Advice on Powerbook purchase and g4 upgrade for audio

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by Bhennies, Apr 7, 2004.

  1. Bhennies macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2004
    Location:
    NYC & Baltimore
    #1
    Hello...sorry if this is a long post, but I have a difficult decision to make, and you all are the most informed people I could possibly get an honest answer from (as expected, the Apple store guys told me to buy new everything). If you are an audio user (pro tools especially), or just a knowledgable mac head, please drop your 2 cents.

    Anyway, here it goes (multi-part).

    I need two computers, one needs to be a desktop, and the other needs to be portable (laptop). I will get an updated 23" HD display regardless of any which way I go, so that is not a factor.

    The first option: I have a dual 500 sawtooth G4 (Gigabit) with 896 of RAM, that I have already invested 1,500 into for audio (i.e. Digidesign PCI interface with RME convertors). That audio hardware will NOT be compatible with a g5. However, the sawtooth is barely doing the trick for me anymore, so I was thinking of upgrading to the dual 1.2 processors (powerlogix) for 699, and then buying a 15" powerbook (speed bump) when they are updated. The powerbook is desired, because I will not only need portability, but also decent processing power. This way, i can get 1.5 more years out of my g4 (studio use only, powerbook for all else) until the g5's are lightning fast. Or can I? Is this a bad idea? Am i beating a dead horse? (audio people help me out). What steps could I take to make the g4 run adequately?

    Second option: get a new g5 desktop if the g4 won't cut it (or if the processor upgrade is too risky), and buy new audio hardware, which will kill my hopes of a Powerbook laptop (I may be able to afford an iBook or something slow, but that's not desired).

    Anyway, to sum it up, can the g4 be upgraded or milked (stripped down to only Pro Tools and Pro Tools settings) for ADEQUATE performance for another year or so, or is it dead? Should I try and wait for the Powerbook g5, or is that a hopeless venture? Do I need to put the dual g4 upgrade in or can I get away for a while with the 1.4 single? How much faster would either one be than my dual 500? Sorry about the world's most annoying and long post. Hope I didn't put you all to sleep. Anyway, i appreciate your help, and thanks for the comments!
     
  2. adamjay macrumors 6502a

    adamjay

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2004
    Location:
    Indianapolis
    #2
    i'll preface this post to tell you that i am an audio professional. i produce music on mac's for a living. and its good that you havent bought into the "a g5 is faster than a g4 because its newer or a higher number"

    If you are using TDM FX Plugins, the Dual 1.2ghz upgrade cpu will give you superior performance to a single G5 and about 10% less performance than a Dual 1.8ghz G5. this is thanks to the mamoth Cache's on the powerlogix upgrades. Cache is audio processing's best friend, bus speed is more like a 2nd cousin that helps you out once a year or so.

    If you don't use TDM plugins, or have a Protools HD system that can absorb some of the processing power, a 1.4ghz Sonnet upgrade ($450) would suffice and is on par with the single G5's. The dual processor is really going to help you most in the fx plugin department.

    the upgrades aren't risky at all..

    either way, its a good investment and will keep you working for more than just 1 more year, possibly 2 or 3.

    you can also put a serial ATA hard drive controller pci card in the G4 .. they run as low as $60, coupled with a serial ata hard drive, you can get up to 150MB/sec transfers - SATA is the G5 standard and this upgrade would help you obtain that G5 speed, so when you axe the G4, you can keep the drive and throw it into a G5. Also, since you are using protools can i assume that you are using OS9? G4's and OS9 make alot better friends than G5's.

    it really depends on what you are doing in protools. could you enlighten us?
     
  3. Bhennies thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2004
    Location:
    NYC & Baltimore
    #3
    thanks so much for the quick post. I'm actually using Pro Tools LE with RME/ apogee converters (i bypass the crummy-sounding Digi 001 hardware with ADAT in/out). I am using primarily RTAS/audiosuite plug-ins, along with Native Instruments BATTERY, and actually am running Pro Tools 6.1 on OS 10.2.8. As for how I use Pro tools, I produce dub style- down tempo, so lots of delays and reverbs...heavy CPU usage. The dual-500 sawtooth (896 RAM) is almost cutting it, but not quite. With the buffer at 1024 for mixing, and CPU usage at 95% (99 is a little unstable), I find myself about 4-5 plug-ins short of where I'd like to be.

    The reason I don't want to buy a g5 right now, is that I haven't quite decided which new audio interface to go with yet (DIGI 002, MOTU 192 or Pro Tools HD), and buying a g5 would force me into a premature decision, not to mention having to buy a laptop AND a new desktop ($$$$$). Also, I think that they are going to get a lot faster in a relatively short period of time (I'll bet the dual 3.0 g5 will be very affordable by the time a Powerlogix upgrade would run out of steam). I'm not one to buy top of the line when the prices are extremely inflated.

    By the way, what would the direct advantage be to having the serial ATA drive? It sound like something i might want to do, as long as it would be cross compatible with a new g5.

    Also, I'm alittle worried about installing the Powerlogix CPU. By saying it's not risky, I'm assuming horror stories are not common? I've installed RAM, PCI cards, and I'm pretty handy (I can solder) so hopefully I can do it. I'm just worried about screwing up my computer.

    Last thing, I swear. do you have any experience with the newer Powerbooks? That is the first purchase I would like to make, but I'm thinking they are a little slow as a primary mixing machine. Will they be able to handle Pro tools ok as a secondary machine (tracking and basic mixing)? As well as Photoshop etc. It's mostly for portability, so power is somewhat secondary (but still important- location photo shoots). I'm going through a very unsettled period in my life (New York, to Maryland, to London to ?) so the laptop is required. It's really quite fun moving all my gear all the time, especially my 150 pound Rhodes piano (sarcasm intended). Thanks a million for your help!

    By the way, how do you enable the subtext for posts on this site. I swear to God I'm NOT computer illiterate.
     
  4. adamjay macrumors 6502a

    adamjay

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2004
    Location:
    Indianapolis
    #4
    advantage of serial ATA... data rate. 150MB/sec.
    your stock dual 500mhz = ATA-66 or 66MB/sec , therefore the overall "feel" of the OS, opening closing applications, moving files, saving files, deleting files will be much much faster.

    the Powerlogix cpu upgrade is great make sure you get one that uses the 7457 series G4, it has a 512k L2 cache (rather than 256k), plus 2MB L3 cache. the best cache for audio i'd say. as for installation - no you really don't hear any horror stories. all you do is use a small tool to get the heatsink clips off (or even a screwdriver would do), unscrew 4 or 5 screws to release the CPU from the board, and then basically do the same process in reverse to install the new cpu. turn the machine on and Viola!
    you wont screw up your computer, there is no soldering involved.

    newer powerbooks..., i have a 12" aluminum.. got some buddies with the 15" 1.25ghz aluminum powerbooks they love em, and i love mine. i use mine to run finalscratch for DJing, Ableton live for live pa's, and Reason/Ableton/VST's in the studio - feeding into Logic on my Powermac. Some people warn you to shy away from the Rev1 apple's, but i've always owned Rev1 Apples (powerbook 400mhz, powermac, imac, powerbook 867mhz 12") and have never had an issue, hell i've never even bought the extended applecare.

    buffer at 1024!?!?!? ouch man. you need to upgrade for sure.

    One last thing, i know that theres a new version of protools (free upgrade) that runs under Mac OS X Panther (10.3). Panther will make your machine feel ALOT faster, 10-15% faster actually. Especially for audio app's... you know that feeling when you are stressing the cpu and the video kinda slows down and things get sluggish (better than on a pc where it will glitch or freeze)... well Panther's GUI is much more effecient and you will see this if you upgrade.
     
  5. Bhennies thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2004
    Location:
    NYC & Baltimore
    #5
    cool. thanks man! By the way, i don't think my Mac is a sawtooth. It's the Gigabit model. I'm an amateur.
     

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