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Intel Core i7,i5 or i3 for custom built audio daw
Old 5th September 2011
  #1
Intel Core i7,i5 or i3 for custom built audio daw

Hi,
I am about to make some major hardware changes in my studio and need a bit of advise...

I am moving from years of working with cubase to a new beginning with Protools 9 (native software) and I will be building a custom PC to run the show...here are the proposed specs

CPU: Intel Core i5-2500K
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z68MX-UD2H-B3
Graphics: AMD Radeon HD 6850
RAM: Corsair Vengence Blu 1600Mhz DDR3 (8GB)
Power Supply: OCZ 500watt ModXStream Pro
System Drive: OCZ Technology 60GB Vertex 2 SATAII 2.5" Solid State

My last custom Pc builds were put together about 4 yrs ago and based around core 2 duo cpu's, over the years i updated to win 7 to avail of extra ram possibilities and apart from the odd recording project i was happy with their performance. However, i am in new territory with pro tools 9, i don't know how much juice it needs to run. I am no stranger to overclocking and I'd expect to get alot more power out of the i5-2500K cpu. Along with protools, i will have various plugins on every track and with regard to vsti's I really only using the kontakt sampler (i'll probably end up running kontakt from one of the older core 2 duo Pc's).

So, my questions are

Do i need to reconsider my choice of cpu for the i7?

Is there a huge difference when using an SSD as the system drive as opposed to a standard sata or even a sata raid array?

Any advise much appreciated
thanks
hally
Old 5th September 2011
  #2
PRH
Gear Addict
 

Are you making your living from this, or will other people be significantly inconvenienced or upset if something crashes?

If so, I suggest that you build with an eye toward reliability and stability.

You might consider a RAID 10 array (for data throughput performance and data redundancy). Also don't skimp on the power supply. Seasonic have a very good reputation for reliability and meeting claimed specs.

I guess the other thing is that, unless you are building to a particular budget, then you can't have a system that is too powerful.

Just some thoughts.
Old 5th September 2011
  #3
Lives for gear
 
Retrofreak's Avatar
 

Go with the i7
Old 5th September 2011
  #4
The graphics are too much for audio use. Loud and energy waste.
Get a simple fanless Ati, it will handle all your apps (unless you are into graphics/3D/gaming as well).

I agree on the PSU comment.
Old 5th September 2011
  #5
Ill save you [OP] the trouble of searching,the deal according to ADK pro "Scott" is the i7 2600K is so much better than the i5 you would be nuts not to pony the extra[max $100 or so?] to get the best!cheers
Old 5th September 2011
  #6
Thanks for all the input, i did a bit more research on the i7 and it appears (as already stated here) it is signifigantly superior to the i5 cpu's. Turbo boost and hyperthreading seem to be the two major benifits of the i7 architecture. I also spoke to a friend who recently built a video editing system based on the the i7 cpu, he also had the oportunity to run an i5 cpu in the same box, he reports that the difference was staggering.

My hesitation to go with the i7 was not for financial reasons but rather based on my previous experience with alot of intel cpu's. With overclocking I have got fantastic results out of the lower spec cpu's but it appears the i7 cpu is a different architecture to the i5 so no amount of overclocking is ever going to bring the i5 anywhere near the i7...

Quote:
The graphics are too much for audio use. Loud and energy waste.
Get a simple fanless Ati, it will handle all your apps (unless you are into graphics/3D/gaming as well).
I have an older ait graphics card which will probably do the trick, no gaming going on here but the windows 7 OS out sourses alot of its graphic tasks to the cards ram so i thought i'd get a card with a decent bit of ram - any thoughts on my conclusions here?

Quote:
Also don't skimp on the power supply. Seasonic have a very good reputation for reliability and meeting claimed specs.
can somebody recommend a Seasonic PSU that they have used with i7 cpu and are happy with?

Any thoughts on SSD for system drive? My project drive is a sata raid and i'm very happy with their performance and my sample librarys are sata raid also...

One last question, for those using the i7 cpu's, are u happy with the stock cooling or did u upgrade?

Thanks for all the advise and help...

regards
hally
Old 5th September 2011
  #7
I went with the i7 and didn't look back for my custom desktop.

I have an i5 in my notebook and it has also performed flawlessly
Old 6th September 2011
  #8
Lives for gear
 

First and foremost, I've been a certified professional PC tech before I started to take music seriously, so I'm speaking from both perspectives for your needs.

Personally, I'd always recommend AMD over Intel, because of their bang for buck alone. When comparing both their respective ends(mid, low, high), yes, Intel is generally more powerful, but for their price, it's not that wide a gap, and you'd probably never draw the max output of power from both AMD's and Intel's high-end processors, unless you're doing heavy video editing with post-processing effects or 3D work (things of that nature). However, it is your money, so spend it as you see fit.

Quote:
I have an older ait graphics card which will probably do the trick, no gaming going on here but the windows 7 OS out sourses alot of its graphic tasks the the cards ram so i thought i'd get a card with a decent bit of ram - any thoghts on my conclusions here?
Any card with 256MBs of RAM can easily run any OS. In fact, a video card with 128MBs of RAM will more than do the trick. The drivers and DX9 support should be your main concern, and most cards support DX9. A motherboard with integrated graphics (they're usually 250/512MB) will be able to run 7 and a few games that aren't too graphic intense. The problem with integrated graphics is that they use some of your RAM, and RAM in audio and almost any task is vital. So, stick with the non-integrated graphics, but your old card should easily do the job and you'll save some money too.

Quote:
can somebody recommend a Seasonic PSU that they have uded with i7 cpu and are happy with?
Seasonic is good, but there are other options, Corsair, CoolerMaster, Antec...

Quote:
Any thoughts on SSD for system drive? My project drive is a sata raid and i'm very happy with their performance and my sample librarys are sata raid also...
If you have the money, go with the SSD, it makes a HUGE difference.
Your system will boot and respond extremely quickly. Is it necessary? No, there are some teaks you can do to W7 to make it incredibly responsive. I believe there's a thread in gearslutz for tweaking OS's for performance and the info is widely available online too. Personally, I'd recommend you buy a SATA drive, and use the extra money to buy another or 2 SATA drive for backup, and maybe even some RAM (trust me, for the price of an SSD, you should still have money left back).

Quote:
One last question, for those using the i7 cpu's, are u happy with the stock cooling or did u upgrade?
I don't use an i7, but all CPUs perform within their recommended temp levels once you've installed them and their heatsink/fan combos correctly. The only time you should worry about heat is if you plan on overclocking. If you are going to overclock, buy an aftermarket cooler, or opt for water cooling. When it comes to temp control, a well thought out housing is critical. The Cooler Master has a nice series of cases call the HAF (High Air Flow) cases (HAF922, 932 and others) that really provides additional cooling with the large 200mm fans. Larger fans move more air at lower speeds, so they're typically very quiet, and noise level is important in the auido feel. You don't wanna be recording and picking up mechanical rumble, unless your machinery is kept away from your recording room.

I'll also add, with the money you can save from buying a SATA drive instead of the SSD, invest it into getting a proper UPS and power conditioner. Think expandability too...large cases and quality high wattage power supplies. Large cases are easy to work in and can easily accomodate for large expansions (graphics cards, HDDs, optical drives, EATX mobos, etc.) While the more watts you have on you psu, the more components you can add later without the worry of having to purchase a new psu to acoomodate them. If you're overclocking too, the additional watts will come in handy. DO NOT skimp on a quality psu!

Quote:
Thanks for all the advise and help...

regards
hally
Your welcome!
Old 6th September 2011
  #9
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by hally View Post
can somebody recommend a Seasonic PSU that they have uded with i7 cpu and are happy with?
:::Seasonic:::Sea Sonic Launches the X-Series Fanless

Fanless, you'll have to check your power requirements though?
Old 6th September 2011
  #10
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by VenVile View Post
First and foremost, I've been a certified professional PC tech before I started to take music seriously, so I'm speaking from both perspectives for your needs.
what exactly is a certified professional PC tech? an Aplus cert? please..
and how if at all can that possibly apply to pro audio/video..

Quote:

Personally, I'd always recommend AMD over Intel, because of their bang for buck alone. When comparing both their respective ends(mid, low, high), yes, Intel is generally more powerful, but for their price, it's not that wide a gap, and you'd probably never draw the max output of power from both AMD's and Intel's high-end processors, unless you're doing heavy video editing with post-processing effects or 3D work (things of that nature). However, it is your money, so spend it as you see fit.
this may have been a true a few yrs ago but it no longer applies and has not for awhile.

with all other components being the same price it comes down to the cost of the processor.
for every AMD processor you can name budget wise i can name an Intel at the same price point thats more powerful.
Bulldozer may change that..
Quote:






I'll also add, with the money you can save from buying a SATA drive instead of the SSD, invest it into getting a proper UPS and power conditioner. Think expandability too...large cases and quality high wattage power supplies. Large cases are easy to work in and can easily accomodate for large expansions (graphics cards, HDDs, optical drives, EATX mobos, etc.) While the more watts you have on you psu, the more components you can add later without the worry of having to purchase a new psu to acoomodate them. If you're overclocking too, the additional watts will come in handy. DO NOT skimp on a quality psu!
plus 1 on the UPS and good power supply.


Scott
ADK
Old 24th September 2011
  #11
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jcschild View Post
what exactly is a certified professional PC tech? an Aplus cert? please..
and how if at all can that possibly apply to pro audio/video...
Yes, certified as in A+ certification. Professional as in, I do it for a living. How does it apply? I do both production and I.T...so I know both sides of the field. Because of my understanding of the PC, I'm confident in what I'm saying and why I'm recommending it. Dunno what's hard to get in that.


Quote:
this may have been a true a few yrs ago but it no longer applies and has not for awhile.

with all other components being the same price it comes down to the cost of the processor.
for every AMD processor you can name budget wise i can name an Intel at the same price point thats more powerful.
Bulldozer may change that..
This may be true, but I'm speaking solely within their range of processors. And when you say "powerful" what exactly do you mean? In what sense? Is it that the Intel has more Lvl 3 Cache? Is it that the Intel can transfer data faster, speeding up rendering times? Rendering times for what? Audio, video? Powerful meaning faster clock speeds? More overclock headroom?
Old 24th September 2011
  #12
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by hally View Post
Do i need to reconsider my choice of cpu for the i7?

Is there a huge difference when using an SSD as the system drive as opposed to a standard sata or even a sata raid array?
1. Consider that the i7 2600k is only $90 more expensive than the i5 2500k. To me, it's a no brainer...

2. A 7200 rpm drive with a 64 mb SDRAM cache buffer and SATA 3 (your new mobo will support it) will do just fine. SSD will only allow you to load samples a little faster, but then again, your SSD storage is VERY limited and awfully expensive...
Old 25th September 2011
  #13
Lives for gear
Wait until the i7-3960x - out soon. 6-core and is basically the Sandy Bridge (called Sandy Bridge E) version of the older i7-990x. I'm personally holding out for that.
Old 25th September 2011
  #14
i7-3820 i7-3930k i7-3960X
Price $294heh $583 $999
Cores/Threads 4/8 6/12 6/12
Frequency 3.6GHz 3.2GHz 3.3GHz
Max Turbo 3.9GHz 3.8GHz 3.9GHzheh
L3 Cache 10MB 12MB 15MB
Unlocked Multiplier No Yes Yes
Old 25th September 2011
  #15
Lives for gear
 
Retrofreak's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tom_lowe View Post
Wait until the i7-3960x - out soon. 6-core and is basically the Sandy Bridge (called Sandy Bridge E) version of the older i7-990x. I'm personally holding out for that.
Co-sign.
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