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Quad-core, non-1156 build for music production

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October 22, 2009 6:24:55 PM

My first Tom's Hardware post after years of lurking. I feel honored.

My old PowerSpec T450 (e4300) bought the farm last week. I had added a Radeon 4650 to an underpowered system (300w!) so I could play a few games, knowing I ought to just suck it up and get a new machine. I just didn't want to make a move until Win7 came out. Everything worked for a few days and then one morning it just wouldn't turn on. I ran and bought a 450w power supply, but it still wouldn't turn on (or even spin the fans) so I assume the motherboard just died of old age. I tried the usual troubleshooting, but it was too late.

I had upgraded the RAM to a pair of PC5300 2gig and as I said, I had bought first a Radeon X1650 and then a Radeon 4650 because I like to play a few games. Mainly, though, I use the system for music production, running DAW software like Sonar, Reaper and tons of VST and VSTi plugins. Because my trusty PCI digital audio adapter (Delta DIO) never got 64-bit drivers, I've just been using WinXP SP3.

I was ready until yesterday, to just go out and buy an 1156 motherboard and i5 processor, a new case some coolers, DDR3 RAM and a pair of 500g Barracudas, but then I stumbled on some threads here that warned against some defects in the 1156 setups. Then, I figured I'd just go buy a socket 775 motherboard and some quad-core Core 2 processor, use the RAM and video card I have, but I know that I'll soon be buying a new digital audio adapter (maybe firewire, maybe PCI) that supports 64-bit and would love to run Win7, since XP is getting pretty long in the tooth.

Since I don't plan to overclock, is it safe for me to go with an ~$800 i5 build? This way, in a few months when I upgrade to Win7, I'll be better off than if I just built a Q8200 or something similar.

I've seen some nice builds here that will fill my needs, as long as I'm not buying a defective platform in the 1156. And how much life is left in an Intel Core 2 Quad system if I plan to run Win7? I'm only able to get a new system every 2.5-3 years, so I'll need this one to last.

Thanks to anyone who cares to respond to these questions. I'm a big fan of Tom's Hardware.

October 22, 2009 6:29:37 PM

NOTE: I'm just about a mile away from a MicroCenter here in Chicago, so my plan is to buy everything there. I've built systems before, but not since the Core 2 platform came out. I assume I follow the same procedures, albeit with more care taken for cooling.

Oh, and if I don't overclock, can I stay with the stock cooler for the i5 (or Q8xxx)?
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October 22, 2009 8:18:11 PM

I wouldn't worry about the reported "problems" with the LGA 1156 socket. It's only been proven to affect extreme overclockers. You should be fine to go with an i5 build. I would skip the LGA 775 socket altogether. If you can't fit an i5 build into your budget, I would suggest a mid-range AMD build. The LGA 775 socket and DDR2 RAM will be phased out soon. You can get an AMD build that will outperform the equivalent Core 2 build and will use current technology like an AM3 socket and DDR3 RAM. There is no good reason to use an LGA 775 chip in a new build. It had a good life, but there are better options out there now.
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