[linux-audio-user] AMD64 question

Paul Winkler pw_lists at slinkp.com
Tue Jun 27 10:18:04 EDT 2006

On Tue, Jun 27, 2006 at 08:30:54AM -0400, Dave Phillips wrote:
> Greetings:
>  Not long ago I mentioned that a student had traded an MSI mobo (socket 
> 939) for some lessons. I'm ready to start building a system around that 
> board, and I have some questions for this list:
>  1) I can get a new AMD64 Athlon 3800 2.4 GHz for (US) $145. Is the 
> Athlon 64 a good chip for audio work, and is that a good price ? It's 
> the best listed on Pricewatch.

I think so. I paid more for a 2.2 GHz 3500+ two months ago! 

>  2) Recommended case/power supply ?

I went with an Antec Sonata, which out-of-the-box is hardly
silent, but it's solid and pretty easy to work with.
Then I added the foam kit for it that quietpc.com sells. I had the case
for a while, and when I recently upgraded (from a PIII 866 to the AMD)
I decided to get the foam kit.  Took a bit of fiddling to get everything
in, but the difference is very noticeable. It's now similar in noise to
an idling laptop.  This is with the stock AMD cpu fan.  The case came
with a quiet power supply.  I'm happy.

I chose my graphics card largely for lack of fan - I got a
Gigabyte GV-NX66256DP2.  Works well with either the kernel drivers
or the nvidia drivers. 

Most of the remaining noise in my system seems to come out the
rear, where the fans are. I put the case about 8" away from the
back wall and put some foam acoustic treatment on that wall behind
the case to reduce reflections off the wall. That made a noticeable

The one remaining irritant is hard drive noise. The Sonata
3.5" drive mounts are supposed to reduce hard drive vibration coupling
to the case, but my main drive still makes quite a bit of noise wheen
seeking.  (I don't hear whining, but I do hear fast "clunky" noises.)
I moved my "audio" drive up to the 5.25" drive bay, mounted on
one of these ...
... largely for cabling, because it was the only way I could get
that drive on the second IDE channel; I was having problems with
drive performance with lots of tracks in ardour. Seems better now.
As a nice side benefit, that drive seems quieter now.
I may get another of those 5.25" mounts and try putting the system drive
up there too.
>  3) The MSI box says it includes an nVidia nForce3 chipset, which I 
> assume means that there's an audio/video chipset on the mobo. I'll 
> probably disable the audio, and I have a gForce AGP video card to put in 
> the machine. Question: Am I better off using the integrated video or 
> should I use my card instead ? (Btw, I use the kernel nv driver, not 
> nVidia's binary driver).

No idea, sorry.  BTW, nforce3 doesn't automatically mean it has onboard
video.  My nforce 4 board doesn't.
Onboard audio is likely. I just disabled mine in the BIOS.
>  4) I assume I'll have to buy new RAM. What should I buy ?

Something compatible ;-) I went with 1 GB of Kingston ValueRAM.
The system reports it as 1004 MB, but hey, it was cheap :-p
>  5) The CPU includes a fan, but should I get something more powerful ?

I'd try it first. Mine seems fine. I was afraid it would be very noisy,
but with all the padding in my case I don't hear it at all over the
(quiet) case fan and PSU fan.
>  6) How can I best reduce the noise from this system ?

See above :)
>  7) Am I correct to assume that this system runs in a 32-bit more as 
> well as the 64-bit ? How do I determine which mode I'll run in ?

I'm a gentoo guy, so I just read their 64-bit guide and followed that.
So I'd advise to read whatever info your distro provides about the
Once I was up and running, I just use the system as normal...
I rarely if ever have to think about how many bits.
The one inconvenience is that sometimes a gentoo ebuild that's marked stable
for 32 isn't marked stable for 64 yet.

Paul Winkler

More information about the Linux-audio-user mailing list