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DAW/Mainstream PC with possibility to upgrade in the future

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December 9, 2009 12:52:17 AM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: After the Holidays (i.e. January 2010)

BUDGET RANGE: $550-675 U.S. dollars after rebates

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: I’m a musician so this will mostly used as a DAW with ProTools 7.4 (upgrading to PT 8 later) and Finale 2010 notation software. I’ll also be doing a bit of video editing with Pinnacle Studio 14 (nothing huge just short ~5-10 min. video clips), and finally a bit of graphics work with Blender3d, GIMP, and Inkscape. For those familiar with PT I typically don’t tend to use Virtual Instruments or many plug-inS.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Keyboard, mouse, monitor, sound card (have PCI card), External HDD, CD/DVD drive, PSU - Antec Earthwatts EA500 (500W), OS - WinXP Pro (32-bit) SP3 (will upgrade to Win7 later (64-bit? if possible))

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg.com
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: U.S.

PARTS PREFERENCES: Mid Tower-Case, I would like to use an Intel dual-core CPU and an ASUS or Gigabyte ATX mobo, In terms of Ram I’m looking at 3 or 4 GB of name brand RAM (though I’ve read conflicting views as to whether or not 4 GB’s can actually be used with WinXP 32-bit), QUIET graphics card with DX 10 and OpenGL 2.1 support, one internal HDD for OS and software

OVERCLOCKING: No
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1440x900

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Since this is mainly a DAW I need it to be as QUIET as possible. Lastly, and I have no idea if this is even possible, but I’d love to upgrade the OS and CPU for 64-bit support later, but like I said don’t know if that’s a possibility.

Parts I’ve been looking at: (Please give your opinions of what’s listed and make suggestions)

Case
COOLER MASTER Sileo 500
Antec Sonata Elite

MoBo
ASUS P5Q Pro
GIGABYTE GA-EP45

Graphics
ASUS EN9600GT SILENT/2D/512MD3 GeForce 9600 GT
GIGABYTE GV-N96TSL-512I GeForce 9600 GT
Essentially the same though the ASUS has a $20 rebate

CPU
Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 Wolfdale 3.0GHz

and CPU coolers
ZALMAN CNPS10X QUIET 120mm
ZALMAN 9500A 92mm

RAM - ?
I’m a bit clueless here so any suggestions would be greatly appreciated

HDD
Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB

All these put me at the high end of my budget so any suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thanks! :D 

Best solution

December 9, 2009 2:48:35 AM

^ Upgradeable and LGA 775 socket ? I dont think so...
If you want to stick with Intel and for the amount that you are spending,
here is a config -
CPU + Mobo -
i5 + GIGABYTE GA-P55-UD3L
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

RAM -
Corsair 4GB - And Yes it would be better to go with 4GB as you can run them in Dual-Channel...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HDD - A very good alternative - Actually this might be a little bit quiet than the WD because it has a single 500GB platter compared to the 2 platter WD...So less moving parts, hence less noise...
Samsung F3 500GB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Graphics card - As you will be using a passive cooler, make sure you have very good airflow inside the case...
Check out this case too... - Silent, good airflow and good construction...
Thermaltake...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CPU Cooler - As you will not be overclocking, then the stock would suffice...

You actually get a far more powerful, upgradeable PC for nearly the same amount you are spending ...
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December 9, 2009 11:54:52 AM

gkay09,

Thanks for the info and rig setup! The main reason I'm weary to go with the i5 or even a quad-core CPU right now is because ProTool's support is still so darn sketchy for them (the i5 and i7's aren't even listed as being tested by PT!). PT is notorious for being slow in supporting new hardware/software (PT 8 windows system requirements and supported processors). That being said, it's the software I'm most familiar with and really never has problems as long as you use supported software/hardware.

When I mentioned upgrading I was thinking of starting with a dual core CPU and 32-bit OS and eventually moving up to a quad-core CPU and Win7 64-bit once PT finally decides to support 64-bit tech and the inevitable service packs/patches have been released. Perhaps I'm oversimplifying, but moving from a 32-bit system to a 64-bit one would simply involve using a MoBo + CPU combo that supports 64-bit tech and installing a 64-bit version of windows? :??: 

The RAM, HDD, and Case are all awesome (and cheaper!) than what I'd originally looked at. Thanks again.
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December 9, 2009 12:07:45 PM

Don't go with that Corsair RAM. For $2 more you can DDR3 1333 mhz CL 7 1.35v sticks from G.Skill that will be faster. There are even some CL7 sticks that are cheaper, or at least there used to be some...

Agree with the rest of gkay's suggestions.

EDIT: Fixed Link
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December 9, 2009 3:44:51 PM

Gkay09 has given you excellent advice. However, even though you are not overclocking you still might want to keep the CPU cooler because it is much quieter than the stock Intel cooler. This is very beneficial if your computer is in the same room as your microphones during a recording session.

If you already have Windows XP that is fine, but if your purchasing Windows XP for this build that would be a mistake. You should get Windows 7 Professional (64 bit) because it has an XP mode that will allow you to run your legacy Pro Tools and other software.

Good luck with your build.
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December 10, 2009 2:52:21 AM

@johndavidguitar, yes you are right that the PRO tools are not very compatible...
But I dont think that the CPU would be an issue -
Reason - If am not wrong, the reason why they say some CPUs are not compatible(Check they are mostly the low-end or old ones is because the CPUs come with various instructions sets support(For eg: here PRO tools use certian SSE instructions)...In low end CPUs and old CPUs, they wont support full instruction sets as compared to the newer higher-end CPUs...
The latest CPUs along with supporting the previosu instruction sets, also support newer ones...So if the apps work on the Core2Duo, they would also work on these CPUs as these CPUs contain all the instruction sets available on the Core2Duo...

So I would suppest that you shoot a mail to the Pro Tools support and ask them if they have updated their CPU support list...
And for now dont go with 64-bit OS as Pro tools doesnt support it yet...and it is not necesary that if you use a 64-bit CPU, you would have to use a 64-bit OS - means you can install 32-bit OS on them...
And dpaul8 has a good suggestion regarding the OS - WIN 7 with XP mode...
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December 10, 2009 8:21:29 PM

@dpaul8 - already have a copy of XP

Checked it out and looks like the i5 works with very few/no issues! The i7's have created problems due to hyperthreading but it was simply an issue of disabling this feature. So looks like I'm gonna go with the parts gkay suggested and a beefed up CPU cooler. The only thing else I need is a firewire port (forgot to mention that in the orig. post).

The following were listed as compatible with PT &.4 and up via the Dididesign/ProTools website:

SIIG FireWire 2-Port PCIe Model NN-E20012-S2 - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

ADS Tech PYRO PCI 64R2 DV cards API-315 PCI Interface - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

SIIG 1394 3-port PCI Card Model NN-440012-S8 - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Just curious as to whether anyone had any experience with these companies or these specific cards . . .

Also wondering about my PSU, with the i5, CD/DVD, two HDD (one internal one external), 4 gigs Ram and what looks like it will be 2 PCI and one PCI X card is 500W enough power?
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December 20, 2009 1:46:57 AM

^ The Antec EA 500 is a very high quality PSU...IT would suffice for your setup...
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December 22, 2009 4:33:17 PM

ty gaky09! I'd tried a number of PSU calculators and just needed a second opinion.
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!