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 Post subject: Need advice on custom build from AVAdirect
PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2012 8:58 am 
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Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2012 8:38 am
Posts: 3
I'm a newbie whose current system is a 7-yr old Dell. I need a new system, and based on several days trying to educate myself reading lots of stuff on the internet, I've decided to order a custom system from AVAdirect. I would greatly appreciate it if people with more knowledge could critique the system below and let me know if I need to switch anything out, if there are compatibility issues, or if I'm just completely misguided about the whole thing.

My requirements: I don't play games, and the most demanding thing I would eventually like to do with the system is record, process, and mix music. I'll be selecting my software and audio interface after I get the computer so I can't give you specifics, other than to say that I'll probably only be recording a max of 2 tracks simultaneously and have pretty modest needs. In addition to that, I also use my computer as my primary means of listening to music, streaming it throughout the house using Squeezebox, and I also watch movies on Netflix, and do the typical web browsing, word processing, etc. The price needs to be under $1500, and if it's closer to $1000, even better.

My case has to sit on top of my desk about 2 feet away from my head, so quiet is one of my top priorities, along with running cool, energy efficiency, long-term reliability, and quick startup of the whole system and the most frequently used applications.

I tried to select parts that were recommended on SPCR, as well as other sites. AVAdirect has a pretty wide selection of parts, but it's not unlimited, so hopefully whatever parts anyone recommends is available through them.

ANTEC, Performance One P183 V3 Black Mid-Tower Case, ATX, No PSU
ENERMAX, Lepa Gold G500-MA Power Supply w/ Modular Cables, 500W, 80 PLUS® Gold, 24-pin ATX12V EPS12V, 2x 8/6-pin PCIe, Retail
ASUS, P8Z68-V PRO/GEN3, LGA1155, Intel® Z68, DDR3-2200 (O.C.) 32GB /4, PCIe x16 SLI CF /1+1*, SATA 3Gb/s RAID 5 /4, 6Gb/s /3, VGA+DVI+HDMI+DP, USB 3.0 /2, HDA, GbLAN, ATX, Retail
INTEL, Core™ i5-2500K Quad-Core 3.3 - 3.7GHz TB, HD Graphics 3000, LGA1155, 6MB L3 Cache, 32nm, 95W, EM64T EIST VT-x XD, Retail
KINGSTON, 8GB (2 x 4GB) ValueRAM PC3-10600 DDR3 1333MHz CL9 (9-9-9) 1.5V SDRAM DIMM, Non-ECC
CRUCIAL, 128GB M4 SSD, MLC Marvell 88SS9174, 500/175 MB/s, 2.5-Inch, SATA 6 Gb/s, Retail
WESTERN DIGITAL, 2TB WD Caviar® Green™ (WD20EARX), SATA 6 Gb/s, IntelliPower™, 64MB Cache
ASUS, DRW-24B1ST Black 24x DVD±R/RW Dual-Layer Burner, SATA, OEM
MICROSOFT, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit Edition w/ SP1, OEM

Also adding UPS from Amazon: APC BE550G Back-UPS ES 8 Outlet 550VA 120V


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 Post subject: Re: Need advice on custom build from AVAdirect
PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:30 am 
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Joined: Thu Jul 03, 2008 4:27 am
Posts: 1728
Location: Switzerland
polecrab wrote:
modest needs ... The price needs to be under $1500, and if it's closer to $1000, even better.

My case has to sit on top of my desk about 2 feet away from my head, so quiet is one of my top priorities, along with running cool, energy efficiency, long-term reliability, and quick startup of the whole system and the most frequently used applications.

I don't know AVAdirect and I don't care to learn anything about them. But I can tell you this: it's possible to do better with that budget if you use another supplier.

Sandy Bridge is a good choice at the moment but it would be best if you could wait a month or two. The last release date I've seen for the next generation is the 29th of April so it's a bit late to dump money in the current one.

I also think your budget is a too high. I'd prefer to spend less and save some money for repairs or upgrades if they become necessary. You can't predict when you'll need them, no matter how much you spend.

Other than that, basically I think you have two choices:
a) a completely silent computer which means having a NAS instead of an internal hard drive, paying more for the same performance and compromising on flexibility (if that's what you want, ask and people will provide specific links)
b) a very quiet computer which requires fancy and fairly uncommon parts (unless you're willing to replace the powerful parts you've selected with low-power gear which doesn't make much sense considering your budget and requirements)

Assuming you go with b) here's what I'd change:
-buy a very quiet aftermarket heatsink/fan for the CPU (no need for a huge one as the CPU will probably never pull more than 50W if you don't use its 3D capabilities)
-replace the power supply with a very efficient model like the 550W Kingwin Platinum since you want efficiency and can afford it
-replace the board and CPU with the next generation if you can wait (if not, get a board which supports the next generation and a cheap dual-core you'll be upgrading soon)
-in your situation, I'd go for the cheapest quad-core CPU unless the price difference was small (I don't know what prices are going to look like but the upcoming 3450 might be good value)
-replace the Asus board with a more efficient one since you said you wanted efficency
-use a single 4G stick of RAM since you'll probably not be needing more and you'll be able to add a second anytime (keep in mind pointless RAM consumes power)
-if I wanted to buy Windows, I'd buy a full version (not OEM) and I'd try the free pre-release version first (if it works for you, buy Windows 8 when it comes out and if not, buy Windows 7)

I'm not familiar with the case you selected so I won't comment on it. In general, if you want an internal drive, you'll want to be able to suspend it. You'll also want a very quiet case fan. Check reliable reviews such as SPCR's if you're unsure. Don't buy something for which you haven't seen a reliable review which pays attention to noise.


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 Post subject: Re: Need advice on custom build from AVAdirect
PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2012 10:50 am 
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Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2012 8:38 am
Posts: 3
Thanks for that response hfat. I would prefer not to get an NAS because wouldn't that significantly slow down my startup and access times?

Regarding the Sandy Bridge, if they're releasing a new generation next month, then even if I stuck with the 2500k, the price would probably go down significantly right? So then it sounds like I should wait until after the new release before ordering my computer. Let me know if that logic makes sense.

Regarding the CPU heat sink/fan, I would need more than whatever standard heat sink intel supplies even if I don't overclock?

I'll see if avadirect can substitute that platinum psu, which they don't show on their options (they start with the 850 in that series).

Can you recommend any more efficient boards or will the next generation of processors require a new board to match?

I wanted to get 8g of ram so I would have plenty of memory to set up a ram disk for my cache to reduce writing on the ssd.

On the OS, I was wondering about windows 8 but didn't want to wait until October. Also, what are the disadvantages of getting the oem vs the full version, other than not having the disks?

I appreciate all the info.


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 Post subject: Re: Need advice on custom build from AVAdirect
PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2012 3:08 pm 
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Joined: Thu Oct 06, 2005 4:36 am
Posts: 4737
Location: Monterey Bay, CA
Hi and welcome to SPCR. You might want to do a forum search for DAW and "digital audio workstation" - lots of people have asked about builds for this app. Here's one. While your needs are modest (with just 2 channels), it's worth a look.

The selected components are fine.
- You can probably move down the price/feature list on the mobo - but it depends on what connectivity you need for your DAW stuff.
- You do want to select an aftermarket CPU cooler.
- Using the WD Greens are probably ok for recording...but may be iffy if you are using sampling libraries...again maybe not with just 2 channels.
- If you opt for a DAW plug in card for recording - stay away from PCI and go with PCIe. Sandybridge doesn't have a native PCI controller and uses a PCIe to PCI bridge that has played havoc (high latency, etc) with some DAW builds.

Ava Direct: I'm assuming you don't want to build it yourself, you want someone else to build it with your selected components. You might wish have AVA Direct add Acoustipak material for additional dampening. If you have the cash to spare, check out Puget Sound and the Serenity edition. More markup than AVA Direct, but each system is hand tuned for quiet/silent operation.

IvyBridge: Yeah, it's due at the end of April. I wouldn't consider doing a build until August (too many motherboard firmware updates happen in the first few months of release).

_________________
1080p Gaming build: i5-4670K, Mugen 4, MSI Z87-G45, MSI GTX 760 2GB Gaming, 8GB 1866 RAM, Samsung Evo 250GB, Crucial MX100 256GB, WD Red 2TB, Samsung DVD burner, Fractal Define R4, Antec True Quiet 140 (2 front + rear) case fans, Seasonic X-560. 35-40W idle, 45-55W video streaming, 170-200W WoW, 200-230W Rift, 318W stress test (Prime95 + Furmark)

Support SPCR through these links: NCIX, Amazon and Newegg


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 Post subject: Re: Need advice on custom build from AVAdirect
PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 6:48 am 
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Joined: Thu Jul 03, 2008 4:27 am
Posts: 1728
Location: Switzerland
polecrab wrote:
Thanks for that response hfat. I would prefer not to get an NAS because wouldn't that significantly slow down my startup and access times?

The NAS would be for the bulky data, not your OS and programs. Those would go on the SSD and you wouldn't be slowed down.
With a NAS, I expect you would only keep your current data on your SSD and move data from/to your NAS when you stop/restart a project. But it depends on how bulky are your projects' data...

polecrab wrote:
Regarding the Sandy Bridge, if they're releasing a new generation next month, then even if I stuck with the 2500k, the price would probably go down significantly right? So then it sounds like I should wait until after the new release before ordering my computer. Let me know if that logic makes sense.

I can't predict prices but yeah, one can hope.
If you want the last generation on the cheap, you should buy used parts or simply a used computer. Some people like to build a new computer regularly and they need cash to finance this hobby...

polecrab wrote:
Regarding the CPU heat sink/fan, I would need more than whatever standard heat sink intel supplies even if I don't overclock?

If you don't want overclock, there's little point in paying extra for a CPU that can be overclocked (their model numbers end in K).
The point of a good aftermarket heatsink/fan is the reduced noise. See SPCR's reviews. If you're OK with a little noise, you don't need one. But if low noise is a priority and considering your large budget, you can afford a really quiet model.

polecrab wrote:
Can you recommend any more efficient boards or will the next generation of processors require a new board to match?

Good reviews will have that information. In general, Intel and MSI sell the most efficient boards. Asus' selling-point is features.

polecrab wrote:
I wanted to get 8g of ram so I would have plenty of memory to set up a ram disk for my cache to reduce writing on the ssd.

One of the points of good SSDs like the one you're planning to buy is that you won't have to bother with RAM disks.
You don't need to go out of your way reduce writing considering what you want to do with it.

polecrab wrote:
Also, what are the disadvantages of getting the oem vs the full version, other than not having the disks?

The full version can (in theory) be used forever on your future computers as long as you only use it on one computer at a time (you're supposed to remove Windows from the old computer if it still works).
The full version can be resold legally (if any of you have full licenses of old Windows versions at a good price, I'm buying) and allows you to choose between 32 and 64 bits.


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 Post subject: Re: Need advice on custom build from AVAdirect
PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 2:58 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2012 8:38 am
Posts: 3
CA_Steve, that was helpful advice. The DAW discussions are illuminating, although most of those users' requirements are probably going to be more high-powered than mine. I'm upgrading from an ancient standalone digital recording unit that I recently sold and a 4-track so even the most stripped down free versions of most recording software will spoil me rotten. I'm planning to use an external audio interface (hopefully USB 3.0 if there are any available) rather than a card, so that's not a factor for me. I actually modeled parts of my build after the Puget Sound Serenity, but I couldn't justify their huge markup. On the other hand, I added all of these parts to a Newegg shopping cart and the price of the parts ended up being only like $100 less than AVAdirect's quote, so I liked their price/performance ratio. But looks like I have several months to research this and maybe switch out some of these parts.


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 Post subject: Re: Need advice on custom build from AVAdirect
PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 3:25 pm 
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Joined: Thu Oct 06, 2005 4:36 am
Posts: 4737
Location: Monterey Bay, CA
Best of luck with your build. Since you have the time, you might wander over to gearslutz.com and see if there are any issues with USB3 vs using Firewire.

_________________
1080p Gaming build: i5-4670K, Mugen 4, MSI Z87-G45, MSI GTX 760 2GB Gaming, 8GB 1866 RAM, Samsung Evo 250GB, Crucial MX100 256GB, WD Red 2TB, Samsung DVD burner, Fractal Define R4, Antec True Quiet 140 (2 front + rear) case fans, Seasonic X-560. 35-40W idle, 45-55W video streaming, 170-200W WoW, 200-230W Rift, 318W stress test (Prime95 + Furmark)

Support SPCR through these links: NCIX, Amazon and Newegg


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