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Topic: Computer for GigaStudio?

  1. #1

    Computer for GigaStudio?


    I\'m a Macintosh user thinking of buying a first PC in order to run GigaStudio 160. Being on a tight budget, I was looking for an inexpensive computer. I saw one on eBay.ca but am wondering if it would be able to run GigaStudio reliably. Could anyone have a quick look at the specs and tell me if it might make a decent choice? Please note that this PC would be entirely dedicated to GigaStudio (no sequencer or any other unnecessary software). Here are the specs:

    CPU: Intel Pentium IV 1.7 GHz

    Motherboard: MoboStar M266, with North Bridge: VIA P4M266 chipset

    Price: CAN 309$

    I would have to choose and add the RAM, hard drive, optical drive, and sound card myself.

    I have a feeling that the motherboard is not good enough to run GigaStudio. I could probably have it replaced by another board from this page:


    If someone has a few minutes and can tell me if there\'s a decent replacement in there, I\'d really appreciate it.

    Many Thanks.


  2. #2

    Re: Computer for GigaStudio?

    Originally posted by Martin Nadeau:
    I\'m a Macintosh user thinking of buying a first PC
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">You are much better off buying a fully configured system that\'s ready to run out of the box. Unless you have built PC\'s before, I would not recommend building something yourself as a first time PC user. Furthermore, what you would be getting from that eBay auction is essentially a case, motherboard, and power supply. That\'s not a computer. And on top of that you want to replace the motherboard!

    If you are truly on a tight budget, it is possible put together a budget system, build it yourself, and save a few dollars, but be prepared for many weeks of hair pulling and agony getting everything to work just right. First off, I would recommend going with an AMD CPU and a motherboard that supports PC133 RAM instead of the much more expensive DDR RAM. You will still be able to upgrade to a faster AMD CPU later if you want. And get a motherboard with a SiS chipset rather than VIA -- something like the ECS K7SEM would be ideal because it has memory slots for PC133 RAM as well as DDR RAM, so you can upgrade later. It also has integrated video and LAN so you don\'t need to get a separate video and network card. Best thing is that it can be found for under $50 (US). Next, get a cheap, small case and power supply. The quality of the power supply determines how fast an AMD CPU you can run. If you get a generic case with a cheapo power supply, don\'t expect to run anything faster than an AMD XP 1700 (which is more than fast enough to run Gigastudio 160). The most important factor in getting a good performing Gigastudio system is the hard drive. We always go with Hitachi drives in our systems, but you can use any of the other sub-9ms 7200 RPM IDE drives out there -- the 40GB Western Digital\'s seem to be the cheapest right now, around $55 (US). For a CD drive, get something cheap. Unless you are going to be recording and editing samples, you don\'t need a CD-RW. For a sound card, the M-Audio Delta Audiophile 2496 is really nice and it\'s fairly cheap. Use the version WDM drivers rather than -- has some bugs with Giga under Windows 98SE. And speaking of OS\'s, get Windows 98SE. Don\'t get XP (more expensive, less performance, much harder to tweak for Gigastudio) and don\'t get Windows ME unless you\'re an expert and know how to remove all the useless crap Microsoft tacked on to it. Windows 98SE mostly works right out of the box needing only the VCache settings changed for working with Gigastudio. When you install Windows, make sure you have all the latest drivers available. It\'s a real pain for non-experts to try and update certain drivers once they have been selected and loaded. If you follow all the advice given in the Tascam Guide that comes with Gigastudio, you\'ll have a solidly running Gigastudio system that won\'t cost you an arm and a leg.

  3. #3

    Re: Computer for GigaStudio?

    Not to disagree with any of that (I\'m not qualified to do that), you\'ll find in the archives that a machine running XP (Home or Pro) with 2GB of RAM and some tweaks (in the same thread) is able to load a little over a gig of samples. That\'s the most you can get out of a single machine right now, and you can\'t do that on Windows 98. Right now they\'re selling XP, so to me it seems the most future-proof.

    Also, don\'t make the mistake I did and get a machine that only has two RAM slots on its motherboard. It\'s worth spending the extra $20 to get one with four.

  4. #4

    Re: Computer for GigaStudio?

    Maybe so, but is it really worth it to pay a lot extra for a motherboard that supports 2GB of memory AND for DDR RAM (the only motherboards I\'ve seen that support 2GB or more of RAM use DDR) just to get 5-10% more loadable samples? When Windows Longhorn running 64 bits on Opterons/Xeons becomes readily available (some time around 2005), then this would be an issue. Right now, with Gigastudio\'s current architecture, it takes twice as much memory to load the same Gigasample under XP as it does under Win9x. Windows XP running with 2GB of memory has a smaller footprint in memory percentage-wise than Windows 9x running in 1GB. That\'s your extra 5% -- hardly worth it in my opinion. Since XP\'s architecture limits memory allocation in user mode to 2GB, there isn\'t any way of getting more usable memory for Gigastudio. Maybe with 3.0 they\'ve found a way to access the additional 2GB of memory space available in kernel mode without fragmentation or performance issues (possibly through a custom file system driver). Again, we\'ll have to wait and see.

    For now, I still recommend 1GB of PC133 memory on an inexpensive motherboard running Windows 98SE as the most economical solution for now and the immediate future.

  5. #5

    Re: Computer for GigaStudio?

    Many thanks guys for all the invaluable info.

    I\'ve been hunting for used PC\'s, and I think I may have found something:

    - AMD Duron 1800+
    - ATI Radeon 9200 128 PC2TV DVI
    - 40 GB Hard Drive
    - ECS K7SEM motherboard
    - 2 DIMM slots for a max of 1GB SDRAM

    Price is CAN $470 (approx. US $345), but I can probably get the guy to take off 20 bucks or so.

    Does that sound like a decent deal? A machine that could run GigaStudio 160 well in standalone mode?

    I\'ve seen quite a few other PC\'s that looked like good deals, but it\'s been very difficult to find one that supports conventional SDRAM, instead of only the more expensive DDR SDRAM. I\'ll keep looking because I\'d like to get 2 GigaStudio PC\'s.

    Finally, one last question: when running GigaStudio on a dedicated PC, is it important to dedicate a second hard drive for the samples, or is this only important when running it along with a DAW on a main PC?

    Thank you!

  6. #6

    Re: Computer for GigaStudio?

    I don\'t know the answer to that, although you\'ll see from the thread:


    that the difference between a 1GB Windows 98 system and a 2GB XP system is more than 10% greater, it\'s approaching 250MB of Giga. For that you\'re likely to pay about $200 more, all told.

    I personally find it worthwhile and would buy the XP machine again just to be a little more future-proof (and I\'d buy one with at least three slots in case they can be used later), but not everyone would. It isn\'t efficient, I agree.

    This is my first Windows machine, and the question (98 or XP) didn\'t even come up when I bought it. What\'s more, the sales person (who sells Media Ventures their machines) was putting in only 1GB. In fact, we didn\'t know about the tweaks to increase the memory, so I bought it with two 512 sticks installed.

    That was a mistake, because I had to waste the two 512 sticks (they\'re PC2700/333 DDR - anyone want to buy them? [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img] ) - which is one reason for my warning to get a board with four slots. The other reason is that maybe future Gigas or Windows will access 4GB of memory. Come to think of it, I vaguely recall from one of Doug\'s posts about the EWQLSO that Kompakt can right now, but I could be wrong about that.

  7. #7

    Re: Computer for GigaStudio?

    I\'ve been buying Dell Servers lately (under Small Biz section). The bottom of the line 400SC server will populate 4 GB RAM and does hyperthreading, 800 MHz FSM, 400 MHz DDR (support dual channel DDR and will run ECC or non-ECC RAM). They are very inexpensive when you buy them without an OS, KB, mouse and monitor and they hold lots of hard drives (there purpose in life). Usually less than $400 for a 2.4 GHz P4 depending on the promotion. Also, they work to perfection with GS. Don\'t buy memory from Dell though - very expensive.

  8. #8

    Re: Computer for GigaStudio?

    Originally posted by Martin Nadeau:
    is it important to dedicate a second hard drive for the samples, or is this only important when running it along with a DAW on a main PC?
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">Turn off your swap file on your GS machine. You won\'t need a second drive if you do this.

  9. #9

    Re: Computer for GigaStudio?

    That\'s interesting. Can you explain your reasons for that, Mike?

    Am I right in assuming that the swapfile is a virtual memory scheme? So the necessary parts of the OS get loaded into RAM and therefore don\'t compete for disk access?

    And thinking about it, the standard recommmendation about keeping audio files on a separate drive from the system (on Macs or PCs) applies to DAWs. DAWs read and write audio all the time, and you have to keep them defragmented; software samplers are only writing a lot of data when you install software and libraries, and the drive shouldn\'t get fragmented if you leave enough room on it.

    The only thing is that you really should dedicate the PC to being sampler if you\'re going to do that. They\'re not *that* fragile, but if like me you know nothing about troubleshooting PCs (other than the obvious things that Macs have in common with them), you want to be able to replace the contents of the hard drive in one swell foop and get back to work. Having the system and programs on a dedicated drive would seem to be more convenient for that reason.

    Am I right?

  10. #10

    Re: Computer for GigaStudio?

    Turning off the swap file prevents Windows from needlessly allocating virtual memory. If Gigastudio is the only application running and there are no services active, then the only time the disk is accessed is when samples are being streamed.

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