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$2100 DAW Build (Digital Audio Workstation)

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February 9, 2012 2:38:26 AM

Hello all, I'm relatively new to this forum. I don't know how many here have experience with audio DAW builds, but I will appreciate hearing comments from all builders about part selection, compatibility, and value. Thanks in advance for your help!

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Approximate Purchase Date: next two weeks

Budget Range: around $2100 after rebates

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Audio DAW (primarily), some video editing, some gaming, software development

Parts Not Required: Win7/64 Ultimate, audio interface, keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers

Preferred Websites for Parts: newegg.com, ncix.com, amazon.com

Country: USA

Parts Preferences: Intel CPU, reasonably fast memory, tower case

Overclocking: Yes

SLI or Crossfire: No

Monitor Resolution: 1920 x 1200

Additional Comments: Multitrack audio recording alongside many soft synths, large sample libraries, and VST plugins in real time. Quiet system is a priority. Would like to be able to run latest generation games, but highest frame rates / resolutions aren't a priority.

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Part Selection

Motherboard: ASUS P8Z68 DELUXE/GEN3

CPU: Intel Core i7-2600K Sandy Bridge 3.4GHz

Cooler: Noctua NH-U9B SE2 92mm SSO CPU Cooler

Memory: Corsair Dominator 32GB (4 x 8GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600

Video Card: EVGA 01G-P3-1561-AR GeForce GTX 560 Ti

System Drive: Western Digital Caviar Black 1 TB

Data Drive: Western Digital Caviar Black 2TB

Optical Drive: LITE-ON SATA Blu-ray Burner

1394 Card: SIIG 3-Port FireWire 800 PCIe

Case: Fractal Design Define XL Black Pearl

PSU: CORSAIR Professional Series Gold AX850

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Notes

Overall: Price is roughly $2100, on the expensive side, I know. I prefer quality and good specs, sometimes to a fault. That said, I want plenty of horsepower for my audio work. I expect to use this system for a number of years. I will probably overclock, but I suspect that performance will be good enough already that I won't need to push it to the limit. Since I will be tracking in the same room with it, it must be quiet.

Video card: Chosen in part because of its use in other successful DAW builds - no apparent problems with DPC latency, and is quiet.

Hard drives: I'm a bit troubled by recent comments about reliability problems with the WD Caviar Black's. Has anyone here had any trouble with recent drives? Any chance this is a flooding-related quality control issue?

Memory: I know 32GB is a lot, but I want to be able to load multiple large sample-libraries. Also, I had some concern about compatibility - it's not listed in the Corsair configurator - but I've come to believe that it's compatible. Please correct me if you think otherwise. My earlier post discussing this is here. FWIW, I don't think the vid posted there demonstrating the removal of the heat sink applies to this memory. I found this instead. I also considered perhaps a more conventional choice: CORSAIR Vengeance 16GB (4 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600. I think latencies between the Dominator 32GB and the Vengance 16GB are close enough that overall system performance would be similar with either. Does anyone think differently?

1394 Card: Included because of the TI chipset, ASUS MB is not TI. Non-TI chipset is known to cause problems with FW audio interfaces, such as the M-Audio 2626 I have.

PSU: Perhaps it's over-spec'ed a bit to be conservative, and because I may add more drives, DSP card(s) (UAD etc.)

Cheers!

edit: intended to be a discussion thread but apparently I can't change it after the fact.
March 12, 2012 3:16:51 PM

How did your DAW turn out? i'm looking at putting one together over the next few weeks as my previous DAW is dying and would appreciate any input.

thanks!

bugcheck said:
Hello all, I'm relatively new to this forum. I don't know how many here have experience with audio DAW builds, but I will appreciate hearing comments from all builders about part selection, compatibility, and value. Thanks in advance for your help!

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Approximate Purchase Date: next two weeks

Budget Range: around $2100 after rebates

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Audio DAW (primarily), some video editing, some gaming, software development

Parts Not Required: Win7/64 Ultimate, audio interface, keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers

Preferred Websites for Parts: newegg.com, ncix.com, amazon.com

Country: USA

Parts Preferences: Intel CPU, reasonably fast memory, tower case

Overclocking: Yes

SLI or Crossfire: No

Monitor Resolution: 1920 x 1200

Additional Comments: Multitrack audio recording alongside many soft synths, large sample libraries, and VST plugins in real time. Quiet system is a priority. Would like to be able to run latest generation games, but highest frame rates / resolutions aren't a priority.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Part Selection

Motherboard: ASUS P8Z68 DELUXE/GEN3

CPU: Intel Core i7-2600K Sandy Bridge 3.4GHz

Cooler: Noctua NH-U9B SE2 92mm SSO CPU Cooler

Memory: Corsair Dominator 32GB (4 x 8GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600

Video Card: EVGA 01G-P3-1561-AR GeForce GTX 560 Ti

System Drive: Western Digital Caviar Black 1 TB

Data Drive: Western Digital Caviar Black 2TB

Optical Drive: LITE-ON SATA Blu-ray Burner

1394 Card: SIIG 3-Port FireWire 800 PCIe

Case: Fractal Design Define XL Black Pearl

PSU: CORSAIR Professional Series Gold AX850

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Notes

Overall: Price is roughly $2100, on the expensive side, I know. I prefer quality and good specs, sometimes to a fault. That said, I want plenty of horsepower for my audio work. I expect to use this system for a number of years. I will probably overclock, but I suspect that performance will be good enough already that I won't need to push it to the limit. Since I will be tracking in the same room with it, it must be quiet.

Video card: Chosen in part because of its use in other successful DAW builds - no apparent problems with DPC latency, and is quiet.

Hard drives: I'm a bit troubled by recent comments about reliability problems with the WD Caviar Black's. Has anyone here had any trouble with recent drives? Any chance this is a flooding-related quality control issue?

Memory: I know 32GB is a lot, but I want to be able to load multiple large sample-libraries. Also, I had some concern about compatibility - it's not listed in the Corsair configurator - but I've come to believe that it's compatible. Please correct me if you think otherwise. My earlier post discussing this is here. FWIW, I don't think the vid posted there demonstrating the removal of the heat sink applies to this memory. I found this instead. I also considered perhaps a more conventional choice: CORSAIR Vengeance 16GB (4 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600. I think latencies between the Dominator 32GB and the Vengance 16GB are close enough that overall system performance would be similar with either. Does anyone think differently?

1394 Card: Included because of the TI chipset, ASUS MB is not TI. Non-TI chipset is known to cause problems with FW audio interfaces, such as the M-Audio 2626 I have.

PSU: Perhaps it's over-spec'ed a bit to be conservative, and because I may add more drives, DSP card(s) (UAD etc.)

Cheers!

edit: intended to be a discussion thread but apparently I can't change it after the fact.

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March 12, 2012 3:49:10 PM

Quote:
Overall: Price is roughly $2100, on the expensive side, I know. I prefer quality and good specs, sometimes to a fault. That said, I want plenty of horsepower for my audio work. I expect to use this system for a number of years. I will probably overclock, but I suspect that performance will be good enough already that I won't need to push it to the limit. Since I will be tracking in the same room with it, it must be quiet.


You'd be wise to check out the i7-3820 (SB-E) for a workstation build, or go Xeon E3-1245, I don't think I would recommend a 2600K for this type of setup.

Quote:
Video card: Chosen in part because of its use in other successful DAW builds - no apparent problems with DPC latency, and is quiet.


That's fine.

Quote:
Hard drives: I'm a bit troubled by recent comments about reliability problems with the WD Caviar Black's. Has anyone here had any trouble with recent drives? Any chance this is a flooding-related quality control issue?


I'm not worried about reliability problems with the Caviar Black so much as the ridiculously high cost - if you get one of these drives you're paying double or even triple in some cases vs. lower-end drives, SSDs, and even Seagate and Samsung equivalents.

Quote:
Memory: I know 32GB is a lot, but I want to be able to load multiple large sample-libraries. Also, I had some concern about compatibility - it's not listed in the Corsair configurator - but I've come to believe that it's compatible. Please correct me if you think otherwise. My earlier post discussing this is here. FWIW, I don't think the vid posted there demonstrating the removal of the heat sink applies to this memory. I found this instead. I also considered perhaps a more conventional choice: CORSAIR Vengeance 16GB (4 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600. I think latencies between the Dominator 32GB and the Vengance 16GB are close enough that overall system performance would be similar with either. Does anyone think differently?


Not only is 32GB a lot, most SB motherboards don't mix well with 4 x 8GB chips, I've heard of tons of BSOD issues surrounding 8GB chips. If you want to be on the safe side, I'd recommend going X79 as that will allow for up to 64GB RAM and will be pretty problem free for the most part. I don't recommend the Dominator or the Vengeance mainly due to the issues tall heat sinks have with large coolers, and removing them can often void warranties.

Maybe try this build:

Case: Corsair Carbide 500R - $139.99 ($15.00 MIR)
PSU: PC Power & Cooling Silencer MKII 950W - $149.99 ($20.00 MIR)
Motherboard: Asus Sabertooth X79 - $329.99
CPU: 3.6GHz Intel Core i7-3820 - $319.99
Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo - $34.99
Accessory: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo Socket LGA2011 Retention Bracket - $4.99
RAM: G.Skill Ares 32GB (4 x 8GB) 1333MHz 1.5V Quad Channel For X79 - $234.99
SSD: 128GB Crucial M4 - $174.99
HD: Samsung Ecogreen F4 2TB - $149.99
Optical: Lite On DVD Burner - $17.99
Video Card: ATI Fire Pro V5800 - $349.99

Total: $2,067.89 - $35.00 MIR = $2,032.89
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March 12, 2012 6:23:45 PM

I don't think 32 GB of RAM is all that necessary. I know people who do recording, use heavy VST instruments, and large sample libraries and only use 4 GB or 8 GB of RAM even though they are professionals. Of course, with 4 GB he suffers occasional software freezing. Despite all this, I'm sure that 16 GB is plenty. I, myself, am waiting for my components to arrive and my main usage for the PC is audio editing and recording. As a keyboardist, there will be a great deal of VST instruments open and running and I'm sure that my 12 GB of RAM will be more than plenty.

Your choice, of course, but I'm sure you have need for money for more audio equipment so you may want to consider downgrading.
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March 15, 2012 1:40:53 AM

Thanks for the input everyone!

terminalbliss said:
How did your DAW turn out? i'm looking at putting one together over the next few weeks as my previous DAW is dying and would appreciate any input.

thanks!


Unfortunately I've had to postpone my build a bit due to an upcoming move. It will probably now be few months before I can finally order parts. I'll be sure to post back once I do get it put together. FWIW, you might want to check this thread, which has some known good DAW builds:

the "today we build our studio pc"-thread

g-unit1111 said:

You'd be wise to check out the i7-3820 (SB-E) for a workstation build, or go Xeon E3-1245, I don't think I would recommend a 2600K for this type of setup.

Not only is 32GB a lot, most SB motherboards don't mix well with 4 x 8GB chips, I've heard of tons of BSOD issues surrounding 8GB chips. If you want to be on the safe side, I'd recommend going X79 as that will allow for up to 64GB RAM and will be pretty problem free for the most part. I don't recommend the Dominator or the Vengeance mainly due to the issues tall heat sinks have with large coolers, and removing them can often void warranties.


Thank you. I think I'm fairly committed to using 2600K. It seems to be pretty well vetted for DAW use - see the gearslutz thread above, Steinberg forum, etc. I've revised my mobo selection to ASUS P8Z68-V Pro/Gen3 which is cheaper and seems to be a more common choice, and the additional features on the Pro don't offer anything important to me. I seem to be alone in wanting 32 gig of memory so I may be backing off of that choice in favor of Corsair Vengeance 16GB (4 x 4GB). I had trouble finding any info at all regarding the use of 32GB RAM in a sandy bridge board, although it's spec'ed for it. I hadn't read anything about BSOD issues. Are there any links you can point me to?

mon4ro said:
I don't think 32 GB of RAM is all that necessary. I know people who do recording, use heavy VST instruments, and large sample libraries and only use 4 GB or 8 GB of RAM even though they are professionals. Of course, with 4 GB he suffers occasional software freezing. Despite all this, I'm sure that 16 GB is plenty. I, myself, am waiting for my components to arrive and my main usage for the PC is audio editing and recording. As a keyboardist, there will be a great deal of VST instruments open and running and I'm sure that my 12 GB of RAM will be more than plenty.

Your choice, of course, but I'm sure you have need for money for more audio equipment so you may want to consider downgrading.


Indeed, as I mentioned above I think I'll go with 16B. It's just that my first thought was to want to max out what the mobo was capable of. I tend to hang on to my machines for a long while, and who knows what RAM-hungry libraries may be just around the corner...

Edit: spelling.
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