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1st time gaming / music recording build

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July 29, 2012 1:41:33 AM

Hi :o  ,

I'm looking for some opinions / advice on a build I'm considering to pursue 'epic' multiple screen gaming madness and 'crystal clear' digital sound recording - it's my first time building and/or posting guys so feel free to take me down a notch if I miss something ;) 

I like the look of the below config mob/cpu/gpu/hd/ram for non-overclocked gaming, but I would like to be able to scale up/upgradde the system with another pci-e3.0 graphics card when for crossfire when I can afford it... never... :lol: 

Asrock Z77-EXTREME4 Z77/4 x DDR3/2 x PCI-E3.0/4 x SATA3/6 x USB3.0/HDMI @ ~ $149
Intel Core i7 3770 LGA1155 CPU 3.4Ghz 8Mb Cache Ivy Bridge @ ~ $325
Gigabyte ATI HD7950 3GB GDDR5 @ ~ $399
GeIL 16G KIT (2 x 8G) VELOCE DDR3-1866 10-10-10-36 @ ~ $113
OCZ Agility 3 120G SATA3 SSD @ ~ $97
*I haven't included a 2nd ssd for raid , case or psu yet as I'm still undecided on that front, open to suggestions though.


Gaming vs Recording:
- are there any major things to consider or to sway me from doing a dual purpose machine - e.g. can the other hardware I have plugged into a mobo/system cause interference / static?
- does more power from psu for graphics cards, cooling, ssd's mean more interference?
- is it right to assume that a ssd would have less latency (lag when recording) than a traditional hdd, are there other area that cause lag, and also the same question re: interference?

Ivy Bridge and Pci-E 3.0
I've read a few articles arguing both ways of sandy e vs ivy, the pci-e 3.0 ivy argument won it for me, pity amd fx-8150 doesn't take advantage of pci-e3.0 otherwise I would have been on that like a flash (well if they actually had 8 cores windows 7/8 would use properly anyway - like a flash).
- is this arument relevant or are pci-e 3.0 vs 2.0 advantages only going to be noticed if i overclock the pcu, ram and gpu?

Internal mobo sound card vs brand name sound card
The internal Asrock Z77 7.1 CH HD Audio with Content Protection (Realtek ALC898 Audio Codec) seems like it would hand all that I can throw at it game/surround wise;
- are there any benefits to having say a soundblaster soundcard installed for recording or are there interference issues when adding to a mobo?

Raid 0 vs Single HDrive
- does the nature of raid 0 (splitting data across 2 seperate drives) mean a negative effect in relation to recording quality?

PSU
Should i be spending good money here (i.e. over $100) to take advantage of 'clean' power? Or is all psu power messed up already? Or am I the messed up one and the psu make no difference.

Thanks again in advance - hope you're having a nice weekend!

Scoobie :hello: 
July 29, 2012 3:35:18 AM

Depending on what you want to record, you may find that sound card very limited. I definitely wouldn't trust the analogue inputs on a motherboard. It might be ok if you are doing digital though. Either way, the onboard sound software is not likely to have a lot of flexibility for inputs and outputs itself. You will have to explain what you want to record if you want a better suggestion for a recording setup.
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July 29, 2012 3:49:46 AM

look for a 80 plus certified psu
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July 29, 2012 3:54:39 AM

Build looks good so far. If I changed anything about it it would be the ram. You will not notice a difference between 1866 and 1600 so I would save the money and go with a 1600 cl9 kit.

As far as your other questions go, there is no reason to not go with a dual purpose machine. Interference will come from parts on the motherboard, not components plugged into it. You will also not notice a difference when recording audio to an ssd vs. an hdd.

You were right about going with ivy bridge. It will suit your needs the best, but pci-e 3 is not a reason for picking ivy bridge. It will not make a difference if you run a radeon hd 7950 in pci-e 3 vs 2. In fact, no card out right now will fully fill the pci-e 2.0 16x bandwidth. It will how ever make a small difference when you run 2 gpus in crossfire/sli because of the bandwidth increase makes up for the reduced lane size (8x/8x).

If you are recording audio, I would highly recommend a dedicated sound card. Reason being that integrated sound can have issues with interference and the dedicated card wont have issues with it. I have never bought a sound card before but this one must be popular for a reason.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Don't waste your time with raid. Just use the ssd as your boot drive with a high capacity hdd for storage.

The power supply is one of the most important parts of the build. Stick to SeaSonic, Corsair, Antec, or Enermax, and buy a unit that can supply 550w or more for that build. I personally would buy a 600w for that build.

Finally, where are you getting that price from for the radeon hd 7950? I actually just bought a 7950 last week and only paid $330 for it. $399 is way to much
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July 29, 2012 4:45:28 AM

I dont know at which version of HD 7950 you're looking at but it's probably this one.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
And it's nowhere near 400$.
But you need to remember than these cards can be overclocked by up to 50% so if you're not going to overclock you should spend your money on either a overclocked GTX 670 or a overclocked HD 7970 (recommended).
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Personally for a powerfull system like your's i'd go with this power supply.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
It's very effeicient, uses a single rail design and a modular cabling system.It's also powerfull enough for two high-end graphics cards.

And you i dont think anyone needs 16GB ram yet.8GBis plenty.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
This kit is pretty good.

You strongly advice you to overclock the CPU.It's pretty good at stock but its massive overclocking room shouldnt be wasted.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Just buy this cooler and either a 2600K or 3770K and start overcloking!

You should also upgrade your SSD to a higher-end model.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
This is pretty much as fast as they get.
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July 29, 2012 4:47:01 AM

shadyj said:
Depending on what you want to record, you may find that sound card very limited. I definitely wouldn't trust the analogue inputs on a motherboard. It might be ok if you are doing digital though. Either way, the onboard sound software is not likely to have a lot of flexibility for inputs and outputs itself. You will have to explain what you want to record if you want a better suggestion for a recording setup.


Thanks for the reply; will definitely get a dedicated sound card. I'm a little confused about analogue digital, was assuming that stereo/line-out from a Boss ME-70 multi-effects board was a digital signal - i'll have to check into that one a bit.

Cheers again!
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July 29, 2012 4:47:43 AM

marcus8h said:
look for a 80 plus certified psu



Will do - thank!
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July 29, 2012 4:55:12 AM

also with an good sound card the audio prossing is going to be done on the sound card and not in the cpu. (with large audio files the sound cards dsp going to help the cpu)..the more help you can give a cpu for video or audio rendering the better it is for the end user.
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July 29, 2012 4:58:03 AM

gorz said:
Build looks good so far. If I changed anything about it it would be the ram. You will not notice a difference between 1866 and 1600 so I would save the money and go with a 1600 cl9 kit.

As far as your other questions go, there is no reason to not go with a dual purpose machine. Interference will come from parts on the motherboard, not components plugged into it. You will also not notice a difference when recording audio to an ssd vs. an hdd.

You were right about going with ivy bridge. It will suit your needs the best, but pci-e 3 is not a reason for picking ivy bridge. It will not make a difference if you run a radeon hd 7950 in pci-e 3 vs 2. In fact, no card out right now will fully fill the pci-e 2.0 16x bandwidth. It will how ever make a small difference when you run 2 gpus in crossfire/sli because of the bandwidth increase makes up for the reduced lane size (8x/8x).

If you are recording audio, I would highly recommend a dedicated sound card. Reason being that integrated sound can have issues with interference and the dedicated card wont have issues with it. I have never bought a sound card before but this one must be popular for a reason.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Don't waste your time with raid. Just use the ssd as your boot drive with a high capacity hdd for storage.

The power supply is one of the most important parts of the build. Stick to SeaSonic, Corsair, Antec, or Enermax, and buy a unit that can supply 550w or more for that build. I personally would buy a 600w for that build.

Finally, where are you getting that price from for the radeon hd 7950? I actually just bought a 7950 last week and only paid $330 for it. $399 is way to much



Thanks, glad to hear I can get away with a dual purpose! Interesting that I missed that little gem about the cards not being able to fill pci-e 2.0 - let alone 3.0. Looks like there is a lot of hype about it but no real gains with current hardware?

Will definititely do a bit of research about which sound card to get, the one you suggest looks perfect, but a little more research never goes astray ;) 

Was considering something around the 700W mark so that i don't have to get a new one when I get the new gpu - recommended?

Price for 7950 is from umart.com.au (I'm in Australia) so not only is everything upside-down down here, but shipping from the real world is like having teeth pulled.

Ram baffles me - would I (memory intensive sound and video later down the track) notice the difference between 2133 and 1600?

Thanks again for the great reply!
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July 29, 2012 5:12:27 AM

Kamen_BG said:
I dont know at which version of HD 7950 you're looking at but it's probably this one.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
And it's nowhere near 400$.
But you need to remember than these cards can be overclocked by up to 50% so if you're not going to overclock you should spend your money on either a overclocked GTX 670 or a overclocked HD 7970 (recommended).
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Personally for a powerfull system like your's i'd go with this power supply.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
It's very effeicient, uses a single rail design and a modular cabling system.It's also powerfull enough for two high-end graphics cards.

And you i dont think anyone needs 16GB ram yet.8GBis plenty.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
This kit is pretty good.

You strongly advice you to overclock the CPU.It's pretty good at stock but its massive overclocking room shouldnt be wasted.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Just buy this cooler and either a 2600K or 3770K and start overcloking!

You should also upgrade your SSD to a higher-end model.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
This is pretty much as fast as they get.


Thanks for the reply - yeah, I'm probably kidding myself that I won't overclock the cpu :whistle:  , I just want to avoid having to do too much (any) cooling. I live in a tropical climate (high humidity and heat even in winter) so any 'real' cooling is going to have me encountering condensation problems me t'inks.

Will probably scale down the amount of ram and up the clock speed, if it's worth doing so.

Thanks for the heads up on the ssd, will do a bit more research.

Cheers, Scoobie

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July 29, 2012 5:18:11 AM

smorizio said:
also with an good sound card the audio prossing is going to be done on the sound card and not in the cpu. (with large audio files the sound cards dsp going to help the cpu)..the more help you can give a cpu for video or audio rendering the better it is for the end user.


Cheers for the reply! I see - so, any 'help' for the cpu when processing sound is going to have me seeing (hearing) differences (or at least will technically be better for me). Can the gpu help with cpu sound processing in the same way as a sound card?
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July 29, 2012 5:44:16 AM

You will want storage capacity for dealing with audio, so I would stay away from SSDs until they get bigger. It would be good to have a SSD as a primary drive where you keep your OS and programs, but it might not take long until it is full when you start saving big wave files on it if it were your only drive, so at least get a disk drive as a secondary if not a primary drive.

The above recommended Asus Xonar is primarily a gaming card, not a audio production card, although I am sure there are lots of audio production tasks it can do well. Here is where you have to make a decision what will have the greatest priority: gaming or music production. If its music production, you will want a pro-audio sound card like these types:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/buy/Audio-Interfaces-Syst...

They mostly emphasize two channel audio, and I don't believe many of them even support surround sound audio. But they are a hell of a lot more versatile than gaming cards, and you can cleanly record analogue signals. That Boss effects module looks analogue to me, btw.

You can still make music with gaming sound cards though, but you would do well to learn the difference between gaming/surround sound cards and pro-audio cards depending on how seriously you take music production.


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July 29, 2012 7:56:14 AM

shadyj said:
You will want storage capacity for dealing with audio, so I would stay away from SSDs until they get bigger. It would be good to have a SSD as a primary drive where you keep your OS and programs, but it might not take long until it is full when you start saving big wave files on it if it were your only drive, so at least get a disk drive as a secondary if not a primary drive.

The above recommended Asus Xonar is primarily a gaming card, not a audio production card, although I am sure there are lots of audio production tasks it can do well. Here is where you have to make a decision what will have the greatest priority: gaming or music production. If its music production, you will want a pro-audio sound card like these types:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/buy/Audio-Interfaces-Syst...

They mostly emphasize two channel audio, and I don't believe many of them even support surround sound audio. But they are a hell of a lot more versatile than gaming cards, and you can cleanly record analogue signals. That Boss effects module looks analogue to me, btw.

You can still make music with gaming sound cards though, but you would do well to learn the difference between gaming/surround sound cards and pro-audio cards depending on how seriously you take music production.


Well, I take everything pretty seriously, but I don't know if anyone would take my sound production seriously ;) 

I really would like to limit the amount of time I have to spend editing the tracks with software post production (where possible) - but I am looking for high sampling rates and close to studio recording performance with low latency. Ideally I just want something that captures stereo and/or mono input as cleanly and precisely as possible from whichever audio interface (e.g. mixer, mic, effects pedal) so that for each channel (i.e. bass, guitar, lead; then later brass and vocals) less 'noise' will be added to the signal. I know it's going to be impossible to avoid post production processing, but I just want to limit the amount of time (or money) I spend here and keep it as raw as possible.

Thanks for the heads up about output for the me70, I had a bit of a brain-fart on that one! I've wanted to muck around with 7.1 music for a while now, so that being said the only digital part I guess I need is the digital / optical out of the soundcard.

I had planned on getting a second ssd for gaming with raid 0 (OS and apps) and as you suggest a larger 2tb hdd or similar for internal storage. Not worried about data redundancy, I have backup space available externally.

Thanks again for your help!
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