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  1. #1

    Default New PC for audio: small and with PCI slot?

    After being busy with other things in life for a few years I have recently started getting back into music and audio. I needed some audio mixing so out came my trusty old system with 3x ADA, an RME Digiface and a nice and small SFF PC. Unfortunately age is taking its' toll on the old PC. The fans would only run full speed. That's a lot of noise, totally unacceptable. Back in the day when I first found this small desktop PC it worked so well that I purchased a spare. It took some time to adapt that one to rack mounting, now it fits and sits in the case. All working again. But it is old hardware, runs XP as an OS and may not last long anymore. So, I am looking into upgrading. I want to keep using my interface which is an RME Digiface. It comes with a PCI card. I am rather fond of the Digiface as it is extremely reliable and has great driver support from RME. Decent compact and reliable small computers are easy to find, but they don't make them with PCI slots anymore.

    Two questions:
    1. Can I run 32bit SAC on W10 64b these days? Or on W10 32b? Unfortunately I cannot afford to upgrade to 64b SAC.
    2. Can anyone recommend a somewhat recent standard SFF desktop pc model that has a PCI slot? Not PCI express.

    My more detailed requirements for question 2:

    • SFF (fits into 2RU height, together with a Digiface on a shallow rackmount tray)
    • One PCI slot (probably on a riser so it sits sideways, to fit 2RU)
    • Preferably a used Dell, Lenovo or HP, somewhat recent (newer than Core2Duo)
    • In these times budget is limited, so I am looking for small and cheap.
    • Should run current W10 OS, preferably 64b, can do 32b if that runs better with 32b SAC.


    Suggestions are most welcome.
    --
    El cheapo SAC host V1.0: Lenovo - C2D E6550 - 2GB RAM - RME Digiface
    El cheapo SAC host V2.0: Fujitsu - i3-6300 - 8GB RAM - RME Digiface USB - (3) ADA8200 - 17" TFT

  2. #2
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    Default Re: New PC for audio: small and with PCI slot?

    AntonZ,

    1. Can I run 32bit SAC on W10 64b these days? Or on W10 32b? Unfortunately I cannot afford to upgrade to 64b SAC.
    ... Yes, you can run SAC32 on WIN10-64.

  3. #3

    Default Re: New PC for audio: small and with PCI slot?

    Quote Originally Posted by AntonZ View Post
    After being busy with other things in life for a few years I have recently started getting back into music and audio. I needed some audio mixing so out came my trusty old system with 3x ADA, an RME Digiface and a nice and small SFF PC. Unfortunately age is taking its' toll on the old PC. The fans would only run full speed. That's a lot of noise, totally unacceptable. Back in the day when I first found this small desktop PC it worked so well that I purchased a spare. It took some time to adapt that one to rack mounting, now it fits and sits in the case. All working again. But it is old hardware, runs XP as an OS and may not last long anymore. So, I am looking into upgrading. I want to keep using my interface which is an RME Digiface. It comes with a PCI card. I am rather fond of the Digiface as it is extremely reliable and has great driver support from RME. Decent compact and reliable small computers are easy to find, but they don't make them with PCI slots anymore.

    Two questions:
    1. Can I run 32bit SAC on W10 64b these days? Or on W10 32b? Unfortunately I cannot afford to upgrade to 64b SAC.
    2. Can anyone recommend a somewhat recent standard SFF desktop pc model that has a PCI slot? Not PCI express.

    My more detailed requirements for question 2:

    • SFF (fits into 2RU height, together with a Digiface on a shallow rackmount tray)
    • One PCI slot (probably on a riser so it sits sideways, to fit 2RU)
    • Preferably a used Dell, Lenovo or HP, somewhat recent (newer than Core2Duo)
    • In these times budget is limited, so I am looking for small and cheap.
    • Should run current W10 OS, preferably 64b, can do 32b if that runs better with 32b SAC.


    Suggestions are most welcome.
    Anton, while you are making your decision, you may find that if you open your PC and carefully vacuum the dust out of it that it will have far less difficulty cooling itself, and thus require less noisy fan. Otherwise, it's also possible that malware is using up clock cycles causing it to use more processor than it should. I guess what I'm thinking is that computers don't get noisy just because they get older. Something from the outside causes them to change behavior.

  4. #4

    Default Re: New PC for audio: small and with PCI slot?

    Hi John, no unfortunately this has nothing to do with dust. I routinely open my pc's to vacuum the dust out. This pc is clean inside. Also no virus or malware. This is an older XP PC that has never been connected to the internet and has not even seen data through usb sticks in years. I'm quite rigid in keeping my audio pc from any network/internet access. Right from booting up the fans go full speed and won't slow down, at all. Regular behaviour for this model is for the fans to run full speed for a second upon connecting power. Same upon powering up. Then they slow down right away. The spare pc does this, the original will have its' fans remain at full speed, well after the OS has booted. Processor cooling block is way cool. All the fans that connect to the motherboard run full speed. Intake fan, processor fan and exhaust fan. Only the power supply fan runs slowly. There is a thermal sensor in the case, perhaps that has developed a fault or the electronics on the board that connect with it. The connector to the thermal sensor is fine, I have reseated it several times.

    It is good to know I can run my trusty old 32 bits SAC on W10 these days. Unfortunately I don't seem to get the current 32b SAC version with my license. I guess there has been some update that I missed. Mine is from the 3.x era. We used to have free updates for registered users but that may have stopped at v4.
    --
    El cheapo SAC host V1.0: Lenovo - C2D E6550 - 2GB RAM - RME Digiface
    El cheapo SAC host V2.0: Fujitsu - i3-6300 - 8GB RAM - RME Digiface USB - (3) ADA8200 - 17" TFT

  5. #5

    Default Re: New PC for audio: small and with PCI slot?

    Hi,
    there should be a section in the bios where you can read the tempeartures. Can you see correct values there?

    Tomy
    3 * TIO1608 + AIC-128 + X-Touch + Dante -> AES + DADC-144DT

    SATlive is my measurement software
    DIN 15905-5 (German SPL Limit)

  6. #6

    Default Re: New PC for audio: small and with PCI slot?

    Hi Tomy, I am not sure if this PC's bios has a section where the temperatures can be read, I can check that out. But I am very sure that the cause is not high temperature. The processor is cool to the touch and remains cool also after long time idle running. The processor load in task manager is near zero % yet the three fans keep running at full speed.

    I am not really looking to fix that now, I would rather replace the PC with a newer model as it is now so old that more problems may start popping up. It was made in 2007. But it seems near impossible to find a more recent SFF PC that is as compact as the old model, has a PCI slot and will run W10 comfortably with better performance than the trusty old C2D 6550.

    Someone mentioned to me a PCIe to PCI riser with flex cable. That might be an option, not sure how this PCIe to PCI thing works internally and if my RME card can do its' magic with that. Perhaps I should bite the bullet and move to RME Digiface USB. For now that's a big expense though. I would prefer to keep using my RME Digiface with PCI card, it runs so well.
    --
    El cheapo SAC host V1.0: Lenovo - C2D E6550 - 2GB RAM - RME Digiface
    El cheapo SAC host V2.0: Fujitsu - i3-6300 - 8GB RAM - RME Digiface USB - (3) ADA8200 - 17" TFT

  7. #7

    Default Re: New PC for audio: small and with PCI slot?

    It's probably because your CMOS battery died.

  8. #8

    Default Re: New PC for audio: small and with PCI slot?

    Nope, it was dead indeed when I initially attempted to boot the PC after a period of not being used. I replaced the battery with a fresh one. While I was at it I updated the BIOS with the latest and greatest, cleared all CMOS settings again just to be sure. Before and after every step I booted the PC. All of it had no effect whatsoever. The fans will keep blasting like a helicopter taking off, no matter what I do.

    I am currently running my spare PC, which is also 13 years old. I cannot rely on it to keep going and new PCs of that form factor with a PCI slot just don't seem to be made anymore. Everything is PCI-express these days. Most of the current SFF models are either too large for my rack or too small to fit a PCIe-to-PCI converter and my good old RME card. I may need to let go of the trusty RME Digiface and either get a cheap Behringer (which would lower my track count significantly), or start saving for a new RME Digiface USB. The latter seems attractive but at this time I cannot justify the cost. I'm a weekend warrior. This audio and music thing is not paying bills for me so it feels a bit like money down the drain.

    Gotta love RME though, the Digiface is also well over 10 years old. I downloaded and installed fresh drivers for it, on an XP box. There is no other company out there that comes anywhere near their driver quality and longevity of product support.
    --
    El cheapo SAC host V1.0: Lenovo - C2D E6550 - 2GB RAM - RME Digiface
    El cheapo SAC host V2.0: Fujitsu - i3-6300 - 8GB RAM - RME Digiface USB - (3) ADA8200 - 17" TFT

  9. #9

    Default Re: New PC for audio: small and with PCI slot?

    I found a decent SFF desktop PC and a Digiface USB interface. Both lightly used in very good condition and the price was right. The PC has no PCI slots and is somewhat larger than the old box. Not enough room left for the old Digiface and no PCI slot, so this could only work in combination with the USB digiface. That box is one small miracle. It fits in the palm of a hand yet has up to 32 channels in and 34 channels out through ADAT light pipes. When work and family calm down a bit I hope to find time to install all of this back into the 2u space in my shallow flight case rack. The PC runs W10 pro 64 bit, i3-6300 processor (high clock speed rather than higher number of slower physical cores), OS boots from NVME SSD and there is room for an additional big HDD for plenty of recorded audio. This should work very well. Fingers crossed.
    --
    El cheapo SAC host V1.0: Lenovo - C2D E6550 - 2GB RAM - RME Digiface
    El cheapo SAC host V2.0: Fujitsu - i3-6300 - 8GB RAM - RME Digiface USB - (3) ADA8200 - 17" TFT

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