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 Post subject: Digital Audio Workstation Build: pls. help me pick a case
PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2011 7:22 pm 
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First off thanks to everyone who posts here, and especially to the contributors who create such high quality reviews and recommendations. What a fantastic site!

I'd like this build to be as quiet as possible within a ~2k budget.
Any suggestions for any part of this build are greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Mobo: Gigabyte GA-X79-UD5 (soon to be released)
CPU: Core i7-3930K (soon to be released)

Heatsink: Noctua NH U9B SE2
PSU: Stryker Fanless 500W
Memory: 16Gb RAM or more (suggestions for brand/configuration?)
GPU: ASUS nVidia GeForce GT210 (fanless)

OS Drive: Seagate ST3500413AS Barracuda - 500GB
Audio Drive: Seagate ST31000524AS Barracuda - 1TB
Sample Drives*: 2 X Seagate ST31000524AS Barracuda - 1TB
[note: likely will need 2-3 additional HDs over time]

Expansion Cards (from my existing DAW)
RME HDSP pro audio card (PCI)
RME AEB8-0 pro audio card (PCIe)
UAD-1 DSP card (PCIe)

Choosing a case...
1. My first choice was the Silverstone Fortress FT02, but according to the manual there's only 7cm of clearance from the expansion card slot openings to the sliding top cover. Sadly that's not nearly enough room for the variety of 1/4" audio cable connectors and large breakout cables that must be connected to my audio cards. Bummer!

2. Next possibility is the Fractal Design Define XL. I'm worried about how well this case will dampen HD noise. I'm wondering how well the HD trays isolate vibration and if HD noise will leak out the front intake vents. Also wondering if putting a fanless PSU in the bottom chamber makes any sense, if having it there means a fan must be installed in the front vent anyway. I also won't likely ever need 10 HDs and prob. won't need any 5.25" bays.

3. Next is the Antec P183. Many of the same concerns as above with the Fractal Design Define XL. Also wondering how noisy that top vent/fan will be.

In a perfect world...
The Antec Solo II would have more HD bays, all using their suspension system. It's occurred to me that I could cram 5 HDs into the Solo II by using Nexus DoubleTwin 5.25" to 3.5" mounts. But then I'd have no expandability, I'd have to forgo the suspension system option, and the HDs in the 5.25" bays might get a too hot (?).

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.


*These drives will hold very large "sample libraries" of musical instruments.


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 Post subject: Re: Digital Audio Workstation Build: pls. help me pick a cas
PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 10:16 am 
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Welcome to SPCR. Nice to see an appreciative newcomer.

Why the Noctua NH U9B SE2 ? Go for a HS w/ a 12cm or bigger fan. It'll be quieter and cooler.

Your HDD choices are not optimal for noise. Not sure of your criteria, but Seagate drives have lacked Automatic Acoustic Management for years, and as a result generally have the loudest seeks. I know you're choosing 7200rpm drives on the assumption of their higher performance, but if you take a close look at out last few HDD reviews (with the long table of summary data on many drives), the latest 5400 and 5900rpm drives come very close to to the 7200s, and when they have high areal density, often better them. Personally, I can't imagine why you would not go with 2tb WD Greens instead. Then you'd need fewer drives and the performance is very good.

I would also consider getting a biggish reliable SSD for the OS. With a new build, and the CPU/mobo/RAM you're going for, it will make a night/day difference. (I speak from recent personal experience, having moved from a 3-yr old C2D E8500 w/WD Velociraptor 300 and 4gb RAM to a new main PC w/ Intel 2600K, Asus P67Pro board, and 8gb of ram with an Intel G2 160gb SSD. Photoshop CS5 now opens & is fully operational in all of 1.5s!) Guaranteed, in your proposed build list, that 500gb Seagate for OS will be the biggest bottleneck. W/ newer Intel SSDs out now, that G2 X25m-160gb in my rig is on the market for around $350. Well worth the $$ for a DAW imo, assuming 160gb is big enough. If you must go to 250gb, an SSD is probably beyond your budget, they run $600+.

As for cases...

Fractal cases are a little tricky. In photos, they look really nice, and their list of features is fantastic. But hands-on, they're disappointing to me. They're made of lighter metal than the older Antecs like Solo 1/2 or P180 series, they flex more, they're overall more cheaply made. For me, from the point of view of an enthusiast who is often in/out of the case, they just don't have enough of a quality/durability feel. Let me put it this way: We don't use any in our lab. They're good cases overall, and very good values, but...

I prefer stronger, heavier, sturdier cases -- like the P183 or Solo2. The NZXT H2 -- http://www.silentpcreview.com/nzxt-h2 -- is also an excellent sturdy case --but it needs the vents opened up to breathe better. That's the case I used for my new build, with the vent openings at the bottom of the front door and around the base enlarged to improve intake. It runs perfectly cool under all the loads I throw at it (including a bit of gaming using a HD6850 video card). The HDD mounting could be better, but with a single WD Green 2tb, I can barely hear the seek chatter w/ the case/system 3' from me on the carpeted floor next to my desk.

For your needs, I'd also consider the Solo2, w/SSD and 2 suspended 2tb or larger drives. When you need more capacity, add an external eSATA box like... an Icy Dock MB561US-4S -- http://www.silentpcreview.com/Silent_Ho ... de/Backups -- or similar. Put quiet HDDs in it, run a 6' high quality eSATA cable, and set the box on a thick (say 1" or more) soft pad of foam in a nearby closet or closed cabinet (with a vent somewhere not facing you).

NOTE: The captive spring-loaded thumbscrews used on the Solo 1/2 are still my absolute favorite/best side panel securing method ever -- they are head & shoulders over everything else and such a delight if you're in/out of your case a lot.

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 Post subject: Re: Digital Audio Workstation Build: pls. help me pick a cas
PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 11:24 am 
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Thanks for the reply Mike and hello from here in Guelph, ON. Sure wish I was still out there on the coast.

I will take a closer look at your HDD reviews. I've heard DAW builders on other forums (e.g. gearslutz.com) say that WD Greens "are good for back-ups only", so I assumed I'd want Seagates or similar. Maybe the higher rpm drives offer some benefits for big multitrack projects, but I typically record 1-2 tracks at a time, so maybe WDs will be fine.

Also, HDD Speed performance isn't totally critical on the sample drives (although it is nice to have large sample libraries load quickly), so WDs may be OK for those.

I have 5 Barracuda 7200.12's in my DAW right now and the noise they make is quite unpleasant, coming out the front of an Antec 300, ~1.5m from my ears. I spun them all down with HDD Scan 3.3 and the fan-only noise that remained was almost relaxing compared to the whine of all those HDDs.

I agree that an SSD for the OS would be ideal, but I have a bit of an irrational fear of them. Is the technology mature and dependable enough to build a DAW around one? I've had an HDD go down in the middle of gig before and it was extremely stressful, but at least the data was recoverable, and Seagate did it for free. What happens when an SSD goes down? Is it possible to clone the contents of an SSD to an HDD to allow for quick/easy replacement in the event of a failure?

The Solo II seems like a good choice, but I think I'd really need a third HDD, for a dedicated audio-only drive (recommended by DAW builders and DAW software devs alike). What do you think of using the Nexus DoubleTwin 5.25" to 3.5" mounts to get another quietly mounted HDD stuffed into the Solo II?

If/when I turned to the Icy Dock, would there be a hit in HDD performance?

Thanks again for your help and suggestions!


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 Post subject: Re: Digital Audio Workstation Build: pls. help me pick a cas
PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 12:02 pm 
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I was wondering if you need Sandybridge-E? There's been a lot of folks on this forum that have built i5 systems (i5-2500K, etc) for DAW apps. Take the savings and invest in a 128GB Crucial M4 (or similar) SSD for OS/Apps. Or, a couple SSDs for that matter. :) The other advantages of going with a socket 1155 solution:
- the hardware and bios are mature. I'd let the SNB-E stuff mature for 3+ months before I'd mess with it.
- built in GPU. Don't need an add-in card.

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 Post subject: Re: Digital Audio Workstation Build: pls. help me pick a cas
PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 12:33 pm 
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scoring4film wrote:
Thanks for the reply Mike and hello from here in Guelph, ON. Sure wish I was still out there on the coast.

I will take a closer look at your HDD reviews. I've heard DAW builders on other forums (e.g. gearslutz.com) say that WD Greens "are good for back-ups only", so I assumed I'd want Seagates or similar. Maybe the higher rpm drives offer some benefits for big multitrack projects, but I typically record 1-2 tracks at a time, so maybe WDs will be fine.

Also, HDD Speed performance isn't totally critical on the sample drives (although it is nice to have large sample libraries load quickly), so WDs may be OK for those.

I have 5 Barracuda 7200.12's in my DAW right now and the noise they make is quite unpleasant, coming out the front of an Antec 300, ~1.5m from my ears. I spun them all down with HDD Scan 3.3 and the fan-only noise that remained was almost relaxing compared to the whine of all those HDDs.

The thought of 5 of those in my PC makes me shudder! Check our test data -- a big WD Green or even Seagate's 5900rpm drive is as fast as smaller, lower density 7200s and way quieter.
Quote:
I agree that an SSD for the OS would be ideal, but I have a bit of an irrational fear of them. Is the technology mature and dependable enough to build a DAW around one? I've had an HDD go down in the middle of gig before and it was extremely stressful, but at least the data was recoverable, and Seagate did it for free. What happens when an SSD goes down? Is it possible to clone the contents of an SSD to an HDD to allow for quick/easy replacement in the event of a failure?

Which is why I suggested a slightly older Intel; they are still the most reliable, iirc. imo, the reliability vis a vis HDDs is not a big factor. SSD can be cloned/backed-up just like any HDD.
Quote:
The Solo II seems like a good choice, but I think I'd really need a third HDD, for a dedicated audio-only drive (recommended by DAW builders and DAW software devs alike). What do you think of using the Nexus DoubleTwin 5.25" to 3.5" mounts to get another quietly mounted HDD stuffed into the Solo II?

I don't recommend the DoubleTwin. It won't silence that well and it will make your HDDs run hotter. If you need 3 HDDs + SSD (the SSD can be put just about anywhere in the case with a single screw, btw), you should know the Solo let's 3 HDDs be installedm, whether using suspension or rubber grommets, so 2 could be suspended, and the 3rd rubber mounted.
Quote:
If/when I turned to the Icy Dock, would there be a hit in HDD performance?

I doubt it. eSATA & SATA are the same. The only hit would come from the length of the cable -- maybe.

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 Post subject: Re: Digital Audio Workstation Build: pls. help me pick a cas
PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 12:36 pm 
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Good point re: scaling down the CPU/mobo. DAWs can be such unruly amalgamations of apps, drivers and plug-ins, it would be a real disappointment to find out that some key part of my rig doesn't play nice with the new bleeding edge mobos/CPUs.

Pardon my ignorance here, but are the i5 systems heavy lifters? Would I be better off with something like an i7-950?

Many of the plug-ins I use eat CPU cycles for breakfast. My current, outdated machine is running an intel Q9300, and I'm constantly maxing out the cores and cranking up the buffers/latency on my sound card.

I'd like my next machine to have tons of CPU power, good to last at least a couple years. Does an i5 fit that bill?


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 Post subject: Re: Digital Audio Workstation Build: pls. help me pick a cas
PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 1:24 pm 
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The Core i7 3930K will have six cores and twice the L3 cache of a 2500k. If one uses lots of modeling and convolution plugins on many un-frozen tracks it might just come in handy. I totally second the advice given regarding storage though. Once other parts are silent you'll start to hear them big time. Indeed it's possible to clone SSD contents like any other storage device. Try to set up your sampler to load as much data into RAM if possible. Not sure what Ivy bridge memory specs are, maybe we'll know in the coming weeks. I think the Antec P280 might be worth waiting for. If the early Ivy Bride CPU's lack integrated graphics then that's a shame as mine seem perfectly capable. BTW Gigabyte makes the best boards IMO and the their X79 series looks too sweet.

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Last edited by markanini on Thu Nov 10, 2011 1:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Digital Audio Workstation Build: pls. help me pick a cas
PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 1:39 pm 
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The Sandybridge 2600k and 2700k actually outperform the older 1366-socket i7s. 2700k is king of the desktop CPUs -- at least until the new i7-3960X on socket LGA2011 is unveiled market next week. (yeah, sample in the lab...)

I second CA_Steve's suggestion about going with Sandy Bridge & a board that allows the built-in GPU to be used. This means an H67 chipset board, most of which are mATX but Intel, Gigabyte and others offer a few ATX form factor versions, too.

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 Post subject: Re: Digital Audio Workstation Build: pls. help me pick a cas
PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 2:11 pm 
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Agree on all the posts about SSD's. The difference between SSD's and HDD's are like night and day. Until now, I have not noticed anyone complaining about the Crucial M4 and the Samsung 470. They have been around for quite a while and seem very stable, unlike Sandforce-drived SSD's. For the Crucial M4, I'm positive that you dont even need to upgrade the firmware unless you want the performance increase from the 0009 version.

For those of us who do not know much about DAW's, could you tell me how the workload is when recording 1-2 samples at a time? It doesn't seem demanding for the HD.

I can personally recommend the NZXT H2, but I really think the harddisk bay could need a lot of improvement. There doesn't seem to be much rubber to prevent vibrations. You could also cut off some of the front door (as mentionned in the SPCR review) and cut off the honeycomb at the rear fan position. When my computer is running, I can feel much heat gets trapped there, but perhaps it's because I run the rear fan at very low speeds (<500 rpm). Check out the link in my signature, if you want to read more about the NZXT H2.
Why haven't you considered the Fractal R3 and the R3 Mini?

But the rubber grommets on the Antec P183 can really reduce HD vibration as mentionned in the SPCR review. And combined with WD Greens I don't think you would be able to hear the impact of the vibration. But a user from another thread mentioned that this also applies to the R3.

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 Post subject: Re: Digital Audio Workstation Build: pls. help me pick a cas
PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 2:34 pm 
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I'm sold on the WD Greens and SSD suggestions.

The Solo II is also looking like a great option. Can it really hold two suspended drives and another one on grommets? The specs on the Antec website say...

3 x 3.5" / 2.5" using tray mounts with preinstalled silicone grommets OR
2 x 3.5" with suspension mount cables

As far as mobo/cpu goes, it looks like the options are...

1. less power but less uncertainty
Asus P8Z68-V Pro and i7 2600k Sandy Bridge?

2. more power but some uncertainty/possible growing pains
Gigabyte GA-X79-UD5 and i7-3930K?

For some reason these multimedia machine DIY gurus recommend against the current crop of sandy bridge cpu's. They say...

"If you plan on using hardware I/O cards and/or hardware RAID for storage, we do not recommend Sandy Bridge". See...

http://www.videoguys.com/Guide/E/Videoguys+DIY8+Sneak+Peek+Work+in+Progess+Coming+this+Fall/0x094b1737e0a06c495e5178a167fbdbd7.aspx

I'm not sure what they mean or if their concerns apply to a DAW. I'll see what the DIY-ers are saying about i7 2600k Sandy Bridge on gearslutz.

@Mike...
if heat is the only concern re: Nexus DoubleTwin in one of the 5.25" bays, would the Nexus DiskTwin be a workable option (5.25" to 3.5" mounts with heatsink)?

Thanks again to all who are helping out here. Much appreciated!


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 Post subject: Re: Digital Audio Workstation Build: pls. help me pick a cas
PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 4:02 pm 
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I like the idea of the solo II, suspending the 2hhds would be ideal, personally i need a lot of storage, but i opted for building a server and having it in the network, so this is my suggestion if you need a lot of storage, else the P183 seems like a good candiate. I second Kuzzia suggestion, M4 is an incredible ssd with very mature firmware (you can mount the ssd anywhere). I would go either Asus or MSI on mobo, they have good fan management software/bios, so in case you go with PWM fans you can control them. On the CPU i would just go with i7 2600k/2700k, new Sandy Bridge E will will be more powerful and capable, but they wont have a built in gpu, so that would mean to add a dedicated gpu, so more heat inside the case, there are passive gpus, but still will add heat. I like more normal Sandy bridge, and maybe in 5-6 months time upgrade to Ivy Bridge CPU if you feel you need more.

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 Post subject: Re: Digital Audio Workstation Build: pls. help me pick a cas
PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 4:44 pm 
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@kuzzia

I don't know that much about the technical details of how HDDs impact the performance of a DAW.

In my case, I don't think HDD performance is important in terms of recording multiple simultaneous tracks of audio (as I suggested above). The bottleneck for that is on my audio card, which in its current configuration only has two input channels. I'm a "one man band" composer/producer, so a couple of input channels is plenty for me.

The issue I face with HDD performance is track playback. Most music production typically involves "mixing" several audio tracks down to two channels for consumer playback (but there are other multi-channel formats, such as 5.1). It's not uncommon to have mixes that involve 100 or more tracks. My current DAW starts to have issues at about the 50 track mark (with 1-2 plug-in instances per track). I believe my dedicated audio HDD is the bottleneck. I hope the low rpm WD Green drives will perform well enough -- some DAW builders recommend avoiding them. If you'd like to explore this topic in more detail, and read posts from folks who know more about this than I do, apart from the SPCR forum, you may want to check out...

http://www.prosoundweb.com
or
http://www.gearslutz.com


Last edited by scoring4film on Thu Nov 10, 2011 6:11 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Digital Audio Workstation Build: pls. help me pick a cas
PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 5:41 pm 
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scoring4film wrote:
1. less power but less uncertainty
Asus P8Z68-V Pro and i7 2600k Sandy Bridge?

Consider Gigabyte UD4 a decent alternative, save for a less slick looking Bios. It's worth noting Gigabyte it's the only brand(beside Intel) that can boast Intel VRD12 spec certification which puts strict requirements on voltage regulation responce. It strikes me as a point of concern for DAW work (likely also video capture) when you think about the highly dynamic nature of varying systems clocks, voltages and power phases according to load. But likely Asus and MSI have fine voltage regulation despite certification or we'd all know about it. Just a heads up.

scoring4film wrote:
For some reason these multimedia machine DIY gurus recommend against the current crop of sandy bridge cpu's. They say...
"If you plan on using hardware I/O cards and/or hardware RAID for storage, we do not recommend Sandy Bridge". See...
http://www.videoguys.com/Guide/E/Videoguys+DIY8+Sneak+Peek+Work+in+Progess+Coming+this+Fall/0x094b1737e0a06c495e5178a167fbdbd7.aspx
I'm not sure what they mean or if their concerns apply to a DAW. I'll see what the DIY-ers are saying about i7 2600k Sandy Bridge on gearslutz.

Perhaps I'm a bit thick but what was the concern? All I see is that they don't recomend it and mention that it has an integrated GPU. You could disable it in bios or go P67 if it's a concern. :?

I do see your concern when you're dealing with 50+ tracks. Maybe copying project files from HDD to SSD each time before work would be a decent compromise? Too bad they can't give return policies on SSD as it looks like worth trying for the sake of silence. OTOH there's Craigslist. Solo II looks like a nice choice.

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Last edited by markanini on Thu Nov 10, 2011 5:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Digital Audio Workstation Build: pls. help me pick a cas
PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 5:47 pm 
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scoring4film wrote:
The specs on the Antec website say...

3 x 3.5" / 2.5" using tray mounts with preinstalled silicone grommets OR
2 x 3.5" with suspension mount cables

Mebbe that is what they recommend, but 2 suspended + another HDD on tray seemed to fit.
Quote:
As far as mobo/cpu goes, it looks like the options are...

1. less power but less uncertainty
Asus P8Z68-V Pro and i7 2600k Sandy Bridge?

2. more power but some uncertainty/possible growing pains
Gigabyte GA-X79-UD5 and i7-3930K?

What about price & value? combo 1 is a touchover $500, and probably drop further when the new CPU hits. Combo 2 will be at least $600 for the CPU alone; the combo will be approach a grand.
Quote:
For some reason these multimedia machine DIY gurus recommend against the current crop of sandy bridge cpu's. They say...

"If you plan on using hardware I/O cards and/or hardware RAID for storage, we do not recommend Sandy Bridge". See...

http://www.videoguys.com/Guide/E/Videoguys+DIY8+Sneak+Peek+Work+in+Progess+Coming+this+Fall/0x094b1737e0a06c495e5178a167fbdbd7.aspx

I'm not sure what they mean or if their concerns apply to a DAW. I'll see what the DIY-ers are saying about i7 2600k Sandy Bridge on gearslutz.

It does seem odd, to me, but then I haven't done or felt the need to do RAID for years. The comments seem very video-processing specific.
Quote:
@Mike...
if heat is the only concern re: Nexus DoubleTwin in one of the 5.25" bays, would the Nexus DiskTwin be a workable option (5.25" to 3.5" mounts with heatsink)?

Not the only concern -- it's the worst place in a desktop for a HDD for both cooling and noise. It's closest to you, and gets no airflow there unless you open up the front panel, which then means a direct noise path to you. I've played with so many of those rubber HDD mount variants, and imo, unless you're already working with a very low noise, low vibration drive, they just don't do enough. DiskTwin heatsinks seem like a good idea, but what cooling do heatsinks do if there is no air movement around the area? Very little.

I would still plan on using fewer drives of higher capacity. Fewer noise sources, lower complexity for the system, less hardware to break. An external eSATA box or gigabit standalone NAS should do you fine for backups and maintaining audio sample libraries.

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 Post subject: Re: Digital Audio Workstation Build: pls. help me pick a cas
PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 6:07 pm 
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I just read through a pile of threads at gearslutz.com re: DAW performance and 7200rpm vs. 5400rpm drives.

There was no clear consensus, though I did see many more 5400rpm proponents than I expected.

From what I understand the performance of 5400rpm drives is not all that different from 7200rpm drives in the case of dedicated audio and sample library drives. The only significant issue with 5400rpm drives is that they will boot up more slowly and boot software and plug-ins more slowly. I guess an SSD for the OS drive will pretty much nuke that problem.


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 Post subject: Re: Digital Audio Workstation Build: pls. help me pick a cas
PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 6:28 pm 
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BTW, don't look at this Sandy Bridge-E and Ivy Bridge write-up :wink:
http://www.overclock.net/t/1137173/sand ... ews-thread

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 Post subject: Re: Digital Audio Workstation Build: pls. help me pick a cas
PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 6:45 pm 
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scoring4film wrote:
I guess an SSD for the OS drive will pretty much nuke that problem.


Don't know if DAW software uses a scratch disk like you can for Adobe: use a very fast drive for editing, use slow drives for storage.

Other semi-obvious stuff to look out for:
- low latency mobo
- does your apps s/w, plug-ins, add-on cards play well with your mobo/cpu? Should be some stuff on the mfgrs forums.
- does your DAW s/w make use/show a benefit from hyper threading? If so, then i7 over the i5? Same regarding cache size.

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 Post subject: Re: Digital Audio Workstation Build: pls. help me pick a cas
PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 7:57 pm 
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OK, here's the new build in progress. Thanks to all for helping me get this far. All suggestions welcome.

Case: Antec Solo II

CPU: Intel Core i7-2700K Quad-Core Socket LGA1155 3.50Ghz

Mobo: [Not sure. It needs an integrated GPU and one of the expansion slots must be PCI. Any suggestions?]

Memory: 16Gb (brand/configuration? will depend a bit on mobo choice?)

Heatsink: Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme Rev. C (still the quietest option?)

OS Drive: Crucial M4 CT128M4SSD2 2.5" 128GB SSD

Audio and Sample Drives: 3 X WD Green WD20EARS 2TB
(WD Green WD20EARX 2TB SATA3 6Gb/s better option?)

PSU: Stryker Fanless 500W
(overkill? Seasonic X-400W good enough?)

Expansion Cards (from existing DAW)...
RME HDSP pro audio card (PCI)
RME AEB8-0 pro audio card (PCIe)
UAD-1 DSP card (PCIe)


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 Post subject: Re: Digital Audio Workstation Build: pls. help me pick a cas
PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 8:27 pm 
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scoring4film wrote:
OK, here's the new build in progress. Thanks to all for helping me get this far. All suggestions welcome.

Looks good.
Quote:
Mobo: [Not sure. It needs an integrated GPU and one of the expansion slots must be PCI. Any suggestions?]

A Z68 chipset board is what you want. Supports the built-in GPU & adds full overclocking support for CPU, memory and integrated graphics. There are 48 ATX Z68 at Newegg right now. Scan through them; I'm sure one will fit your needs. Asus & Gigabyte are top dogs among mobo makers, tho Intel isn't far behind. MSI always seems (to me) a bit of an also-ran.
Quote:
Memory: 16Gb (brand/configuration? will depend a bit on mobo choice?)

We prefer low voltage versions of any brand. They are generally more compatible with more gear.
Quote:
Audio and Sample Drives: 3 X WD Green WD20EARS 2TB
(WD Green WD20EARX 2TB SATA3 6Gb/s better option?)

Don't sweat the 3gbs/6gbs difference -- in reality it is meaningless with HDDs, they just can't even come close to saturating the lower bandwidth interface anyway.
Quote:
PSU: Stryker Fanless 500W
(overkill? Seasonic X-400W good enough?)

Johnnyguru's review of the Stryker suggested it may be best used with an AC filter/conditioner. No such weakness w/ the Seasonic, but our one sample of the Stryker is almost completely without electronic buzz/hum -- the bugaboo of fanless power electronics. The Seasonics generally have a touch of it, and some users report it can be audible. Realistically there is no difference between the 400W and 500W rating, not unless your gear demands >400W, which it won't even come close to (I'd guess 150W peaks, depending on # of drives.)

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 Post subject: Re: Digital Audio Workstation Build: pls. help me pick a cas
PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 8:27 pm 
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My experience with the WD Green WD20EARS 2TB: limited multitasking capability; as example, I've started 4 video(xvid) conversion threads with both source and destination files on the WD Green. Result: around 5 fps conversion rate/thread; the same conversions on the other HDD in the system, WD Black 750GB(WD7501AALS) had around 60 fps conversion rate/thread. I don't think that DAW load will go that extreme, but I would add a 500GB-1TB 7200RPM single platter drive as work drive, just in case...


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 Post subject: Re: Digital Audio Workstation Build: pls. help me pick a cas
PostPosted: Fri Nov 11, 2011 7:30 am 
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Nice proposed build. One caveat: I came across this post in the RME user forum by googling "RME sandy bridge". Apparently, the 'avoid Sandy Bridge' stuff is due to Intel's implementation of the PCI to PCI-e bridge (starved for bandwidth). While Intel has updated the bridge firmware, you might want to contact RME directly to make sure your specific PCI card will work as intended.

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 Post subject: Re: Digital Audio Workstation Build: pls. help me pick a cas
PostPosted: Fri Nov 11, 2011 8:02 am 
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Is it possible to suspend two drives and then mount another drive in a HD bay?

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 Post subject: Re: Digital Audio Workstation Build: pls. help me pick a cas
PostPosted: Fri Nov 11, 2011 8:14 am 
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CA_Steve wrote:
scoring4film wrote:
I guess an SSD for the OS drive will pretty much nuke that problem.


Don't know if DAW software uses a scratch disk like you can for Adobe: use a very fast drive for editing, use slow drives for storage.

Other semi-obvious stuff to look out for:
- low latency mobo
- does your apps s/w, plug-ins, add-on cards play well with your mobo/cpu? Should be some stuff on the mfgrs forums.
- does your DAW s/w make use/show a benefit from hyper threading? If so, then i7 over the i5? Same regarding cache size.



hey CA_Steve, none of this stuff is obvious to me. I've swapped out a PSU, RAM, expansion cards, drives, but that's abt. the extent of my build experience to date. I'm so grateful for forums like this, because the never ending learning curves involved with being a composer, performer, orchestrator, mix/mastering engineer, DAW pilot, lay acoustician, audio/computer tech, small businessperson, etc. leave precious few neurons to spare. I know that many of us are in a boat like this these days. I'm not complaining -- I totally love it!

Anyway, as for the latency issue. Latency is a huge concern for DAWs. I know how to test the latency of a system that's up and running -- with this awesome free utility...

http://www.thesycon.de/deu/latency_check.shtml

...but I'm not sure how to get info on a mobo's latency in advance. Where should I look?

My DAW platform (Cubase) definitely benefits from hyperthreading and I'm planning to go with and i7 at this point.
What did you mean by cache size? Is that a CPU or Mobo spec? What do you recommend I look for?

thanks!


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 Post subject: Re: Digital Audio Workstation Build: pls. help me pick a cas
PostPosted: Fri Nov 11, 2011 8:31 am 
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CA_Steve wrote:
Nice proposed build. One caveat: I came across this post in the RME user forum by googling "RME sandy bridge". Apparently, the 'avoid Sandy Bridge' stuff is due to Intel's implementation of the PCI to PCI-e bridge (starved for bandwidth). While Intel has updated the bridge firmware, you might want to contact RME directly to make sure your specific PCI card will work as intended.


thanks again CA_Steve. I just posted to that very thread, asking for opinions on how my older RME PCI card will get along with a Z68 board. I'm not going back to X58 as the poor guy in that thread had to. If Z68's turn out to be problematic, I may have to take out a loan and get at X79 after all.


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 Post subject: Re: Digital Audio Workstation Build: pls. help me pick a cas
PostPosted: Fri Nov 11, 2011 8:44 am 
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After some more research on DAWs and HDD speeds, I'm feeling a little less certain about going with WD Greens. Steinberg, the maker of my DAW platform, says

"RPM rating has a direct influence on how many audio tracks the hard disk can record and play simultaneously" (June, 2011), see... http://www.steinberg.net/en/support/steinberg_support_daw.html#c4954

So I thought maybe a 7200 for the dedicated audio drive and 5400 drives for sample libraries might be the way to go. Then I checked out what heavy sample library users are saying about drive speeds, at places like...

http://www.vi-control.net
http://www.northernsounds.com
http://www.native-instruments.com/forum
http://www.audioforums.com/forums

...and most users recommend 7200rpm drives. The fact that the industry's main sample player (Kontakt player -- practically the only one I use) relies on disk streaming technology was mentioned several times. I also just opened a thread at gearslutz.com on the topic, where so far I've found mixed opinions.

If I do decide to go with 2Tb 7200rpm drives can anyone recommend an option?


Last edited by scoring4film on Sun Nov 13, 2011 5:49 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Digital Audio Workstation Build: pls. help me pick a cas
PostPosted: Fri Nov 11, 2011 8:57 am 
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Location: Aartselaar,Vlaanderen (Europe)
kuzzia wrote:
Is it possible to suspend two drives and then mount another drive in a HD bay?


Below the lowest supension there room for a 2.5" drive, for example a second SSD. On top it's possible to add a 2.5" drive upside down, not a problem for a SSD.

It should be possible to add a 3.5" drive below, but not with the default mounting tray, de drives hit each other. Skipping the mounting tray gives some extra room.
To give some idea see the picture below :
http://www.silentpcreview.com/article1218-page3.html


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 Post subject: Re: Digital Audio Workstation Build: pls. help me pick a cas
PostPosted: Fri Nov 11, 2011 9:21 am 
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Posts: 33
alain wrote:
kuzzia wrote:
Is it possible to suspend two drives and then mount another drive in a HD bay?


Below the lowest supension there room for a 2.5" drive, for example a second SSD. On top it's possible to add a 2.5" drive upside down, not a problem for a SSD.

It should be possible to add a 3.5" drive below, but not with the default mounting tray, de drives hit each other. Skipping the mounting tray gives some extra room.
To give some idea see the picture below :
http://www.silentpcreview.com/article1218-page3.html



Thanks Alain. I checked out the picture but I can't see how where a third drive might go, with two suspended drives in place. Are you suggesting that an HDD be mounted somewhere outside of the HDD cage?


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 Post subject: Re: Digital Audio Workstation Build: pls. help me pick a cas
PostPosted: Fri Nov 11, 2011 10:17 am 
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MikeC wrote:
A Z68 chipset board is what you want. Supports the built-in GPU & adds full overclocking support for CPU, memory and integrated graphics.


I've never used a mobo with a built-in GPU/integrated graphics. Will it be able to handle my two 22" monitors?


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 Post subject: Re: Digital Audio Workstation Build: pls. help me pick a cas
PostPosted: Fri Nov 11, 2011 10:34 am 
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scoring4film wrote:
MikeC wrote:
A Z68 chipset board is what you want. Supports the built-in GPU & adds full overclocking support for CPU, memory and integrated graphics.

I've never used a mobo with a built-in GPU/integrated graphics. Will it be able to handle my two 22" monitors?

Most of Z68 motherboards have HDMI and DVI, and both can be used in an independent dual display configuration.

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 Post subject: Re: Digital Audio Workstation Build: pls. help me pick a cas
PostPosted: Fri Nov 11, 2011 11:00 am 
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Zolishoru wrote:
...I would add a 500GB-1TB 7200RPM single platter drive as work drive, just in case...


Can you recommend a model? How do you find out how many platters a drive has?


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