Building a pc for both DAW and gaming- advice please

Discussion in 'Computers, Electronics, IT & Gaming' started by thedonal, Dec 26, 2016.

  1. thedonal

    thedonal SS.org Regular

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    Hi all,

    Hope your Boxing day is stuffing you full again.

    I'm on the verge of my first PC build ever (I've lived on hand-me-downs or second hand for years). I want it for both music production and gaming and am wondering how you all who have done this have managed the balance.

    I'm looking at speccing an i5 based system and need it to be pretty quiet but able to run some decent gaming (I'm thinking Elite Dangerous and stuff like Skyrim going forwards, plus EVE, which doesn't require the most hardcore of systems).

    DAW wise, it doesn't need huge amounts of power- i mainly use hardware synths plus mic'ed guitars or via POD and minimal processing demand with mixing. But audio latency and midi timing will be a factor. I use Reaper but may move to another DAW in the future (maybe Sonar).

    My current setup which I will be carrying across is Focusrite Liquid Saffire via Firewire (FW cards are cheap enough) with 2xMidisport 4x4 interfaces (again may get replaced by Midi Express 8x8 at some point).

    So. Any tips/suggestions will be welcome. If need be, I will wait on a GPU once I have built the basic system.

    Was looking at the NZXT Phantom 410 case, which seems well specced (still using an optical drive, so the case needs space for this). This seems to be a harder choice than MoBo and CPU... 😂
     
  2. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire tinkerer/aspiring builder/8 string hoarder

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    having just upgraded my pc a couple months ago, I'd recommend getting an ssd for the boot drive, a motherboard that supports more recent cpus, and a pretty fast cpu. Swapping mobos is the biggest pain in the ass imo so having a newer mobo makes all the other later upgrades much less painful. GPU should be the lowest priority since those are pretty easy to swap in.
    Definitely get a decent sized ssd for the boot drive and a good mobo/cpu, it'll help future proof your rig.
     
  3. thedonal

    thedonal SS.org Regular

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    Definitely. I will be going with a Skylake Z170 MoBo and SSD is a must. 2 opin the long run (for EZ drummer and sample based stuff). Quad core i5 as fast as I can afford. There will be room for overclocking there too.

    Not sure if I need to go full size ATX as I won't need too many PCIe slots- GPU and FW card. Maybe more USB ports too depending on what is built on the MoBo.

    I'm not expecting to do 4k gaming, so 1 decent GPU should be enough- just needs to be quiet. The fan on my current GT630 is well loud! (Though it may require some dust removal- as the pc is in a rack, this is a huge PITA). I can forgo getting the graphics card at first just to get the base build as good a I can.

    In time, once I have transferred everything, the rackmount case could be filled with an audio specific setup so I can optimise for each purpose.
     
  4. Emperor Guillotine

    Emperor Guillotine The Almighty Ruler

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    I'm currently in the middle of spec-ing out and building my new, custom PC that will be used for my home studio as well as for the occasional bit of gaming to pass time. (I've never been much of a gamer though, but it seems like a lot of studio guys end up building gaming PCs to use as their recording PCs anyway because gaming builds are so powerful.) Feel free to message me with any questions.
     
  5. Pav

    Pav ???

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    You don't really need to "balance" anything, any half-decent gaming PC will be able to run anything you throw at it. For DAW purposes, just make sure you have 16GB of RAM and you'll be set.
     
  6. thedonal

    thedonal SS.org Regular

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    Cheers. Appreciate it. I'm not at the hard specification yet- just getting my head into it.

    Honestly, the thing that has me most nervous is mounting the CPU!! A friend suggested getting a barebones system to bypass this, but depending on the supplier, the choice gets limited. And it is something I'd like to achieve myself.

    Once I'm past the case, motherboard and CPU, things should get easier from there. maybe choosing a reliable SSD brand will need help.

    I've upgraded power supplies, ram and graphics cards before, so I'm good with all that..
     
  7. thedonal

    thedonal SS.org Regular

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    Thanks. My current setup (the Midisports and Reaper plus USB midi on synths) are terrible with midi- I often have to clean that up a lot when recording parts in. Though it is old- Core 2 Duo, 3Gb Ram, XP...
     
  8. thedonal

    thedonal SS.org Regular

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    Well. I'm still looking at the spec for my build and it's going to cost a bit more than I hoped, so I may split the purchase between now and the end of Jan to make it a bit easier.

    I've changed to a Corsair Spec-01 for a case, which has dropped the price a bit and it has great reviews.

    I'm looking at a Crucial 275Gb SSD, which should be sufficient for now, plus a standard HDD. I may well get a second SSD IN TIME- for loading sample based stuff like EZDrummer and as an active project drive.

    Hopefully the major investment now should give me. Solid PC for years to come..
     
  9. thedonal

    thedonal SS.org Regular

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    So the bits all arrived today.

    I went with a Corsair Spec-01 case in the end.

    MSI Tomahawk motherboard
    core i5 Quad 3.5 (3.9 boost)
    16Gb Corsair Vengeance ram
    275Gb Crucial SSD
    Arctic Freezwe i11 CPU cooler.
    2 additional Corsair quiet shiny blue fans
    Lite-On DVD drive
    FW card
    Aerocool Predator 550w CPU.
    Windows 10 on Usb (home edition)

    Second drive (hopefully SSD) and GPU board to follow next month. Then a hard drive after that.

    Held back from assembling yet- should be done tomorrow or Monday. So much to transfer from the old PC... :) i have a network drive as a go between for this.

    Looking forwards to seeing what it can do.

    Incidentally- I'd welcome GPU suggestions. The Mobo only supports crossfire, but I can't imagine wanting 2 card- heat and therefore cooling noise is a factor (plus I'd probably need a bigger PSU). So I think I'm gonna go Nvidia. For games, 1080p at 60fps sustained for stuff like Elite Dangerous, Doom, Skyrim etc is preferable. And quiet cards especially...
     

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  10. coreysMonster

    coreysMonster So long, Germany!

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    For audio production any chipset graphics unit will do, in case you want to wait on the gaming, but for gaming I would go Nvidia GTX 10XX. The 9XX series is outdated, and is both outperformed and outpriced by the 10XX series. I have a 970 that I got two years ago, and the 1060 6GB outperforms it and is only 250 bucks. The 1080 is pretty much the best card on the market right now, but unless you're gonna be playing VR games or doing heavy duty 3D graphics rendering, a 1060 or 1070 will be plenty. A 970 is enough for Doom and Skyrim at max settings and 1080p, the 1060 could probably get Skyrim running at 4k. A 1070 would be 55% more powerful, and a 1080 75% more powerful than the 1060. A 1080 would be the most future-proof card, but at 540$ it's a little pricey. A 1060 at 250$ will give you a solid framerate on at least most modern games at 1080p, and will still handle any upcoming games in the next year or two very well (for 4k gaming I would go 1070 or 1080 though). A 1070 might be the best compromise between power and cost at 380$.

    But really, it's up to you how much you want to spend, any of those cards will get you what you need.
     
  11. thedonal

    thedonal SS.org Regular

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    Thanks. If I can stretch to it, I will be going GTX 1060 with 6Gb vram.

    This has turned into a costly beast- £870 so far without a graphics card. Sadly, the exchange rate means a 1060 will be around £250 upwards, unless something changes between now and the start of Feb.

    I looked at AMD cards, but despite the 480 being a bit more forward looking for DX12 and Vulcan etc, they are very heavy on the PSU and may therefore get hotter/noisier in use. Noise really is a factor as I will be using microphones a few metres from the PC.

    But- as I got a rebate on my monthly rail ticket to cover diruption in Dec, I was able to stretch to a 525Gb SSD for my second drive.

    So it is now data transfer from the old pc, then I can move the Firewire card across and maybe the usb port expansion card (more sockets is better, right! :D).

    A question about usb 2/3. I realise that they are two way compatible and only as fast as the socket/device is (ie whether it is usb 2 or 3)- give or take the odd device/driver not playing ball. But if I were to add hubs, would I be better with USB 3 hub, just to allow better bandwidth for all devices connected, or does it not really make a difference? (Midi latency- I'm looking at YOU!!)
     
  12. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire tinkerer/aspiring builder/8 string hoarder

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    Usb 3 is "faster" and will help future proof your rig. If you can, get the gtx 1070, it's fast and quiet. I almost bought one, but decided to go with the 1080 due to getting a good deal on it.
     
  13. thedonal

    thedonal SS.org Regular

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    There's no way I can stretch to a 1070, sadly. :)

    Cool. I will grab a 3.0 hub in that case.
     
  14. thedonal

    thedonal SS.org Regular

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    So- graphics aside, I've just learned that newer motherboards and Windows 8/10 are a bit more finnicky with certain firewire chipsets.

    However, I found this out after I ordered a Firewire card (VIA VT6315 chipset). :) I guess I'll be weighing in soon as to whether it works. The Focusrite website article indicates I may have issues..

    I really hope I don't have to end up spending £40ish on a Firewire PCI-E card (over and above the £20 I have already spent). There's very little current info on compatibility (and so many variables, I guess).

    But at least a rebate on my monthly railcard helped me get a second drive- now sporting 1x275 and 1x525 Crucial SSDs.

    However, at some point soon, i'd like to actually start using this thing! :D
     
  15. Rachmaninoff

    Rachmaninoff Amateur porn actor

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    I'm still on Windows 7, and I'll keep it as long as I can. Rock solid.
     
  16. thedonal

    thedonal SS.org Regular

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    That's a good plan.

    I had to go changing. Asus P5 board, Core2Duo and XP. Time to start again.

    Here's hoping the first firewire card is OK. An Amazon review indicated it is working with Win10, but it is then to know if my motherboard and audio interface will talk to it happily too.
     
  17. ESPImperium

    ESPImperium @ESPImperium

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    If you can stretch to the 1060 6GB it will get you into 1080p at 60+ FPS easily. However, what monitor do you plan on running? Are you keeping your present one or getting a new one?

    My GPU Recommendations:
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/EVGA-NVIDI...UTF8&qid=1484057397&sr=1-22&keywords=GTX+1060
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gigabyte-N...UTF8&qid=1484057482&sr=1-27&keywords=GTX+1060
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/EVGA-GeFor...UTF8&qid=1484057493&sr=1-26&keywords=GTX+1060
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Zotac-NVID...=UTF8&qid=1484057534&sr=1-8&keywords=GTX+1060

    As for your i5, I guess 6600K, those will overclock to a nice 4.5ghz if you get a great overclocker, or lf like mine, 4.3ghz to 4.4ghz is the top limit. That CPU is a great one for a OC.Your PSU is plenty powerful to run this setup with a good OC on both GPU and CPU, I'm pulling 320w from the wall with a GTX 1070 and a 6600K @ 4.3ghz.

    As for Firewire, ditch it, USB 3 Gen 1 and Gen 2 are both better and superior in every way. Firewire is an old and outdated medium now.
     
  18. thedonal

    thedonal SS.org Regular

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    Hopefully I can stretch go the 1060. Monitor will stay the same for now, but I may run an HDMI to the screen via my AV amp to see how that fairs (and get the full surround experience without adding even more speakers!!). Both are full 1080p. Its a cheapish Samsung monitor (not a gaming monitor per se, but decent enough) and a Panasonic plasma telly.

    As for firewire- I have no choice for now. I'm running a firewire audio interface that I like a lot (Liquid Saffire 56) and cannot afford to reinvest in a new system that will allow so many inputs for all my synths (I have an OctoPre and ISA plugged in, with room for another 8 channels via optical). Otherwise, I'd be considering an RME card based system with lots of ins and outs and a lot of money for that I should expect.

    The setup is ready to be overclocked if needed (is a 6600K). I'm sure it'll be plenty at standard 3.5-3.9 though.

    320W is bloody good. I have a 550W PSU, which should be plenty. Looks like AMD are quite power hungry on the wattage front- probably not ideal for keeping the system quiet (though DAW will be low graphics load, so should theoretically be pretty quiet when I need it to be).
     
  19. Webmaestro

    Webmaestro Ibanez Fanatic Contributor

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    Don't be nervous about this. I was too when I did my first-ever PC build (many years ago). It's normal. Just watch several "pc build" videos on YouTube, and you'll be all set. You need to be careful, sure, and follow some basic guidelines, but it's actually pretty simple.

    After your CPU is safely in place, don't forget about thermal paste! Again, any good "pc build" video will teach you about all this.
     
  20. thedonal

    thedonal SS.org Regular

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    It turned out that mounting the CPU was the easiest bit. A bit keen with the paste though- it came out of the injector a bit too freely!

    Farking around with keeping the wires tidy though- that is another matter! 😂😂
     

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