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Topic: Help a PC Idiot? Please...

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  1. #1

    Help a PC Idiot? Please...

    Hi.

    I'm a devoted Mac person, running ProTools and slew of other programs on a G5. I also have an old Dell Dimension in my studio solely running Gigastudio out of an Aardvark Q10. My Giga setup ran great when I had my PC on Win98, but after I bumped up to a gig of RAM and put XP on the machine, it became unstable, crashing frequently and my polyphony shrank dramatically. I'm still trying to figure out what happened.

    Nonetheless, I'm interested in setting up a rig for Giga 3 (since it is supposed to be released at the end of this week--we'll see...). According to Tascam my lowly 1.6 ghz Dell doesn't meet the minnimum requirements for Giga 3.

    I don't want to buy a high end turn-key system, and I simply don't have the interest or time to learn enough to construct a custom machine. Wondering if a Dell Dimension 4600 with a gig of ram running windows XP Pro is a good choice for a giga machine? Is there a better choice, something pretty cheap since I spent all my money on an expensive Mac?

    Thanks,
    Justin

  2. #2
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: Help a PC Idiot? Please...

    Hey Justin,

    You could run it on the Dell. You just wouldn't have enough cohones to run GigaPulse. You would see about the same performance, roughly, that you're getting on GS2.x.

    You'll want to run GigaPulse, for the halls and the deconvolution/convolution mic models. They modeled MANY a dream-mic. I have a feeling you'd also want to take advantage of the VST capabilities, especially if you have high-end plugins you'd like to run realtime.

    I would have to concur totally with Lee regarding the Dell option. You don't want to go there. The proprietary parts leave you in a complete bind when you want to upgrade. Lee's suggestion is right on--find a kind geek who'll build you a ground-up, hardcore machine. There are places you can cut costs to allocate towards the drive space, processor, RAM, etc., which you need. Granted, not many. But first off, you can opt for a simple 128 mb NVIDIA or equivalent video card instead of some super-duper gamer card. That's probably 100-150 bucks you can save. You could potentially cheap-out on the case, but provided ATX cases continue to be standard, you might want to opt for at least a decent one. There are many great cooling-conscious cases on the market right now, and those are sweet for home rigs. If you ever intend to gig or travel with the rig, you'd do well to consider a rackmount case. The downside there is that you need to build it with cooling in mind..."round ribbons," good fans, clean airpath, etc.

    Get the hardiest P4 you can afford, 1.5 to 2 GB of RAM. You could conceivably do without the RAID array, but since G3 has no built-in restriction on polyphony, you can benefit from the most drive system throughput you can afford. Expensive, yes, but not as expensive as more machines. The tradeoff is that a RAID array will hold fewer libraries--if you're a VSL user, and have other large libraries as well, you're talking about some significant disk space.

    I'd say Giga 3 is worth what you can throw at it. The capabilities are immense.

  3. #3

    Re: Help a PC Idiot? Please...

    I don't know.... Why's everyone afraid of just buying the parts they want and putting the freaking things together. I mean, I'm not popping them out like HP is or anything, but there's really nothing to it. There's some precaution to take and there are some headaches involved sometimes, but it really is a wonderful thing to know the in's and out's of your PC.

    On the cost basis... It's going to cost you a bit more than a Dell would. The upside is that you know what's in there and if you bought quality parts you know they're going to last. Another plus is that you get those manufacturer's warranties with the parts so you've got somewhere to go to to replace them (without paying extra like with Dell.)

    Get online and buy the parts and build it yourself. There's really nothing to it. I've built gobs of them and the pros far outshine the cons. You'll get more customization and less hassle down the line this way. Hell, give me the money and I'll build you one (it's really that simple.)

  4. #4
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    Question Re: Help a PC Idiot? Please...

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce A. Richardson
    Get the hardiest P4 you can afford, 1.5 to 2 GB of RAM.
    .
    Hey, Bruce,
    I found out yesterday that the P4 Northwood 3.0 has a smaller cache than the 2.8 Northwood. Does that make sense? Is there an effect on the performance of the 3.0?
    ************************************
    "The tradeoff is that a RAID array will hold fewer libraries--if you're a VSL user, and have other large libraries as well, you're talking about some significant disk space .... "

    Wouldn't RAID 0 allow you to stripe/gang two 120Gb drives to make 240Gb of storage? That way, if you don't mirror your system drive, you could have three pairs:-
    One for Strings and Brass, one for Percussion/Drums/Basses and, one for Vocals and miscelleneous stuff (sound effects etc.)

    By the way, how do you get the icons in the "body" of the post?

  5. #5
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: Help a PC Idiot? Please...

    Not sure about the cache/performance hit. I have no basis for comparison.

    Sure, you can pile on the drives and get the space you need. The only issue I see is the increased cooling difficulty of a case stuffed with drives. I have one myself, and it is worth considering--it gets very very hot in there.

  6. #6

    Re: Help a PC Idiot? Please...

    Wouldn't it be nice if we could lower the speed of striped RAID sets - the more drives in the array, the slower each drive *could* spin, to maintain a sufficient total throughput. (in theory) (yes, I realise we have the option of simply choosing a slower drive, but the industry trend is towards higher speeds I think).
    I guess there's probably a lower bound on the speed anyway, before the heads crash.

    Greg.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce A. Richardson
    Not sure about the cache/performance hit. I have no basis for comparison.

    Sure, you can pile on the drives and get the space you need. The only issue I see is the increased cooling difficulty of a case stuffed with drives. I have one myself, and it is worth considering--it gets very very hot in there.
    Last edited by sullivang; 07-29-2004 at 09:58 AM. Reason: added some extra comments

  7. #7
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    Re: Help a PC Idiot? Please...

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce A. Richardson
    Not sure about the cache/performance hit. I have no basis for comparison.

    Sure, you can pile on the drives and get the space you need. The only issue I see is the increased cooling difficulty of a case stuffed with drives. I have one myself, and it is worth considering--it gets very very hot in there.
    Are you fellas working in air-conditioned environments?
    Zalman makes a pretty cool (no pun intended) case. kind of pricey, but cool ....

    Right now I have the left side of my system open, with a desk top fan trained on it. It works with my P3 933MHz set up. Hope it does with the 3.0 Gig system when it comes. later I will get one of the Zalman cases.

  8. #8

    Re: Help a PC Idiot? Please...

    Thanks for the time and advice everyone. I really appreciate it.

    I guess I'm left with three options:

    1. Roll up my sleeves and learn more about the custom PC world--or beg one of my PC expert friends to help me. Probably the way I'll end up going.

    2. Stay on my GS 2.5 and figure out how to get it running better--since I'm not doing 40+ track orchestral mock-ups.

    3. Bail on GS completely and switch to a Mac based sampler like Kontakt and run two Macs side by side--hoping that all of my .gigs will convert.

  9. #9

    Re: Help a PC Idiot? Please...

    Interesting thread, thanks.
    So, as another Mac user with an open mind about PCs, is there somewhere I can go to get the definitive low-down on an "ideal" PC/Giga build solution? You talk about quality components and drives; if I'm going to jump in and get MY hands dirty building a PC, I want to know that it's the dope. And what about SCSI arrays over S-ATA? Pricier I know, but is there a worthwhile performance boost?

    Many thanks.

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