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Music Production PC Spec Check Audio Interfaces
Old 4th October 2014
Here for the gear

Music Production PC Spec Check

Hi all

A Gearslutz newbie here, although I've been a lurker for a long time and have turned to the forums on a number of occasions for audio advice.

I'm in the process of researching an appropriate spec for a new music production PC as my old one is on its last legs. I've looked extensively into whether I should go PC or Mac, and I've made a decision to continue on a PC for a whole host of reasons although I can assure you I've not taken the decision lightly. So, after a lot of research I've been looking at custom built PCs and have come up with the spec below. However I'm a novice when it comes to the inner workings of a computer so I wondered if anyone could offer a sanity check and any advice on whether the spec is appropriate for what I intend to use it for.

I'm currently using Ableton Live 8 (although I plan to upgrade to Suite 9 as part of the process) for music production plus stuff like Ozone 5, Melodyne, Sylenth and various NI instruments. Hardware-wise I do stuff mostly in the box, but I run various Akai controllers, a couple of hardware synths and a couple of effects pedals, and a Focusrite Scarlett 8i6 as the audio interface plus a Samson Control C and some other minor peripherals. Other software that I'll be using is Camtasia for some video editing, and Serato and iTunes.

The spec is:

Processor (CPU): Intel® Core™i7 Six Core Processor i7-5930K (3.5GHz) 15MB Cache
Motherboard: ASUS® X99 DELUXE: ATX, HSW-E CPU, USB 3.0, SATA 6 GB/s
Graphics Card: 2GB AMD RADEON™ R9 270X - DVI, HDMI, DP - DX® 11, Eyefinity 4 Capable
1st Hard Disk (system): 500GB Samsung 840 EVO SSD, SATA 6Gb/s (upto 540MB/sR | 520MB/sW)
2nd Hard Disk (projects): 2TB 3.5" SATA-III 6GB/s HDD 7200RPM 64MB CACHE
3rd Hard Disk (samples): 2TB 3.5" SATA-III 6GB/s HDD 7200RPM 64MB CACHE
4th Hard Disk: 2TB 3.5" SATA-III 6GB/s HDD 7200RPM 64MB CACHE
Processor Cooling: Corsair H60 Hydro Series High Performance CPU Cooler
Wireless/Wired Networking: WIRELESS 802.11N 300Mbps PCI-E CARD
USB Options: MIN. 2 x USB 3.0 & 6 x USB 2.0 PORTS @ BACK PANEL + MIN. 2 FRONT PORTS
Operating System: Windows 8.1 64 Bit
1st Monitor: AOC 21.5" WIDESCREEN LED TFT - 1920 x 1080, 5MS, D-Sub, DVI-D
2nd Monitor: AOC 21.5" WIDESCREEN LED TFT - 1920 x 1080, 5MS, D-Sub, DVI-D

The one thing I am completely bamboozled with is the cooling unit, so any advise on that in particular would be gratefully received.

As I'm obviously spending a fair bit on this machine I need it to last me a long time and be upgradeable, as well as being fast (for both audio and video production) and free of RAM and space issues. My current PC drives me mad as the CPU maxes out too easily when doing music production, and video editing is just impossible. Also, while I don't intend to have the machine connected to the internet day to day I've added the networking option because I will need to update the software from time to time, and also I have my main iTunes folder on an external drive on my home network, so I need to get access to it.

I hope that all makes sense and I've provided enough info. If anyone has some wise words on whether the above spec looks sound I'd appreciate it.

Thanks in advance
Old 4th October 2014
Gear Maniac
Gbar's Avatar

What type of music are you hoping to create on this thing?

You have a 2TB drive for samples, so what kind of libraries are we talking about here? It makes a difference.

For example, if you plan on doing orchestral mockups... then I'd say 2TB is cutting it close on storage, and I'd say that 4GB dimms is silly (get 8GB dimms--I would do that anyway as it gives you room to expand to 64GB pretty easily if you decide to become the next Hans Zimmer or something).

There are 4 channels on those boards, and 16GB DIMMs are nowhere to be found, so 4 x 8GB makes the most sense if you ask me.

I prefer the ASRock extreme6 X99 and would probably go for that MB, but... that's probably not a huge deal (whereas RAM DIMM size and storage may be a big deal).

I guess you got a 500GB SSD for a fast boot. In reality, you won't boot often or load new programs often, so that's nice, but??? If consumer SSDs were bigger than the commonly available 1TB SSDs, I'd say use those for sample storage as it makes loading projects or large track templates much, much faster (which is likely to dwarf your boot time if you do start doing some heavy stuff), and unlike your boot drive, there is no writing to sample storage other than when you first put new samples on there, so the drives last longer because they are used primarily for read-only. As things stand, conventional drives are probably the way to go if your library is huge, but ... if you're like me, you're waiting for 2-3TB SSDs to hit the consumer market at reasonable prices so you can get your crap off those slow drives

As for cooling, something that fits in your case that doesn't make a lot of noise. The standard thing to say is "Noctua ...", but other brands of fans will work, and whatever cooler you get, it's best if you keep airflow paths in mind. I'd definitely get a good aftermarket heatsink/fan, but... there is some wiggle room.
Old 4th October 2014
Gear Head

Heya...spent the last few weeks upgrading my 2 systems and have been looking into this too...i did an install using a samsung evo ssd as my os drive but quickly changed it for my cache drive..(i do video too) for the same reasons mentioned in the last post...i setup a 4 drive system with a 2drive raid0 for my work drive (5drives total) and want to gradually change all drives for ssd's as the thruput is greatly increased and its not really that expensive,less power,less heat and i think these days safer than disk drives..then use my disk drives as backup..( i have 25 drives currently)....i already had good cooling so no advice there... Your gonna enjoy it tho..mine handles whatever i throw at it,...i would also agree to get 8gb ram sticks so you can upgrade later..if you do any fx with video youll be thankful...and i think the c drive should be at least 256 gb..120 isnt enough..fine for cache tho...
Old 4th October 2014
Here for the gear

Hi Gbar, and thanks for the info! I'm primarily a dance and pop music producer so the bulk of the work I'll be doing on it will be dance/pop tracks and remixes. I do have a lot of samples though, probably close to 1TB and growing, plus I do use a lot of strings (usually through NI Session Strings). Upping the TB on the sample drive is probably a good call.

Thanks for the tip on the dimms - I didn't appreciate the difference until you pointed it out. You hit the nail on the head with the SSDs! My plan was to upgrade to larger SSDs as soon as they become available at a much more sensible price. I picked the 7200RPM drives in the meantime as my research seemed to indicate that they would be the best option while I'm waiting for that to happen. I'll have a look into the airflow paths stuff that you mentioned and the heatsink/fan, and I'll also look into the ASRock too.

Thanks for taking the time to post and share your knowledge, I really appreciate it.
Old 4th October 2014
Gear Head

If you are going to use disk drives my own research kept coming back to western digital black drives for best reliability..
havnt tried them myself tho..and ive never had a hard drive fail...dropped a few over the years tho..B-)
Old 4th October 2014
Here for the gear

Thanks smartfreq, that all makes perfect sense! I'm definitely going to revisit the drives to make sure I get the right sticks and configuration.

I'm trying not to get too excited just yet about having a new system to play with, otherwise I'll end up ditching the careful research and making a rash purchase.... and I've made soooo many of those in the past...!

Thanks for helping me out, I really appreciate it.
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