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Pro Audio Community we go..the beginning stages to building a complete PC Digital Audio Workstation!
First thing we want to cover is the basics..
Motherboards and Processors
Which one do we choose? Which one is better for us? Which one has more proven success rates? Which ones do certain audio hardware manufacturers reccomend?
There are several Motherboard manufacturers..
Asus, Abit, Intel, Tyan, Tiger, MSI, Shuttle and a few others. Asus and Abit are typically the favored brand for their reliability and superior performance ratings. MSI is slowly becoming a very popular board as well but some of the first revision dual proc boards by them had some issues but were fixed with newer revisions. The choice is not easy sometimes due to certain factors we have to look out for.
These factors are the chipsets. The Chipsets are key because they determine how the components on the board are going to work. The chipsets instruct each component in way that tells them who they are and what their purpose is.
Chipsets include..Via, Intel, AMD, Sis and Ali. So far Intel has proven to be the most stable especially the 440BX chipset..but the 815E and the 850 chipset are very strong so far in performance wise. Via has had some really bad track records with bad instructions to components which dont get along with certain audio hardware or motherboard components. Via has what is called the 4in1 patch which updates the chipset to work correctly. So far most users that update the chipsets have been able to work ok..but there are the intermittent issues that do arise every once in awhile that cant be explained and when switching to an Intel chipset the issues are resolved. There are several flavors of the Via chipset but the most recent..the KT266 model has proven to be ok.
AMD chipsets were shaky at first as well but have been developed for better instruction and performance alongside their processors
To make a long story short...As long as you configure it correctly with all the recent patches and BIOS settings everything will be ok!!
Now...on to Processors!!
Intel Vs of the biggest arguments as to which one is better and which one has better performance.
Intel has led the way for the longest times until AMD suddenly got their act together and built the Athalon processors. Now, we have heavy debates as to which one is truly better and which one will come out with the faster chip and more performance oriented processor!!
The Athalon MP and XP series processors are making headway with more plugin processing power over the Intel processors..this is good news for those who over burden their systems with too many plugins and effects!!
Now, there is a factor here..that really depends on your software and if it has been updated to handle the latest FPU(Frames Per Unit) cycles that new processors take advantage of. This again goes back to the chipsets!! It's a no win situation sometimes! If software companies dont revise the code to handle the processors new instruction coding then the new processor is useless to us!! In fact when the P4's first came out they acted like a PIII and nothing like a P4 should until the software companies updated their codes! Now most software products are desgined to handle it so it's not an issue anymore!

Are we confused yet? Good...because if you think that I dont get confused're nuts!! I'm only human as well!!! lol
Anyhue..this is just the beginning discussion to get you to understand the major factors into deciding on a system to build.
now that I have broken the Ice I want to hear from people on any questions or any part of this they want to get into indepth detail on..let the fun begin..
Next Step will be determining which case to get and power supply and fans and all that fun stuff!!


Rob Cathcart Mon, 01/07/2002 - 10:43

Hey Opus!
Timing is everything. I'll be building (read "my computer guy and I") a new box this weekend. Will run mainly Sonar (movin' up from Cakewalk Pro Audio 9) with WDM drivers on Windoze 2K. Frontier Design Dakota card. Do you have any specific recomendations for mobo and cpu? My thoughts are PIII 1gig. Perhaps faster, up to say 1.4 or 1.5 but I haven't done any research past the 1gig spec. I've always run the 440BX chip set and wonder if there are mobos with same that will handle 1.5 gig cpu's. I'm under the impression that I'll have to change chipsets to go 1gig or higher. Any comments would be most appreciated.


Opus2000 Mon, 01/07/2002 - 12:11

Ok...this is the part about the chipsets I was talking about.
Certain Audio hardware manufacturers will give reccomendations as to what chipsets they have had success with and others they have not. You can pretty much say that all 440BX chipsets are totally fine and no issues arose at all.
Frontier Design cards work with all chipsets..supposedly!! It's the drivers that are the case here..the WDM Win2k drivers are in the beta stage and arent that stable just yet..
If going with a PIII 1Ghz you will want to go with the Intel 815E chipset..Asus TUSL2-C(or M)motherboard is what I reccomend for that get PC133..ATA100 and a very stable system. The 440BX chipsets are outdate and dont have ATA100 specs to them..only ATA66 at most!! so youre better off with a newer chipset.
most boards that accept the Tulatins will accept the PIII 1.2+ chipsets..If going with anything higher you might as well go for a P4 processor at that point.
Hope that helps
Anyone else?

seven Mon, 01/07/2002 - 12:21

WOOHOO!!! I LOVE THIS!!!, is the P4 worth getting? In your opinion of course...humble or not... :) And...does the TUSL2-C support the 1gig coppermine P3?

Opus2000 Mon, 01/07/2002 - 13:08

Good Question Seven...The P4 is probably well worth it due to it's faster FSB(Front Side Bus Speed...I'll get into that one later!!) and better FPU coding and cycles!
The PIII is pretty much a the Asus board I mentioned will work with that processor! So the 1Ghz is actually perfect for that board!!

GentleG Mon, 01/07/2002 - 13:28


Just a short note

The latest from VIA is the kt266a instead of the kt266. is very pleased about it.
I enjoy using my ASUS A7V-E (266a) with Athlon XP 1600 and tascam us-428 (win2k)


ps Good thread Opus2000

Jon Best Tue, 01/08/2002 - 06:17

Depends on which chipset you're looking at- the (Intel) 850, that supports the higher frontside bus RAM (RDRAM, PC600, PC800, Rambus are names you'll see) does justice to the P4.

The 845 is an Intel chipset that supports the P4, but with PC133 RAM, and is totally worthless.

So, if you're going to spend the money for a P4, then spend the money for a board with the higher FSB speed chipset and faster ram.

Me, I'm still leaning towards dual 1.5 Xeons, as the extra $600 (total system) should buy a boatload of stability.

Originally posted by seven:
WOOHOO!!! I LOVE THIS!!!, is the P4 worth getting? In your opinion of course...humble or not... :) And...does the TUSL2-C support the 1gig coppermine P3?

Opus2000 Tue, 01/08/2002 - 07:34

Allready told you Seven...the Asus TUSL2-C or M one for that since it has intel chipset and is known to work very very well..remember I built a system with that board and processor and it rocks!!
Opus Step is coming today on Cases and Power supplies also floppy and IDE cabling as well!!!

seven Tue, 01/08/2002 - 07:52

No, I was reffering to the P4 (1.7gig to be exact)... a good socket 423 or 478 fault.
By the way...which socket would be a better choice?

Opus2000 Tue, 01/08/2002 - 10:22

Hey Bear
Yes, I've been reserved about AMD's more because of the chipsets..but now with all the patches for them it's been ok. But....there's a catch!! There's an issue with VIA chipsets and there data transfer turns out..IT SUCKS!!! go figure!! lol...but there is a patch from an independant programmer that supposedly fixes that, VIA once again goes on my shit list!!
That's why I always reccomend Intel chipsets. But the newer AMD chipsets are rocking these days so I would find yourself an AMD chipset before thinking about a VIA!!!!
here's the article

Now...your question on P3's vs P4's
well..if you go with the PC133 version of P4 you might as well save some money and stick with a performance gain there on the P4's!
The different version of P3's are Coppermine, Xeon and a form of Celeron. The main differences are the material it's made with to deal with heat factor and performance rating..the Xeon is supposedly a lot better and the Coppermine being the next in line..Celeron being the low budget processor for the money weary consumers.

The new DDRAM is much faster but when it comes down to AMD vs intel on the P4 vs XP or MP processor...thats a new one I need to see some bench marks on...but yes, the Athalons are handling way more plugin counts than the Pentiums at this stage!!!

P3's not being made anymore....hmm, havent heard that than again havent paid attention and wouldnt doubt it in the least bit!!!

seven Tue, 01/08/2002 - 10:46

I know you've got a lot of questions comin' atcha but...

No, I was reffering to the P4 (1.7gig to be exact)... a good socket 423 or 478 fault.
By the way...which socket would be a better choice?
Any insight?...

Rob Cathcart Tue, 01/08/2002 - 10:52

And another!

I'm getting the feeling that a P4 is perhaps the way to go. I had been hearing that it was not sorted out for audio apps yet, but it appears that some are having good experiences(?)

OK, if I were to go P4, say 1.5 or higher Ghz, is there a specific mobo recommendation?

Any known conflicts with Sonar, Windoze 2k or XP, WDM drivers?

Anything else that y'all recommend I investigate before taking the plunge (this Saturday! Yippee!)

Thanks again! This is an awesome thread, er two!!

Opus2000 Tue, 01/08/2002 - 11:57

Looking at the Intel site I dont see much of a difference on the socket differences. The only difference being that there are more pins which means a cooler processor..The less pins the more instruction passes it has to go thru..So..I would look for a 478 socket board

Couldnt be a simpler explanation!! I'll let Intel amaze you with their technological explanations!! lol
Keep em coming folks!!

Opus2000 Tue, 01/08/2002 - 12:03

Ooop...missed the part about the OS and drivers!!
The OS has nothing to do with Processors..the OS will definately run better with better processors and faster RAM..that goes without saying!! It's common sense at that point.
Drivers..again, nothing to do with processors..up to the company developing them to make them work with WDM compatability!
Again, I highly reccomend you stick with Asus'll find just about any serious computer audio geek will say the same thing!! Asus or Abit!
Sonar...well, thats a different story alltogether..Cakewalk had some serious issues when they released that software..I'm surprised it hasnt bankrupted them as of yet! Too many stupid issues that they have had to deal with. Personally I cant stand that lacks serious GUI interfacing and too many god damn hidden menus!! Plus their synch ability truly sucks!!
Thats my shtick and I'm shticking to it!!
Opus :D

Rob Cathcart Tue, 01/08/2002 - 13:13

Hey Opus,

Thanks again man! Do you have any specific mobo recommendations for a P4 1.5+Ghz CPU? Or any specific chipset? I will go ASUS or ABIT but which model(s)??

On a side note, I've been with Cakewalk Pro Audio 9 for quite a while and I am real comfortable with it. I do mainly audio but need midi sequencing occaisionally. What do y'all think I orter check out as alternatives? I'm makin' no promises :roll: but I'm always open to whatever......... :eek:

Opus2000 Tue, 01/08/2002 - 13:22

Go with the Asus P4B-266 model motherboard..DDRAM capability. As discussed before it makes no sense to go with PC133 SDRAM and lose out on performance!

Apps...try Cubase if you want to try another app!!
It's primarily the same as Nuendo just not as much features as Nuendo!!
If you are used to an app then it might be good to stay with it but....Cubase offers VSTi support where Cakewalk's a DirectX form..DXi I believe they are called!! Plus Rewire capabilities with Reason and or Rebirth!!
The list goes on and on!!!