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Building a workstation - parts list!
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Coopduhville
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#1
29th July 2012
Old 29th July 2012
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Building a workstation - parts list!

Budget: $1000

What I want: A workstation to record live instruments into as well as send out monitor mixes

What I need: All parts of the computer (exclude monitors). I'll also need an interface of some sort (or a converter?)

Hardware I have: A 20 channel Mackie board - I think I would use this board to sum up channels to send to the interface to reduce the number of channels needed on the interface.


So, any help I could get in starting a parts list would be GREATLY appreciated. The thing that I am completely unsure of is.. do I need a sound card if I have an audio interface? I really have no clue. I am a live sound engineer so recording is a bit new for me.

Purpose: I really just plan on recording polished-ish demos at home. I will then take those to a buddy's studio to map out on his huge studio console and retrack things if need be with his nice mics and such.
#2
29th July 2012
Old 29th July 2012
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Have you built computers before? I only ask because it's not for everyone and in some cases, for some, it may be easier to just buy a prebuilt DAW-ready beast of a PC.

I've been building computers for over 15 years and I must say the new Ivy's from Intel are simply AMAZING.

Is $1000 a strict limit? Or is there some wiggle room? Hard drive prices, memory upgrades, etc - things add up quick.
Coopduhville
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29th July 2012
Old 29th July 2012
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I know they add up quick, so we'll say 1000 is the center point of a range I'd like to keep from expanding infinitely! :D .. I could wiggle a bit if a good enough reason was presented to me... If it's something like .. well only THIS much more will get you ____ more space on your HD..... well that's something I could probably easily upgrade at a later date. So I WON'T wiggle for that. But, if it is something where $200 more being put into the CPU will open up a world of capabilities, I will wiggle for that since it is NOT something I could easily upgrade later on. Does that make sense?


As far as the computer building goes, I have a buddy at work that will be assisting me. He is just into gaming rather than audio and recording so he isn't familiar with things like interfaces.
#4
30th July 2012
Old 30th July 2012
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Ah, gotcha. Well, I certainly suggest a minimum of 2 drives, whether you want/need an SSD for your OS drive is up to you (my DAW PC is all HDD) - but use one drive for your OS and one for your media projects/recording/files, etc.

If you use samples and VSTi a lot, you may consider 3 drives.
You want at least 4GB RAM, but I'd say don't go lower than 8GB DDR3.
Get the best CPU you can and make sure it fits the motherboard of your choosing (1155, etc).
Also, I'm a big fan of ASUS boards but that's just me - you won't be sorry with them.
Finally, I personally chose a passive graphics card (a simple 5450 I think) no fan, no noise - runs fine. Even does Photoshop and Premiere no problems.

All in all, I'd say about $1200 or so and you'd have a sweet, sexy machine!

Good luck, let us know if you need more help. And share a pic / build if you want too - I'm a gearslut when it comes to tech too!

My primary DAW build here is my 2 year old machine (I have an Ivy build too but that's my linux machine)
i7 860
16GB RAM
Asus mobo (USB 3, esata, etc)
6 HDDs, Samsung 1TB x4, 2x 3TB Seagate
Powercolor 5450
Rosewill LAN card / wireless
and a SICK SICK case with the best cable management ever:
the 600T
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16811139003

Trust me - EPIC case.
Coopduhville
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#5
3rd August 2012
Old 3rd August 2012
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Thanks soundsfromsound, your post is helpful.


Specifically about motherboards.. and considering the intended use of the machine..

What sorts of features do I want to try and get on the motherboard.. particularly all the I/O's and any other possible feature that may dramatically improve things in regards to capturing audio onto the machine?
#6
3rd August 2012
Old 3rd August 2012
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All 'newer' mobos should be fine, just make sure you have enough SATA onboard, and USB3 / eSATA. Chipsets are usually discussed a lot and many people have uber-passionate opinions at the "best". But in reality, it all depends on what you need. If you're a HD video editor, you need a certain chipset, a generic office user, another set. So don't get too sucked into marketing.

If you're using a PCI sound card, don't worry about onboard mobo audio. Just disable it in BIOS. If you're using a USB/FW interface, same - disable onboard.

Other than that, it's all about your budget and what 'extras' you want.
Personally, I recommend this board:
Newegg.com - ASUS P8Z68-V PRO/GEN3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard with UEFI BIOS
It's EPIC.

If you need more help, feel free to post more and we'll take care of you.
Coopduhville
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#7
4th August 2012
Old 4th August 2012
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K - cool! In terms of what I need.. I will be doing recording for demos. These demos will then be taken to a buddy's studio to be used as a conceptual and preliminary base to then start properly tracking with his nice mics and mapping out tracks I've recorded onto his bigass console for mixing.

As far as the audio device on the machine.. I had been planning in my head to use a nice USB/FW interface.. but then I started reading about PCI cards that you use in conjunction with a DAC. What are going to be the differences between each type of setup in how I interface the audio with my machine, the pros and cons between the two ways to do it.


And then, just so I'm clear, what is SATA, and eSATA used for? Those will connect my hard drives, correct?
#8
4th August 2012
Old 4th August 2012
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Check out pcpartpicker.com

I just put together some ideas from there. I ended up up the
i3770k processor ivy bridge 3.5GHZ
32GB RAM geil evo two DDR3-1333
2TB seagate barracuda 7200 rpms
Zalman128 SSD.
NXT phantom case. (comes with 7 fans)
Asrock Z77 extreme 4 motherboard.
700w power supply.
Windows 7.
Bluray reader/writer DVD/cd optical drive.
For $1108.64. Not to shabby.
And the reason I don't have a graphics card is cuz I strictly wanna just use it for music production. Not video games. And the processor I picked comes with a HD graphics 4000 inside.
And I don't need a sound card either cuz I will be using my interface as a sound card. And the motherboard has audio outs. Which I wont use. But cool.

Anyone have any tips on my build ? Or is that suitable ? Am I correct in not needing a graphics card ?
Coopduhville
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#9
4th August 2012
Old 4th August 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soundsfromsound View Post
Chipsets are usually discussed a lot and many people have uber-passionate opinions at the "best". But in reality, it all depends on what you need.


So what chipset(s) should I be looking at then? From a very quick lookup of "chipset" it sounds like a chipset is a pretty important concept for the overall performance of the machine. This makes me think I should focus a bit of attention towards getting a board with the right chipset for my intended use. Where I am a little curious though, is since I won't be using the onboard audio - what will that mean for the type of chipset I want?

Thanks
#10
4th August 2012
Old 4th August 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coopduhville View Post
So what chipset(s) should I be looking at then? From a very quick lookup of "chipset" it sounds like a chipset is a pretty important concept for the overall performance of the machine. This makes me think I should focus a bit of attention towards getting a board with the right chipset for my intended use. Where I am a little curious though, is since I won't be using the onboard audio - what will that mean for the type of chipset I want?

Thanks
Don't get over your head - focus on the motherboard. The chipset is just basically the flow on the motherboard (really simple explanation). Think of it as "part" of the motherboard. If you get the mobo I linked to, you'd be golden. Or anything similar.

So, just buy a mobo and you have your "chipset"
Again, simplified but enough to easily get you where you are going.
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4th August 2012
Old 4th August 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by G_amador View Post
Check out pcpartpicker.com

I just put together some ideas from there. I ended up up the
i3770k processor ivy bridge 3.5GHZ
32GB RAM geil evo two DDR3-1333
2TB seagate barracuda 7200 rpms
Zalman128 SSD.
NXT phantom case. (comes with 7 fans)
Asrock Z77 extreme 4 motherboard.
700w power supply.
Windows 7.
Bluray reader/writer DVD/cd optical drive.
For $1108.64. Not to shabby.
And the reason I don't have a graphics card is cuz I strictly wanna just use it for music production. Not video games. And the processor I picked comes with a HD graphics 4000 inside.
And I don't need a sound card either cuz I will be using my interface as a sound card. And the motherboard has audio outs. Which I wont use. But cool.

Anyone have any tips on my build ? Or is that suitable ? Am I correct in not needing a graphics card ?
1) I would personally choose the 600T case for that build.
2) It's quite an ambitious build, at first glance. I'd go for an 850w PSU just because I'm OCD and I'd rather be uber-safe.
3) I'm old school, in that I always think you should have a graphics / GPU. So, just get a passive card for 40$. But it's not "a must", it's just what I would do. I have the PowerColor and it's awesome.
4) Make sure you disable onboard audio in BIOS, otherwise you could get conflicts. I had some...but all set after tweak.
5) I'd never use a Asrock mobo for a DAW - again, just me. Asus is superior, from specs to quality of build, to BIOS ease of use. High quality components (capacitors, etc).
#12
4th August 2012
Old 4th August 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soundsfromsound View Post
1) I would personally choose the 600T case for that build.
2) It's quite an ambitious build, at first glance. I'd go for an 850w PSU just because I'm OCD and I'd rather be uber-safe.
3) I'm old school, in that I always think you should have a graphics / GPU. So, just get a passive card for 40$. But it's not "a must", it's just what I would do. I have the PowerColor and it's awesome.
4) Make sure you disable onboard audio in BIOS, otherwise you could get conflicts. I had some...but all set after tweak.
5) I'd never use a Asrock mobo for a DAW - again, just me. Asus is superior, from specs to quality of build, to BIOS ease of use. High quality components (capacitors, etc).
Awesome, I'll deff take that into consideration! I'll check out the asus MOBO's.
And just curious .. What do you mean by disable the audio in bios? Well I get what you mean but I guess I don't understand why? Would it not be the same as any other computer that already has the audio drivers installed that came with the comp. and i just downloading the driver for my interface and just selecting it later?

ORRR do you mean when the OS is already installed and running. ? So in that way the interface would be my prominent sound card ? If so that makes a ton of sense lol.
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4th August 2012
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I'm just saying that you run the risk of a potential audio driver / conflict if you hook up say, a USB interface and use its drivers, and also have audio onboard your mobo - or even HDMI audio on your GPU in some cases. All "active" in this case.

My advice would be just to keep it where you only have one audio driver active at a time.

You can always go back to the BIOS and re-enable audio for whatever reason. But usually you'd want your interface to be the only audio. Think of it like lights in your home - just because the light is off doesn't mean it's not working, it just means you don't need that light on at the moment. Same with audio - just turn on the one you need at that time (i.e. what room you're in) -

Sorry, that's the best my brain could think of, it's 2am.
#14
4th August 2012
Old 4th August 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soundsfromsound View Post
I'm just saying that you run the risk of a potential audio driver / conflict if you hook up say, a USB interface and use its drivers, and also have audio onboard your mobo - or even HDMI audio on your GPU in some cases. All "active" in this case.

My advice would be just to keep it where you only have one audio driver active at a time.

You can always go back to the BIOS and re-enable audio for whatever reason. But usually you'd want your interface to be the only audio. Think of it like lights in your home - just because the light is off doesn't mean it's not working, it just means you don't need that light on at the moment. Same with audio - just turn on the one you need at that time (i.e. what room you're in) -

Sorry, that's the best my brain could think of, it's 2am.
Okay, yea I get what you mean! And it makes sense. Thanks !!
mwe
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4th August 2012
Old 4th August 2012
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If you want to run 32GB of memory you'll need Win7 Pro.
Quote:
Originally Posted by soundsfromsound View Post
1) I would personally choose the 600T case for that build.
I'm finishing up a build using a 600T and highly recommend it also. Very nice case to work with. It is big though.
#16
4th August 2012
Old 4th August 2012
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Do you really want to build the workstation for $1000?
#17
4th August 2012
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Some good advice here already, but would like to add - Don't skimp on the power supply. Buy a 80+ silver or gold supply from a reputable manufacturer. You can pick a decent one up for around $150 and some are dead quiet too.
#18
4th August 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimGeek View Post
Do you really want to build the workstation for $1000?
What are you implying? I don't quite "get" your tone, after all this is in the internet.

Are you saying he should just buy a pre-built?
#19
4th August 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigPelaMangi View Post
Some good advice here already, but would like to add - Don't skimp on the power supply. Buy a 80+ silver or gold supply from a reputable manufacturer. You can pick a decent one up for around $150 and some are dead quiet too.
Absolutely.

850w Seasonic would be my first choice.
Fully modular, quiet as hell - fan only spins when is needed, then literally - poof! Dead quiet...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16817151102
#20
4th August 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soundsfromsound View Post
It's quite an ambitious build, at first glance. I'd go for an 850w PSU just because I'm OCD and I'd rather be uber-safe.
I can't think of a single reason why anyone building a PC for audio only would ever need a 850 watt power supply. Heck, I can't even imagine a reason 700 watts would be needed. Or maybe I'm just missing something.
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#21
4th August 2012
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First, as I said, I'm OCD when it comes to technology and my career. So, I prefer more than less. I'd rather have more power to burn then overtax my drives and such by not giving it enough clean power.

That's my main point there - clean power. The wattage is one thing but it's also the quality of the build too (PSU). The key is making sure you get enough clean power to your components. I have 6 HDDs in my DAW PC at the moment, and I just swapped out a new GPU in order to be able to see my media productions in a better light (film cues, syncing, etc) -

...and as far as "audio only" PCs, that would be like saying I'm buying a car but only to drive it to the grocery store and back. For vacations and work and to drive to the pharmacy, well I have this other car here for those errands...

That said, an audio PC still has to do other things - non audio things - like load OS, manage resources, etc - so I'd rather have more power than less. That's all - I'm sure I probably never use more than 500w but remember, just because a PSU claims to be "500w", in the real world, if it's a crappy PSU, you seriously won't even see 350w from it. I've tested many...sad but true.
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4th August 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soundsfromsound View Post
First, as I said, I'm OCD when it comes to technology and my career. So, I prefer more than less. I'd rather have more power to burn then overtax my drives and such by not giving it enough clean power.

That's my main point there - clean power. The wattage is one thing but it's also the quality of the build too (PSU). The key is making sure you get enough clean power to your components. I have 6 HDDs in my DAW PC at the moment, and I just swapped out a new GPU in order to be able to see my media productions in a better light (film cues, syncing, etc) -

...and as far as "audio only" PCs, that would be like saying I'm buying a car but only to drive it to the grocery store and back. For vacations and work and to drive to the pharmacy, well I have this other car here for those errands...

That said, an audio PC still has to do other things - non audio things - like load OS, manage resources, etc - so I'd rather have more power than less. That's all - I'm sure I probably never use more than 500w but remember, just because a PSU claims to be "500w", in the real world, if it's a crappy PSU, you seriously won't even see 350w from it. I've tested many...sad but true.
I suppose, like you said, it's better safe than sorry.
#23
4th August 2012
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Denying your drives and components sufficient clean power is a great way to have them not work properly



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#24
31st August 2012
Old 31st August 2012
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I know thread probs dead now, but a good reason to put a 850W or higher PSU in an 'Audio Only' computer is overhead / efficency etc - in a nutshell I run 1000W PSU the full load of my parts in Audio Mode is around 500W, therefore I am at 50% load, meaning my PSU runs cooler, the fans do less work...ergo quieter rig.
#25
31st August 2012
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Very true - and also, another perk for getting a slick Seasonic modular PSU - the fan literally shuts off when not needed. Can't get quieter than that, can you?
#26
26th September 2013
Old 26th September 2013
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You need a desktop an AMD processor preferable 3.2GHZ or higher.
At least 8gb DDR ram.
A PCI slot sound card probably an m-audio or similar with multiple RCA inputs and midi in/out.
AS others have said a high watt power supply probably over 600w
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