What are your PC set ups?

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What are your PC set ups?

Post by Jabberwalky » Wed May 07, 2014 4:52 am

I admit, I'm interested in building a new PC for audio, 3d design, video, and pretty much everything else. I've been running stable for 7 years with a Core2duo 3ghz, 4gb of ram, Delta1010LT, & WinXP.

This is Socket775, before they started to phase out PCI. I could run this thing forever, but have need of something more powerful for some freelance 3d design. I would really like to just keep using the Delta1010 if at all possible. I finally have it working just fine.

I'm currently looking at an AMD build. FX8350 8-core at 4ghz. 8gb of ram, with SSD OS drive. The MB I like does have PCI. I have heard there are issues with Intel boards and PCI. Does the Am3 bridge have the same issues?

What are you guys using? Can anyone offer any incite if they've been in a similar place, and went for the big upgrade? I was just curious if I'm living in the past, and should just spend the cash on a USB interface for the new PC, or try to find a new PC build that will support the Delta without issue.

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Re: What are your PC set ups?

Post by Ashe37 » Wed May 07, 2014 5:08 am

Which PC??

My desktop machine is a Core2Quad 8300 w/ 4 GB and a GTX 460, running XP. Its my daily use system, that sees some use for DAW and 3d. This machine i just use ASIO4all on.

My laptop is a 1.8 Ghz i7, 8 GB of RAM, Nvidia 630, Win 7 x64... sees some 3d usage and some DAW usage, i have a TASCAM US-1641 on it.

My workstation is an off-lease HP z600, 2x 2.26 Ghz Xeons, 12 GB RAM, Quadro K5000. I use it primarily for 3d and video editing, and may use it for some DAW tasks after adding more storage to it. (I've got a MOTU 2408 that i picked up cheap that will either go in this or my daily driver machine...)

Keep in mind that the AMD '8-core CPUs' are eight integer cores... it actually has the same number of floating point cores as an Intel quad-core. Most DAWs use floating -point processing for everything, as do most VSTs.

As for the PCI bridge problem, I'd tend to just make sure your audio card is documented to work on the board you're buying... or buy an off-lease older workstation like I did.

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Re: What are your PC set ups?

Post by Ashe37 » Wed May 07, 2014 5:13 am

Another potential PCI problem you may have is if the Delta 1010 is a 5v PCI card, in which case it won't work ion many modern motherboards. This depends on how old your 1010LT is.

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Re: What are your PC set ups?

Post by synthroom » Wed May 07, 2014 3:28 pm

I built a Asus Z87-Plus i5 system in January. It has 2 PCI slots.

It's not being used for music but it's run stable with Win 8. It's as fast as my two year old i7 2600K system.
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Re: What are your PC set ups?

Post by Synthetech » Wed May 07, 2014 3:59 pm

I recently upgraded with advice from Ashe, thank god.. otherwise I mighta bought a terrible system.


I ended up getting a off lease Dell Precision t5500
It came to me with one 2.26 4c Xeon, 4gig ram, lic. for Win7, a Nvidia Quattro card.
No Hard Drive.
~$230


I simply got a Win7 image, loaded it on a 350GB HDD, auth'd it, added in a 2nd 1TB drive and was on my merry way.


It has a PCI slot and I use it for my Firewire card. I have Maudio Ozonic controller/4 chan. audio interface.
I don't know if FW is really any faster than USB.. i seem to understand it is 2way data flow vs. 1way on USB.


The graphics are great. It was a workstation specifically engineered for graphic design.

I got a good start in DAW with just one Xeon chip in it. Then I patiently waited about 8months for a 2nd CPU "riser" board. So I could install a 2nd Xeon.
Finally I found one for ~$40. A 2nd 2.26 Xeon for it is ~$20 and launched myself into 8c territory.
Now I need to add more RAM (up to 72gb!) and a SSD someday.

The xeon used in it is a E5520 Xeon that hyperthreads. The chip was a series ran from '07 to '11. A early i7.
I can wait a year or two to buy two 3.33Ghz chips at low prices and upgrade it to the highest limit, if needed.

I'm very happy with it.
Took some time to get it all tweaked in right, but now it's rock solid and can take on multiple VST synths and fx plugins without even x'ing over 50% CPU.
The graphics work great. My card is a bit dated and was meant for use in CAD/Photo work, not gaming.. yet I can run Rage on it just fine.. although higher res's do get a little choppy with fast movement. I could fix that by running dual gfx cards if I wanted.

I'm pretty sure your PCI card would work with it.. my fireware card would work fine in your current system, if that means anything.

I'd greatly consider moving to Win7+, but it may not play right with your audio card..

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Re: What are your PC set ups?

Post by Jabberwalky » Wed May 07, 2014 7:15 pm

Thanks for the info guys. I hadn't considered looking at workstations, and these off lease ones are interesting. Is there a particular site that you can buy those from?

The Core2duo 3ghz I have is actually really impressive still! I run Ableton with reverbs/delays/flanger/chorus on every channel (8-10) and never get over 50%. Audio is easy for computers these days, which is really nice. Where it chokes is when I'm rendering from 3dsmax, or trying to do some compositing in AfterFx. I'd also like to get back into using Zbrush, and that program eats RAM like no other.

With my current XP system, I'm still 32bit and limited to 4gb of RAM. GAH! So much to consider when looking at PC hardware.

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Re: What are your PC set ups?

Post by Ashe37 » Thu May 08, 2014 2:49 am

Ebay is where i got mine. The z600 came with one 2.26 GHz CPU and 6 GB RAM, 120 GB hard drive, with win 7. I put a pair of new 500 GB drives in it, and imaged the 120GB drive over to one of the 500 GB drives. Added a second CPU (unlike Dell, HP doesn't skimp on the VRM for the second CPU, so it was just a matter of getting a CPU with the same stepping and a heat sink) and added another 6 GB. Total invested: $560.

I also replaced the GPU on it, with another card that i had gotten as an evaluation unit for the site i write for. If you throw in the value of that card, the price of the system more than triples- but anyway.

If you're considering going that route, i'll look at whatever you're considering. If you want to shave a little off, you can get something like a z400, which is a single processor unit and runs about $100 less.

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Re: What are your PC set ups?

Post by silikon » Thu May 08, 2014 3:40 am

Other than my Mac which is the main music system, I built a custom machine with admittedly older parts. Core i7 990x, Asus Rampage 3 extreme motherboard, dual ATI 6970 Graphics, 12GB cas9 corsair memory, dual 128GB corsair force 3 SSD drives, a 3TB western digital HDD, three plextor DVD-RW drives, and one Plextor BD-R, all mounted in a 4u Rack chassis, that I'd done sound deadening applications to, and installed near-silent cooling.

I had designed to to do as much of everything I'd need as possible. I really don't like having a ton of computers around. This one can rip CDs, and other media, run pretty much any random game I've wanted to play for short bursts, run multiple VMs, and at the time was a solution to trying to do these things on random workstation class machines I'd bought off eBay or elsewhere. I had originally wanted to get one of the Dell precision systems, since they were both inexpensive and reasonably solid, but I figured for a few hundred dollars more I'd source parts (both used and new) and build up a rig. I think I paid 1200 for the whole rig which included mostly used or refurbished parts two years ago. The main drag on that cost was the processor. Even though it's a first generation i7, it still apparently commands higher prices. I could have easily gone with a lighter CPU and saved a few hundred.

I considered doing that all over again recently, but thought that it was a bit of overkill since the current system seems to do everything well.

I know that now you can find a pretty rockin' laptop (lenovo w510 comes to mind) that are increasingly easier to find at great prices, sometimes even the W520s are way inexpensive. Those machines are considered 'workstation class' laptops and so far the w520 I have also does things with a quickness and is reasonably bulletproof. If you were to investigate something like that, I'd suggest finding one that has a quad core i7 in it (27xx or higher) and perhaps the nvidia 2000m graphics adapter and 1920x1080 display.

I had bought mine as quite the base model for cheap and then upgraded parts as I found them for decent prices. I updated the motherboard from the nvidia 1000m equipped motherboard to the 2000m motherboard, upgraded the processor to the 2920xm model, and installed 32gb of RAM in it. The specs state that you can only use 16, but I found that to not be accurate. Perhaps a later firmware update changed that.

I also dropped in a 256gb SSD. Enough room to dual boot windows and Fedora Linux. The only downside to that machine is the power supply. It's a huge brick. :)

The dell precision laptops of later models are also pretty nice systems, although I had significant problems getting Linux to work properly on them without significant work. The m4500/4600 systems are quite nice and well-equipped.

Dell also has the outlet site, which sells machines off that have a variety of configurations. Sometimes I've found it to be a different avenue (and sometimes at the same price or even a touch lower than what you may find on eBay) that yields good results.

I tend to stay away from consumer-models when buying used machines. If you're going to buy used, I tend to follow the idea that office/workstation machines are designed more for the rigors of daily toil, and usually hold strong long after the lower-end systems do.
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Re: What are your PC set ups?

Post by Ashe37 » Thu May 08, 2014 6:36 am

Working on reviewing a HP Zbook 15 right now...

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Re: What are your PC set ups?

Post by Synthetech » Thu May 08, 2014 1:27 pm

Off Topic
HP doesn't skimp on the VRM for the second CPU, so it was just a matter of getting a CPU with the same stepping and a heat sink

VRM?

Can you explain this statement to me so I understand?


OP, I too procured my Workstation off ebay.
Just keep a watch for a good deal. They do show up, but you have to be patient and continually keep searching since most bargains to be had will pop up as a Buy It Now vs. Auctions.

Dell has a outlet store on eBay.. I remember seeing auctions for them. But their listings tend to go pretty high since they are so well established as a seller.

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Re: What are your PC set ups?

Post by Ashe37 » Thu May 08, 2014 2:38 pm

Synthetech wrote:
Off Topic
HP doesn't skimp on the VRM for the second CPU, so it was just a matter of getting a CPU with the same stepping and a heat sink

VRM?

Can you explain this statement to me so I understand?


OP, I too procured my Workstation off ebay.
Just keep a watch for a good deal. They do show up, but you have to be patient and continually keep searching since most bargains to be had will pop up as a Buy It Now vs. Auctions.

Dell has a outlet store on eBay.. I remember seeing auctions for them. But their listings tend to go pretty high since they are so well established as a seller.
Oh wow, its not just the VRM anymore, its the whole processor socket... using a proprietary connector. way to cheap out, Dell! (Voltage Regulator Module- I have an older Precision 460 parked in a corner where i had to get a VRM (the capacitors etc necessary to process the power for the CPU) in order to add the second processor, because Dell tries to make a little money on people buying a two-cpu machine with an empty processor socket)

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Re: What are your PC set ups?

Post by Synthetech » Thu May 08, 2014 3:35 pm

ahh Voltage Regulator Module.. gotchya.


Yea, Dell has a special riser board to add a second socket for a 2nd CPU.
It has several parts to it though.. the board itself w/memory slots on it, the heatsink and two fans for cpu and memory. Then you can put a 2nd CPU in... after you divvy up the memory between the two CPU's (that drove me nuts until I RTFM on how to install a 2nd CPU).
I think I waited patiently for about 6months for a good price on one, fully loaded sans CPU.. they typically go for about $80, but I lucked out and got one for $40.

You're right, they probably figured they would cheap out on units shipped with just one CPU and made extra coin on the riser boards.

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Re: What are your PC set ups?

Post by Jabberwalky » Mon May 26, 2014 7:04 pm

I'm posting this from my new PC. I was planning on doing my own build, but I was able to get a really nice deal on an HP Pavillion 500-214 from Best Buy. I wasn't sure if buying a PC outright was a good choice, but it has a nice Processor AMD A8 3.5 quadcore, 8gb of ram, and a 2tb hdd. I could've built the same PC for $100 less, but then would have been taking a chance on shoddy case design, and falsely advertised PSU ratings (something which is horribly common in my past DIY experiences). I've also dealt with terrible internal fans in the past as well. For $500 it wasn't too hard to pull the trigger. What ultimately sold me was the available PCI express port, and 3 more empty slots for up to 32gb RAM. I plan on throwing in the Nvidia Quadro K600 (or a K2000 if someone buys some synths from me) and maxing out the ram.

What surprises me most about it is the almost silent operating volume. The only thing I can hear is the hard drive working, which is pretty incredible. I may upgrade that to a SSD eventually.

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Re: What are your PC set ups?

Post by Ashe37 » Mon May 26, 2014 10:23 pm

Jabberwalky wrote:I'm posting this from my new PC. I was planning on doing my own build, but I was able to get a really nice deal on an HP Pavillion 500-214 from Best Buy. I wasn't sure if buying a PC outright was a good choice, but it has a nice Processor AMD A8 3.5 quadcore, 8gb of ram, and a 2tb hdd. I could've built the same PC for $100 less, but then would have been taking a chance on shoddy case design, and falsely advertised PSU ratings (something which is horribly common in my past DIY experiences). I've also dealt with terrible internal fans in the past as well. For $500 it wasn't too hard to pull the trigger. What ultimately sold me was the available PCI express port, and 3 more empty slots for up to 32gb RAM. I plan on throwing in the Nvidia Quadro K600 (or a K2000 if someone buys some synths from me) and maxing out the ram.

What surprises me most about it is the almost silent operating volume. The only thing I can hear is the hard drive working, which is pretty incredible. I may upgrade that to a SSD eventually.

Is it a quad-core, or actually a dual-core?

What do you need a Quadro for?

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Re: What are your PC set ups?

Post by Jabberwalky » Tue May 27, 2014 3:46 am

It's a quadcore http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6819113334

I need the Quadro because I want quick and stable viewport control while working on 3d projects.

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