"New DAW Build not sure which MB"



I apologize if these questions have been answered before.

I have been waiting forever for the latest technology to come out for months it seemed to me that when the new P4 800 mhz CPUs and the WD Raptor 10,000 rpm drives came out DAWs were going to smoke. But now after finding out that I have to wait for pci express to come out my patience is gone. So I have decided that for the first time I will build my own system from the ground up. With you guys experience and the Opus tweak guide I should be able to figure it out. My current system sucks its a ASUS CUSL2 MB,PIII 1ghz running cubase with an RME 96/36 soundcard lightpiped to a Behringer DDX 3216 digital mixer.
I plan on snatchin out the RME to put in my new system which will be only used for Audio no internet. I have been "lurking" this forum for awhile but I am a little shaky on the components that I need. Which MB should I get? The P4PE/L no firewire or SATA, The P4PE/R/L/SATA the cheapest about $75 bucks on ebay, or the P4PE "Black Pearl Edition"? I also read that the firewire and other undesireable functions can be disabled? Will doing this take away from performance?

Here is a list of what I plan to get.

P4 3.06 533mhz
Anus MB not sure whatever you all suggest?
40 gig WD HD 8mb cache
80 gig WD HD 8mb cache
yamaha CDRW F-1
Enermax Power supply not sure how many watts?
Some type of CPU fan?
whatever thermal compound you all suggest?
512 mb of 2700 memory
a rackmountable atx case
and possibly upgrade to Cubase SX

any suggestions will be appreciated thanks


Well-Known Member
Mar 15, 2003
I understand your need for speed, but unless you have a lot of money to waste I would go a different route for a really nice DAW (and I am speaking from experience here):

Go for an ECS K7S5A Pro MoBo with an AMD Athlon XP 2400+ CPU. This combo works extremely well with the RME Hammerfall. Latency on my system is 128 samples (3 ms) and performance is perfectly solid under WinXP Home. I just got this combo at a Fry's Electronics in CA for $109.95 (CPU + MoBo, no fan)!

512 MB of fast RAM (>= PC2100) is the minimum, I would consider 1GB as memory is cheap these days.

I would use Seagate Barracuda IV HD's, they are by far the quietest. The 8MB buffers are nice but I have not run into any bottlenecks with my 2MB version (and I would call myself a demanding user, regularly running 20-30 audio tracks or more).

CD-RW are to the best of my knowledge not critical, get whatever looks appropriate.

Get a Matrox G550 graphics card or a Radeon VE (both have dual heads to control two screens). These have stood the test of time for audio. BTW, getting two LCD panels is a really good idea (better than monitors because of less interference with guitar pickups etc.).

Make sure to get a quiet Enermax powersupply (I am running the EG301P-VE model which I believe has 300W and have no issues whatsoever) and potentially a Zalman quiet CPU fan (check http://www.directron.com for "quiet PC").

Rackmountable cases are nice but still quite expensive ($200 ?). But if that makes you studio much neater I wouldn't hesitate.

The final step:
Get yourself a TC Powercore card. The algorithms (especially Reverbs) are excellent and IMHO worth alone the money. This adds about 2800MHz of CPU power and makes your system smoke any standalone PC.

Again, I am running all of the above and (finally) have a couple of rock-solid systems running. I am however using Logic 5.5 but I believe that should have little impact on the choice of PC.

Hope this helps,



I had considered getting an athlon system in the past but most of the people on this forum say that when running cubase it is best to get Pentium chips. They are drastically $cheaper than Pentium though. The studio that I go to built a double processor athlon which is very fast but they have midi problems I think that alot of the drivers in the plug ins they use have problems. I found a website called http://www.plinkusa.net and they have a new rackmount cases for $65.00. I was considering giving up on my DAW ambitions and just get some type of hardware recorder but they have limitations and once you exploit those limitations you need a DAW to master and do some of the more complex mastering. I am really tired of paying $75 dollars an hour for studio time so that is why I need to build me a new DAW. I am already like $5,000 in to this. I have Cubase,wavelab, and many more plug ins I just need a new system and some lessons to get me over the learning curve and I should be able to get my ideas on wax.


Well-Known Member
Apr 7, 2001
Athlon systems are definitely fast indeed but you have to watch out for the chipsets that are used with them.

Sticking with all AMD chipsets is the safest route to go, as well as the nforce chipsets.

Via has had a bad reputation amongst us DAW users and certain audio cards. Not only that but they have serious PCI latency or data throughput bugs that will and can bite you in one way or another.

Intel has had a couple in the past but usually very rare that they are found by a DAW user.

The dual AMD processor systems are nice but you have to make sure you have good cooling systems for the processors as AMD's run extremely hot.

Also with dual AMD make sure to get the full AMD chipsets and not coupled with anything else. That's typically the problem.

The Asus A7M266-D is the most widely used dual AMD board out there. I think the Tyan is the second.

With the Hyper threading P4's and the 800Mhz FSB systems now speed is of the essence in those systems.

Once the L2 800Mhz FSB P4 CPU's come out all hell will break loose in the realms of speed!

In regards to the 8MB cached drives. That's the best way to open up your performance two fold! I had a 2MB cached drive as my OS drive, running a project off of an 8MB cached drive which ate up about 40% of my CPU. I changed my OS drive to an 8MB cache and the performance of the same project was not at 20% CPU!! No joke here! Blew me away!!

If you get a good solid case that is made well you can get by without having to hear the hard drives in any way. Also there are hard drive silencers out there as well.

Most of the time any case will do, it's when you start using removable IDE carriers that the noise becomes louder! Since I use these I ended up putting my system in my closet which is literally 5' from my desk. So it wasn't hard to set it up in that regards.

Indeed, Enermax or Antec are the way to go in regards to power supplies. The more power the better. Getting a 430 Watt and above is a good thing to do. Enermax has a speed control on their PSU's as well as a nice way of neatening up the cables that come off of it.

CDRW's...indeed, whatever floats your boat as they say!

Video cards, Matrox is the most widely used, ATI is nice but a little overkill unless you want to play games and other assorted stuff of that nature. Remember that an audio application only needs 2D graphics and nothing more....

Todays mainboards to look at for P4 systems are the Asus P4C800 or the Intel D875PBZ.

These have the 800Mhz FSB on them.

If you want just slightly behind the newest technology but still very fast go for the Asus P4G8X system with the dual channel DDR. This is the way to get amazing performance with a 533Mhz FSB system. The dual channel DDR makes the processor truly synchronous with the memory, which is very very important.

Opus :D


Well-Known Member
Mar 15, 2003

I agree with pretty much all you said.

But let me repeat a couple of my statements:

I am running the ECS Mobo with the RME Hammerfall card and the combo is rock solid. The proof is in the pudding that this combination will not cause any trouble. I don't think that Cubase will run much better on a P4 vs. an Athlon but I could be wrong :D .

Also agree with the 8MB statement. Those disks are a good deal faster, but I personally have not gotten even close to maxing out my 2MB Seagate. As a compromise I believe that there are now also 8MB Seagates :D .

Why do you think that a 430W (or above) power supply is needed? I have been running 300W's for quite some time in all kinds of systems without any problems. Just wondering, not disagreeing.



Well-Known Member
Apr 7, 2001
Well, If you go with Win2K you've got dual processor support...I'm sure by now most people are far from using Win98 or WinME(I would shudder to think anyone would even think about WinME! lol)

Yes, I'm sure your motherboard works great..I was just stating what the majority of people use and trust!

Most applications do take advantage of dual processors nowadays so that's not a question.

The difference in the OS is everything!

With XP Pro you have more choices of being able to configure the OS a little more so than the Home version!

It's up to the system though and if you want to eventually upgrade to dual processors..also with Hyper Threading you should get XP Pro as it "officially" supports it more so than the Home version. Besides, next year when the new microslop OS comes out it will be only one version!

This Home verses Pro stuff is silly IMHO.

Why more power? Why take the chance of under powering?!!!

When you work in the electronic industry, hardware, especially audio, you don't mess with power! You don't undercut it!

Indeed a 300 Watter will do you fine but as you add more peripherals or drives you make the PSU work harder! The less strain on it the better your system performs! Trust me, power is a crucial component to any electronic hardware!

I'm not referring to maxing out the drive, I'm referring to giving your overall system a better performance boost. Remember that the PCI bus is one of the worst bottle necks there is on a PC architecture, in fact any computer architecture!

So, opening up the buffer cache gives you an extra added bonus of "oomph"!!!! It's definitely not about drive performance in the long run, it's about the system!

Also remember that the TC Power core card won't fit in all PC Cases! You need a good sized interior for it!

I've played around with that card and didn't find it to be absolutely amazing...I prefered the UAD card IMHO.

Also remember that any DSP card is not an extra CPU to your system or the application in the long run. It's only for the effects and there is still a limitation to running too many at once! Same thing on the UAD card!

In regards to which CPU runs better on Cubase or Nuendo or whatever Native based application...that's a never ending bashing that's a silly one none the less! Both are fine just certain angles you need to be ware of...CHIPSETS!!! lol

Opus :D