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Inexpensive small Ableton/Inventor/CS5/Gaming rig for <$1000

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February 25, 2011 2:33:13 AM

Hi all,

I think I could use some opinions/suggestions. For the first time in a number of years, I've decided to build a new desktop computer. To give you all an idea, my last build was back before dual cores existed and a DVD burner cost $200-300. So it's been awhile. In that time, I switched over to using a laptop most of the time, but the limitations of my HP TC4400 Intel Core 2 Duo Tablet PC are starting to get annoying.

What I'm looking to build is a cheap (price not quality), small (MicroATX minitower) computer that will be able to handle music production with ease (Ableton Live, Native Instruments Absynth, etc...), Inventor (without exploding while more complex models are open), Adobe CS5 (when I upgrade to a Cintiq monitor), the occasional game (probably Civ5, CoD:MW2, etc...), and the typical watch movies and browse the internet type of stuff.

Approx. Purchase Date: within the next month (waiting on tax return)

Budget Range: <$1000 Total. $600-700 for the computer itself, $200-300 for new electronic music gear. Don't really care about Mail-In Rebates since most of them are more of a headache than they're worth.

System Usage From Most to Least Important: Music Production, Inventor, Adobe CS5, Gaming

Parts Not Required: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS, optical drive (unless I decide to upgrade to a Bluray burner, I'll stick with the ide DVD burner I already have), MIDI keyboard. I'll be running Windows 7 64-bit Pro as the OS on this system with maybe a dual boot into Ubuntu or Linux Mint.

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg.com for computer parts, was thinking about getting the music stuff from zzounds.com (unless better prices can be found elsewhere)

Country of Origin: I assume this is where I'm located? If so, USA

Parts Preferences: See below selection of parts I've put together to get an idea. I thought about going Intel, but since I can't afford the new i7, a hex core AMD isn't bad

Overclocking: Why not

SLI or Crossfire: Maybe (not sure how good Hybrid Crossfire is)

Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080 (provided by 32" Sony Bravia with HDMI)

Additional Comments: Aiming for relatively small form factor and quiet.

Here's the list of components I'm thinking about getting:

Computer

Processor: AMD Phenom II X6 1090T Black Edition Thuban 3.2GHz

Motherboard: MSI 880GMA-E55 AM3 AMD 880G SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
or ASRock 880GMH/USB3 R2.0 AM3 AMD 880G USB 3.0 HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard

CPU Cooling Fan: Scythe Big Shuriken SCBSK-1000 120mm CPU Cooler

RAM: G.SKILL Sniper 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory

Hard Drive: SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive

Video Card: HIS H467QR1GH Radeon HD 4670 1GB 128-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card
(until I can afford an ATI 100-505604 FirePro V7800 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 CrossFire Supported Workstation Video Card)

Case: Foxconn TLM-C01+ISO-400 Black / Silver 0.6mm SGCC MicroATX Mini Tower Computer Case w/ 18 in 1 Card Reader

Case Fan: Scythe S-FLEX SFF21D 120mm Case Fan

Wireless Card: EDIMAX EW-7128G IEEE 802.11b/g PCI Wireless Card

Power Supply: CORSAIR Enthusiast Series CMPSU-650TX 650W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply (not sure if I'll need this much power or not)

and of course some Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound

If I decide to get an optical drive, I was thinking of this one: LG WH10LS30 10X Blu-ray Burner - LightScribe Support

Music Gear

Audio: Tascam US122 MKII USB 2.0 Audio Interface

MIDI Controllers: Korg nanoKONTROL USB MIDI Controller and Korg nanoPAD USB MIDI Pad Controller

Cables: Signal Flex MIDI Cable x2 (to connect my MIDI Keyboard to the Tascam) and Hosa MBL XLR Microphone Cable (to connect my Shure Condenser Mic to the Tascam)

Any thoughts, ideas, changes, suggestions are more than welcome.

I'm not all that attached to the case I picked out, but it's definitely small enough. If you guys can think of a smaller/slightly bigger/better case than this that will fit everything inside, I'm all ears. Right now I don't really need SATA 6gb or USB 3.0, but it's nice to have the option for the future. Firewire on the MSI board is nice for possible hooking up new music gear in the future. For the RAM, I plan to start with 8Gb and upgrade to the full 16Gb later. As I understand it, the built-in Ati graphics on both motherboards I'm looking at are "Hybrid Crossfire compatible". Is it worth trying to connect the Radeon 4670 to the built in Radeon HD 4250 in hybrid crossfire mode or should I throw that idea out the window? I think that just about covers it.

Thanks in advance,
Ben
February 25, 2011 10:51:09 AM

This is my sub $600AR mATX solution for the following tasks

1. 1920 x 1080 gaming
2. CUDA leveraging tasks like Premiere Pro video editting
3. Lightroom/Photoshop/Sony Vegas
4. Autodesk Maya, Rendering (single or cluster/farm) etc
5. Compiling/DAW functions
6. Encrypting
7. Linux workstation/VMware/ESXi, etc

yada yada but u getthe picture lol

1090T + Gigabyte 880G mATX $235
http://www.microcenter.com/specials/promotions/AMDbundl...

Items off Egg $363AR

$598AR in total
February 25, 2011 10:33:50 PM

Thanks batuchka. I keep forgetting to check Microcenter's prices (especially since there's a Microcenter about 45 minutes away from me). How is the Gigabyte MB treating you? I've heard a lot of mixed reviews about their newer boards. It seems they're either fantastic, DOA, or die within a few months (hence the reason I was looking at the MSI and ASRock MBs). I've also looked at a few ASUS MBs, but it seems like a bit of a crapshoot finding a model that doesn't have the same DOA or BYOD issues as the Gigabyte boards.

Speaking of MBs, would it be worth paying the extra $20-40 and getting a MSI 890GXM-G65 AM3 AMD 890GX HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX AMD Motherboard? It looks like I'd have more upgrade room with this board than the others (i.e. Faster onboard chipset to test out the Hybrid Crossfire concept or use two cards in actual Crossfire x8/x8, more overclocking room, etc...). Though that bundle on Microcenter isn't bad.

I'm kind of sold on the Samsung F3 hard drive. Seems to be one of the most reliable drives in the 1Tb range.

The biggest issue I'm having trying to design this thing is that I really like the idea of a tiny footprint to the computer but lots of power inside. It seems that, if I were willing to throw the size concept out the window, I could probably build an ATX system in a mid to full tower case for less money. But the 15.98" x 7.09" x 13.86" dimensions of the Foxconn case are just nice.
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February 25, 2011 10:53:31 PM

^ You don't want a CUDA card to do encoding for you. And even if you have the CUDA it is better to have a dedicated workstation card for things like Maya.

Transcoding w/ Nvidia = Sucks. Source: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/video-transcoding-a...

Video quality of Nvidia: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/hqv-2-radeon-geforc...

I understand the usage of cuda is something that's very attractive. But your better of having most of your budget directed towards your CPU. MW2 and COD have a streak of not really having crazy graphical requirements. A 5770 at that resolution could pull about 70 frames. That's a good enough amount.

Basically Batchuka has is good but change out that card for a 5770 or 450 GTS. The money saved there, about 60-70$ could be implemented towards a i5 2400 and a H57 motherboard or a mATX P67 board if they make them. I honestly think going with SB chip would be a better idea. Plus in one month basically it'll be April, and that's when Sandy Bridge returns! I dunno, just my 2 cents.
February 26, 2011 5:21:55 AM

aznshinobi said:
^ You don't want a CUDA card to do encoding for you. And even if you have the CUDA it is better to have a dedicated workstation card for things like Maya.

Transcoding w/ Nvidia = Sucks. Source: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/video-transcoding-a...

Video quality of Nvidia: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/hqv-2-radeon-geforc...

I understand the usage of cuda is something that's very attractive. But your better of having most of your budget directed towards your CPU. MW2 and COD have a streak of not really having crazy graphical requirements. A 5770 at that resolution could pull about 70 frames. That's a good enough amount.

Basically Batchuka has is good but change out that card for a 5770 or 450 GTS. The money saved there, about 60-70$ could be implemented towards a i5 2400 and a H57 motherboard or a mATX P67 board if they make them. I honestly think going with SB chip would be a better idea. Plus in one month basically it'll be April, and that's when Sandy Bridge returns! I dunno, just my 2 cents.


I hadn't even considered using CUDA or an Nvidia graphics card. After reading those articles, it gives me another reason to want to stick with ATI. Is the Radeon 5770 that much better than the 4670? I know the 5770 uses DDR5 RAM vs. the DDR3 of the 4670, but I'm really only getting an add on graphics card to use until I can afford a V7800 workstation card. The reason I was looking at the HIS 4670 was mainly price. I don't want to spend a great deal on a card that I'm going to end up replacing in a few months to a year. Newegg has the SAPPHIRE Vapor-X 100283VX-2L Radeon HD 5770 (Juniper XT) 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card w/ Eyefinity for about $125 ($105 if their mail-in rebate is any good). Will the better RAM be worth paying nearly twice the price for the card?

As for the Intel chips, the new i5 chips look great. I'm just not sure if I want to put off building the computer for another month (after trolling Newegg off and on for 4 months trying to figure out what to get) waiting on LGA 1155 MBs to start being available again.

I got my tax return today. So I'd like to be ready to pull the trigger on the order within about a week or so.

I guess what I'd like to know is whether the parts I selected in my first post are any good and if they will all play nice together.
February 26, 2011 7:43:52 AM

TheIdeaCan said:
Thanks batuchka. I keep forgetting to check Microcenter's prices (especially since there's a Microcenter about 45 minutes away from me). How is the Gigabyte MB treating you? I've heard a lot of mixed reviews about their newer boards. It seems they're either fantastic, DOA, or die within a few months (hence the reason I was looking at the MSI and ASRock MBs). I've also looked at a few ASUS MBs, but it seems like a bit of a crapshoot finding a model that doesn't have the same DOA or BYOD issues as the Gigabyte boards.

Speaking of MBs, would it be worth paying the extra $20-40 and getting a MSI 890GXM-G65 AM3 AMD 890GX HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX AMD Motherboard? It looks like I'd have more upgrade room with this board than the others (i.e. Faster onboard chipset to test out the Hybrid Crossfire concept or use two cards in actual Crossfire x8/x8, more overclocking room, etc...). Though that bundle on Microcenter isn't bad.

I'm kind of sold on the Samsung F3 hard drive. Seems to be one of the most reliable drives in the 1Tb range.

The biggest issue I'm having trying to design this thing is that I really like the idea of a tiny footprint to the computer but lots of power inside. It seems that, if I were willing to throw the size concept out the window, I could probably build an ATX system in a mid to full tower case for less money. But the 15.98" x 7.09" x 13.86" dimensions of the Foxconn case are just nice.



Nah the Giga 800 series have been excellent for me and for your needs no point paying for 8/8 crossfire capability for that MSI 890GXM :lol: 

Hmm if it intrest you, the Cooler Master Elite 341 for $39.99 is a regular low cost mATX solution for gamers and some slot in some really powerful hardware in there :D 
February 26, 2011 6:21:51 PM

^ Spot on.
!