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P.C., what are you using?


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[quote]Originally posted by gqjessed: [b]I was planning on building a pc based daw system. I was just wondering what everyone was using for a mainboard, processor, hard drive(s), etc. Whats the best, and what should I stay away from.[/b][/quote]Buy a reputable motherboard. ASUS is always a good choice. I have a basic distrust of any PC processor that is not from Intel, but that is just my opinion. My other BIG piece of advice is to run two hard drives. One for the operating system and software, one for the data. If you have some extra $ to spend, invest in either SCSI or Firewire drives. Stay away from Maxstore HDs and cheapo POS motherboards and OEM processors. Good luck. And pricewatch.com is a good place to find computer gear. Again, make sure to stay away from generic stuff. Jack
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[quote]Originally posted by Sylver: [b] If you have some extra $ to spend, invest in either SCSI or Firewire drives. Stay away from Maxstore HDs and cheapo POS motherboards and OEM processors. Jack[/b][/quote]I have to disagree with this statement. You should be fine with IDE drives and they are definitely the best value. Maxtor has no inherent problems, all the manufacturers have gone through bad batches. SCSI drives are usually made for servers and could be worth the extra money, but a firewire drive is just an IDE drive in an external case with a firewire adapter in it. Don't buy firewire unless you want to move the hard drive between more than one pc.
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I'm running an Intel motherboard with a P4 1.7G, 1 Gig of PC800 RDRAM (Intel forced me to use Rambus :mad: ) and two IBM Deskstar 60 GXP 60 Gig HDs all running under WinXP. So far it's been really stable...I'm scared because I know the longer before it crashes, the bigger the crash will be :) I'm using a Layla 24 interface and it's weird...I can actually record stuff!!! No problems and it sounds good...
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My advice is if it's going to be AMD,go with either the SiS 735/745 chipset or Ali/Magik rev. C or higher or the AMD 760/761.I wouldn't spend a dime on anything else.Very important here is a quality PSU,don't screw around here.Go with the Sparkle.Also quality DDR(Crucial,Mushkin).
"A Robot Playing Trumpet Blows"
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For an AMD Ahtlon system I'd recommend Asus or the new cheap but great ECS mainboard (Sis chipset). The ECS is about half the price as most Asus boards and outperforms most of their models in performance. Any AMD Socket A CPU will work, but I'd recommend the Athlon XP. Crucial.com is great for RAM. Any 7200 RPM IBM, Maxtor, Seagate, etc., is perfectly fine for audio. I'd also recommened a dual output display card like the Matrox G450/G550 or the ATI Radeon for dual monitor support (trust me, you'll want it in the future). Speaking of monitors, I use the KDS RAD5 LCD display and think it's great. You can find these for only $300 on price watch.
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In the P.C. world everything is always in flux. Asus are generally good - but I had one that basically had a built in flaw that made it lockup under certain conditions (that "only affects heavy Photoshop users"... and people who also shoot a lot of audio data through the buss). I think as long as you stick to known brands you're "ok", within probably about a 5% performance curve, but you should research the BIOS for problems with incompatability. If it costs more there's probably a reason for it.

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I too have to disagree with the Maxtor slam. I have three running DiamondMax Plus drives running flawlessly, getting plenty of tracks on my PIII 600. When the time comes to upgrade, if I have the money I'm going to seriously consider a pre-configured dedicated DAW from the likes of SoundChaser. On the other hand, I'm also going to seriously consider a Mac, though my PC software investment is fairly substantial. I have fears, of the free-floating type but somewhat substantiated, about the reliability of MIDI timing on the Windows platform. And since I do so much MIDI, and since I believe the difference between a happening feel and a dud is all in the ebb and flow of microseconds, my P.C. makes me paranoid. I won't even attempt to explain the timing issues, because I don't understand it. I just know that the case is often made. That said, I'm running aforementioned PIII 600 on a BX 440 with 256 RAM, 2 Maxtor drives, Delta 1010, yadda yadda. The everyman DAW fed by everyone's Mackie 14 VLZ. Suits me fine at the moment.
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I agree with the quality power supply and dual monitor support. The power supply is more important now that you're probably going to have a 7200 rpm hard drive and a cpu running well over 1 ghz. The dual monitor support is just plain cool! Very useful too. Asus is a good motherboard manufacturer, but so are many others. I haven't had good experiences with A-bit KT7s for AMD cpus, but not enough to keep me from buying a future A-bit board if they put out a winner. Always good to read a lot of reviews on motherboards.
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I was running a Compaq 5005SR... 933 MHz PIII, 512 MB SDRAM, Intel 810e chipset, onboard video. It was okay, but Compaq puts all sorts of "crud" into the OS... I wanted something faster, so I just built the following: Athlon XP 1800+ Asus A7V2666E mobo (with the onboard Promise RAID controller in addition to the standard IDE primary / secondary) Matrox G550 dual head AGP video card (dual 17" monitors ROCK! Dual flat panels would be better, but that's still a LOT of $$!) 512 MB of Kingston PC2100 DDR RAM (2 X 256 MB) No problems here, but Crucial RAM is supposed to be the best... Maxtor 60 GB C drive ("FAST" 5400 RPM - specs out similar to most 7200 RPM drives) on the Promise Controller Primary master Western Digital 40 GB 7200 RPM D drive on the Promise controller secondary master Acer 8X4X32 CD-RW on the IDE Primary master Compaq DVD-ROM on the IDE secondary master There's a test over on the DUC where you put 5 plug ins on a Pro Tools track, put it into record ready more and then keep cloning the track until the CPU useage "goes red". I was getting 19 - 20 tracks on my PIII 933 MHz, and get 24 tracks and 12 aux tracks with the Athlon system - some folks are getting 24+18. The P4 systems seem to be performing considerably behind the AMD's in this test, and the Mac systems fall far behind - at least the G4 / 400's, which seem to max at about 13 tracks. No one has reported results on the newer / faster Macs (733 MHz and above), which I'd expect to perform a lot better than the older systems. But right now, the AMD systems are the champs. One warning - they can run pretty hot, so get a AMD approved CPU fan... or even better, a water cooled system. The best news is that you can build a Athlon 1800 system for under $900! This includes case, fans, Mobo, RAM, CPU, dual IBM 7200 RPM drives, video card - the works (except for the monitor[s]) Check [url=http://www.pricewatch.com]www.pricewatch.com[/url] and [url=http://www.newegg.com]www.newegg.com[/url] for prices. [img]http://www.freakygamers.com/smilies/s2/contrib/navigator/usa.gif[/img] Phil O'Keefe Sound Sanctuary Recording Riverside CA http://www.ssrstudio.com pokeefe777@ssrstudio.com
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I'm currently offering two systems to professional clients here in Japan. We sell turnkey Nuendo systems by the way but I guess if you don't live in Japan you would not be a potential client. 1- Tualatin Pentium III System: -PIII Tualatin CPU 1GHZ to 1.2 GHZ 256KB L2 Cache or 1.26GHz to 1.4 GHz with 512K L2 cache -Asus TUSL2-C motherboard -512 MB Crucial Technologies PC-133 SDRAM -Matrox G-550 Dual head graphics card -IBM or Maxtor ATA-100 system drive 20GB -Promise ATA-133 controller card -Maxtor ATA-133 data drive 80GB -Plextor or Teac 24X CDRW -Choice of RME audio interface -Desktop or Rackmount case with enermax 435 watt PSU -Windows 2000 Pro or Windows XP installed and optimized for audio software 2. Pentium 4 system -P4 2GHz to 2.2 GHz Northwood CPU -Asus P4B-266 motherboard -512 MB Crucial Technologies PC2100 DDR-RAM -Matrox G-550 Dual head graphics card -Maxtor ATA-100 system drive 20GB -Promise ATA-133 controller card -Maxtor ATA-133 data drive 80GB -Plextor or Teac 24X CDRW -Choice of RME audio interface -Desktop or Rackmount case with Enermax 435 watt PSU -Windows 2000 Professional or Windows XP installed and optimized for audio software We offer the following options: -Adaptec 29160 Ultra SCSI Adaptor card with an IBM 10k RPM Drive for data -Removable daddy for the data drive As far as I can tell these are the best systems we can put together at this time. If you are in need of any information regarding the assembly of a DIY PC I have written an article about it which you can find here: http://www.streamworksaudio.com/feb0002/Macbowne/index.html I hope you find this info useful :)

Mac Bowne

G-Clef Acoustics Ltd.

Osaka, Japan

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[quote]There's a test over on the DUC where you put 5 plug ins on a Pro Tools track, put it into record ready more and then keep cloning the track until the CPU useage "goes red". I was getting 19 - 20 tracks on my PIII 933 MHz, and get 24 tracks and 12 aux tracks with the Athlon system - some folks are getting 24+18. The P4 systems seem to be performing considerably behind the AMD's in this test, and the Mac systems fall far behind - at least the G4 / 400's, which seem to max at about 13 tracks. No one has reported results on the newer / faster Macs (733 MHz and above), which I'd expect to perform a lot better than the older systems. But right now, the AMD systems are the champs. [img]http://www.freakygamers.com/smilies/s2/contrib/navigator/usa.gif[/img] Phil O'Keefe Sound Sanctuary Recording Riverside CA http://www.ssrstudio.com pokeefe777@ssrstudio.com[/QB][/quote]Were is duc to try this test? What is their domain name? Please let us know, so myself and others may try this.

Thanks and God Bless!

Y.B.I.C.

Bill

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