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Author Topic: Host PC recommendations?  (Read 299 times)

jlklein

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Host PC recommendations?
« on: August 04, 2017, 02:41:34 PM »
Hey folks,
Getting ready to pull the trigger on a set of TIO boxes (5 total) and the PCIe Dante card, and looking into updating our 5+ yr old host PC.
Looking for recommendations on good off the shelf PCs that would be suitable Host PCs (I'm partial to Dells myself but am open, just don't feel like building my own).
Probably looking to run FOH off the host with a remote or two for recording/streaming, roaming.
Or could possibly do a standalone host in our being-built recording room and run all control PCs as remotes.


Thoughts?

Thanks,
Jeff
Jeff Klein, DMC-E
Head Volunteer Sound Geek
Faith Baptist Church
Glen Burnie, Maryland
http://www.faithbc.net / @FBC_TechTeam
http://www.reverbnation.com/7thvoice / @7thVoiceMusic
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/jeff-klein/32/852/6ba

Richard B. Ingraham

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Re: Host PC recommendations?
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2017, 03:36:39 PM »
I'm not a fan of Dell at all.  I've had any number of odd, random issues with their machines over the years, from drivers that won't work on their computers but work on others just fine, to annoying little things they put into the firmware of their computers that are supposed to be a feature or helpful, which they may well be to an average user, but are a pain for pro audio.  They do seem to be fairly well built, it took me years to kill off the one Dell that was given to me.  :-)

I use Lenovo machines almost exclusively for the past 7 to 10 years now.  Granted a lot of my usage has been with audio playback as well as live mixing.  But I've thrown them into all sorts of production tasks, playback, live mix, live soft synth, plug-in host and even some occasional video/projection work.  (the main point there is all of these are live performance situations, not studio or home work)  Over all I've had very few issues.  Some have worn out and gotten finicky (probably Power Supplies), but none before I would say I've gotten my money worth out of them.   And most of mine were bought refurbished, not new.  (maybe that's better I don't know?)  A couple of the newer ones needed firmware updates to behave well for audio.  Actually the refurbished units probably do come with less "crap" installed that you need to clean off.  I used to do clean installs of the OS.  But I can't remember the last time I've had to do that.  Recently I've just used the uninstaller to get rid of anything I don't want.

Anyway, for off the shelf, that is what I recommend.  For something like a permanent install I might just pa a bit more and get something like an ADK machine for the host and then use Lenovo for all the remotes.  I will say that most recently I've adopted Bob's recommendation and use a machine as just a host with not GUI running on it.  I had a few issues with graphics causing clicks and pops (may be solved now, it's been months since I've had a chance to use AMP unfortunately)  and so once I split them up, it's been flawless and the extra bit of kit probably saved hours of trying to solve an intermittent issue.  So I took the easy solution.

That's my take anyway.
Richard B. Ingraham

jlklein

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Re: Host PC recommendations?
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2017, 04:38:32 PM »
I'm not a fan of Dell at all.  I've had any number of odd, random issues with their machines over the years...They do seem to be fairly well built, it took me years to kill off the one Dell that was given to me.  :-)

The longevity and access to any info you want on them is what I've enjoyed (hate HP's and Compaq for that), however, as I said, open to suggestions.

Quote
I use Lenovo machines almost exclusively for the past 7 to 10 years now. 

I have indeed heard good things of them as well as IBM. My first SAC machine was a repurposed IBM my F-i-L bought for $50 from FMC (his employer) when they moved ops to China and it was a good machine for awhile. Speaking of China, have you noticed any issues with Lenovo since they moved production there?

Quote
Anyway, for off the shelf, that is what I recommend.  For something like a permanent install I might just pa a bit more and get something like an ADK machine for the host and then use Lenovo for all the remotes.

Not familiar with ADK...so what models might you recommend looking at for Lenovo or ADK for hosts/remotes? As a Dell user I'm not real familiar with what their low end (i.e. Best Buy specials) vs better model lines are.

Thanks,
Jeff
Jeff Klein, DMC-E
Head Volunteer Sound Geek
Faith Baptist Church
Glen Burnie, Maryland
http://www.faithbc.net / @FBC_TechTeam
http://www.reverbnation.com/7thvoice / @7thVoiceMusic
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/jeff-klein/32/852/6ba

Richard B. Ingraham

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Re: Host PC recommendations?
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2017, 05:35:47 PM »
I have not had any issues with the china built lenovos.  I believe my last 2 laptops were all Lenovo units and I probably have 2 or 3 desktops that have no IBM legacy in them.  I only buy the Thinkpad and Thinkstation branded unit.  That is their professional line similar to Dell's business line of product. 

ADK is Advanced Designs of Kentucky (which is why they go by ADK... lol). 
https://www.adkproaudio.com/

They are a custom builder of systems.  So you tell them what you need and they can assemble it for you.  I have installed or specified them for perhaps a half dozen clients over the years and they all performed well.  I spent the extra money so I'm not on the hook for dealing with support on the system.    My only gripe with them has been that they shipped a wireless keyboard and mouse for a computer that was designed to run SFX audio playback software.  They used to have "SFX Stations" as a product.  Why anyone would ship a system that needs to be as stable as possible with a keyboard and mouse that depends on a battery to not die at the wrong time was beyond me.  But that's literally the only thing I can say against them, which you gotta admit is pretty damn minor!  I haven't purchased or spec'd any of their systems in a while but it's the same folks running it so I would expect them to still do good work.  Just ask for a wired keyboard and mouse, if you care.  :-)
Richard B. Ingraham

fdew

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Re: Host PC recommendations?
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2017, 06:19:14 PM »
I am running three TIO boxes on a Dell and have Dell as our FOH and Record GUI  Works fine.
Frank
AMP User since 2014

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Re: Host PC recommendations?
« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2017, 02:11:06 PM »
I've had pretty good success with Dell products.  We are currently evaluating some lower-cost HP servers to use for full package AMP systems, and so far, so good.  As we've known for a while, it does boil down to the chipset and its implementation on the motherboard.  Now with PCI Express being the only game in town, things are changing a bit.

The network card also can be a important part.  We are currently working with a lower latency Dante Virtual Soundcard Driver that seems to be a workable solution for <64 channels, but performs best with certain NICs.  A built-in NIC was dropping the audio every so often for about 100ms.

Bob

Richard B. Ingraham

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Re: Host PC recommendations?
« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2017, 10:44:53 PM »
Just to make my point... ironic timing...  went to use d&b ArrayCalc on my Dell XPS laptop from work...  weird graphics problem where some of the application window gets hidden by the titlebar of the app.  Checked in with support... sure enough, they said it was a known problem specific to some Dell computers they were trying to sort out.  I get to be the Beta test fixer for ArrayCalc on Dell... fun, fun...
Something to do with certain graphics chipsets, but only with Dells apparently.  Luckily we have a couple of Lenovo desktops and Mini PCs in our office.

Don't buy a Dell!   >:(

When I worked for Richmond Sound Design, we specifically said, No Dell.  Buy a Dell to our control software...  don't blame us when you have odd ball issues, we are not going to try and figure them out.   ;)

I know why these things pop up but I've seen it many time over the years with their stuff.  I get why businesses buy their stuff, they make it easy to roll out large purchases of new machines and when you buy that many you can make Dell help solve these issues. 

Anyway, sorry... rant over....  I'd buy an Apple before I spend my own money on a Dell... and that's saying something.   :)
Richard B. Ingraham

jlklein

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Re: Host PC recommendations?
« Reply #7 on: October 06, 2017, 10:43:10 PM »
Hey folks,
I'm hoping to pull the trigger on a ThinkCentre from the Lenovo outlet this week for a new Host PC, from the looks of it a Xeon would be better suited as a host than an i5/i7, correct? Any comments?

Thanks,
Jeff
Jeff Klein, DMC-E
Head Volunteer Sound Geek
Faith Baptist Church
Glen Burnie, Maryland
http://www.faithbc.net / @FBC_TechTeam
http://www.reverbnation.com/7thvoice / @7thVoiceMusic
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/jeff-klein/32/852/6ba