I have an AMD processor on my PC - am I screwed?

Discussion in 'Computing' started by dinkroxbury, Jan 23, 2001.

  1. dinkroxbury

    dinkroxbury Guest

    I want to do basic computer based recording and I'm not sure what kind of audio card or interface to buy (can you tell I'm new at this?). My PC has an AMD K6 processor in it. From what I've heard, I'm going to need to upgrade the entire motherboard and processor before I can even begin to record.

    Is that true?
  2. user_gamesound

    user_gamesound Active Member

    Dec 18, 2000
    hey dinkroxbury-

    i would plan for an upgrade if you don't want to be hassled by slow processing speed, memory or hard drive speed issues. my first foray into a home DAW setup involved an AMD K6 233 Mhz and god knows what kind of generic, "not-up-to-the-task" motherboard. i was also using a fairly slow IDE hard drive and sound blaster soundcard, and if i remember correctly, i only had 64 Mb of RAM! all of this was on Windows 95 to boot -- sounds like a nightmare by today's standards.

    at the bare minimum, i would recommend a 500 Mhz or more Pentium III chip for your processor, and a 440BX or 440BX2(?) chipset type motherboard (*there might be faster, better motherboards out there, but the damn technology advances so fast i can't keep up). also get the fastest SCSI internal drive you can -- i recommend a Seagate Cheetah drive (*you'll need a SCSI card too),
    and the most RAM you can afford as well -- 128 Mb is a good starting number.

    there are lots of semi-pro/budget soundcards out there, it basically boils down to the quality of the A/D-D/A converters and bit resolution, plus the type of I/O that suits you best. i think you'll be able to find a deal for well under $1000.

    just remember that recording, processing, and mixing multi-track audio on any computer involves quite a bit of DSP, so make sure to check out your software's requirements and get the most power you can within your budget.

    when i upgraded my DAW, i found a bargain basement "bare-bones" system and basically did the upgrade myself -- all in all, it actually cost a few hundred bucks less than the first computer alone. nowadays, my software doesn't crash (unless i'm stoopid and make it ;P), my ability to play back/record more tracks has increased and in general, the whole system is faster and runs smoother.

    now, the quality of your audio going into the DAW is a whole new thread.......

    Good luck.
  3. SonOfSmawg

    SonOfSmawg Well-Known Member

    Sep 10, 2000
    If you have your mind made up to stay with PC as opposed to MAC, I'll give you
    some very good advice...shop around.
    First of all, if you do your homework, you'll find that AMD Athlons are a lot better than Pentiums, in general. However,
    if you want to go with dual processors,
    you're stuck with Pentiums. A good place for you to learn more about this is the Nuendo
    bulletin board, where you'll find that users have posted links with information regarding
    Athlon vs Pentium.
    If you plan to go with a single processor,
    the Athlon 1.2gig is the deal. The killer board to buy with it is the Gigabyte GA-7DX.
    Then get yourself 256 or 512 megs of PC-2100
    266Mhz DDR SDRAM. You don't need costly SCSI
    harddrives. 7200rpm IBM IDE harddrives will
    be awesome. Get youself a small system drive
    (maybe 10 gigs) and the biggest audio file drive that you can afford (IBM makes up to 75 gigs!). A good place to price this stuff is http://www.pricewatch.com .
    As far as soundcards, it depends which DAW software you decide-on. Once you've made that decision, find out what works best with it.
    As far as converters, it depends how much money you want to spend, as they can be VERY
    costly. I think that audiokid, Ang, or Joel
    would be the best ones to ask about this.
    Of course, good mics and preamps are very
    important, too. If you're weak in this area,
    you might want to take this into consideration when figuring your investment.
    Last piece of advice...DON'T COMPROMISE

  4. mightymike

    mightymike Guest

    Athlon's next generation of chips are going to be released soon. Hopefully theya re also going to produce a dual athlon set.

    IF you can wait I'd see what coming in the next few months. Dual systems are new to the avergae user and whistler OS (win2002) will out this year (apparently).

    DDR ram is sooo unavailable and expensive.

    My recommendation would be (if you need to upgrade now) is to get athlon 1.1 gig chip and loads of PC133 ram which will see you for a while. Next time you wnt to upgrade then it'll be a whole 'nother ball game!

    Disregard Pentium 4's...getting the latest isn't the best option, IMO. Get the best of PROVEN, stable parts.

  5. SonOfSmawg

    SonOfSmawg Well-Known Member

    Sep 10, 2000
    True, the new chips should be out within the next few months, but I've heard nothing about MP capability.
    I disagree with your current recommendation. Why buy the 1.1gig when you
    can get the 1.2 gig for only a few bucks more? Plus, PC-2100 266Mhz DDR SDRAM is easy
    to get, and only costs about double of 133.
    WELL WORTH THE EXTRA CASH. Go to Pricewatch,
    you can buy it right now, no prob...

    Since you already have the case, CD, floppy, etc, cost is relatively minimal to get you "up to speed"...
    1.2 gig Athlon
    Gigabyte GA-7DX
    512 megs PC-2100 266Mhz DDR SDRAM
    IBM Deskstar 7200rpm 13.5gig
    IBM Deskstar 7200rpm 60gig
    Total Cost = Approx $1450
    (Less than the cheapest G4!)
  6. mightymike

    mightymike Guest

    Hey SonOfSmawg:

    Sorry meant to press "2" instead of "1"!!

    DDR-ram is quite hard to get in uk but it might be different in the US.

    The recommendations U made are pretty much I said except the ram. However, he might not want to double the money on RAM. The main worry I would have about right this moment is the insecurity of compatability and good value for money.

    There is a m/b that supports ddr ram for current intel chips (via chipset) but the difference is absolutely negigble. DDr-ram on the current athlons has an improvement of 8-10%. Not good enough for me. The near future is uncertain right now with Intel still heading for the rambus route. It would be different if Rambus was going to be supported by intel as they are the only ones with chipsets that support multiple processors, which IMO is the way to go (MP's that is...). The new AMD chipset...soundcard compatability issues always seem to come up with new chipsets. I wouldn't want to be the tester.

    AMD wrote back to a journalist friend of mine who works for PC pro and stated that mp is a high priority for amd but possibly not for a while though.

    As it stands right now trying to buy for the future is a bit difficult. I stand by my recommendation (since the launch of any new stuff's not going to stop him from working with a multple audio track + plugins; he also stated he wants to do just basic recordings...) and when the time comes for him to upgrade to a 4 processor unit, he's got a good machine for a gigastudio sampler!! With 512mb of PC133 ram he still can do great music.

    BUT get ibm hd/s...no question.

  7. folksinger

    folksinger Guest

    If you are more interested in pro quality home recording than in setting up a top of the line commercial studio, you probably do need an upgrade, but AMD is fine. The K7 is the way to go vs Pentium architecture, but I use a 550 and it is more than adequate. If you rerally want to spend the cash for the hotest processor, go ahead, but you could do better by saving money on that and spending it on other things as far as the end result goes. You can look at my site for a complete report on what I bought and why in the ARCHIVE section. You need at least a 550 to get the open archetecture, the 500 isn't totally enabled. The best thing about the new processors is that is makes the older ones much cheaper!

    remember everything has to be compatable so keep tabs on each piece as you look at it and make sure the whole is compatable before you buy.

    You'd be better spending the cash on a really good PCI DSP(digital sound processing) card (or cards if you need them) like PARIS (oh oh true colors show) than the hotest processor that still won't do as much as a slower processor with a better card. The card does most of the work in a good DAW, not the main processor.

    oh and use a good midi/synth card instead of a regular soundcard

    You need to have fast hard disks and at least two, one for the OS and one for the audio. I suggest the maxtor 7200's IDE. Get at least 128 RAM and a CDR (not RW) and make sure it is "audio approved" not just data, and slower speeds are more accurate than faster ones. These things are more likely bottlenecks than sheer processor speed.
    fact is, your K6 233 might be adequate with a good DSP PCI card and fast HD's and enough RAM. Especially if you don't need to mix 50 tracks loaded with a gazillion effects. You don't need a jaguar to drive to crosscountry. The quality comes from the DSP card, the rest controls how many effects andplug-insyou can load on how many tracks simulataineously. You might try chosing a DSP card and building everything else around that choice. And of course, I reccommend PARIS!

    and the best thing about PC recording is you can upgrade later, and adding a faster processor and MB will be a cheap upgrade compared to a new DSP card, when the next generation processors come out. In fact, except for video processing (which still takes forever) and highspeed realtime video rendering for games, the latest processors are faster than is nescessary for anything they are called on to do, pretty much.

    just my opinion. But I work on a limited budget and the idea is to get the best sound for the money, not the hotest system on the block for playing Quake (or whatever, I've never played any games with my system so I don't know much about them, but I've recorded a bit of music and video).

  8. fresnel

    fresnel Guest

    gotta agree with brian...
    I am running a paris rig on a 400mhz celeron with 128mb ram, and 5400rpm HD's. I get pretty reasonable track counts (32-48 depending on its mood). on the other hand, as soon as the new dual chip machines(athlon and G4) hit the street i will be shopping for something new. I am actually leaning toward the athlon with what I have read, but unitl I see some in action.. I have to wait.
  9. dinkroxbury

    dinkroxbury Guest

    Everyone: thanks SO much for your thoughtful responses. Looks like I am going to go with the Athlon 1.1 Ghz (pricewatch ROCKS!), and the mainboard a couple of you had mentioned as well, plus an additional hard drive. Now if I could just stretch out the walls a bit in my tiny NYC apartment, I'd be TRULY set.


    Thanks, y'all.


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