Opinion on a computer

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BillW
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Opinion on a computer

Post by BillW » Wed Feb 07, 2018 2:28 pm

As you can see in my signature, the current computer I use for Mixcraft (and almost everything else for household matters) is relatively weak. However - it (usually) runs Mixcraft fine.

But I run 32 bit, not 64. And I'm pretty sure I have never had as many as a dozen tracks. Sometimes I find I need to freeze tracks - and even more rare I will mix a midi track to audio. But I've not been disappointed overall in its performance.

However, I recently came into some money in the form of Amazon gift cards. Nothing to get real excited about, but enough ($150) to get me thinking of options.

I can get a well reviewed refurbished machine with an i5 quad core chip for about $200. An i7 machine will run about twice that. $400 is beyond what I want to spend. $200 is right there ($50 out of pocket.)

So - honest opinions please. With the i5 be worth the expenditure? Is it likely I'll feel it was worth it (for Mixcraft) - or given how relatively undemanding my projects are - am I likely to say "Meh - could have spent the $150 better - on speakers or headphones etc."

I know the stock answer is "get the best computer you can afford". But please understand that my choice is the refurbed i5 or stick with what I have. That's the best computer I can afford - so I'm wondering if it's enough of a step up to be noticed.

Thanks friends!
Mixcraft 8 Pro (32bit) runs fine on a Toshiba Satellite C55-B laptop with a wimpy Celeron N2830 (dual core). Now using 64bit on a "less wimpy" Dell 660S/Dual Core Pentium/8GB RAM.

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trevlyns
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Re: Opinion on a computer

Post by trevlyns » Wed Feb 07, 2018 3:33 pm

Hi Bill!

My pennies worth.. i5 works great for me, but then I do have an otherwise 'nice' (but nowhere near great) spec'ed computer (see my signature). I'm currently mixing a 70 track project without any hiccups, so there's no need to consider upping to i7 - my opinion of course :lol: .

Monitors? I seriously doubt you could find something half decent for $150 - headphones, sure if that's where you want to go.

Let the other's jump in!
Keep on trackin'

Trevor

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Win 10 64 bit; MX8 Pro; Intel quad core i-5; 3.0 GHz; 16 GB RAM
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outteh
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Re: Opinion on a computer

Post by outteh » Wed Feb 07, 2018 3:59 pm

You'll be OK with an I5. Try to get the latest i5 you can find in your price range. This way you can be somewhat assured that the underlying boards will support fast processing. The HP and Dell boxes look pretty good. I was thinking of replacing my old dual-core home PC with one of these upgraded refurbished units. Also, if you can, make sure the hard drive is a 7200 rpm drive. The bigger the number after the i5 the later upgrade it is. :D

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comedians
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Re: Opinion on a computer

Post by comedians » Wed Feb 07, 2018 4:35 pm

Hi Bill

You haven't mentioned how much ram you'll get with the i5, ram is equally as important as a fast multi core processor, go for as you can stretch to.
You'll certainly notice the difference from your laptop with I assume will have a 5400rpm hard drive.

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BillW
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Re: Opinion on a computer

Post by BillW » Thu Feb 08, 2018 11:36 am

My signature is confusing - I used to run this on a Celeron laptop but moved to a Pentium.

I kept the Celeron in the signature so anyone considering Mixcraft would know they don't need the biggest and baddest computer to run this. I'm VERY impressed on how much can be done with a wimpy computer.

Not for professionals or semi-pros, but for a hobbiest / one man garage band like me it works fine.

Now - my Pentium vs i5:
All the sites I go to comparing chips seem to indicate there is a relatively small boost going to the i5. Maybe not worth it.

But has been pointed out, it would seem the i5 board can be expanded to 16meg memory. That may be the advantage. Memory is relatively cheap.

BUT - I'd have to run 64bit MX to take advantage. And I keep forgetting why I don't now even with my dual core. I know I posted on this at least two separate occasions, but quickly scrolling through my post history I can't find it.

What is the downside of running 64bit? I assume the thing about the 32bit VST wrapper-whatever is no longer an issue. So is it just that 64bit Mixcraft needs more power than my Pentium provides?

Right now 32 bit only gets at 4 meg memory. Shouldn't the i5 quad core be able to run 64bit fine?

Then it will address the 8 meg that comes with it - and then 16 when I expand. Even if the speed overall isn't much more - assuming it handles 64bit MX and my Pentium doesn't, that would be worth the $200 I'd think.
Mixcraft 8 Pro (32bit) runs fine on a Toshiba Satellite C55-B laptop with a wimpy Celeron N2830 (dual core). Now using 64bit on a "less wimpy" Dell 660S/Dual Core Pentium/8GB RAM.

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BillW
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Re: Opinion on a computer

Post by BillW » Thu Feb 08, 2018 12:34 pm

Still wondering about i5 and 64bit Mixcraft vs my Pentium and 64bit Mixcraft.

But -
A lot of reading on Amazon over lunch has made me decide to skip the refurbed route. Apparently there is a lot of "Forrest Gump" potential ordering a refurbed - you never know what you're going to get.

Looking just at an HP model:
They advertise 8gig but some reviewers say they got 4. Some say there is an HDMI port, others say no. Some say the drive is 7200, other 5400. Some say it does not come with wireless - other say yes.

So... what that means is that the supplier has a bunch of HPs but for whatever reason they are not all configured the same. Different MBs I guess. And HDDs.

While adding wireless via a USB device is no big deal - the uncertainty on memory and HDD speed is. And I have HDMI on my Pentium - why would I downgrade? (Actually it comes with a VGA and DisplayPort interface, which I think is a newer interface capable of HD quality - not important)

So - while the price is tempting, the uncertainty knocks that down. Have to wait until I can afford something more I guess.
Mixcraft 8 Pro (32bit) runs fine on a Toshiba Satellite C55-B laptop with a wimpy Celeron N2830 (dual core). Now using 64bit on a "less wimpy" Dell 660S/Dual Core Pentium/8GB RAM.

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outteh
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Re: Opinion on a computer

Post by outteh » Thu Feb 08, 2018 2:47 pm

The i5 will be a quad core, capable of better multi-threading than your dual core. The i5 also will have a better MB and capable of handling increased ram as you have already discovered. The 64 bit Vs 32 bit Mixcraft is really up to what works best on your hardware. The 64 bit has to use extra resources to utilize the 32 bit VST, so many times the 32 bit Mixcraft version works better. Don't discount the refurbished PC's, just make sure you buy from a reliable source. You can get Dell and HP from their company sites and Amazon is good on returns. Bert of luck to you, Bill. :D

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BillW
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Re: Opinion on a computer

Post by BillW » Thu Feb 08, 2018 2:57 pm

Thanks Tom - but 32 bit Mixcraft is limited to 4 gig ram, sorrect?
Mixcraft 8 Pro (32bit) runs fine on a Toshiba Satellite C55-B laptop with a wimpy Celeron N2830 (dual core). Now using 64bit on a "less wimpy" Dell 660S/Dual Core Pentium/8GB RAM.

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outteh
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Re: Opinion on a computer

Post by outteh » Thu Feb 08, 2018 3:05 pm

It's the OS that causes the limit. 32 bit Windows is limited to 4 gig. 64 bit Windows can use it all. So to use 64 bit Mixcraft you need 64 bit Windows. Make sense? :D

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Mark Bliss
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Re: Opinion on a computer

Post by Mark Bliss » Thu Feb 08, 2018 7:39 pm

Have to agree with most everything said so far, but still....
An opinion- The core of Bills question is I believe: "will it make a difference and if so how much?"

Well you say your current computer is working OK, so perhaps that answer is "not much"? You mentioned freezing tracks, it might reduce the need for that of course.
So maybe we are really talking about the potential for future expansion of the range of utility?

I too have no issue with going an inexpensive route, and perhaps a rehab could bump you up a notch, but as you point out yourself, its hard to know exactly what you are getting.
One other area worthy of additional discussion and research. Not all systems support "more RAM", and thoughts of expanding that later can be problematic if you don't know until you try whether the MB will support it.

My gut reaction is that while this idea might bump you up a notch, all too soon you might wish for another notch or two and wish you had saved your money and bumped up 3 or 4 notches in the first place.
Just a thought. 8)

Obligatory info: I went from a dual core 32 bit 4 gig machine to an i5 64 bit 8 gig machine with an SSD and the difference was large.
Less than a year later and I am struggling and yearning for an i7 16 gig machine.
Happens fast.
Stay in tune, Mark

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BillW
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Re: Opinion on a computer

Post by BillW » Fri Feb 09, 2018 10:03 am

Pretty sure I've decided to wait on this - will probably spend the gift card money on the $30 Samsons headphones (see my other post) and maybe a better pair of closed backs (the cups on my inexpensive Sennheisers are wearing fast and aren't replaceable).

BUT - still confused on one thing. I can't for the life of me remember WHY I am using 32bit and not 64bit Mixcraft.

My computer runs 64 bit Win 10.
I have 8 meg of memory
Mixcraft 32 bit address only 4

I loaded 64bit last year, decided it wasn't working well for me, and went back.

And I cannot remember why. I obviously can try it again and that should refresh my memory fast enough - but that's time consuming.

The thing about mixing 32bit and 64bit plugins has been fixed, right? So is it just my Pentium is too weak? I doubt it, since the performance specs say it''s not significantly slower than the i5 (though it's dual core vs quad for the i5).

I would think I'd want to take advantage of the full 8 gig memory and move to 64bit.

I guess that's a project - but does anyone have an idea why I'd be switching back to 32 bit after I try it?
Mixcraft 8 Pro (32bit) runs fine on a Toshiba Satellite C55-B laptop with a wimpy Celeron N2830 (dual core). Now using 64bit on a "less wimpy" Dell 660S/Dual Core Pentium/8GB RAM.

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Acoustica Greg
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Re: Opinion on a computer

Post by Acoustica Greg » Fri Feb 09, 2018 10:20 am

Hi,

Running 32-bit plugins in 64-bit Mixcraft requires extra CPU processing (due to 32- to 64-bit "bridging"), so people who use lots of 32-bit plugins might get better performance from 32-bit Mixcraft. All that 64-bit does for you is give Mixcraft and any 64-bit plugins you're running access to more than 4 GB of RAM - the audio quality is the same.

Greg
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Give it a try here: http://acoustica.com/mixcraft/
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BillW
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Re: Opinion on a computer

Post by BillW » Fri Feb 09, 2018 12:12 pm

Thanks Greg, that's likely what happened.

Since my projects are done in 32bit MX, all the plugins by default are 32bit.

OK - so the real test comes from loading 64bit and starting a new project using 64bit plugins where available. Which means I need to download several of the 3rd party ones I have (free and otherwise, like EZD and Chris Hein Horns)

Sounds time consuming and maybe not worth it. The only thing that chokes now is when I have two instances of EZD (one for drums, one for Latin Percussion.) And actually I discovered that the warning message it gives really means you can't uses the interface for trying to find packaged beats or using their timeline etc.

But I record my own (using either a midi keyboard or the pad on the same) and then edit - so I discovered I can ignore that message without consequence.

So - long story short - I'm going to keep on the way I am with the computer I have until something else (MX 9 or MX 10?) gets me thinking about it again.
Mixcraft 8 Pro (32bit) runs fine on a Toshiba Satellite C55-B laptop with a wimpy Celeron N2830 (dual core). Now using 64bit on a "less wimpy" Dell 660S/Dual Core Pentium/8GB RAM.

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Starship Krupa
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Re: Opinion on a computer

Post by Starship Krupa » Fri Feb 09, 2018 7:03 pm

In most cases, when I purchase/install 3rd-party plug-ins, the 64-bit version comes with the installer, so there is no need to download the installer again, maybe not even a need to reinstall.

The benefit to running 64-bit Mixcraft is not just in running memory-hungry plug-ins, I think? The whole program and all of its child processes are restricted to 3G and change (and by the way, we are talking Gig, not Meg) under 32-bit Windows is my understanding. I may be wrong about that.

In any case, I recognize that the trend is toward 64-bit, so I'm trying to do everything using 64-bit Mixcraft and with plug-ins that have 64-bit builds. I was having hassles with that for a long time, but traced the troubles down to video card incompatibilities. It's been smooth sailing for a year.

Mixcraft makes it easy to seamlessly switch back and forth; if there's a 64-bit plug-in installed, 64-bit Mixcraft will use it instead. Try it and if it doesn't work, run 32-bit instead. They coexist wonderfully.

I don't know what your computer upgrading skill level is, but I did a quick search, and found a few threads about upgrading just the processor in a Dell 660S. Seems like people have gone all the way to i7. Here's one:

https://www.dell.com/community/Desktops ... -p/3980595

I've done this myself, taken a Core 2 Duo to a Core 2 Quad and a Pentium to a Pentium D, but I knew what I was doing. If you have a neighborhood friend, or a strip mall computer store, the appropriate i7 CPU looks to be around $150, which leaves a nice stipend for the installer person. How about that? An i7 for your DAW.
-Erik
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3.4 GHz i7-3770, 16G RAM, Win 10 64-bit, ATi Radeon HD 5770
2X PreSonus Firepods, Event 20/20's, Alesis Monitor Ones, Alesis Point Sevens
Mixcraft Pro Studio 8.5, Cakewalk by BandLab

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BillW
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Re: Opinion on a computer

Post by BillW » Sat Feb 10, 2018 5:53 pm

Hi Eric - thanks for the post.

Yes, I meant gig, not meg.

I do run 64bit Win10.

I've thought of doing the CPU upgrade - I doubt I'd go all the way to an i7 though because I'd think there'd be some other issue with the MB that's I wish I'd just by a new machine.

But maybe an i5 - I'd be comfortable doing it. More comfortable than I am with many household repairs for sure.

And I discovered in my thinking about getting a new machine, that I made a major erroneous assumption. When I saw Dell advertising a "7th gen Intel cpu, I thought that means an i7. Turns out there are lots of 7th gen cpus - Pentium, i3, i5, and i7. So the $400 machine I looked at was NOT an i7 - it was actually an i3 - which is still dual, not quad core.

So... back to considering the refurbed computers / versus upgrading the processor on my current machine - versus waiting until I can afford a new machine.
Mixcraft 8 Pro (32bit) runs fine on a Toshiba Satellite C55-B laptop with a wimpy Celeron N2830 (dual core). Now using 64bit on a "less wimpy" Dell 660S/Dual Core Pentium/8GB RAM.

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