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Looking to build a cheap rackmount fx processor system

Last response: in Systems
January 23, 2012 8:46:17 AM

So there is a lot of really cool FX processor software available for Linux. I would like to build a rackmount FX processor computer that supports a large number of channels (probably 8 or so). I will probably be using rakarrack or similar. Ideally I would want to do 8 channels at once, but nothing too heavy, probably just some time based FX for each channel. (delay and reverb for vocals, flanger and reverb for guitar, flanger for bass, etc) Ideally I could use this as the FX processor for the whole band.

Folks have recommended I get a M-audio Delta 1010LT sound card, so that takes care of that. Now what should I get for the rest of the system? This has to tour with me, so perhaps some sort of solid state drive. I probably won't need too much storage space, so what if I used a CF => SATA adapter and used like a 32gig CF? Probably won't be writing too much to the disk either.

What is a good motherboard + processor for an application like this? What is the cheapest rackmount case I can get? (Maybe find something used for the case) Power supply without a fan? Processor without a fan?

Soundcard aside, is it possible to build the rest of the system here for less than $400? Or possibly even cheaper?

January 23, 2012 10:59:01 AM

It will be difficult at least.

The good thing is that you can probably get a case+PSU combo for about $100 or so. For this kind of use 200W is plenty.
But then this is all about what size you want it to be 1U 2U etc.

Then I would get like a 64GB Crucial M4 which is about $100 as well for the HDD.

Motherboard about 1155 H61 chipset based microatx mobo ~$60.
Memory: 2x2GB of 1.5V 1333Mhz ram ~$20
CPU: Pentium G630T 35W TDP dual core CPU 1155 socket. $85

CPU+Mobo handles graphics. 1U don't always have a slot for DVD, so a USB DVD / USB Stick or network installation is needed for the OS then.

Total comes to about $360.

But you will need in addition to that a riser for a PCI or PCIe bus to PCI so that you can get your card into the chasis.
They unfortunately go up to about $70 and i didn't quickly find one that would do the job for sure.

Also a 1U 1155 compatible CPU Heatsink/Fan is needed the decent one i saw was out of stock, but around $25 is a good estimate anyway.

So you can do it, but there are a lot of possible issues to consider.
January 23, 2012 7:24:19 PM

Awesome, thanks for the help! I think I should be able to get a 4U rackmount case for close to nothing at a recycled computer place near my house, but that is probably the only useful component I can get from there. Does that make it cheaper then if I go with a 4U case? Then maybe I could get a mobo with a PCI slot so I won't need a riser card?
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January 23, 2012 7:38:16 PM

Yeah that would, but if you have to drag the thing with you dragging a 1U is much easier than a 4U :) 

If you go with 4U though, then you won't need the riser, you won't need the separate HSF as the one that comes with the CPU will do.
No idea how the PSU's are in those 4U units, but if it has one that works out for you that's great.
January 25, 2012 2:03:27 AM

Bulk is somewhat of a concern, and it would be cool to have it in just a 1U, but I think price is the bigger concern haha. Plus I think it is easier to build a system in a 4U rack, having more room and such. Do you think I should try and get a PSU without a fan? (I figure the less moving parts the better) Standard 4U rack cases take just a standard ATX PSU?

Would 3U work without a riser card?

It is also quite possible this system will have to function in a high temperature, high humidity environment. (110 degrees, 100% humidity) How would that affect my build? Are there ways around that?

Thanks for the help!
January 25, 2012 8:35:34 AM

Well the heat and humidity will definitely be a problem, you should have to basically have a solution which doesn't let the humidity get inside of it.
One way would be to have a completely passively cooled system, but then price starts to go up quite a bit for the better solutions at least.
And i'm not sure if they are meant for that kind of heat either.

4U and even 3U can usually support standard ATX PSU's.

The card is pretty small so it might fit into a 2U, 3U for sure.

Overall the heat and humidity are big issues, and i don't really know how to get around them, maybe someone else has a better clue about that.

February 20, 2012 8:31:56 PM

Thanks for the help! So I think I'll probably go with a 3U system, seems like a good compromise on space.

Anyone else have any ideas on the heat and humidity issues?
March 1, 2012 10:14:34 PM

Still wondering about this, if anyone can help, thanks!