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Windows 7 upgrade questions

Discussion in 'Computing' started by DonnyThompson, Mar 13, 2014.

  1. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I've been using XP for a very long time now. 7 years on a dual core/Athlon PC has been good for what I've been doing, however...

    I've gotten into more dense productions lately with an old friend who has hired me to produce and engineer his newest project. I'm currently using Sonar 7, and I'm finally starting to hit the limitations of the RAM I currently have (4 gig total, 3.75 usable). Adding more RAM to this PC isn't an option, because XP would only ever see 4 gig maximum, anyway.

    Now...I do have a Gateway laptop, Athlon dual core, 4 gig Ram, running W7; so my first question is this:

    Can I add more RAM to the laptop? (understanding that I need to match the correct RAM chip with the correct slot).

    If so, how hard is this to do myself? I've been on the inside of many desktop PC's, but I've never been inside a laptop. Is this something I could do myself? Or should I have a pro do it?
    (I'm not completely computer illiterate... I've added RAM to desktop PC's many times, along with internal HDD's, various PCI cards, fans, power supplies, etc. but still, I wouldn't consider myself a pro at computer repair by any means).

    Now, if I do the above, and everything is groovy and the laptop sees and uses the RAM, what kinds of issues am I facing when loading 32 bit plugs that I have now into that new 64 bit OS platform? I've spent a pretty fair sum of money over the years on the VST's and VSTi's that I currently have on my 32 bit XP system, so will the new OS present any problems for me when I install these various processors and instruments into the W7 environment?

    My suspicion is that any DX or DXi's I have will no longer function in W7. I can live with that, as most of what I use are all VST/VSTi based anyway... but...they are 32 bit.

    I really need to do this upgrade. It's time. The XP platform has been very good over the years, very stable, very few OS issues... if XP would allow for RAM upgrades I wouldn't even switch to a new OS...but, it doesn't, and, Microsoft is phasing out XP support in a month or so, and I'm reaching a point in music production where the 4 gigs of RAM I have now just isn't cutting it anymore.

    The Laptop is a Gateway NV53, Athlon processor (Athlon II, 2.6 dual core, M300 processor),
    currently 4 gig of ram (3.75 usable) running Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit OS. A total of 4 USB 2.0 slots are built in. There is no fire-wire port.

  2. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    Can I add more RAM to the laptop? : depends on the motherboard, check on Gateway's website for options, it is usually simple to do unless the memory is hidden behind the keyboard but we rarely see that now a day.

    32bit plugins on 64bit OS, many DAW will use 32bit and 64bit plugins at the same time. You just need to put the plugins at the right spot for your DAW to detect them. With sonar, you can ask the plugin manager to search many places, but I tend to create a vst folder where I put them all...

    Vst, vsti, dx and dxi, 32bit and 64bit are all supported on a 64bit OS with a 64bit sonar version. if you install the 32bit version of sonar you won't be able to use any 64bit plugin.

    As for windows xp, windows 7 had it's need for tweeking and audio optimisation, but there's a lot of guide online.
    The multimedia options included in the home premium version is kind of the media center in xp flavors. You may want to consider a pro or standard home version, it will be cleaner for audio recording.

    If needed a firewire port can be added in the xpress card slot, if I remember.

    Good luck
  3. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Thanks PC. I went to a site called crucial.com which scanned my laptop with the intent of telling me what type of RAM I needed. Apparently, regardless of the OS, the Gateway laptop I have can't accept any more than 4 gigs of RAM, so I'm assuming that this is a physical limitation of the MB.

    As of now, it appears as though a new PC is on the horizon, but at that point, if I bought from one of the big box stores like Best Buy, etc., it would likely come with Windows 8 loaded, and from everyone I've talked to on this end, they are all telling me to wait for Windows 8.1, that it will be far less traumatic - LOL - of an install and operation.

    What are you using PC?
  4. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    You should know that 4gigs of ram may be all you need, specially if you don't use many vsti in real time.

    I'm currently using windows 8 pro with 16gigs of ram, with Sonar x3 on a seperate HDD from the audio files.
    When I switched from windows 7, I was surprised not having to tweak the os too much for audio performance.

    Note that if the builder install a lot of crap as they often do, you need to clean it up before starting to enjoy low latency ;)
    I honestly did'nt check the version available but be carefull not to buy a lite version of windows 8. Microsoft tend to put out a limited fonctionnality version for budget pc/laptop.. (windows starter version was a pain)
  5. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    hey Donny,

    I'm on Windows 7 64 pro. Its real good. I have issues between 32bit and 64bit plugs. Can be a real pain if something conflicts and turns a session into a constant stalling PITA. I've tossed out most of my plug-ins .
    For me, it looks like its a crap shoot on the plug and bridge of the daw.

    Once I went MADI though, it seemed like my whole system woke up!

    I'm about 90% 64bit.

    I have a great i7 laptop but its nothing in comparison to my desktop. Laptops get hot and congested. I don't trust mine past 4 tracks at a time but thats not because I've had any issues (touch wood), I haven't.
    I'm simply paranoid with laptops and always start sweating when I record on it. I want to get a madi card for it. I have a feeling that would be great.
  6. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    There's a small PC repair shop near me with really good service and prices, they sell seconds; used monitors, keyboards, HDD's, etc, but they also sell slightly used full machines too.

    I'm thinking that instead of going to one of the big box stores, that maybe I'll talk to these guys first and see what may be available. From what I understand, they even build PC's for customers as well, so I might be able to get a good deal on a PC that isn't loaded with a lot of the crap that you normally get when you buy a new one. It may also be the best way to get a PC with W7 loaded instead of 8. I've done business with these guys before, my bet is that if I wanted a stripped down machine, that I could probably get one for a good deal. I don't need a monitor, keyboard or external drives... just the working guts in a tower with plenty of USB connections and 1 firewire.

    But that's the thing. PC. I've started using more VSTi's on this particular project. Things like NI's B3, East-West Colossus, etc. There was a point two days ago where I couldn't even load an EW Grand Piano sample because I didn't have enough memory.

    I know exactly how you feel, Chris. Let me ask you guys this... In a W7 environment, does the amount of RAM that is installed work more efficiently? In simpler terms, does 4 gig of RAM work more efficiently in W7 than 4 gigs of RAM in XP?
  7. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    windows 7 works better period. I could never go back. But, my daw, the interface and basic software for my workflow is all part of why I suppose.
  8. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    I use W7 64bit Ultimate. It is way better than XP. Simply by changing the OS to W7, my latency dropped tremendously with no hardware changes.

    After tweaking the OS, it'll scream.

    I have 8 Gig of RAM, but want to double that when funding permits. But I use a lot of MIDI and VST synth/library stuff.
  9. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I think I'm close to pulling the trigger on a new PC purchase. I'm looking at a machine with an Athlon AMD 6700 A10/4.0 ghz/quad core, with a 7200 rpm Terrabyte HDD, 16 gig of RAM, 8 USB slots (four 2.0/four 3.0 USB's), Windows 8.1 pre- installed, but they will roll it back to W7 64 Ultimate if I want for an extra $50.

    Total price out the door new is $509 U.S.

  10. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    wow, I love AMD btw, my mastering DAW is AMD and it rocks. That is a crazy deal. I don't know much about the builds but a good PSU is important. 60 watts at least. You need a few slots for extra drives. One for your OS, One for Library, One for tracking.
  11. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    It is a good deal... but I need to know that it's the right deal. ;)

    Do these specs appear to be sufficient to efficiently run Sonar 7 using multiple VSTi's ( let's say 5 real time) plus 24 tracks of audio with 3-4 plugs per track?

    Is there anything about the specs that raises a red flag with you guys?
  12. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    I honestly don't know about all that. Your new CPU will be more powerful than my AMD Opteron, but I know mine will stutter a bit with that much unless I crank the latency up to 40ms. So I end up freezing tracks to unload instruments and free up resources. Then I can get 2ms latency and continue to perform MIDI stuff and track my clean guitars through Amplitube.

    I'm looking to upgrade this year myself.
  13. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I have been able, thus far, to get through dense productions by using the track freeze function in Sonar, but it's getting to a point where even that isn't cutting it.

    I guess I'm hoping that by upgrading the processor and RAM, along with stepping up from XP to either W7 or W8, that doing so will significantly increase the efficiency, especially during these heavy-load sessions. Normally, I don't use this number of track counts, processing plugs and soft synths on my own stuff - my own songs are much more organic - but, this new album I'm producing for my friend is turning out to be fairly taxing on my current rig, which as mentioned is an older Athlon II / dual core / 4 gig of RAM, running XP.

    I'm still researching my best bet. Like anything else, I have to find the best bang for the bucks I have. ;)
  14. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Sorry. Been immersed in tuning pianos. There is NOTHING wrong with Win 8 or 8.1. I don't see an advantage over Win7 unless you have touchscreen. For mobo's the memory controller portion of the hardware is the limiting factor. That is why your older mobo was not up to the task for more ram. The bus just didn't have enough seats. Any i series Intel CPU and the equivalent AMD CPU will run circles around your old stuff. Not much tweaking of Win7 is needed at all.
  15. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Well, I did it. I bought a new PC yesterday:

    HP machine
    AMD 6700 A-10 processor/ 3.5 ghz / quad core
    Radeon Graphics
    16 gig of RAM, expandable up to 32
    2 Terrabyte Internal HDD (7200 RPM)
    8 USB - four 3.0 and four 2.0
    Multi-Card Reader
    CD/CDW Drive
    4 open slots, so I could add things like FireWire, or even a UA DSP Card
    27" LED Monitor, refresh rate is 4ms
    Windows 8.1

    Total price OTD for all of the above was $629 (U.S.). I'm sure it's not the best PC available for production work, but I did the best I could with the money I had to spend; and I'm sure it will, as you say, run circles around my old PC.

    After I got it home, I also added another HDD; I had a 500 gig WD HD (7200 rpm) that I put into an open bay on the new machine... the PC recognized it right away, without any configuring by me.

    Windows 8.1 is a very strange land for me. I believe it's going to take some time for me to get acclimated.
  16. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    OK: here's what to do now:
    1. Install and tweak to get things exactly like you want.
    2. Use Partition Magic to split your primary drive into two partitions.
    3. Use Windows Backup to create an "image" of your C: drive and put that image on the new partition.

    Viola! Instant backup! Much better than System Restore. Every few months I simply use Windows Backup to re-do my C: drive with all my stuff freshly installed, and it works like a charm.
  17. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Apparently there are already a few partitions that exist on the Primary HD.. actually there seem to be two, or at least I think they are partitions, because they have different drive labels:

    1. "Recovery Image ( D:)" ( size is around 14 GB)
    2. "Factory Image (G:)" (size is around 8 GB)

    Are these actual partitions? And if so, should I retain these when I partition the Primary HD into 2 large segments? And if so, on which segment of the newly partitioned drive should these current partitions reside? Or do they already reside where they are supposed to?

    Sorry if these are stupid questions. I've never partitioned a drive before - I'm really not hip to how the whole process works.
  18. thewonders

    thewonders Active Member

    Don't mess with either of those partitions. They are manufacturer-created partitions that allow your computer to be restored to its original setup should you ever have a full system crash.

    If you want to add partitions to your system drive, you will need to reduce the size of your C partition and then create a partition from the newly-freed space.
  19. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Thank you Sir. That makes sense to me...and that's not an easy thing for someone to do...to make sense to me regarding computers. LOL
  20. audiokid

    audiokid Staff


    You are going to be having fun now. :) Hope it all runs well for years on end now.

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