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Building a PC Condenser Microphones
Old 19th November 2009
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Building a PC

Allright!

My case; I want to build a PC. (So far it's been easy... )

The setting: It'll be a DAW in my (humble yet professional) studio. I run a LOT of plugin FX, a couple of sample instruments, and maybe some synths. Most of my projects don't require an abundance of audio tracks, as I mostly perform large recording operations at different locations. My studio is mostly build to do a lot of composition and production work, so flexibility in experimenting with sound and instruments is the key here.

When it comes to cost/quality balance, I'd say; I'm not affraid to spend quite a bit of money... But I'm not a multi millionair either, so ofcourse there's a limit.

Last but not least, I'll be working on some game and other types of media related projects, so I'll be needing some graphical power to boot.


Allright, now so far I've been working on this for quite some time, and it seems every descision I make is followed by a piece of info I find that contradicts what I thought was a wise descision when it comes to building a PC...

SO, I've descided to write about my findings step by step, so you can (and I'd love you to) comment on the steps I take, plus hopefully in the process I'll be writing at least a nice guide to start with when you're building a PC in the near future... Say... Christmas 2009

On to the first component; the CPU! ---->
Old 19th November 2009
  #2
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Allright CPU's!

Maybe it's a bit harsh to start with just the CPU because The CPU and the motherboard sorta go together... But I had to start somewhere

Most of the stuff I write here is based on my gut feeling, and whatever I read or heard on the internet or otherwise... I'm not a really big expert in this field (I probably wouldn't have started posting here otherwise ) So if I'm wrong, please correct me! It's what I'm here for!

Now I kinda get the feeling Intel is ahead of AMD with the whole Core i series (Nahalem CPU Architecture) especially for audio. So for me, AMD is out, Intel it is! Then we've got a couple different flavours:

Chip - Going at about (€)

i5 750 - €160
i7 920 - €230
i7 860 - €230
i7 870 - €460
i7 940 - €470
i7 950 - €460
i7 960 - €480

i7 965 Extreme Edition - €910
i7 975 Extreme Edition - €810

The 'extreme edition' stands for the extreme way they taunt your wallet... Not for me...

The i5 is the budget version of the bunch without hyperthreading. Now without stating that it is a bad processor (I read quite the opposite) The price advantage is not worth it for me. I'm able and willing to pay a bit more for an i7 chip.

Now a lot of people here on Gearslutz have the i7 920. Why? Early adopters? (I beleive the 920 was the first to be released) or does it have an advantage over the other chips exept for having a 9 in the type number? What I read about the 920 on the internet everywhere is (considering it's price) it's a perfect chip to overclock. But i'm not really looking to OC (because I'm affraid I know to little about the subject to do so with good results) so I'd rather pay a little more for a processor that's a bit faster and not overclock. The 860 looked like a great alternative (faster clock speed at about the same price) However it uses an 1156 socket, and I've read that you're better off going with the 1366 socket, although there is some debate about that issue.

As for the 870, twice the price, little performance gain so not worth it for me. If I was to pay twice as much the 950 seems more like the processor to go for. allthough again, compared to the 920 it doesn't have that much more power, so I'm not sure if it'll be worth it.

For the record I'm not the type of guy to go check on all the latest hardware every month (I'd rather do it really thorough and all in one go over 3 years or so ) So apart from maybe sticking some more RAM in, I don't plan on doing an upgrade for at LEAST another year... In other words future proofing would be nice, but I'd rather have a solid machine that works today

So, summing up I guess that leaves me with the i7 920 vs the i7 860. Considering the biggest difference being the socket types (future proof?) and the 860 having a somewhat faster clockspeed, the 860 would seem like the definitive one to go for... If it wheren't for all the GS users with the 920!! Whyyy!?!

Also, you should probably check this post out as R3altruth and Scott (@ ADK) Helped me along quite a bit there...
Old 20th November 2009
  #3
Registered User
 

well..about me: same as everything you sad exept i live in texas...im doin mainly beatmaking and song composition...my style most would say is alternative kind of futuristic house..i do alot of sound effects and design when i produce..but i also mix rock, jazz bands, etc..im also teamed up with a game and video effects programmer whoem of which ill be assisting in post-production...im pretty much in the same boat..i go to media tech institute which is basicly an audio engineer/recording/and production school..i already deal with diff clients in diff projects so i also want to take work with me. other than that most of the time i want my laptop synced with my mothership(PC) ..and of course when it come to flexibility and gaming, with due respect i dont discuss mac.

my goal is to have a home studio..not just any mediocre plug and play bull..im talkin a 5.1 reference, digital and alalog mixes, plug-ins for days, even some patched up outboard just for the sake of my ego xD.

but for now it starts with building the mothership..

processor: the intel i7 is the only one ive looked into so far.

drive: at leats 320 hdd 7200 rpm and atleast a 64g ssd for my programs..i dont believe in waiting lol

graphics: ati radeon. end of story..and an hd display

xp or windows 7 maybe

a bunch of ram

blah blah..
Old 20th November 2009
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quince View Post
Now a lot of people here on Gearslutz have the i7 920. Why? Early adopters? (I beleive the 920 was the first to be released) or does it have an advantage over the other chips exept for having a 9 in the type number? What I read about the 920 on the internet everywhere is (considering it's price) it's a perfect chip to overclock. But i'm not really looking to OC (because I'm affraid I know to little about the subject to do so with good results) so I'd rather pay a little more for a processor that's a bit faster and not overclock. The 860 looked like a great alternative (faster clock speed at about the same price) However it uses an 1156 socket, and I've read that you're better off going with the 1366 socket, although there is some debate about that issue.
when it comes to processors you could school me...what a good mother board for the intel 920?
Old 20th November 2009
  #5
Gear Nut
 
root's Avatar
do-it-yourself vs. spend an xtra 8-900

Here are the components (i7 920 based machine) that the PC Audio Labs Rok Box Elite has :
----
Processor: 2.66GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7 920
Motherboard: Gigabyte Core i7 Motherboard
Memory: 4GB DDR3-1333 Triple Channel (4 x 1GB)
Graphics: DVI+VGA Fanless Graphics Card 512MB (HD4350)
----
Optical Drive: Pioneer 22x CD/DVD Dual Layer Burner w/LabelFlash
CD/DVD Software: Nero 8 Essentials
----
Primary Drive: 160GB SATA2 (7200rpm : 8MB cache)
Operating System: Windows 7 Pro 32-bit w/Windows XP Pro Installed
----
Audio Drive: 500GB SATA2 (7200rpm : 32MB cache)
----
Sample Drive: 500GB SATA2 (7200rpm : 32MB cache)
----
Keyboard & Mouse: Logitech Wired PS/2 Keyboard and Mouse
----
Power Supply: 750 Watt
Cooling: The Silent Treatment
----
Support: Lifetime Phone and E-Mail Support
Remote Support: Remote Online Support System™ (R.O.S.S.)
Optimizations: Optimized for Audio Production
System Recovery: Factory Restore DVD
Warranty: 3 Year Warranty
---
They want $2499 - if you go to the discount houses and throw it all together yourself - it'll cost you around 1600 when all's said and done w/ parts, OS & minor software but there could/should/would be headaches that follow that might make me regret the savings. I really hate screwwing around w/ gear and troubleshooting problems that take me away from WRITING MUSIC. Getting wrapped up in the GAS and stopping the workflow.
I looked at Reyniers / ADK /PCAL / Sweetwater / HP workstations and a few others of i7 920 type DAW's recently and they are all in the same 2.5 grand ballpark for one that's all ready to be loaded with your software of choice (SONAR7 is mine) I have to say that the PCAL model above is probably the best overall deal as far as quality-compatability of parts / dependability/SUPPORT(3years) and reputation... You get what you pay for.

Hope that helps anyone like it would've helped me about a week ago.
GOOD NITE AND GOOD LUCK.



Old 20th November 2009
  #6
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For what you want (Heavy soft synths and plug ins),,
On a PC, My recommendation is Sonar.....
for 2 reasons....
1. Sonar is a MIDI monster.... Soft Synths are one of it's strong suits. It will also fo all the aufio recording and editing... so its just a win/win
2. Sonar 64-bit on a 64-bit OS (Like Win7 64) will let you address more than 4gb of RAM, which, for heavy sample VST's (Everything from Sampletank, to Battery to Omnisphere, Miroslav Philharmonik, Anything form Vienna or EastWest) then you'll really really really want that extra RAM... with the I7 920 I'd say go 6 or even 12gb
The Gigavyte ex58 Ud3 has only 4 RAM slots so if that board was your choice I'd say go 6gb (3x2gb) while the ex58 UD5 has 6 slots so I'd really say max it out with 12gb (6x2gb) and you wont regret it. Also... People will say don't... but I personally say go for the DDR3 1600MHz PC3 12800 RAM... Get some from Corsair, Mushkin or OCZ with Cas Latency of 7 and you'll love it....
Also you said you'd be doing some game music... at least I assumed that is what you meant.... You may want to invest in a graphics card that has a little more testicular fortitude.... The 4350 is a fairly decent silent option (and the fanless 4650 has a bit more balls) but to get into real multimedia and gaming work you may want to go "at least" Radeon HD 4870 or GTX 280.... The wont be quiet... but if your studio is more production based or if your case has good airflow and is even partiially treated then it wont be super loud.... If silence is your goal though then definitely go 4350 or 4650 and if you are doing anything with the Physx engine or CUDA then you should probably get an Nvidia card
Lastly... you don't wanna use more than half of any hard drive... so 500 may be enough for a samples drive (Or it may not... remember Omnisphere alone is 40gb) but an audio drive can fill up faster than you think.... Especially at 48k+ and 24-bit depth... the price difference to go up from a 500gb to 1tb internal 32mb cache drive is not that much of an increase and is well worth it for a serious musician.
Think about this... its cheaper to get 1tb than to get 500gb, fill that up and purchase another 500gb later
I "would" say any ODD will do and that may be true but then I turn around and only buy LG or Plextor (Just got in today an LG DVD super multi drive from Newegg for( 26.99 USD and free shipping... Can't have too many ODD's)

In the end your PC needs and workflow should dictate what you purchase...
But an I7 920 with 12gb of DDR3 1600 and 3 separate 32mb cache hard drives with a 750w PSU will work for pretty much anyone doing almost anything. The only real step up from that is dual Xeon X5550 but then you're talking about 2K just for the CPU's....
Take it from me... I build for people and I've personally got an AMD Phenom II 965 in an Apevia X-cruiser(In fact I just replaced the 140w one with the 125w one that came today).... and I7 920 in an Antec 900.... An older Athlon 64 Venice in an Antec 300.... Toshiba C2D laptop.... Gateway Turion rm-72 laptop... Saturday I picked up the new HP Turion m500 laptop (which on a sidenote is AWESOME for the price.... only a 14 inch screen but its got a 7200RPM HDD, eSATA port... Win7 64, 4gb ram.... 785g chipset with Radeon HD4200 GPU with the 128mb sideport memory included.... All for 580.... Im taking it through the audio obstacle course right now to see if a laptop under 600 can really be this nice HP - Pavilion Laptop with AMD Turion™ II Dual-Core Mobile Processor - Moonlight White - dv4-2045dx )

Honestly I do HUGE RnB projects.... 64 tracks is a small project for me... plus I route in a crazy way so 12+ buses on top of that with all the plugins you would think, Its R&B so you know I go hard with the Reverb, which drains more CPU than most plugs.... plus I am a soft synth MONSTER.... and my Phenom II 965 with 8gb of RAM is my main workhorse and never breaks a sweat..... even at 100 tracks at low buffers I easily breeze through projects.... I AM my own stress test... I swear... but I digress...
You're probably thinking why use this 965 over my 920.... but AMD actually has incredible on board graphics with a couple of their chipsets... and a good onboard GPU is incredible for audio work.... F#[email protected] a fanless card... no video card is pure silence... hahahaha... I even work with dual monitors at high resolutions...
SO I put the nicer video card (Radeon HD 4890) into the 920 and it kind of became my gaming rig.... go figure
Old 21st November 2009
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nozzy O View Post
well..about me: same as everything you sad exept i live in texas... [EDIT] ...my goal is to have a home studio..not just any mediocre plug and play bull..
Well Nozzy, stay tuned, my goal is to try and have a definitive setup in 1-2 weeks, handling every part as we go along

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nozzy O View Post
when it comes to processors you could school me...what a good mother board for the intel 920?
My next step; finding the ideal motherboard... Read below!

Quote:
Originally Posted by root View Post
Here are the components (i7 920 based machine) that the PC Audio Labs Rok Box Elite has :
----
Processor: 2.66GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7 920
Motherboard: Gigabyte Core i7 Motherboard
Memory: 4GB DDR3-1333 Triple Channel (4 x 1GB)
Graphics: DVI+VGA Fanless Graphics Card 512MB (HD4350)
You're probably right about getting a custom build machine, but I can spare the time, and kinda like to know about what I'm buying... plus I can spend the extra money I save on even better stuff Plus in the end I think it's fun

About that rig tho... putting 4 gigs of ram in 4 seperate 1GB RAM strips in a triple channel? Like stated before I'm no expert, but that seems like a horrible solution... As far as I know the idea of tripple channel is you can use 3 strips of RAM that'll work together in a nice way (or 6... depending on your motherboard) so that would mean 3x1(=3) or 3x2(=6) or 6x1(=6) etc... Anyway, more on RAM lateron...

Quote:
Originally Posted by R3altruth View Post
You're probably thinking why use this 965 over my 920.... but AMD actually has incredible on board graphics with a couple of their chipsets... and a good onboard GPU is incredible for audio work.... F#[email protected] a fanless card... no video card is pure silence... hahahaha... I even work with dual monitors at high resolutions...
SO I put the nicer video card (Radeon HD 4890) into the 920 and it kind of became my gaming rig.... go figure
Well a little extra noise from the video cards won't be a problem, So the onboard video options are nice, but I'm probably going to stick in some serious video power, so I won't be using any onboard chips. Anyway, more on video later...

Allright summing up - still don't have a definitive choice when it comes to CPU's, but checking out most custom build DAW's, R3altruths choices AND this little graph I got from Scott @ ADK (Check it HERE) makes me kind of tip over to pick the i7 920...

Allright, let's go with the i7 920 but keep the 860 in mind and go on... maybe picking a motherboard will offer a final conclusion...
Old 21st November 2009
  #8
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Allright! The motherboard!

Now when it comes to picking a motherboard, making sure your chip will fit is ofcourse a factor to take into account...

So sockets! Yeah... Allright, well Intel currently uses 2 for the i7 (and i5) chips... namely the 1366 and the 1156 socket...

The i7 920 I chose uses the 1366 socket and the i7 860 uses the 1156 socket...

As far as future proofing goes; here, and especially this one here (post #11 and downward...) are import pieces to read... My conclusion on that subject; it's difficult to say which socket has more future, but I'm not really looking into future proofing anyway so I didn't really dive into the subject that thoroughly. I probably won't be upgrading unless it's the entire works (motherboard + CPU + RAM) in like 2 years or so, but if you ARE looking into this, be sure to try and get some more info on the matter...

So what else is different between the 1366 and the 1156? The Motherboard chips on them! The 1366 is fitted with an x58 and the 1156 is fitted with the p55 chip. Now as far as performance goes, I haven't been able to find any real difference between the two. Allthough I guess that's a hard thing to benchmark. They use different CPU's so it's hard to make a good comparison... But anyway! What IS different however is that the 1366 - x58 uses tripple channel RAM and the 1156 - P55 uses dual channel. Now again what I've found is there is no real performance difference (not notably anyway)... What it means is when you fit the motherboard with RAM, the x58 will want it divided in sets of 3 bars (3 or 6), and the P55 in 2 bars (2 or 4). So if you want 4 Gigs of RAM it's going to be hard to fit that onto a tripple channel because it's not devidable by 3, but other then that, again there seems to be no performance difference between 3x2 (=6GB in a tripple channel) and 2x3 (=6GB in a dual channel)

Also I've read that the x58 often has a bit more overclocking options, so if you're looking to overclock it might be the better choice.

Little sidenote -> If anything I say here is wrong, please let me know! This is just the info I've gathered on the web myself...

Last but most definately not least what is important is the options the motherboard has when it comes to video, LAN, Cooling/power saving... etc... Probably the most important thing is to check how many PCI slots a board comes with so you'll be able to fit all of your PCI hardware in there! And I'll be checking for RAID options as well... I'll be handling RAID lateron

Allright! Now for some options...

For the 1156 socket I found this really nice board:

MSI P55-GD65 - Review Great for overclocking youself, but I expecially love the overclock button on the board which will take away any pain and stress and keep your system well within safe limits! came recommended as a very good option in several reviews... Also check out this and this vid... However it's a liiiittle slim on PCI slots, but if you won't be jamming in 10 UAD cards I suppose you'll be fine...

As for the 1366 ->> I'm still looking! I'd really like some suggestions!

Have to say I've had some really bad experiences with gigabyte in the past... busted fans, broken boards... etc... So I'll be looking into some ASUS and MSI boards and give you an update lateron!
Old 21st November 2009
  #9
Old 22nd November 2009
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by R3altruth View Post
Thanks R3altruth
Old 22nd November 2009
  #11
Gear Nut
 
root's Avatar
Quince,

I don't get why PC Audiolabs is doing the 4x1 configuration in a triple channel either....
that deserves a call to the tech dept for an explanation b4 I commit to the sale...
Probably has to come down to the almighty dollar - cheaper to install 4 one gig ram bars than 3x2 - but then why not 3x1 since that's what XP pro accesses anyway at 32bit?? Correct me if I'm wrong, I'm a composer not a computer person.... although spending 2500 makes u question many things as a tadpole/grasshopper.
Does anyone (R3altruth) have thoughts and or comments on why they are doing this 4x1 combination?

root
Old 22nd November 2009
  #12
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R3altruth's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by root View Post
Quince,

I don't get why PC Audiolabs is doing the 4x1 configuration in a triple channel either....
that deserves a call to the tech dept for an explanation b4 I commit to the sale...
Probably has to come down to the almighty dollar - cheaper to install 4 one gig ram bars than 3x2 - but then why not 3x1 since that's what XP pro accesses anyway at 32bit?? Correct me if I'm wrong, I'm a composer not a computer person.... although spending 2500 makes u question many things as a tadpole/grasshopper.
Does anyone (R3altruth) have thoughts and or comments on why they are doing this 4x1 combination?

root
Its probably due to the Gigabyte Ex58 UD3 board... it has 4 RAM slots and so they are using all slots. So from a marketing standpoint they are "Maxing the RAM slots" and also 4 is bigger than 3 in most peoples minds....
If you look at that board though... You'll see that the first three RAM slots are a different color than the fourth slot showing you which 3 to use for your triple channel kits.... I really think that board could have sufficed with just 3 slots but to each his own...
Especially on a 32-bit system... You're absolutely right... 3x1gb would be most advantageous....
I also haven't been to their site to look at the specs... but if they don't list the brand of the RAM then I would be wary.... Many box-build places like to use cheap RAM with no heatsink or heat spreaders.... Thats "kind of" ok I guess for regular use but any high performance or Overclocking and you'll want RAM with some kind of heat spreader
Old 22nd November 2009
  #13
Some notes on 1366 vs 1156

Hi guys. I thought I'd chime in here. I build PC's often and try to keep an eye on all this stuff. AFAIK these are some things to consider when trying to choose between 1366 and 1156.

They have different chipsets and different architectures. There are a lot of sticky details one can go into but some of the main things:
>Intel report that 1156 will be their consumer socket and the majority of CPU's they come out with will be 1156. The high end extreme CPU's, including 6core ones, will be for 1366.
>1366 has tripple channel RAM, 1156 has dual. Benchtests comparing 3 chan vs 2 chan show different results depending on benchtest software.
Generally, they are similar performance with 3 channel coming up a bit on top in some cases.
>It is my opinion that 1366 mbd's with 4RAM slots are silly. Rather go for one with 3 or 6 slots...you may as well use the tripple chan config...
>1366 is better for overclocking.
>1156 can give better performance on apps which can not take advantage
of multicore CPUs by disabling unused cores and automatically overclocking the core that is being used (think they call it turboboost or something like that)

I personally like the idea of a 920 i7 on an asus board running at 4ghz.
I also would be weary of MSI as they can use cheap components. You really want a GOOD Asus or Gigabyte board that has high quality capacitors to power and care for your components.

My 2cents
Old 23rd November 2009
  #14
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root's Avatar
Thank you guys for filling me in on the information. I did a search on the Gigabyte UD3R. It's considered an entry level Mobo (hence the lower cost for the box builder). As far as overclocking options for future need for speed goes, it only allows for 1.5 volt memory and since the voltage options in the Bios don't have as many increments you can't get the voltage in windows up to speed as you could w/ 1.65 or 1.7V memory. If I want the mobo w/ the 6 slot option then I have to go to their custom shop and add about another $100. The company does list the memory used as being Kingston Non-ECC CL9 and it's rated at 1.5v. So high performance overclocking isn't figured into the set up of the Rok Box Elite model unless you customize it w/ the better mobo option and even then they don't sell install any other memory over 1.5v so I'm sort of waisting $$ spent on the 4 gigs of factory installed memory. I'm actually starting to wonder.....just how handy am I???
Old 24th November 2009
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by root View Post
...I'm actually starting to wonder.....just how handy am I???
Root, I guess you've come to the right place It's exactly this kind of stuff I ran into trying to build a PC which made me think twice and start this topic before spending any of my hard earned cash! Glad to have you here on this quest to find the right stuff

Oh and by the way, as R3eltruth allready stated, More then 3 Gigs of ram is more or less a waste on XP 32 Bit... But why not switch to Windows 7 64 bit? Heard some great things about it...

Quote:
Originally Posted by unqlenol View Post
Hi guys. I thought I'd chime in here. I build PC's often and try to keep an eye on all this stuff. AFAIK these are some things to consider when trying to choose between 1366 and 1156.

...

I personally like the idea of a 920 i7 on an asus board running at 4ghz.
I also would be weary of MSI as they can use cheap components. You really want a GOOD Asus or Gigabyte board that has high quality capacitors to power and care for your components.

My 2cents
Glad you shared them here
Seems to me the 1156 socket is loosing this race... I'm more and more getting into the i7 920 on a 1366... Now all we need is a nice 1366 Motherboard... Guess MSI is out then, and I have to mention I've had some good experiences in the past with Asus boards, but then again that was 2 years ago...

Suggestions anyone?

I'll have some time on my hands next Wednesday, so I'll spend some on comparing any suggestions as well as try and find some options myself and be back with a full report!
Old 24th November 2009
  #16
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R3altruth's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Quince View Post
Root, I guess you've come to the right place It's exactly this kind of stuff I ran into trying to build a PC which made me think twice and start this topic before spending any of my hard earned cash! Glad to have you here on this quest to find the right stuff

Oh and by the way, as R3eltruth allready stated, More then 3 Gigs of ram is more or less a waste on XP 32 Bit... But why not switch to Windows 7 64 bit? Heard some great things about it...



Glad you shared them here
Seems to me the 1156 socket is loosing this race... I'm more and more getting into the i7 920 on a 1366... Now all we need is a nice 1366 Motherboard... Guess MSI is out then, and I have to mention I've had some good experiences in the past with Asus boards, but then again that was 2 years ago...

Suggestions anyone?

I'll have some time on my hands next Wednesday, so I'll spend some on comparing any suggestions as well as try and find some options myself and be back with a full report!
Asus is safe and reliable... Only problem is the firewire probably wont be using the TI firewire chipset... Other than that I like Asus
Old 24th November 2009
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by R3altruth View Post
Asus is safe and reliable... Only problem is the firewire probably wont be using the TI firewire chipset... Other than that I like Asus
TI Firewire chipset? Didn't even know there's much difference in the interfaces... Does it come in a PCI card? :D That way you can just add some more Firewire ports...
Old 24th November 2009
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quince View Post
TI Firewire chipset? Didn't even know there's much difference in the interfaces... Does it come in a PCI card? :D That way you can just add some more Firewire ports...
Yea.... The actual firewire component is outsourced.... Texas Instruments makes the one that has been tested to have the least amount of problems and incompatibilities.... The biggest one I've seen is a few Digi 002's and 003's that would only work with TI chipsets... Gigabyte uses mainly (Maybe even exclusively) texas instruments chipsets (It says on their site when you look up a certain mobo) as opposed to VIA and others....
As far as... I know Siig uses TI chipsets in their PCI firewire cards. There are definitely others... SYba might....
Old 25th November 2009
  #19
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Allright... Now I'm confused...

Again!

Right when I thought the 920 was the best processor out there (price/performance wise) and checking out this graph I got from Scott...

I do one final search and come across this post... So how come they all say the 870 is faster, when Scott's graph shows the 920 does better? (with HT turned on)

So now I'm in doubt about CPU's again!

What I've also found out is if you want to stick a 6 core in your PC any time soon, go with the 1366 socket... However the consumer market seems to be focussed more towards the 1156 socket at the moment, resulting in slightly newer motherboards etc...

[EDIT] This is yet to be confirmed... Some people beleive Intel will introduce yet another new motherboard to go with the new chips... [/EDIT]

So if I where switching back to 1156, this GA-P55A-UD6 board by Gigabyte and these P7P55D Deluxe and Premium boards by Asus seem verrry nice... Nicer even then any of the 1366 boards I've found so far... The Gigabyte board having the slight advantage of a USB 3.0 port (although you can't really use it yet... so, don't know if it's really that much of a plus) and the ASUS having some nice easy and fool-proof overclocking tools for the not-so-OC-worthy among us (including myself)

Concluding, when it comes to motherboards I've made up my mind. Be it 1366 or 1156, these are my choices...

It's my opninion the motherboard should be the one component you should never save money on... It can really make or break you rig... So I've compared features and just picked the nicest ones out there without paying any mind to price... Also as you can read in the posts above, the search was already narrowed down to Gigabyte and Asus... (Also any searches for other brands didn't really reveal any significantly better boards as far as I could tell...)

For the 1156 Socket: (as mentioned above)
Gigabyte: GA-P55A-UD6
Asus: P7P55D Deluxe and P7P55D Premium

For the 1366 Socket
:

The Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD7 looks mighty impressive but it's not been released at the time of writing, and is said to be released somewhere around christmas

Then we have the Gigabyte GA-EX58-EXTREME and the GA-EX58-UD5
biggest difference seems to be the EXTREME has a little better cooling...

And finally ASUS: P6T Deluxe V2 seems to be a pretty awsome board, however I have to admit the comparison sheets where a little less easy to figure out compared to the ones at Gigabyte's website so please double check my research...

I'll be doing some more reading on CPU's, and HOPEFULLY by the end of the day have made a decision so we can move on to RAM
Old 25th November 2009
  #20
Here for the gear
 

I Already posted the link in the previous post... But I wanted to highlight it.

If you're interested in CPU's, want to know a little more about them and are not a rocket scientist check out this (I know.... 19 page...) article about the whole Core i7 series of chips... I suppose it has pretty much everything you'll want to know...

[EDIT]

A little preview:



"See how the Core i7 870 and Core i5 750 fit nicely in between the Core i7 920 and 975? Yeah, that's because pretty much anything below the 975 doesn't make sense anymore thanks to Lynnfield."

[/EDIT]

[EDIT 2]


A quote from the article that pretty much summs it up

"The Core i7 870 gets close enough to the Core i7 975 that I'm having a hard time justifying the LGA-1366 platform at all. As I see it, LGA-1366 has a few advantages:
1) High-end multi-GPU Performance
2) Stock Voltage Overclocking
3) Future support for 6-core Gulftown CPUs
If that list doesn't make you flinch, then Lynnfield is perfect. You'll save a bunch on a motherboard and the CPUs start at $196 instead of $284. We didn't have enough time with our Core i7 860 to include performance results here but my instincts tell me that at $284 that'll be the Lynnfield sweetspot. You get excellent turbo modes and Hyper Threading, without breaking $300."

[/EDIT 2]
Old 25th November 2009
  #21
Here for the gear
 

Allright!

To sum some things up, because this thread is getting kinda packed with info, and it's real hard to get a good overview.. What I've learned so far:


After reading the article in the post above, I kind of learned it more or less breaks down to this:

Intel Nahalem chips (the Core ix series) break down in two sorts. Bloomfield (older 1366 socket) and Lynnfield (newer 1156 socket).

The biggest differences (still marginal) between the two (and their sockets) being:

  • Lynnfield (1156 socket) is aimed at the consumer market, and Bloomfield (1366) for the high end market
  • At stock Lynnfield has a better performance/price ratio, mainly due to the fact that the architecture supports i7's turbo boost functionality better.
  • For overclocking, expecially of the more extreme kind Bloomfield (1366) has a better architecture
  • If you're looking into future proofing, the upcomming 6-core Gulftown CPUs will most likely be released for the 1366 socket. [EDIT: There is a lot of rumour about a totally new socket for the Gulftown chips, so I guess 1366 is not a safe haven for future proof people]
  • the x58 chip (on the 1366 socket boards) is better equipped to use multiple GPU setups.
  • There is NO real performance difference between the dual and triple channel DDR3 RAM, at least not until 6 cores come out.
Choosing time!

Seeing I'm building my rig primeraly for audio, and not playing games, (multi GPU setup) I am not the worlds most confident overclocker, and am not planning on upgrading for at least a year: Lynnfield seems to be the chip for me.

Then I've got the following choices in CPU:

i5 xxx
i7 860
i7 870

If we're talking price/performance the i5 is cheap, but comes without Hyper Threading. It is said to be a really good chip, but the price advantage is not worth it for me. I'm able and willing to pay a bit more for an i7 chip.

As for the i7 860 and 870 the €200+ price difference probably doesn't really justify the performance difference between the two, so if you're looking for the Lynnfield sweetspot, go with the 860. As for me, I'm crazy and going for a step closer to the ultra high-end. Intel Core i7 870 it is!

Now for the Motherboard.

As I said earlyer, I'm not going to save a dime on my motherboard. If you're looking for more info/options, check out post #19. As for me; I've allways been a really big fan of ASUS, so I'm going with the P7P55D Deluxe motherboard. For the non OC-experts among us, note that you can overclock real easy with this board using V-turbo. It definately won't get the maximum out of your hardware, but it's a nice little extra functionality.

Then we've FINALLY come to the 3rd question! RAM!
Old 25th November 2009
  #22
Here for the gear
 

Allright RAM!

A new choise and LOADS of new questions arose... Clock Frequency? Timings? Cas Latency?

I get the feeling most of these values are primarily important if you plan on overclocking in an extreme way. I won't, but still want good quality memory.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jcschild View Post
personally i would not touch OCZ. i have had alot of issues with not being tatooed correctly.

there is a lot of ram out there but only a handful actually have XMP profiles and do it correctly
for Core i7 its even more important.

you dont need the Dominator but its the better one
the Corsair xms might suite you fine.
also the GT is CL 7 just get CL8


Scott
ADK
Taken from THIS thread, Post #19

So Corsair Dominator... I keep running into Dominator (and Dominator GT) all over the place, it really seems to be a populair memory type, so Dominator it is?

As we're working with the i7 870, on a 1156 Socket, with a P55 chip, we're looking for Dual (or Quad) Channel Memory. Meaning; combinations of 2 will work best. So it's possible to fit in 2, 4, 8 and 16 GB. I've found the following two types of Dominator RAM that'll be able to get me 8GB's.

Corsair Dominator CMG4GX3M2A2000C8 weighing in at € 200,- for 2x2=4GB

You'd need 2 sets to get 8GB = € 400,-

and

Corsair Dominator CMD8GX3M4A1600C8 weighing in at € 260,- for 4x2=8GB

Now you want to have as little banks as possible. So 2x4 is faster then 4x2. HOWEVER the performance difference is marginal, where the price difference is ususally HUGE. so the above 4 strips of RAM will do...

The biggest difference between the above two is the former runs @ 2000mhz, and the latter at 1600. They share the same CAS latency, and you need 4 strips of both of them to make 8 GB's.

For me just the clock speed won't justify € 140,- so the wisest choice seems to be going with the Dominator CMD8GX3M4A1600C8.

...Unless ofcourse, someone can advise me otherwise....?
Old 5th December 2009
  #23
Gear Maniac
 

Go for the 8GB!

What happened to this thread?

Hard drives, hard drives!
Old 5th December 2009
  #24
Gear Maniac
 

What about these?

Western Digital Caviar Black WD7501AALS 750GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Hard Drive -Bare Drive
Model #:WD7501AALS

I was thinking about getting 3 of them. One for sampling, one for recording, one for everything else.
Old 5th December 2009
  #25
Lives for gear
 
StudioTinPanAll's Avatar
 

if you want 3x 750GB of usable hd space you should consider buying 3x 1.5TB,
and never filling them over 50%
Old 5th December 2009
  #26
Gear Nut
 
root's Avatar
If noise is an important factor then you should consider the Seagate HD's - according to Scott @ ADK Pro Audio that they are quieter than the Cavier HD's.
I have also heard from other posts that the larger HD's have a higher failure rate. Take that w/ a grain of salt - like all opinions but realize there might be some truth to the statement - enuf to research it anyways.
Old 5th December 2009
  #27
Lives for gear
 
R3altruth's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by root View Post
If noise is an important factor then you should consider the Seagate HD's - according to Scott @ ADK Pro Audio that they are quieter than the Cavier HD's.
I have also heard from other posts that the larger HD's have a higher failure rate. Take that w/ a grain of salt - like all opinions but realize there might be some truth to the statement - enuf to research it anyways.
Its numbers..... say 2% of spindles go bad in the first 6 months....
well if you have a smaller drive with 1 spindle then you have a 2% failure rate in the first 6 months...
If you have a drive with 3 splindles in it, once you lose one spindle the drive is toast... so you now have a 6% failure rate....
(I don't know the exact failure rate numbers... I just know that no Caviar Black 1tb's have failed on me...)
Old 5th December 2009
  #28
Gear Maniac
 

So the question is how many to get?
Old 5th December 2009
  #29
Lives for gear
 
R3altruth's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Technician View Post
So the question is how many to get?
for most people... 1 recording drive is good... just get it big enough that you don't fill it past 50%. Get the size that fits you regardless of how many spindles it has
and no matter what HDD you have you should always back up often
I record to a 1tb caviar black
Old 5th December 2009
  #30
Lives for gear
 
Fast_Fingers's Avatar
 

Wow. OP has definitely shown his work.

CPU/mobo: I guess I'm still insistent on x58. In any case, for both chipsets, replacing one chip with another is a decent strategy (and not many drives at their rotational speed can take advantage of Sata II, let alone III). If you have enough PCI-e slots, you can acquire USB 3.0 (and PCI for Firewire 400) without much of a fuss.

As for memory, look at this Tom's Hardware article. You don't need heatsinks or be the top name brand to come on top. I personally use pqi memory that was $85 for 6GB. Sadly, since P55 came around, DDR3 memory has risen in price significantly. Getting better timings and higher frequencies doesn't do quite that much to the system.

Hard drives: Go with good fast ones. Samsung Spinpoint F3s and Caviar Blacks (what Real and I use) are top quality. There's no need to go for the biggest models (considering how expensive they are $/GB) but 1-1.5TB or so should be fine. You may want to get two of them to connect through RAID 1, which should allow less downtime if one goes bad.

Finally, don't neglect coolers, cases, power supplies, fans, surge protectors/UPS, ergonomics, and backups.

Using your equipment heavily/overclocking requires good breathing space for your components. A good large case like a Coolermaster Cosmos 1000 or an Antec P183, with high quality fans like the Nexus Basic (shootout review) will reduce the amount of noise you'll hear and be easier to work around in, letting you concentrate on the music.

A large CPU cooler like Noctua's offerings, Thermalright's Ultra Extreme (TRUE), and Scythe Mugen II helps heat dissipation, can make less noise than the stock cooler (since larger fans don't have to move as quickly to move a given body of air) and may allow you to OC your computer a bit with relatively no consequence.

Power supplies contribute to the well being of your system (if they fritz everything else can go down with it), and the most to the amount of noise you hear. I'd go for modular systems like the Seasonic X (review) since there'll be less clutter to deal with, something I found out the hard way with my (otherwise great) Corsair TX650. Modular means you only use the cables that you connect.

Get an uninterruptable power supply for your equipment and your computer if you haven't already. A chance to slowly shut down your equipment rather than abruptly during a blackout may save you a ton of money and headaches. Also, it could give you a chance to save that session.

Ergonomics are frequently ignored, even though you are going to be at the computer for long periods of time. I'd budget a bit into dual monitors and controller surfaces (BCF2000, Novation Zero, even Korg NanoKontrol) as well as good keyboards (Unicomp...long live IBM M Models) and mice (gaming mice might be worth looking into for their precision and design) or writing surfaces like Wacom's Bamboo.

Finally, get a good backup plan. Network Attached Storage like a ReadyNas 1100S (it's easy to swap out their power supply) can do automatic backups of multiple computers without fuss or the need to be around your studio, and is rack mountable too. I use their toaster-like Duo. That, combined with occassional DVD backups of critical sessions and keeping them offsite, should help you when Murphy's law comes.
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