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Martin WalkerModerator
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Survey Of Working Multi-Core PC Music Systems
      #225749 - 16/12/05 04:17 PM
UPDATED 30/11/2007 TO OFFICIALLY INCLUDE QUAD-CORE & OCTO-CORE SYSTEMS

SOME TIPS ON NAVIGATING THIS LONG THREAD HAVE ALSO BEEN ADDED


Hi Everyone!

Given the current controversy and confusion about possible issues with some dual-core, quad-core, and twin quad-core (octo-core) motherboards/chipsets (particularly those supporting PCI Express), I'd be interested in hearing from those who have taken the plunge and either bought such a system ready-built from a specialist music retailer, or built it themselves.

Although there are already quite a few threads running with queries from those who want to build such a PC, this thread could be the ideal place to compile lots of feedback from those in the know

If you're currently running a multi-core system, please post its spec:

Motherboard/chipset
Processor
Graphics card
Audio interface
Any DSP cards

Please indicate how pleased (or not) you are with its performance, how this compares with your previous machine (and briefly what that was) in terms of the different CPU meter readings when opening up existing songs, and mention any problems you've encountered. Of course this isn't particularly scientific, but it will certainly help us assemble a more complete picture of what's already happening out there.

Please try not to hi-jack this thread too much with queries - let's try to keep it largely devoted to feedback from those who've already taken the plunge.

Now that it contains so much feedback spread over multiple pages here are a few tips on finding useful information:

1. First an obvious one. If you're looking for the most recent motherboard/CPU combinations that work well, jump straight to the final page to see what other forum users have been buying most recently.

2. If you have an existing motherboard that can have it s BIOS updated to run dual/quad core CPUs, use your browser's Find function and enter the motherboard manufacturer or model to jump straight to relevant information.

3. Similarly, there's already quite a lot of useful info here on a few older soundcards that are incompatible with the latest motherboards, so enter your soundcard make/model to find them more easily.


I've also made this a sticky so it doesn't drop out of sight.

Many thanks!


Martin

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Biodiode



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Re: Survey Of Working Dual-Core PC Music Systems new [Re: Martin Walker]
      #225814 - 16/12/05 08:49 PM
I have built my own dual core system and consists of the following:-

Motherboard = Gigabyte GA-K8NF-9
Processor = AMD-64 DualCore 4200x2
Chipset = NVIDIA NFORCE 4-4X
Graphics Card = ATI X300 PCIXpress
Audio Interface = M-AUDIO 2496 Delta

I am really pleased with the performance of the PC on the whole. Previously I had a 3ghz P4 and it used to max out quite a lot with the use of DSP Vertigo (holding 4 notes) and hit about 20% usage with only a few (About 4) instances of Wusikstation.

Now on vertigo with 4 notes it registers about 20 - 30% usage on a heavy 256 partial patch and with 4 instances of Wusikstation the meter does not move , one stage I thought the meter was broken as I had 4 instances of Wusik and 2 instances of RGC Audio's Pentagon and it was registering 10%.

Hope this helps someone.

Adrian

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studio64
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Re: Survey Of Working Dual-Core PC Music Systems new [Re: Martin Walker]
      #225900 - 17/12/05 07:07 AM
Millennium-Nottingham

Asus P5WD2 with Intel 955 chipset
Pentium D830 3.0Ghz CPU
Ati EAX700 Radeon
Delta 1010lt

My previous machine is Millenium Pentium 2.0 single
with Audiophile 2496.
Firstly, I am a little disappointed with the fan noise, but obviously the system needs more cooling.(Old machine virtually silent)
Next, I am also slightly disappointed in the Meter indicator differences. Although a great improvement, I think VST instuments, with their included effects, still seem to push the meters.
The main gain, is that many more Audio tracks are achievable with little meter activity.
No other problems, performance wise.

The one big problem I have, is when I switch my new D-Core machine OFF, I get a terrible noise through the connected Mackie 1604 VLZ.

Martin, any ideas, would this be an earthloop? it only happens when I switch the computer off.(Hi-jack alert. See separate thread)

--------------------
john-studio64

Edited by studio64 (17/12/05 07:34 AM)


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Martin WalkerModerator
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Re: Survey Of Working Dual-Core PC Music Systems new [Re: Martin Walker]
      #225990 - 17/12/05 03:38 PM
Thanks both for your contributions. You've both gone for PCIe-based solutions, but so far we have one happy Athlon 64 x2 owner, and one not so happy Intel 830 owner, although both are relatively pleased with the greater CPU of their respective processors.

Keep those contributions coming, andwe'll be able to build up a more complete picture.

BTW, I'll answer your noise query in the other thread John.


Martin

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Roon
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Re: Survey Of Working Dual-Core PC Music Systems new [Re: Martin Walker]
      #226072 - 17/12/05 10:22 PM
I just build me a new system:

Asus P5ND2-SLI mainboard
4x512Mb Corsair memory
3x300Gb harddrive
Asus EN6600LE Silencer/TD video card
Intel Pentium IV 830 3Ghz processor
Zalman Watercooler keeps 'em silent ;-)

All runs fine, soon I'll install my Creamware Pulsar II, Luna II and PowerSampler, more news will follow then.

cheers
Ronald


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MikeR
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Re: Survey Of Working Dual-Core PC Music Systems new [Re: Martin Walker]
      #226340 - 18/12/05 11:03 PM
Motherboard - Asus P5WD2 Deluxe Motherboard
Processor - Intel Pentium D Dual-Core 840 3.2 GHz
Graphics card - ATI Radeon X300 128mb PCI Express
Audio interface - RME Hammerfall ADAT card (9652)
Any DSP cards - None

Complete spec. looks like this:
Intel Pentium D Dual-Core 840 3.2 GHz
Antec P180 Advanced Mid Tower Case
Asus P5WD2 Deluxe Motherboard
1.44mb Floppy drive (black)
Western Digital 250GB Serial ATA drive (x2, Raid 0)
Raptor 74GB 10,000RPM SATA Hard Drive
2GIG DDR2 667
Dual Layer DVD-RW DVD-+R 16x (Pioneer DVR110 x2)
ATI Radeon X300 128mb PCI Express
Akasa EVO 120 Heatpipe CPU Cooler
Quiet Case Fan - 80mm fAD80B
Antec Trupower Quiet 550Q PSU 24pin
RME Hammerfall ADAT card
MIDIMAN Sporster 8x8/s MIDI interface connected via the USB port.

Software
Win XP (Home) SP2
Cubase SX 3.1

Notes
-----
Problems I've had have been:

1) with the Midi Interface (now resolved) see other thread in this forum but issues was not related to dual core technology.

2) Driver for the Hammerfall - this card always seems to be a 'pig' to install but once working it's great!

Edited by MikeR (18/12/05 11:04 PM)


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Peter C
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Re: Survey Of Working Dual-Core PC Music Systems new [Re: MikeR]
      #226365 - 19/12/05 12:32 AM
Hi,

I have built several machines. PCI/AGP based on the MSI K8N Neo2, and one PCIe based on the DFI Lanparty nF3 Ut Ultra-D.

CPUs were X2 4200 and 4600.

Soundcards were emu 1212m and 1820m and ESI Julia@

They were not for me, so I won't comment on how pleased people were, but my tests suggested that the raw performance of the PCIe express was slightly higher (as a PC) but that you could use rather less of that performance because of the onset of gapping at slightly lower loads on PCIe as opposed to PCI/AGP machines.

In my opinion, using an X2 masks, but does not in fact properly cure the PCIe - PCI issues.


Peter

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Virtuoso
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Re: Survey Of Working Dual-Core PC Music Systems new [Re: Martin Walker]
      #226389 - 19/12/05 02:29 AM
I built a new system a couple of months ago, primarily as a video editing workstation, but it also gets quite a bit of Cubase usage.

Motherboard/chipset - Asus P5WD2 Premium/Intel 955
Processor - Pentium D840 (3.2GHz)
Graphics card - GeForce 7800GTX
Audio interface - Presonus Firepod
Any DSP cards - None

Performance is good - I tend not to run loads of tracks, so I notice it more in the responsiveness of applications and the o/s. I do however run a lot of plugins and VST instruments and I've yet to go over 60% load on a project.

My one issue is the heat - the Intel dual core systems take a LOT of cooling. Despite spending £180 on a Lian-Li case with very good airflow and 3x120mm fans and then another £45 on a Zalman CPU fan, I was initially still getting processor temperatures of over 72 degrees under load, with motherboard temperatures of around 50 degrees. After manually setting the V-Core to its lowest possible value, my CPU/board temps have dropped to around 62 degrees and 45 degrees respectively, which still seems very high.

I had to go for an Intel chipset to guarantee compatibility with my video editing hardware, but if I was building a system just for audio, I think I'd probably base it on the higher performing AMD gear.


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Bimdimbo



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Posts: 38
Loc: East London
Re: Survey Of Working Dual-Core PC Music Systems new [Re: Martin Walker]
      #226401 - 19/12/05 06:56 AM
Up and running a few months now, very pleased with the performance. I've avoided possible PCIe issues and gone with a NF3 motherboard.

Gigabyte K8NS Ultra 939 (Nforce 3)
AMD 3800+ x2
Galaxy Glacier 6800GT
RME 9632
Original full length TC Powercore.

I was using 2 machines before, a PIV 3.2 and a 2500+ AMD system. Projects that I could barely load into Nuendo on the Pentium machine are eaten for breakfast by the new x2 system, with plenty of room to spare.

Only problem with the new system was bios updates, at first I couldnt get the latest bios to 'stick' when updating from floppy. Bit of googling and I found reports that this board needs to be updated from inside the bios. Cured that problem.

Overall, very impressed, system still gives me room to upgrade to a 4800+ once prices come down. I've had the 3800+ overclocked, but wouldnt recommend it (stability issues in Nuendo), and havent needed the extra power anyway.


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Martin WalkerModerator
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Joined: 28/02/01
Posts: 17585
Loc: Cornwall, UK
Re: Survey Of Working Dual-Core PC Music Systems new [Re: Martin Walker]
      #226578 - 19/12/05 04:53 PM
Thanks everyone for your posts so far. It confirms that Intel-based systems are trickier to keep cool and quiet, but that some people still insist on Intel to ensure compatibility with some hardware items.

However, those building or buying Athlon X2-based systems seem almost universally happy with theire performance, but may be slightly concerned about PCI Express or more general compatibility problems that they might run into in the future.

I've just finished reviewing a commercial system with a very similar spec to MikeR's, so I'm now torn between compatibility and performance as well


Martin

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Peter C
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Re: Survey Of Working Dual-Core PC Music Systems new [Re: Martin Walker]
      #226756 - 20/12/05 01:07 AM
If anybody has actual dB sound levels for their systems I'd be interested to know those as well.

I notice:
http://www.carillondirect.com/clnweb/clnwebnoise.jsp?country=UK
that carillon shows level of 23dB. That seems loud to me and I'm certrainly hoping for much better...



Peter

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seablade



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Posts: 4014
Re: Survey Of Working Dual-Core PC Music Systems new [Re: Peter C]
      #226781 - 20/12/05 06:03 AM
Unfortunatly I cant give you exact specs, however I do know that there are several people hainging out on various Linux Audio lists I read that have dual core setups running on AMDs that are happy with them.

I may also be setting up my Tyan K8WE on dual(Well dual-dual) core soon so If I do that Ill post up, otherwise itll just be dual-processor;)

Seablade


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cc.
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Posts: 945
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Re: Survey Of Working Dual-Core PC Music Systems new [Re: seablade]
      #227222 - 21/12/05 08:55 AM

I've just built a system based on an X2 4400 and Asus A8V. So far I've only tested with the built in sound, but I'm really impressed by the perfomance - the CPU meters in SONAR read about 1/3 of the level of my old system (A 2.4G P4 with 533MHz FSB + 850 chipset & 1066 RDRAM) and I can get them much closer to 100% without dropouts.

Also the CPU seems to require very little cooling - I've got a CNPS7700-AlCu running on the lower speed setting _and_ I've turned on Asus's QFAN thing to get it to run even slower (it is set to the slowest there too). I was expecting the fan to ramp up under load, but so far I haven't managed to make it, and the hottest the CPU has reported is 45C.

Peter: 23 is pretty low - the scale I have here is 30dB (SPL A-weighed) = background level in a recodring studio, 40dB the background level in a 'quiet residence'. So you're going to need some kind of serious facility to measure as low as 23dB.

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Midipicks - the all new MIDI Guitar forum...


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cc.
getting into my stride


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Re: Survey Of Working Dual-Core PC Music Systems new [Re: cc.]
      #229232 - 28/12/05 01:45 PM

Small update on my system: I put my Delta 1010 in it and the WDM/KS drivers don't seem to work properly in SONAR - every now and then the playback slows to (what sounds to me like) half speed and gets all noisey. The ASIO ones seem to work fine though.

I haven't bothered chasing this with M-Audio.

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Midipicks - the all new MIDI Guitar forum...


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Celsius
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Re: Survey Of Working Dual-Core PC Music Systems new [Re: Martin Walker]
      #230248 - 31/12/05 03:44 PM
Motherboard: ASUS A8V Deluxe(Bios 10.17)
CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+(@2.42GHz)
Graphics: Matrox P650 AGP
Audio: RME Fireface 800,E-mu 0404
DSP: 2xUAD-1.
Nuendo 2,Windows XPpro SP2

Very pleased with the performance, and the system now seems crash-free (after some plugin-weeding: Serious probs using Antares Autotune in realtime.)
Used to run a 3500+ and the system now feels much more responsive even at heavy load. OC's nice too.
The onboard firewire controller does the job and networking(Gb LAN) is also in perfect working order with 2 FX Teleport servers chewing away.
Currently a smooth system with no hardware issues.

--------------------
Phatcat Studios--"I love the smell of Genelecs in the morning"


Edited by Celsius (31/12/05 03:46 PM)


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Martin WalkerModerator
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Re: Survey Of Working Dual-Core PC Music Systems new [Re: Martin Walker]
      #231188 - 03/01/06 03:17 PM
The Asus A8V is proving an extremely popular option for those interested in dual-core Athlons!

I'm tempted myself to buy one myself, but then what would I do if asked to review a PCI Express soundcard


Martin

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Stevedog



Joined: 01/09/04
Posts: 3002
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Re: Survey Of Working Dual-Core PC Music Systems new [Re: Martin Walker]
      #231194 - 03/01/06 03:25 PM
Just a heads up on the ASUS boards... I like many others bought an ASUS board for my P4 2.8 machine P4P800 series not a cheap one either). It died taking the PSU with it first. On returning it the techie, who i trust, looked and said... Ahhhh yes it happens... and refused to expand on it cos there were others around at the time.

I changed over to a Gigabyte board, and i have to say, the machine runs faster and is even more stable. Whistl not wishing to cast aspertions in the direction of ASUS i am a tad worried about using their mobos again when it seems they have a tendency towards a , lets say for diplomatic reasons, built in obsolesence??

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Peter C
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Re: Survey Of Working Dual-Core PC Music Systems new [Re: Martin Walker]
      #231242 - 03/01/06 04:53 PM
Quote Martin Walker:

The Asus A8V is proving an extremely popular option for those interested in dual-core Athlons!

I'm tempted myself to buy one myself, but then what would I do if asked to review a PCI Express soundcard


Martin





Then maybe a MSI K8N Neo4 Platinum (nF4 Ultra), that Scott has tested and thinks is fine...



Peter

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Edited by Peter C (03/01/06 04:54 PM)


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stony
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Re: Survey Of Working Dual-Core PC Music Systems new [Re: Martin Walker]
      #231814 - 04/01/06 07:15 PM
Hi Martin,
I've built a new system and below are the specs. So far so good. A few problems setting it all up but it seems fine. I've loaded a couple of projects which caused my old P4 2.4 to struggle but no problem here, CPU at around 30%.

Only 3 PCI slots on this board and two PCI express. One of these for the graphics card. Not much room for expansion.


My Specs. Hardware and Software

Antec P180 Case, Intel Pentium D 830, ASUS P5WD2, 2 Gig Corsair Matched Ram, 1 Maxtor IDE 40 Gig System Drive, 2 Samsung SATA 250 Gig , Saphire Radeon X1300 512 Graphics Card.WIN XP Pro, EMU 1820m UAD1, Powercore Mk 11,Yamaha O1V, Genelec 1030a, Yamaha NS10s
SX3.1, Hallion 3 The Grand 1 and 2, Groove Agent 2, Lots Wizoo Samples,

Edited by stony (04/01/06 07:19 PM)


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biohazard



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Re: Survey Of Working Dual-Core PC Music Systems new [Re: Martin Walker]
      #231889 - 04/01/06 11:25 PM
I personally feel there is no point staying to old technology. I have a DFI NF4-Ultra-D and its fine. Why anyone would still use the Asus is beyond me, as far as I remember that uses the VIA chipset and i've read everywhere that even NF3 is better than that.


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Marty Bampot
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Re: Survey Of Working Dual-Core PC Music Systems new [Re: Martin Walker]
      #231949 - 05/01/06 04:14 AM
My setup:

Motherboard/chipset - Intel 945PSNLK
Processor - Pentium D830 (3.0GHz)
RAM - 2GB Dual Channel DDR2/533
Graphics card - Nvidia GeForce 6200TC
Audio interface - M-Audio Delta-66
Any DSP cards - None
Software - Win XP Home SP2, Pro Tools MPowered V7
HDD - 120GB ATA (Boot), 200GB SATA (Audio)

Like previous Intel posters I was a little unnerved by the normal running temperature (about 60C) but as the fan wasn't working hard I didn't worry too much. I have a fairly new Silenx 450W PSU which has a 20-pin MoBo connector (MoBo has 24-pin socket) but works fine. The extra 4 pins are only more of the same volts and ground connections. When browsing in a computer shop I found a 20-pin to 24-pin adaptor cable. When I hooked it up to my system, the better distribution of the volts somehow has made the normal operating temp drop to about 53C - well worth the AU$15.

I am very happy with the performance (I previously had a P3/800 512MB which started to choke with more than 14 tracks) although there seems only a little difference in the CPU meter, it takes an awful lot to make it increase and overall it just feels a lot smoother. PT7 being written for Dual-Core also makes a huge difference over PT6.8

Cheers,
Marty.


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Martin WalkerModerator
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Re: Survey Of Working Dual-Core PC Music Systems new [Re: Martin Walker]
      #232073 - 05/01/06 12:35 PM
Stevedog - my last two motherboards have been from Asus (TUSL2-C and P4P800 Deluxe) and are both still going strong. Perhaps you just had bad luck with yours, as Asus have an excellent reputation as far as I know.

Peter - having a look at the MSI K8N Neo4 Platinum right now, but I'm still concerned about nForce4 (see below).

biohazard - the point of staying with 'old technology' is that it's proven to be compatible and performs well, whereas the nForce4 chipset has caused no end of problems for some musicians (particularly with single-core processors, although using the dual-core variety seem to result in less severe problems), which is why so many are avoiding PCI Express altogether and buying new systems featuring K8T800 Pro and nForce3 chipsets. UAD-1 DSP cards still apparently don't work with nForce4 for instance.

This route provides the huge increase in processing performance of AMD's dual-core Athlon 64's (which is after all the improvement that most musicians are after), without the currently dubious benefits of PCI Express for most musicians (although this may change over the next few months as new PCIe peripherals start to appear with more relevance to the musician)


Martin

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Peter C
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Re: Survey Of Working Dual-Core PC Music Systems new [Re: Martin Walker]
      #232210 - 05/01/06 04:36 PM
Hi Martin,

Sorry if I seem to be handing out advice to one I should seek it from...

But this is a judgement call at present, and my feelings might help:

Like you, I'm concerned about PCIe/nF4 but increasingly less so.

The point seems to be that with a dual core X2 CPU the problems largly vanish.

I have to say that I can find no theorical reason why the X2 should have this effect, and the problems only "largely" vanish. I did in fact have Biohazard's DFI system on test here for a time. It worked fine (running Thonex plus Prime to soak up CPU) down to 4ms or 5ms latency, but totally crapped out at 2ms latency, whereas the Neo2 I built more recently still worked at 2ms.

These are rediculouly low latencies. The arguement that X2 at least masks the problem is, I think, sound.

Scott of ADK has been doing a lot of testing, I believe; and the Neo4 Platinum is his recommendation.

My current feeling is that nF3 is a safe route, but at the cost of upgrade potential. nF4 with X2 obviously provides greater upgrade capability; and I think the risk is marginal.

My personal choice would still be to have an entirely PCI or an entirely PCIe system. The hybrid state does not appeal to me. I really do believe we will see PCIe soundcards (and UADs and PoCos) during 2006, and PCI will be dead for new systems within 12 months.

You, however, have a special problem - you need a hybrid machine so you can review PCI and PCIe equipment. Neo4 Platinum seems the best compromise to me.

I'll be building one to see...



Peter

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Martin WalkerModerator
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Re: Survey Of Working Dual-Core PC Music Systems new [Re: Peter C]
      #232238 - 05/01/06 05:25 PM
Hi Peter!

No problem - there are loads of issues to weigh up when considering a new dual-core motherboard, so everyone's views are welcome.

The problem with nForce4 is whether or not the problems 'largely vanish', are 'masked', or just still exist but at a rather less annoying level. Scott says on his web site that nForce4 'now seems to work' with dual-core Athlons, but the fact remains that no-one has yet given this chipset a clean bill of health for audio - its performance still seems to be less than that of an nForce3 motherboard at low latency, and for those who won't initially (or perhaps ever) be using their x1 PCI Express slots, nForce 4 would therefore seem to offer no advantages and possibly a small disadvantage in performance terms with low-latency audio.

I can fully understand your preference for either a fully PCI or fully PCIe solution, since this should hopefully help to avoid 'some' of the PCI bridging issues of the hybrid approach. However, once again, a fully PCIe solution doesn't currently offer musicians any advantage over a fully PCI solution as far as I can see - at the moment. Everything hinges on what PCIe peripherals are released during 2006. PCIe offers some tremendous technological improvements over PCI, but until products are released that take advantage of these (other than amazingly fast graphic cards or tandem graphic cards that are irrelevant to most musicians except those who run video) I can see no practical advantage to owning a PCIe system.

And as I've always said in the pages of SOS, you should buy based on what's available now, and not on promises (or in this case partly guesswork on our collective parts) of what's going to be available in the future. And although I could be wrong, I still have a feeling that the majority of audio interface manufacturers will stick with FireWire.

Sorry if I'm having a 'bit of a downer' on nForce4 and PCI Express in general, but the case for the prosecution does still seem to be stronger than that of the defence


Martin

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Peter C
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Re: Survey Of Working Dual-Core PC Music Systems new [Re: Martin Walker]
      #232315 - 05/01/06 08:36 PM
Hi Martin,

Not a downer at all. I was considering your specific problem where the need for a machine that could test a PCIe audio card is an issue.

In general I think that sticking with PCI is the safest bet, not least because a DAW is unlikely to need any high bandwidth devices (that would depend on PCIe) added in the near future. Once PCIe Soundcards and FX cards turn up it will all change very quickly, but actually, the mobo is a relatively cheap part of a machine; and any way most people have existing soundcards. I can easily imagine getting PCI/AGP now and doing the switch to PCIe in a year's time.

On the hand, Scott's posts are more bullish than his website, which clearly has not been updated recently as far as the PCIe - PCI issue is concerned.

The one test I have so far run showed little practical difference, though nF3 clearly had a slight edge. I think you8'll be looking at CPU loads above 90%, and latencies below 5ms before the nF4 issues have any practical effects. Not resolved, certainly, but well masked.

I will probably be running two DAWs from now on for testing - a Neo2 and a Neo4 probably.

And for anybody with upgrade plans that might include PCIe (whether for audio or other reasons) I think the risk of nF4 is entirely aceptable provided you have an X2.



Peter

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Peter C
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Re: Survey Of Working Dual-Core PC Music Systems new [Re: Martin Walker]
      #232479 - 06/01/06 10:13 AM
And of course the AMD M2 socket means nVidia will have to make smae changes to thir chipset, even though the Memory controller is on the CPU.

That may give them the opportunity to fix the PCIe - PCI issue.


Peter

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Martin WalkerModerator
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Re: Survey Of Working Dual-Core PC Music Systems new [Re: Peter C]
      #232666 - 06/01/06 04:27 PM
Indeed - let's hope AMD's Socket AM2 (they have apparently just changed the name) gives nVidia the chance to resolve the audio issues with the current nForce 4 before the inevitable new chipset.

However, as always there are no guarantees


Martin

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Chris L
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Re: Survey Of Working Dual-Core PC Music Systems new [Re: Martin Walker]
      #233055 - 07/01/06 04:11 PM
I've sorted out my new dual core music PC, based on the following components:

AMD X2 4400
Asus A8V Deluxe Rev 2.00 (BIOS 1017)
2GB Corsair XMS (TWINX2048-3200C2PT, 2-3-3-6)
HIS Radeon 9250 (as it's passive and mature tech)
2xUAD-1

I've deactivated the Promise raid chip in the BIOS as I don't need the extra SATA ports. I think that's the only tweak I've made - everything else is set at the default setting.

I was using an Echo Mia PCI, but found out it just refused to work with my A8V. So I'll have to consider another audio interface, and seeing as though we're in flux as far as PCI/PCIe is concerned, I'll probably go for a Firewire interface rather than PCI in the future, once I can afford it.

I've kept my old DAW for internet/email/general use, using an Avocent Switchview DVI KVM to switch between the two on the fly - it's a superb unit which just works perfectly.

I've been bowled over by the performace difference between my old system (Athlon XP 2800, Abit NF7-s v2 nForce2, 1GB) and the new dual core setup. Songs that were causing the previous system to break up, are barely pushing 30% on the CPU meter of the new system, and the loading of samples etc into Kontakt is much quicker. The UAD-1s go much further with the new system too, thought I haven't been able to push the system for audio yet. I'll grab some benchmark song files and see how they run soon, but as I'm currently using the inbuild sound rather than a dedicated device with ASIO drivers I don't know how useful this would be.

But so far so good. Pleased with the new system.

--------------------
ochremusic.com


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biohazard



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Re: Survey Of Working Dual-Core PC Music Systems new [Re: Martin Walker]
      #233184 - 07/01/06 11:22 PM
Interesting stuff.

Onething still seems to remain an issue for me, and this is it:

There is no way I am sticking with old technology just because the music side of computers cant accept the new PCI-e. I dont solely use my computer for audio so to hell with staying with an NF3 system. I think this is a strong point to consider.

One thing is for sure, you will eventually have no choice about nF4. Thats the facts. PCI will be dead eventually, no one will keep it alive for one part of the market.

Has anyone ever been able to say, in detail, exactly why a problem ocurrs with PCIe rather than the old systems?


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Peter C
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Re: Survey Of Working Dual-Core PC Music Systems new [Re: biohazard]
      #233198 - 08/01/06 12:02 AM
Hi Biohazard,

I agree... ther is no doubt that PCI is on the way out. PCIe soundcards and FX cards will, I am sure, appear next year.

Until they do appear, and until somebody finds a mobo with no PCIe - PCI problems at all, for a pure DAW, I still think PCI/AGP is the safest bet with AMD CPUs.

But there is no doubt that nF4 and X2 works "well enough", and that does give you a more future looking system.

No, nobody (who is telling) knows what the problem really is. Scott has managed to bring the issue to the attention of some AMD and nVidia engineers. It is clear that they understand what the problem is; but it seems they are in the "not telling" brigade.

Some things are clear though. This is a specific nF4 issue. Some Intel and some (at least) VIA PCIe chipsets have similar problems. However, as far as I can make out they are PCIe - PCI problems with similar effects, and the root technical problems are not necessarily similar.

My personal opinion is that in all cases the PCIe chipset designers simply implemented the PCI support so that it performed to the level that PCI was supposed to guaranteed.

In fact soundcards depend on levels of performance from PCI that it did (usually) deliver, but never guaranteed. So any PCIe mobo that only supports PCI top the lefvel required of the PCI spec could have these problems.

And it would not even be a bug, strictly speaking.

Another way of looking at this is to say:

PCI soundcards were never, in fact supposed to work; because the PCI bus never contracted to meet their latency demands. It just happens that, despite this, they did work (mostly).



Peter

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PaQ


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Spangler



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Re: Survey Of Working Dual-Core PC Music Systems new [Re: Martin Walker]
      #233529 - 08/01/06 11:56 PM
I'm about to build a new dual-core system to use with my firewire Tascam interface. As such, do I need to worry about this PCI-e problem?

--------------------
clicky


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biohazard



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Re: Survey Of Working Dual-Core PC Music Systems new [Re: Martin Walker]
      #233538 - 09/01/06 12:30 AM
Peter how can it solely be an nF4 issue if VIA and Intel have these issues. They dont use nF4. It must be a PCI or PCIe problem. The way the two work. And why can Intel make a working one and nVIDIA cant.


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britney
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Re: Survey Of Working Dual-Core PC Music Systems new [Re: Martin Walker]
      #233548 - 09/01/06 01:56 AM
MSI K8T Neo2 (Bios 9.1 out the box)
AMD x2 4200+
Raedon 9250
Echo MiaMIDI
UAD1

Absolutely chuffed with it. I had my needs pretty well met with a P4 3.0G and a Clevo (I think) 1.6G Centrino running together with FxTeleport. But now I can run all my projects on one machine. At least I will be able to when I redirect all the plugins and samples. But the best bit is now I'm off Intel, Virsyn Cube has come back to life. (Which is to say I'm assuming that denormalising was the problem. Not really sure about the reason. Just the result)

I went the dedicated PCI rout coz I wanted to get the most use I could out of my UAD1. And there was no guarantee that the PCI/PCIe problem would get solved. So I decided to get the most up to date PCI box I could. Otherwise I would've gone another year or 2 before upgrading. I've had the x2 and the P4 linked up together but they were not happy campers on the gigalan, even with the latest drivers at both ends. Never tried the firewire linkup and now it looks very much like I wont need to.

--------------------
"If you are getting that much difference with limiters you are probably overdoing it with them." Full Clip Audio


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Peter C
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Re: Survey Of Working Dual-Core PC Music Systems new [Re: biohazard]
      #233758 - 09/01/06 02:04 PM
Quote biohazard:

Peter how can it solely be an nF4 issue if VIA and Intel have these issues. They dont use nF4. It must be a PCI or PCIe problem. The way the two work. And why can Intel make a working one and nVIDIA cant.





Because the problems do not appear to be identical. They merely have similar symptoms.

It is a specific (not solely) nF4 issue in the sense that the main problem we face is with nF4 (because that's the chipset of choice for X2) and also in the sense that the problems with each chipset are different, technically.

The problem is certainly not fundamentally anything to do with PCIe. It is to do with the way these chipsets chose to provide transitional PCI support.

nVidia can produce a chipset wiothout these problems. The issue is that it takes time and cost money to do that with a chipset that is in production. nVidia might decide it was not worth the effort... or they might decide to implement a fix and release it along with whetever else they have to do to support M2.

Some Intel chipsets have PCIe problems, the later ones don't. nF4 does, and so does the VIA.

I think these are teething problems, amplified by the fact that PCI is on the way out so the chipset designers may not have paid much attention to the design of the PCIe - PCI bridge.


Peter

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ezza



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Re: Survey Of Working Dual-Core PC Music Systems new [Re: Martin Walker]
      #234098 - 09/01/06 09:05 PM
I finally got my bit & pices this weekend and built my new PC:

Asus A8V
AMD 4200 X2 + Nexus skivetec cooler
2GB Corsair Twinmos Ram
Matrox G550 AGP
Emu 1212m audio interface
Seasonic 500 watt PSU
80 + 250 GB Western Digital IDE drives
Nexus case

Very happy so far.

The noise level of the Seasonics PSU seems lower than the Nexus 350 watt is was using before. It also has low voltage power lead for the case fans that makes a difference.

My current software is Cubase SE + Stylus RMX + Reaktor. I've been quite happily using all 8 channels in RMX + 3 instances of Reaktor. CPU usage was at less than 25%.

I'll be getting SL soon which supports dual core (unlike SE) and then I'll try some of the standard tests and report back.

Minus points? I had to get the file out to fit the Seasonics PSU into the Nexus case and I had to download a special patch to make the Matrox drivers load without crashing. Not too painful really!

/erol


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Martin WalkerModerator
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Re: Survey Of Working Dual-Core PC Music Systems new [Re: Peter C]
      #234432 - 10/01/06 12:40 PM
Quote Peter C:

My personal opinion is that in all cases the PCIe chipset designers simply implemented the PCI support so that it performed to the level that PCI was supposed to guarantee.

In fact soundcards depend on levels of performance from PCI that it did (usually) deliver, but never guaranteed. So any PCIe mobo that only supports PCI top the lefvel required of the PCI spec could have these problems.

Peter




I would agree with that that's a good guess Peter - musicians have always stretched PC technology in rather different directions from most other users, and particularly in the area of sustained PCI bandwidth.

The current PCIe solutions are primarily for those who want more graphic bandwidth for 3D work, and mainly irrelevant to musicians, who instead mostly need basic graphics but more sustained PCI/FireWire bandwidth.

So, it's perhaps not surprising that when push comes to shove, gamers are bowled over by the extra speed of their 3D virtual worlds, while we musicians find out the hard way that this is (initially at least) at the expense of the sustained PCI bandwidth we need to run audio interfaces and audio DSP cards.


Martin

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YewTreeMagic


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biohazard



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Re: Survey Of Working Dual-Core PC Music Systems new [Re: Martin Walker]
      #234635 - 10/01/06 04:24 PM
Ezza, im interested in your experience with the Matrox card. I'm thinking about getting a Matrox 128Mb PCIe Millennium P650 card for my machine but what problems have you found with installing drivers? How do you find them compared to nVIDIA and ATI cards? How intrusive are the drivers compared to the other two cards.


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ezza



Joined: 19/11/04
Posts: 352
Re: Survey Of Working Dual-Core PC Music Systems new [Re: biohazard]
      #234679 - 10/01/06 05:32 PM
Hi biohazard.

I have only used that same G550 on my audio pc for a few years now so I can't give a good comparison. I can say that I have never felt the need to upgrade it and I am happy that I didn't have to this time.

I have used an nVidia on another PC. I guess the nVidia drivers are less intrusive than the Matros driver but, otoh, I have never had a problem with the Matrox drivers being intrusive.

When I first set-up the pc it crashed everytime I installed the Matrox drivers and I had to revert to last know good configuration. I found out there was a known issue with the combination of G550 + A8V on the Matrox tech support forum. I got a patch to drivers there from one of their support guys. After that the drivers installed fine.

I found the support forums on the Matrox website a good resource. I would definitely do a search there before selecting a motherboard.

/erol


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Peter C
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Re: Survey Of Working Dual-Core PC Music Systems new [Re: Martin Walker]
      #234747 - 10/01/06 07:24 PM
Hi Martin,

I think I'd use the phrase "low latency" when you say "sustained bandwidth"... but assuming we have the same basic idea in mind I figure we agree on what's going on.

Sustained => low latency (?). I'm not convinced that audio ever stretched the bandwidth of PCI.

It's still only a guess though.


Peter

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Martin WalkerModerator
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Re: Survey Of Working Dual-Core PC Music Systems new [Re: Peter C]
      #235199 - 11/01/06 03:20 PM
Yes, by 'sustained bandwidth' I meant that audio interfaces like to pour a continuous stream of data over the PCI bus if they are to avoid clicks and pops, particularly at low latency.

As you rightly say, this doesn't often push the maximum bandwidth capability of 132Mb/second (unless you're attempting to run 32 input and output channels of 24-bit/192kHz audio) but it does mean that audio tends to be in direct conflict with the vast majority of other PCI devices that prefer a quick burst at the highest speed possible, and to hell with anything other device that gets in the way in the meantime


Martin

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