Where to buy computer

Discussion in 'Computing' started by ThirdBird, Dec 2, 2009.

  1. ThirdBird

    ThirdBird Active Member

    Dec 4, 2007
    Toms River, NJ
    I am looking for a custom computer. I would put it together myself, but I am not that handy. I don't want to go with a customized name brand, such as Dell or HP. I am looking for a company that builds custom desktops. I want this to work with Sonar 7 and a Presonus FireProject.

    Here is my wish list:

    i7 processor
    3 500g hard drives
    firewire capability
    simple dvd burner
    ethernet connection
    windows 7

    my questions:

    how much ram would be good?
    what version of win 7 would be good?
    is it worth it to just use an USB interface?
    is around $1000 USD feasible?

    Final Thoughts:

    Could you guys give some tips of things I might be missing or additional things I should consider?

    Do you guys know of any online companies that you recommend for this type of application?

    How much harder would it be to buy parts separately and just DIY?

  2. EricIndecisive

    EricIndecisive Active Member

    Jan 4, 2007
    TRUST ME you do NOT need to be handy at all to build your own computer. I have no experience with doing it and I built my current machine.

    I bought all my stuff off newegg, including a 22 inch monitor for about $1500 after the rebates.

    I have 4 gigs of ram. But watch out for windows 7. I loved the OS but when I tried to record I would get all these clicks and pops that would not go away. Went back to XP and all is candy.

    What cost a big chunk of mine as well was a good graphics card. If you get a cheaper one you can significantly lower your cost.

    Do you need monitors / speakers? If you're going to leave this computer in one place, get a bigger case so you get more air going through it as well as more room to move and put in different things if need be. (some smaller cases can't fit certain boards)

    your questions, my answers:

    4 gigs of ram
    windows xp (it could have just been an error with my soundcard and the OS)
    no. firewire ftw!
    yes, around $1,000 give about $200 I'd say.

    your final thoughts, my .. thoughts:

    online company to what? build the computer?
    will be VERY easy and MUCH cheaper to build it yourself.

    all the cables and wires can only go into one place essentially, and there are plenty of guides online on how to do it. It's honestly "put this board in this slot, attach it to the power supply" and that's it.
  3. ThirdBird

    ThirdBird Active Member

    Dec 4, 2007
    Toms River, NJ
    thank you for your response.

    some additional questions/comments:

    i have a monitors already, but a 2nd would be groovy

    do i need a soundcard if I get the presonus firewire interface? would i also need to get a firewire pci card?

    i have no problem installing hard drives, pci cards, ram, and dvd drives, but installing the motherboard to the case, as well as the cpu and power supply would be tricky and uncomfortable.

    i have xp media edition and been having using that, but i understand that pro is way better. so i will definitely upgrade that

    are there any other cheaper alternatives to the i7? i am currently running out of a stock dell that has a pentium-4, 2.80. i am pretty sure anything currently on the market would be an upgrade... is there any company that offers sales of only cases, motherboards, power supplies and fans, and cpus, already installed?

    thanks for the help!
  4. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Scotland, UK
    Just screw it in, shouldn't be difficult if you can screw things in. Not screw up, screw in.

    Generally the motherboard goes in first, then the power supply, then wire up the bits which are either colour coded or very simplistic. Usually the front buttons and front USB and audio are all labelled separately.

    You *can* buy barebones PCs, depends on the retailer and actual kit on what you get and what you still need to install.
  5. EricIndecisive

    EricIndecisive Active Member

    Jan 4, 2007
    Yeah don't be afraid of putting in the power supply and motherboard. Literally, the power supply is a box that you secure to the bottom of the computer. it's the same thing as like on your x box (i actually used an xbox cable to plug in when i lost mine lol). the motherboard, just be easy with it. as long as you're not literally throwing it in you should be fine. as with any computer parts make sure you're grounded when you put them in.

    i'm not sure if you will need a soundcard. i don't think so though. i put on my firepod drivers and listen through the headphone jack, and can hook up my speakers to play through that as well.

    as far as processors, i think i have some variation of this.


    look at the reviews. 95% of people gave it a 4 or 5.

    you don't need a gaming-level processor to run music software. give yourself some more credit, you can build this alone easy. plus it's fun having a big stack of boxes it's like adult legos.
  6. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    Oct 16, 2008
    Frozen Tundra of CT
    If you are planning on getting a Presonus interface it would probably be wise to get a PCI firewire card with a Texas Instrument chip. You do not require a sound card for monitoring or recording but may want one for computer sounds, media player etc.
    Building a computer from parts is not really difficult the most difficulty comes from choosing equipment that is well matched and plays together nicely. A vendor like Newegg or others can be an ally in this, you should call them and see what advice they can offer you.
  7. ThirdBird

    ThirdBird Active Member

    Dec 4, 2007
    Toms River, NJ
    more questions:

    1. can i run sonar 7.0 producer edition and presonus fireproject studio with windows xp pro 64?

    2. why the texas instrument chip in the pci firewire card

    3. should it be a pci or pci express firewire card?

    4. codemonkey, do you know of any reputable sites that sell barebones kits?
  8. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Mar 20, 2008
    currently Billings
    As Codemonkey stated, assembling a PC is not rocket science. The important part is finding solid and stable components. Newegg is a good place for parts as is Tiger Direct.

    1. Yes
    2. Texas Instruments makes the most stable firewire chip on the market. The recommendation is definitely not just for laptops. Onboard firewire chips tend to suck on desktop motherboards too.
    3. This depends on whether your motherboard is an antique and has PCI slots or is anything made in the last four years meaning PCIe (express)
    4. Google is your friend. The above mentioned websites are a good place to start too.
  9. ThirdBird

    ThirdBird Active Member

    Dec 4, 2007
    Toms River, NJ
    More questions:

    1. What is the minimum amount size of the power supply I should get in terms of watts?

    2. How does a Pentium 4 2.83Ghz fit into these other processors, performance-wise?

    Dual-Core Intel® Celeron® E1500 2.20GHz 800FSB 512KB Cache
    Dual-Core Intel® Pentium® E5200 2.50GHz 800FSB 2MB L2 Cache
    Dual-Core Intel® Pentium® E5300 2.60GHz 800FSB 2MB L2 Cache
    Dual-Core Intel® Core™ 2 Duo E7500 2.93GHz 1066FSB 3MB L2 Cache
    Dual-Core Intel® Core™ 2 Duo E8400 3.00GHz 1333FSB 6MB L2 Cache (VT)
    Dual-Core Intel® Core™ 2 Duo E8500 3.16GHz 1333FSB 6MB L2 Cache (VT)
    Dual-Core Intel® Core™ 2 Duo E8600 3.33GHz 1333FSB 6MB L2 Cache (VT)

    The reason I ask is because I have the Pentium 4 already, but my comp crashed and looking to replace in theory, but possibly upgrade here and there. I would be running Sonar 7 with either a Presonus Firestudio Project or a PCI-based Seasound solo.

    3. Any thoughts on the pros/cons of xp pro 32 vs. xp pro 64?
  10. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Mar 20, 2008
    currently Billings
    1. How much power depends largely on how many things are plugged into the motherboard-especially in regards the video and processor. I wouldn't get smaller than 500watts no matter what.

    2. Your P4 has been outclassed for a very long time. Any of your listed choices are more powerful. As a rule of thumb stay away from the Celeron line. Also, I'd be looking into the i7 line since you are a person that keeps their pc around a long time. You don't have to get the top i7 to see the benefits. And mostly to the point, I doubt you're going to find a mobo that has a P4 socket unless you shop eBay. Forget about your existing processor or hold a wake for a good friend. Either one is a better course than using it again.

    If all of your motherboard circuitry is 64 bit (PCI bus etc) then a 64 bit operating system is the way to go. If there are 32 bit portions of the motherboard then a 64bit OS is waisted since the higher ram amounts can't be addressed.

    CM might have some more specifics when he chimes in.
  11. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Scotland, UK
    Specifics? I don't do specifics, I just rant away generalisations until I decide to just pick CPU names out of a hat.

    I know of a local retailer, but if I ever buy parts off the web they're from ebuyer or amazon. I don't do it that often though. And I've never bought a barebones PC, tbh. I just know you can get them.

    64 bit windows 7 is almost trouble-free in this modern day and age. If you want to be a little more future proof, go for 64bit rather than 32bit if possible.

    Preferably stay away from Celerons, Semprons and the like. Also, I wouldn't go for anything single core these days. Dual core at least, even if you're on a budget. The added stability and performance will pay off very quickly.
  12. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Apr 4, 2006
    Blacksburg, VA
    As people have said, the building part of assembling your own computer is pretty easy. But as you are finding out the process of choosing parts, software, drivers, making sure they are compatible, buying them, and installing them is a good deal of work. And unless you do this every couple of years most of the knowledge you gain is going to be pretty worthless the next time you do this. And once you do this you are on your own (though more knowledgeable and better equipped to deal with problems).

    So there is a good argument for buying an audio computer. It's a time vs. money calculation. There are some threads about audio computer builders in the archives. I bought mine through Sweetwater. A big company with good service and support. Their computers are not on the bleeding edge - my guess is that they tend to value stability over a little better performance. There is no question that the builders charge a good deal for their research and testing and support staff. But you will see if you build your own that the investment of time and effort is substantial.

    Good luck.
  13. Johnny_B

    Johnny_B Guest

    THIS is precisely why
    1.) I don't trust you (lol!) and
    2.) WHY knowing what you are doing is a must...

    See, technical know-how is a requisite for knowing how to build a DAW, which isn't so easy as you claim.
    A testament to this example is the fact you received pops and clicks....
    AND you actually think the OS is responsible------> see lol, except that it isn't funny at all when people follow your advice only to be mislead in the first place. Will you offer the OP technical support over the phone in case he has subsequent issues to deal with? I run Vista (yes, Vista)
    Business 64bit, it also came with a free upgrade to W7 64bit...
    Guess what? My system just flies, and screams without any pop, click, and using Cubase 5 64bit.....I've YET to have it crash!!!

    Nobody needs a powerful graphics card for rendering Mixing visual console software plug-ins/Daw related graphics period.

    Nein. At first glance...everything costs less when you do it yourself....Then issues set it and what is the *builder* to do? Exactly.

    THIS sarNz is my point....You seem to think the only relevant aspect of *DAW building* lies with installation....This is the easy part. The hardest part is properly installing the OS, burning in the system, and choosing the right components with direct respect to the audio sound card's ability to run with efficiency and STABILITY, which is, btw the direct result of component, and driver congruency.
    -Speaking of which, your post failed to mention-

    I wholly recommend recruiting a reputable and professional DAW building company because THEY do things most DIY'ers cannot...
    -Superior 1 on 1 technical support...
    -With Vision DAW, you get to talk with the tech that built/tested your system. 100% Turnkey system:
    -They install ALL of your software/libraries AND they make sure the system is running flawlessly before you receive it.
    -You get a warranty...one that is an resolute.
    -They configure, test and execute systems that are PROVEN to work with the hardware of your choosing/or their recommendation.

    As an example they do NOT sell Presonus gear with their systems.
    However I have a VisionDAW system that works perfect with my Presonus FireBox, AND it runs down to an impressive 2ms if need be!!!

    I recommend VisionDAW, they offer free and complete consultation to make certain you get what you NEED.

    My system is a blazing piece of bad-a$$ computing machinery, and it outperforms many other systems in its CPU range and specs...

    My recommendation:
    i7 2.66 or 2.93
    I run 12GB of RAM, you may not need this much, depending on sample libary/plug-in usage.
    Power supply: Don't go cheap. Calcuate usage, and get a PSU with 20% more power than needed.
    WD Caviar Black 640GB are the best in performance/price ratio.
    Next is WD VelociRaptors, I have 4 X 300GB and they work exceedingly well!!!
    GPU: THIS is the best card for usage, noise and performance:

    ASUS 9600GT EN (Dual DVI silent/fanless) I paid: $65.00
    And it's an Nvidia, so it just works, dissipates heat via the aluminum heat sinks...

    Case: I recommend Lian Li, I have a custom modified aluminum case, with 5 HD hot swappable drive bays, very nice and keeps things cool and quiet!

    I recommend only Gigabyte i7 socket 1366 motherboards, nothing else

    Last, get an aftermarket HSF/CPU cooler...
    TRUE is a good one as is Noctua, but don't keep the stock one, it is abysmal. :D
  14. frshwtrbob

    frshwtrbob Guest

    Hey Thirdbird,
    Order a killer machine from ADK Pro Audio for $400 less than what the VisionDAW wants. Same stuff you listed. Plug in the components on either website and compare - at least 400 if not more cheaper and SAME quality brand name parts. About 2100 total. Check them out - great cust service and the techs even try to talk you out of un-necessary spending... Scott is the leader and is wayyyyyyyy more knowledgable than most about all the configs and yes you pay more for turn key computers but there's absolutely NO headaches and all is guaranteed to fly w/out glitches. Less time tweeking and more time recording.
  15. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    Oct 16, 2008
    Frozen Tundra of CT
    So I am curious Johnny_B what percentage is your DAW computer of your overall investment in recording equipment? 10%, 20% ?
  16. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Mar 20, 2008
    currently Billings
    I heartily agree that a professional DAW builder will net you the best computer for recording. Budget vs time then becomes one issue. Can you do it yourself? Sure. The amount of research and experience in regards component interaction compatibility does become a large investment. Without the research you might as well buy the best retail pc you can research and tweak it. At least you'll still have a warranty.

    What I would like not to happen here is for this to break down into a sandbox fight about which company is better. It hasn't yet. I'm just being preemptive.

    ADK had a representative here on the forums for a while and VisionDaw has been mentioned. Others are PC Audiolabs and Rain Recordings. Sweetwater has offerings too. More are out there.

    Some things to take with a grain of salt. Anyone can throw up a quick website proclaiming their business. Anyone can read a couple of articles or look at a spec sheet or order a computer from one of the above mentioned companies and then start spouting their expertise status regarding DAW computers and how they work and how well. Talking fast and loud doesn't make it any more true. Talk is just talk especially in an anonymous internet forum. People hide behind anonymity.

    Look for a company that has been around the block and read about the company itself. audiokid has dealt with most of them in the past several years and a quick forum search will turn some of that up.

    Now, that will net you the best possible DAW for recording without any doubt. There are quite a few of us that choose not to go that route for various reasons. Some of us are successful because of the care and time we take in choosing the computer/components. Some of us say we are successful but really aren't. Some of us admit we wasted some money and ask another to help out. Some give up entirely and go to external recorders.

    In the end the reasons and results are yours alone.
  17. Johnny_B

    Johnny_B Guest

    Well, let's see.
    My setup isn't one of those that costs a LOT of money IMO :lol:
    Although the sound I get is pretty professional considering the price.

    My Software library value is at about $2,500.00
    My Computer is under $2 Grand in total cost.
    My interface (Presonus Firebox) cost me $150.00 on Amazon.com
    My Mic was purchased used on Craigslist for about $100.00
    Monitors total cost me $900.00 (2 pair) Event ASP8 and M-Audio EX66
    Beyer Dynamic headphones were $299.00
    2 Studio desks: $225.00
    BlueTube Mic Pre: @149.99 on Amazon.com
    2 X 22inch monitors: $240.00 total

    So, roughly the computer makes up around 33.3% or so.

    My computer components are top of the line, but the rest of my gear is far from that.
  18. Johnny_B

    Johnny_B Guest

    You say you wish to preempt a "sandbox" fight as you called it...but you innuendo statements that are perceived as knocks concerning one's expertise/knowledge, unless of course I misread you, and your post?

    You can find unhappy customers from ANY party if you are good at digging. The true testament of any so-called professional is in HOW they handle issues that are almost assuredly to arise because we are dealing with fallible pieces of hardware: computers.
    Parts, fail, components DO work with one system, while simply do not in another.

    I don't know what you are trying to say?
    Are you saying that I'm a loudmouth who unequivocally recommends ONE in particular DAW builder because I own a machine from that builder?

    I have nothing against ADK or any other reputable DAW builder.

    (Somehow, John I have this feeling THIS post you wrote has more to do with me, than not) A PM would have sufficed. I've not news for you sir.
    PERSONAL Experience/intuition is NOT: just talk. It's the very fabric of why I choose to recommend my DAW builder of choice. Again, NOT just talk.

    I am FOR the idea of building a DAW yourself.
    Doing it with 100% success is harder than it sounds.

    It is not a perfect science and for ALL of the many nights, days, weeks and months, that I wasted blood, sweat tears and lots of money in the name of "Doing It Yourself"
    I have come to realise the Value in VisionDAW and their impeccable service/execution for over delivering, and underselling me.

    I personally met the staff, spent time with their techs and knowledgeable staff for days...They were willing to and talked to me about anything and everything from QPI links to Dual Quad Xeon Systems...

    So, talk is talk?
    I don't think so.
  19. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Mar 20, 2008
    currently Billings
    There was a post after yours (from another low post count profile) that came in voting for ADK. I have seen this sort of thing erupt which has more to do with my statement than anything else. That and these internet fisticuffs inevitably are by folks with anonymous names.

    We are in agreement here. People can do it themselves but it ain't as simple as buying parts willy nilly. I think it's great your DAW company allowed you so much interaction. That makes them a better company in my estimation. The really big plus in my eyes is that you properly didn't tear anyone else down in reporting your experience.

    As far as you personally, I have nothing against you. As far as who you are and what your qualifications are, I have no idea. You come across as enthusiastic and interested in audio. Those are good traits. You also come across as youngish which is also good because your dedicated enthusiasm can take you places with a little luck. A little loud? Maybe, maybe not. As long as loud doesn't mean "know it all" we're all good. Finally, if I had a problem with a member that required direct response, I would indeed PM them.

    I hope you continue to participate as I think you have some things to offer. We've got lots to give back in return. I've had nearly thirty years of pro work on both sides of the microphone and there are other folks here that have many more than that.
  20. Johnny_B

    Johnny_B Guest

    Thanks for that response.
    As far as competition....I haven't a vested interest in any of my gear, nor my experiences with the level of support (or lack thereof) I've received from the hardware manufactures' products that I own. I just speak from experience in direct correlation to poster's queries regarding those experiences.

    I don't think I could ever say in Computer IT (or anything for that matter) that I "know it all" nor do I attempt to talk as if I did.

    Confidence shouldn't be substituted for arrogance, IMO.

    We all can benefit from all of our user experiences in some way or another, I think.

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