CPU, RAM, n-Track...upgrading questions

Am I doing the right thing?

Here’s what I have:

Dell Inspiron 600m notebook
WinXP Home
Pentium4 1.5ghz
384gb RAM
30gb HDD

I have a good deal of software installed, and was storing all of my .SNG and .WAV files on the main HDD.
I had about 3% of HDD space left when it was at its worst - I couldn’t even run a disk defrag!

With nTrack, I was getting pretty bad latency, buffering issues during playback if I had anything over 6-7 tracks and more than one VST plug-in effect running at one time - lots of “hitching” when everything was going at once, my CPU usage indicator jumping into the high 90s every few seconds or so.
I don’t record directly into nTrack - I record tracks on my Zoom PS-04, convert the files to WAV, and then import the WAVs into nTrack for mixing…so it’s all playback.


Here’s what I’ve done recently to try and solve these problems:

Exported almost all of my files (audio and otherwise) to a 250gb external HDD - now I have about 13% HDD space free.
Uninstalled superfluous apps.
*Ordered an additional 1gb of RAM. It hasn’t arrived yet, so I haven’t installed it.

My question: are these fixes going to be enough to solve my latency/buffering issues? I’m particularly interested to see if the additional 1gb RAM makes a difference. Perhaps I need a better processor? A 1.5gHz P4 seems like it should be sufficient…
It’s not too late to cancel the order for the RAM and get a refund if it’s not going to help.

Should I also create a separate XP System Profile to cut down on background apps?

Just trying to make the best out of my one and only system - if I could afford it, I’d buy a separate dedicated DAW.

Any help is appreciated. Thanks.

Wich sound card and drivers? That´s one important part of the equation.
And, beyond that the ram dont solves the latency problem, dont cancel it. It will make all more nice to work.

There may not be just one answer…

-The HD in your laptop is very likely a 4200(?) RPM - this will not work very well for streaming audio tracks.
I bought a 7200RPM for my laptop form these guys.

-384M is probably not enough. IMO I’d say 512M is minimum.

-You don’t need a seperate computer for a DAW, you need a seperate partition on the computer that you already own. Otherwise known as “dual-boot”, you will have two complete and independent installed versions of Windows: one for regular work, and the other tweaked as your DAW.
Dual boot information

Most of the tweaks that you need can be found here:
www.musicxp.net

Good luck!
-John
:cool:

Respectively, I would try the separate hardware configuration before I tried the dual boot. Also, the tweaks can help. I have tweaks on my pcDAW.net web site that I’ve actually used successfully.

I think that getting an external drive was a good idea. Make sure that you keep it defragmented. Getting more memory is a good idea but you may, but I don’t think it will solve your problems by itself. Try the DAW hardware configuration.

The 1.5-GHz Pentium M CPU should be OK, but from my experience, laptops are a LOT slower than desktops, even the new ones. I would not use a laptop for doing 96/24 audio work for example.

Thanks for the great replies!

So in summary, a few things I can try:

* get a new, faster 7200rpm HDD
* get more RAM (check, already working on that)
* create a Dual Boot partition

Mr. Soul, are you assuming I am working on SNG’s from my external HDD? I’m not. I’m merely storing my finished SNG’s and all the WAV files associated with them on the external HDD, but I work with them in nTrack from my primary internal HDD.
Are you suggesting that it’s better to run the files in nTrack off the external USB HDD?

Thanks for the “tweak” links, I will try those.

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Quote
Mr. Soul, are you assuming I am working on SNG’s from my external HDD?

Yes I was - sorry I missed that point. However, why wouldn’t you do that if it was faster than the laptop’s drive (which is probably 5400 RPM or less)? Make sure you main HD is defragmented often as I suggested.
Quote (jamesmgregg @ Jan. 11 2006,11:26)
Here's what I have:

Dell Inspiron 600m notebook
WinXP Home
Pentium4 1.5ghz
384gb RAM
30gb HDD

I have a good deal of software installed, and was storing all of my .SNG and .WAV files on the main HDD.
I had about 3% of HDD space left when it was at its worst - I couldn't even run a disk defrag!

With nTrack, I was getting pretty bad latency, buffering issues during playback if I had anything over 6-7 tracks and more than one VST plug-in effect running at one time - lots of "hitching" when everything was going at once, my CPU usage indicator jumping into the high 90s every few seconds or so.
I don't record directly into nTrack - I record tracks on my Zoom PS-04, convert the files to WAV, and then import the WAVs into nTrack for mixing...so it's all playback.


Here's what I've done recently to try and solve these problems:

*Exported almost all of my files (audio and otherwise) to a 250gb external HDD - now I have about 13% HDD space free.
* Uninstalled superfluous apps.
*Ordered an additional 1gb of RAM. It hasn't arrived yet, so I haven't installed it.

My question: are these fixes going to be enough to solve my latency/buffering issues? I'm particularly interested to see if the additional 1gb RAM makes a difference. Perhaps I need a better processor? A 1.5gHz P4 seems like it should be sufficient...
It's not too late to cancel the order for the RAM and get a refund if it's not going to help.

Should I also create a separate XP System Profile to cut down on background apps?

Just trying to make the best out of my one and only system - if I could afford it, I'd buy a separate dedicated DAW.

Any help is appreciated. Thanks.

Anything that takes the load off of your CPU, or just get a faster CPU will help.
I found that if n-track uses more than 30%(and that's pushing it) of my CPU it will have problems with latency, skipping, etc.

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but I work with them in nTrack from my primary internal HDD.


This is probably one of your biggest problems. Laptop hard drives are horribly slow. Keeping adn accessing all of your music files on an external firewire drive would be the ideal with USB2 a second place finisher. ANd when you record new projects, use the external drive for everything.

WOW.

I didn’t even think of my internal HDD being SLOWER than the external USB2 drive. I guess that part of my brain is still stuck in the old days when any external device (serial, PS/2, and esp. parallel) was slower than the hard drive.

I’ll try that when I get home in 30 minutes - I’ll playback my most complex track (“Like It Or Not” - 12 tracks with horns, strings, etc.!) with all VST effects blazing - once on my internal HDD and again from the external USB HDD.


We’ll see - and I’ll keep that order for the additional 1gb RAM, every little bit helps.

THANKS!!!

:D

HOT DIGGITY DAMASCUS!!!

That did the trick. Running the SNG off of my USB hard drive.

In fact, I’m listening to an un-hitching “Like It Or Not” as we speak, as I type this post! Couldn’t have done that before without major crash-age.

Thanks gentlemen!!!

Quote (jamesmgregg @ Jan. 11 2006,19:34)
HOT DIGGITY DAMASCUS!!!

Watch your language, this is a family-oriented forum.
:D :D