Need Help Deciding on New WIN Computer

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danevaz
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2018/06/21 02:51:06 (permalink)

Need Help Deciding on New WIN Computer

Hey All,

Some of you may have seen my previous thread re: a potentially dying SSD in a 5+ yr old DELL XPS 8500 tower (WIN7/SP1/all latest updates).

Yes, I could replace the SSD in my current machine and load WIN 10 PRO, but my current motherboard doesn't support Thunderbolt, so I'm probably looking for a new computer. Want to stay with Windows, and I've had good luck with DELL in the past.

I'm currently using an Apollo Twin USB 3.0 as an interface, but have for some time wanted to move to a Thunderbolt3 interface (seems to be the current state of the art) and transition to WIN10 PRO.

My "bedroom studio" is upstairs (in a bedroom?), but I have a nice rehearsal space down in the basement with drums, amps, keyboard, etc. I currently record my jazz combo with a ZOOM H4n then bring it into SONAR to clean up. It sounds OK, but I'd like to start getting a better quality recording possibly using my Apollo Twin to record directly into Sonar running on a laptop.

I am almost embarrassed to admit (as a retired computer professional) that I am confused when it comes to some of the current protocols and ports (e.g. USB-A, USB-C, USB3.1 Gen 1/2, Thunderbolt 2/3, etc.) and as to whether or not they will play nice with the latest Thunderbolt (Apollo, Focusrite Red/Scarlett, and PreSouns Quantum) interfaces.

Was hoping some of you knowledgeable folks could help me out.

From the DELL product page - here's what it says re: ports on their their latest XPS tower (8930):

(1) USB 3.1 Type-C Port | (3) USB 3.1 Gen 1 Ports | (3) USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, (1) USB 3.1 Gen 2 port | (1) USB 3.1 Type-C port | (2) USB 2.0 ports | (note: no mention of Thunderbolt).

and re: their newest laptop - new XPS15:

USB 3.1 Gen 1 with PowerShare | Thunderbolt™ 3 (4 lanes of PCI Express Gen 3) supporting: Power in/charging, PowerShare, Thunderbolt 3 (40Gbps bi-directional), USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10Gbps), Native DisplayPort 1.2 video output, VGA, HDMI, Ethernet and USB-A via Dell Adapter (sold separately) |

Everything else in the specs of both machines is state of the art - latest INTEL 8th gen. 8 core processors, DDR4-2666MHz memory, M.2 SSD drives, add-on NVidia card. The laptop has an option for a 4K 15.6" touch screen.

So any comments re: which would of those two port configurations would work with my with my current USB3.0 Apollo Twin out of the box, and will still work when I move forward to a Thunderbolt interface would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Danny V.
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10 Replies Related Threads

    fireberd
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    Re: Need Help Deciding on New WIN Computer 2018/06/22 10:33:52 (permalink)
    I looked at Dell's the last time I upgraded my Desktop (actually looked the time before) and found they did not have expansion space and ports that I needed.  I do user support on the Dell forums (been on there since 2002 and listed as one of the "gurus") and get special pricing but that still wasn't enough to use a Dell instead of building my own.  Price came out fairly close.  
     
    However, I do have a Dell "gaming" laptop (inspiron 15) that I have for both general PC use and for on-site recordings.  I had to install a dual boot as I couldn't tame the Dell installation enough for recording.  It came with an M.2 SSD which makes it fast - visually it boots and loads programs as fast as my desktop.  It has space to add a laptop hard drive or full size SSD.  I had a spare SSD so I installed that and loaded a second Win 10 installation on the SSD - only Win 10, needed drivers and Sonar.  If I want to use it for general PC work I boot to the original Dell image.  If I want to record, I boot to the new "recording" image.

    "GCSG Productions"
    Franklin D-10 Pedal Steel Guitar (primary instrument). Nashville Telecaster, Bass, etc. 
    ASUS ROG Maximus VIII Hero M/B, i7 6700K CPU, 16GB Ram, SSD and conventional hard drives, Win 10 Pro and Win 10 Pro Insider Pre-Release
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    #2
    danevaz
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    Re: Need Help Deciding on New WIN Computer 2018/06/25 18:11:48 (permalink)
    Thanks "fireberd".
     
    I did see some of your postings on the DELL forum and I figured you were the same guy from the SONAR forums.
     
    Don't know if I really want to get involved in assembling my own computer - I can install a hard drive and memory and once had to replace a power supply - but hey, now that I'm retired, I'm a musician...
    #3
    abacab
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    Re: Need Help Deciding on New WIN Computer 2018/06/25 18:57:02 (permalink)
    For a custom built DAW PC, a popular source is a Studio Cat from Purrrfect Audio.  Jim Roseberry hangs out on these forums and offers computer advice around here.  He can probably help with your decision.
     
    You can PM him or email him at jim@studiocat.com
     
    http://studiocat.com/open...9_65&product_id=56

    DAW: Cakewalk by Bandlab; Sonar Platinum, and others ...  Other: AIR AIEP; Akai VIP; BIAB; Fathom; Ignite; iZotope Iris 2; Miroslav; Notion; Overture; SampleTank 3; SynthMaster; Syntronik; Waves  OS: Win10 Pro x64 1709  System: Homebuilt Asus; i3 3.4Ghz; 8GB DDR3; Intel HD Graphics; Dual Monitors; Samsung EVO 850 SSD, 250GB; PCIe FireWire  Audio: M-Audio FW-410  Controllers: A-300PRO; Alesis VX49; CME Xkey  Hardware: Roland JV880; JV1080; XP-30; Alesis QS-6; Casio CZ-1000; Fender P-Bass

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    Genghis
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    Re: Need Help Deciding on New WIN Computer 2018/06/25 19:16:09 (permalink)
    I've been a satisfied StudioCat for many years now.  Last two towers were StudioCat and I recently picked up a sweet laptop from Jim.  Great stuff, and a great guy, even if I did start gassing for a Friedman amp after talking to him. :)

    They call 'em fingers, but I've never seen 'em fing. 
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    #5
    fireberd
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    Re: Need Help Deciding on New WIN Computer 2018/06/26 10:52:43 (permalink)
    I've been retired since late 96, but I've worked in electronics (amp tech) and computers until I retired.  
    But, building a desktop is not as scary as it used to be.  Observe a few rules such as avoiding static electricity issues and it will usually worked when put together.  10 or 15 years ago I wouldn't have said that.
     

    "GCSG Productions"
    Franklin D-10 Pedal Steel Guitar (primary instrument). Nashville Telecaster, Bass, etc. 
    ASUS ROG Maximus VIII Hero M/B, i7 6700K CPU, 16GB Ram, SSD and conventional hard drives, Win 10 Pro and Win 10 Pro Insider Pre-Release
    Sonar Platinum/CbB. MOTU 896MK3 Hybrid, Tranzport, X-Touch, JBL LSR308 Monitors,  
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    #6
    pb7r47sz
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    Re: Need Help Deciding on New WIN Computer 2018/06/26 13:48:13 (permalink)
    Danny,
    Thunderbolt has been a slippery and frustrating experience for Windows users.  If you desire using Thunderbolt 3 you need to acquaint yourself with its workings.  Intel has set up a website dedicated to thunderbolt technology.  The switching capabilities of the thunderbolt 3 controller are thoroughly explained in the following pdf. 
     
    https://thunderbolttechno...nderbolt3USBC-IDFf.pdf
     
    As I understand it, the chip basically increases band width by utilizing the PCIe lanes of DP and USB 3.1.  Hence the USB C connector so it can be switched between all three. To avoid the expensive testing that Intel requires, many computer builders only use the USB 3.1 path, from the “C” connector thru the chip.  If Thunderbolt 3 is not stated in the specs the “C” connector is only for USB 3.1 devices.  Beware!
    Also to carry the Thunderbolt brand, the device manufacturer have to prove the product’s viability and get approval from Intel.  A list of approved devices is listed here:
     
    https://thunderbolttechnology.net/
     
    Select the Products tab then use the sorter to look for devices that have been approved.  Keep in mind this site’s web manager is the usual 3 to 4 months behind any new developments. As you can see, the only motherboards approved are from Asus and Gigabyte and Universal Audio’s new interfaces are not listed yet.
    Look at Universal Audio’s system requirements for using their thunderbolt devices in Window 10.  They list the computers they have tested (as well as the ones that didn’t make it) and the drivers you have to use (by Windows revision).  Focusrite has also had their problems in dealing with Thunderbolt 3.
    At this time, I am saying go to a dedicated builder like Studio Cat.  Things are still in flux.

    Regards,
           Forest
     
    Gigabyte X99m Gaming 5, G.Skills Ripjaws4-32GB, Intel 6800K, SSD & HDD, Win Pro 10, Motu 4 PRE, electric & acoustic guitars.
    #7
    Starise
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    Re: Need Help Deciding on New WIN Computer 2018/06/26 18:13:55 (permalink)
    If I had an apple computer I would be more prone to consider Thunderbolt. As it stands in PC land it can be a bit of a chore to make sure what you buy works with everything.
    The only real reason to go with something like thunderbolt is bandwidth. Similar bandwidth can be had using other protocols. 
    If you have a home studio using few channels of simultaneous recording increased bandwidth isn't really a necessity.
    The new Clarette series from Focusrite has a usb model with high resolutions, plenty of I/O and plenty of bandwidth for the home studio. The Apollo Twin USB you have is a nice interface if you have enough I/O. I'm not trying to discourage you from Thunderbolt, just saying there are plenty of other options. Some interfaces have  dual connection options such as Motu.
    See the laptop in my sig. They make several versions of it. Mine is a higher tier version and has two drives one being a 7200 rpm, and plenty of memory in it. i7 processor. Most brick and mortars will carry it in a more trimmed down version. Slower HDD or SSD, Less memory. They all look the same on the outside ;) If you look around you can find one for a good price with more bells and whistles. So far I've loved using it with Ableton 10. Lots of powerful capability for a laptop. Mine is BIG though. If you want portable don't buy that one.
     
     

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    Laptop HP Omen i7 16gb 2/sdd with Focusrite interface.
     CbB, Studio One 4 Pro, Mixcraft 8, Ableton Live 10 
     
     www.soundcloud.com/starise
     
     
     
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    #8
    abacab
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    Re: Need Help Deciding on New WIN Computer 2018/06/26 18:15:38 (permalink)
    Jim can answer any questions about Thunderbolt on Windows, and the pitfalls.  He has posted about them in numerous threads on this forum.
     
    You may want to try a search of this forum.

    DAW: Cakewalk by Bandlab; Sonar Platinum, and others ...  Other: AIR AIEP; Akai VIP; BIAB; Fathom; Ignite; iZotope Iris 2; Miroslav; Notion; Overture; SampleTank 3; SynthMaster; Syntronik; Waves  OS: Win10 Pro x64 1709  System: Homebuilt Asus; i3 3.4Ghz; 8GB DDR3; Intel HD Graphics; Dual Monitors; Samsung EVO 850 SSD, 250GB; PCIe FireWire  Audio: M-Audio FW-410  Controllers: A-300PRO; Alesis VX49; CME Xkey  Hardware: Roland JV880; JV1080; XP-30; Alesis QS-6; Casio CZ-1000; Fender P-Bass

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    Jim Roseberry
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    Re: Need Help Deciding on New WIN Computer 2018/06/27 16:55:19 (permalink)
    Thunderbolt isn't a problem... 
    You just need to know all the details up-front... and plan accordingly.
    I'm running an Apollo-8 Quad and Satellite Expander Quad both via Thunderbolt-3 (works great).
     

    Best Regards,

    Jim Roseberry
    jim@studiocat.com
    www.studiocat.com
    #10
    GaryMedia
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    Re: Need Help Deciding on New WIN Computer 2018/07/08 17:27:10 (permalink)
    Think of the following as a stream of consciousness that may be of some benefit to you gaining perspective on the problems you're about to solve:
     
    Thunderbolt will be an advantage for connecting external HDD's and external SSD's. Be prepared to spend a couple of hundred dollars on a multi-bay enclosure if you're planning to use them a JBOD and spend more if you want RAID capability. It's a natural for short-distance connections to video drives and other stuff that needs high multiple terabytes of capacity. 
     
    Thunderbolt also offers a latency advantage over USB implementations if you're using DAW-based effects while recording.  For Apollo users, the 'real-time' effects in the UAD DSP of the Apollo makes this less necessary, but there are always things you have in your DAW that cost too much on the UAD platform. Thunderbolt's latency advantage derives from its PCIe roots and the driver/hardware interactions that are very fast via that hardware path.
     
    Thunderbolt does *not* offer any practical advantage in channel count for audio strictly due to its superior bandwidth.  There is already plenty of bandwidth even in the lowly USB 2.0.  For example, 128 channels of 24-bit audio at 96KHz sampling rate is still less than 300Mbits/sec.  USB 2.0 has trouble with high throughput due to its half-duplex architecture and the polling scheme.  USB 3.0/3.1 gen1, gen2 does much better in that respect with its dual-simplex (full-duplex) architecture but retains some of the driver baggage of USB 2.0.
     
    I'm a very big advocate of Dante protocol.  The Dante PCIe card works at latency values similar to Thunderbolt using gigabit Ethernet.  That 128-channel example that I mentioned above will work on Dante gigabit Ethernet. In addition to the channel count, it has the advantage of larger distances and excellent topology flexibility at very low cost.  Thunderbolt, on the other hand, has short copper links, or expensive and short optical links. I don't know if any Tbolt-3 optical cables exist, but if you need Tbolt-2 to go 100-feet, be prepared to spend around $400.
     
    If the Dante product set could get enough market share to drive down the chipset price, it would prove to be exactly what the audio world needs.  The needed growth rate and uptake for Dante is not happening fast enough, and the ascent of AVB is diluting the market, while the 'V' part of AVB doesn't seem to have anything happening in it despite its deleterious effects on Dante. 
     
    post edited by GaryMedia - 2018/07/09 01:23:49

    CbB Win10 | Mac Pro 12-core 3.33GHz/48GB | TCL 55" 4K UHD | 480GB SSD | 6TB HDD RAID-5 array| 1.5TB SSD RAID-0 array | Midas M32 | 2x Audient ASP800 |  UAD-2 Duo PCIe | Adam A7X.
    http://www.tedlandstudio.com/articles
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