Well, I finally got around to building my new DAW! Many, many thanks to everybody here on the forum for all their helpful advice, and especially to Mike Chin and the SPCR team - I couldn't have done it without you all.
The final specs are:
Antec Solo; Case fans:
Nexus D12SL-12 (rear @ 390RPM)
; Noctua NF-B9 92mm (front @ 540RPM)
; Fan Controller:
Scythe Kaze Master 3.5"; PSU:
Seasonic X-650 (the fan never comes on in normal use)
Gigabyte P55A-UD4P; CPU:
Intel i7 860 (stock clocked)
; CPU Heatsink:
Prolimatech Megahalems Rev. B; CPU fan:
: Scythe Kama DFS122512L-PWM (idles around 550RPM, and doesn't ramp up under normal load)
4GB Corsair TW3X4G1333C9A (1333; 9-9-9-24); Graphics card:
Gigabyte 9800GT Silent Cell (I do a little gaming as well, so that's why I've got this card)
; System drive:
Intel X-25M G2 80GB SSD; Storage drive:
Samsung F3 1TB HD103SJ 7200RPM; DVD drive:
Liteon iHAS-324-32Y (a mistake - see below)
2 X LG Flatron W2442PA; OS:
Windows7 64 bit Professional; Music software:
Propellerhead Reason and Record, rewired to Mutools Mulab.
Because I've never built a computer before my brother Peter very kindly offered to do the actual build, and it went pretty smoothly, with one or two mild exceptions. Thanks, Pete!
First up - mod the case by cutting out the fans grills:
A little rough, but it does the job - gotta love Dremels!
Next: install fans and the PSU. Easy. Hard drive and SSD. Easy. Fan controller. First problem - it doesn't fit properly in the 3.5" bay. If it's all the way forward you can't open the case door. We compromised by moving it back so the door would open, but this meant that we couldn't fit the drive bay bezel, or you can't get to the controller knobs easily. So it looks like this:
A little unsightly, but it works
Then DVD drive: bugger! How did I not notice that the drive I bought was an IDE, not an eSATA!? Fortunately Peter had a spare streamlined IDE conector, so at least it hasn't compromised the airflow too much.
Then: install CPU, RAM and heatsink on the motherboard: not quite so easy! Had a few problems getting the heatsink mounted solidly to the motherboard, but after a bit of trial and error it was all good.
Then fit the assembled motherboard and the graphics card and wire it all up:
It's not as pretty a wiring job as some of the beautiful systems on SPCR, but it actually is pretty much unobstructed airflow in front of the drive bay and front fan - I've tidied up a little since this photo was taken. Note that the SSD was only mounted like that with Gaffer tape temporarily - it's now mounted with double-sided sticky tape.
The cable management system behind the drive bays works really well, and the modular cabling of the PSU helps cut down on clutter, but even so there's a lot of cables to route.
The hard drive is suspended:
Rear of the completed build:
Installation of the OS and software was painless, and here's a picture of my workstation showing Propellerhead Record/Reason running seamlessly as one app.
Note the ghetto speaker isolation mounts - the Besser blocks rest on neoprene strips and the speakers are on soft rubber feet, so even at high volumes the speakers are well isolated from the desk top.
Ideally it would be nice to have three monitors so I could have the a screen for each of the 3 components (Rack, Mixer, and Sequencer), but I can live with having the sequencer and mixer on the main monitor, and having the rack on the secondary portrait monitor.
So - how did it come out? Answer: really well.
The thing is blazingly fast, and while not absolutely silent is very, very quiet. At the fan speeds I'm using (see above in specs), I can only just hear it, yet it's less than a metre from me, under my desk. If I turn the front fan off completely I can't hear the computer at all over ambient noise (I do this for recording, and then turn the fan back on when I'm editing).
Temperatures are fine. I did my testing on a hot day, when ambient temperature in my studio was 29C. The CPU idled at 35-37C, and never goes above 45C in normal use. Using OCCT to stress test the CPU, with the large data set and high priority the temps peaked at 68C.
The graphics card idles at 50C and peaks at 66C playing Borderlands. Using the OCCT graphics test it hit 84C. While these temps are fairly high I think they are acceptable. If I wind the case fans up to full speed it drops the high temperatures by about 3-5C. If I was really worried I could always add a slow fan to the card, but I don't think there's any need.
Having seen how Peter built the computer I've now got over my phobia about building my own computer - it's actually a fairly straightforward process, and I wouldn't have any hesitation about building one on my own.
So that's about it. Any comments or suggestions for improvements?
Now I've got no excuses if my music is rubbish - I certainly can't blame the computer