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Yet another DAW building thread
Old 10th February 2009
  #1
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
Best DAW building thread ever

I am trying to build a new machine. I have built all my previous machines but this will be my first machine in 4 or so years so I am out of the game in terms of what to get. My budget is around 1.5-2k, preferably closer to 1.5. The main requirements are something dead quiet and something that can drive 3 (or 4) monitors and obviously as beefy and modern as the budget will allow. I have been reading up.. but so much conflicting info, it is mind boggling. I have also started a previous thread which led to a spirited debate between two nice fellows but didn't really get me too far. So again, requirements are:

1. Dead quiet machine (this is what I understand the least. I need to make sure i get fanless graphics cards, quiet case, case fans, HDDs, power supply etc)

2. 3-4 Monitor solution (I have 3 VGA monitors now and would like to simply put the new machine in place and plug the monitors and a yamaha n12 in and be up and running)

3. Powerful machine in general. I will be running Cubase 5 with the Yamaha n12 on windows XP. My current box is a four year old AMD Athlon 64 3800+ (2.45 Ghz, 2GB RAM). I need it to feel like a enormous step up.

From reading other posts, and looking at overpriced DAWs at sweetwater, sonica etc, this is what I have put together so far:

Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66 - $295

Gigabyte GA-EX58-EXTREME KGA 1366 - $328
or
ASUS Rampage II Extreme - $400

Corsair 6GB RAM - $179 (can XP see 3GB or 4GB? the 6GB would be if and when I go to Vista and im assuming there is no harm in having it in there)

Antec Solo Case - $79

Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 ST3500320AS 500GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - (3x - $195)

I read that Zalman is the way to go in terms of PSU but I am not sure which one or where to buy (I would prefer to buy everything from newegg to keep it easy) - Lets say $150

Graphics Cards - This is what I am most confused about. I need two cards. I think both the mobos above support multiple cards. Could someone recomend or link me to good fanless cards that would work with the above configured system? -Lets say $300

Finally, I am assuming that the i7 comes with a fan that needs to be replaced with a quieter one or a passive cooling system. Could someone recomend or link me to something? - Lets say $100

Any advice about the above configuration? Any help would be appreciated. Maybe I could even paypal someone a couple bucks for help.

Thanks in advance,

Joe
Old 10th February 2009 | Show parent
  #3
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
CPU Cooler

This looks like it might be a good cooler for the i7 (anyone have experience with it?):

::: Zalman, leading the world of Quiet Computing Solutions :::

Newegg.com - ZALMAN CNPS9900LED 120mm 2 Ball CPU Cooler - CPU Fans & Heatsinks
Old 10th February 2009 | Show parent
  #4
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
Video Card

last post, I have had a nice little conversation with myself on here tonight, dont you think? This is the video card I am thinking of buying two of. I like that they are Asus along with the Mobo:

Newegg.com - ASUS EN9600GT silent/HTDI/512M GeForce 9600 GT 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Desktop Graphics / Video Cards

So this would complete my machine I believe. It would cost a total of $1615.00 (if i went with the Asus and not Gigabyte mobo from the original post). I might even apply for one of those 12 Mo same as cash newegg credit cards. I would still really appreciate any help or advice anyone is willing to give.
Old 10th February 2009 | Show parent
  #5
Gear Addict
 
7thangelz's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
this is an attachment to allow socket 775 heatsinks from zalman to be used for 1366 Newegg.com - ZALMAN ZM-CS4A Socket 1366 Clip Support Kit for CNPS9500/9700 - CPU Fans & Heatsinks
Newegg.com - ZALMAN CNPS9700 LED 110mm 2 Ball CPU Cooler - CPU Fans & Heatsinks is one of them
here's another from noctua made specifically for 1366 Newegg.com - Noctua NH-U12P SE1366 120mm SSO CPU Cooler - CPU Fans & Heatsinks

i would check for online reviews that put these to the test first.

i believe, at least with the antec case, you may want to do a little modding such as acoustic foam (or whatever they're called) and possibly hard drive suspension, as well as, getting extra silent fans as a replacement in case the ones that came with it aren't too quiet.
Old 11th February 2009 | Show parent
  #6
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Fast_Fingers's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
If you don't want to bother with handling foam, you could just pony up money for a Cooler Master Cosmos 1000.

And actually, the stock Intel coolers are very quiet, assuming you don't overclock them heavily. I've heard Scythe Ninjas are huge but can be run passively. Speaking of passive, this card will spare you a slot per card and is cheaper than the Nvidia.

I'd go for the Corsair VX450. It'll save you money in the long run with efficiency, as you aren't buying more power than you'll use (you aren't gaming with this I guess). They have the greatest overall impact on noise, especially when the computer's idle.

Finally, for the HD, look into Western Digital's Caviar Greens (EADS is the latest spec...the EAC is not as good noise and performance-wise). They're one of the most efficient and quiet hard drives out there, and you won't sacrifice much in performance. Of course, don't forget to allocate money for backups.
Old 11th February 2009 | Show parent
  #7
Gear Nut
 
Vic Trola's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Hi patternbased,

I edited this post a bit for clarity. I like your build list and choices, so I thought I'd share the list I've been compiling for my i7 build. I've been working on it for about 10 days or so now. After countless hours reading different forums, reviews and finding prices, here's where I've netted out based on quality and the recommendations from a lot of other guys on other forums.

I chose the UD4P mobo because it does easily as much as the EX58 with only 2 less SATA heads. Bad things floating about on the ASUS boards.. but I digress. Basically, for the purposes of a DAW computer, the UD4P does all you need for less. There are a few things extras with the Extreme, but they're more geared to home theater PC use.

For memorty sticks, go to the Gigabyte site and check their compatability chart for whatever you go with.

As many have said, there are a lot of options for CPU coolers, and the stock i7 could work fine if you don't plan to OC. I liked the Noctua as it's highly rated for acoustics and it's spec'd for the processor/board mounting config.

Vid cards are wide open, but you don't need much performance for a basically "static" display. I'm going for a pipe cooled fanless dual DVI

Also, the Caviar Blacks are very will liked for durability and acoustics.

BTW, the PSU is very highly rated in some test I've read and Newegg has a $40 rebate this week.

Old 11th February 2009 | Show parent
  #8
Gear Addict
 
FredYeah's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I have a similiar setup and it's killer, dude! Currently im an running Pro Tools sessions with StylusRMX, 3 instances of XPand2, 2 aux channels with verbs and delays some tracks with Rob Papen plugs and im still at 35% CPU at 128 Samples. You gotta love it!!!!

Ooh BTW. I upgraded from a single core pentium IV 2,8 Ghz. The difference is UNBELIEVABLE! Night and day. Even more power, resources than i dreamed of. You will be amazed.
Old 11th February 2009 | Show parent
  #9
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Gary Ladd's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Should be a nice system...
Old 12th February 2009
  #10
Lives for gear
 
trock's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
built my own a year ago for cubase 4 and the n12.

q6600 2.4
ASUS P5B deluxe
xp home tweaked
4 gigs ram
4 HD's - 500 gig seagate sata 2 DDR2 7200 rpm
650 watt PS
replaced all fans with zalman
and also replaced the CPU cooling system
silent video card etc

got alot of my stuff here, great support, pricier than other places but these guys really knew their stuff

Acoustic PC: Quiet Computer Fans, Quiet CPU Coolers, Quiet PC Power Supply
Old 13th February 2009 | Show parent
  #11
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
advice

thanks for all the advice. i am very close to pulling the trigger. can't wait to get it built and start making tracks.
Old 13th February 2009 | Show parent
  #12
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
vic trola machine

vic trola, i would be very interested to know your thoughts on the machine you end up building after you have it up and running.
Old 13th February 2009 | Show parent
  #13
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
multiple video cards

vic trola and fast fingers,

i put together a very similar machine as the vic trola one above except slightly diff hdd config and it would go in the cooler master 1000 case mentioned above:

my biggest concern is that i need to get two video cards and while this one looked okay, it looks to be discontinued. i looked around for more video cards but i am not sure which ones will be sized correctly to fit next to each other on that Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD4P mobo. most have giant heat sinks or fans attached and I am worried that they wont fit side by side in the 2 16x PCI slots available on that mobo.

Im still looking around but anyone have a good multiple video card suggestion for the vic trola machine?
Old 13th February 2009 | Show parent
  #14
Lives for gear
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
While Seagates are generally my first choice drives, you should know that there's an advisory on some of the 7200.11 Seagates. Some of them are bricking after a short time. More here (read the reader comments too) and from Seagate here.

FYI.
Old 13th February 2009 | Show parent
  #15
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
final machine

thanks undertone, i think i might go with the western digitals vic mentions above this time around. i generally haven't had too many issues with either manufacturer in the past, hopefully the trend continues. thanks for the heads up though.

so about video cards, looking at that gigabyte mobo, it certainly looks like two of the HIS video cards would fit just fine but maybe i am not understanding something. the blue slots are the PCI-e 16x slots and there is gobs of room between them. i see you would lose a PCI-e slot probably but that doesn't matter to me, so i think im about to pull the trigger on this one. my final specs are:

Intel Core i7 nehalem 2.66Ghz CPU
Corsair CMPSU-629HX
Noctua NH-U12P SE1366
HIS Hightech H467P1GP - 2 of them for 4 displays
Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD4P
Corsair Dominator 3GB (3x 1GB) - i wanted 6gb but too pricey i think
Western Digital Caviar Black WD5001AALS 500GB
Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB
Western Digital Caviar Black WD7501AALS 750GB
SAMSUNG Black 22X
Cooler Master 1000

Total - $1645.00
Old 13th February 2009 | Show parent
  #16
Gear Addict
 
TC Custom Audio's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I'm a huge fan of Matrox video cards. No 3d acceleration, no BS; all business. I've had a Millenium II PCI, G450 PCI, G450 AGP, and now Millenium P690 PCIe x16. All of these were installed in DAW's and all were trouble-free. Best of all, these cards were all fanless. Also, the Matrox cards draw very little power (P690 is like 10 watts or something) so these cards serve very nicely for silent computing applications. This is important to note becase many "silent" gamer vid cards have heatsinks that are not sufficiently large to rely on convection alone for proper cooling. Many absolutely depend on a good amount of air movement within the chassis and this requires more/faster-moving/louder fans.

My 2 cents.

BTW, I've really gotten serious about the silent computing thing since I built a rig for my brother that had to live in the control room. Of course, it's always better to have the 'puter in a machine room. But, this is often not possible. One more tip, ever thought of 2.5" 5400rpm drives? I know this sounds crazy, but many current offerings are actually fast enough for audio stuff. Afterall, audio isn't the most storage intensive application (think uncompressed HD video). There's nothing quieter than a Western Digital Scorpio 5400rpm drive in a sound-deadening encluser elastically suspended in the chassis. I only mention this because once you tame the fan noise, you'll immediately notice the HD's. Regardless of what you buy for drives, consider not hard-mounting them in the chassis. All of the vibration transfers to the chassis and really starts to make a racket.

Check out silentpcreview.com | Everything about Silent / Quiet Computers.
Old 13th February 2009 | Show parent
  #17
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
Im not sure why people are posting these video cards with tons of ram. If you use a 500mb video cards thats 500mb less of system memory available. 32/64 bit OSes have a hard limit of 4/8 gigs of ram and that includes video memory.
Old 13th February 2009 | Show parent
  #18
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
matrox

sannytown,

thanks for the advice. so is their a particular matrox card that you think would work good in the system i have above instead of those HIS cards? i have a triple head matrox card that i use now for my current audio machine and its decent.
Old 13th February 2009 | Show parent
  #19
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
lupus,

don't think that is correct.
Old 13th February 2009
  #20
Gear Addict
 
TC Custom Audio's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
patternbased,

This is the video card I use:

Newegg.com - matrox P69-MDDE128F Millennium P690 128MB GDDR2 PCI Express x16 Workstation Video Card - Workstation Graphics / Video Cards

Check it out. It's pretty expensive for the specs, but I like it a lot. It's a real no non-sense card. I'm pretty sure it will run in a 2x2 setup too.

This is PCI Express x16 and so will work for any Core i7 based system.

I should add that I'm not familiar with the HIS card you mention. So, my opinion is not a comparison; I am simply pointing out what has worked well for me and why (i.e. fanless, low power consumption, etc.).
Old 13th February 2009 | Show parent
  #21
Gear Nut
 
Vic Trola's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by patternbased ➑️
thanks undertone, i think i might go with the western digitals vic mentions above this time around. i generally haven't had too many issues with either manufacturer in the past, hopefully the trend continues. thanks for the heads up though.

so about video cards, looking at that gigabyte mobo, it certainly looks like two of the HIS video cards would fit just fine but maybe i am not understanding something. the blue slots are the PCI-e 16x slots and there is gobs of room between them. i see you would lose a PCI-e slot probably but that doesn't matter to me, so i think im about to pull the trigger on this one. my final specs are:

Intel Core i7 nehalem 2.66Ghz CPU
Corsair CMPSU-629HX
Noctua NH-U12P SE1366
HIS Hightech H467P1GP - 2 of them for 4 displays
Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD4P
Corsair Dominator 3GB (3x 1GB) - i wanted 6gb but too pricey i think
Western Digital Caviar Black WD5001AALS 500GB
Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB
Western Digital Caviar Black WD7501AALS 750GB
SAMSUNG Black 22X
Cooler Master 1000

Total - $1645.00
pb, here's the layout for the UD4 mobo, very similar to the UD4P. I would definitely download the PDF manual from the Gigabyte-USA site (GIGABYTE - Upgrade Your Life) They show a 4 card configuration there. There's plenty of room between the two PCI 16s, but if you use the top one and decide you want a chipset heatsink in there, you might have problems. Also, what about a 1394b firewire interface in the future, or now?

Man Sanny, those Matrox cards are pricey!

Old 13th February 2009 | Show parent
  #22
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Check the voltage on the memory you buy. My understanding is that the chipset wants you to use 1.5v memory, or maybe it's just the boards I've looked at. I've seen a couple of posts about the i7 boards being finicky about their ram.

Whatever the case, look at this. Crucial has a 3x1gb kit of 1366 that is 1.5v
Old 13th February 2009 | Show parent
  #23
rjs
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
Best advice I can give when building a daw, and I've always built my own is to use a decent platform like the higher end Intel MB's (Think Bad Axe) along with a very good power supply such as the Corsair.

Newegg.com - CORSAIR CMPSU-620HX 620W ATX12V v2.2 and EPS12V 2.91 SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Modular Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply - Power Supplies

Those are really the two "most important" aspects of a good daw and not an area to take short cuts on.

The mainboards and power supplies are not cheap, but they have better voltage regulation which is paramount.
Old 14th February 2009 | Show parent
  #24
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
i am still leaning towards building and am going to keep comparing and researching until monday evening but thinkmate.com seems like a stellar place to buy a machine from. prices are awesome, site makes me feel gooshy inside, pre sales support has been good. there is even a little meter on the right hand side that gauges the noise level of the pc you are building as you add and remove parts. impressive.
Old 14th February 2009 | Show parent
  #25
Gear Nut
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by patternbased ➑️
i am still leaning towards building and am going to keep comparing and researching until monday evening but thinkmate.com seems like a stellar place to buy a machine from. prices are awesome, site makes me feel gooshy inside, pre sales support has been good. there is even a little meter on the right hand side that gauges the noise level of the pc you are building as you add and remove parts. impressive.
I checked out that place (laptops in particular) and the prices look very good. It's nice to see a place that offers good quality, without over inflating their prices because they performed a few ' DAW tweaks'. I think I found where I'll buy my next laptop. Thanks for the heads up.
Old 17th February 2009 | Show parent
  #26
mfx
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mfx's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Looking at the same DAW situation myself. I do think the extreme versions are not necessary for DAW but good for games and overclocking.


Big question is I need a solution so I can still use an Emagic Unitor 8 with SERIAL com port connection...need some direction please as all new machines seem not support this.

Spec I ve been checking out is same motherboard but no COMO (serial) interface header on the mobo.

I7 2.66mhz + 3*2GB 1600mhz OCZ ram + 2*Raptor sata H/drives and HD4780 gfx card jsut under a Β£1000 with either a zalman or corsair 500+Watt PSU.

Advice most welcome. Only using XP pro for the time being for DAW will have a second removable harddrive for W7 when released as i migrate.

I have got a serial/USB adapter but is not recognised by either mac usb or pc need to find a soliud solution for the emagic midi interface please.

Thanks
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