My Proposed Build for a DAW and Office Machine

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My Proposed Build for a DAW and Office Machine

Postposted on Sun Aug 12, 2012 10:39 pm

Current Proposed System:

CPU:
Intel Six-Core i7-3930K $570

Motherboard:
Asus P9X79 WS $379
Two Reasons:
1. Lots of PCIe Slots and I won't lose one if the main graphic card is not bigger than a double-slot.
2. It's an Asus and I have had nothing but good experiences with Asus motherboards and graphic cards.

Memory:
CORSAIR Vengeance 16GB (2 x 8GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1866 64 GB of these will cost me $380
I am not very knowledgable about memory, but I have had good experiences with Corsair and OCZ.

Graphic Card:
Currently I am debating between two cards. I've had good experiences with both Nvidia and ATI. I think I'm leaning toward the Geforce at this time.

Geforce GTX 690 - Air or Water $1,000 to $1200

ATI HD7970 - There are many good options here.

New Monitors:
I have made no choices yet, but I have decided to slowly swap out my current panels for IPS screens. My first choice should have displayport.

Hard Drive:
Mostly I will recycle my existing hard drives here; I currently have SSDs, 1.5 TB, and 2TB options already.

Case:
I plan to recycle my existing HAF 932

Cooling:
No choices made yet, except that I like quiet computers, so I plan to use water for the CPU at a minimum. Ideally, I would like to build a custom dual-loop system for CPU and GPU. I have no experience with building a water loop, but I have tools, enthusiasm, common sense, and a GFCI circuit... :o :D

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------------- Original First Post Follows Here -----------
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Hello:

I currently use a Q6600 Quad Core machine, but I have finally run out of PCIe slots on it, it has no usable eSATA, and only has four internal SATA headers. It's time to upgrade.

Let's talk about Motherboard, CPU and RAM first.

I've decided to go for an LGA2011 board and a Sandy Bridge E processor. Not because I think it'll run Cubase any better than a Sandy or Ivy Bridge system would. It's just because I'm a geek and I want to install a 6-core processor. Or a 4-core processor today and an 8-core processor next year when Ivy Bridge E becomes available. I just want the option, so accuse me of epeen or sue me if you must; I really don't care. :P

Here's what I've chosen:

Intel Core i7-3930K Sandy Bridge-E 6-core $570
ASUS P9X79 DELUXE $369

Opinions thus far?

Next, I need help choosing memory and graphic card. I just haven't had a lot of time to study them, but I think I know what I want.

I want 64 GB of RAM; reasonably fast. Mostly for loading the big orchestral libraries in Cubase, Sonar, and other VST hosts. I see Newegg has prices ranging from $350 upwards to $929. I'd like to keep the memory cost around $350-$400 if possible.

I only need one graphic card, no crossfire, SLI, or anything like that is needed. But the graphic card should be able to support 3 monitors minimum, more is better. I hate the Displayport protocol because it limits my monitor choices. Furthermore, I think active dongles are like wall-warts, so I'd like to avoid them. I'm willing to spend around $300+ on a good graphic card that does all this. I don't really care if it's Nvidia or ATI; I've used both and have had good results.

Mostly I want to do some development (SQL Server, light coding), art, website design, and 3D graphics. I'll watch some media and do some composition and recording with Cubase, Sonar, and maybe do some content creation with Linux.

But let's face it, the system I've detailed above is already overkill for my needs. I realize that nothing that I'm doing on a day-to-day basis will push this machine significantly while my Q6600 is still mostly fine, even for the Cubase work. It's just time to upgrade and I'd like to do it right.

By the way, I don't game much unless you count Civilization V or SimCity 4. Neither is strenuous on a processor or graphic subsystem except maybe in late-game stages. I might play a shooter game someday, but I don't know...I'd have to be pretty bored to take that step, LOL. :P

So let's talk about the CPU, Motherboard, and Graphics before we move on to other things.

What do you think about my choices and do you have any suggestions for memory and/or graphic cards?

As always, thanks in advance!
Last edited by BIF on Sat Oct 06, 2012 9:12 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: My Proposed Build for a DAW and Office Machine

Postposted on Sun Aug 12, 2012 11:09 pm

BIF wrote:Opinions thus far?
LGA2011 is going to be more expensive than LGA1155. You can save $20 on the processor with promo code "EMCNBJN26" or you can buy the processor and motherboard together to save $35.


BIF wrote:I need help choosing memory. I want 64 GB of RAM; reasonably fast. I see Newegg has prices ranging from $350 upwards to $929. I'd like to keep the memory cost around $350-$400 if possible.
It looks like about $520 for 8x8 GiB of PC3-14900 (DDR3-1866, CAS 9, 1.5 V) memory. It'd be $440 if you went with the PC3-12800 kit that I used in my last build or $320 if you went with some PC3-10600 (DDR3-1333).


BIF wrote:The graphics card should be able to support 3 monitors minimum, more is better.
I haven't seen any current-generation AMD graphics cards that support fewer than three monitors. You'll get one dual-link DVI, one HDMI/single-link DVI and two or three Mini-DisplayPort outputs on most of them. Note that monitors 3, 4 and up must use DisplayPort.

BIF wrote:I hate the DisplayPort protocol because it limits my monitor choices.
You've got that backwards. You should hate the monitors that don't support the current standard. Fortunately, the best monitors will include DisplayPort inputs. MiniDisplayPort-to-DVI active adapters are easy to find if you really need to connect an older monitor that lacks DisplayPort input. These two support single-link DVI: StarTech MDP2DVIS or Sapphire 100925. Single-Link DVI is good for up to 1920x1200 @60 Hz.

Which three monitors are you considering? If you're looking to go with three portrait mode UltraSharp U3011's or ZR30w's, you're good with a simple cable. If you're looking at the cheaper 30" or 27" Korean monitors without DisplayPort inputs, you'll need a dual-link DVI active adapter: StarTech MDP2DVID or Accell B087B-003J.
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Re: My Proposed Build for a DAW and Office Machine

Postposted on Mon Aug 13, 2012 1:03 am

JAE, I can always rely on you to make some great observations. Thank you for that.

* I am aware of the extra cost of the LGA 2011. So far, I'm willing to accept it.
* It looks like I may need to adjust my budget for the memory. Thank you.
* I did not know that the best monitors have displayport. I just never realized it; my ignorance. Thank you again.

I'm quite sure I don't have room for three 30" monitors on my main desktop. Well, there IS room, but the speakers on my DAW can't be too far to the sides and I'm not sure I should try raising them up higher. I've been thinking of three 27" or 24" IPS panels, with a future fourth one off to the side where my music keyboards reside. I have not yet considered the cost of the monitors, because I don't plan to buy them this year. Currently I have three unlike monitors that are working okay, although none of them are IPS panels.
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Re: My Proposed Build for a DAW and Office Machine

Postposted on Mon Aug 13, 2012 4:47 am

It doesn't appear that your applications are very graphics intensive. A Radeon HD7870 2GB for $270 -20MIR should be more than sufficient. A GeForce GTX670 2GB for $399 -25MIR would be overkill. If your gaming is at 1920x1080 or less, you might even get by with a Radeon HD7770 1GB for $125 -20MIR. I'm not doing enough gaming on my living room PC to have encountered a problem at 1080p on the HD7770.

You can connect your first monitor with DVI. You may need an HDMI to DVI cable for your second monitor and a MiniDisplayPort-to-DVI single-link active adapter for your third one.
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Re: My Proposed Build for a DAW and Office Machine

Postposted on Mon Aug 13, 2012 10:11 am

Here are my current monitor capabilities.

Left, VGA and DVI, - 1600 X 1200
Center, VGA, DVI, and HDMI - 1920 X 1080
Right, VGA and DVI, - 1280 X 1024

Fourth monitor (available but not plugged in right now) - VGA + DVI (1280 X 1024)

Very well passable for now, although as I mentioned in my prior post, I have decided to move to all-IPS. The screen of my iPad (3) has been pampering me, so now I've decided to upgrade my eyes everywhere. :D

Thank you for the graphic card suggestions. This evening when I get home from work, I'll digest all you've said and will also post my proposed SSD and HDD alternatives.
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Re: My Proposed Build for a DAW and Office Machine

Postposted on Mon Aug 13, 2012 10:37 am

If you live close enough to a Micro Center, why not try picking up a pair of these?

http://www.microcenter.com/single_produ ... id=0384780
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Re: My Proposed Build for a DAW and Office Machine

Postposted on Wed Aug 15, 2012 6:43 pm

Unfortunately, I don't. I'm stuck with a Tiger/CompUSA. Although their laptops are somewhat current, they seem to only carry obsolete, backleveled equipment when it comes to components.

I recently bought a Vertex 3 SSD. Dummy me, when I got home I found out Vertex 4 is what's current. Now I need to figure out how badly I got screwed and whether or not I should take this and the Crucial M4 back to the store... :x
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Re: My Proposed Build for a DAW and Office Machine

Postposted on Wed Aug 15, 2012 8:18 pm

Here is a page full of DAW benchmarks, so you can decide if the 2011 socket is right for you:

http://www.adkproaudio.com/benchmarks.cfm

Second chart from the top. It hasn't been updated for Ivy Bridge, but they're a little faster than the Sandy.

Do you plan to add DSP cards (e.g. UAD-2)? Have you picked out your audio interface yet?
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Re: My Proposed Build for a DAW and Office Machine

Postposted on Wed Aug 15, 2012 10:38 pm

I actually built a very similar system recently... with a 3930K and Asus P9X79 WS (for WorkStation) with a 4x8GB Crucial Ballistix Sport 1600MHz CL9 kit. I also built a 3820/MSI X79A-GD45 (8D) system in an open test bench (the processor was free, and I got the MoBo brand new for $102 on the 'Bay). Truth be told, I did actually need the extra cores of the 3930k (which is the first time I've actually been honest when saying that), but the 3820 is not the albatross some made it out to be. The 3820 and MSI mobo idle at just about the same wattage as my Asus Maximus IV Gene Z mATX/i5 2500k system (55w). Load is a different story, but it's like having an Ivy Bridge i7 with 40 PCIe lanes in most respects. Between PCIe SSDs, HBAs, GPUs, Nics, and soundcards, I need lots o' PCIe slots, so X79 was an easy choice for me.

The WS board is a lot like the Deluxe you mentioned, but the deluxe has some more consumer oriented goodies. The WS has stuff like a COM port bracket and 6x PCIe x16 slots (4 are for 4-way SLI/CFX). It's a little more sober than the Deluxe, but it lacks some of the bells and whistles.

There is a 2x8GB G.Skill DDR3 Kit on sale at the Egg today for $64 each... they're only 1333, but you could get 64GB for only $260.
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Re: My Proposed Build for a DAW and Office Machine

Postposted on Thu Aug 16, 2012 3:47 pm

cheerful hamster wrote:Here is a page full of DAW benchmarks, so you can decide if the 2011 socket is right for you:

http://www.adkproaudio.com/benchmarks.cfm

Second chart from the top. It hasn't been updated for Ivy Bridge, but they're a little faster than the Sandy.

Do you plan to add DSP cards (e.g. UAD-2)? Have you picked out your audio interface yet?


Thank you for the reference link, I'll review it later.

Yes, I already have one UAD-2 and may add another one sometime in the next 24 months. No rush on that, but if I add one, it'll probably happen before I do another hardware build...so yes, I'll need a couple of PCIe slots to support UAD2, plus one for the graphic card.

My current audio interface is a Presonus Firestudio Project, which uses Firewire. Eventually, I would like to consider a USB interface or maybe the UAD-2 Apollo with the Thunderbird option. I would like to get away from Firewire, but if my new motherboard uses it, then I can keep using the FSP for the next few years at least.
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Re: My Proposed Build for a DAW and Office Machine

Postposted on Thu Aug 16, 2012 3:53 pm

Compton wrote:I actually built a very similar system recently... with a 3930K and Asus P9X79 WS....


You read my mind while I was reading yours! I did consider the WS, but it is (was) out of stock on Newegg; I thought it was discontinued, so I didn't consider it any further.
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Re: My Proposed Build for a DAW and Office Machine

Postposted on Fri Aug 17, 2012 2:33 pm

BIF wrote:Yes, I already have one UAD-2 and may add another one sometime in the next 24 months. No rush on that, but if I add one, it'll probably happen before I do another hardware build...so yes, I'll need a couple of PCIe slots to support UAD2, plus one for the graphic card.

The UAD have been notoriously finicky about motherboards in the past, that's why I asked. The UAD-2 have much fewer problems, but there are still some boards that are like oil and water. I spotted a user at the UAD forums who has your proposed motherboard and two Quads, so you should be OK.

BIF wrote:maybe the UAD-2 Apollo with the Thunderbird option.

I think you mean Thunderbolt, unless you plan on getting drunk. :wink: The Apollo rocks, I got one for one of the studios where I work (it's Mac only right now as you probably know, and Apple products don't enter my house), we're all waiting for PC drivers and the TB card.
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Re: My Proposed Build for a DAW and Office Machine

Postposted on Sat Aug 18, 2012 9:51 am

BIF wrote:maybe the UAD-2 Apollo with the Thunderbird option.


cheerful hamster wrote: I think you mean Thunderbolt, unless you plan on getting drunk. :wink: The Apollo rocks, I got one for one of the studios where I work (it's Mac only right now as you probably know, and Apple products don't enter my house), we're all waiting for PC drivers and the TB card.


LOL, yeah I meant Thunderbolt. That day my dumb brain had control most of the day, and without any alcohol assistance! :lol: So now I'll be busy until the end of the year undoing all the stupid sht I did and said, some of which surely hasn't even come to light yet. :oops:

My last couple of ASUS motherboards had no trouble with UAD-1, and I recently took advantage of the UAD-2 upgrade because I wanted to eliminate the requirement for a legacy PCI slot in my new build. Due to budget reasons (this new workstation being part of that), I decided to start with a UAD2-Duo. It's still 10 times more powerful than my old UAD, so I should be in good shape for at least several years.

By the way, I'm typing this on Windows 8 RTM. Seems like they fixed a few things from the RP, so now I have OS decisions to make for this new build. Maybe I'll post a thread over in the Windows subforum.
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Re: My Proposed Build for a DAW and Office Machine

Postposted on Sat Aug 18, 2012 10:00 am

cheerful hamster wrote:Here is a page full of DAW benchmarks, so you can decide if the 2011 socket is right for you:

http://www.adkproaudio.com/benchmarks.cfm

Second chart from the top. It hasn't been updated for Ivy Bridge, but they're a little faster than the Sandy.


Okay, I finally had some time to look at the chart as you indicated, and I'm not sure what I'm looking at. First off, I only ramp up my knowledge when I am preparing to build a new system. Between systems, I don't keep track of CPU model numbers or chipsets. So there are holes in my context for that chart and I think that limits my understanding of it.
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Re: My Proposed Build for a DAW and Office Machine

Postposted on Sat Aug 18, 2012 4:16 pm

BIF wrote:Between systems, I don't keep track of CPU model numbers or chipsets.

Your current CPU would be most comparable to the QX6700 on this chart, the slowest one listed. Your proposed 3930 would be most comparable to the 3960. There are overclocked results on the chart, so take that into consideration:

Image

Higher numbers are better. Taken as a rough guide, a 3930 should be about 5x as powerful as your current system. If you need low latency, clock speed is still king. We're lucky because our application is massively parallel, so when you need FX we can use every last bit of any cores present, so the more cores the better too.

The Sandy Bridge-E platform has four memory channels, which is an advantage if you are a heavy sample user, which you appear to be. Unfortunately, I haven't seen any of the those motherboards being Thunderbolt compatible, that feature debuted with Ivy Bridge, and it's looking doubtful that there will ever be a TB PCIe adapter card. The Ivy platform might suit you better if you're looking seriously at the Apollo. It only has two memory channels though. The top end Ivy would be a little faster than the 2600K on the chart, so it's roughly 4x as powerful as your current system if you don't plan to overclock.

If you're looking more for an opinion, I would advise you to get the system you proposed. It will last you the longest without feeling ridiculously old when it comes time to upgrade again. By then, if you're still interested in the Apollo, I would guess there will be more variants of it available (different channel configs, etc) and the stability will be top notch. The current iteration has some routing quirks, and the TB expansion card is now being listed at $499 (yikes!). Any issues will take a bit of time to shake out.
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Re: My Proposed Build for a DAW and Office Machine

Postposted on Sun Aug 19, 2012 12:00 pm

CH, thank you SO MUCH for your comprehensive explanation. This will be very helpful and is much appreciated.

cheerful hamster wrote:...Taken as a rough guide, a 3930 should be about 5x as powerful as your current system. If you need low latency, clock speed is still king. We're lucky because our application is massively parallel, so when you need FX we can use every last bit of any cores present, so the more cores the better too.


Yep!

The Sandy Bridge-E platform has four memory channels, which is an advantage if you are a heavy sample user, which you appear to be. Unfortunately, I haven't seen any of the those motherboards being Thunderbolt compatible, that feature debuted with Ivy Bridge, and it's looking doubtful that there will ever be a TB PCIe adapter card. The Ivy platform might suit you better if you're looking seriously at the Apollo. It only has two memory channels though. The top end Ivy would be a little faster than the 2600K on the chart, so it's roughly 4x as powerful as your current system if you don't plan to overclock.


These rough comparisons were very helpful to give me an idea of the alternatives.

If you're looking more for an opinion, I would advise you to get the system you proposed. It will last you the longest without feeling ridiculously old when it comes time to upgrade again. By then, if you're still interested in the Apollo, I would guess there will be more variants of it available (different channel configs, etc) and the stability will be top notch. The current iteration has some routing quirks, and the TB expansion card is now being listed at $499 (yikes!). Any issues will take a bit of time to shake out.


Yikes is right! Wow, that TB technology must come with a hefty licensing charge, because the hardware can't be all that special. Adding that card would make the Apollo Quad right around $3,100 and very very hard for the common man to justify.

So some background thinking here based on what you've said. First, I agree with your premise about the vagaries of Thunderbolt and how this will all take time with the UAD Apollo. So actually time is on my side here because I'm not facing imminent end-of-life for my current Presonus interface...unless it gets stolen or struck by lightning or something.

As its name implies, my current FireStudio Project is a firewire device. So is the Apollo-sans-Thunderbolt. The P9X79 Deluxe board that I've proposed doesn't have Firewire built-in, so I'd have to add a card to support either the UAD or the Presonus. But the Deluxe board does have USB3, SATA, and eSATA built-in and six PCIe slots, so it's not like I'd be running out of PCIe slots like I am with my current P5KC.

Thinking one step further, the P9X79 WS would be a good alternative since it does have Firewire built-in. The WS also gives up the two 1X PCIe slots in favor of a couple of wider slots. But the WS doesn't have eSATA so it's back to using a card for my external HDD dock. Additionally, the WS has been out of stock for several weeks, at least on Newegg.

-------

One thing is for sure here; I have a few excellent choices. It's just a matter of using my best judgment based on what I think I'll need in the coming year or two. After that, I'll have enough flexibility to add on as new needs/desires reveal themselves.

Again, thank you for taking the time to clear up that chart for me!
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Re: My Proposed Build for a DAW and Office Machine

Postposted on Sun Aug 19, 2012 7:14 pm

Update:

While out today, I found a SATA II PCI card by Vantec (at a CompUSA/Tiger retail store). I didn't like the idea of buying a new card of any type that's only PCI, but I don't have any PCIe slots available and I do have a PCI slot available.

I haven't installed the card yet, but it will allow me to add up to 4 SATA devices, bringing my system's maximum available ports to 8. At this time I plan to configure it for 1 eSATA external device and three SATA internal devices.

So now I can keep the old girl running for a bit longer, I gain flexibility for additional hard drives or SSDs, and I don't have to sacrifice USB3 (which is already present via a PCIe card). I love it when I stumble over a plan... :D
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Re: My Proposed Build for a DAW and Office Machine

Postposted on Sat Oct 06, 2012 9:06 pm

I've been doing my homework. I have updated my first post to reflect my current thinking.

Additionally, I am interested in folding, but I don't want to burn up my new hardware doing it. Some of the choices have been adjusted to accomodate my new interest.
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Re: My Proposed Build for a DAW and Office Machine

Postposted on Fri Nov 09, 2012 10:40 am

So now I am getting ever closer to making my purchases and starting my build. But sometimes proper timing can save money or get me a faster part. Does anybody know if we are on or approaching the cusp of a new CPU release or price cuts? I could easily delay my CPU, motherbard, and memory purchase by up to a month or more.

What I would do instead is buy the hard drive bays, temperature monitor, and new flat-screens first, while waiting for some action on the CPU front.

Thoughts?
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Re: My Proposed Build for a DAW and Office Machine

Postposted on Fri Nov 09, 2012 3:20 pm

Haswell isn't expected until the second quarter next year.
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Re: My Proposed Build for a DAW and Office Machine

Postposted on Fri Nov 09, 2012 11:35 pm

Oops, I should have been more clear.

I'm not really waiting for Haswell, or even for Ivy Bridge-E. I know the time-lines are longer than I want to wait, so my processor of choice is a Sandy Bridge E 6-core CPU.

But I was trying to get a feel of whether or not there might be an interim update to Sandy Bridge E between now and Haswell. Or price cuts.

I don't pay attention to CPU price trends much, but my CPU of choice is currently going for...what, $560? If we're getting close to historically traditional price cuts (soon-to-be-released new Sandy Bridge E, Christmas, end-of-somebody's-fiscal-quarter, or even just because the 12th lands on a Monday this month), then I could either get a price break or maybe hold off a couple weeks to get a bump up to the next CPU.

Every little bit helps. :D
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Re: My Proposed Build for a DAW and Office Machine

Postposted on Wed Nov 14, 2012 10:06 am

Intel must have heard me typing my post above because just a couple of days later, they released a new Sandy Bridge E chip, the Core i7-3970X.

But the price is nearly $1,100 and it appears that no price reductions are immediately forthcoming for anything in this line of CPUs, including the one I have my sights set on, the Core i7-3930K.

So I will probably stick to my existing plan, which for now consists mostly of financial planning and preparing to make some purchases... :roll: :P
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Re: My Proposed Build for a DAW and Office Machine

Postposted on Mon Dec 24, 2012 2:11 pm

Update (was originally posted in one of my other threads by mistake):

Today I placed my order for motherboard, CPU, Memory, cooler, and Windows 8.

Motherboard: Asus P9X79 WS
CPU: Intel 3930 K
Memory: 64 GB Corsair Vengeance
Cooler: Corsair H80i

A bunch of other stuff arrived about a week ago, including a new PSU and UPS, new hot-swap hard drive bays for 3.5" and 2.5" disks, and an HIS 7970X Graphic card.

Merry Christmas to me! :o :D
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Re: My Proposed Build for a DAW and Office Machine

Postposted on Wed Jan 02, 2013 12:02 am

Finally playing around with Mint 14 on my new system. Even before installing Windows 8, LOL! I actually had an unformatted, uninitialized 320 GB hard drive laying around, so I figured what the hell, go for it. :D

So far so good, I've managed to not melt anything. I'll install Windows 8 later this week. But i will say that Mint 14 was easy to install; had none of the confusion that I experienced several months ago when I tried with Mint 12 (I think it was).

None of my hardware is hooked up yet, except for a Keyboard, Mouse, and monitor.

Side-note: MEMTEST needed about 36 hours to make four passes of 64 GB of memory. No errors, and I got caught up on some sleep and video game playing on my laptop while it was running. Hah!
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Re: My Proposed Build for a DAW and Office Machine

Postposted on Wed Jan 30, 2013 5:40 pm

Update:

My replacement fan controller came in and I have confirmed that it's working correctly. Windows 8 and Mint 14 have been stable, although Mint is extremely frustrating to use and configure, so it mostly sits on a shelf for now.

But the Windows side is all set. Backups and defrag trial versions are running smoothly and I'll probably purchase permanent licenses for each. Most of my DAW software is installed and running, with only some smaller/more esoteric items left to install and configure.

I also have some content creation and office software to install but that's simple-simon stuff and I no longer need to have the PC on the bench. All that's left is to do my cable management, make a last decision regarding an add-in PCIe SATA card, and close up the case for permanent installation under my desk.

The SATA question will appear in the STORAGE forum shortly.
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