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Home Built System for D.A.W. - Feb. 2013

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February 12, 2013 1:24:08 AM

Hello everyone, this is my first post. I didn't know whether this post was to go into the Homebuilt or the New Build category, so I apologize if I put it in the wrong spot! Secondly, I hate to beat a dead horse, I know this topic has been brought up before, but from what I've seen this technology changes all the time and I really would hate to be getting something that I couldn't grow with.

I want to build a computer to use as a D.A.W. Primarily, I will be using Studio One V 2.5 and Reaper. Currently, I have a Dell Dimension with a Core 2 Duo and 8 Gg of Ram, running Win 64. It's actually a pretty solid system, but it's getting slower and I now that I have purchased a new copy of Studio One V2 I want to go ahead and upgrade my machine. I do use plugins such as True Pianos, Superior Drummer, EZDrummer, and a lot of stuff from IK Multimedia, etc.

I want a case that is quiet. I've seen a bunch ranging from $300 down to under $100. I would prefer a smaller form factor, but I am open to anything.

As far as the motherboard goes, this is where I am having a problem. There are soooo many of them, and some get good reviews from one person, and bad review from someone else. I don't know what to think. I am planning on using an Intel I7 3770 CPU (or the K version even though I won't overclock it). I need a matching MB that offers both USB 2 and USB 3, and that has at least one PCI slot, as I have an M Audio Delta 44 I'd like to continue to use along with my Presonus Studiolive. The StudioLive interface is Firewire, so the MB would either need to have firewire built in (TI Chipset) or I'll need a PCI-e (I think that's what) firewire card, I've been told star tech with TI chipset). I see some MB even have Thunderbolt on them, which would really protect me for future hardware, but don't know if it's worth the extra money. I would like to be able to plug a sata drive up outside if I need to (although I'm not buying one right now). I was planning on getting a quiet 1 TB drive for OS and Samples, and another to use for my recordings. That is my current setup, but I am certainly open to suggestions.

I would want quiet fans, and 16 gb of memory. I'd probably see if I can find someone local to help me build, probably someone from the church I go to, but I trust all of you more to the technical details of what I should get, only because you all probably have more experience.

Oh, I have several USB devices I will be using, but will just use the onboard video. I think a 500 watt PSU would be enough, but I"m not sure. I'll trust you on that as well. If the onboard video burns up, I need enough power to run it. I will probably just disable the onboard audio, but will not do so unless I have problems.

Any help with this build would be GREATLY appreciated and once I built this system and learn stuff I will certainly pay it forward as I am able to. I am a member of the Reaper and Presonus Forum and try to help others when I'm able. For me, this is a whole lot of money to spend to regret what I have purchased, so I have been researching and agonizing over this for several weeks. I have found decent stuff, but a lot of it is from several years ago!

If anyone has an extra few minutes or already had a shopping cart from where they have helped someone in the recent past, I'd love to see it. I called Newegg today, and the guy was really nice. I just remember him shooting off numbers and telling me to remember Z77. :-)

Thanks again for any help you are willing to provide. I REALLY appreciate it!!!

Mark in Lynchburg, VA
February 12, 2013 2:01:26 AM

Thanks for the reply! I'm pretty heart set on sticking with Intel though, although I use an AMD at work every day and it works fine. Some of the music forums have people saying that Intel doesn't seem as buggy with some of the audio interfaces. Also, I'd like to have a DVI port on the back of the MB. Thanks again!
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a b B Homebuilt system
February 12, 2013 3:24:22 AM

I dont know the budget, so here goes. This is a beast, it will run what you want, easily. The R4 case is basically one of the quietest cases thanks to sound insulating foam.

PCPartPicker part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/CZL2
Price breakdown by merchant: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/CZL2/by_merchant/
Benchmarks: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/CZL2/benchmarks/

CPU: Intel Core i7-3770 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($289.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: ASRock H77M Micro ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($69.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: G.Skill Ares Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($84.98 @ Outlet PC)
Storage: Crucial M4 128GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($107.95 @ Mac Connection)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 500GB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($58.98 @ Outlet PC)
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition 2GB Video Card ($229.98 @ Newegg)
Case: Fractal Design Define R4 (Black Pearl) ATX Mid Tower Case ($109.99 @ Amazon)
Power Supply: Corsair Builder 500W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($39.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $991.85
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-02-12 00:23 EST-0500)
February 12, 2013 3:41:13 AM

I'm not happy about that 500 watt PSU, it only allows for up to 80% of the total power output. Better to go with at least a 750 watt PSU so that the 80% is not going to be less than what is actually required for the total output.

There are not many 500 watt PSU's that will have the connecotrs for the video card as well as the extra support power on the motherboard.

a b B Homebuilt system
February 12, 2013 5:09:15 AM

TenPc said:
I'm not happy about that 500 watt PSU, it only allows for up to 80% of the total power output. Better to go with at least a 750 watt PSU so that the 80% is not going to be less than what is actually required for the total output.

There are not many 500 watt PSU's that will have the connecotrs for the video card as well as the extra support power on the motherboard.


Please.... 500w is plenty. There is not even any overclocking.
a b B Homebuilt system
February 12, 2013 5:34:26 AM

i would use this mb.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
has the fire wire and esata. with esata you can use a esata ext drive that be faster then a standard usb drive.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
this cpu..your not gaming so an i7 is over kill.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
using a cheap nvidia card for the main two monitors set up if you want to use three then you can use the onboard gpu.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
ram.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
over size ps will give your rig extra room as the caps age on the power supply. also will keep the ps main fan from coming on..the unit will run cooler with a light load..also have room if you add more drives.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
bulk dvd burner.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
boot ssd.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
case

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
slow fan speed and sealed unit for long life.
fan noise can be controlled by using system like the seal unit with fan that can run under 1000 rpm. the slower the fan runs under max load the better it is for you in fan noise. or use larger fans to move a lot of air. to do that you a large case and 200/300mm case fans.
February 12, 2013 11:26:45 PM

Thanks for the info! I am a bit confused with the SSD drive. So it is only for my Windows installation?

Typically, audio samples are stored on one drive and then the files I am saving are stored to another drive. This way, one drive can be reading and another writing at the same time. Is this not needed? This is how my setup is now... but my OS is on the same drive as all my samples/programs. The SSD is not nearly big enough for me to do this. Should I add another hard drive too? Thanks!
a b B Homebuilt system
February 13, 2013 3:06:47 AM

thetriguy said:
Thanks for the info! I am a bit confused with the SSD drive. So it is only for my Windows installation?

Typically, audio samples are stored on one drive and then the files I am saving are stored to another drive. This way, one drive can be reading and another writing at the same time. Is this not needed? This is how my setup is now... but my OS is on the same drive as all my samples/programs. The SSD is not nearly big enough for me to do this. Should I add another hard drive too? Thanks!


You will still have 90GB left on your ssd after windows etc. If that is not enough, upgrade to a 256 gb one, same price as adding another hdd plus its much much faster.
April 17, 2013 2:51:19 PM

I'm commenting because I see a lot of poor advice in this thread and have a few tips that I didn't see mentioned here.

Never record to an SSD. SSD's perform slower over time and recording results in a constant onslaught of reads and writes that destroy drives. Recording audio is very difficult on drives anyway. Record to a standard 7200 RPM hard drive.

Running your operating system and audio programs from an SSD does completely change the feel of the computer, everything will be really snappy. Even if it is of minimal benefit to audio recording, I still do it.

Preferably you have a separate hard drive to be used as a scratch disk for both your operating system and your audio software, again use a typical 7200 RPM drive for this purpose, you can google how to do this.

Samples are getting better and bigger, having your sample libraries on a SSD is just AWESOME, the snappy load times make working in your studio a joy.

So, keys to keep in mind: Record to a separate drive (not an SSD) and this drive shouldn't be doing anything else. Use a separate drive as a scratch disc (known as a "paging file", Google how to set your paging file to your scratch disk, also all digital audio apps and even graphic design apps if you'll be using any photoshop, allow you to set the scratch disk, make sure to tell your applications which disk to use)

If you can't initially afford to put your samples on an SSD, you can put them on the scratch disk as well. It's also smart to partition a a large drive and use one partition for a scratch disk and another for storage (i.e. backup, not programs or anything that will be regularly accessed). It's ok to put samples on this drive, as they don't run off the drive, they're just loaded into RAM. But if you can do it, put samples on an SSD.

7200 RPM drive - Partitioned - Scratch Disk/Storage/Samples (maybe)
7200 RPM drive - Recording Drive
SSD - Operating System/Applications
SSD - Samples
May 13, 2013 2:53:03 PM

Howe did you go with the new build? Any issues? Everything work out?

Happy Computing! :) 
Anonymous
May 23, 2013 1:44:29 PM

armedprophet said:
I'm commenting because I see a lot of poor advice in this thread and have a few tips that I didn't see mentioned here.

Never record to an SSD. SSD's perform slower over time and recording results in a constant onslaught of reads and writes that destroy drives. Recording audio is very difficult on drives anyway. Record to a standard 7200 RPM hard drive.

Running your operating system and audio programs from an SSD does completely change the feel of the computer, everything will be really snappy. Even if it is of minimal benefit to audio recording, I still do it.

Preferably you have a separate hard drive to be used as a scratch disk for both your operating system and your audio software, again use a typical 7200 RPM drive for this purpose, you can google how to do this.

Samples are getting better and bigger, having your sample libraries on a SSD is just AWESOME, the snappy load times make working in your studio a joy.

So, keys to keep in mind: Record to a separate drive (not an SSD) and this drive shouldn't be doing anything else. Use a separate drive as a scratch disc (known as a "paging file", Google how to set your paging file to your scratch disk, also all digital audio apps and even graphic design apps if you'll be using any photoshop, allow you to set the scratch disk, make sure to tell your applications which disk to use)

If you can't initially afford to put your samples on an SSD, you can put them on the scratch disk as well. It's also smart to partition a a large drive and use one partition for a scratch disk and another for storage (i.e. backup, not programs or anything that will be regularly accessed). It's ok to put samples on this drive, as they don't run off the drive, they're just loaded into RAM. But if you can do it, put samples on an SSD.

7200 RPM drive - Partitioned - Scratch Disk/Storage/Samples (maybe)
7200 RPM drive - Recording Drive
SSD - Operating System/Applications
SSD - Samples


I have 3 HDD's 2 are windows and one is backup, i'v checked google but i could not find Scratch Disk for audio. Could you please point me in the right way for helping with load times with samples?
!