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New user looking for opinions on PC recording rig.

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Splinterhead, Oct 17, 2004.

  1. Splinterhead

    Splinterhead Guest

    Hi all!
    I was hoping maybe I could get some opinions on a PC I'm going to be building in the near feature. I'm leaning towards Cubase SX3 as my recording app. and FX Expansion's BFD as my main drum solution. I do not have a soundcard picked out yet. (any pointers in this area would also be welcomed :D )

    As of now I have been using my trusty Roland VS1680 and have had some great results with it but I'm thinking that I need an upgrade.

    I plan on using this machine for work as well (apps include Flash, Premiere, Dreamweaver, Photoshop etc).

    I have the components picked out so I was hoping if anybody can see any potential problems that could get in the way of my build or if anybody has any suggestions I'd really like to hear 'em.

    1. Case
    -Thermaltake Case - Full Tower
    -Compatibility: Micro ATX, Standard ATX & Extended ATX(Dual CPU)
    -Dimensions: 19"x 8"x 22" (HxWxD)

    2. Motherboard
    -MSI "K8T NEO2-FIR" VIA K8T800 Pro Chipset Motherboard for AMD Socket 939 CPU
    -Slots: 1x AGP 8X, 5x PCI
    -Ports: 2x PS/2,1x COM,1x LPT,8x USB2.0(Rear 4),1x IEEE1394,1x RJ45,1x S/PDIF out,1x IrDA, Audio Ports
    -IDE: 2x ATA 133 up to 4 Devices, 1x ATA 133 up to 2 Devices by Promise 20579 with RAID 0/1/0+1
    -SATA: 2x SATA with RAID 0/1, 2x SATA by Promise 20579 with RAID 0/1/0+1

    3. CPU
    -AMD Athlon 64 3500+, Socket 939, 512KB L2 Cache 64-bit Processor

    4.Power Supply
    -Antec 550W Power Supply, Model "TRUE550"
    -Type: ATX

    5. RAM
    -CORSAIR XMS Extreme Memory Speed Series, (Twin Pack) 184 Pin 2GB(1GBx2) DDR PC-3200
    -Registered/Unbuffered: Unbuffered
    -Cas Latency: 3-3-3-8
    -Special Features: New high-efficiency aluminum XMS heatsink, 18 activity LED's show level of memory activity

    6. Harddrive for OS and work related stuff
    -Western Digital Special Edition 80GB 7200RPM IDE Hard Drive, Model WD800JB
    -Average Seek Time: 8.9 ms
    -Buffer: 8MB
    -Rotational Speed: 7200 RPM

    7. Harddrive for Audio Applications
    -Western Digital 80GB 7200RPM SATA Hard Drive, Model WD800JD
    -Average Seek Time: 8.9 ms
    -Buffer: 8MB
    -Rotational Speed: 7200 RPM
    -Interface: Serial ATA

    8. Harddrive for Audio Files, Drum Kits (samples) etc
    -Western Digital 250GB 7200RPM SATA Hard Drive, Model WD2500JD
    -Average Seek Time: 8.9 ms
    -Buffer: 8MB
    -Rotational Speed: 7200 RPM
    -Interface: Serial ATA

    9. Graphics Card
    -SAPPHIRE ATI RADEON X800 PRO Video Card, 256MB GDDR3, 256-bit, DVI/TV-out, 8X AGP
    -Chipset: ATI RADEON X800 PRO

    I wasn't sure if the X800 supports dual monitors. If any of you guys have any experience with this graphics card I'd really like to hear it.

    Also I'm concerned about latency and overall performance. I really want to be able to run at least 32 tracks with plugins without a hitch. I was wondering if you guys think this machine will be able to handle it.

    Also if you see any redflags that I should be worried about please let me know.

    I really appreciate your help!
  2. David French

    David French Distinguished Member

    Jun 19, 2002
    Tell us about how many tracks you want to record simultaneously and what other features you're looking for and we can recommend a soundcard. I can vouch for Cubase as a nice app. I am using 2.0 and I love it.

    I'm no expert on 64 bit systems, but I can tell you that VIA chipsets have a very bad reputation in the DAW world. Perhaps you should consider the MSI K8N Neo2 Platinum motherboard since it uses the NVidia Nforce3 chipset, a chipset with a very good rep with respect to audio.

    You machine will definitely be able to run the ammount of plugs you mentioned.

    Your situation is very similar to someone else's here that I recently helped. You should read that thread.
  3. Splinterhead

    Splinterhead Guest

    Hi David,
    thanks for answering my post so quickly.

    I checked out the post you recommended and it was very informative. And I also checked out the new mobo you mentioned:

    MSI K8N Neo2 Platinum -
    Chipset: nForce3 ULTRA
    RAM: 4x DIMM Supports dual channel DDR266/333/400 Max 4GB
    Slots: 1x AGP 4X/8X, 5x PCI
    Ports: 2x PS/2, 1x COM, 1x LPT, 8x USB2.0(Rear 4), 1x IEEE1394, 2xRJ45, 1x S/PDIF Out, Audio Ports
    IDE: 2x ATA 133 up to 4 Devices
    SATA/RAID: 4x SATA RAID with 0,1,0+1

    I was wondering if you feel that this board is a good match for my existing components?

    In answer to your question I'd like to be able to record at least 8 tracks at one time.

    Thanks again for all your help.
  4. David French

    David French Distinguished Member

    Jun 19, 2002
    Check out the M-Audio Delta 1010 and the Aardvark Q10, both nice cards for the money. I'm sure that board will work with the other components you've picked out, but I really don't know the board well.
  5. zemlin

    zemlin Distinguished Member

    Sep 4, 2004
    Indianapolis, IN
    Home Page:
    Just a quick scan over your list and two things come to mind.

    1) 550W is overkill for a power supply - unless you want to build a noise maker.

    2) I'm not sure what Dreamweaver needs for a graphics card, but I think you want a killer 2D card - not a killer 3D game card. As in the other thread French mentions - Matrox may be more bang for your buck.
  6. Splinterhead

    Splinterhead Guest

    I was also curious if I should look out for any specific CD/DVD drive/burners. I hear that Plextor is very good. I was checking out the two models below.

    Plextor Black 52x32x52 CD-RW Drive, Model PX-PREMIUM/SW BLK

    Plextor 12X DVD+/-RW Drive, Model PX-712A

    If you can recommend anything else that you feel is better please do so.

    Also as the n00b that I am I have a stupid question concerning motherboard chipsets. The board you recommended has a NVidia Chipset, does this have any bearing on graphic card compatibility as the one I picked out was an ATI.
  7. Splinterhead

    Splinterhead Guest

    I went high because I know that higher end graphic cards can really suck down the power. Do you think 500W is a better choice?
    I do video editing as well so I assumed (dangerous word) that the more bleeding edge the better. I'll check out Matrox. If you feel there is any particular card that's pretty decent please let me know.

    Thanks for your help.
  8. zemlin

    zemlin Distinguished Member

    Sep 4, 2004
    Indianapolis, IN
    Home Page:
    I run an Antec 380W. Since noise and heat are issues, add up the power requirements on your components and see what is really necessary rather than just aiming high when it probably isn't necessary.

    "Tweakers" may buy a power supply with a high rating because they can - thinking it's better. Cheap 500W supplies will have high current ratings on a couple of the voltages, but disproportionately low values on some of the others. It allows them to put a big sticker on the box without lying, but doesn't really provide the necessary power for a fat system.

    A conservatively and better balanced power supply (like an Antec) will likely out-perform a Hu-Flung-Pu 500W PSU.

    "Bleeding Edge" cards are going for game performance with 3D hardware. You're talking 2D for video - completely different animal as far as what the card has to do. Don't get hung up on the amount of RAM either - Big RAM numbers are for texture mapping, not 2D graphics. The Matrox P650 or P750 cards may well be better for you - their multi-monitor implementation is far better than nVidia or ATI.
  9. David French

    David French Distinguished Member

    Jun 19, 2002
    In my experience, motherboard chipsets in relation to video card chipsets have no bearing on video card compatibility. The Matrox cards are renown for their compatibility and stability and because of this they are the DAW standard. Choose a model depending on what features you want and you should be good to go.

    As you can tell by reading the other thread, I am a big fan of the Nexus power supplies. I think having the fan on the bottom is a great innovation because it helps get more heat out of the case. Also, they are dead silent. They make a 400 watt version that you should look into. I agree 100% withy Zemlin's comments on power supplies.
  10. Splinterhead

    Splinterhead Guest

    Thanks for all your help guys.
    I'll make some more changes (Nexus, Matrox) to my list and start to finalize everything. Thanks again!
  11. thbears

    thbears Guest

    Another thing you should pickup is Arctic Silver 5 and a decent HSF setup like the Thermalright SLK's. They all copper and are excellent heat dissipators. Along with a good 92mm fan to keep the sound down but the CFM's High enough to cool your CPU. Also rounded cables will help a lot vs the big ribbons that come with your case.
  12. Big_D

    Big_D Well-Known Member

    Aug 21, 2004
    Quakertown PA
    Just want to chime in here, You do not want to go with a smaller power supply, I would suggest you stick with the 550. You stated you want to run 3 HDD's. On startup you'll be spining up 3 drives and that is a tremendous load on the PS, not to mention all of your cards, fans, MOBO and a power sucking CPU. It is a common mistake to only add up the power requirements and choose a PS. You must also take into account what type of devices and how many you will be powering as HDD's put 2 to 3 times the load on the PS at startup as when running at full speed. The other statements about a balanced PS are true, don't be mislead by numbers. I would suggest you visit this site as it contains info and tests on just about every peice of computer hardware out there.


    Stay away from VIA chipsets for any PC. David's suggestion of Nvidia chipsets for AMD's is a good one.

    Plextor makes the best burners out there. Go with the DVD burner not the CD-RW. It's more versitale and 52X drives are known for problems.

    The Thermaltake case is a great choice (I have one for my gaming rig) just make sure you get a model with a fan speed control and temperature readout.

    I have to run so I'll add to the post later :D
  13. zemlin

    zemlin Distinguished Member

    Sep 4, 2004
    Indianapolis, IN
    Home Page:
    Each drive will draw about 25-30 Watts when spinning up.
  14. Splinterhead

    Splinterhead Guest

    Thanks for the input Big D, 'preciate it.
    Things have changed a little bit as I continue to research my build. This is what I've gathered so far, please feel free to comment :D .

    The motherboard I'm now currently looking at is the DFI "LANPARTY UT nF3 250Gb" NVIDIA nForce3 250GB Chipset. Since it's a 754 socket I have to change my CPU (people are saying that the Clawhammer is better then the New Castle). The impression that I'm getting is that the 939 boards aren't really that stable and don't really deliver a killer performance upgrade over the 754. It seems that Also there isn't really a great selection of 'em either. Also I heard that the Hitachi or Maxtor drives may be a better bet. The memory will also have to change as well as that I have not been able to find out if the DFI will support 1 gig sticks as opposed to 512 sticks. I tell ya trying to configure a machine is pretty confusing :? .

    If anybody has ANY suggestions or comments please don't hesitate to pipe it. Believe me I could use the help.

  15. golli

    golli Active Member

    Apr 17, 2003
    I'm with Big-D on the PSU issue.

    Both because of start up and secondly and more important if you go with the advice on the Aardvark Q10 you better have a big PSU.
    If you plan on using those 8 micpre's at a time. It draws from the PCI bus.
  16. Big_D

    Big_D Well-Known Member

    Aug 21, 2004
    Quakertown PA
    When shopping for a PS, don't shop by wattage look at the amperage each provides at a specific voltage. Your PS supplies 12V, 5V and 3.3V. If you add up the amperage draw of all of the components in your system that draw 12V you can calculate how much amperage and watts will be required from your PS for the 12V leg and you can shop for a unit that fits that requirement. The same applies to the 5V and 3.3V. Here's a very simple example.
    I rounded the numbers for simplicity sake and only included a few items. Many components use more than one voltage but I've only included 12V. The HDD is at full speed.

    Processor - 8A X 12V = 96 Watts
    HDD - 2A X 12V = 24 Watts
    DVD - 1A X 12V = 12 Watts
    Fan - .25A x 12V = 3 Watts

    As you can see the amps add up to 11.25 and the watts add up to 135. You now have some numbers to look for when shopping for a PS. Remember this is the minimum your system can use and the ps should exceed these numbers by at least 20%. The most important number to be concerned with is the 12V figure because this is where cheap PS's fall short, the overall watts look good but the 12V watts are below standard. Do the same for 5V and 3.3V and check each voltages amperage or watt total against the manufactuers specs to find a unit that is suitable. Adding all of the numbers will give you the total wattage requirement.

    One last note if you don't intend to play games on your PC I would go with the Matrox as suggested. I would also suggest sticking with a 462 pin socket MOBO. The other stuff is just too new and most of the makers of these MOBO's are not exactly top shelf or use the VIA chipset. My recomendations would be ASUS A7N8X-E Deluxe with an Athlon XP 3200+ and the memory David recomended to you. This is a time tested setup used by many gamers and DAW users alike and it kicks ass. You will never notice the 300 Mhz difference between the 3200 and 3500 and you'll pay twice the price. Remember stability is key for a DAW and with really new hardware like the 3500 and the MOBO's that go with it your taking a chance. If you really must have the 3500 I would suggest waiting until ASUS or ABIT release a MOBO. The reason they don't have one out yet is because they get it right before they ship it.

    Hope this helped :D
  17. David French

    David French Distinguished Member

    Jun 19, 2002
    Another great lesson, D! :cool:

    Thanks 8)
  18. dabmeister music

    dabmeister music Active Member

    Jan 11, 2003
    Woodbridge, Va
    Home Page:
    I'll have to side with going with a bigger power supply also. I went through having to replace a PSU a while back. I run 2 IDE & 1 SCSI HD along w/ 3 internal fans in a rack case. If I had stuck with a 300 or 400 watt power supply, I'd be changing it every 3 to 6 months (if that). Go bigger, it'll pay off in the long run.
  19. Splinterhead

    Splinterhead Guest

    Big D,
    excellent treatise on power. I really appreciate the effort :). So it looks like a 550W power supply will do the trick.

    I originally started with the 939 socket board because of the dual channels for memory. Then I found out that when you populate all the DIMMS in the board the FSB goes south. So that's why I went down to the 754. I also like the DFI board because I've seen some great reviews and also with the nF3 chipset there is no north bridge or south bridge, just one chip and I've heard that really helps with latency issues. Mind you all this info is making me a bit :? so I'm going to continue researching.

    My list to date:

    Thermaltake Xaser V Damier Black Full-Tower Case, Model "V5000A"

    Case Type: Modern Tower –Xaser V Damier
    Color: Black
    Material: Metal
    Drive Bays: 5.25" x 5/0, 3.5" x 2/3 (external/internal)
    Expansion Slots: 7
    Front Ports: Dual USB2.0, IEEE1394 Firewire, audio & speaker ports
    Power Supply: N/A
    Cooling System: 2 x 80mm, 3 x 90mm
    Motherboard Compatibility: Micro ATX, Standard ATX & Extended ATX(Dual CPU)
    Dimensions: 19"x 8"x 22" (HxWxD)
    Special Features: Tt VIP Pack include: Damier series mouse pad, sticker, CD-ROM disc with screen saver and wallpapers

    Antec 550W Power Supply, Model "TRUE550"

    - Specifications -

    Type: ATX
    Maximum Power: 550W
    PFC: No
    Power Good Signal: 100-500ms
    Hold-up Time: >= 17ms at Full Load
    Efficiency: >= 68%
    Over Voltage Protection: +5V trip point<+6.5V; +3.3V trip point<+4.1V; +12V trip point<+14.4V
    Overload Protection: Latching Protection+5V @<47A;+3.3V @ <48A;+12V @ <18A
    Input Voltage: 115/230 VAC
    Input Frequency Range: 47-63 Hz
    Input Current: 10.0A for 115VAC; 6.0A for 230VAC
    Output: +3.3V@32A; +5V@40A; -5V@0.5A; +12V@24A; -12V@1A; +5VSB@2A
    MTBF: 80,000 hrs. @ 25ºC

    DFI "LANPARTY UT nF3 250Gb" NVIDIA nForce3 250GB Chipset Motherboard For AMD Socket 754 CPU

    - Specifications -

    Supported CPU: AMD Athlon 64 processor
    Chipset: NVIDIA nForce3 250Gb
    RAM: 3x DIMM Supports DDR266/333/400 Max 3GB
    Slots: 1x AGP 8X/4X, 5x PCI
    Ports: 2x PS/2, 1x COM, 1x LPT, 8x USB2.0(Rear 4), 1xRJ45, 2x S/PDIF In/Out, Audio Ports
    IDE: 2x ATA 133 up to 4 Devices
    SATA/RAID: 2x SATA RAID with NVIDIA RAID 0,1,0+1,JBOD, 2x SATA by Marvell SATA PHY
    Onboard Audio: Realtek ALC850(8-Ch)
    Onboard LAN: Marvell 88E1111 GbE PHY
    Form Factor: ATX

    AMD Athlon 64 3400+, 512k L2 Cache, The Only 64-bit Windows Compatible Processor - OEM


    Model: AMD Athlon 64 3400+
    Core: Newcastle
    Operating Frequency: 2.4GHz
    FSB: Integrated int chip
    Cache: L1/64K+64K; L2/512K
    Voltage: 1.5V
    Process: 0.13Micron
    Socket: Socket 754
    Multimedia Instruction: MMX, SSE, SSE2, 3DNOW!, 3DNOW!+
    Packaging: OEM(Processor Only)

    Harddrive1 for OS and work apps
    Maxtor Ultra Series Kit 120GB 7200RPM IDE Hard Drive, Model L01P120, Retail

    - Specifications -

    Capacity: 120 GB
    Average Seek Time: 9.3 ms
    Buffer: 8 MB
    Rotational Speed: 7,200 RPM
    Interface: IDE ULTRA ATA133
    Features: Ideal for high-end gaming and digital video, Ultra quiet operation with FDB motor
    Manufacturer Warranty: 1 year
    Packaging: Retail (see pics for details)

    Harddrive 2 – audio apps
    Maxtor Ultra Series Kit 80GB 7200RPM SATA Hard Drive, Model L01M080, Retail

    - Specifications -

    Capacity: 80 GB
    Average Seek Time: 9.3 ms
    Buffer: 8 MB
    Rotational Speed: 7,200 RPM
    Interface: Serial SATA150
    Features: Ideal for high-end gaming and digital video, Ultra quiet operation with FDB motor
    Manufacturer Warranty: 1 year
    Packaging: Retail (see pics for details)

    Harddrive 3 – audio files, sample sets
    Maxtor 250GB 7200RPM SATA Hard Drive, Model 6B250S0, OEM Drive Only

    - Specifications -
    Capacity: 250GB
    Average Seek Time: 9.0 ms
    Buffer: 16MB
    Rotational Speed: 7200 RPM
    Interface: Serial ATA 150
    Features: SATA II, -NCQ [Native Command Queuing]
    Manufacturer Warranty: 3 years
    Packaging: OEM Drive Only

    Plextor 12X DVD+/-RW Drive, Black, Model PX-712SA/SW-BL, Retail

    - Specifications -

    Write Speed: 12X DVD+R, 4X DVD+RW, 8X DVD-R, 8X DVD-RW, 48X CD-R, 24X CD-RW
    Read Speed: 48X CD-ROM, 16X DVD-ROM
    Interface: SATA
    Buffer: 8MB
    OS Support: Windows XP/ 2000
    Features: Lossless linking technology, Buffer UnderRun Proof technology, POWEREC, GIGAREC, Q-CHECK, SECUREC, SILENT MODE.
    Packaging: Retail Box (see pictures for details).

    Graphics card will probably be the Matrox as advised.

    Still on the hunt for memory.

    Soundcard will more likely be the M-Audio Delta 1010

    Again if anyone would like to put their .02 in it would be greatly appreciated

    and thanks again for everybody's input, you've all been a great help!
  20. Big_D

    Big_D Well-Known Member

    Aug 21, 2004
    Quakertown PA
    Any time guys. It's nice to know someone is actually reading this stuff.

    The 550W PS will work with plenty of reserve for extra fans, cards and the like. The 500 would also be sufficient but with less wiggle room. The Antec Truepower PSU's have great spec's and the fans (2) are temperature controlled so they are very quiet. Actually David alot like the Nexxus with a downward pointing fan and the traditional fan out the back.

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