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 Post subject: Silent PC for voice recording/editing. Looking for feedback!
PostPosted: Sun Jul 04, 2010 9:36 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jul 04, 2010 8:05 pm
Posts: 10
Location: Melbourne, Australia
First of all, thank you SO MUCH for the combined wisdom of this site. I've been spending the last few days going through reviews on the site to put together a list of components, and the information here is INVALUABLE. Definitely going to donate once I finalise my rig.

Brass tacks:

Purpose
I'm looking to put together a PC for recording and editing voice over using REAPER at home. Tired of having to move my laptop (with its windblower of a fan) into another room.

I've read most of the recent posts around putting together a DAW, but I suspect my requirements aren't as heavyweight.

My key priorities, in order, are:

    Silent
    Energy-efficient (will be keeping it on 24/7)
    Powerful enough to deal with audio that typically involves 1 stereo track and a minimal processing chain

It'd be nice if it has enough grunt to play mid-range games, but definitely not a selection criteria.

Here's what I've come up with. It's a combination of ideal components and some sacrifices based on what's available to buy in Australia.

Build
    Antec SOLO case
    Antec 650W Signature power supply (I know this is a bit of overkill)
    ASUS M4A88TD-V EVO mobo
    Athlon II X4 635 CPU
    Mach XTreme 2x4G DDR3 1333Hz
    Intel 2.5" 80G SSD (for OS)
    WD Caviar Green WD15EARS 1.5TB drive
    Pioneer DVR-118LBK


I've read a lot around the common wisdom of going with an Intel i5 or i7 for audio production, but I'm not convinced yet that I'd be taxing the system enough with just voice recording to warrant that.

I couldn't find comparison on thermal/power characteristics for the RAM, so I've gone on price. Also, the Pioneer DVD burner was pretty much picked out of the air.

Thanks for taking the time to read. Would love feedback on anything I've done wrong here, or other options I should be considering.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 04, 2010 10:13 pm 
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Location: Melbourne, Australia
I didn't see an aftermarket CPU heatsink listed there.

Have a look at the Coolermaster Hyper 212+, ZEROtherm Zen FZ120 or Scythe Mugen 2 - all of which should be available from pccasegear.com. High end options would be the Noctua NH-U12P or Prolimatech Megahalems + AM2/3 mounting kit.

I didn't see a graphics card included either, so gaming is probably out unless you add a discrete graphics card. The extra heat (and GPU card fan, unless you get a passive card) will need more fans to cool your system.

At that price for a PSU, you should consider the Seasonic X650 Gold PSU (semi passive, fan is off at at <300W, which your system will not top) or the lower wattage fanless models hopefully coming soon. For a cheaper PSU, I recall reading good things about the Seasonic S12II 520W PSU from other users here at SPCR.

You should get some aftermarket fans. Consider 2 x Nexus 120mm fans (pccasegear.com again) - one for replacement of your CPU cooler fan if you go for the 212+ or the Zen and one to replace your rear case fan on the Solo.

You shouldn't need any front intake fans with that setup.

Be sure to use the included HDD suspension straps for your HDD and cut out the rear fan grill to reduce noise further.

Finally, if you do nevertheless go for the Signature 650, duct it to the front of your case as shown in this article.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jul 04, 2010 10:43 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jul 04, 2010 8:05 pm
Posts: 10
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Thanks for the quick response, Jamie!

I'll definitely look at the CPU heatsinks you've mentioned there. And thanks for calling out the Seasonic S12II.

I'd seen the name coming up in reviews as well, but a specific model is super-helpful. I'll check that out, along with the fans. The SOLO review thread has some great tips around airflow, so I'll refresh my memory with that, along with the models you've listed.

Also, I haven't included a graphics card because the ASUS motherboard has an onboard ATI Radeon 4250, which seems adequate for lower-end gaming.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jul 05, 2010 8:07 am 
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The 880G should be a good fit for your application. I wouldn't express much hope for gaming, though. The good news is that it supports AMD's Hybrid Crossfire. So, you could put a passive lower end HD5xxx card in there and get a boost. The Northbridge heatsink height/position might influence your choice in CPU coolers. Hard to tell from the pictures.

Here's Anandtech's review of the 635 to compare it against i5-750, etc.

Your system power will be in the area of 80-90W idle and 130-140W load. You could drop down to a Nexus Value 430 and it would be silent.

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 Post subject: Re: Silent PC for voice recording/editing. Looking for feedb
PostPosted: Mon Jul 05, 2010 10:05 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 03, 2004 8:52 pm
Posts: 532
kevinpowe wrote:
    Silent
    Energy-efficient (will be keeping it on 24/7)
    Powerful enough to deal with audio that typically involves 1 stereo track and a minimal processing chain

Easy. The lowest-end system won't have problems, but I'd still get a decent system in case you want to do other things with it.
Quote:
It'd be nice if it has enough grunt to play mid-range games, but definitely not a selection criteria.

Here's what I've come up with. It's a combination of ideal components and some sacrifices based on what's available to buy in Australia.

Build
    Antec SOLO case
    Antec 650W Signature power supply (I know this is a bit of overkill)
    ASUS M4A88TD-V EVO mobo
    Athlon II X4 635 CPU
    Mach XTreme 2x4G DDR3 1333Hz
    Intel 2.5" 80G SSD (for OS)
    WD Caviar Green WD15EARS 1.5TB drive
    Pioneer DVR-118LBK

I've read a lot around the common wisdom of going with an Intel i5 or i7 for audio production, but I'm not convinced yet that I'd be taxing the system enough with just voice recording to warrant that.

I would get a Clarkdale Core i3 for a good system that has very low power. Try an external brick PSU and picopsu. You should be able to get <35W idle no problem especially with a mini-itx Intel board.
SSD+HDD choice is good.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jul 05, 2010 3:18 pm 
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Posts: 822
Location: Melbourne, Australia
CA_Steve wrote:
Your system power will be in the area of 80-90W idle and 130-140W load. You could drop down to a Nexus Value 430 and it would be silent.

Unfortunately, the Nexus Value 430 isn't available in Australia :(

I've emailed the guys at PCCaseGear (my main source for quiet parts in Australia) and they indicated that it hadn't been certified for Australian electrical safety standards and therefore they couldn't sell it.

An external brick and picoPSU combo doesn't leave much room if the OP wants to later add a discrete graphics card for gaming (even if this isn't the primary use of the system). As seems to be typical here in Australia, the picoPSU + brick combos are pretty expensive - see mini-box.com.au.

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Main PC (E5200, G31, Lian Li Q07) | Gaming PC (E6850, X38, 5870 Vapor-X, P182) | HTPC (4850e, 780G, 3450, NSK2480B)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jul 05, 2010 5:50 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jul 04, 2010 8:05 pm
Posts: 10
Location: Melbourne, Australia
@CA_Steve I'd actually started with the Nexus Value 430 as the power supply of choice, but couldn't find anyone selling it. After JamieG's reply, now I understand why. Bummer!

Thanks for the comparison link, too - that helps to set my expectations around performance. I suspect once a 'must have' game lands, I'll be sourcing a passively cooled or silent GPU, and will start with looking at the HD5xxx range.


@CA_Steve Thanks for the comparison link - interesting figures there.

@croddie I read a review after your suggestion on the Clarkdale that had great things to say about its power consumption. I suspect I'm going to have to bite the bullet and put together an alternative build based on Intel as well, just so I've got options.

Building around the Clarkdale, can you think of a motherboard that would leave me headroom for a passive graphics card in future, but has good cooling/power characteristics?


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 Post subject: going down the right path
PostPosted: Mon Jul 19, 2010 5:17 am 
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Joined: Mon May 24, 2010 11:21 am
Posts: 38
Location: Atlanta
You're making progress.
Having done quite a bit of audio production on an AMD 64 X2 system, I would always recommend dual-core or better.

You don't mention what kind of audio production.
For post-production kinds of things using, for example, Audacity, you can get by with 2 cores. If you want to do any heavy-duty audio production using Ableton or other multi-channel mixer, you can and should utilize many cores.

I like the WD EARS drives a lot, very quiet, and fast enough for me, just make sure you align the partitions on 4K boundaries, and turn off the hard parking "feature".

-joe

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 Post subject: Re: going down the right path
PostPosted: Mon Jul 19, 2010 1:08 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jul 27, 2008 10:39 am
Posts: 455
Location: England
joetekubi wrote:
You're making progress.

I like the WD EARS drives a lot, very quiet, and fast enough for me, just make sure you align the partitions on 4K boundaries, and turn off the hard parking "feature".

-joe

Sorry to butt in on your thread but some questions re the WD EARS-
What is this hard parking "feature"?
Is it detrimental to the drive to have it on - I assume it's on by default?
How do you do turn it off?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jul 19, 2010 2:07 pm 
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You know, there's still no indication that high head park count causes anything more than high head park count. iirc, no one in the long history of that thread has actually reported both high head park count and drive failure. Or shown any evidence of one leading to the other. What if your car parking brake had counter... and it read 528,399 after 10 years? Digital SLRs have shutter actuation counters too... How about the number of times your knees lock in a standing position? I dunno, methinks the whole thing is so blown out of proportion by folks w/ too much time on their hands. :lol:

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jul 19, 2010 5:30 pm 
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Joined: Thu Oct 06, 2005 4:36 am
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Location: Monterey Bay, CA
I'm waiting for my knee counter to roll over to zero.

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 Post subject: WD head park
PostPosted: Tue Jul 20, 2010 4:37 am 
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Joined: Mon May 24, 2010 11:21 am
Posts: 38
Location: Atlanta
MikeC wrote:
You know, there's still no indication that high head park count causes anything more than high head park count. iirc, no one in the long history of that thread has actually reported both high head park count and drive failure. Or shown any evidence of one leading to the other. What if your car parking brake had counter... and it read 528,399 after 10 years? Digital SLRs have shutter actuation counters too... How about the number of times your knees lock in a standing position? I dunno, methinks the whole thing is so blown out of proportion by folks w/ too much time on their hands. :lol:


I agree, after many google searches, I only saw one or two reports of head park contributing to hard drive failure, and those were older models, not the new "green" drives.

OTOH, my drives are noticeably quieter without the constant parking/unparking, which caused a constant "thump" on my box.

I definitely don't have too much time on my hands, it's a desire over many years to setup a machine right, so I don't have to worry about it.
That's why I never overclock, like cool temps, and always use a UPS.
Since WD rates these drives for 300K park cycles, they must have some reason why they don't rate them for 1.2M park cycles.

And, totally off topic, doctors and physical therapists point out that our tendency to lock our knees while we stand produces many physical problems.
http://www.fitsugar.com/Fit-Tip-Dont-Lock-Your-Knees-916169

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"What's your identity?"

Cibo Matto "Know your chicken"

Intel i7 930, MSI X58 PRO-E mb, Zalman CNPS 10x Quiet, 2x WD EARS 1.5 TB (raid 1 of course), 12GB tri-channel Patriot ram, Sparkle NVidia 9500GT fanless, Silverstone ST50F-ES 500W, Xubuntu Lucid 10.4


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 8:32 am 
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Location: Melbourne, Australia
@joetekubi: Apologies for not having replied to your question earlier.

The audio production that I'm looking to do is basic voice recording (using an M-Audio MobilePre USB and editing. Typically only one track vocal, or vocal + music using REAPER.

Not doing anything terribly flash with the voice, just cleaning up with noise gates & de-essers most of the time.

I'm definitely looking at either dual or quad core - I've read great things about the benefits of multiple cores with audio processing.

Incidentally, I've posted an updated spec in this thread here


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