I'm only recording on one channel. I'm really just using the sound card to record my own samples, and for MIDI.

I'm not planning on doing super quality recordings in the same room that the computer is in. There's much too much echo. I think I actually need foam or atleast carpet on the walls/ceiling, but I will leave that problem for another day.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 2004 1:52 pm 
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Well then, it seems you have found a soundcard for your needs. For now all it comes down to is a noise/performance compromise, and that is all up to you. Hope you find a computer satisfying your needs :wink: :D


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 2004 2:08 pm 
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halfpower wrote:

I'm not sure about the two disk drives thing, because I usualy don't record for long periods of time, and even when I do, I'm only recording on one channel. I'm really just using the sound card to record my own samples, and for MIDI.



To this i can just say if you do have one hardrive for the OS and the recordstoring it will take care of all the applications you run and all the files the OS needs while it in the same time has to store your recordings.

if you have one for the os it will take care of the os and the other can focus on storing your recordings. If it applys any performance boost for your sytem as you only record small amounts, (thats how I understood it), i dont know, but probably not that much so i would go for one hdd and start from there.

(in some strange way it doesn't matter how much diskspace you have, for me it fells like it just "disappear", and you go buy one hdd after another ) :wink:


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 2004 2:11 pm 
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halfpower, see here. Athlon64 3500+ thoroughly trounces the P4 3.4 in most of the more interesting benchmarks (i.e., the ones where you actually see significant differences), and it's about the same price. Plus, it runs cooler. Need I say more?


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 2004 3:08 pm 
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Nevarion wrote:
...(in some strange way it doesn't matter how much diskspace you have, for me it fells like it just "disappear", and you go buy one hdd after another ) :wink:


Not an unlikely scenario. What does work out to? I'd guess its around 40 MB for a finished song, but it must be around 400MB (give or take) before everything is mixed -and that assumes your recording at 16/44.1khz.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 2004 3:56 pm 
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Tyrdium wrote:
halfpower, see here. Athlon64 3500+ thoroughly trounces the P4 3.4 in most of the more interesting benchmarks (i.e., the ones where you actually see significant differences), and it's about the same price. Plus, it runs cooler. Need I say more?


It all sounds great. I worried though about the slower mpeg compression. How about FFT's? What about linear algebra?non-linear algebra? What about the overall power consumption of the motherboard and memory? stability? I've got Win2K w/ Pentium and haven't had the OS crash in 18 months.

The amount of heat disapation is the biggest selling point for me.

There also putting pci-e slots in a lot of motherboards. That looks like something that would be nice to have. I'm not sure, all I know is that the computer I'm using now has USB 1.0 and its 40 times slower than USB 2.0.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 2004 4:12 pm 
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For stability there shouldn't be any problems except that you will have to find a memory timing that is stable for your m/b and cpu, but that you will have to test yourself. Usually this will work on default but sometimes there can be some probs.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 20, 2004 4:35 am 
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halfpower wrote:
It all sounds great. I worried though about the slower mpeg compression. How about FFT's? What about linear algebra?non-linear algebra? What about the overall power consumption of the motherboard and memory? stability? I've got Win2K w/ Pentium and haven't had the OS crash in 18 months.

The amount of heat disapation is the biggest selling point for me.

There also putting pci-e slots in a lot of motherboards. That looks like something that would be nice to have. I'm not sure, all I know is that the computer I'm using now has USB 1.0 and its 40 times slower than USB 2.0.


Stability? If a machine is not stable, it is BROKEN.

Overall power consumption? Way less for A64 winchester system than a P4 prescott system. Here are some related links:
http://www.tomshardware.com/cpu/2004111 ... 70-20.html
http://www.tomshardware.com/cpu/20041114/index.html
I don't remember a link that has power consumptions about complete systems compared, but i assure you that i speak the truth when i say that they are several tens of watts lower for A64 system vs. prescott when running full load.

Mpeg, linear algebra, fft and whatnot... So, if A64 lost by couple percent in some measure, but your upgrading from a slow machine, you will still perceive a tremendous increase in speed. But is couple percent faster cpu in some specific tasks, but slower in some others, worth the crazy heat output when running at full load, since it will take insane effort to cool the cpu and you want to do it quietly?

PCI-E? Well you can get a nforce4 pci-e motherboard. Also usb 2.0 is supported on almost everything that's currently available i think.

But it seems you were decided before you asked, so i guess it won't help anything to comment.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 20, 2004 5:53 am 
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Location: Turkey
From what I gathered, unless the software you're using is especially tailored to Pentium4s or is the type of application to benefit greatly from long logic branches and large ondie caches, the Athlon64 will pretty much win over the P4.

Again from what I've seen, the only application where the speed advantage of the P4 is non-negligible is video encoding & rendering (and I mean the professional kind, not DiVX). In every other case, the differences would - for me - negligable.

As for stableness, I consider a system that has to slow itself down every now and then under heavy load NOT stable which is essentially what the Prescott does. Of course you could always slap an expensive XP-120 on top...

One reason for why XP over W2000: In one review I read that all Windows versions prior to Windows XP Service Pack 1 have a top limit of 100 kHz for encoding. So if you want to use 192 kHz encoding, you HAVE to have WinXP. This seems to be an OS limitation, not hardware/driver limitation. I'm just reporting what I read, don't know enough about it personally.

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