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Custom Music Production PC - Need Advice

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Last response: in Systems
January 17, 2012 3:51:40 AM

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!

More about : custom music production advice

January 17, 2012 8:34:35 PM

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.
January 18, 2012 3:39:20 PM

To decide what graphics you want you could look at that Mac again and check it's graphics.