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PC for making music, gaming and doing HTPC tasks

Last response: in Systems
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December 4, 2010 2:48:01 AM

My questions are:

Will this do everything I want it to?

and

Are there any better parts that I could choose?


Approximate Purchase Date: There's no rush. Sometime in the next six months.

Budget Range: Depends on how much I need to spend. I don't really want to spend more than $700 without shipping. But I will if $700 is not enough.

System Usage from Most to Least Important: I want to be able to do a lot of things with this. The list, in order of importance:

1. Make music with Ableton Live and lots of plugins. This is really CPU intensive...

"Win XP, Pentium or Athlon 1.4 GHz, 512 MB RAM"

Those are the requirements for one instance of one of those plugins. I want to be able to run about 15 of those at one time without running out of CPU power or RAM. Are there processors now which can do the work of fifteen 1.4 GHz Athlons?

2. Some of the things that HTPCs do. I would like to be able to hook it up to a TV and play videos on the TV from the computer. And also to be able to hook it up to a stereo system and play music. It also would be nice if I could multi-task and use the computer for doing other things at the same time.

3. Playing games. But not at high settings and resolutions. I'm fine with reducing the quality of the graphics, as long as I can play the game itself. It needs to be able to play emulators also.

4. The typical computer tasks. Email, internet browsing. Any modern computer should be able to do this, right?

5. It needs to be relatively quiet, since I'm using it for making music.

6. It needs to be able to use two monitors at once.

Parts Not Required: Monitors, OS, Keyboard, Mouse, Speakers, Audio Interface/Soundcard.

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Probably Newegg, but I'm open to buying parts from other places.

Country of Origin: U.S.A.

Parts Preferences:Quiet components. I don't want it to make lots of noise.

Reliable, high quality parts. I don't want to buy another PC for 3+ years.

I'm leaning towards getting an AMD Quad Core, since they seem very cost effective, and I use programs that will benefit from four cores.

I need lots of hard drive space. At least 2TB.

At least 2 USB ports in the front of the case.

I like conservative looking cases. I want it to look like a computer, not a high tech Christmas tree.

Overclocking: Probably not. Because I don't know what I'm doing, don't want extra noise, and don't want to reduce the lifespan of the computer.

SLI or Crossfire: Definitely not. I'd rather use that money for a better CPU, or more storage space.

Monitor Resolution: 1600 x 900 or less.


Here are the parts I've chosen. $660 total right now.

AMD Athlon II X4 640 Propus 3.0GHz Processor
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus CPU Cooler
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GIGABYTE GA-870A-UD3 AM3 AMD 870 Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB RAM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

SeaSonic S12II 520W Power Supply
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

LIAN LI Lancool PC-K7B Case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

XFX Radeon HD 4670 1GB Video Card
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Western Digital Caviar Blue 250GB (System Drive)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Western Digital Caviar Green 2TB (Storage Drive)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

ASUS DVD/CD Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
December 4, 2010 8:38:19 AM

I'd ditch those two HDDs and get two Seagate 7200.12 (1TB) drives (or three).

The rest looks great.
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December 4, 2010 11:01:39 AM

I agree with different hard drives. But for acoustics, the Samsung drives are rated among the best. Some hard drives sound like a can full of marbles being rattled when they seek.

Consider either of these drives for OS/apps:
SAMSUNG Spinpoint F4 HD322GJ/U 320GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive $42.99
SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD502HJ 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive $54.99

and this drive for media storage:
SAMSUNG Spinpoint F4 HD204UI 2TB 5400 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive $99.99

I can personally vouch for the 2TB F4 drive. It's the quietest drive I have (except for my SSD's :) ).

Also, your selected video card is two generations old now. Maybe go for one in the HD5xxx series? From a "quiet" perspective, the HIS cards with the Arctic Cooling VGA Silencer heatsink assembly are very quiet, as well as cards with a large radial fan. The HIS cars with AC cooling are the IceQ series, like this one:
HIS IceQ H567Q1GD Radeon HD 5670 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card w/ Eyefinity $79.99 after $20 MIR

Here is a card that has a lard radial fan that will also be quiet:
MSI R5670 CYCLONE 1G Radeon HD 5670 1GB PCI Express 2.1 x16 Video Card $104.99 after $10 MIR

That's my 2¢.
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December 4, 2010 2:01:32 PM

Well, there are only TWO HDD lines, that I recommend ...

... The Spinpoint F3 line is a bit "better" than the 7200.12 line ... a bit pricier, too.

... So, for extreme budgets, I recommend the 7200.12 and the F3 if budget is no prob.

Definately DO get a drive that is a MULTIPLE of 500GB ... (1TB, 1.5TB, etc.) to leverage the 500GB platter tech.

Definately DO NOT get a 5,400 RPM drive, except as an external archive, that is usually not powered on.

The more senior the tech, the more likely they will say the same thing I just did (because I know most of them and this "matter" comes up, frequently).

(much like the Hyper 212+ and Corsair PSUs ... we all DO agree, on some things.)

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December 4, 2010 3:45:09 PM

+1 to Alvin [:jaydeejohn:3]
Quote:
Approximate Purchase Date: There's no rush. Sometime in the next six months.
prices will drop once sandy bridge comes out...so you'll be making a better investment then.

Your thread mentions - Making music,etc...yet your going to use the onboard sound solution?

I can advise an ESI Julia card that works wonders - and i've tried it with ableton live and even on gigs ; also has win7 support:
Sound card and review

its connectivity will also allow you for an optical connection to a reciever for HTPC use
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December 4, 2010 4:46:09 PM

Alvin Smith said:
Definately DO get a drive that is a MULTIPLE of 500GB ... (1TB, 1.5TB, etc.) to leverage the 500GB platter tech.
Just FYI, the F4's are the newer 640GB platters :o  very dense, and speedy for a spinning drive.

Alvin Smith said:
Definately DO NOT get a 5,400 RPM drive, except as an external archive, that is usually not powered on.
I'll respectfully disagree. For a media drive, 5400rpm is fine and it will be quieter and cooler too. Plus, the F4 has such dense platters, it makes up for the slow spindle speed. My 5400rpm F4 drive benches on HDTach as faster than my 1TB Western Digital Black 7200rpm drive for read. The black is the 32MB cache version and not the newer 64MB drive, but that's impressive none-the-less. Of course, any 5400rpm drive will get beat by a 7200rpm drive in access time and mine is no different.

Of the three media drives in my HTPC, the WD black is the loudest (very annoying), next is a WD Green (still audible), then the F4 is the quietest (barely audible if close). If acoustics are important, the slower spinning drives are ideal.
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December 4, 2010 4:53:35 PM

Quote:
you don't need the SSD, I thought I'd just show it....;)
SSD FTW! :lol:  !
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December 4, 2010 4:59:18 PM

^ the OP also stated a gaming rig, the 5670 would be better if it had the 1Gb in it.
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December 4, 2010 5:08:03 PM

Quote:
^
forgot and you are correct though he did say not at high resolutions..


:)  true but i've seen people switch their minds about the level of gaming :p 
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December 4, 2010 5:14:42 PM

hmmm - i asked to hold out until then though accidentally used intels name :na: 

for the black edition, a set black edition rams would be fitting. I was really amazed by the potential of such a combo from my pals rig.
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December 5, 2010 6:10:57 AM

I'm definitely going to get the Samsung HDDs instead of the WD drives. I forgot how much noise hard drives can make. I definitely don't want loud ones.

I choose that video card because it has 2 DVI outputs. I was looking at newer cards like the 5670, but very few of them have dual DVI outputs. The ones that do are either too expensive, or less powerful than the 4670.

I'm not going to use the onboard sound. I already have a sound card/audio interface that I'm going to use.
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December 5, 2010 7:56:45 PM

PS ... One of the MAIN reasons that *I* went with TWO SSDs is that I can pull the spinner out of my system (drive-carrier) and, for studio recording of voice-overs and blogging and sound-effects and "lick-loops", I have no HDD noise, at all ... I also went with TWO Zotac GT240s (fanless/silent/lo-pwr) so I could run 3 (or 4) monitors ...
... Finally ... Even tho I splurged on TWO SSDs, I got modest GPUS, a modest (very QUIET) PSU and, ONLY an Athlon-II x4 OC'd ...

Remember that an Phenom-II x4 is more than $50 more expensive than an A2x4, of equal speed and $75 more expensive than an A2x3.

I got TWO SSDs and an extra 4GB RAM (8GB total) and I COULD use 4GB of that system RAM as a RAM-DISK for Temp Files, etc.

I also got a really nice 120mm vertical stack (push-pull) cooler, for modest OC, with minimum noise (larger fans running slower and only pushing it to ~3.6GHz).

I STILL got 4 cores, at about 3.6GHz(OC) .. lower power ... less noise ... a cooler that I can move onto a 6-core AMD *OR* INTEL CPU (later) ...

I think things like more and bigger displays, and faster storage do much more for my productivity, enjoyment, and the quality of my output than the little extra L2 cache, that I would get with a PHENOM-IIx4, at this juncture. More and better options, for upgrades and re-tasking, too.

When/If, I finally DO get a Dozer or a "T"-bone, it will be sitting under a great cooler and next-to a butt-load of RAM.

I'll need a much larger and more expensive PSU, tho, to go ANYwhere (up) from here, but my old PSU and mobo and CPU COULD become a re-tasked silent surf-n-stream HTPC.

I like the LOW power, of the A2x4

A fast 3-core SHOULD run any audio DAW suite with aplomb.
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