System requirements / recommendations for ARDOUR 3.x

I am in the lucky position to buy a new computer and equip it with the hardware to perfectly match with the upcoming ARDOUR 3. I plan use Ubuntu 32-bit Lucid Lynx (LTS) to take advantage of the VST effects (and others) available. I already own the M-Audio Delta 1010LT audio card which I would like to use.

What kind of hardware on my computer would be necessary for a good working environment? RAM, processor/cores, harddisc, anything else? Is it possible to use ATOM processors as well? I think the question of minimum or recommended system requirements will be of general interest for new users of the software.

Thank you.

I just think that on CPU wise you should go for an AMD try to avoid Intel if possible… besides they are cheaper…

Any reason to avoid Intel, apart from their previously slightly shoddy sales ethics and AMD perhaps having a better price/performance and possibly performance/wattage value?

There are no tecnical reasons (that I know of) to choose one before the other.

Well I guess Intel has that cool “Intel Inside” sticker that makes your box look really pro…

Ahhhh . . . I just have to comment on this!

I used to be an AMD guy - went through three of them in rapid succession (lightning surges). I finally decided to try Intel again and was absolutely amazed at the massive reduction in noise factor.

All of my AMD’s sounded like I was at a busy airport (outside near the jets). The HP xw4200 that I picked up used (P4 3.2) is so quiet that I have done all of my voice recordings with the the HP unit at my right-hand side, under the desk.

I would suggest going the used route: lotsa really nice, very solidly built HP workstations (up to quad core available at your friendly eBay - and fairly inexpensive). Why waste the money buying cutting-edge when it really isn’t necessary?

I run 2 10k rpm SATA hard drives with no problems at all.

Even if somone gave me a box with an AMD processor, I would probably refuse it. They are just way too loud to be doing any long-duration work with their noisy units (the CPU fan is quite the thing).

Just my two cents from experience.


I think your issue was the “Spread Spectrum” on the BIOS which I believe it’s enabled by default, used for when you want to overclock but also adds a lot of noise, disabling cuts off the Electro Magnetic Interference on the CPU making it more quiet, I don’t think you are talking about the fan noise right, cause those things get really noisy over time, I always dust my computer off every month, with 3 cats and a dog, funny and cute furry creatures spawn once in a while inside my PC…

Hi Joe,

Actually, when I upgraded to my first AMD, I disabled that option. Still was a very noisy machine. On my next two units, I resorted to special coolers to bring the noise level down somewhat.

I must admit I was unprepared for the quiet when I first switched on the HP xw4200 - as quiet as a laptop in hibernation!

Fan noise on the AMDs? Oh yes, I moved to a larger fan sizes in power supply and case. Quietened things down somewhat, but I never overclocked any AMD - I’m not a gamer :slight_smile:

That being said, I guess it’s a question of personal preference - I like peace and quiet while working - even on audio :slight_smile: I haven’t looked back on the three years plus I’ve used this well-constructed unit that offers such solid perfomance. I would buy another (if I needed one)!

Thanks for the tips on AMD though!

The sarcastic sticker comment is still not a technical reason, Joe.

Ok, I’ll bite.
This forum is always polite so I have no fear of flame wars.
I am a system builder and part-time recording technician. My area of speciality has been the silencing of computer systems. If I can hear it when it’s on then I didn’t do a good enough job for the client. Over the years I have been surprised what noises can be eliminated (and which ones can’t).

I’ve never seen a P4 that ran cool. In my experience they’ve been the worst heat-making culprits of the processors that people bring in. I would never recommend them to anyone interested in silent heat dissipation. They (like any processor) can be quieted down some, but it’s a challenge. HP must’ve done a great job with that box.

Any Intel processor of the last 3 years can be made to be quiet, but I still prefer AMD because I’ve had better success with power management (or the occasional underclocking). That’s totally personal preference, though. Any 64-bit AMD proc (from socket 754/939 up to today) is an easy target for silencing. I am currently sitting next to my quad-core AMD (about 20 inches from my ears) and for all purposes it’s inaudible. (ok, so I have the faintest of hums from the HD’s because I have 6 of them in there, but that in itself is a moment of pride for me). Oh, and of course the stock fans are not acceptable with either brand.

so, for the OP,
I’m very happy with AMD, and you do get more for your money, but really no one should spend too much $$ on getting the latest hardware in a new box. In a year or two it’ll just be “that old piece of junk computer that I reeeeeealllly want to upgrade” :slight_smile:
Check out the forums at silentpcreview for great info on how to make it a recording box suitable to a musician’s ears.
One last response to the ATOM question: I can’t answer for A3, but with A2 on my netbook (Dell 1018) I have no difficulty in editing and arranging. I quickly run into xruns if I try anything in the way of softsynths + audio tracking. Seems mine is just below the curve of what kind of system is needed.

Ardour-2.8.11 works fine on my nine year old AMD AthlonXP 2000+ with 1GB RAM and a 7200rpm ATA harddrive. And A2 or A3 in themselves don’t require an exceptionally powerful CPU. It mostly depends on how many and how DSP-hungry effects you’re planning to use.

If you need to have convolution reverbs on each of the 37 tracks you’re using you probably need an i5 or better but if you’re fine with a few compressors and eqs on 6 tracks you could probably use a Pentium III.
A3, as opposed to A2, can use multicore (and I don’t think you can buy a singlecore anyways) so if you have a 64-core collecting dust in a cupboard, please do use it.
Here’s a thread from a year ago regarding Atom:

As for RAM you can never have too much but 2 GB should do.

Good practice is to have a separate hard drive (or at the minimum a separate partition) for audio, mainly to avoid problems due to fragmentation. The faster the HD the better, but anything recent should work.

Oh thanks to all of you! I really got a good impression of what kind of machine I should order. Besides I will check out the silentpcreview to make my new PC an excellent recording device. You have also been very quick in answering my questions. I wish I could meet such efficient help at other forums, too. I sometimes have to wait for ages (half a year!) and the problem remains still unsolved. So you presented me with excellent service and friendly advice. I will surely come back and learn more here when ARDOUR 3.0 is installed. Lets hope that it wont be long…

Best regards from a German user or - Beste Gruesse an Euch alle. :slight_smile: