So it's been some time since my Audio Rig was built, and over the past few days, I've created a new animal. The machine was built for several big reasons:
Adobe Premiere Pro CS6
Adobe Photoshop CS6
Avid Pro Tools 10
Other applications used are: Reaper x64, Adobe Audition CS6 and Adobe Encore CS6.
The machine is used for this because I'm a TV/Digital Media Major, and have very demanding projects which are shot/edited/produced in high definition. Because I don't live on campus, I can't use the editing labs and hardware, so I own most of the gear I need for getting work done, building this computer put the finishing touches on this, and allow me to work from home completely.
The build is as follows (future planned changes will be noted):
2x Intel Xeon E5-2620
2x Xigmatek SD1283 Dark Knight
NZXT Source 210 Elite
Kingston 32gb ECC Registered DDR3
LG WH14NS40 BluRay Burner
Startech PEXUSB3S2E2I USB3.0 PCI-e x1
SIIG NN-E38012-S3 Firewire 400/800 PCI-e x1
Western Digital Velociraptor 250GB HHTZ model
Gigabyte GTX660Ti 2gb
1200RPM PWM Scythe Slip Stream (Rear exhaust)
2x Noiseblocker NB-eLoop B12-PS (CPU fans)
Phanteks 140mm White (Top exhaust)
Windows 8 Pro with Media Center
The build was challenging in more ways than one. I did not want a massive case, I did not want something flashy or ugly, and I wanted something as small as I could get it. I most certainly did just that.
For people familiar with the overall gear, the SD1283 is 159mm tall and 50mm wide. The Asus Z9PA has LGA2011 sockets which have a mounting hole size of 80mm. This meant that I had to make sure I chose heatsinks which were shallow enough to fit a fan on each one, as I expect the heat output to require a significant amount of cooling. I chose the fans I did for the smaller hub, quiet operation, and the looks. Despite not having a side window (wouldn't fit anyway) I wanted the inside to look good. The case just fits the SD1283 heatsinks. The available height for coolers is probably 160mm total from the socket mount to the inside edge of the side panel. The biggest issue that I found when doing the install was with the 10" wide motherboard. It extended over a raised part of the motherboard tray which I did not trust. I placed a strip of thick gaffers tape over that area to add an insulating layer to prevent any shorts from the components and/or component leads sticking through the board. The machine booted right up once I pushed the power button the first time, so I must be doing something right.
Cable routing in this case proved to be easier than I expected. Behind the motherboard tray is more than adequate space for hiding cables. The Antec HCG is not a modular power supply, and the cables are long, and worst of all, bundled terribly. The ATX power cable is quite large, and difficult to squeeze places, the 6 pin PCI-e connectors are extremely stiff. There are a large number of cables in general that I didn't need, and had this been even a partially modular power supply, it would have been easier to work with. While I do not want to switch out the power supply having routed the cables, the idea of switching to my Antec True Power New 750 is tempting.
Mounting the fans proved to be somewhat complicated, I used the soft mount system from the Noiseblockers on the two case fans I left in, however since I only decided to do this once I was nearly done with the build, there wasn't much space to work with. That aside, while I'd rather use normal soft mounts, this bolt through kit seems to do the job fine. I do have a nexus soft-mounting kit for fans, so I do think I'll be changing to that soon, I simply didn't have it available while I was doing the build.
The configuration is definitely not set in stone however. The upper 140mm fan is the loudest of the bunch, and though it's quieter than most fans, I can hear it when the room is quiet, and I don't like that. I have sealed off several of the side, bottom and upper vents to promote front to back airflow, I would definitely say this machine could be quieter at idle. I'm tempted to remove the upper 140mm fan and block off the vent. I also have plans to change the PCI slot covers from the vented ones I have installed (different from stock) to solid ones.
Changing the HR-05 to an HR-05 IFX will allow for a dual slot GPU, or at least a better cooler to be installed, which is a must. I had planned on using my GTX260, as it was moderately quiet for normal use, but I didn't realize how little clearance I was dealing with until I could fit everything together. There is more space between the Xigmatek coolers than I had accounted for, so that's great news.
Some of the more nitty gritty on component choices:
I had gone to none other than pm.stacker to ask about his opinion on parts, and to say he knows dual socket boards is an understatement. Although he did point me towards the Asus Z9PA-D8C
, no vendors had it in stock or could ship it to me in any reasonable amount of time. Considering a week from now I will have already started classes, I needed to get the machine running to work out the kinks. I'm already bumping into some software problems, but I'm working through just about all of them. The USB3.0 card was chosen for the front panel header it had. Since the Asus motherboard only has two rear USB3.0 ports, and no headers for it, I wanted to connect the front panel USB3.0 to a USB3.0 controller. If it's there, I want to be able to use it (if I need it of course). The front panel audio is the exception, as I don't need it. I have a ProFire 2626, and it sits just inches away from my keyboard, so I don't need to reach under the desk for audio plugs, my main audio outs are all on the ProFire front panel. The Firewire card worked OOTB, as did the USB3.0 card. I didn't even put the driver CDs in, it just worked right away. I'll bet testing transfer speeds soon to make sure it works as I need it to.
The case ended up being spectacular. For a $49.99 case, that's not common. To put everything on the table, I love the matte finish of the case, however it does scratch and chip easily. Taking out screws that held in the PCI slot covers showed me that, as did taking off the side panel thumbscrews for the first time. I've covered that up with a simple paper washer, but knowing that other NZXT cases ship with rubber washers on the thumbscrews (NZXT Phantom, among others), I was disappointed to see this didn't. That aside, the power button doesn't make any clicking noise, it's just a very soft touch and the machine fires up. Same with the reset button. For users who have this case around things that move, or in plain sight where it can get bumped, this can been a problem, but I love it. The dim power LED and HDD LED is absolutely wonderful. I also really love the diagonals on the front panel. While it's priced much lower than other cases, aside from the finish, it is designed well and I feel it competes with many other ATX cases. The cable routing possibilities were perfect for what I needed, and allowed me to set everything up very easily. I only extended one power adapter for the USB3.0 and FW cards, so that I could run the wire out of obvious sight. My only beef with this case is that the two USB ports on the front panel use two separate cables. The USB2.0 port could easily run with the USB3.0 cable, rather than going separately, but it is what it is. Maybe eventually I'll take off the front panel and see if I can do that mod myself. The case grills are a little tight, and I have every intention of cutting out the back fan grill, I have a wire fan grill that I bought with the fans just for that purpose as well, I just need to make sure everything works well, then i'll put it under the knife a little more.
I have already added the 640gb from my previous build, as it holds my main data, and I will be adding a second internal 640gb drive just for school work. The reason for this is because I do not have a working Apple HFS+ read/write driver anymore. In my previous build it installed with Pro Tools, and I was able to work off the external hard drive I used with my MacBook Pro, however with this latest build, the software does not install correctly, and I am only left with the Apple Boot Camp Read Only HFS+ driver for Windows. While I'm sure many will criticize my early adoption of Windows 8 in this build, I feel that it works well enough for what I need to do. Nearly all of my essential software is working correctly, minus only Paragon Partition Manager which I use for work, however I have yet to try installing a different Paragon application we purchased several months ago. Adobe CS6 Student license installed without a single problem, so I have no reason to doubt how well Windows 8 will work for me. Many thanks to the Microsoft support rep who also helped me get it activated on this machine, I'll just leave it at that
Larger sizes and more images (and more to be added over the next few days): http://www.flickr.com/photos/29430563@N ... 543083374/