I use my comp for making music and have two old PCI cards I'd like to retain even in a new machine. How fast is legacy PCI fading away, can you still get a modern mother board with 1 or preferrably 2 PCI slots on it? I must confess I'm seriously out of the hardware loop.
I've been checking out machines that have beene optimized for audio such as the new Sweetwater Creation Station at: http://www.sweetwater.com/creation_station/rackdual30.p...
It uses the Asus w/975X chipset but which Mobos have that? Googling didn't turn up anything useful and I find the asus site messy. On a side note, I'm sight-impaired and so browse using a screen reader program, speech synth and the keyboard.
I don't have any preferences in terms of manufacturer as long as it is something pretty common. The last machine had an Asus in it the A266. As far as CPUs go I'd probably want to go with a genuine Intel with two or more cores on it, as dual core stuff seems to be the norm these days. Not that the older sequencers and audio editors I use would know how to effectively use two CPUs at once, even in processes that benefit from multi-processing, but I do have to run the screen reader in the background. The other reason for choosing Intel is that the last time I chose AMD Athlon, and had I gone with Intel, I'd have been able to run softsynths that require SSE.
As far as other hardware goes, I'd like some board which has fast memory as I've read that memory bandwidth is often the bottleneck in the von Neumann architecture, resulting in the CPU waiting needlessly despite all this caching, out-of-order execution and whatever (it's been a couple of years I read Tanenmaum here).
As far as other hardware goes, I'd ideally take a board with as litttel integrated anything as possible, apart from a NIC. I already have a pro soundcard, the TerraTec EWS88 MT, and would like the ability to update the graphics card when necessary. Also I have no use for bluetooth or wireless anything, at least initially. For hard drives with fast sustained transfer rates, I'd like firewire connectivity and plenty of USB2 ports for general gadgets, too. RAID is redundant for me, pun intended, as even a single HD performs well enough and I back up to an external drive.
So given the above specs, what mother boards would you recommend?
Most boards have 3 PCI slots at the most. What's your budget for just the computer?
I'd say 1500 eur max. The last machine cost a total of 1200 eur (converted from Finnish marks) and I was pretty happy with that. This is supposing that I don't have to get a new soundcard. I'll have to do that if I'll go with a moBo with no legacy PCI on it but I'd rather not do that, unless moBos with PCI slots are dated IN OTHER SPECS to begin with.
As to the PCI cards, the one is my TerraTec EWS88 MT which is a 10 in 10 out low-latency soundcard. The other, not so significant one, is the HardSoftware HardSID, which is the C64 SID chip on a PCI card plus a MIDI environment for it.
Which reminds me of an OT:ish query, which would be faster in terms of sustained transfer rates and access times, firewire or SATA based drives? This is not exactly a moBo question. If firewire is significantly faster, and this is provided that the bus is the bottleneck, I wonder if it is technically possible to get a PC with just an external HD and boot from that. That would be cool as the trend is toward external hardware anyway. Even many of the new replacement soundcards for the TerraTec would be USB or firewire based.
At that price point you should be able to get a Intel core duo E6400 wit 2GB of DDR 800 RAM. From what I understand, prices are higher in Europe and you have really high sales taxes. As for drives, I think it would be best to have a smaller one, 40GB to 80GB for the OS and programs and a 2nd internal for storage. Assuming you're working with wav files, the 2nd should be a big as you can afford, 250GB ot 350GB. As for an external drive, eSATA would be your best connection but a case that also has a USB connection so you can be assured of using it with any other computer. Not familiar with any of the external equipment you mentioned but you could probably get away with using onboard audio, which is pretty good now. Also you'd want a mobo with onboard firewire because I understand a lot of the external audio equipment uses firewire. You're better off getting as much of the things you'll need onboard the mobo so you're not using up PCI slots.
Asus has 2 boards using the intel 975x chipset.
The Asus P5W64-WS Professional has 2 PCI slots. The P5W DH Deluxe has 3 PCI slots.
Thanks for the info, both boards are slightly highend for my needs but considering I save the costs of a new multi I/O soundcard and can continue using my HardSID, I'm not complaining at all. I read the reviews of both boards in www.hothardware.com and they do look impressive. Both have at least two PCI slots which is about ideal for me yet leave room for expanding the machine with new PCI E cards if needed. The P5W64-WS Professional appears to be closer to my needs at the moment, as the P5W DH Deluxe has WLAN, a pretty highend soundcard I wouldn't actually use and 3 RAID controllers if I read the article right. Disk bandwidth is far from everything to me so I'm unlikely to use RAID0 for speed or RAID1 for backing up but well it's good to have the option if I ever need to do that, <smile>.
Kind of cool both bords even have legacy PS/2 and serial ports. If I'll ever install LInux unassisted using this laptop as a serial terminal, which is a nice option in terms of accessibility, that's sure to come in handy. (I'm actually considering that once Ubuntu Studio is out)
All in all thanks for the tips. I do hope the prices go down eventually. I won't be updating instantly, though, probably in 3 to 6 months or thereabouts. I just wanted to make certain that there are good moBos with PCI support for digital audio and your post proved that nicely.