New Renoise Computer Spec

I’m putting together a new system (the old system is a single core Intel P4 at 3.0 GHz with 1 GB of RAM…). Lots of VST-synths, romplers and effects are expected to be loaded in Renoise. The system will also run Sonar 6 PE and Reason 4, but Renoise will be the primary tool. Here it is:

Some considerations:

This is primarily a dedicated Renoise computer, however it will also run Office, Internet and some Games (including 3D such as Call of Duty 5). For the latter, maybe a better GPU would be needed? The normal screen resolution is 1920x1080. I’m also a bit hesitant regarding the audiocard. The CPU seems fast enough and I feel uncertain how well the new i7 platform will work with Renoise loaded with the established 32-bit VST/VSTi-collection, so I don’t want to take any chances with HT although the i7 920 seems to offer the best “bang for the buck” out there right now. The OS and software will run on a 150 GB 10krpm Velociraptor, the second disc is just for data storage. Not really sure which ASIO audio cards work well with Renoise either (i.e. with both ultralow latencies and good sound quality).

Any comments or suggestions before I order on Monday would be highly appreciated. Maybe I’ve also missed something… :)

from what i can tell it looks great!
I don’t know anything about the i7 stuff, but it looks like you would be set for quite some time!

I have an AMD system that has similar specs and works great. I would highly recommend the 1212m. For the money it sounds good, but to be honest I don’t have any other card to compare it to, other than on board chips. My only complaint is the lack of ins and outs. I had to by a mixer for my external gear though. Not enough ins and outs on the card.

Enjoy yur new toy.

it’s a solid system. you won’t regret the purchase.
the RAM is a bit overkill if you don’t plan to overclock anything, because any PC2-5300 (DDR2-667) 4GB kit would suffice.

but if you want to use the headroom the RAM gives you, i’d change a few components which have proven to be the choice for raising the frequency on a core2quad:

the motherboard

Gigabyte EP45 Extreme
it’s the absolute “king” when it comes to overclocking a core2quad. 520mhz and beyond on the FSB are not seldom seen, if the rest of the components allows it. with a q9550, an FSB of 520 would already result in a whopping 4420mhz.
if you don’t wanna compromise, go for this puppy. the BIOS is also pretty straight forward and not too complicated, feature wise.
price: aprx. 160 EUR

DFI LANparty DK P45-T2RS Plus
the “plus” is important here. i own this board. i got it because it’s cheaper than the EP45 extreme and is able to achieve almost the same (very high) clocks on quads, even though it “only” has a four-phase PWM (as opposed to a 12-phase PWM of the EP45 Extr.) the BIOS is extremely feature-rich and allows the control for options even experienced users most probably have never heard of before. getting your OC stable on this board will usually involve more “work” in terms of testing and tweaking, but if you’re patient and have the will to dig a bit deeper into the materia, it will let you get there, even though FSB clocks above 500mhz are pretty seldom here.
price: aprx. 110 EUR

the cooling

do yourself a favour and get the Scythe Mugen 2, no matter if you have OC in mind or not.
you might want to replace the stock fan. yate-loon is recommended for that case.
price: aprx. 35 EUR

the CPU

just make sure you buy a Q9550 E0. they’re newer and have some “fixes” to the core. besides that they tend to overclock way better than its C1 predecessors.
price: a few bucks more than the C1 revision.

the rest

… of your system looks fine imo. i’m not that much into gaming and at the seldom times i play something (i’m at a res. of 1920x1200) my almost 3 year old 8800GTS 640MB suffices easily, so i know i’d be damn happy with your GTX260 :)

you didn’t mention the PSU you were buying.
a lot of enthusiasts are swearing on the enermax modu82+ series and so am i. i got the 620W model which is terribly silent and highly efficient. the modular cable routing comes in handy if you want a clean cable management inside your case.

if you do not want to overclock (which would be a pitty, because your CPU is capable to do so much more than the stock 2.83Ghz), then forget the motherboard and CPU suggestions and just stick with what you already have. the zalman cooler is of course also sufficient then…

I just wonder are there any overclock analysis utitlities that can analyse your system and based upon your hardware components offer a report and a system improvement plan based upon the report?
Like it can distinguish the mainboard model, chipset and read out the current firmware level and bios level and then recommends bios/firmware level updates and on top of it recommend overclock tweaks in the bios and windows platform to get the most optimal performance…

I know there are a lot of tools that can analyze your system and tell you what’s in it, some of them can also recommend you firmware updates, but i have not seen tools that also provide a complete tweak and overclock plan along with it.

I currently have a 550w psu, but the power meter on the front shows me i use less than 130w atm.
So it seems i can crank up performance a lot.
(currntly not overclocking atm)

there are no such tools, vV.
no software can determine how well a CPU / Motherboard / RAM / PSU will perform at a respective clock frequency and voltage setting. there are just too many factors that influence how high you can go with your individual setup or how early you will fail.
even if you buy a CPU or motherboard from the same batch, produced in the same week or even on the same day, there will be slight differences in the potential it has got. so everyone who’s into this matter ( there are a lot of guys who have overclocking as their major hobby ) is always discovering the limits of the hardware by the same procedure:
apply changes to BIOS, save it, run various stress-tests and take the result of these as a basis on how to proceed.
if any of the tests failed, it could be anything:
too little CPU vcore, too tight RAM timings, too little voltage on the north- and/or even southbridge or other components of the board, too little voltage on the RAM, CPU and/or northbridge temperature too high for stable operation, PSU supplying too little power under full load, etc. etc.
it really is trial and error and definately impossible to tell for software.

i’m also pretty active in a thread for my motherboard on some hardware forum. there are a lot of guys that have the same board revision, same CPU, RAM etc. … i even have the better cooling most of the time, and still i cannot go as far as they can, even with the absolutely identical BIOS settings.
i just had less luck on my CPU as it seems, because i can go above FSB 500 if i lock the CPU multiplier on 6 (instead of 8.5) and therefore raise the FSB.

the fact that you have a 550W PSU could be a good premise for decent overclocking, but it’s definately not a guarantee, because every other compenent in your system is probably going to fail before the PSU or any of the others does. but a few MHZ are always possible, even on the most unsuitable hardware setup. if you have a P4 with northwood core, then you’re probably going to hit 2.8-3.0Ghz with standard cooling.
any other P4, like the wilamette or the “more recent” prescott, will probably produce too much heat for your cooling to dissipate, when voltages and clocks are raised.

what i was always wondering about your setup:
in your sig you mention a Pentium4 2.4Ghz and behind that in brackets you write " CoreDuo, 4 cores ".

that surprises me for two reasons:
in how far is a pentium 4 related to a CoreDuo?
how can a CoreDuo have 4 cores?

or do you mean “CoreDuo” as in Dual-CPU motherboard setup, so that you’re having two p4 @2.4ghz and the 4 cores are 2 physical and 2 virtual (HT) ?

Hell no, that is old info from my previous setup mixed with new info from my new setup.
I left it there for fun but you are the first one to make a remark about that…
I updated it now as it has no use.

That overclocking is shit i knew from the days when it was at least a little doable.
I should be able to clock it to 2.8 - 3Ghz but i have an Asus P5N-E sli which is a hell to use for overclocking.
I should either downgrade the firmware to 0608, tweak the thing and pray it works at all without getting BSOD during os bootup.
With the latest firmware, i can go to 2.6Ghz with standard cooling and that’s about it.

Nice suggestions. Do you recommend the Scythe Mugen 2 CPU cooler because it cools an overclocked CPU better than Zalman, or do you recommend it because it’s more silent? Since this is a DAW computer, low noise is important. I won’t OC at this stage of life, mainly because I know next to nothing about it and don’t have the time to learn. I just want to produce music without Renoise reaching 100% all the time. You mentioned earlier that Renoise would run approx. 1.8X faster on a quadcore – that seems a bit disappointing, considering this new setup will cost me at least $2,500.

God dammit!!! :)
A friend of mine (who’s a computer tech entusiast and music producer) just adviced me over the phone to get an i7-920 because (1) I’m building a completely new system, (2) the i7 is in the same price range as the older S775 mobo with an Intel Q9550 CPU; more value for money, (3) future upgrade possibilities are better, (4) my Sonar music software is optimized for true Quad-core technology, (5) Renoise will only use ~1/4 of the the Quad-core processors’ horse-power anyway.

So guys, tell me: if YOU were about to build a new system today, would YOU go for the i7 platform and if so why (or why not)? Is there ANY advantage the 775 mobo with Intel quadcore Q9550 CPU has over the new X58 mobo with i7 920, 2.66 Ghz? Something that adds to the stability for Renoise or music production in general?

Here’s the new system setup:

CPU: INTEL CORE I7-920 2.66 GHz
Cooler: ZALMAN CNPS9900 LED CPU Cooler support 1366 socket
MOBO: ASUS MK P6T SE Intel X58 Socket 1366
RAM: CORSAIR Intel Core i7 3GB Kit PC3-10666, 1333MHz, 3x240 DIMM
PSU: Corsair TX650W
GPU: ASUS VGA-Card nVidia GTX260 896MB
AUDIO: EMU - 1212M
HHD2: SEAGATE Barracuda7200.11 1500 GB HDD
OS: MICROSOFT Windows XP Home Edition 32-Bit

If I go for this system instead, when it’s built and running, I’ll give you guys an extensive review of it from a dedicated Renoise production perspective. Now if this new system should prove itself to have negative attitudes towards my old 32-bit WinXP and my favorite VST/VSTi plugins, and this can’t be fixed by installing Vista/whatever, I’ll just sell the system on the second hand market and take the economic loss without sobbing more than a day.

i recommended the scythe because it’s simply one of the best (most efficient) heatsinks out there for todays CPUs.
and the more efficient it cools, the less airflow is required.
… and the less airflow, the less noise you will get.

for my 2ndary PC, an AMD X2 DualCore 1,9Ghz (which runs at 2,4Ghz), i’ve bought the first version of the scythe mugen two years ago. i didn’t even mount the fan, because it’s totally sufficient to be cooled passively, just by the ambient air inside the case.

the scythe mugen2 will most likely not be able to cool an intel quad without any active cooling (-> rotating fan), but if the zalman needs a fan to rotate at 2000rpm, the mugen2 probably only needs 1000rpm… and i guess it goes without saying what that means noise-wise.

concerning the core i7 vs core2quad:
i share your friend’s opinion. if i was to buy new hardware today, i wouldn’t go for anything else than “state of the art” as well. you were the one in doubt conerning the HT matter ;)
i’d simply disable HT from within the BIOS and be set.

concerning the speed-up factor of quads:
the speedup of 1.8 was just an example measured from one of my songs playing in the background whilst making the post here.
it surely varies from song to song, because every song has its own and individual routing and instrument setup.

so if we would assume you would use no send track routing at all, then the speedup you’d get would be near factor x3.5 (x4.0 is impossible in any software anyway)…
you can see how renoise shares the load in an optimal scenario like this here btw.

but i guess usually we’re all using sends in our tracks, which forces renoise to “bundle” certain instruments and effects to “groups” which are then only processed by one of the cores.

i don’t know how other hosts do it… and sure - some vendors are advertising their product as “multi-core optimized” or what not… but you still don’t know what’s going on under the hood and how efficient their solution for multithreading works.
i can only compare ableton live 7’s efficiency on that point, because it’s the only host i have besides renoise… and the multithreading doesn’t work any better there as well as far as i was able to tell.

OK, I’ll go for it then! :)

Good to know! So the i7 it is, then. Now I’ll just try to find out if HT is possible to turn off from the BIOS on the Asus mobos. Although I have no clue where to look for this information as this is not stated on the Asus homepage.

In fact, I don’t use send tracks (those S01, S02 channels right?) very often. Maybe THAT is why I push the CPU towards 100% on my current system… :rolleyes:

Concerning RAM amount, would it be any idea to plug in 6 GB (3 x 2 GB) of 1333 MHz RAM, even though the OS is 32-bit WinXP (since it can’t address more than 4 GB)? It’s just $30 more in cost than 3 GB so it’s no deal, however I don’t want any troubles because of that. Any comments here?

there will be no gain from installing more than 3GB as long as you’re sticking to a 32bit OS.
even with 6GB installed you will end up with 3-3.5GB available to the OS, since the rest of the addressable area is used up by other peripherals like your Graphicscard and its RAM and other devices that need to be addressed. and everything above 4GB is lying idle anyway.
i’d go for 2x2GB for the dual-channel capability and upgrade to whatever you like as soon as you might make the switch to a 64bit platform.
everything else is just a waste of money and electricity ;)

oh and don’t forget to set the /3GB switch when you’ve installed XP… elsewhat you’ll even be limited to 2GB for renoise (or any other application) usage.

Interesting ! Didn’t know this. Guess I’ll hang at 2 GB now (but haven’t reached those limit, yet :-).

Another general point regarding Overclocking:

Do you really think it’s worth the effort and theoretical increase of “instability” and not just a freaky tuning thing ? I mean: of course it’s cool to squeeze out the best of your systems,
but if you do not really need it, why touch it ? -> never touch a running system, never run a touchy system ;-). I’ve almost no experience in overclocking, but the necessary steps to achieve a stable
overclocked system seem to be tremendous. The most awfull thing was for me to loose song data because of an instabil system.

On the other hand I’ve read that the Corei7 is pretty compatible for overclocking (has auto-overclocking inside). So I’m a bit curious now about how fast I could go. But I really hate BSOD’s and love stability,
so I’m not sure if I should do it.

What I’m currently wondering about is, why you people all go for the Q9550 instead of the the Q9650?
The financial difference between both cpus is far from high these days…

Oh and: built myself a new rig too last weekend. Looks like everyone is upgrading at the moment. :)

when i bought my q9550 (august08), the q9650 was about 100 EUR more in price.
today, the Q9650 is 283,35 EUR (94,45€/Ghz) and the Q9550 is 237,27 EUR (83,841€/Ghz).
so price/peformance is still better for the q9550, even though the absolutele difference has decreased.

besides that, i don’t care if i have a Q9550 @4,1Ghz or a Q9650 at 4,27Ghz. and if i was unlucky, i could even end up with a Q9650 which doesnt even go as high as the Q9550…besides that: the higher the actual clock, the less relevant those 0,17Ghz difference will become.

it’s a general misperception that overclocking has to to introduce instability.
of course you involve the probability, but if you’re not overdoing it, it’s not a problem at all, because every hardware which has a clock-frequency does have some headroom for more. it always depends on model/batch/luck how much that headroom is, but everyone who’s not overclocking is actually wasting potential of their hardware which is there but remains unused.

and a CPU performance increase of 44% (2,83 -> 4,1) is something you can really “feel” and i also effectively used it in three song projects so far, because without the overclock, i wouldn’t be able to continue playing them back in realtime.

thanks for addressing this, I now know what I’m going to upgrade to, when I find the monies!

I would like to overclock my system, I’ve never did it before as the last board I had was something impossible to do with. Not really on topic though.

er, that didn’t come out right.
any reccomended sites for overclocking? :)

I know this is a total noob question, but how does one go about overclocking exactly? and what is the best way to get into it?

read, understand, apply ;)