I7 build for Audio, Video, Multimedia, Streaming, General Use

I'd like to build a fast stable system around $1000 (less if possible) to use for audio/video/photo transfer/capture/archives. Able to support editing programs like Avid, Adobe Premiere, Pinnacle Studio, Photoshop, ProTools LE, Reaper, SoundForge, Audacity. At present, more oriented to audio than video, but GPU should efficiently handle large files, dual monitors, general multimedia... no gaming. I want the system to be as "quiet" as possible, [in its echo chamber cubby hole under a small desk]. I've put together the following ideas, but am having particular trouble w/ the video card, PSU and case! Thanks.


APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: This week or next. BUDGET RANGE: +- $1000 Before Rebates

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Multi-track Audio Editing, Photo/Video editing, Movie watching.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, **Have new CMaster Extreme Power 430w PSU that's real quiet, not sure if adequate?** Also have an older Lite-on optical but would be open to suggestions for a newer good quality dual layer DVD writer.

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Newegg or any suggested. COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Any suggested.

PARTS PREFERENCES: by brand or type... Intel CPU, Gigabyte MoBo.

OVERCLOCKING: Maybe SLI OR CROSSFIRE: If for gaming?... no. If needed for video editing, I can upgrade GPU later. I'll need general use card for now.

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1440x900, 1600x1200, 1680x1050

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I would like a quiet PC.


Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

Intel Core i7-920 Bloomfield 2.66GHz LGA 1366 130W - $288 [$199/MicroCenter]

GIGABYTE GA-EX58-UD3R LGA 1366 Intel X58 - $189

OCZ XMP Ready Series 6GB (3 x 2GB) SDRAM DDR3 1600 Model OCZ3X1600LV6GK - $180

Noctua NH-U12P SE2 120mm SSO CPU Cooler - $75 (will go stock CPU fan - if possible???)

(2) WD Caviar Black 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s - $49 ea [Black Friday special]

SAPPHIRE 100295HDMI Radeon HD 4670 512MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 - $65

MSI N9600GT-MD1G GeForce 9600 GT 1GB 256-bit GDDR3 - $100

GIGABYTE GV-N98TOC-1GI Rev 2.0 GeForce 9800 GT 1GB 256-bit GDDR3 - $130

LIAN LI Lancool PC-K58 - $75 (like this one but not sure about access to external 5.25" drives???)

GIGABYTE Triton 180 Steel ATX Mid (7.87" w) - $65

NZXT BETA EVO Black Steel / Plastic ATX Mid - $60
w/ maybe: Scythe SY1225SL12L - $9ea: http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductReview.aspx?Item=N82E16835185057 or
Rosewill RFX-120 120mm Case Fan - $8ea: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835200021

Antec P183 - $140 [a little pricey?]

Cooler Master Silent Pro 700 RS-700 - $110

Seasonic M12II 500 Watt Quiet Power Supply - $90

ENERMAX ECO80+ EES500AWT 500W - $93

CORSAIR CMPSU-400CX 400W - $50

Any necessary accessories: ie: modular cables, fan extension cables, etc? [Currently have IDE HD's w/ribbon cables!]

Thank again!
11 answers Last reply
More about build audio video multimedia streaming general
  1. That is an extremely tight budget for what you want to do, but I will try to help. I have a Delta 1010 / Cubase setup that I use to record my son's rock band and my wife's a capella singing group (not at the same time) in our music room at our house, so I know the importance of a quiet computer. For noise control with a computer, distance is your friend. If you can locate the computer in an adjacent room that is best. If not, locate the computer as far away as possible from your microphones. Here is my recommended list of components with my rationale.

    Replace the i920 / X58 system with a i750 / P55 system. You do not lose anything in performance with the i750 system, and the i750 (95 W) uses less power than a i920 (130 W). Less power not only means energy savings, it also means less heat. Less heat means your CPU cooler can run at a lower fan speed, thus producing less noise during recording sessions.

    Processor: Intel i5-750 ($150 at Microcenter)

    Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-PA55-UD4P Motherboard ($170)

    CPU Cooler: Zalman CNPS10X Quiet ($52). Set the built-in speed control on this HSF on low for noise control.

    GPU: ATI 5750 ($145): I like XFX, but Sapphire and others are OK.

    Case: Antec 900 ($60) Black Friday special at Newegg. For noise control, remove the two case fans in front of the hard drive cages, and only operate the top 200 mm case fan on low. The large 200 mm top fan when operated on low is much quieter than having a bunch of 120 mm case fans spinning. Use strategically placed sound insulation in the vicinity of the computer, without restricting air flow, to make the computer even more silent. Do not overclock this computer because you do not want the fan noise associated with having to dissipate the heat.

    Memory: GSkill (2 X 2GB) DDR3 1333 ($70): Black Friday Special http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231275

    Hard Drives: Two WD Caviar Black 640 GB drives at $49 each ($98) Black Friday Special

    Power Supply: Corsair 650TX ($90 at Newegg). This PSU uses a 120 mm fan and runs at 21 dB up to 325W, which is very good from a noise control perspective.

    CD/DVD Drive: Any cheap drive with decent Newegg reviews ($40).

    The total for this build is $875. If you feel compelled to spend more, upgrading the processor to a i860 for $80 more would be worthwhile; or add another 4GB of memory for $70 more.

    You definitely want to stay away from the i920 / X58 system. This build will outperform it, is quieter, and costs less. What's not to like about that?

    Good luck and have fun!
  2. Just had another thought about your build. The Noctua HSF that you specified in your original build is a very good unit. However, it has two 120 mm fans which is not good for noise control. You could still get the Noctua, but I would remove one of the 120 mm fans and it will still be about 90% as efficient at cooling. I beleive Noctua also makes a version of this cooler with only one 120 mm fan, but it is not available through Newegg.
  3. Thanks dpaul. I had already thought about doing the Lynnfield 750 or 860 / 1156/P55 set-up. Thing is, the way I speculated, [i860] was only about $100 less than i920/x58, so thought maybe go 920? If i920 w/ HT is unnecessary, then I certainly don't mind saving the $100. I just don't understand whether HT is of any real benefit or not? Another thought was to become somewhat future proof [for a while at least]... and, if HT should be included for that... maybe I should get it? Also, what advice would you give me if I say I'm not too concerned about being able to record in the same room... that I just want it quiet for my own piece of mind while editing stuff that is recorded elsewhere? My current box is so loud you can hear it from down the hallway, and I just want to finally treat myself to a more meditative environment for post work. I'm a production [on location] sound recordist for film/video, and beginning to get more into post production dialog and sound effects editing. I wasn't thinking to do a "record studio" at the moment [maybe I should be??]... just... post record work!

    Also looked at this LGA 1156 BUILD:

    Intel Core i7-860 Lynnfield 2.8GHz LGA 1156 95W - $275

    CORSAIR DOMINATOR 4GB (2 x 2GB) SDRAM DDR3 1600 Model CMD4GX3M2A1600C8 - $95 (how is the GSkill stuff?)

    GIGABYTE GA-P55A-UD4P LGA 1156 Intel P55 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX - $185

    (2) WD Caviar Black 640GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s - $100

    SAPPHIRE 100295HDMI Radeon HD 4670 512MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express - $65 (is this enough card?)

    Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit - $105

    GIGABYTE Triton 180 Steel ATX Mid (only 7.87" wide) - $65 or the 900 you suggested

    Cooler Master Silent Pro 700 RS-700 - $110
    ENERMAX ECO80+ EES500AWT 500W - $93
    Corsair 650TX - $90 (you suggested)

    This is comes out to $990 before rebates - w/o a CPU cooler! Would be roughly $900 with the i750. What do you think is smartest?

    There's also the AMD/ASUS route, but I heard somewhere to stay with Intel for my intentions??: [Software issues maybe?]

    AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz Socket AM3 $165
    CORSAIR DOMINATOR 4GB (2 x 2GB) SDRAM DDR3 1600 Model CMD4GX3M2A1600C8 - $95
    ASUS M4A78T-E AMD 790GX $100
    (2) WD Caviar Black 640GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s - $100
    SAPPHIRE 100295HDMI Radeon HD 4670 512MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express - $65 (is this enough card?)
    Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit - $105
    GIGABYTE Triton 180 Steel ATX Mid (only 7.87" wide) - $65 or the 900 you suggested
    Cooler Master Silent Pro 700 RS-700 - $110

    This is $805 before rebates w/o a CPU cooler!

    thanks again! Looking to purchase today perhaps... so, the rush is on for advice!!!
  4. NewEgg has an open box on the ASUS M4A78T-E mobo for $93!
  5. Your i860 build looks awesome.

    I would still go with the Corsair 650TX because it is an extremely quiet power supply. Even though it has more power than you need, that works to your advantage for a quiet system because the fan will not even start to rev up until you start to draw over 325 W. Below 325 W the sound level is 21 db according to the Corsair website. With the i860 only drawing 95 W at load you may be able to stay below this threshold.

    Another source of noise in a computer is the CPU cooler. The stock CPU cooler that comes with the Intel processor is LOUD! If you want a quiet system an after market cooler is a must. A good cheap cooler is the Cooler Master Hyper 212 for $30.

    Your graphics card can also get extremely noisy under stress. I know nothing about the Sapphire 4670 in terms of noise levels, but it would be an OK choice for graphics processing in your system even though it is an older generation card. I would still recommend that you consider upgrading to a 5750 or 5770 card for $145 and $175, respectively. These new generation cards run much cooler than the older generation cards, and as a result have the potential to be quieter; but that all depends on the manufacturer's design.

    Last of all, your computer case design is important in keeping the noise levels down. I have found that gaming cases with large cooling fans that can be controlled are some of the quieter cases. For instance, the Antec 902 case has fan speed controls on all of thier case fans. By turning down the speed to low on all case fans, the computer is very quiet. The computer still stays very cool because of the good air flow through the case even on low fan speeds. Unfortunately, I know nothing about the Gigabyte case you specified. Maybe someone who has this case can respond.

    The i860 / P55 system that you specified will still be considerably faster than the i920 / X58 system. The X58 platform is an old design whereas as the P55 platform is the latest technology. Although Intel will release thier i9 processors in 2010, there is no guarantee that these processors will work with existing X58 motherboards. I would be surprised if Intel did not release a new motherboard chipset with the i9 processors because the current Northbridge design on X58 motherboards runs hot and is outdated. Buy the i860 computer with the peace of mind that you have a system that today has an excellent performance versus price ratio.

    Good luck and have fun!
  6. Thanks. I've missed a couple of the Black Friday deals already... the WD 640 Blacks are "sold out"... as well as the OCZ Platinum triple ch memory... so, maybe I shouldn't be soooo rushed and take the weekend to think it through some more? There's definitely some $ savings going AMD? What does anyone say about the AMD x4 955 / ASUS M4A78T route for my purposes? Have heard it screams, but for some reason the audio guys on the DigiDesign forum recommend Intel over AMD. I've only read it... not asked them! I also read the i9's may more likely be based on LGA1366 than 1156... and that an LGA1155 might replace the 1156?? Such speculation.... arghh! I do like the concept of lower power/lower heat, and still don't know what to think about HT? Feel kinda stuck now between:

    i5 750 / GA-P55A-UD4P w/ 4gb ram,
    i7 860 / GA-P55A-UD4P w/ 4gb ram,
    AMD x4 955 / ASUS M4A78T or 79T w/ 4gb ram.

    When I add a $150 GPU and $75 CPU fan to the i860 build... I'm pushing $1200. I don't want to kill any of the high end components by compromising elsewhere, but this is why I'm asking crazy stuff like is it realistic to use a "cheap" graphics card [for a time] and would my CM 430w PSU do me for the time being as well?

    The question still remains whether 4gb ram is enough and does it really matter which brand: Gskill, OCZ, Corsair? Is "XMP ready" important?

    Thanks SO much!
  7. The cheap graphics card will work fine in this system. I don't know anything about the CM 430W power supply so I can't help you with that decision.

    GSkill, OCZ, and Corsair are all excellent brands for memory. "XMP ready" is not important.

    It is tough to make all of these decisions in such a short period of time. I would take your time, and research things carefully so that when you finally decide to act you are confident in your decisions. Yes, you may have missed out on a few Black Friday deals, but there will be other good deals between now and Christmas. Don't worry about it. Enjoy the journey as well as the final destination.
  8. Always in such a hurry, aren't we? Thanks for your quick and truthful response. I like that advice! Very good advice. I will do just that mate, and chime back in here if I have a question!

    Take care.
  9. Hi. After taking a month to collect all the parts... I finally was ready to assemble the system this past weekend... and, wouldn't you know it... I'm having a problem. I was afraid this might happen! Some of the parts purchased are now 30 days old... and yet, I only just opened the packages two days ago to assemble them.

    The problem is that it won't power up! And, I don't know what piece may be at fault?

    The system:

    GIGABYTE GA-P55A-UD4P LGA 1156 Intel P55 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX
    Item #: N82E16813128409

    Intel Core i7-860 Lynnfield 2.8GHz LGA 1156 95W [stock cooler]

    G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) [in slots 1 & 3]
    Item #: N82E16820231303

    (1) WD Caviar Black 640GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s

    BFG Tech BFGR79512GTOCE GeForce 7900GT 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 SLI Support Video Card - Retail
    Item #: N82E16814143066

    Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit - $105

    LIAN LI K60B Black CECC Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail
    Item #: N82E16811112247

    LITE-ON Black 24X DVD Writer Black SATA Model iHAS-324-98 - Retail
    Item #: N82E16827106334

    CORSAIR CMPSU-450VX 450W ATX12V V2.2 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply
    Item #: N82E16817139003

    When I press the power switch, everything begins to start up... only for one second... then it auto shuts down. This auto repeats... attempting to start about every 5 seconds, yet failing... until I switch off the power to the power supply.

    Help please... any suggestions?

  10. Yea! Got her booting into CMOS. Now to install Win 7... !!
  11. Congrats man :) update how awesome it is! I know how you feel too! i just built an i7 860 build with the same mobo that you ordered. Im seriously in love with this build :) <3 p55a & i7 860
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