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Extremely cheap music PC

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February 21, 2007 8:42:18 PM

I'm wanting to build a PC for someone that would be used to store a massive music collection. It would be plugged into their home stereo setup, and would not need to run much beside Windows XP and iTunes, with possibly some other small programs on the side. I'm trying to keep it as cheap as possible, and am recycling many components, such as the monitor, keyboard, mouse, dvd-rom drive, and most importantly the sound card, which is a Soundblaster Audigy 2 ZS Platinum.

My selected parts:

Antec case w/ PSU
I think I'm set on this case, because the person I'm building it for likes it a lot, even though its kinda expensive.

ECS mATX motherboard with onboard video
Very cheap, serves my purpose.

1GB PNY DDR400 ram
I wasn't sure if I could get by with 512, so I figured I'd up it to be safe.

Seagate 250GB sata hdd
I didn't want to skimp on this, because there will be a whole lot of HDD usage and file transferring going on.

Celeron D 2.66ghz proc
For 45 dollars I can get the 2.8 ghz edition, for 54 the 3.06, and for 57 the 3.2. I didn't think those extra mhz would really matter that much, but I could be wrong.

If anyone has any suggestions on this build, or can point out any stupid mistakes I have made, thatd be wonderousful.

Thanks!

More about : extremely cheap music

February 21, 2007 9:36:59 PM

I would say 512 mb of ram is more than enough for what you need. If your just running xp and itunes and IE and word all at the same time you shouldnt have a problem. None of that is demanding.

The sound card is great. I have that setup. I run the optical out to my Denon reciever. The only draw back is that the optical out is on the 5 1/4 bay in the front of my computer.

The 2.6 celeron would be fine also.
February 21, 2007 9:40:55 PM

I agree that the Celeron would be fine.

However, you might want to look into a Sempron setup. It could be cheaper, and it would definitely run cooler.

I'm at work so I can't look stuff up for you right now. Sorry, I do usually like to provide links...just can't right now. :( 
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February 21, 2007 10:14:30 PM

The Cely needs all the help it can get but if all you want to do is play music it should be able to handle it.

If music is all they want to do with it, then 512MB will work just fine. You might want to check out this board instead. It will still use the Cely, but also supports the Core 2 Duo processors as well as DDR2. It just gives you a bit more headroom for future upgradability. It's a bit more expensive, but you can save money on the RAM by dropping it to 512MB if you have to.

Also, any reason why you're going with a single stick? You can find 1GB Dual Channel kits for the same price (if not cheaper) without rebates on the Egg. However, if you decide to go with 512MB, you might have a difficult time finding it in a Dual Channel config so a single stick would have to be used.

Don't forget that you might have to factor in a new copy of XP or Vista if all you have is an OEM disk that has been previously used. M$ will more than likely not let you activate it with the new stuff. It's worth a shot, even if you have to do it over the phone. If it becomes a problem, Linux is free and is available with many media players. The guys down in the Linux software forum are very supportive and can help you with any problems you have.
February 21, 2007 10:19:40 PM

wouldnt it be cheaper to get a refurbished emachines or netvista and add/or change the hard drive HD? I think netvista/emachines system are designed to run fairly quiet.

This is just an example:
http://www.tigerdirect.ca/applications/Category/categor...

Sorry these are Canadian prices...

For a jukebox/multimedia machine, the most expensive thing you need to pay for is a HD. Even 256mb winxp is more than enough.

I'm using a small form factor compaq p3-500 256mb xp pro itunes to play music in my bed room. It cost me 90$ (no cd/floppy were included) and I changed the 10gig HD for a 100gig HD 56$. It runs nice and quiet and cool.

cheers
February 21, 2007 11:11:58 PM

Aight thanks for the advice everyone. Ill switch to 512 mb of ram, thatll save about 35 dollars. Ill probly stick with my motherboard, as being upgradeable/future proof is not important at all.

I think I have the windows situation worked out, but if theres any problems with that linux would be fine.

And i will look into the AMD situation, see how cheap that can work out. Last i checked the mATX motherboard situation wasnt very good, ill have to see.
February 22, 2007 12:00:06 AM

i looked into amd motherboards and sempron processors, but ive decided to stick with the celeron. im more confident in the intel motherboard that ive selected.

my new question is: should i get 2x256 ram, or one 512. id rather have the free slot in case of an upgrade, although i think its unlikely, but how much performance difference will there be from dual channel?
February 22, 2007 4:44:57 AM

Your MB is not dual channel so 1 stick would be a better choice. You can then add another 512 mb when the time is right.
February 22, 2007 5:13:10 AM

Ever thought about using an xbox + modchip + 250Gb hdd?
May not suit ur purposes or even be feasable, but it will be cheap
February 22, 2007 5:59:48 AM

have you considered a better "music" sound card for the sysem?
my recommendation is the av-710.
February 22, 2007 7:22:24 AM

Since this system will presumably be left turned on much of the time, I'd get a decent quality MB instead of the ECS.
February 22, 2007 8:54:59 AM

One other thing to do is look at www.nliteos.com ... it lets you make a stripped down version of XP minus a lot of the usual crap. Runs better in 512mb, boots faster and is just generally nicer.
February 22, 2007 10:53:00 AM

Quote:
I'm wanting to build a PC for someone that would be used to store a massive music collection.


So does it need RAID1? I'm just wondering about backup strategy, if at least a DVD burner should be in it.

Quote:
It would be plugged into their home stereo setup,
Digi or analog out?


Quote:
and would not need to run much beside Windows XP and iTunes,


Pirated or legit XP? I ask because XP is just bloated, and since you want it "extremely cheap", if you can get linux to work it shaves quite a bit of cost off and needs not be so versatile for a single-purpose system, but do you NEED a PC for this really? There are other options for networked audio.


Quote:
with possibly some other small programs on the side. I'm trying to keep it as cheap as possible, and am recycling many components, such as the monitor, keyboard, mouse, dvd-rom drive, and most importantly the sound card, which is a Soundblaster Audigy 2 ZS Platinum.


Why do people keep mistakenly thinking an Audigy is fit for a music PC? It is a gaming card, which mutilates audio. Hint - Creative sells cards under their other brand, meant to do better at music.

If cheap is really important, you might try the onboard audio first and if they can't hear the difference, sell the Audigy. Otherwise use it I guess but it would be better put to gaming purposes, instead of it's only real virtue wasted in a music system.

Quote:
My selected parts:

Antec case w/ PSU
I think I'm set on this case, because the person I'm building it for likes it a lot, even though its kinda expensive.


Huh? If you want a cheap PC, since you have nothing mentioned that requires high performance, use an older one. Playing audio requires roughly Pentium 1/200MMX. Dead serious, it is not at all necessary to buy all new parts for this system, you could have an entire system for the cost of the case if you wanted "extremely cheap", then toss the Audigy in there if necessary. Main limitation is size of HDD an old system supports, you probably want a new drive for that just for capacity. XP on the other hand, is the overhead instead of the task, so for practical purposes, you may want at least a Celeron 800 just to get a sync memory bus fast enough for the integrated video to not lag a little.

Quote:

ECS mATX motherboard with onboard video
Very cheap, serves my purpose.


Your purpose is to save very little, to build a system that may fail because the board was poor? I would think this system for music would need last longer than their main PC, since it won't have performance issues mandating update any year soon, music is a fairly fixed max requirement. Integrated video would be fine though.

Quote:
url=http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E1682...]1GB PNY DDR400 ram
I wasn't sure if I could get by with 512, so I figured I'd up it to be safe.
[/url]

You are kidding? I have video capture systems that run fine on 256MB w/XP, with plenty to spare. For music, it doesn't even matter of the swapfile is used, because once the non-needed OS portions are swapped out, they stay out, nothing is multitasking that isn't always running. 128MB could do the job, seriously. Maybe itunes is bloated enough to make 256MB prudent, but you are not in any way building an extremely cheap PC, you are merely spending too much money on the wrong places for the purpose.

Quote:
url=http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E1682...]Seagate 250GB sata hdd
I didn't want to skimp on this, because there will be a whole lot of HDD usage and file transferring going on.
[/url]

I don't understand what you mean at all, a 250GB HDD is very small for a music PC, it's skimping. No need to destroy music quality by using lossy compression on everything with today's high capacity drives available, your system would be better with a couple of larger drives and a Celeron 800 than what you presently list. Consider a single CD is a few hundred MB in lossless format, if it's all just compressed lossy then don't even bother with the PC, just use a media extender.

Quote:
url=http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E1681...]Celeron D 2.66ghz proc
For 45 dollars I can get the 2.8 ghz edition, for 54 the 3.06, and for 57 the 3.2. I didn't think those extra mhz would really matter that much, but I could be wrong.
[/url] That CPU has a horrible heat:p erformance ratio, and it's even worse to create such heat (and either noise, or more expense for a good heatsink that runs quiet) when the performance isn't needed. Celeron 800 would run idle over 2/3rds the time playing audio, produce less than 1/3rd the heat, and with a ducted PSU intake over the heatsink, can even run passively cooled, or slap some old $3 Athlon heatsink on it and run the fan at 5V and it will be practically inaudible.[/QUOTE]

Quote:
If anyone has any suggestions on this build, or can point out any stupid mistakes I have made, thatd be wonderousful.

Thanks!


The main mistake is thinking this is cheap for a music PC. Most cost effecitve would be picking up something thrown away or an old Dell/Compaq/etc $60 Pentium 2-3 box, putting an SATA or PATA card in it and 2 x 400GB HDDs. Network it and you have plenty of spare CPU cycles to do fileserving/NAS/etc, too. At any rate I wouldn't go with the Prescott Celeron, if you must buy newer generation parts then get a low end Athlon 64 or same-gen Sempron, then underclock it as you don't need even 1/4th the performance they provide to play audio, the only real thing requiring more than a Pentium 1 system is that it will run WinXP and whatever else they might use it for.
!