Sorry, to add any confusion to the debate. Designing a new system from the ground up is about priorities. You decide what your priorities are and then work backwards from there.
My priorities are having a low latency system and getting my sound card on IRQ 9 (haha, priorities – IRQ). It doesn’t have to be super high performance but it does have to be quiet and have low power consumption. The IRQ 9 thing means I am pretty much limited to AGP and single processor/core.
If my priorities were high computational power (ie soft synths) then I would have to spend a bit more money and buy a dual processor dual core AMD or something like that…
Anyway, the point I was trying to make is that I am happy to limit myself to AGP based boards as it makes life less complicated, I can make one system and work on it, rather than spend all my time tweaking it. Also, I am constantly seeing people with PCIe based boards having lots of problems. A PCI sound card in a PCI based board is simple.
So, my process with designing a new system, AGP based, low power, small/portable (I forgot to mention that before). So, I built a matx based AGP board (having checked all the GNU/Linux hardware compatibilities first) and built it with a Socket 754 based chipset.
Before, I should have actually said, undervolted rather than underclocked, 'cos it’s running nearly at full speed, 2ghz but at only 0.95v (I haven’t bothered too much about CnQ). It works well, I can track at 96khz and record several channels with plugins and the computer does not break too much of a sweat.
Then you come along and say that an underclocked CPU on an old AGP board is a good idea.
I was trying to say in my post above that you need to find gear that works with audio (and tested as such). I’ve made excellent stable systems out of Athlons in the past so I do feel comfortable with them. Some people have recommended against using CPU throttling with DAWs. Personally, I don’t know about that and would definitely try and get it to work if it made a bit difference, but I aren’t going to get huge savings in power or heat even if I do get it to work. I calculated my Turion doesn’t make more than 13.5 Watts of energy if working at 100% as it stands. It won’t go more than 3C above ambient with mprime (admittedly it’s Winter here), and that’s with it running fanless.
Also, of late I have had a bad experiences with:
Asus motherboards. In the past they were excellent (they were the best) but now they seem to have QC problems. I had an A7M266 board, lostcircuits (that was the coolest site) recommended it. It was fantastic, but now I don’t think they are as good as they were then.
Matrox cards. In the past they were recommended as they had good solid drivers and were well made (G400 especially). I pretty much gave mine away as with all the new xorg X11 changes I could never get it to work properly (with Gentoo or with the unofficial drivers). I know they used to be recommended (here I think mainly), however, my recent experience leads me to think they are more trouble than they are worth. Plus, I’ve found a good replacement (below).
I’ve had good experience of late with
I use the ATI Radeon cards supported by the plain OS ‘Radeon’ driver, that’s (around) from the 7000 generation up to the 9600. They spent years getting those drivers to work and they work really well. I had good experience with my thinkpads and that made me move over to them.
SiS chipsets. They have an awkward Driver (you can get stuck if you have old sources in your kernel and a later version board). They are open source ‘unfriendly’ but I researched this one for about a month, and they are actually quite highly regarded in the industry. I came across a fantastic quote in the kernel mailing list and it persuaded me to get one of these.
I have a Zalman zm300b psu, I think it’s made by Fortron Source. It’s not the most efficient, but I’ve had it for about 4 years and it’s never missed a beat. However, I’ve bought several of the plain OEM FSP power supplies in the past and they went ‘boom’ or died quietly. So, I don’t think I’ll be buying another FSP based PSU
I really like my RME card! It’s the best
With GNU/Linux, you’re walking a tightrope, you don’t want to buy the latest and greatest unless you want to be the person ironing out the bugs. But you don’t want to be left behind with nobody supporting the devices. Audio is a bit the same, but you are looking for stability, solid implementations of hardware/software, and some speed. So, it’s many different things trying to balance out. I go the road-often-travelled route. If I do come across something I haven’t any experience with (a-la SiS chipsets) I spend some time and figure out if I am sure I can make it happen–well.