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~$800 Build - Music Recording/Production Studio

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December 8, 2010 3:33:36 PM

Approximate Build Date: 2 Weeks (Picking up parts as they go on sale)
Budget Range: $700-$850
System Usage from Most to Least Important: Audio Recording & Mixing/Editing > Daily Use for a Teenager
Parts Not Required: keyboard, mouse, monitor, & speakers
Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg/amazon
Country of Origin: USA
Parts Preferences: Intel and reliable brands of RAM/PSU/Mobo
Overclocking: No.
SLI or Crossfire: No


Additional Comments:
This is for my nephew. I've built all my computers for a long while now but it's been 3 years since I've built one. My current build is still blazing fast for any game I throw at it but these days I'm not too sure about the market or what would be good for someone that is using stuff like ProTools and other audio mixing/recording software.

It is my understanding that ProTools does not run too nicely on Windows 7 but he wants 7 in the hopes that the bugs will be fixed soon and if not I offered him the ability to dual boot XP (which we have a copy of currently).

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Current Build Draft:

GIGABYTE GA-H57M-USB3 LGA 1156 Intel H57 HDMI USB 3.0 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

COOLER MASTER Centurion 5 CAC-T05-UW Black Aluminum Bezel , SECC Chassis ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

OCZ Fatal1ty OCZ550FTY 550W ATX12V v2.2 / EPS12V SLI Ready 80 PLUS Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Intel Core i5-661 Clarkdale 3.33GHz LGA 1156 87W Dual-Core Desktop Processor BX80616I5661
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-8GBRL
(overkill?...)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Western Digital Caviar Black WD7501AALS 750GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Hard Drive -Bare Drive
(really, any cheap HD that is around 1TB)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

ASUS DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS Black SATA 24X DVD Burner - Bulk - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Windows 7 Pro or Home?

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Hardware Total: $669.93
Software Total: $100-140
Overall Total: $810

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Summary:
I need help giving my awesome nephew a badass PC to help him develop his love for computers and music that has Windows 7 and will keep him happy for a few years. I'm looking for pricepoints here and quality stuff.

Thank you SO much for your help! I love Tom's and have trusted them for reviews and threads full of valuable information for years!

Cheers,
- lex
December 8, 2010 4:34:03 PM

Please keep in mind the following -

a) For music production, your CPU, RAM, Sound card, hard disk, and lastly cables matter the most.

b) No, not really any cheap hard disk. Buy a hard disk that has at least 32mb if not 64mb cache memory, is SATA/SATAII and is NOT Seagate (not spreading bad blood, but these days they fail a lot).

c) Invest in a Creative X-Fi sound blaster card. Something like this - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

d) Get a Cosair 600W / 650W power supply.

e) Motherboard looks okay. Get Intel i5-760, please. Memory modules look okay. No use for 1600 memory - max support here is 1333. But anyway.

Good luck.
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December 8, 2010 5:01:42 PM

@pinaklonkar

a) I was under the impression that onboard audio doesn't matter these days and the external mixer is going to be more important.

b) Sorry, i mean anything that was a GREAT drive but on sale, they're all cheap these days! I love it.

c) I have a X-Fi myself, and I really can't tell the difference between that an my onboard (even with pretty hifi speakers

d) why?

e) The i5-760 does not give me integrated graphics support which saves me money for very little loss in power. I understand the reasoning behind using a quad-core but don't think it will be a noticeable difference for what he will be doing. I need more expert opinions on this one though... I'd be willing to try a cheap vid card combo with a P55 board and an i5-750


Thank you for your input!
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December 8, 2010 7:39:03 PM

a), c) Your ears will not notice the difference - but there is difference if you use the right tools to measure it. I can tell you that the on-board sound chip is susceptible to a lot of "capacitive" and "circuit track" noise. Most often, it will also not be rated as high as some external cards in terms of SN ratio, sampling, processing, etc. Most on board sound chips will also lack the "side tone" features for a microphone / auxillary inputs, causing usability issues if you are going to be using any of those inputs. And then in addition, you miss out on some more "signature" features on the more expensive cards including software based - which your external mixer/software may take care of, I don't dispute that part.

b) Cool - just wanted to tell you that hard disks will make or break the "feels fast" factor of your computer.

d) Last time I checked, OCZ power supplies are backed with 1 year warranty (and have shown failures based on newegg reviews). Corsair supplies are backed by 5 year warranty and are really great units. I have used both and it is a matter of choice.

e) Again, having an external graphics card will give you an edge over in performance. Lynnfield is just a better family for what it is than Clarkdales. I am no expert at CPU comparisons but sites like www.anandtech.com or this one will give you more insight. I was merely suggesting from a future point of view. On board video card can be a good way to compact things, but it also suffers from some of the issues I mentioned above. Heat, noise, lack of performance are the main ones. I personally like dedicated stuff as you may have already realized; a matter of choice again, really. If you are planning on using some of the high end software for making music/mixing etc. good video cards do come handy for smooth experience on screen. And that reminds me - most of these software will also be very demanding about sound and sampling bandwidth - more expensive cards help you with click-jitter-glitch free experience. e.g. I used to work on Fruity Loops and it is a very demanding mixing and music creation software. On board audio and less memory constantly gave me problems until I put more memory and upgraded my sound card. The experience then was very satisfying.

I hope I was able to convey myself through the limited knowledge and experience I have.
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December 10, 2010 1:23:17 AM

Thanks for the info ^_^
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