View Full Version : PC Graphics Card
02-04-2003, 10:21 AM
Hello - I,m about to buy a P4/3.06 GHz with Hyper Threading Technology. My question is this: Does it matter that much when recording Digital Music to have a more powerful Graphics Card - Like a 128MB DDR ATI RADEON - As opposed to just a 64MB DDR NVIDIA GeForce MX card? Thanks.
02-04-2003, 10:23 AM
Not really... you're talking about screen re-draw rate and that's hardly that big of an issue. You need to decide if you want the graphics card because it is cool to say you've got the biggest on the block or if you really want a machine dedicated to audio.
02-04-2003, 10:32 AM
Thanks Jeff! That was super fast. If I read you right - You're saying that no matter what - The more powerful card will not make that much difference - period - Unless I want to just show off. Right?
02-04-2003, 10:36 AM
It may make some small amount of difference that is noticeable, but it won't be worth what you'll probably pay.
02-04-2003, 10:47 AM
Jeff- You just saved me $140.00 at Dell. Also, Let me just ask you one more question please: I heard that Intel is going to come out with an 800 MHz Frontside Bus to add onto this new Hyper Threading Tech. - This is an increase from the present 533MHz - But I don't want to wait several months for it to come out. Also, the 533 can't be upgraded - so, I'll be stuck with a slightly slower processor. I know you favor the MAC - and I would probably be getting one, had I not already established myself too much with the PC - I also wan to utilize Gigasampler - I already have Unity DS-1/Black & Whites. As you know, trying to wait for the perfect time to buy is almost impossible - What, with all new stuff coming out all the time. What you're take? And that's it from me for now. Thanks so much!!
02-04-2003, 11:30 AM
Many of the new technologies can't even be utilized when they are first released. For instance. Gigabit ethernet on the Mac was a gleam in most people's eye and the standard hadn't even been finalized for Cat6 at the time. A faster bus sounds appealing, but my guess is that everything else around it will be slow enough to prevent it from even doing what you think it might. There may be some performance gain, but not what it would cost you to be the first on the front line of technology. Some people have to be on the front in terms of certain technologies, but make sure you weigh the cost. In terms fo being established with the PC, I'm not so sure that's a valid argument. If you're buying a new machine they integrate so well now it's becoming a non-issue. I have 4 PC's on my network with 5 Mac's and everything is playing just fine, and they all run from an XServe. Just some food for thought.
02-04-2003, 11:50 AM
Just want to thank you again for you're help - I feel that you know what you're talking about. You've cleared up quite a lot! Les
02-04-2003, 12:31 PM
Just as a point of refernce, you will notice that parts for PCS come in this sort of unspoken price bracket. Take processors for example. the price difference between (and this is just an example) a 1.5 ghz and 1.6ghz may only be about $8 different, but somewhere along the line, there will be a small jump in processor speed, but like a $60 jump in cost. Thats where the brackets seperate. I always buy the best item at the top of that second bracket.
02-04-2003, 01:53 PM
If you are about to buy a PC for audio, why don't you contact Sweetwater and skip Dell? When you get clicks and pops recording or things just don't work right for audio, don't expect Dell to know what you are talking about.
02-04-2003, 02:47 PM
Very true. Though we've had to retool a few Dell machines in our day.
The big issue with office or gaming machines turned audio pc, is that the manufacturer
is usually mainly concerned with performance as it relates to office and Internet applications or games (the reason for your high end video card). Much of the hardware that's considered standard on their machines really isn't anything you need for audio. Office computers also have a bad tendency to have incorporated video/sound/modem/lan which can lead to hardware conflicts when adding professional audio interfaces and hardware.
02-04-2003, 04:29 PM
Thanks - xstatic/TeeCee/arbiter - What you guys said I'm sure is true - I've certainly already been through a lot of the "conflicts" with my Delta 44 and MidiSport 2X2. But when I hear that lately there is not that much difference between the Mac and the PC, because the PC has caught up, like what this guy feefer at Synthzone says - Go and click on "jenny23" for his response to her. There are so many opinions that it is pretty confusing - And if you are like me (I try to gather up as much cash as possible) It could be a pretty hefty monetary mistake. Thanks for your input guys.
02-05-2003, 09:16 AM
I think the only way you can get an accurate perception is from someone who uses all the tools (different computers) available. I'm only a proponent of getting the right tool for the job. Many of the guys you hear say that Windows or PC's have "caught up" aren't really giving you any information or confidence. There is no "catching up" to do. Windows and generic PC's have always been right where they need to be, they have also always been my tool of choice when doing office work of any type. Apple has always been the appropriate tool of choice for doing Graphics/Audio work as well. Take for instance our MIS supervisor here at Sweetwater. He has been a hardcore PC guy for years, but never really had a Mac. He recently purchased a used Mac G4 and commented that I was absolutely correct. He had always tried to justify and remain happy with what he had, but the Mac was so much better at doing audio, but he noticed little difference in other areas. Be careful who you listen to and more importantly what they are saying. Pick the right tool for the right job and I think you can hardly consider that a mistake.
02-09-2003, 03:20 PM
I would just make sure that you buy a graphics card that will support 2 moniters. It helps a TON. Also, I suggest getting a 2.6 or 2.8 instead of 3ghz because it costs twice as much and you won't get hardly any more performance.
If you REALLY want to save money, build it yourself. You can save UUods at tigerdirect.com plus you can customize it. Although Dell has nice support...
02-09-2003, 04:57 PM
Thanks Smileywiley! - I didn't think about what you said about the Graphics card - Will definitely check - Am pricing Dell already, but will check out Tigerdirect-
02-10-2003, 10:42 AM
Careful with tigerdirect. they sell alot of obscure and cheap parts. Make sure you know what you want and not what they recommend. The right part at a cheap price is always a good deal, but the worng part for cheap costs you more in the end. Audio on a PC is very different beast than what PC companies are used to selling. That is one of the nice things about a MAC, there is not nearly as many companies putting out products that look similar but behave very differently. This is part of the reason that MACs seem to run so easily, they have a much tighter standard and build etc... And don't think I am a mac guy, all of my stuff is PC. My PC's run as well as any MAC, but it takes a lot of knowledge and tuning to get it there:)
02-10-2003, 10:45 AM
Point of reference, there is a local computer store here in my home town that sells stuff off the shelf as cheap if not cheaper than tigerdirect. But, what has really impressed me is there knowledge. They are the only store I have ever been to that actually new the little detailed things about hardware, and when they don't know, they admit it and contact the manufacturer to get the info. THAT is why I go there. NOT because they are cheap. It is worth a few bucks to me to have a piece of mind, not to mention, a person to talk to when I need to return things. Good luck:)
02-10-2003, 04:46 PM
xstatic: That's one of best pieces of advice I've gotten, and I appreciate your being knowledgeable about both platforms. I just wish that I had started with Mac several years ago, when I first started to put my home studio together. I have made some financial blunders, and learned the hard way, because, as you well know - with this business it's a whole lot harder to gather info about what to get than it is just dealing with regular IT stuff. It's such a leap for me to go to Mac right now - (and I know that it is the best platform - and probably always will be for music) for various reasons, which would make my situation now even more complicated. I've just decided today that I'm going to take advantage of a Dell deal, and go ahead and order - Just get it over with. I know that the pc has come a long way, but I also know that what you said is very about "much tighter standards." But I guess as long as people do make music with the pc, I'll just have to take a chance. With the help of a few friends like you and the others in the business - and also M-Audio, which - in my opinion, has the very best support I've experienced - I think I'll do ok. 'Preciate the help!
02-10-2003, 04:53 PM
If you want to take advantage of our service and knowledge you can send in the machine to Sweetwater for a few bucks and have us tweak it. Just ask for service when you call in and tell the service receptionist what you want and that it's a PC install. It might save you some of the initial headaches of dealing with a stock system for your application.
02-10-2003, 05:17 PM
Good luck with your purchase. I would still avoid a preconfigured PC like a Dell though. If you are seriously interested, email me, I can send you a list of all my parts in my tower. My PC is running better than several Macs I have worked on recently. But that has nothing to do with the platform. It has everything to do with getting the right parts, and knowing how to configure it. Let me know if you need some help:)
02-10-2003, 07:28 PM
It looks like I'm going to order this Dell tonight - I've been waiting a long time, and their giving away a free cd burner drive. I'm going to take out the Sound Blaster, and install my Delta 44 (which I've installed and re-installed - switching slots, and disabling the native sound devices). I also have a Yamaha W7, Mackie 1202 vlz Mixer, Roland JV-1010 Sound Module, MidiSport 2X2, Event Project Studio 6 Monitors. I am using Sonar 2.2, Unity DS-1/Black&Whites internal Sound Module Editor. So, you can see that I've invested some money, but I'm sure it's just a drop in the bucket to a lot of people. I've bought these pieces a little at a time. It would be hard for me to start over and invest in too many other things. But I would very much like for you to tell me if you think that these might work for me. I've had a lot a trouble making everything work, but with the help of M-Audio, I've made good strides. Please tell me what you have that works for you, so that if I can afford to add to what I have, I can at least get something that has been tried and tested. Thanks.
02-10-2003, 08:35 PM
I just bought a 48x24x48x burner for $20 afterthe $20 mail in rebate. That's no reason to buy a Dell. I promise. You should check to see that the Sound Blaster is a card and not integrated.
I use MSI motherboards with Athlon XPs (KT333 ot KT400 chip sets with integrated RAID controller for more IDE channels, not for RAID use ~$200 with an XP 2000+ or so) and a Matrox G550 for dual screen (~$100) or a 64MB MSI NVidia clone for a single screen (~$70). I've got Maxtors, Seagates, IBMs, and a brand new Western Digital in use (~$100 for up to 80GB with tax or shipped). I like Plextor CD Burners for their audio extraction capabilities and great track record (~$130) but will use a lesser burner for general use ($20 as mentioned above). I have an M-Audio Delta 66 in one PC and an Audiophile in another (you know the cost). Windows XP on two machines and Windows 2000 on the third (wouldn't mind having Windows XP on that one as well ~$180). Two of my machines are for audio. The third is this one, my everything else PC. No glitches, nothing crazy happening. There's a fourth, it's a Celeron on an Abit board with an NVidia clone video card and it's my wifes. I share a monitor and keyboard across my three PCs and have everything networked ~$400 for KVM switches, NICs, router, hub, and some cables. I build it all in pieces as I can afford it.
Good parts tend to work. Cheap stuff like modems drive me nuts (when they don't work as advertised).
02-10-2003, 10:05 PM
Man, you've got a lot more toys than I have - Maybe if I keep on - But as long as I can make what I have do what I need, I guess that's the bottom line - At least for now, anyway. Thanks for telling me what works for you - So, when I'm ready to expand....I'll keep this stat sheet for future reference. M-audio gave me some info to look out for with Dell in particular - Can't wait to see what happens.
06-18-2003, 11:30 PM
Be very cautoous with cheep parts. Just had a friend bring me a system he built that was freezing after an hour of unreal tournament 2003; turns out he put in the cheepest possible DDR ram and it slipped out of spec when the system heated up. Good RAM (samsung), no more problem.
Unless your fairly savvy or have a savvy frind, Id get youe PC from a reputable supplier (Dell is my favorite). Most of the tuning advice you can get in this forum or other resoures.
06-19-2003, 01:56 PM
I've not had a RAM issue in this manner, but I know it exists. I try to buy decent RAM. The only RAM I've ever seen fail (totally dead) was in a Dell PC. I would never buy a Dell for personal use. Have someone somewhere build your PC. Preferrably someone you trust and that offers a warranty.
06-19-2003, 03:38 PM
I've seen cheap ram cause issues. Usually it shows up like a memory leak. A series of small glitches in ram eventually cause problems when the system has been in heavy use for a while.
Back to the original video card thread, the only reason I'd upgrade a PC video card on a DAW would be to add dual monitor support. In that case get something that gives you two digital outputs on one card, and doesn't tie up the extra space in your PCI bus.
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