• Register
  • Help
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 13

Topic: Way OT - Which PC should I get?

Share/Bookmark
  1. #1

    Way OT - Which PC should I get?

    I've decided I need to upgrade my PC to something powerful enough to actually meet and exceed GPO4's minimum requirements (significantly exceed since I may also run some more hoggish brand-x sound libraries). I need to stick with a PC rather than switch to a Mac because of some of the other software I need to run (unrelated to music) ... and I have room for only one desktop PC.

    Any suggestions?

    One requirement that doesn't seem to be mentioned in spec sheets I've seen: I want at least one free PCI slot so I can install my M-Audio 2496 sound card.

    Thanks.

    Pat

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Pacific Northwest
    Posts
    274

    Re: Way OT - Which PC should I get?

    If you could give us more information about your goals/other programs you will be running - i.e. sequencer/notation program, etc., and especially budget, it would help us be better able to give you some advice.

    Most mobo's at this point have only one PCI slot. In general, if you can afford it, it would be better to shy away from a stock HP, Dell or other general system.

    You mention "hoggish libraries". Assuming those are what I think they are, you may very well end up needing an i7, with 8-12 gigs ram.

    Also, depending on the sound quality you are looking for, you may want to upgrade the 2496 soundcard, as it lacks balanced outs.

    Again, though, giving us some sort of budget range would be very helpful. If your budget is more restricted, you may need to consider an i5, or if really restricted AMD (though AMD is currently not as good for audio as Intel - even the new AMD 6 cores do not do that well for audio according to ADK).

  3. #3

    Re: Way OT - Which PC should I get?

    Hi pokeefe,

    I personally prefer to build computers from components as it allows expension and customization and noise reduction to the hearts content -- but it does require a small time investment, and it does not come with an extended warrenty.

    My suggestion would be that you purchase a machine with a mid or "full tower" size case, as it should offer reasonable expansion room for hard drives and PCI cards,and room for air flow. Noise is always a consideration also... at least for us musical types. If you can find a machine with a good, quite case (http://www.quietpc.com/) that would be a big benefit, but there are also aftermarket coolers that can reduce the noise footprint significantly.

    But, I got sidetracked on the bread. For the meat, either an i5 or i7 quad core processor would do just swell. For sample libraries, you want lots of RAM of course (I would not go less than 4GB of ram). For the operating system, I suggest Windows 7 64 bit, as it will allow you to utilize over 4GB of ram. If you want things really snappy and quiet, you might look for a system with a solid state drive as the system drive (and then you would put sample libraries and recorded audio on a separate, larger drive). Your PCI support will depend on the motherboard. The issue is that most computers these days with great motherboards are geared toward gamers, and you might be paying extra for a state of the art graphics card that is beyond what you need. Rather than buying an manufacturer made machine (an HP or Dell, ext), you may be better off with a machine put together by a good computer retailer.

    I do computer upgrades frequently, and I get parts at great deals from www.ncix.com. They are originally a canadian store I believe, but there is also www.ncixus.com (a way for you to funnel money into your northern neighbors economy). They do custom builds as well. They have this feature called "PC builder" in which you can customize a machine to your specific needs, without much of a "custom build" premium charge at all.

    http://pc.ncix.com/pcbuilder/

    As I'm not currently up to date on motherboards, I can't give specific recomendations on that right now. But if you do decide to use something simular to PC builder, let me know and I can help with part choices.

    -Tim
    "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." – Henry Thoreau


  4. #4

    Re: Way OT - Which PC should I get?

    I recently bought a new machine from these guys to run all of my sound and music software as well as my video editor and have not regretted one single thing.

    www.polywell.com
    In theory there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is.

    http://reberclark.blogspot.com http://reberclark.bandcamp.com http://www.youtube.com/reberclark

  5. #5

    Re: Way OT - Which PC should I get?

    Quote Originally Posted by noldar12 View Post
    If you could give us more information about your goals/other programs you will be running - i.e. sequencer/notation program, etc., and especially budget, it would help us be better able to give you some advice.
    I'm currently running only Sibelius 6 and GPO4. No sequencers, no other sound libraries; no other sound-related programs at all. (I'm just getting into this electronic music creation stuff - been at it since last September.) I want to try other stuff but my little (single core) 2.66 Mhz Pentium 4 with 2GB RAM can't even handle the Sib6+GPO4 playing a large score, so I'm stuck until I upgrade.

    My budget is, umm, flexible. I'm retired and my wife is still working so I sort of feel like I'm spending her money. We can probably afford anything I'm likely to spend, but I want to be reasonably sure what I can justify (both to me and to her) what I spend. Anything I get will be overkill for Sibelius + GPO4, but this will likely be the only PC upgrade I buy for 5 years or so - I want lots of room to grow. And anything I get will be usable ... for some value of "usable". (I'm actually more worried about wasting money on sound libraries.)

    Quote Originally Posted by noldar12 View Post
    Most mobo's at this point have only one PCI slot. In general, if you can afford it, it would be better to shy away from a stock HP, Dell or other general system.
    Sorry. I had to look up "mobo" - not in my vocabulary. Assume I know absolutely nothing about PCs. The only time I've even taken the cover off my PC was to install the sound card. If I try building a system the result will be a pile of rubbish on the floor. That means I pretty much need to stick to off-the-shelf PCs.

    Quote Originally Posted by noldar12 View Post
    You mention "hoggish libraries". Assuming those are what I think they are, you may very well end up needing an i7, with 8-12 gigs ram.
    I had no particular ones in mind, but but I would at least like to sample (pun intended) some of them. From what I hear, most, if not all, are cycle hogs compared to Garritan products. I knew most sound libraries were also storage hogs but I hadn't heard 8-12GB ram. I was assuming 8GB was overkill. Foolish me!

    Quote Originally Posted by noldar12 View Post
    Also, depending on the sound quality you are looking for, you may want to upgrade the 2496 soundcard, as it lacks balanced outs.
    I'm not making a "studio" nor have any intention of making the PC part of my sound system. I don't think I need to worry about balanced output; I just need to feed active speakers. If I need to get a different sound card it will be because of the PC's requirements, not due to limitations of my current card. Anyway, the weakest link in the sound chain is my ears.


    Quote Originally Posted by noldar12 View Post
    ... If your budget is more restricted, you may need to consider an i5, or if really restricted AMD (though AMD is currently not as good for audio as Intel - even the new AMD 6 cores do not do that well for audio according to ADK).
    You're defintely talking about more powerful boxes than I was thinking about. I know nothing about AMDs and was wondering how they measured against the Intels. I don't understand the comment, though. If the AMD has the cycles, and if it's got access to the storage, how could it be worse for audio than Intel?

    Pat

  6. #6

    Re: Way OT - Which PC should I get?

    Quote Originally Posted by pokeefe View Post
    I don't understand the comment, though. If the AMD has the cycles, and if it's got access to the storage, how could it be worse for audio than Intel?
    AMD's cores overall are not as powerful as Intel's. I suppose if you're running some REALLY high end libraries there might be a difference. For what you're doing, it won't. I just bought a new AMD 6 core system with 8GB RAM and an SSD. I also have the 2496 card.

    As a performance test, I took a band piece I have in Sib 6 & CoMB and added a bunch of instruments from JaBB and GPO (Kontakt versions). With 45 staves, playback ran without any stutter or pops.

    I went with a company called Maingear because they were the only ones who had all the components I wanted.

  7. #7

    Re: Way OT - Which PC should I get?

    Greetings Pat,

    The ultimate solution is to build your own box, but since that is not an option there are several great options out there for you. Here is a quick, bullet form list of what I would take into consideration if I were you:

    1) General wisdom is that you purchase a powerful box so that you won't be behind the curve too quickly. In my mind, that means it will be a solid system for 3 years or a bit more. In fact, the delta cost difference between an `ok' system and a great system fully justifies going with a great system. The specs I would look for are the following:

    i7 quad core processor with a frequency of around 2.8 Ghz (In other words a 2.8 Ghz or faster i7 quad core.)

    12 gig of RAM (DDR3 will cost you more, but it won't be obsolete anytime soon.)

    Several 500 gigabyte 7200 RPM drives (2 absolute minimum, 3 preferred. One for the OS, one for projects, one for samples.)

    Firewire and USB 3 connectivity

    A few PCIx slots, one PCI slot for your sound card. (The latter will continue to be harder to find, they are phasing out quickly. Is there budget for a new sound card?)

    I can't recommend video cards because I don't know what your other applications are. A solid single card usually does the trick unless you are either a gaming fanatic or have some unusual graphics requirements for video editing, etc.

    Windows 7

    Those are the base requirements that you can look for in product descriptions for systems sold online.

    2) Do not purchase Dell or the like. They are fine for other uses, but not for audio. There are some good suggestions in other posts, I will also recommend Sweetwaters Creation Stations. Great product, great support. If you are not already a Sweetwater customer call Carson McClain at extension 1302 and tell him I sent you. He is great and will help you out a great deal. (I would not plug a sales guy unless I were 100% confident in him.) There are other options out there, PCAudioLabs and RainComputers are solid sources also.

    Maybe I'm not adding much new to this conversation now that I read my post! Sorry about that. Expect to pay more for pre-built systems. The value add is the peace of mind that you don't have to build one yourself and that the companies I've recommended (and probably the others recommended by other posters) provide great support and warranties.

    Last of all, you have to decide on a monitor. I mean, if you are getting a new box, you have to have a new monitor, right?
    I would look to MWave, buy.com, NewEgg or even Dell for a nice monitor(s). Prices have fallen and so it isn't too painful.

    -Kevin
    We are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams …
    24" 2.4 Ghz iMac, OSX 10.4.10, MOTU 828 MKII, 2 Glyph 250 Gig external drives, Logic 9, Finale 2008 GPO, JABB, Strad, Gro, Reason 4, EWQL Storm Drum, Adrenaline, Symphonic Choirs, SO Gold,All Arturia Synths, Many NI Synths, Spectrasonics Synths, KH Strings, VEPro on a Windows 7 4x 2.8 Ghz 12 gig of RAM

  8. #8

    Re: Way OT - Which PC should I get?

    Quote Originally Posted by LFO View Post
    i7 quad core processor with a frequency of around 2.8 Ghz (In other words a 2.8 Ghz or faster i7 quad core.)
    I'm afraid I'm totally confused about i5 vs. i7. Intel's blurb only deepened my confusion. And I've seen some PCs marked i5/i7 which really doesn't help. Should I consider only i7 processors?

    Quote Originally Posted by LFO View Post
    I can't recommend video cards because I don't know what your other applications are. A solid single card usually does the trick unless you are either a gaming fanatic or have some unusual graphics requirements for video editing, etc.
    I have no video card requirements. I need something to drive the monitor for just regular desktop use, but that's it. No games, no special graphics, no video editing, etc. Anything that comes with any PC will probably be more than I need.

    Quote Originally Posted by LFO View Post
    2) Do not purchase Dell or the like. They are fine for other uses, but not for audio.
    I don't understand. If they meet your suggested specs (and I don't know if any do) why would a Dell or the like not be a good choice? Shoddy workmanship? I assume HP is in the "or the like" category.

    Quote Originally Posted by LFO View Post
    There are some good suggestions in other posts, I will also recommend Sweetwaters Creation Stations. ...
    Most of the pre-built systems they mention on their web site all are built around i5 (hence my earlier comment/question). Should I care? And the operating system provided is 32-bit Win7. Does that imply the hardware supports only 32-bit? Also, most are sold with 4GB ram. Not the max supported, I hope.




    Great product, great support. If you are not already a Sweetwater customer call Carson McClain at extension 1302 and tell him I sent you. He is great and will help you out a great deal. (I would not plug a sales guy unless I were 100% confident in him.) There are other options out there, PCAudioLabs and RainComputers are solid sources also.

    Thanks for your comments. Thanks to everybody for their comments.

    Pat

  9. #9

    Re: Way OT - Which PC should I get?

    Quote Originally Posted by pokeefe View Post
    I'm afraid I'm totally confused about i5 vs. i7. Intel's blurb only deepened my confusion. And I've seen some PCs marked i5/i7 which really doesn't help. Should I consider only i7 processors?
    As far as I know, the i7 has a higher clock rate and has a greater capacity to overclock itself. When extra power is needed, the i5 and i7 can use "Turbo Boost" (I think that's what they call it) to increase the clock rate and speed up internal number crunching. This feature is quite modest in the i5. The i7 can give itself a bigger speed boost. This does not mean that the i5 is bad. It's still a very capable processor (better than the intel Q6600 quad core that I currently use, and I am a power user), but the i7 is better. There used to be and may still be some differences in the type of RAM that i5 and i7 supported (dual vs triple channel). Dual channel is cheaper, and the performance difference is not huge.

    Another difference is Hyper-Threading, which can simulate more cores on a processor (a 4 core i7 can simulate 8 cores for multi-tasking). Most i5 cores don't have this. If you do get an i5, in my mind you would want a quad core, not a dual core. The i5 is designed more for mainstream users (which today does involve a lot of multimedia). The i7 is designed for power users---as someone who is working with sample libraries for creating music, I would classify you as a power user.

    If the differance in cost is not much of an issue, go for i7. If it is, a quad core i5 will do you just fine for now, but you may have to it upgrade sooner... as we all know software gets more advanced and demanding on resources each day.


    Quote Originally Posted by pokeefe View Post
    Most of the pre-built systems they mention on their web site all are built around i5 (hence my earlier comment/question). Should I care? And the operating system provided is 32-bit Win7. Does that imply the hardware supports only 32-bit? Also, most are sold with 4GB ram. Not the max supported, I hope.
    32-bit Win7 restricts you in a few ways --- but at the top of the list: it restricts you to 4GB of RAM. If you want more ram, you'll need to get a 64 bit operating system (e.g. Win7 64 bit). You can install 32 bit windows on a computer with a 64 bit processor, but since today most hardware has 64 bit windows drivers, it makes sense to go with the newer technology. Also, audio software is finally catching up and moving to 64 bit (Sonar for example, or ARIA).
    "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." – Henry Thoreau


  10. #10

    Re: Way OT - Which PC should I get?

    I decided to go with NCIX PC Builder, put together what I thought was a pretty good config, and got most of the way through the order process before discovering they do not accept US credit cards; US customers have to use PayPal. The NCIXUS site does not offer PC Builder. So now I have to start over again with another company or open a PayPal account (which I think I don't want to do).

    It looks like the Sweetwater option is for sound equipment, not for ordering/building custom PCs. Did I overlook something there? And the other recommended sources seem to offer limited configuration options. (I think I've been spoiled by going through the NCIX PC Builder experience.)

    Pat

Go Back to forum

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •