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Old 07-04-2007, 08:16 AM
sunburst79 sunburst79 is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Cleveland, Ohio USA
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Default Best Core 2 Series Desktops-Results and Specs

It seems like yesterday that Doogz asked "Core2Duo-anybody got one working yet?" and a couple guys started builds and I began to keep track of the results. The machines themselves have proved to be extremely fast and stable and the performance from a single socket desktop processer has far exceeded everybodys expectations. Since there seems to be interest in these machines I thought I would post what we had learned. The following specs are compiled from whats working.

ASUS P5B Deluxe 185.00 Working onboard Firewire-no FireWire PCI card needed.

If you already have a working FW card than you can use the 114.00 ASUS P5B
and save more money-The only difference is the onboard Firewire.

If you need a PCI Firewire card the SIIG FireWire card is DIGI approved

While not officially approved by Digidesign yet the following P35 based boards are known to be working with no known issues. The ASUS P5K which includes FireWire so no add-in card is needed and the ASUS P5K Deluxe WiFi I doubt that theres anyone that built a P35 based board that wouldn't recommend them but it needs to be mentioned that they are currently unsupported.

Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 CPU Currently 234.00

Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 Currently 277.00

ATI 1600PRO fanless video card 66.00-Discontinued

2 Seagate SATA II Hard drives-79.00 bucks each for 320 GB single platter drives.

1 SATA Samsung CD/DVD burner with Lightscribe 31.00

2 GB of Corsair XMS DDR2 800 Memory 102.00 with a 40.00 rebate at newegg. Works out to 62.00 for 2 GB of 4-4-4-12 Low Latency memory.

OR

2GB of Corsair XMS DDR2 1066 Memory 104.00 with a 15.00 rebate at newegg. works out to 89.00 for 2 GB of 5-5-5-15 Low Latency Memory

XP HOME 89.00 bucks.

Total around 800.00 using the ASUS P5B-Deluxe/Q6600 This assumes you have a existing case/PSU that you can reuse which is not a big stretch of the imagination. Into the Quad game for less than 800.00. All top notch parts and you can save more by shopping harder.

All prices are newegg, all prices are approximate

If you already have a 400w or greater power supply, DDR2 667/800/1006 RAM, SATA hard drives, PCIe Video card from your existing computer these can all be recycled to save you even more money. You will have more power than you will know what to do with.

There will always be something new around the corner.

These represent a good value now and should continue to do so in the future as the prices continue to fall.


General Tips. Notes, etc.

FSB 1333: all of the P5B series boards listed above can have their BIOS updated to work with the upcoming CPU chips from Intel codenamed Penryn for a 20-40% increase in performance over the current Conroe and Kentsfeild series .

P35 and X38: P35 is here and X38 is due to ship at the end of September. Offering native 1333 FSB support for Penryn this is Intel next generation chipset with an updated soutbridge. Preliminary testing indicates that P35 IS a GO for PTLE, Doogz had a P35 based board up and running with integrated graphics and it was running fine. Some more research needs to be done here but things look good and while I can't guarentee 100% success for you it looks like you should be fine with a P35 build. For absolute compatibility stick with a combination from here or the Dverb list that follows this section.

P35 Update: I have updated the spec list with some P35 based boards. Most of the new builds since the July price drop have taken place on P35 boards and frankly I'm not seeing any reason to not recommend them other than the fact they have not yet been officially approved by Digidesign yet. You need to be comfortable running something thats not yet approved. other than that I HIGHLY recommend the P35/1066 memory combination. The P5K is also cheaper than the P5B-Deluze and includes onboard FW.

Memory: 1066 Vs 800 MHz A lot of the boards will support DDR2 1066 MHz and it looks like 1066 MHz can offer a solid 10 Dverb gain over DDR2 800, If your specing a new system then by all mean's spec DDR2 1066 with timings of 5-5-5-15 or better and you will see a worthwhile performance boost.

3GB Vs 4GB of memory under 32 bit operating systems. More is always better as far as memory goes however Windows may not recognize all for GBs of memory if you have 4GB installed. This is Nvideas explanation a more indepth look from Intel courtesy of Auxsend1.

Video Cards: You can use any brand video card you like Nvidea or ATI, For peace and quiet in your DAW you may want to pick a fanless video card. Using a card with smaller onboard memory may free up some system memory for those running 4 GB of RAM. Video gamers or those with 2 or more moniters may want to run 2 ATI cards in Crossfire mode. Keeping in mind that a PT compatible version of Vista is just around the corner you may want to specify a card that will support Vistas Aero interface.

Chip Sets: Both P965 and 975X are performing extremely well! There have only been a few builds using the Nvidia 6xx series and they have had some issues and have offered zero performance over the the Intel chipsets. My advice at this point is to stay away from Nvidia unless you absolutely must have to have SLI and at that point you are building on your own. Having said that the Nvidia chipsets have always been extremely strong performers in PTLE so some more builds in this area would be good.

PSU: Theese chips are energy efficient, if your current PSU is 400 watts are better you will probably not need to replace it even if you building the Intel Q series quad. The exception to this might be anyone trying to run dual high power video cards aka SLI.

Known Issues: There is a incompatability between the P35 Chipset and Samsung SATA II Hard disk drives. This seems to effect GigaByte brand boards and possibly MSI. The ASUS boards do not seem to be effected. The work around is to make sure that AHCI is disabled in BIOS and/or jumpering the drives into SATA 150 mode. As of right now this is seems to be limited to Samsung HDDs and possibly Hitachi which are made in the same factories. Please stick with the recommended Seagates or WD HDDs and ASUS boards. The parts list is there for a reason.

FireWire Chipsets: It has been brought to my attention that the VIA6308P Series of FW controller does not play nice with Pro Tools. The Agere And Texas Instruments FireWire Chips are known to be working so stick with a board with these chips. The other thing is that the Digi interfaces can very picky about the Firewire chipset and even ones that are known to be working can have problems. It's not a bad idea to set just enough of the budget aside for the purchase of one of the Digi approved FireWire Cards "just in case".

Vista: Since I have no current plans to run Vista I can only help XP related problems.


How to set up the BIOS on a ASUS P5K Deluxe Wi-Fi with DDR2 1066 for BIOS revision 404.

Install WindowsXP at the default BIOS settings, install all of your drivers and run Windows Update.

To enter BIOS hit the Delete key while the machine is POSTing. This will take you to the BIOS setup pages.

MAIN Page

Sata Configuration [ENHANCED]
Configure SATA as [IDE]

Advanced Page

Select [JumperFree Configuration]

And make the following changes

Dram Timing Control[1067]

Set the DRAM Timing control to Manual and verify that the following settings read

CAS# Latency [5 DRAM Clocks]
RAS# to CAS# Delay [5 DRAM Clocks]
RAS# Precharge [5 DRAM Clocks]
RAS# Active Time [15DRAM clocks]

After verifing you memory is set at the proper timing you can hit ESC and return to the JumperFree Configuration page and set the Dram Timing control back to [AUTO]

Select [CPU Configuration]

And make the following changes.

CPU Ratio Control [AUTO]
C1E Suppory [Disabled]
Max CPUID Limit [Disabled]
Vanderpool Tecnology[Disabled]
CPU TM Function [Enabled]
Execute Disable Bit [Enabled]
PECI [Enabled]
Intel SpeedStep [Disabled]

Hit ESC and return to the Advanced Page

Select Onboard Devices

And disable High Definition Audio and anything else your not going to be using... Wireless LAN, Marvell Lan, J-Micron controller ETC.

Hit F10 to save your changes and reboot

MicroSoft DualCore HotFix


Thanks to MykhalC for taking over the maintenance of the Dverb list and you can find a list of working boards and their results in the following post


The Quad Dverb Test (From the original Quadzilla page)

Start the computer. Create a brand new 24bit/48k Session on your audio drive for the Dverb test. Open up the system usage window in PT. Create 32 tracks. Go to your buffer setting and select 64 and then 1024(CPU usage must be 90%). Since all your tracks are still selected, hold ALT(option) and click on the record button on one of the tracks, all 32 tracks will now be in record arm mode. Hold ALT(option) and insert the Dverb on the first insert. This will create 32 Dverbs all the way across. Repeat with the next insert. You want to be able to record with as many Dverbs as you can before your computer doesnt do it anymore for 5 minutes. Keep in mind that playback only will give you a few more Dverbs than record mode.

Please make sure that RTAS Engine Ignore Errors During Playback/Record box is unchecked

If you can make it past the 32 or 48 mono tracks, then start adding mono Aux tracks.

This is a quick benchmark stress test that can be done in a few minutes.

EDIT: IT's New, It's Exciting! It's Dverb 2.0!

Always do a Dverb test after a fresh start up of the computer with a newly created session on your audio drive. Since the 5.X days, PT always seems to keep something in some type of cache that doesnt always clear. Hard to explain, but you'll notice it. Also, only do this with the stock Digi plug-ins in the plug-in folder. Do not have any other plug-ins installed or your test will vary. If you have already installed a load of plug-ins then move them to another folder except Dverb and the stock Digi plug-ins, and then do the test.


The Dverb 2.0 Test

Start the computer. Create a brand new 24bit/48k Session on your audio drive for the Dverb test. Open up the system usage window in PT. Then, go to Setup > Playback Engine... > and make sure the RTAS engine: Ignore Errors During Playback/Record(may cause clicks and pops) is NOT checked. Set up your time line ruler for Min:Secs. You want to be in grid mode and set up your grid for Min:Secs and 1 second. Create one mono audio track. Take the selector tool, put it on the 5 minute mark in your audio track and drag this to the start of your session. You will now have 5 minutes selected in this track. Go to AudioSuite > Other > Signal Generator and click on the "process" but. You should now see a 5 minute test tone. Create another audio track and insert 5 Dverbs in all the inserts. Record arm the Dverb track. Click on the track name so it is high lighted white, and hit shift+alt+D then hit enter. Record arm the new track and continue this pattern. You want to be able to record WITHOUT THE TEST TONE BREAKING UP!! Keep adding Dverbs and recording. If the test tone starts to breakup, then delete some Dverbs until you can hear a SOLID TEST TONE for 5 MINUTES. This is VERY VERY important. The test tone has to be 100% solid!!!
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Formerly Hobo Wan Kenobi

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