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Technical PC questions about shared memory

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by twangchief, Jan 14, 2006.

  1. twangchief

    twangchief Supporting Member

    Oct 30, 2003
    Altoona, PA
    Hi All! I think my new hangout will be here since I 'retired' from playing live for awhile.

    I'm planning on buying a new PC for audio and midi recording. I'll probably will be using Reason 3.0 along with CoolEdit Pro or Ableton Live. I'll be getting a fast Pentium 4 or Pentium D with at least 1 gig ram so I don't think speed and memory will be an issue.

    My question is on graphics. A fews years ago the recommendation was to avoid shared graphics memory and to purchase a seperate graphics card. Is shared graphics memory still an issue when the processor speeds are so high now and with 1 gig or more of ram?

    Thanks for your comments.
  2. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    It still is not quite as fast as a separate video card. I have a computer with shared onboard memory for video, and I noticed a nice speed jump when I popped in an AGP ATI card that had 64MB to itself, and it is definitely faster than my onboard.
  3. simisker


    Dec 24, 2005
    An integrated graphics solution should be fine in this day and age, yes. Just make sure the graphics chipset is either ATi- or nVidia-based [mainly for reasons of support - both these chipset manufacturers kick out driver updates very regularly].

    Image quality may suffer ever-so-slightly with onboard graphics, but unless you're going to be using very high resolutions you won't really notice. Similarly, speed shouldn't be an issue - even onboard solutions tend to have memory subsystems and RAMDACs that can cope [again with the 'less so at higher resolutions' caveat, though].

    There are a couple of reasons why you might still want to plump for a discreet graphics card, though: Firstly, onboard graphics chipsets tend to be cooled by small noisy fans which kick out a whirring that you may consider invasive [a passively-cooled graphics card, on the other hand, would create no noise of course]; and secondly it opens the door to multi-monitor use. Once you've used a setup with an arrange page on one monitor and mixer page on another monitor it's very difficult to remember how you coped with just one display! :D

    [EDIT: I'd also push for 2GB of memory, by the way - more headroom for those virtual instruments, processors and effects!]
  4. WalterBush


    Feb 27, 2005
    Yuma, Az
    Full disclosure, I'm a certified Fender technician working in a music store that carries Fender, Yamaha, and Ibanez products among others.
    A modern onboard graphics setup should be fine...until the first time you open up 32 tracks, a 5.1 master fader section, and several busses for mixing, all with meters pumping up and down while your CPU and memory keep the audio running smoothly. Meter ballistics were a problem for me until I upgraded to an ATI Radeon 9600. If you don't think this situation will ever come up, then I wouldn't worry unless you like really complex GUIs on plugins--vintage VUs with tons of knobs, modelled reflections, LEDs and such work your graphics pretty hard as well...
  5. twangchief

    twangchief Supporting Member

    Oct 30, 2003
    Altoona, PA
    Thanks for the comments!!

    I should have stated that I'll probably never have anymore than 8 tracks of audio and minimal real time effects. Maybe 4-5 virtual instruments.