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My first DAW build - looking for advice

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April 10, 2009 2:02:01 PM

Hi folks,

I'm very new to this forum and to building PCs. I am attempting to piece together my first system build, based around the i7 920. I am going to use this primarily as a Digital Audio Workstation. I am wondering if anyone could give any advice on the parts I have picked so far, and a few questions that have cropped up as I've been looking into this.

CPU
Intel Core i7 920 2.66GHz Quad-Core Processor
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8 2E16819115202

Motherboard
Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD4P Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8 2E16813128374&Tpk=ud4p%20i7

Memory
Corsair XMS3 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8 2E16820145222

PSU
Corsair CMPSU-750TX 750W ATX12V
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8 2E16817139006
I know nothing about PSU's. Is this overkill? A decent value?

Case
Antec Solo Steel ATX Mid Tower
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8 2E16811129018
I also know nothing about cases. From what I can tell, this will fit that motherboard and PSU, though

I need to look for a video card that supports dual displays and am probably going to buy Seagate hard drives, but have not looked into that yet.

A few questions that I have as well:

I read somewhere that I might need Artic Silver 5 Thermal Compound for the CPU. Is that something I need to worry about if I'm not planning on overclocking?

I'm going to be running Windows XP 32-bit OS with a Presonus Firestudio Project, Cubase 4.5. Will a Firewire Interface like the Firestudio even take advantage of having the i7's speed?

My main reason for building a new system is to have something that doesn't choke on Omnisphere and my EastWest Libraries. I'm currently running it on an AMD 3700+ Compaq Presario. Am I on the right path to having a decent DAW?

Anything else I should have on my radar?

Thanks in advance. I've already learned a lot by reading the posts here. Lots of helpful people.

More about : daw build advice

April 10, 2009 6:19:23 PM

Hi there.

#1) 6GB of ram is complete overkill for a 32bit OS since it can only use 3GB, so right there you can save some money.
2) I can speak from experience using a Q6600(quad-core) with Reason and Ableton and not having any problems. The i7 920 is a little faster than mine so you'll be fine.
3) Back to ram, do you have to use a 32bit OS? I know having more ram certainly helps in many DAW programs by being able to load everything into ram.
4) The hard drives are what you should focus on. I recommend at least 2 drives in Raid 1 which takes two drives and 'mirrors' them so if one drive fails, you don't lose ANY data and you don't have any downtime, and it increases read performance. If you want good speed, you could get 2 74GB Raptors for OS/Apps and 2 1-1.5TB drives for storage($380/440). Depending on how much you want to spend and if speed is your main concern, then getting 4 Raptors and run them in Raid 10 which combines Raid 1 data safety with Raid 0(stripes them to almost double speed). Or get 4-500GB drives. And the great thing about Intel motherboards is their ICH10R chipset which has Intel's Matrix Raid. This allows you to create 2 Raid arrays on 1 set of drives(no one else can do this). So, you can do a Raid 10 for OS/Apps and then use the last 100GB(from 4-500GB) and create a Raid 0 for cache/scratch disk.
I am all about data safety AND speed. Hard drives are always the slowest part of a system(well, not my PC's).
5) Case: I like Lian-Li and Antec due to their professional build and insulated cases.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
-Antec Sonata Elite Black 0.8mm Mid Tower Case
Or Antec P182 for $20 more. Both are insulated(less noise) and have good airflow.
6) I recommend PC Power & Cooling PSU's. This single component can keep your system running fine or it can kill everything when it craps out. PC P&C are the best. Corsair makes some very good PSU's also. 500w is a minimum. 600w gives you leeway down the road when you upgrade your video card and/or CPU.
7) CPU Fan: do not rely on the stock heatsink from Intel. It really is junk. I prefer Zalman as they are top quality and rather quiet and their fan speed can be adjusted.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
-Zalman 9700LED 110mm Fan All Copper
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
+Zalman 1366 Bracket to fit the i7 - $5
April 10, 2009 6:25:08 PM

Hey there,

thanks for all the great information. this gives me a lot to look into and seems like a lot of great advice. much appreciated.

Tim
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April 10, 2009 7:55:20 PM

Just want to say Thank You for thanking me. You are the only person of the last 4 or 5 people I've helped that has thanked me.
April 22, 2009 6:46:59 PM

specialk90 gave you some great advice. I'm running Protools and Logic so, I know a little bit about building a DAW. I agree with specialk90 on the Lian-Li but, I'd also look at the Silverstones.

For motherboards: Asus P6T or "my new favorite" the Foxconn BloodRage! It has a Sonar audio card!

For good video: EVGA 896-P3-1257-AR GeForce GTX 260

64 bit is the way to go for OS... Don't limit your system...

Lastly, be sure to get some thermal compound!
!