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Upgrading my PC
http://www.silentpcreview.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=66262
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Author:  JasonApril [ Tue Jun 11, 2013 11:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Upgrading my PC

I'm looking to replace my motherboard, CPU, and RAM. They're six years old and running much too hot. I'd rather not have a jet engine in my home recording studio.

Current system (sans mobo):

* Case: Antec Sonata III w/ stock fan (I also have a Lian Li PC-7 Plus w/ stock fans)
* PSU: Antec EarthWatts EA-500 (and a Mushkin XP-650 in storage)
* Drives: 128GB Crucial RealSSD C300 and two 500GB SATA drives (I want to add a 1TB drive if the budget permits)
* Video card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 275 (with its fan currently idling at 40%)

First question: Intel or AMD?

I've always built Intels, but they seem more expensive. I'm looking to spend under $500. The less, the better. But most importantly I want a reliable and quiet machine that can handle running a digital audio workstation. As a solo musician, I don't do large projects. So it doesn't have to be anything extraordinary.

Author:  HFat [ Wed Jun 12, 2013 6:06 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Upgrading my PC

If you want cool, you'll have to pay the Intel tax.
But $500 for a board, CPU and RAM is what I'd call outrageously expensive (assuming you're looking at consumer gear). You proably could get a good combo for half your budget actually. The marketing doesn't let on how good some of the affordable parts are.
You could also conceivably buy used and spend even less. 2011 and 2012 Intel CPUs are still very good, especially if you don't want to use the integrated graphics.

I think you should post what you've got exactly and how satisfied you are with its performance.

Author:  CA_Steve [ Wed Jun 12, 2013 7:16 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Upgrading my PC

HFat wrote:
I think you should post what you've got exactly and how satisfied you are with its performance.


+1 on this and welcome to SPCR.

Also, if you could expand on the DAW side of things. Are you looking to use the system for live recording or to do editing/post production work or both? What software is used, what's your input hardware? How many tracks/ how many virtual instruments? This is the stuff that helps to size your system hardware requirements as well as help to determine how quiet you need to make the PC.

Author:  CA_Steve [ Thu Jun 13, 2013 7:41 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Upgrading my PC

Thanks for adding the non-CPU parts to your original post. Could you also add your current CPU and reply the the other Q's? Thanks!

A couple of immediate comments...Replacing the CPU/mobo/ram will certainly help with performance. However, having a 200W graphics card in there isn't helping with heat/noise. If you need that level of performance, a passive HD 7750 has similar performance (55W, $100) or maybe the integrated video on a modern CPU is good enough.. Again, we really need to understand your use in order to spec out an optimum system.

Author:  JasonApril [ Thu Jun 13, 2013 4:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Upgrading my PC

Thanks for the responses!

I'm getting rid of my current board because it's six years old and obsolete. Plus, the memory controller is messed up, so I can't use more than 4GB, which has slowed it down significantly. I have 12GB installed, and it doesn't matter which slots I put them in. The RAM appears to be fine. Anyway, since it's been asked, I'll oblige:

* Motherboard: Supermicro X7DAL
* CPUs: Two Intel Core 2 Quad Xeon E5320s @ 1.87GHz
* RAM: Two 2GB DDR2s @ 333MHz (detected by Windows 7. Oddly, CPU-Z detects all 12GB. That's 2 Hyundai's and 4 Kingston's.)

I also have a 4-year-old board in storage with a dual core around 3GHz and 4GB RAM, but it's a Prescott. Again, much too hot. Plus it's micro-ATX, and I want the option of installing more than two RAM sticks and a PCI Express slot for when I occasionally play games. Speaking of which, can I disable the video card when I'm not using it and use integrated graphics to lighten the load? I'm not sure if disabling a device in Windows actually shuts off the power to it.

I want a DAW for recording and mixing. No need for live capabilities. I primarily use Reaper, though I'm considering switching to Pro Tools sometime in the future so I can easily move my projects to a professional studio when the time comes.

Since it took some time for my topic to be posted (I edited a typo once the moderator approved it, and the whole topic disappeared for a day), I did some more research. I'm looking at 65W CPUs. Apparently that's the lowest the current quad cores go. If I stick with Intel, I'm thinking of getting an i5 Ivy Bridge for around $200. The highest-rated, most popular compatible motherboard is $135, which is also the cheapest among the top 10 at Newegg. And 8GB of RAM is $65 (one stick). That's a total of $400. I could get a fanless CPU cooler on top of all that and still remain within my budget. Am I on the right track?

Author:  HFat [ Fri Jun 14, 2013 7:32 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Upgrading my PC

JasonApril wrote:
I'm looking at 65W CPUs. Apparently that's the lowest the current quad cores go.

No, but you shouldn't care. These ratings are typically not model-specific. The slower the part, the cooler it'll run and therefore the cheaper parts often run a good bit cooler than you'd think looking at the ratings.

JasonApril wrote:
If I stick with Intel, I'm thinking of getting an i5 Ivy Bridge for around $200.

There should be marginally cheaper quads. But even the cheapest quads are rather expensive.
Keep in mind a cheap dual-core from 2011 would likely outperform your old quad for most operations. So you could actually get a substantial performance boost without buying a quad by getting one of the nicer 2012 dual-cores.

JasonApril wrote:
The highest-rated, most popular compatible motherboard is $135, which is also the cheapest among the top 10 at Newegg.

This is expensive. You shouldn't care about popular.
Note that expensive motherboards are likely feature-rich motherboards. And those run hot. The cheaper, more basic boards have historically consumed a good bit less power.
Keep in mind that a fanless CPU cooler is typically not supported. I'd rather do that with parts that don't generate too much heat to begin with. Note that a fanless CPU cooler is generally not a good idea if you've got a serious CPU.

2013 parts may be a bit expensive right now. And you have less choice than with 2012 parts. If you want to buy now and cannot find better prices for 2013 parts, consider buying the previous generation.

Author:  JasonApril [ Fri Jun 14, 2013 10:54 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Upgrading my PC

Quote:
No, but you shouldn't care. These ratings are typically not model-specific. The slower the part, the cooler it'll run and therefore the cheaper parts often run a good bit cooler than you'd think looking at the ratings.

I thought TPD was directly related to heat. Am I misunderstanding?

Quote:
Keep in mind a cheap dual-core from 2011 would likely outperform your old quad for most operations.

Would it outperform both of them? I'm running two. Also, I'm getting some pretty bad latency problems in even small audio projects. So I'd prefer a significant performance upgrade.

Quote:
This is expensive. You shouldn't care about popular.

This is an old habit which has obviously led to poor choices. In my mind, popular + high rating = reliable. I tend to think that if few people have bought a product, there must be something wrong with that product. Or maybe those were the few who were smarter than the mob. ;)

Quote:
Note that expensive motherboards are likely feature-rich motherboards. And those run hot. The cheaper, more basic boards have historically consumed a good bit less power.

Thank you for pointing this out. Is there a spec or resource for finding out how much power a motherboard typically draws? What features should I being looking to include or avoid? I know I definitely don't need onboard audio.

Author:  QUIET! [ Fri Jun 14, 2013 12:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Upgrading my PC

TDP is a number used to spec out your CPU cooler and represents the maximum power usage (or more).

I like to use big tower coolers that are overkill and keep my CPU well under maximum temp at load.

At idle and light load (not stress testing), your CPU will not use anywhere near the rated power.

If your load is high, using a low power CPU just makes it more likely to throttle and choke.

If you go with a CPU that is a bit more than you need and a big cooler that uses a low RPM 120mm fan, you get a quick (and/or smooth) machine that runs quiet and cool. The only drawback to using a ~higher TDP CPU is that your PSU should be rated to run your entire system at load so if you are using a picoPSU, a low TDP might be the way to go.

Author:  JasonApril [ Fri Jun 14, 2013 1:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Upgrading my PC

So, I could go with a higher TDP and should be okay at high loads as long as I have a good cooler. What's your opinion of fanless CPU coolers? I need my machine to be as quiet as possible since my home studio is tiny and I have to record in the same room as my PC. I don't even have a closet I can put it in.

By the way, my PSU is a 500W Antec EarthWatts EA-500. I was hoping I wouldn't need to replace it.

Author:  CA_Steve [ Fri Jun 14, 2013 1:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Upgrading my PC

Thanks for the additional information. It provides some scope to what you have and what needs to improve. Your current system uses somewhere in the ballpark of 350-400W when loaded. At 400W, your Earthwatts PSU is ~80% efficient, so it's drawing 500W from the wall.

A quick look at new system power: CPU (77W), everything else but a graphics card (~50W). So, call it 130W.

GPU: The GTX 275 idles at 50W and uses 140-200W at load. A modern card with similar performance will idle at 10W and use 55W at load. You can't disable the graphics card. You can use the Virtu s/w that comes with most boards to utilize the iGP for non-gaming tasks. But, my guess is your DAW s/w will eventually use gpu acceleration...which puts you back onto the graphics card.

Lower TDP CPUs:
I'm also in the "don't bother" camp. A modern CPU quickly ramps up it's clock and core voltage to do a task and then ramps back down to idle. At idle and low load, you'd never notice the difference in power used between a regular and lowered TDP part. At high load, the regular part will finish the task quicker. Besides all that, 12W is spit in the wind when compared to total system power.

CPU horsepower:
Looking at Passmark CPU Benchmark, the dual Xeon is 4328. The low end i5-3330 ($190) comes in at 5910. So even without hyperthreading, you should see a bump in performance. If you go up to the i5-3570 ($215) it's 6998. Moving up to an i7-3770 ($290) with hyperthreading the score goes up to 9451. So, figure out how much a bump in horsepower you want for what price.

Mobos: I like the Asus IVB mobos for their fan control. Just sort through the H77 boards and maybe the lower end Z77 boards to find the features and I/O you want and while you are there take a look at the reviews. They are a useful indicator of happiness as well as defective return levels.

RAM: Probably want to go with 2 sticks of RAM to make use of dual channel memory performance.

CPU cooler: I like the Thermalright TRUE Spirit 120M ($40) + a ~$10 better fan.

Author:  CA_Steve [ Fri Jun 14, 2013 1:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Upgrading my PC

Ok - now you want to record, too. LOL.

When recording, your CPU load will be low. So, it won't be the CPU cooler noise that will hurt - it's everything else. The GTX 275 will need to go. Chances are you will hear your HDDs clicking/vibrating. Your PSU fan will be noticable as well as the stock antec case fan.

Author:  QUIET! [ Fri Jun 14, 2013 2:49 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Upgrading my PC

For i7 performance at lower cost, the Xeon e3-1230v2 gives you quad cores and hyperthreading but no integrated video. If you are going to use a GPU anyway, it can save a bit of cash and most s1155 motherboards that support Ivy Bridge will work with it.

Most of the time your PSU fan will be louder than your heat sink fan so don't worry about your heat sink fan until its the only thing you are still hearing.

As said above, your mechanical hard drives are going to make most of the noise. Your video card will contribute also. I don't know how much GPU you need but there are passively cooled GPUs like a Radeon 7750 that may do the job for you without contributing noise or too much heat.

I suggest an SSD for a boot/recording drive and something like a usb3.0 or eSATAp external hard drive so that you can disconnect your mass storage drive when you need quiet.

One last thing, play louder to drown out the PC noise.

Author:  HFat [ Fri Jun 14, 2013 7:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Upgrading my PC

JasonApril wrote:
I thought TPD was directly related to heat. Am I misunderstanding?

Yes, but you're not the only one.
The only thing it's directly related to is marketing. As should be obvious by looking at the speed, TDP, and price of various CPUs of the same type.

JasonApril wrote:
Would it outperform both of them? I'm running two.

I missed the fact that you have two CPUs, sorry! I understand your $500 budget better now.
A cheap dual-core would be faster at some tasks and slower at others. But if you bought a dual-CPU setup, you presumably care about the tasks at which such a setup is faster than cheaper setups. Unless you made a bad choice back when you picked your current computer, you should definitely get a quad.
I suspect CA_Steve's numbers understate the improvement you'd get but they're probably good enough to use as a guide.

JasonApril wrote:
Also, I'm getting some pretty bad latency problems in even small audio projects. So I'd prefer a significant performance upgrade.

Latency problems are not necessarily caused by a lack of multithreaded performance or even by any kind of CPU bottleneck. But I'll assume you know what you're doing.

JasonApril wrote:
Thank you for pointing this out. Is there a spec or resource for finding out how much power a motherboard typically draws?

Start by looking at the differences between Intel's chipsets (they're distinguished by letters like H, B or Z).
There are also differences between individual models and brands. If you search the forum, you shoud find more info. But it's not necessarily worth the bother.

Author:  QUIET! [ Fri Jun 14, 2013 10:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Upgrading my PC

Intel has TDP specs for their chip sets just like the CPUs.

It doesn't cover the ram but you can find power figures on ram too, especially low voltage ram which will publish comparison numbers for "standard" ram so you can extrapolate fairly easily.

But the easiest method is to just find a good review of a similar computer with power figures (more common than you would think), guesstimate what your computer will draw and then add a fudge factor to make sure you don't under-spec your PSU.

Author:  JasonApril [ Sat Jun 15, 2013 12:02 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Upgrading my PC

About to go to bed, so let me just quickly respond to this:

Quote:
When recording, your CPU load will be low. So, it won't be the CPU cooler noise that will hurt - it's everything else. The GTX 275 will need to go. Chances are you will hear your HDDs clicking/vibrating. Your PSU fan will be noticable as well as the stock antec case fan.

The CPU load is actually rather high while recording, presuming there are other tracks with effects, which is usually the case. Also, a headphone mix will increase the load further.

It's currently my CPU fans that are the loudest, by far. That was the case with my Prescott board as well. They're so loud, I don't even notice any hard drive noise. My outtake and PSU fans are both pretty quiet (in comparison, anyway).

A glimpse at my current temperatures at 0-2% load:

* CPUs: 67C-ish per core
* RAM: 96C and 96.5C (Not a typo.)
* HDDs: 32C and 34C
* GPU: 56C (I agree this should go.)

Author:  Pappnaas [ Sat Jun 15, 2013 12:14 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Upgrading my PC

Just a thought: If using Win7x86 (32bit edition) your RAM is software limited, because 32bit Windows cannot address more than 4GB. You'll need x64 version of windows to use > 4GB, regardless how many GB will fit in the slots.

Author:  JasonApril [ Sat Jun 15, 2013 12:17 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Upgrading my PC

I'm running x64. All 12GB of RAM were working at one point. Then they weren't.

Author:  CA_Steve [ Sat Jun 15, 2013 7:35 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Upgrading my PC

JasonApril wrote:
I'm running x64. All 12GB of RAM were working at one point. Then they weren't.

Probably the 96C temps that killed them! Holy cow, did you accidently up the memory voltage in the BIOS?

CPU load: got it.

In any case, moving to a modern CPU with a decent cooler will solve your primary noise problem. Then, you can see what's next on the list and move down from there as your budget will allow.

Consider adding a low rpm front intake fan for more airflow..along with removing any HDD trays you aren't using.

Author:  JasonApril [ Sat Jun 15, 2013 11:18 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Upgrading my PC

Quote:
Probably the 96C temps that killed them! Holy cow, did you accidently up the memory voltage in the BIOS?

Surprisingly, all 12GB of RAM work, but only 4GB at a time. I've moved them around in countless configurations. I'm pretty sure the controller is damaged. As I mentioned earlier, the weird thing is that Windows 7 only detects 4GB, but CPU-Z detects all 12GB, makes and models included.

I reset the BIOS when I got this board a few months ago as a gift. I thought it would be quieter than my last board. It's about the same. Anyway, how would I check the voltages? SpeedFan shows a bunch, but I'm not sure which are relevant.

Quote:
In any case, moving to a modern CPU with a decent cooler will solve your primary noise problem. Then, you can see what's next on the list and move down from there as your budget will allow.

Understood.

Quote:
Consider adding a low rpm front intake fan for more airflow..along with removing any HDD trays you aren't using.

I'll try this. Thank you.

Author:  JasonApril [ Sat Jun 15, 2013 11:19 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Upgrading my PC

HFat: Please don't assume I know what I'm doing. ;)

Everyone: Thank you so much for your feedback! I'm going to search for components with your advice in mind and come back with a specific list.

Author:  CA_Steve [ Sat Jun 15, 2013 11:29 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Upgrading my PC

JasonApril wrote:
I reset the BIOS when I got this board a few months ago as a gift. I thought it would be quieter than my last board. It's about the same. Anyway, how would I check the voltages? SpeedFan shows a bunch, but I'm not sure which are relevant.

Click the Info tab on Speedfan. Under the DIMM section click the "Read info" button. That said, don't know if it's worth mucking around with at this point :)

Have fun with your shopping. Feel free to pop back in with a proposed build list so we can tear it to pieces...erm..provide valuable feedback.

Author:  JasonApril [ Sat Jun 15, 2013 11:57 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Upgrading my PC

Thanks, CA_Steve. I only recently discovered SpeedFan on this forum. For curiosity's sake...

Levels : TTL 5V

Author:  CA_Steve [ Sat Jun 15, 2013 4:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Upgrading my PC

Yeah - don't think that's it :) If you have this mobo, then when you ask for Speedfan to query the SMBus, you should get something like this:

Scanning SMBus at $0500...
Decoding DIMM #0
Memory type is DDR2
Module Ranks : 2
Levels : 1.8V
Parity : NO PARITY
Refresh Rate : 7.8us
Total Size : 2048MB
Decoding DIMM #2
Memory type is DDR2
Module Ranks : 2
Levels : 1.8V
Parity : NO PARITY
Refresh Rate : 7.8us
Total Size : 2048MB

Or, you could just reboot the PC and go into the BIOS utility and see what the RAM voltage is set to. :)

Author:  JasonApril [ Sun Jun 16, 2013 11:15 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Upgrading my PC

I'm not seeing any RAM voltages in the BIOS.

SpeedFan gives me this (sorry about the wall of text):

Scanning SMBus at $1100...
Scanning SMBus at $740078...
Decoding DIMM #0
Memory type is FB-DIMM
Module Rows : 35
Levels : UNKNOWN (161)
Parity : UNKNOWN
Refresh Rate : UNKNOWN (32)
Decoding DIMM #1
Memory type is FB-DIMM
Module Rows : 35
Levels : UNKNOWN (161)
Parity : UNKNOWN
Refresh Rate : UNKNOWN (32)
Decoding DIMM #3
Memory type is DDR
Module Rows : 31
Levels : UNKNOWN (63)
Parity : UNKNOWN
Refresh Rate : UNKNOWN (127)
Total Size : 31620MB
Scanning SMBus at $76007C...
Decoding DIMM #0
Memory type is FB-DIMM
Module Rows : 36
Levels : UNKNOWN (81)
Parity : UNKNOWN
Refresh Rate : UNKNOWN (32)
Decoding DIMM #1
Memory type is FB-DIMM
Module Rows : 36
Levels : UNKNOWN (81)
Parity : UNKNOWN
Refresh Rate : UNKNOWN (32)
Decoding DIMM #3
Memory type is DDR
Module Rows : 31
Levels : UNKNOWN (63)
Parity : UNKNOWN
Refresh Rate : UNKNOWN (127)
Total Size : 31620MB
Scanning SMBus at $740078...
Decoding DIMM #0
Memory type is FB-DIMM
Module Rows : 36
Levels : TTL 5V
Parity : UNKNOWN
Refresh Rate : UNKNOWN (32)
Decoding DIMM #2
Memory type is DDR
Module Rows : 31
Levels : UNKNOWN (63)
Parity : UNKNOWN
Refresh Rate : UNKNOWN (127)
Total Size : 31620MB
Scanning SMBus at $76007C...
Decoding DIMM #0
Memory type is FB-DIMM
Module Rows : 36
Levels : TTL 5V
Parity : UNKNOWN
Refresh Rate : UNKNOWN (32)
Decoding DIMM #2
Memory type is DDR
Module Rows : 31
Levels : UNKNOWN (63)
Parity : UNKNOWN
Refresh Rate : UNKNOWN (127)
Total Size : 31620MB

Something tells me this isn't normal. Remember when I said I was fairly certain my memory controller is messed up?

Author:  CA_Steve [ Sun Jun 16, 2013 12:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Upgrading my PC

Sometimes, Speedfan can't capture the data - or it isn't available for the s/w to capture..or it could be a f$%^ed up memory controller.

CA_Steve wrote:
Or, you could just reboot the PC and go into the BIOS utility and see what the RAM voltage is set to. :)


CA_Steve wrote:
That said, don't know if it's worth mucking around with at this point :)

Author:  JasonApril [ Sun Jun 16, 2013 7:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Upgrading my PC

What I already own:


What I'm considering buying:

    Motherboard: MSI Z77A-G41 ($100) Z77 boards were recommended. This one looked promising and affordable. I'm not sure if it's the best choice power and heat-wise, however.
    CPU: Xeon E3-1230 v2 ($235) Recommended by QUIET!
    CPU Cooler: COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 EVO ($35) I know very little about CPU coolers. I chose this one based on price, reviews, and my limited understanding of the specs.
    RAM: 2 x Crucial Ballistix Tactical 8GB ($140) 1600Mhz, 8-8-8-24 timing, and low voltage
    Video card: Radeon HD 7750 (~$100) Recommended by two members. Not sure which one to get. The HIS iCooler version boasts about how quiet it is.

Total: $610

I'm $110 over budget. That's largely because I didn't include a video card replacement in my original estimate, so this seems reasonable.

Author:  CA_Steve [ Sun Jun 16, 2013 9:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Upgrading my PC

RAM: opt for dual channel kits rather than buying 2 solo sticks. The kits are "supposed" to be matched for timing. Do you need 16GB? You could save some bucks by going for 2 x 4GB now and adding 8GB more later. In general, 1.35V low profile are good.

Mobo: no opinion on the mobo other than MSI fan control is maybe a little weak. You'll probably end up using Speedfan.

CPU Cooler: Cooler Master is a favorite low cost cooler. You may/may not choose to replace the fan. Have to see after installation.

Video card: There's a couple of passive versions if you want to go that route. Definately want to add the front fan for some cooling over the gfx card.

front case fan: Don't know what your "extras" are, but you only need the front fans to operate in the 300-600rpm range...depending on which fan/noise level.

Author:  CA_Steve [ Mon Jun 17, 2013 4:59 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Upgrading my PC

There's also the Asus P8Z77-M.

Author:  JasonApril [ Mon Jun 17, 2013 12:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Upgrading my PC

What's the benefit of the Asus P8Z77-M over the MSI Z77A-G41? I'm assuming it has better fan control, since you mentioned that MSI's fan control may be weak. I'm not sure I need Turbo Boost overclocking.

I'll consider a passive HD 7750. Only $10 more. Thanks for the link.

Do I need 16GB of RAM? Well, no. But I've been using samples more and more. As a one man band, I tend to add drum kits and other sample-based instruments (I own a MIDI controller) on top of my recorded guitar and vocals. Actually, I've been avoiding some sample packs because they're too big and taxing. I also have some symphonic pieces that use huge amounts of memory. So I'd prefer that much RAM. I should find a good DAW forum, though, and see what they say before I commit. They're likely to be familiar with the particular software I use (mostly Kontakt).

You're right, I should get a dual channel kit. Found a couple for $20 less, though I'm not sure what the difference is between the two. Their specs are identical except for the heat spreader. One says "FROSTBYTE" while the other just says "Yes": Mushkin Enhanced Blackline and Mushkin Enhanced STEALTH

The intake fan I'd use is the intake fan on my old Lian Li case.

Any opinion on the CPU?

Author:  CA_Steve [ Mon Jun 17, 2013 1:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Upgrading my PC

JasonApril wrote:
What's the benefit of the Asus P8Z77-M over the MSI Z77A-G41? I'm assuming it has better fan control, since you mentioned that MSI's fan control may be weak. I'm not sure I need Turbo Boost overclocking.

The fan control is the primary benefit...and a lot of forum members have built with this mobo.

JasonApril wrote:
Do I need 16GB of RAM? Well, no. But I've been using samples more and more. As a one man band, I tend to add drum kits and other sample-based instruments on top of my recorded guitar and vocals. Actually, I've been avoiding some sample packs because they're too big and taxing. I also have some symphonic pieces that use huge amounts of memory. So I'd prefer that much RAM. I should find a good DAW forum, though, and see what they say before I commit. They're likely to be familiar with the particular software I use (mostly Kontakt).

I threw it out there as a way to save a few bucks now..as you can always add more RAM later. Your call. Have you wandered through gearslutz.com? It might be worth it just to see what motherboards others are using...as well as some help on reducing/tweaking for minimal DPC latency.

JasonApril wrote:
You're right, I should get a dual channel kit. Found a couple for $20 less, though I'm not sure what the difference is between the two. Their specs are identical except for the heat spreader. One says "FROSTBYTE" while the other just says "Yes": Mushkin Enhanced Blackline and Mushkin Enhanced STEALTH

Heat spreaders just don't matter at stock speeds for DDR3 - especially when running at 1.35V. (I know your point of view is from the 96C DDR2 in your current system!)


JasonApril wrote:
Any opinion on the CPU?
Upside is i7 performance for less than i7 price. Downside is loss of iGP and Quick Sync (if you ever have a use for Quick Sync accelerated video encoding for Handbrake or something). Another downside is no overclocking. I haven't used a Xeon, so I don't know of any particular quirks.

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