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$700 stable workstation build

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June 16, 2012 1:27:22 PM

Approximate Purchase Date: July 16 2012

Budget Range: $600-$800 before rebates

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Music production, Folding@home, web surfing, gaming.

Parts Not Required: keyboard, mouse, monitor, sound system, sound card.

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Dosent matter.

Country: USA

Parts Preferences: Not picky

Overclocking: No

SLI or Crossfire: No


Additional Comments: Hello everyone! I currently own a MacBook Pro with a 2.8 ghz core2duo, 4GB of slow RAM, 320GB HD, and the 9600GT that Im selling for $700 within the next month. It has been a pretty solid machine but its getting a little outdated and Im just looking for something new and different from what I have.

I'm basically looking for the Toyota Corolla of computers. Something with rock solid reliability, refined, no frills, run of the mill, practical, and even boring on purpose. I dont want to have to worry about RMAs, crappy drivers, or upgrading every other day. I just need my computer to work 24/7 without me thinking twice about it. My MacBook has been pretty good about this, but its just so old.

I was thinking about building a computer from scratch using server quality parts like Tyan motherboards and Xeon processors. Would I be wasting my money? Are consumer quality parts good enough? I do multitask a lot, with tons of programs open at once running a high cpu load a lot of the times. Lots of web surfing with a million tabs, Fruity Loops studio, Adobe Photoshop, Steam, torrents, office programs, etc... all at once.

Im only a light gamer. Graphics are not so important to me. But the 9600GT I have is a little too slow for the very latest games even on low settings, and runs hot because its a thin laptop. I was thinking the 6870 is a good value for the money and should be adequate for a little while. Will a server motherboard with PCI expess 2.0 perform well with a gaming card? I am willing to sacrifice a bit of performance for that extra reliability.

Ill probably be using a combination of Debian and Windows Server as an OS. I still love Mac OS X but unless you have money to burn like I used to, Apple computers just aren't a good value so i might go PC (but am thinking possibly mac pro).

One last thing: Are prebuilt machines the way to go for this? Yeah, cheaper prebuilts usually suck but Ive seen some well engineered computers that come with great driver support and integration with the OS, on top of hardware that just works. My Mac is a good example of this.

What should I do? As you can see Im confused, out of the loop, and looking for some good advice. Thank you!
a b B Homebuilt system
June 16, 2012 1:35:44 PM

welcome to the forums newcomer!
to answer your confusion, we'll need you to follow a protocol here:
*How To Ask For New Build Advice*

and we can get back to you with a detailed outline of stuff and answers :) 
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June 16, 2012 1:51:17 PM

Oops, I should have know better!
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Related resources
June 17, 2012 11:52:13 AM

Is anybody there?
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a b B Homebuilt system
June 17, 2012 1:56:42 PM

sorry i didn't notice you edited your initial post
off the top of my head:
mobo: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
case: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
cpu: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
ram: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

thas my opinion, maybe fine tune it, i know you'll need a lot of processing power and ram+HDD space for music production.
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June 17, 2012 5:31:32 PM

I do have a Hitachi 1TB external drive which should be adequate storage for me. Any reason not to go with a xeon or opteron?
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a b B Homebuilt system
June 17, 2012 5:50:14 PM

music production - as far as i know, doesn't need multiple cores/threads. You can pull it off of a dual core proc. its the ram/HDD and audio card that does the offloading.

don't consider raid arrays as they aren't needed, just keep a second HDD for backups of your audio work. Oh what software's will you work with?

I could ask you to find some audio creation forums for some advise on hardware setup - since most of them don't work off a self built rig - but a Macbook/Pro. In reality they are just off the shelf hardware put into a nice aluminium case. However the prologic board back in 2009-2020 was what made productivity a snitch! :) 

my 2 cents
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June 25, 2012 6:33:05 AM

I kinda want a quad core because I do a little FPS now and then, just casual and default settings. That and Ive noticed quad cores are kinda becoming a standard and might be useful someday with other apps.

Looks like good RAM and fast SSD might be a good thing to invest in.

I usually work in a mix of Fruity Loops studio, Apple Logic, Native Guitar Rig, and Tractor.

Not sure why PCs aren't so popular in the recording industry. You would think hardware matters most as far as recording quality is concerned. The operating system in COMBINATION with the hardware is what makes things stable, fast, supported, polished, etc (IMO)... And yes, apples hardware is nothing special. They actually had some problems with these unibodys when they first came out. Overheating video cards. Nvidias problem but still. Working with parts suppliers to get the best quality is something apple used to do better IMO.

What is the epitome of this but in the PC realm? Prebuilt? Which company/model has super duper good support. Which ones work closest with Microsoft? Who has the best quality control in the manufacturing and engineering process.

Sorry about the complicated questions.
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June 26, 2012 7:45:26 AM

I was also thinking of using virtual machines a lot. That would be so cool to have all 3 OS's going at once! Is this possible with my budget? Would I have to get a mac pro or can I just get a pc?
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