Ideas for new computer Core i7 etc

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Ideas for new computer Core i7 etc // Hardware

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Post by CdeB // Nov 22, 2008, 6:20am

Total Posts: 160

Well over the last 1.5 years I have been on the brink of buying a new computer...each time the money disappeared due to higher (and more important domestic priorities). Now I have a new green light as the principal bread earner (not me!) is having a back-dated pay increase.

Currently, I have a P4 3.2 MHz and after doing quite a lot of trueSpace rendering for work projects recently, realize i need a speed increase....the work computer is worse...

So I was thinking of a core 2 quad system. But then after a quick scan note that Core i7 is now available in US and UK, but not here (Sweden) yet (at least sold by Dell). Probably will come after Christmas...

(If any Swedes here that know good local (Stockholm) alternatives to Dell I would be pleased to hear from you :D -jag läser svenska. Men jobbar jag på engelska,därför min svenska är ganksa dölig -I would never buy Dell if I was still living in the UK :()

Having chatted to some local big electronic suppliers (PC city) I come with the late realization (:o) that the 4 Gb memory limit for 32 bit operating systems includes the graphics memory (so it is pointless to buy more than 3 Gb if you have a 1 Gb graphics card) and obviously I want a good graphics card with the realtime aspect of trueSpace...I have now abandoned games so that is not so much of a concern. So I am now thinking 64 bit.

So my questions are:

Should I wait for Core i7

What are the penalties I will incurr for going with 64 bit (re old 32 bit software). I will be going for a Vista service pack 1 64 bit option...I think XP is probably now not as future proof if I am thinking for the next 3-4 years (my normal computer turnover rate!)

What is the current experience of ATI verses Nvidia cards for trueSpace users? Nvidia seems to be generally more favourable re. drivers... (one option I have is ATI only)

Current thoughts and experiences esp about Visit 64 bit will be most welcome.



PS. I have a midi keyboard (Korg) and simple (magix studio 14) music software. Without going to specialist sound cards what are the new creative X-Fi gamer cards like for music making? The emphasis seems to be either a) Games or b) home cinema, whereas in the old days Creative did seem to try and appeal to music makers too

Post by RichLevy // Nov 22, 2008, 7:33am

Total Posts: 1140
Things you should look into with 64bit Vista, they may seem logical at first but you would be surprised what is currently out here from the mass pc maker's

64 bit Vista SP1 (you need SP1 to access more than 4gigs)
Make sure the bios can access more than 4 gigs of ram, some chip sets and bios do not, they are capped at 4gigs
Make sure the chipset on your board are capable for more than 4gigs as above, some are not.

I know this because I went thru this myself recently. Vista 64 bit was a nice improvement in speed for my 1.5 year old HP Q6600 3Gig Nvidia 8600GT 512mb ram system over 32 bit Vista.

[edit] hmmm, a completely different beast entirely. new cpu architecture, chipset, bus... I would think my above suggestion has not bearing on this beast. Good luck, it sounds like a very fast processor.


Post by CdeB // Nov 23, 2008, 9:44am

Total Posts: 160
Thanks Rich for your comments on 64 bits...especially the warning about max motherboard capacity

Any body else want to chip in? X-Fi sound cards etc...



Post by TomG // Nov 24, 2008, 2:15am

Total Posts: 3397
Hmm that doesnt sound right that your 1Gb graphics card "uses up" 1 Gb of addressing for system RAM. Can anyone comment on that, as I've never heard that before, and since the memory addressing is not shared that I know of, it seems untrue to me. After all they go through different pipelines or buses or interfaces or whatever the term is, and the thing addressing the GPU memory is the GPU rather than the CPU.

Now do note that some cards SHARE the RAM, ie on a laptop I've seen the onboard graphics have 256 with "1Gb shared" or something, where it steals from the RAM. But this is not the same as a separate card that doesn't share any RAM at all.

I only have 368 Mb on my GPU, but when I had 4Gb installed, I could see the full 3.5Gb that a 32 bit system can address, there was no "loss" of 368Mb off of that total.

So, can anyone comment on that, as it just doesn't sound right to me?

BTW with 64 bit now being several years old and apps and drivers having caught up, I would just go 64 bit these days anyway :)



Post by TomG // Nov 24, 2008, 2:24am

Total Posts: 3397
PS on sound cards, Creative bought EMU, and EMU are now the "music branch" of Creative. Anything non-EMU is designed to appeal to games or home cinema only.

Now it doesnt mean it won't work for music, thing is you mention MIDI. If you are doing MIDI only and not using software synths and capturing real audio from mics or guitars and other sources, then the card won't really matter, as MIDI takes nothing at all to generate, you could do it on an Atari ST, even ;)

Only when you get into using soft synths, soft effects, audio capture etc does the latency of the card become an issue as it's then doing a lot of work beyond just sending out the MIDI.

I have an EMU 0404 semi-pro card, which works great for me, and I use it for all my sound generation and effects (no outboard equipment good enough to make usable sound at the moment, so my keyboard is used just to play the soft synths etc), and with some guitar and audio capture (I use it to capture old music of mine off cassette tape), it shouldn't be too expensive, and in fact less than some of the "gaming pro" Xi Fi cards.

To make a decision there I'd suggest going to music sites and checking reviews of how the cards perform - unless you are just running MIDI to make sounds on your Korg, in which case any card will do :)

On the processor, personally right now I would go for one of the Core 2 Duos, getting them at a great power / price ratio, compared to the newer and so more expensive i7. Given how new that is, I would say it would take a year and a half to become standard, maybe 2 years, which is easily a good lifetime for your machine so you won't be leaving yourself "out in the cold" in terms of performance. You could always just buy a new mobo and cpu at that time rather than a whole new machine (unless this is a laptop) and so "update" yourself for significantly less than the cost of buying a whole new machine.

Of course going i7 now will ensure better future compatibility, but with paying a more premium price for that tech than you'd pay in 2 years time. So again, it's a personal choice I would say, rather than there being one "right" choice and the others being wrong :)



PS - on any card will do, the old "joystick interface" on some sound cards, if they still feature it, does NOT work for MIDI any more on Vista, as far as I understand. So beware what interface the card is using for MIDI (one of the reasons I went for the EMU).

Post by Norm // Nov 24, 2008, 8:40am

Total Posts: 862
Now is officially the time of year you pay high prices for stuff.
End of January and on into February, prices go into a slide. Chances are if you build your own, you can buy parts at good prices during that time frame.

Just make sure you have a good power supply! :D

Post by CdeB // Nov 25, 2008, 11:01am

Total Posts: 160

You are quite right buying something up to Christmas is probably a bad idea (but the money is there at the moment -after Christmas, who can say;))

I note the Dell prices have gone up here after dropping during the original stock market collapse...I shall probably wait.


Thanks for your advice re. soundcards. What is bundled with the computer usually comes cheaper than buying it separate. There are specialist music shops here where you can buy pro or semi-pro soundcards, I guess because of the more limited market, you tend to pay more money for what you get

US pop 260 Million, UK 56 Million, Sweden 12 Million (size of Greater London population!!)

What I have noted from my music software (Samplitude music studio 14) is the importance of having an ASIO-enabled sound card and at least the X-Fi gamer card that comes as an option on the Dell systems has this. At one time I was concerned about having a midi input, but the Korg keyboard I use as my midi keyboard is linked via a USB port. I have, but have not tried many soft synths, but I will certainly take your advice and check out reviews and specs. I do have at least one good friend who has his own 'Proper' home music studio and is a computer buff to boot, so I will also consult him...

Thanks again, but maybe I shall hold fire on the purchase until a good offer comes my way...I am not going to wait for i7 though!


Post by CdeB // Nov 28, 2008, 3:41am

Total Posts: 160

Further thoughts: I lot of suppliers are now supplying this beast at a lower price. It seems a good compromise between performance and price

HP Pavilion Elite m9461 - Core 2 Quad Q9400 / 4GB / 1TB 2x 500 Gb (so can be set in raid 0 for faster performance) / GeForce 9800 GT 1Gb/ Blu-Ray / Vista HP

Its running Vista in 64 bit, it is the newer 2.66 Quad processor with faster front side bus 1333 rather that 1000 Mhz.

I would buy a better sound card and possibly an extra DVD drive...or grab one from an exisiting PC..

Dell it seems are not supplying (to home user at least) anything which takes more than 4 Gb ram which is probably why they are not offering 64 bit either ;)

I could then also afford a new monitor too and keep the old one so I could have two!

Any experience with this -can't find many reviews...but older models seem to get decent rating...


Post by CdeB // Dec 21, 2008, 7:21am

Total Posts: 160
The end of the Story,

Just about to set off and buy the quad core HP in mentioned in the last post. Thought I would check once more Dell Website. They were very uncompetitive before.

Suddenly Core i7 has appeared in Sweden and due to special one day 10% offer got the Dell for the same price as I was going to pay for the HP before, but with these specs...

Core i7 920 2.66 MHz 6 Gb DDR3 RAM Vista 64 bit blueray burner not just player

Graphics : 512MB ATI Radeon 4850 Graphics card, TV tuner, TV tuner, 1.2 Tb HD 2x 600 Gb raid, 24" Screen

Looking at the tests with Core i7 even entry level 920( which seems to be best value for money of Core i7 chips) performs better than Quad core Extreme processors, whereas what I was going to get was a quadcore, last minute thought saved me much pulling of hair if I had gone out and bought the HP...

Only problem, although it is ordered -I will not have it for Christmas :(

But I can live with it...:D

Post by Emma // Dec 21, 2008, 7:40am

Total Posts: 344
the better performace compared to quad is especially ment for 3D apps that use multicores, therefor don't get scared when doing your first rendering with trueSpace and it's done already even though your mousbutton has not released all the way back from where you moved him to start teh render :D

therefore I guess quite a lot will be curious to hear how it really runs:)

Post by early // Dec 24, 2008, 4:52pm

Total Posts: 46
Emma, it's about that fast.

trueSpace is the first application I installed that actual got all the cores going at once, using LightWorks.

System specs: Core i7 965 on the MSI Eclipse motherboard, 6GB DDR3 RAM, Radeon HD4870 1GB DDR5, WD Velociraptor 300GB, etc.

I've only had it a few days, and there's a lot to learn and try. Once I get the machine tamed, I'll do more with trueSpace.

Post by CdeB // Jan 3, 2009, 9:31am

Total Posts: 160
Well Early, I concurr without wanting to make too much of a pun my Core i7 came earlier than promised.

trueSpace 7.6 is now installed. I did a quick rendering comparision with my old P4 3.2 Mhz

The Core i7 is the entry level 920 at 2.66 MHz

Took Marcel's realtime alley sceen with full quality ray tracing and 3x antialiasing with Lightworks..

Old P4 1 min 36 seconds

New Core i7 8.5 seconds (I kid you not:D). about 11x faster

This will help with my rendering speeds then....

I also noticed the way it renders is different with the single core I got a single band going down the screen. With the Core i7 I get a series of 8 bands at a time. This possibly reflects the fact that each core is hyperthreaded and thus each core is effectively two adding up to 8 core all told...but I am no expert here.

Now I can finish a work project that was taking almost 12 h to render before :).


Post by CdeB // Jan 3, 2009, 9:36am

Total Posts: 160
Full system specks for my Core i7 see earlier post is a privately held community resource website dedicated to Active Worlds.
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