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Hardware considerations of a music PC
Old 10th November 2009
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Question Hardware considerations of a music PC

So there are obviously plenty of guides out there on how to tweak your operating system for maximum performance when it comes to your DAW. But what about hardware? Specifically, motherboards, chipsets, etc.

I currently have a Gigabyte GA-EP45-DS3L motherboard, 4GB ram and a Core 2 Duo as part of my DAW. Not a bad configuration, at least on paper. I was building a media center sort of PC for a friend, and it was based on an nVidia 7100 chipset with a single core Celeron chip, which was a lower clock speed than my C2D and 1GB of ram, single channel (which is what the nv 7100 chipset allows for anyway). For kicks, I put my Emu 1820m, to see how well it would perform. I could achieve 3ms of playback and recording latency without any problem. On my full blown DAW, I could only really go to 5ms, and too much load might start to cause issues. On the inferior nv 7100 machine, 3ms never glitched on me, even when I tried to increase the load on the computer. I tried to duplicate the results on my DAW machine, thinking it was an OS issue, so I made a new partition and installed a fresh OS, just as I had on the nv 7100 machine, but same results as before 5ms being as about as good as I could get.

So is there any sort of guide out there that compares this sort of thing, any explanation as to why I got consistently better latency out of the inferior machine?

Was it the configuration of the motherboard, one was a Gigabyte, the nv 7100 was a Zotac brand. Or the fact that I had a PCIe 16x graphics card in my DAW, the 7100 has a built on GPU which is what I was using... admittedly thats the number one suspect I have right now about the whole thing. Does a proper graphics card hog up the bus bandwith thus preventing PCI cards such as the 1820m from talking as fast as it could to the CPU? Maybe I'll buy a less sophisticated graphics card that I could swap out, just to compare.
Old 10th November 2009
  #2
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