Custom Music Production PC - Need Advice

Hello all,

I am in the market to final upgrade to a very powerful music production workstation. My work is primarily in the Film Scoring area. I was originally wanting to buy a Mac Pro, but seeing as how Apple has recently been ignoring the pro market, I feel that I would rather go for doing my first PC build, and hopefully save some money in the process.

This would be used almost exclusively for creating detailed orchestral mock-ups. My main program would be Cubase, running massive amounts of VST plug-ins (Kontakt, EastWest, VSL, Spectrasonics) likely around 300-400 midi tracks in one massive template. Very little audio recording, maybe just one or two tracks.

I would like to build a model with equal or greater power to the 3.33 Ghz 6-Core Mac Pro, with at least four 1 TB 7200 rpm hard drives (I'm more concerned about space than speed). Graphics are not as big of a concern, but I would like it to be able to support up to three individual models. I'd plan on getting at least 32 GB RAM.

I really have very little knowledge about all of this, I just know what I'd like for it to be able to do. If anyone has any advice or could recommend a good build, that would be awesome.

If I bought the Mac Pro + the RAM and HDD upgrades (which I would get through OWC or some such site) it would be around $4500, so the budget for this would be great at $2500 - $3000.

I already have keyboard, mouse, and monitors. Thanks!
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  1. For your budget and intended use I think a SB-E build would be best. Get a good $220-360 motherboard with 8 RAM slots and an i7-3930K (six cores) with an 8x4GB 32GB RAM kit. Then you have your choice of graphics, PSU, case, etc. and you should be set.
    4 PCIe 3.0 x16 graphics supporting dual x16, single x16 + dual x8, and quad x8
    8 DIMMs at up to 2400MHz
    4 SATA 3Gb/s, 8 SATA 6Gb/s, 2 eSATA 6Gb/s
    6 USB 2.0 rear, 4 USB 3.0 rear, 6 USB 2.0 by headers, 4 USB 3.0 by headers
    i7-3930K has six Sandy bridge cores at 3.2GHz with 12MBL3 cache. Only processor faster than it besides a some enterprise chips would be the i7-3960X and the performance difference isn't very much, especially considering the $400 price difference.

    The Mac's CPU is probably the i7-980X or a Xeon equivalent. If it is the 980X (or a Xeon equivalent) then my suggestion is faster.
    Great G.Skill 4x8GB=32GB memory kit running at 1866MHz (easily overclocked to 2133MHz). Can't do much better without a much larger investment which really doesn't offer enough performance to justify half the price hike.

    Total cost so far would be about $1204.46. Add in between $400 and $500 for four 1TB hard drives and you're at about $1600-$1700. How much you want to spend on a case and graphics is up to you to decide and the same goes for your peripherals.

    I don't know what kind of graphics you would need so I really can't recommend something there but everything else should be great for you.
  2. To decide what graphics you want you could look at that Mac again and check it's graphics.
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