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Old 03-16-2013, 02:13 AM   #1
crazysam23_Atax
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External CPU For Music Recording?

So, I'm using what's essentially a shit PC. It's decent for doing my schoolwork (which is basically programming & such). However, I've recently run into an issue where, when I record more than one instrument (or try to play back more than one instrument) in Reaper, the CPU usage spikes to 50%+ and naturally it lags like hell.

Are there any devices that I can hook up via USB and essentially have those act as a more powerful CPU (or even combine computing power with my on-board CPU)? Basically, I'd like to keep this PC for schoolwork and such, so I'm wondering if there's anything I can use to run a CPU, much like a Sapphire6 switches out the on-board soundcard?

And, yes, I know I could probably buy a new PC, but I want to explore this option first.

Some basic PC specs:
show


As you can see, not really that great of a system...but it gets the job done for school.
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Old 03-16-2013, 02:34 AM   #2
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No, devices like that don't really exist and definitely not for realtime processing. The only thing I know even close to doing that would be attempting to create a cluster (a bunch of networked PCs that operate as one) and that's enough of a bitch to do under Linux where the tools for doing it are focused, let alone under Windows.
Looking at your specs though you could get an instant upgrade on your system by shifting to a 64-bit OS, because even though theoretically 32-bit can use 4GB of RAM that's never the case and in your case it's only able to use 3.16GB of your 4GB simply because you're running a 32-bit OS.

If you do end up looking to upgrade, I'll tell you now an i5 won't be much of an improvement (at least in a laptop). I've got one and it's capable of taking 1-2 inputs at a time, and maxes out at ~7 tracks. That's why I leave recording to my Phenom II x4 desktop which currently has 71 tracks going in one session, and the only time it even stuttered was because I was running 10 instances of Headcase (which I fixed by rendering them to stems).
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Old 03-16-2013, 02:44 AM   #3
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Well, I kind of figured, but I was hoping.

Um...what do you think would be the cost to get a decent desktop which could easily record around 25 tracks and play games like FPS's without an issue*?


*My laptop can't play FPS's because the graphics card is shit.
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Old 03-16-2013, 02:51 AM   #4
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If you are able to build it yourself (I'd assume a computing student is comfortable doing that?) you should be able to get something like that ~$300-$400 if you're not bothered about having low graphics settings. You should be able to do all that fine on a desktop i3 or i5, or if you can find anywhere that still has an AMD Phenom II x4 they're amazing value. Stick 4-8GB of whatever RAM is cheap in it (performance difference in RAM is not particularly noticeable), An AMD Radeon HD6670 or better GPU, a 500W PSU and as big a hard drive as you need. You should be able to pull that in under $400 (I couldn't but I'd come close and I'm in Australia).
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Old 03-16-2013, 03:17 AM   #5
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I really don't care a ton about graphics settings (and though it isn't a requirement by any means, it'd be nice to be able to finally buy and play games like the Fallout or Mass Effect series). But $400 is not bad at all.

I did some quick searching on tigerdirect.com, and I'm looking at ~$400 (after all the rebates, of course).


What do ya think?
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Old 03-16-2013, 03:23 AM   #6
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Sure. Pro Tools HD.

lolz
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Old 03-16-2013, 03:27 AM   #7
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Definitely would need an upgrade for that, lol.

Oh, what kind of soundcard would you all recommend for my that $400 PC, I'm looking at building?
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Old 03-16-2013, 03:52 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by crazysam23_Atax
Definitely would need an upgrade for that, lol.

Oh, what kind of soundcard would you all recommend for my that $400 PC, I'm looking at building?

I'm not familiar with that motherboard, but generally I don't think it's worth upgrading the internal sound card on most pc's.
If you are recording you are probably going to want, or already have, an audio interface - and I can't think of any consumer audio interfaces that don't act as outboard sound cards.
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Old 03-16-2013, 05:17 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by mulefish
I'm not familiar with that motherboard, but generally I don't think it's worth upgrading the internal sound card on most pc's.
If you are recording you are probably going to want, or already have, an audio interface - and I can't think of any consumer audio interfaces that don't act as outboard sound cards.

Ah, that's a good point, man.
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Old 03-16-2013, 05:51 AM   #10
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That's a solid build, if you wanted to save a few bucks you could grab the 945 instead of the 965. The difference is hardly noticeable (might net you an extra 0.2X realtime during rendering or another instance of ReaEQ).
Stick with the onboard sound and your interface, there's no reason to upgrade the onboard sound for general use.
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Old 03-16-2013, 07:53 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crazysam23_Atax
I really don't care a ton about graphics settings (and though it isn't a requirement by any means, it'd be nice to be able to finally buy and play games like the Fallout or Mass Effect series). But $400 is not bad at all.

I did some quick searching on tigerdirect.com, and I'm looking at ~$400 (after all the rebates, of course).


What do ya think?


Nice set of picks there.


I like the Phenom II series - right now I'm using a Phenom X3 with the extra core unlocked, and overclocked to nearly 4ghz. It runs very nicely even with huge, 60-track mixes, and handles gaming well.

However, you could consider the AMD A10 5800K.
It's a solid 3.8ghz quad-core, and the built in GPU will actually run games like Skyrim, Mass Effect and Fallout pretty well if you're not bothered about going for the highest settings. It's only about $25 more than the Phenom quad core.

If you've got the money to get a dedicated card, that's still the better option (a Phenom II or FX processor would offer better performance than the A10), but the integrated graphics are good enough that you can save a fair bit by cutting the graphics card from your initial cost.


If you do go for a dedicated card, don't get that 6670. 2GB of DDR3 RAM is less desirable than 1GB or so of the faster DDR5 in most cases.
The ATI 7750 is pretty much the best budget card on the market now, that'd be my recommendation for gaming.


Also, there's pretty much no reason to have only 320GB on your main hard drive! It would only be $13 more to get the 1TB version in the same series, you'd be nuts to buy the lower capacity one.
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Old 03-16-2013, 08:13 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by kyle62
Also, there's pretty much no reason to have only 320GB on your main hard drive! It would only be $13 more to get the 1TB version in the same series, you'd be nuts to buy the lower capacity one.


This is true. Even better idea would be to combine a ton of slow high capacity drives for storage with an SSD for your OS and apps.
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Old 03-16-2013, 08:42 AM   #13
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This is true. Even better idea would be to combine a ton of slow high capacity drives for storage with an SSD for your OS and apps.

Or, my favourite...buy four cheap, 500GB 7200RPM drives (Spinpoint F3 for example) and RAID 10 that shit.

You get 1TB of SSD-like high performance, and if one of your drives fails everything is backed up.
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Old 03-16-2013, 09:07 AM   #14
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Would you prefer getting an intel or AMD cpu? What has the best value for money? I am talking mostly about mid-range cpus. Is one better than another for music applications?
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Old 03-16-2013, 10:33 AM   #15
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By the way, even though you're (wisely) deciding to build a machine purely for recording etc. I just thought I'd answer your question as others have been unable to (fully).

You can get external DSP (that's what you're trying to say, without knowing the term) but they tend to be limited to using software designed for them (i.e the full Pro Tools HD rigs house external DSP cards, and Universal Audio's UAD series of hardware does what you want but only for their plug-ins). I know you can also link Macs through a local network (wired or wireless) and use one as a slave machine. In fact, it's quite common in the pro media world to slave several machines to one master that can harvest their CPU power when rendering hi-res videos and CGI, for example.

The problem you have, though, is that you want a simple box to plug in via USB - to my knowledge the only thing remotely similar, is the USB version of UAD (can't remember the name) but that only handles the processing for Universal Audio plug-ins.

Oh, and if you're using Reaper (think you are, aren't you, Sam?) you can use ReaMote to link to another machine and let that take some of the burden.
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Old 03-16-2013, 11:42 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kyle62
Nice set of picks there.


I like the Phenom II series - right now I'm using a Phenom X3 with the extra core unlocked, and overclocked to nearly 4ghz. It runs very nicely even with huge, 60-track mixes, and handles gaming well.

However, you could consider the AMD A10 5800K.
It's a solid 3.8ghz quad-core, and the built in GPU will actually run games like Skyrim, Mass Effect and Fallout pretty well if you're not bothered about going for the highest settings. It's only about $25 more than the Phenom quad core.

Hmm...I'll change out the other one for this, seems like a great deal.

Quote:
Also, there's pretty much no reason to have only 320GB on your main hard drive! It would only be $13 more to get the 1TB version in the same series, you'd be nuts to buy the lower capacity one.

Ah, never saw that. Thanks! Grabbing this too.

Edit:
@kyle62:
Hey, you just saved me about $150! Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by DisarmGoliath
By the way, even though you're (wisely) deciding to build a machine purely for recording etc. I just thought I'd answer your question as others have been unable to (fully).

You can get external DSP (that's what you're trying to say, without knowing the term) but they tend to be limited to using software designed for them (i.e the full Pro Tools HD rigs house external DSP cards, and Universal Audio's UAD series of hardware does what you want but only for their plug-ins).

Yeah, but then I'm paying several hundred for their software, whereas I can probably better invest that in a new PC.

Quote:
I know you can also link Macs through a local network (wired or wireless) and use one as a slave machine. In fact, it's quite common in the pro media world to slave several machines to one master that can harvest their CPU power when rendering hi-res videos and CGI, for example.

Yeah, you can do the same with Windows; it's just probably more common with Macs, I'd imagine.

Quote:
The problem you have, though, is that you want a simple box to plug in via USB - to my knowledge the only thing remotely similar, is the USB version of UAD (can't remember the name) but that only handles the processing for Universal Audio plug-ins.

Hmm, yeah, but I'd rather not pay for software for that.

Quote:
Oh, and if you're using Reaper (think you are, aren't you, Sam?) you can use ReaMote to link to another machine and let that take some of the burden.

That might be useful if I need a tiny bit more when I get my new PC.
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Old 03-16-2013, 11:51 AM   #17
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I think you missed the part where I said you were wisely taking the advice to build a new machine, and the rest was just answering your question - not telling you what you should do instead
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Old 03-16-2013, 11:58 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by DisarmGoliath
I think you missed the part where I said you were wisely taking the advice to build a new machine, and the rest was just answering your question - not telling you what you should do instead

No, I got that. I was just speaking my mind on why it's best to build a new machine.


I'm kind of tired, so pardon me if I seem a bit slow. I only got 5 hours of sleep last night.


Thanks for answering my question though.
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Old 03-16-2013, 01:01 PM   #19
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I've literally just ordered the parts to build a new machine for my mate. Like you, it's for a mixture of recording, gaming (TF2, Fallout etc) and also orchestral/MIDI arrangement.

I've got an old GTX260 and a case lying around, and he already has a decent hard drive, so we've got a dirt cheap build!

show


That's a pretty solid PC for less than 200


For you, I would go with the AMD A10 5800K and any budget FM2 motherboard (I find AsRock do some great dirt-cheap boards). Chuck in 4GB or 8GB of DDR3 RAM (make sure you check the speed is compatibile with your mobo) and a decent 7200rpm hard drive. You'll have a powerful recording rig that'll handle a bit of moderate gaming, for the price of a shitty netbook!
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Old 03-16-2013, 06:19 PM   #20
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Well, my buddy (who has a lot more experience with building PCs, not that I'm bad at it; I am a Comp Sci student ) suggested this:

show


Then, he said he'd give me a mid-size case, a keyboard, and an optical drive. I was like, "I could buy all that. Are you sure you want to give it to me?" He goes, "Yeah, keep it."

So, basically, I'm looking at about ~$270 for all the stuff in the spoiler.


Now, granted, I won't be able to purchase this for a couple of months. But even so...that's pretty damn sweet for that price. And I can always upgrade stuff as I go along, which is the beauty of a desktop.
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