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Pro-Audio PC Build, does more cache = better overal performance?

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January 11, 2010 1:12:05 AM

Hello, I am building a PC from scracth and will be using it to record my rock band (mostly analog recording, with use of some FX). Tascam 1641 interface with Cubase. There is so much conflicting information out there regarding what to and not to get regarding processors and various setups and I've somewhat come to this conclusion.

It seems that since DAW's haven't yet evolved to the full performance of i7 processors, the best processor for the money at the time now would logically seem a Quad Core with more cache. I know that intel is better then AMD for pro audio (Phenom II I hear is acceptable), however the big question is does more processor cache equal better performance? I believe that 8 MB should be min, and there are some intels with up to 12 MB. However, if currently, most DAWs can't take advantage of the 64 bit OS's as well as multi-thread intel technology of the i7, is it even worth getting a juiced up quad core when I could still get a high speed dual core for a fraction of the price? I don't want to drop down decent money if however, the pro-audio DAW world catch up and I'm left with a Dual Core that will be the laughing stock of the pc forums either though.

I also hear to avoid certain motherboards like the plaugue, but if I DO need to upgrade in the future, it would be nice to have a motherboard that is compatable with the latest technology. I was contemplating getting a i5 750, until I starting seeing that it could be even slower then a dual core, due to slow going DAW updates.

I was thinking two Tb's of internal drives to be more than safe, and hopefully at least a 500 wat power supply. 4-6 GB of Ram. If possible I might try to get without an OS and have my friend install XP-Pro and later get Windows 7 once everything is compatable. Oh yeah, I guess I should avoid any radion video cards too. Again, this PC will be dedicated to Pro-audio only.

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January 11, 2010 1:58:13 AM

I've no DAW experience, but I'm assuming cache size is ultimately irrelevant... unless we're talking about previous-generation CPUs.

In any case—if you're sticking to Intel—I would suggest getting an i5 or i7. Technically they're also quad-core CPUs, but I assume you're talking about the older "Qxxx" CPUs of Intel. They use the LGA 775 socket, which is effectively a technological dead-end, since Intel is no longer developing CPUs for that.
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January 11, 2010 2:29:09 AM

Thank you r_manic for your suggestion. That seems to be the tricky part now is that DAW's are quite far behind developing the upgrades needed to utilize the multi-thread technology of the i5 or i7. You do raise a good point that eventually, things WILL evolve and if the i5 and i7 can both use the LGA 1156 socket, that is probably where I will want to go. Since recording wtih DAW requires multiple applications and streaming, cache does matter....but to what extent that is the question. Although I hear so many great things about Intel and recording, I have become a little excited about the Phenom II 965. It seems it's tough to find in an acutual PC, but the Phenom II in general looks like alot of bang for the buck. It's tough becaue I hear conflircting information about AMD that I may have headaches forever, whereas intel seems to be nothing but good things, pending I use the right OS and disable the thread feature. Hmnnnnn.......
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