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Thread: Quad Cores and Form Factors

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    Quad Cores and Form Factors

    Its becoming apparent to me that my not-even-two year old system is now no longer keeping up with the hideous amount of processor hungry apps I am throwing at it. Time for an upgrade!

    I'm going to do something I've never done before, spend £750 on just a cpu and mobo upgrade (I'll be updating gfx when the dx10 gaming hits full swing).

    I've been looking at the Intel Quadcore's on eBuyer. You can get a quad for £600 at 2.93ghz with a 4mb cache, or for about £660 you get a 2.66ghz with 2x 4mb cache. I do a lot of extremely hungry audio work and my current processor gives out before I even get going. What do people suggest? Is it worth having the higher cache as the price tag suggests?

    Secondly is there any major performance difference between full and small form factors? I'd rather have a small computer but not at the cost of performance.

    Any of your help is much appreciated as always, I've never had any advice from this community that turned out to be bad!

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    Señor Member Flewis's Avatar
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    I think the £600 processor u list is actually the X6800 which is only dual core. There are two quad core processors: the QX6700 and the Q6600, at £630 and £550 respectively (scan.co.uk).

    Both have 2X4mb cache, just speed difference of 2.4 and 2.66GHz. Im sure the 6600 couild be overclocked to the 6700 performance with a nice bit of cooling.

    Small form factors will always suffer from poor air flow so may get overheating problems. A friend of mine has a SFF and it gets incredibly hot at load at standard speeds.

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    Senior Member kalniel's Avatar
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    It depends just how small you go. I've put together a core 2 duo system with an aspire X-pack SFF case and it runs as cool as my tower.

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    Flat cap, Whippets, Cave. Clunk's Avatar
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    You might be better checking with the manufacturer of the audio software if it actually even supports quad core, its a pointless and expensive upgrade if it doesnt.

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    Senior Member charleski's Avatar
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    Multi-processor setups have been common in the pro arena for many years, so any decent audio app should support the multi-threading you need to take advantage of multiple cores. Just remember that each audio track is generally processed as a single thread, including all virtual instrument(s), inserts, EQs, etc. So it's still possible to overload a core, though with the power of an Intel Core2 you should be OK. Flewis is right, both Quad core Intels have the same cache and only differ in clockspeed.

    I'd avoid SFF unless you need something small for gigging. You'll probably want a machine that's quiet, and that will mean having a case large enough to hold a few large fans that can run slowly to keep the noise down.

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    root Member DanceswithUnix's Avatar
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    How sure are you that it is your CPU that is limiting you?

    I sometimes use video processing software which is limited by the speed of the hard drive. It is reading from one huge file and writing the output to another huge file, so I/O and seek speed is the limit.

    I only realised this when I turned on the cool-n-quiet on my processor and noticed one day that it was only clocking at 1GHz rather than flat out, and turning power saving off made no difference to the application speed.

    Of course you may already have a RAID setup and many GB of RAM, but I can't tell from your post

    As for SFF, the difference for me is both higher cost for a decent case/barebones, and then less choice of graphics cards. Sounds like you can wear both of those.

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    root Member DanceswithUnix's Avatar
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    • DanceswithUnix's system
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    Forgot to say (and edit isn't working for me right now!)...

    Check out the Antec Fusion chassis or its cheaper sibling that doesn't have a volume control. They take a full sized PSU and are built for quietness.

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    WEEEEEEEEEEEEE! MadduckUK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kalniel View Post
    It depends just how small you go. I've put together a core 2 duo system with an aspire X-pack SFF case and it runs as cool as my tower.
    to be honest i wouldnt call that case SFF, iv got one and it dwarfs my shuttle sn45.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ephesians
    Do not be drunk with wine, which will ruin you, but be filled with the Spirit
    Vodka

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    Thanks for the response so far guys, good to see that hexus is still the best community for computers on the net.

    For those it may mean something too I am running Pro Tools LE 7.3 through a Digi002 (which is pretty beefy and sells for about £700-£800). I'm 99% sure its the processor that is limiting what I can do.

    I can easily cripple a session with the RTAS (Pro-Tools equivalent of VST) instruments and effects alone. My track count is never massive but generally effects like Amplitube 2 takes up a big chunk of CPU, and after running 3 of those, a reverb, a drum sample set and a couple of synths I've crippled my system happily.

    The drum samples coupled with the piano and orchestral samples takes up the bulk of my actual audio file usage. I have 2gb of memory with my paging file turned off but I've checked in the task manager and never gone above 1.4gb in total and that was when I was really pushing things. Although I'm sure more memory wouldn't hurt my audio is streamed off two separate drives. Record audio from a 10,000rpm WD Raptor, and samples from a WD Caviar SE.

    It would be great to get a smaller case, although its mostly lodged out the way in the corner of the room it is in a massive 4U Antec rackmount case, which doesn't fit in a moveable rack and even empty weighed more then my previous two computers combined. It would be nice to go from one extreme to the other, but my drive needs mean I need at least 4 HDD drive bays. Maybe I'm being a little optimistic?

    EDIT: As a quick though, doesn't each core show up as its own CPU in windows device manager? The set-up my Pro-Tools audio software has an option to select how many processors you have.
    Last edited by RufusKing; 07-02-2007 at 01:19 PM.

  10. #10
    root Member DanceswithUnix's Avatar
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    • DanceswithUnix's system
      • Motherboard:
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    How important is a quiet PC to you?

    A Shuttle is a wonderful machine to use and look at, but they can get noisy under load. Hence I was hinting more at home theatre PC enclosures as they have to be quiet even when transcoding video etc. They also tend to have plenty of space for hard drives compared to a Shuttle or similar. They don't come with a pretty carry bag though.

    Agree with the X-Pack case being rather large for SFF The one I used also came with rather loud case fans and PSU.

  11. #11
    mush-mushroom b0redom's Avatar
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    I really rate my Shuttle SN26P. It's pretty quiet, and I understand that the Core2Duo chips suck even less power, so should be cooler and quieter.

    Tom

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    root Member DanceswithUnix's Avatar
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    • DanceswithUnix's system
      • Motherboard:
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      • Storage:
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    Under load the Core2 takes more power, but then it is getting a lot more done so you still win in efficiency.

    Anyway, looks like the only shuttle up to the quad core job would be this one at 311 quid.

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    As far as noise is concerned, I wouldn't want anything overly loud but a sensible volume level I can handle. I generally work with headphones late at night if anyone's trying to sleep and in the day I don't have any neighbours to upset with volume, so either way my machine volume isn't a massive issue. That said though recording acoustic guitars in the same room picks up the machine really easily.

    Case size isn't too problematic too, I don't mind having a large small form factor case if it means I can fit it all in.

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