Old 08-06-2013, 11:32 PM   #1
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Default Planning a dedicated DAW PC build

Hey guys. I'm planning to build a new cost effective yet powerful DAW PC. No gaming or anything, just a DAW based on Reaper and not much else. Here's my starting out list. Opinions and advice will be welcome.

CPU: AMD FX8350
Mobo: Asus M5A97 EVO
RAM: Corsair Vengeance 8GB (maybe 16GB)
Graphics: ATI Radeon HD6570 (not sure about the graphics yet)
PSU: Seasonic G550 80+ Gold (Do I really need more than 550 Watt?)
HDs: Real doubts in this department. As a starting point:
-SSD Kingston V300 120 GB
-HD WD Caviar Black 500 GB (x2)
Case: Lian Li PC-A05FN (or Fractal R4)
Win 8 64 bit

About the Mobo, anyone knows what chip the Asus boards use for the firewire ports? I've searched for that but haven't found anything. I have a nice bunch of firewire Disks so it will be fine if it happens to work.

About the graphics card, I want a dual head, so I'll need either a dual DVI card or a DVI plus an HDMI output for the two monitors. For DAW use I guess there's no actual need to go beyond an HD6570, Does it? Or is it still an overkill and going for an inferior HD5450 is more than enough? Input in this area will be very welcome.

Since the graphics card won't be PSU intensive at first instance, Do I need to go further than an efficient 550 Watt PSU?

Not sure at all about the HDs. Never payed too much attention to SSD until now, but prices are starting to be somewhat reasonable and for a booting HD it might worth the expense, What do you think guys? About the audio working and backup disks, no doubts. WD Caviars Black. 500 GB is plenty for me. Storage will be on external disks.

Regarding the case. I first considered a Fractal R4. They're truly silent. But for a mid size ATX tower it's quite big and will never use most of the HD or optical drive bays at all. Won't even have a DVD drive permanently. I'll borrow one from another PC to install the OS, apps and drivers and will remove it again. I'm considering the small and cool Lian Li PC-A05FN. It's having good reviews and has a perfect size for my needs. Opinions?

Thanks.
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Old 08-07-2013, 04:23 PM   #2
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Default Custom PC for DAW

First, I wouldnt use Windows 8 for anything. Having been on MS Beta teams for years, it's just here to finance some server dev. Stick with Windows7 64 bit or if you dont want to spend hours tweaking your system for latency, go with Windows XP 64 bit.

I have 3 DAW pc's all built by yours truely. 1st Gen i7, 3rd Gen i7 and the unlocked 8 core FX from AMD. I tried using all 3 equally but pretty much operate off the 3rd gen i7. (The 4th gen is out now). For the $100 difference it will save you time and headache to go with the intel.

Reaper will run fine regardless of any video card that you get. Some of the onboard video on todays boards scores high. If your considering doing video in Reaper you probably want to stick to a seperate card. I dont use anything video related in Reaper. Just musix

Nothing wrong with your drive selection. For my purposes 500gb will fill up a lot faster than you think especially if your going for anything above CD quality. Be sure the speed of drives is 7200 (or above). I use SSD for boot with Reaper installed there and then use the other drives for working/production etc. I have a NAS for backing up all the pc's and may go with another for all my production file since it is easier to share that out for all of the pc's.

There are online calculators that will help you figure out how big your power supply needs to be. Look for a low noise one in your range of 550 and you should be golden. The one you listed should be great.

Dunno about your case. Make sure its solid, has plenty of room and you can attach a couple additional fans to. Dont worry about all the lights, they just generate internal noise anyway.

Over my 30 years of computers, I've used about every MOBO under the sun. Currently everything is ASUS (must have been on sale). Most boards made now days are pretty safe as far as performance. The bad guys get weeded out quickly. Be sure you have 4 slots for memory, so go with 2 X 8GB memory chips. Get the fastest memory you can afford.

Asus doesnt make any boards without onboard video (mainstream). If your budget is tight you might look at dropping the video card off the list until you know what your plans hold for the future. You can alway add one later.

Although you didnt mention it, an audio interface is a must if your building a serious DAW. There are about a bazillion out there. I have several but the M-Audio 4 port works great and doesnt break the bank. There are many to pick from and most of them really dont differ much until you start putting big money into them. None are made for usb3 yet to my knowledge let alone the usb4 standard. If you go with Firewire you will need to get a firewire card as well. (check your mobo).

Lastly, you didnt mention speakers at all. If you already have some great if not, I love my KRK Rockets. At Sweetwater's Gearfest they were selling for $99 each of the last 3 years. When I want it real loud I just switch over to my Event's. Speakers are like beauty, they are in the ear of the beholder though so whatever sounds good to you.

Of course anyone can sit and debate anything I said. You had no responses so I thought I would give you some ideas. Seriously though, if you are going to build a true DAW, dont even consider on board sound. Disable it and get an external audio interface. I personally will never waste money on another AMD chip for a DAW. When your rich and famous from making your music, then go with a MAC

Good Luck!

Last edited by DK072257; 08-07-2013 at 04:28 PM.
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Old 08-07-2013, 05:09 PM   #3
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First, I wouldnt use Windows 8 for anything. Having been on MS Beta teams for years, it's just here to finance some server dev. Stick with Windows7 64 bit or if you dont want to spend hours tweaking your system for latency, go with Windows XP 64 bit.
Respectfully, I tried but I can't find a single bit of relevance to the above to Win8s ability to do the job at hand. Btw, there are a huge number of users who can show better performance and stability with Win8 and Reaper. There are some who simply don't like the interface or whatever but the above is simply irrelevant to recording audio and building a computer to do so. If one falls into the don't like the interface camp, use Windows 7, XP is by far, by this time the lowest on the DAW totem pole since drivers and their development are fading away for it.

FYI: XP 64 bit is identical to Server 2003 64bit, exact same codebase except it probably has less support than any OS out there since XP 64bit was such a rare bird in the wild.
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Old 08-07-2013, 05:40 PM   #4
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I have to agree. I currently use Windows 8 Pro with Media Center, with Reaper x64, the Adobe CS6 Master Collection, and Pro Tools 11, and I haven't had a single problem yet. For anything.

If you're going to build a custom DAW, I will say that Intel is the way to go for hardware. For really intense work, a Xeon will do very well, the E3-1220 series CPUs are extremely powerful for what they are, and something I would find comparable to an i7. Xeons are better with lots of processes at once, so if you load up the effects and plugins, it'll have some noticeable difference.

Windows 8 support is expanding to many interfaces, even my older M-Audio ProFire 2626 works very well in Windows 8. I had one program not work, but I was able to work around it, and it was not "mission critical" software, so it wasn't a dealbreaker even if I couldn't work around it.

For a dual head GPU, any current card with multiple outputs will work. They're plenty powerful, I would go with a fanless model to keep the noise down, it will do very well for you.

8-16gb of RAM is plenty. Start on the high side, it'll be cheaper, I promise.

550W is more than enough power. 380W-450W will be more than your system will ever use. If you want an SSD, the Samsung 840 series is the only drive I would put into a computer that's a real workhorse, simple as that. I don't trust any other consumer brand for extended use. The WD Black series are very good drives, and wont give you any trouble.

Use any case you want. I prefer cases that are on the smaller side, a lower volume is easier to keep cool, and sometimes it's just more convenient, but I build computers very often, so I experiment with different cases a lot. I've bought cases with high expectations, and had bad experiences, and I've had things also go the other way around. If you're going for mATX, the Silverstone SST PS-07B is one of the best cases I've used. for ATX, the Antec 300 is a very nice case, so is the NZXT Source 210 Elite, which I'm currently using. The Cooler Master Elite 330 is a bit older, but also a very nice case to build in, and very easy to cool and maintain. Many other cases are simply just too large for me to recommend.

As far as motherboards go, Asus, Gigabyte, MSI and eVGA are the big names. BioStar has come a long way, so has ECS, but I wouldn't use either in a computer for myself. I'm currently using an Asus motherboard, however it was out of necessity for a specific size and compatibility, not because I'm brand loyal. I prefer MSI for my personal machines, and I use Gigabyte in most of my customer machines. When I have to build something for a Gamer, I try to go for eVGA because they have a much more forgiving warranty. I build so many computers, that I would honestly say that it depends on the final configuration that you want. I'm a huge stickler for board layout as well, so the brands I've mentioned first are the way I would go.

I would avoid the Haswell motherboards right now, because there are bugs in the USB3 chips right now that should get hammered down by the fall. Specifically, some devices aren't recognized after sleep. Granted, most interfaces don't support sleep mode, so you may not have an issue with it, but in the event it were to happen, you'd have headaches over it. My personal machine does not have any onboard audio, so if I don't need sound, I leave the interface off, and sleep mode is not an issue, but this is simply not the case for many DAWs.

That's my $0.02. My current desktop is my DAW, and is flawless, and quite powerful. Moreso than I expected, and ever thought I would use, much less need for the work I'm doing. You've got a lot to think about, if you need more help or advice on hardware, feel free to ask, I have experience with a massive range of hardware that's available, and I used to get a lot of samples, so I know lots of the hardware I trust most inside and out.
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Old 08-08-2013, 01:36 AM   #5
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Thanks so much for the replies, guys.

This is a hardware list but I put Win 8 there on purpose. I'm reading and hearing all kind of opinions about what Win version to use for an exclusive DAW PC, and again controversial. I don't want to go back to XP since it's currently unsupported. I wouldn't have a problem keeping a machine running on XP for a long while, but I think it's not a good idea for a new build at this point. I think I'll go Win 8.

Quote:
have 3 DAW pc's all built by yours truely. 1st Gen i7, 3rd Gen i7 and the unlocked 8 core FX from AMD. I tried using all 3 equally but pretty much operate off the 3rd gen i7. (The 4th gen is out now). For the $100 difference it will save you time and headache to go with the intel.
Quote:
If you're going to build a custom DAW, I will say that Intel is the way to go for hardware. For really intense work, a Xeon will do very well, the E3-1220 series CPUs are extremely powerful for what they are, and something I would find comparable to an i7. Xeons are better with lots of processes at once, so if you load up the effects and plugins, it'll have some noticeable difference.
Exactly that, Xeons. For true multicore and fully multithreaded processing like a DAW apps are, the server oriented Xeons are the right Intels to choose, and it's all I've used so far since Apple switched to Intel, but my aged workstation went south. DAWs and Servers need the same kind of "all at once" processing. But the strong area of AMD is exactly that. AMD Bulldozer and Vishera failed as multipurpose CPUs due to a true weakness for low threaded processing and a lower per core performance than many i5s and i7s. They are strongly critized all over the place for that, but they still are killer processors and true performers in that same server/DAW territory where the Xeons live. No doubts here. For dedicated DAW processing the right choice is Intel Xeon or AMD FX. Forget the Intel i anything unless you want a multipurpose computer, which is not the case here.

I've been checking the E3-1220, it seems to rate quite low compared with the FX8350 and it's a tad more expensive. Basically all Xeons performing similar to the 8350 or avobe are crazy expensive. I'll go AMD.

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Reaper will run fine regardless of any video card that you get. Some of the onboard video on todays boards scores high. If your considering doing video in Reaper you probably want to stick to a seperate card. I dont use anything video related in Reaper. Just musix
Quote:
For a dual head GPU, any current card with multiple outputs will work. They're plenty powerful, I would go with a fanless model to keep the noise down, it will do very well for you.
That's what I was thinking, a budget fanless card, but was unsure. I won't edit video or pictures or anything else. Just DAW. Thanks!

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go with 2 X 8GB memory chips. Get the fastest memory you can afford.
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8-16gb of RAM is plenty. Start on the high side, it'll be cheaper, I promise.
Well, I'm doubtful about that. I had 16 GB in former builds and never got to use 8 GB or even close. I never use VSTi, hardly ever samplers and I never sequence anything. Midi is not my territory, only for hardware control. I mostly record the old way. Instruments through microphones... Maybe I grab 16 GB anyway. RAM is not expensive these days.

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Asus doesnt make any boards without onboard video
Double check that, buddy. There are plenty of them. The one I mentioned is just one of many.

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I prefer MSI for my personal machines, and I use Gigabyte in most of my customer machines.
Yes, I was considering these other makers and some other Asus board models, Specially because (at least here in Europe) Gigabyte and MSI are sensibly cheaper than Asus, but the Asus M5A97 EVO is the one that matches my needs better in terms of conectivity and expandability. I'll use both RME RayDAt and FF800 on this build, so I need those PCI slots... and want eSATA ports too.

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Use any case you want. I prefer cases that are on the smaller side, a lower volume is easier to keep cool, and sometimes it's just more convenient, but I build computers very often, so I experiment with different cases a lot. I've bought cases with high expectations, and had bad experiences, and I've had things also go the other way around. If you're going for mATX, the Silverstone SST PS-07B is one of the best cases I've used. for ATX, the Antec 300 is a very nice case, so is the NZXT Source 210 Elite, which I'm currently using. The Cooler Master Elite 330 is a bit older, but also a very nice case to build in, and very easy to cool and maintain. Many other cases are simply just too large for me to recommend.
Yes, I prefer small cases too. As you said, they're are easier too keep cooler. But also size by itself matters. I'm fed up of the huge and bulky HP workstations I had. I'll go ATX. The source 210 is rather big, like the Fractal R4. The Cooler Master Elite 330 looks appealing to me and it's currently selling at a great price. The Lian Li I posted is more compact anyhow. Great tips on cases, Thanks!

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Look for a low noise one in your range of 550 and you should be golden. The one you listed should be great.
Quote:
550W is more than enough power. 380W-450W will be more than your system will ever use. If you want an SSD, the Samsung 840 series is the only drive I would put into a computer that's a real workhorse, simple as that. I don't trust any other consumer brand for extended use. The WD Black series are very good drives, and wont give you any trouble.
So the Samsung 840... It was my first option, but switched to the to the V300 due to the price. The 480 is back in the list then.

I've been using Caviars so far. I had bad experiences with some other brands but Caviars never let me down yet, in years. Sure bets.

So Seasonic G550 80+ Gold remains in.

Last edited by Snap; 08-08-2013 at 02:05 AM.
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Old 08-08-2013, 01:43 AM   #6
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I went with the xeon e3 1230v2 as the e3 1220v2 didn't have hyperthreading and was just a little bit cheaper. The haswell based xeons are also out, they are called the e3 12xxv3, again the 1230v3 being the best bang for the buck. The 1230 doesn't have an onboard gpu, but is still cheaper if you get a 5450. I use a 1gb fanless one from sapphire. It works fine although I only use one monitor. As the xeons don't allow overclocking you can use a b85 or h87 board instead of a z87 board and save some more (That's for the haswell xeons 12xxv3, for the Ivy xeon 12xxv2 you'll need b75/h77, a different socket). Do make sure the motherboard supports the xeons, although the ones I looked at were all compatible. I'd also get a good cpu cooler, even at stock speed my Ivy bridge runs hot and haswell looks to run even hotter. For ssd the 840 pro is great, the normal 840 not so much. I went with the plextor m5s which used mlc nand and a marvell controller as the 840 pro does, so I'm pretty confidant it will last.

I'm not having any problems using windows 8 64 bit so far. It took me a while to find my way around, but I actually like it a lot.
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Old 08-08-2013, 01:55 AM   #7
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So how about that?

CPU: AMD FX8350
Mobo: Asus M5A97 EVO
RAM: Corsair Vengeance 8GB (maybe 16GB)
Graphics: ATI Radeon HD5450
PSU: Seasonic G550 80+ Gold
SSD Samsung 840 120 GB
HD WD Caviar Black 500 GB (x2)
Case: Lian Li PC-A05FN (or Cooler Master Elite 330)
Win 8 64 bit
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Old 08-08-2013, 02:18 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by mplay View Post
I went with the xeon e3 1230v2 as the e3 1220v2 didn't have hyperthreading and was just a little bit cheaper. The haswell based xeons are also out, they are called the e3 12xxv3, again the 1230v3 being the best bang for the buck.
Hmmm... I'll reconsider Xeons again. I'm not in a hurry. But for now an FX8350 is in my top list. Let's see.

Quote:
The 1230 doesn't have an onboard gpu, but is still cheaper if you get a 5450. I use a 1gb fanless one from sapphire. It works fine although I only use one monitor.
That Sapphire is the card I'm considering. Thanks for the insight! I'll search how it behaves dual headed anyhow.

Quote:
As the xeons don't allow overclocking you can use a b85 or h87 board instead of a z87 board and save some more (That's for the haswell xeons 12xxv3, for the Ivy xeon 12xxv2 you'll need b75/h77, a different socket). Do make sure the motherboard supports the xeons, although the ones I looked at were all compatible.
Won't overclock. I want... really want a silent computer, and i don't see the real benefit of it if the CPU is powerful enough for the demands. Heat is the worst enemy of electronics and a good OC is an expensive thing. Not for me. That's for gamers.

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I'd also get a good cpu cooler, even at stock speed my Ivy bridge runs hot and haswell looks to run even hotter.
I'll keep this in mind. Thanks!

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For ssd the 840 pro is great, the normal 840 not so much.
Huh, didn't knew that. Thanks so much!!! It's more expensive, but won't cut corners on the boot disk.
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Old 08-08-2013, 02:37 AM   #9
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Scott from ADK did benchmark the fx8350, it was pretty close to the 3770k at stock speeds, so comparable with the 1230v2. If you compare that to the haswell 4770k at stock, that looks like a big step up. The 1230v3 should be very close to that.


http://www.gearslutz.com/board/music...at-my-hat.html

http://www.gearslutz.com/board/music...enchmarks.html
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Old 08-08-2013, 05:03 AM   #10
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Cool, thank you!!! Time for some more reading and brainstorming.

Regarding the case. I fully made up my mind. It will be the Cooler Master Elite 330U. Fair pricing on these.

My HP workstations had fans for the RAM... do I need that if not overclocked?
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Old 08-08-2013, 07:14 AM   #11
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If you want a cool and quiet pc I would get a closed case with two 120mm fans, one front and one rear. The cooler master you mention is open at the side, so would be less quiet. It's already kinda old with no front usb 3, no front esata connector. I also look at a case as something that could last several builds so it's worth spending a bit extra for a good one. Same for the psu.

As for the RAM, I'm running low voltage kinston @1600, cl9. Faster ram is not really necessary imo. It only uses 1,35v so should stay a bit cooler then normal ram. It's also low profile so you can fit a big air cooler like the noctua d14. I saved a bit by getting the corator ds which is made by a sister company, but the fan it came with was very loud. Now that I've replaced it I'm happy again. It also has noctua's excellent mounting system so you don't have to worry you'll snap you motherboard in half when installing it, unlike some other coolers
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Old 08-08-2013, 11:07 AM   #12
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For when you build, I would keep the fans to a minimum. Like, block off many of the spaces for fans, so your airflow can follow a designated path and just that. If you need two hands to count how many fans are in your system, there are too many. People will bite back when I say that, but it's true.

I have 7 fans if I count my GPU, which has two fans on it's cooler, but because it's a dedicated component, sometimes I forget to count that (I got it for the cooler it has because it runs cooler and quieter).

You should ideally have:

1 Upper Exhaust (only if necessary)
1 Rear Exhaust
1 CPU

Then for components, you have a PSU fan. If you need more than that to keep the system cool, you need to rethink the cabling, and the hardware you're using. I have a dual Xeon machine right now, and it has never had a problem, and I haven't bothered to dust it out yet (going on 6 months so far). With a pair of 6 core 95W CPUs, if anyone needs extra fans, you would expect it to be me. I advise against using intake fans and side panel fans because it just creates pockets of hot air that never go anywhere. You should just let the air pressure do it's thing, it will be quieter and cooler. The Cooler Master Elite 330 I have is filtered down the front, and it does a great job of dealing with positive air pressure. The NZXT Source 210 is no different (aside from not having filters). The system inside it is much warmer than the 330, but it runs similar temps. Pick your coolers and fans wisely. I spent more on fans in my system than some people spend on a whole case, and I don't regret it.

Also, yes, I failed to mention the Samsung 840 Pro series SSD, but that is what you'd want to get if you do want to go with an SSD. I personally went with a WD Velociraptor, simply because with my work, I will not benefit from using a SSD as my system drive (boot times mean nothing to me, the machine has to turn on and work properly).

RAM should not require a cooler unless your system is roasting it. I have 32GB, it's set around my CPU sockets, and it does not have any heat issues. I'm running Registered DDR3 ECC RAM because of the Xeons, but even in all the other systems I build, RAM coolers are never used. It's a waste of money.

I'm not a fan of AMD, but this is your build, so it's up to you. I would make sure that you block off the side vents on the Cooler Master. I used closed cell foam because it was available, but I would suggest using DynaMat or Akasa dampening material, as it will keep the case quiet. I would also cut the rear fan grill and stick a wire grill over it for better airflow. I'll send you a PM with a gallery of the evolution of my 330 case, as I've had it for probably close to 8 years by now.
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Old 08-08-2013, 02:50 PM   #13
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The cooler master you mention is open at the side, so would be less quiet. It's already kinda old with no front usb 3, no front esata connector.
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For when you build, I would keep the fans to a minimum. Like, block off many of the spaces for fans, so your airflow can follow a designated path and just that. If you need two hands to count how many fans are in your system, there are too many. People will bite back when I say that, but it's true.

I have 7 fans if I count my GPU, which has two fans on it's cooler, but because it's a dedicated component, sometimes I forget to count that (I got it for the cooler it has because it runs cooler and quieter).

You should ideally have:

1 Upper Exhaust (only if necessary)
1 Rear Exhaust
1 CPU

Then for components, you have a PSU fan. If you need more than that to keep the system cool, you need to rethink the cabling, and the hardware you're using. I have a dual Xeon machine right now, and it has never had a problem, and I haven't bothered to dust it out yet (going on 6 months so far). With a pair of 6 core 95W CPUs, if anyone needs extra fans, you would expect it to be me. I advise against using intake fans and side panel fans because it just creates pockets of hot air that never go anywhere. You should just let the air pressure do it's thing, it will be quieter and cooler. The Cooler Master Elite 330 I have is filtered down the front, and it does a great job of dealing with positive air pressure. The NZXT Source 210 is no different (aside from not having filters). The system inside it is much warmer than the 330, but it runs similar temps. Pick your coolers and fans wisely. I spent more on fans in my system than some people spend on a whole case, and I don't regret it.
Quote:
I would make sure that you block off the side vents on the Cooler Master. I used closed cell foam because it was available, but I would suggest using DynaMat or Akasa dampening material, as it will keep the case quiet. I would also cut the rear fan grill and stick a wire grill over it for better airflow.
I know there are no USB3 and eSATA ports at the front, but not special concerns about that. I'll have room to easily access the rear of the case. Another reason to favor relatively smaller cases.

Great tips on the fans. My original intention was keeping fans to a minimum due to increasing noise and keeping the airflow as easy as it can be. Even for quiet fans, the less noise sources, the more silent a system. As plain as that. I'll follow your advice.

Great idea blocking the side panel vent. The cases I had that way were annoyingly noisy. Thanks for the insight on this.

Quote:
RAM should not require a cooler unless your system is roasting it. I have 32GB, it's set around my CPU sockets, and it does not have any heat issues. I'm running Registered DDR3 ECC RAM because of the Xeons, but even in all the other systems I build, RAM coolers are never used. It's a waste of money.
Understood, thank you!

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I'll send you a PM with a gallery of the evolution of my 330 case, as I've had it for probably close to 8 years by now.
Yes, please! Thanks so much. That will be of big help.

Quote:
Also, yes, I failed to mention the Samsung 840 Pro series SSD, but that is what you'd want to get if you do want to go with an SSD. I personally went with a WD Velociraptor, simply because with my work, I will not benefit from using a SSD as my system drive (boot times mean nothing to me, the machine has to turn on and work properly).
Huh, I was expecting this at some point. To say the truth... I'm not sure at all about this. It's in fashion, it seems to be a trend. They boot faster... But I never had a problem with that. I just want a powerful capable DAW. Never felt in a hurry, and besides apps and booting a bit faster, any other benefit over mechanical disks? maybe I'll back off to another WD Caviar or Velociraptor... or all three Velociraptors. I like that idea.

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I'm not a fan of AMD, but this is your build, so it's up to you.
Still researching Xeons and considering AMD FX. Not decided yet. Let's see.
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Old 08-10-2013, 07:17 PM   #14
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I wouldn't worry about front panel USB3 with the Cooler Master case for the sole reason that the front panel with the USB ports is removable. You could take that out, and put in a USB3.0 card reader, etc and simply move the vented slot up one space (when you get the case and you start handling it, you'll see what I mean.

I have a number of laptops that use SSDs, and while it works great for them, it's not something I think that I really need in my desktop. Granted, the laptops I have with SSDs are 3 netbooks (Dell, HP and Toshiba) and a first generation Samsung Chromebook. None of them do any real work, and they all run linux and are primarily used to go on the internet, and little else. Sometimes I use them on business calls because I have a lot of network analyzing tools on the Toshiba, but it's nothing that couldn't be replaced very easily. The desktops that I've set up with SSDs for customers are fast, I can't deny that, however the unfortunate side is that they're all fast and unnecessary. The majority of my customers will browse the internet and open the occasional PDF file, which may in fact be the most intense work the computer ever gets (I wish I were kidding). For that reason alone, I have a lot of trouble recommending SSDs to anyone, as they really aren't terrible beneficial for most applications. I do have a client who sells industrial SSDs, and I'm sure I could get more information about the lifespan of them if need be, but even he isn't quite willing to put one in his own computer yet.

I do have friends who have been using SSDs in their computers for going on 4 years now (yes, that long) and they haven't had a single problem. At the same time, these are people who take very religious care of their computers and do routine maintenance on a very strict schedule, something even I have a hard time doing, which is why the simplicity of a spinning drive worked out for me. I would say that the Velociraptor for the OS works great, but I wouldn't say it's necessary for other drives. I'm currently working on a documentary, and I have the project files saved onto a WD640 Blue series drive, and I don't have any access trouble. The project is becoming very large (close to 200GB and barely 30% done) but I still have no trouble with the transfer rates and disk access. At best, I would recommend using Black series drives, but I wouldn't fill a computer up with all Velociraptors, that's definitely not necessary at all. The disk access will be fast, yes, but it will be beyond the point of use, and the cost may be a little prohibitive for the space you'll get.
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Old 08-12-2013, 08:38 AM   #15
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Yes, the Fractal R4 Define is big. But it's bloody wonderful. Mine houses an Athlon XP 4800+ with Scythe Ninja and a Nexus PSU which runs very quietly. I can honestly say the Tivo box runs far louder than my desktop. 750Gb Western Digital hard drive in there, can't here it with the front door closed. Currently it's running at 55C on the CPU, system at 35C, at the lowest fan setting of 7v. The front-mounted fan controller is a huge boon.Inside the case there is the fan on the PSU and two front cases fans under the direction of the fan controller.

WD for hard drives. Had two Spinpoints go down on me in six years, never lost a WD.

A small video card is a good thing to have. You don't need anything special, just enough for two monitors. Budget fanless is fine. My card was ú25, can't remember which model.

Quote:
*I had 16 GB in former builds and never got to use 8 GB or even close. I never use VSTi, hardly ever samplers and I never sequence anything. Midi is not my territory, only for hardware control. I mostly record the old way. Instruments through microphones... Maybe I grab 16 GB anyway. RAM is not expensive these days.
So no virtual instruments, naff all samplers, and traditional recording? How many tracks do you think you'd be recording at a time?

I'm figuring out a rebuild on my system as I can't record at 96Khz to the degree I want to with the old Athlon. The FX-8350 is the way forward and I need to find out if it's true that AM3+ motherboards have native PCI (ie. no bridged rubbish)
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Old 08-12-2013, 10:05 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HeartfeltDawn View Post
I'm figuring out a rebuild on my system as I can't record at 96Khz to the degree I want to with the old Athlon. The FX-8350 is the way forward and I need to find out if it's true that AM3+ motherboards have native PCI (ie. no bridged rubbish)
Only intel uses bridged pci afaik.
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Old 08-12-2013, 11:51 AM   #17
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Quote:
How many tracks do you think you'd be recording at a time?
Well, I hardly ever reach 24 tracks. I mean real tracks aside of monitor mixes while tracking or groups, folders, etc... during the mixdown. In some particular projects I've went up to 40, but that's really unusual. My mobile studio is targeted to record bands playing live. All together. Maybe a few overdubs here and there and usually the vocals tracked later.

Anyway. I have 24 physical inputs. I used an RME 9652 (PCI-X 3.3 volts) with an Alesis HD24XR as the ADC, but the new mobos are forcing me to switch to a Raydat (PCIe)

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Old 08-12-2013, 02:44 PM   #18
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Only intel uses bridged pci afaik.
That's what I've had confirmed from the chap on Gearslutz with ADK. AMD for me then as I don't want to give up my PCI card yet!
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Old 08-12-2013, 04:24 PM   #19
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There are old Supermicro Server boards using older Xeons that can be had much cheaper than their i7 counterparts as of 4 months ago.
I have many freinds with old Scope PCI 32bit DSP cards who refuse to give up their ancient but excellent audio/DAWs.
We judge the motherboards PCI bandwidth by using 13 x resource hungry ReLabs 480L, now known as the 480LX in VST land.

600 bucks will get you a fast bad ass DAW, especially in the barebones pre built server market.
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Old 08-13-2013, 01:38 AM   #20
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Quote:
WD for hard drives. Had two Spinpoints go down on me in six years, never lost a WD.
Never lost an WD either. I stopped using a few of them along the years because they went old/slow at a given time, but never broken.

I cannot say the same about other brands. Maybe it's only me, my own mileage, but had very bad experiences with Seagate. Many of them died in a sudden. I know it's a famous and well reputed brand, but no more Seagate for me.
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Old 08-13-2013, 01:52 AM   #21
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Quote:
I have a number of laptops that use SSDs, and while it works great for them, it's not something I think that I really need in my desktop. Granted, the laptops I have with SSDs are 3 netbooks (Dell, HP and Toshiba) and a first generation Samsung Chromebook. None of them do any real work, and they all run linux and are primarily used to go on the internet, and little else. Sometimes I use them on business calls because I have a lot of network analyzing tools on the Toshiba, but it's nothing that couldn't be replaced very easily. The desktops that I've set up with SSDs for customers are fast, I can't deny that, however the unfortunate side is that they're all fast and unnecessary. The majority of my customers will browse the internet and open the occasional PDF file, which may in fact be the most intense work the computer ever gets (I wish I were kidding). For that reason alone, I have a lot of trouble recommending SSDs to anyone, as they really aren't terrible beneficial for most applications.
Quote:
I would say that the Velociraptor for the OS works great, but I wouldn't say it's necessary for other drives. I'm currently working on a documentary, and I have the project files saved onto a WD640 Blue series drive, and I don't have any access trouble. The project is becoming very large (close to 200GB and barely 30% done) but I still have no trouble with the transfer rates and disk access. At best, I would recommend using Black series drives, but I wouldn't fill a computer up with all Velociraptors, that's definitely not necessary at all. The disk access will be fast, yes, but it will be beyond the point of use, and the cost may be a little prohibitive for the space you'll get.
Understood. I'll get a Velociraptor for the boot disk and probably Blacks (Maybe Blues?) for the other two HDs.

Thanks again!
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Old 08-13-2013, 03:12 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by XITE-1/4LIVE View Post
There are old Supermicro Server boards using older Xeons that can be had much cheaper than their i7 counterparts as of 4 months ago.

[...]

600 bucks will get you a fast bad ass DAW, especially in the barebones pre built server market.
What particular Xeons are you talking about?

For the moment I've discarded the good 3930K (price) and still debating between FX8350 and 3770K.
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Old 01-13-2014, 02:11 AM   #23
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I would love to know the answers to that queston too ...if anyone's about. And just how did your pc build go ?
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Old 01-23-2014, 07:35 PM   #24
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anyone got any thoughts?
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Old 01-23-2014, 09:34 PM   #25
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That's probably the 5000 series, which are pretty easy to pick up on the cheap now. Not to be confused with the new E* series Xeons (E3, E5, etc.).

Recently at the shop where I work, we picked up a pair of mid range servers that came very well equipped in terms of hardware, for less than you would pay for an off the shelf i7 machine that was "fully loaded," so I can agree with looking at used Xeons, but you might want to get an eATX motherboard, and case, so you don't have to suffer with a 1.75" tall, 36" long, 19" wide case that will make quite a racket while turning on.

You can pick up older 6 core Xeons that really aren't all that behind compared to the current ones in terms of CPU power for day to day applications. You'll find them for the older S1366 platform.

Cheaper than buying new, but not by a massive margin.

Xeons are much, much better at multitasking and processing with multithreaded applications than an i7 is. Of course, that's not to say i7s are crappy, but if you're looking for a machine that's going to last you a very long time, an i7 will be out of date much sooner than a Xeon will. The support for using server hardware isn't quite like desktop, but you may find that your upgrade options are more fruitful.

My best example is that I have a pair of E5-2620 CPUs. They're pretty good, but the clock rate isn't very high. I could upgrade to a pair of much higher powered E5 CPUs as drop in replacements no problem. If you start with a higher end i7 on a desktop board, you simply wont have the same upgrade opportunities later on. The lower/midrange Xeons are on-par with i5 and i7 CPUs, where the higher end Xeons completely blow the i7 CPUs like they're nothing. The Core i* series is more likely to change sockets rather quickly, 1366, 1156, 1155, and now 1150 all came and went at a very rapid pace. Server hardware is still available in 1366, 1150/1155/1156 and 2011 sockets, where to a point, 2011 can be expected to last a fair amount of time (as far as technology goes). Long story short, if you were to get an i7 3770 or 4770, in a year, you'd be itching for more power, and your upgrade options would be extremely limited, compared to going with a mid-range Xeon, and just upgrading the CPU when it comes time, rather than the entire system.

The power does come at a price. Aside from hard drives (you'd be fine using regular SSDs and other drives) the motherboards and RAM will typically be more expensive than normal desktop hardware.
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Old 03-07-2014, 06:00 PM   #26
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To answer the question regarding the differences with SSDs... much faster than a hard drive, and access times are much lower, and seek time basically non-existent. To put that in a DAW perspective, it means you can stream multiple audio tracks to/from disk much much much better

A 'good' hard drive does 140m MB/s, and a Velociraptor does 200 MB/s. A 'cheap' SSD does 100 MB/s, a 'Good' SSD does 250 MB/s and a 'fast' SSD does more than 400 MB/s.

A velociraptor, of hard drives, has tgebest read access time at 6.87 ms. A fast SSD has an access time of .04 ms.
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Old 06-29-2014, 01:44 PM   #27
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I'm looking to do a similar upgrade (http://forum.cockos.com/showthread.php?t=142191). How did this build work out for you?
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Old 06-29-2014, 02:52 PM   #28
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There will be many opinions on this subject. I customized this and had it built...within the parameters set by the maker. Meaning some free upgrades like the GPU card would not necessarily be what I would have bought had I bought everything separately. But, with all the offers going on at that time I believe I got a nice DAW build. There are things I'm sure people will have issues with like the efficiency of the PSU. But, bang for the buck is what I went for and I'm happy of how things turned out. And ...it's MY computer!; )

I have Overclocked the CPU to 4.5GHz running stable with mukltiple long tests with Prime95 and other tests = stable. It went to 4.7 (and some have gone as high as 5.13 or more)but it wasn't stable, 4.6 wasn't bad so I went to 4.5 to play it safe. I liked the bang for the buck with this! The computer has Liquid cooling for the CPU with fan, rear fan, PSU fan and a GPU fan that's nearly turned down to inaudible (I'm not a gamer so the GPU won't need much cooling. I like the separate 2GB of GPU memory as it doesn't use any of the un-dedicated memory with onboard video.I'll use a USB audio interface but the onboard sound boasts some fairly nice VIA chip with 107db SNR.

I went with W7-64 as I just wasn't sure about 8 at the time. So, for $876 built, warranty, shipped to my door I'm happy with what I got, IMHO. YMMV. Now, time to make music!!

1 x Case NZXT Source 210 Mid Tower Case - Blue
1 x Processor AMD FX-8320 CPU (8x 3.50GHz/8MB L3 Cache)
1 x Motherboard Gigabyte GA-970A-D3P -- AMD 970
1 x Memory 8 GB [4 GB X2] DDR3-1600 Memory Module - Corsair or Major Brand **Free Upgrade to DDR3-1866 G.SKILL RipjawsX
1 x Video Card AMD Radeon R7 250 - 2GB
1 x Case Lighting None
1 x Power Supply 500 Watt - Standard - Free Upgrade to 500W OCZ ModXStream Pro - 80 PLUS
1 x Processor Cooling Corsair Hydro Series H55 Liquid CPU Cooling System - Standard 120mm Fan
1 x Primary Hard Drive 2 TB HARD DRIVE -- 64M Cache, 7200rpm, 6.0Gb/s - Single Drive
1 x Data Hard Drive 2 TB HARD DRIVE -- 64M Cache, 7200rpm, 6.0Gb/s - Singe Drive
1 x Optical Drive 24x Dual Format/Double Layer DVD▒R/▒RW + CD-R/RW Drive - Black
1 x Sound Card 3D Premium Surround Sound Onboard
1 x Network Card Onboard LAN Network (Gb or 10/100)
1 x Operating System Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium + Office Starter 2010 (Includes basic versions of Word and Excel) - 64-Bit
1 x Warranty 3 Year Standard Warranty Service

Subtotal : $876.00
Tax : $0.00
Total Savings: $0.00
Ground Shipping : $0.00
Order Total: $876.00
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Old 06-29-2014, 08:01 PM   #29
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And with the AMD overclocked to 4.5 GHz, you can almost get the same floating point performance out of it that an Intel i7 would have given you at stock clock speeds.
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Old 06-29-2014, 09:49 PM   #30
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Well my plan was to get the most bang for the buck so I guess it worked out just fine, to have similar performance, but for less money. The OC doesn't bother me anyway, it's the risk I'm willing to take.
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Old 06-29-2014, 10:42 PM   #31
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Yes, I'm sure. My point is you had to OC it just to get the same FP performance.
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Old 06-30-2014, 02:56 AM   #32
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Not to start a flame war, just an observation:

I've been building PC's for nearly 30 years, and i just switched to Mac for cost/benefit reasons -- note this is particularly true for custom boxes built for audio.

I was running a 980x i7 with 12 Gb, huge heat sink NVidia passive video, high end 100mm fans everywhere turning real slow, even had an oversized Antec PS that only fits in the P183 case and features no right angle bend in the airflow, big fat Noctua cooler with 100mm fan sitting right on top of the hex i7, etc.


Got a Mac mini with quad i7, 16GB, TBolt, FW800, 4 x USB 3.0, HDMI, Ethernet (good to have a dedicated LAN for Controllers, etc.), and a couple of other ports for $CDN 1000.00.

Obviously runs Windows if you purchase the DVD.

Thing runs very close to completely silent.

Unless you're running heavy orchestral, you should be fine, just add drives to taste.

BTW, the boys downtown who DO run heavy orchestral just add another mini, at 3 lbs and tiny, they're pretty unobtrusive.
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Old 06-30-2014, 03:06 AM   #33
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Yep, and you went from a six-core i7 with 130w TDP to a four-core i7 with, in all likelihood, 45w TDP, there is most of your noise difference right there. If you built a PC with a passive cooled video card, preferable liquid cooled with a top-mounted radiator with slow-moving fans, in one of the insulated 'silent' cases it would be just as quiet... and have actual drive bays for additional drives. And is doable for less than $1000.
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Old 06-30-2014, 03:17 AM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ashe37
Yep, and you went from a six-core i7 with 130w TDP to a four-core i7 with, in all likelihood, 45w TDP, there is most of your noise difference right there. If you built a PC with a passive cooled video card, preferable liquid cooled with a top-mounted radiator with slow-moving fans, in one of the insulated 'silent' cases it would be just as quiet... and have actual drive bays for additional drives. And is doable for less than $1000.
Fair points -- just to nitpick -- $CDN 1.00 is about $US 0.92 these days.

I'm just saying that for Reaper, a mini is sufficient for most use cases, and the price gap has narrowed down to the point where it is close to even, that's all.
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Old 06-30-2014, 08:45 AM   #35
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Good points everyone...more than one way to skin a cat!!

Not to throw gas on a fire, as that wasn't my intention, but I drew up a Mac/PC comparison for my wife to see (she uses both but prefers MACs).

I guess I'll preface that by saying both computers can be capable to make great music which is the main thing anyway!


/////////////////////////////////////////
Someone posted on another board...
That's a myth...
"Cheaply spec'd PCs," i.e. Best Buy, etc... are much cheaper. Build a PC with the same components that are standard in a Mac and the price of the PC will be higher in most cases.
I sure didn't see it that way when I recently checked into a Mac before building my PC!

The closest imac I could find was this one = Apple iMac ME087LL/A 21.5 for $1,499 then add a superdrive external cd/dvd drive for another $70-80 since it doesn't come with one. So, for $1,580 you could have this;

2.9 GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5 Processor (Turbo Boost up to 3.6 GHz) with 6MB L3 cache
1 TB (5400-rpm) Hard Drive
8 GB (Two 4 GB) of 1600MHz DDR3 Memory
21.5-inch (Diagonal) LED-backlit Display with IPS Technology; 1920-by-1080 Resolution Graphics Processor with 1 GB memory

Here's my latest PC build -- I spec'ed it with the parts I wanted and then had a company build it for me;

1 x Case NZXT Source 210 Mid Tower Case - Blue
1 x Processor AMD FX-8320 CPU (8x 3.50GHz/8MB L3 Cache)
1 x Motherboard Gigabyte GA-970A-D3P -- AMD 970
1 x Memory 8 GB [4 GB X2] DDR3-1866 G.SKILL RipjawsX
1 x Video Card AMD Radeon R7 250 - 2GB
1 x Power Supply 500W OCZ ModXStream Pro - 80 PLUS
1 x Processor Cooling Corsair Hydro Series H55 Liquid CPU Cooling System - Standard 120mm Fan
1 x Primary Hard Drive 2 TB HARD DRIVE -- 64M Cache, 7200rpm, 6.0Gb/s
1 x Data Hard Drive 2 TB HARD DRIVE -- 64M Cache, 7200rpm, 6.0Gb/s - Singe Drive
1 x Optical Drive 24x Dual Format/Double Layer DVD▒R/▒RW + CD-R/RW Drive - Black
1 x Sound Card 3D Premium Surround Sound Onboard
1 x Network Card Onboard LAN Network (Gb or 10/100
1 x Operating System Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium + Office Starter 2010 (Includes basic versions of Word and Excel) - 64-Bit
1 x Warranty 3 Year Standard Warranty Service
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

$876 built to my specs and shipped.
I could add a Gateway 21.5" 1920-by-1080 Resolution monitor to match the imac for $110 shipped for a total of $986.

Comparison: So many ways to look at things but just taking the basics below show the PC coming up on top for a lot less $$$!

Price: imac $1,480. vs. PC (faster with better specs?) $986
So, 50% more money for a slower computer with no upgradability?!

Processor Benchmarks: Imac 6877 vs. PC 8100 (some of the cards in my PC were tested as high as over 10,000 on the benchmark!);
PassMark Intel vs AMD CPU Benchmarks - High End

Memory: 1600 vs PC 1866 = who wants slower memory?

Hard Drive: 1TB @5400rpm vs 4TB @7200rpm = PC has 4 times the storage AND at a much faster speed!I thought 5400rpm's went out for any respectable computer years ago?!

Graphics: imac 1gb vs. PC 2gb
Hard to decipher this one as I couldn't find a direct comparison because some of this PC's vid card only shows tests for the 1gb version and not the 2gb version as in my PC. And, of course that's certainly not the only spec to compare. I guess we call it a wash. I don't play games so these two are fine with me.

Heat kills in a computer! That's why I like to have more space in a desktop computer like a PC has. Plus, the option to add a million fans, heat sinks and even liquid cooling. The imac design is all crammed in there like a laptop computer.

My PC has a Liquid CPU Cooling System (and I may overclock the CPU for about 10-15% stable improvement!)

The thing about Apples not being hit with viruses etc... That's only because there are about 14 times the PCs out there not because Macs are so great.

You can create your own individual computer for your individual needs instead of some cookie cutter model.

I love PCs because I like that the parts are so readily available and all at "cheaper than any mac products by far!" pricing. The bang for the buck is surely there.

FULLY customizable AND UPGRADEABLE with inexpensive parts. With a PC your computer can last longer by upgrading whereas with Apple you're basically up **** creek! Want a new CPU, GPU, more memory, different memory, different hard drives, an additional graphics card, bluray player, tv tuner, different sound cards, interfaces etc. etc? better not get an imac.

I like that you're not locked into just one company. With PC there are so many more options to choose from...PC users are rogue individuals!

I will definitely give it to the macs as looking cool. But, now there are also very cool PC cases, accessories etc. to get about any look you want; futuristic, what about a military style that looks more like an ammo can or gear case? YOU can choose with a PC.
////////////////////////

So, I'll take a PC over a Mac any day of the week! YMMV!!

One thing for sure...this debate will not end soon!
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Old 06-30-2014, 09:41 AM   #36
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Well I'm not trying to swing anyone one way or another but I must point out:

I said a Mac mini, NOT an iMac, the comparison there gets tougher because of the IPS panel display.

Is the $110 Gateway an IPS panel ?

You also have to take into account that that the Mac mini has 4 USB 3.0 ports, at least as fast as SATA in real world application, 1 Thunderbolt port capable of driving hi-res displays, Apollo, etc., 1 HDMI port, 1 FW800 port, etc.

If none of these things matter to you, that's fine, but I would need to build a PC with these features for my setup.

In all the years I built my own, I never upgraded anything but drives and RAM, because by the time I wanted to upgrade, my remaining original parts were too old to be compatible with the latest new widgets I wanted to add, so the upgrade thing, for me at least, while theoretically true, turned out to be a myth in reality.

As far as faster memory, graphics. etc., I would go along with this up until about 5 or so years ago when the baseline machines got so fast having the very latest, fastest, etc., became much less of an issue.

Case in point, Ashe37 pointed out that I went from a hex core to a quad core, but the truth is, the hex core remained under-utilized, and was effectively wasted computational power that just caused heat and power consumption.

As far as heat, as Ashe37 also pointed out, the lower and lower chip fab sizes - I think they're down to 14nm now -- means FAR less heat, so that is much less of a concern nowadays.
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Old 06-30-2014, 01:00 PM   #37
Serenitynow
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Good points again!

Not sure about the monitor but the Imac's is probably better from what little I know about it.

My PC has multiple USB 3.0, SATA3, HDMI's etc.
No FW or TB but no need for me. A FW card can be added to a PC for under $10. The Thunder Bolt 2 card is much newer and currently around $55 but will come down in price just like FW did. I guess it just depends on what your requirements are.

Thanks to everyone for being civil about this passionate subject!
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Old 10-14-2014, 02:55 PM   #38
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First off, I just want to thank everybody for sharing their experience and research on this thread as it has been invaluable for me as I am looking into a super budget DAW build. Due to all the debate and reviews I've read I've decided to go with a Xeon 1230 v2 with Asrock b75m mobo (I've read that with newer CPUs a bios update is necessary which requires an older CPU which I don't have, so I cross-checked this CPU/mobo combo and it looks like it's compatible out of the box) 1x8gb Crucial Ballistix low profile ram wd blue 1TB hd sapphire 5450 VGA card cheap fw800 and donated case/psu/cd-rom/fans from my father (he's a net admin for a school district.)

Any thoughts on this build? Specifically I'd like to know what the different acronyms for the mobo mean such as DGS/LS/ITX is this just the form factor? My application will be all instrument and vocal tracking no ists or sampling. I'll be recording 13 tracks at a time max and probably won't exceed 24 tracks total do you guys think this system will be sufficient? Thank you in advance! Oh btw my cost is around 450-500 right now...
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Old 11-18-2014, 03:59 PM   #39
james0tucson
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This thread is old enough that most of the builds described have probably been replaced twice. It's embarrassing to pour money into a silent PC, only to realize that the average notebook costing half the price is quieter... It's even more frustrating to realize that the cheap Dells at your office are quieter (in the -27dbA territory) than your expensive custom-build DAW.

Recently, I believe we're seeing a nice development aimed at the home theater crowd, including some truly fanless machines. Add the capability of a seriously high quality USB audio device and the fact that SSDs are actually cheap now, and I think that the consumer PC market is finally intersecting with the needs of the audio enthusiast.

Right now I'm considering something like the Logic Supply Intel "NUC" together with a Focusrite 18i20. For example, this looks awesome: http://www.logicsupply.com/computers...ers/ml210g-10/

Two of these would fit comfortably in a 1U Rackspace. I realize that these Atoms and Celerons are not in the same performance bracket as the I7's, but being honest about the application (i.e., we're not building an audio DAW that will be used for anything else), it looks like it has awesome potential.
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