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Need Help Building DAW

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August 23, 2010 8:22:14 AM

I am building a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) for use with Pro Tools M-Powered 8 please help!

And please don't think I'm lazy, between full time job, girlfriend and band, PC hardware knowledge is overwhelming, I've put lots of hours into r&r but still don't know exactly what I need components wise.

All my knowledge on prices and specs of components researched is whack due to tiger directs out of date stock reading reviews and researching chip after chip until finding it was made in 2007(some chips still on site from 2006) and other things.

-My budget is around $1500 *If you have knowledge on prices computer stores get components at please apply it because I may have a hookup meaning more expensive parts for less (friends uncle owns a shop)*

-Purchase Date: ASAP!

-Which websites don't matter, most bang for buck I suppose, newegg, tiger direct its all good!

-I live in Toronto, ON, Canada

-Brands don't matter to me, just reliable hopefully

-Haven't Read up on overclocking but im guessing it increases processing power by speeding things up? in that case that would be a bonus

-SLI/Cross fire doesn't really matter, not a gaming pc, just need 3 monitors(detail below)

Listed below are things I've learned from research / Wants

* Audio editing is VERY processor intensive, at least at the level I do it. (so dual CPU-motherboard unless too expensive, maybe a server mother board i saw some of those dual CPU for fairly cheap don't know if a server mother board would be compatible)
* Please go to the following link for Pro Tools Hard Drive Requirements(I was thinking solid state for windows 7 and Pro Tools, SATA for recordings) http://www3.digidesign.com/index.cfm?langid=100&navid=5...
* I have 3 flat screen monitors(DVI) which i would like to utilize, so a triple or quad head video card is needed, I don't need too much graphic power just enough to take Pro Tools graphic load off the CPU
X2 AL1916W 19" 1440X900
X1 AL2223W 22" 1680X1050
* Would be nice if GPU could hook up to my 55" LCD 1080p HDMI t.v. but if it will be too expensive then don't worry about it
* Needs Fire Wire input for M-Audio ProFire 610 audio interface, buying this package *listed on device specs >2 FireWire (IEEE 1394) ports<*
http://pro-audio.musiciansfriend.com/product/M-Audio-Pr...
* Normally need low noise but I'm going to be building a soundproof case with exhaust going into another room
* Though not "supported" many people have used Pro Tools M-powered 8 with Win7 X64
* Apparently audio editing works better with Intel chips than AMD but it doesn't bother me too much unless you guys know it's true
* Need slim to no latency for recording and playback at same time

Have:

Keyboard&Mouse
Monitors(Speakers)
Audio interface/Soundcard (M-Audio ProFire 610)
Microphone
DVD RW drive
Most cables(not ribbons and internal PC cables)

Need:

Case (preferably cool looking, I'm a sucker for that, and with fire wire unless that is with the motherboard)
Power Supply
Motherboard (fast north bridge for faster performance and fast south bridge for low latency)
CPU(s) (minimum quad core, preferable minimum quad core X2, if in my price range 6 core X 2)
RAM (lots o' ram!)
GPU (triple/quad DVI head, hopefully hdmi for my t.v.)
Splitter for the GPU/DVI (if needed)
Hard Drive(s) (one solid state one SATA)
Ribbon Cables etc. (if not included with components)
Anything else I might need that i don't know about??

Thank you, for reading all this and any help you may have for me.

More about : building daw

August 23, 2010 5:20:46 PM

A dual cpu workstation motherboard will be expensive. Couple that with two capable processors will blow your budger.

Hands down, the most capable processor is the Intel i7-980X at $1050.
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...
But, that will blow your budget.

For a conventional system, I see two reasonable approaches.

AMD phenom II X6 1090T $315 a 6 core cpu @3.2:
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

Or the Intel i7-930 4 cores, 8 threads overclocked conservatively to 3.3 which makes it comparable to the 975 (it will go close to 4.0) $304.
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...
If you can get to a US microcenter store, they will sell you one for $199. A very good deal.

From a cpu performance point of view, the two are somewhat comparable. If your jobs consistently use more than 4 or 5 threads, then the AMD edges ahead. But in general, the better throughput of the Intel will be better.
Look at the anand benches for comparisons of different processors and workloads:
http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/99?vs=146

For maximum ram the i7 and the underlying X58 chipset will be better. You can install 24gb of DDR3 ram. Note that windows-7 professional will be needed to access >16gb. You might want to look for a motherboard with 6gb sata to handle faster SSD's which will be coming. USB 3.0 is another feature which will be useful for external backups. Don't pay extra for an enthusiast motherboard. Anything from ASUS, EVGA, or Gigabyte will do the job and overclock well.

Look for the ram kits with 4gb sticks. There is just a slight premium for them over the 2gb kits, but you can then get twice the ram.
Do not pay much extra for faster ram or better timings. It just does not show up in real application(vs. synthetic benchmark) performance. Think 1-3%.

Your GPU problem is easy. Just get two. They do not have to be strong at all. Each one will connect to two monitors. Something like these passive evga gf210 at $25 each after rebate.
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

For a quiet case, I suggest the Antec SOLO. It has no "bling" but is a quality unit that is quiet. Go to www.silentpcreview.com and read about the best quiet cases. SOLO is tops. $99.99
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

For a different small case look at lian li. I like their V351 micro atx case:
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

The performance of different conventional hard drives is mostly similar. Samsung spinpoint 1tb drives seem to be favored.

I love the SSD for the OS and apps, but would wait a bit for the gen 3 drives to show up. They should be bigger, cheaper, and faster.
In the meantime, set up a 160gb or so partition for your os, and plan on cloning that partition to a SSD when the time is right.

Plan on installing a oem cpu cooler up front. Your cpu will run quieter and cooler. If you overclock, you can go higher and easier. I like the large tower type coolers with a slow turning 120mm fan the best. Almost any will do. You can find one for <$50.

Your psu requirements are largely determined by the graphics configuration. In this case, it is minimal. Any 400w unit from Corsair, Seasonic, or antec will be good. Something like this 400w corsair unit at $40 after rebate:
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

---good luck---
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August 24, 2010 2:12:15 AM

Thanks a lot much appreciated geofelt, just some ideas,

- how about a server motherboard, as some of them have dual cpus for around $250-300 then 2 of the cores you listed above, with the rest you listed it shouldent blow my budget or at least not by that much, is there any downside to the motherboards, id just need to find one that was compatible with win7 and not win server correct?

-as for the hard drive pro tools specifically says to have 2 seperate hard drives and to not partition

-I can stretch my budget a little bit if the means are just,such as get twice as good processor if i stretched to $1700 as opposed to $1500

Anyone Else have any ideas?? thanks again geofelt!
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