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Computer Hardware Recommendations
by phretbuzz on 2011-07-09 19:34:19

A friend of mine is looking to build a new computer system for recording. He is also looking to purchase the Line6 HD500 system. Is there any recommendations on system board, CPU, memory, etc? We are planning to run Windows 7 on this system.

Any help appreciated, thanks.



Re: Computer Hardware Recommendations
by Nick_Mattocks on 2011-07-10 02:43:53

Hi

I'm not going to recommend any specific motherboards or CPUs here, but I would advise you do some on-line research and find out what boards, processors and memory some of the reputable DAW system manufacturers are currently using and maybe 'steal' some ideas from them.  Scan here in the UK are makers of DAW systems, so I have pointed you at a couple of their systems for ideas below

Check out sites like Sound On Sound (magazine) and associated PC forum. Check out SOS's PC Notes column by Martin Walker.

My own general recipe for building a solid and reliable DAW system is:

  • Don't try and cut corners - it's false economy!
  • Use Intel processors and Intel based motherboards - for a DAW I would go with at least an Intel i5 based system, but more probably I would personally opt for an i7 based system, but in doing so try and find the 'sweet spot' in terms of which Intel i7 provides the best bang for buck rather than going for the top-end 'Extreme' version.  The Intel Core i7 2600K seems to be that 'sweet spot' currently, but the older i7 950 @3.06GHz with a suitable X58 chipset motherboard in play might be worth looking at - I'm currently running an Intel Core i7 920 which I've had for a couple of years on a Gigabyte X58 based motherboard and it is very stable and very fast, however the 2600K is looking very tempting for me
  • Use a decent brand of motherboard with an up-to-date and known to be good for DAW Intel chipset (Intel P67 or intel Z68 chipsets seem to be the current favourites for DAW systems) - personally I favour either Gigabyte or Asus motherboards but of course Intel make good motherboards themselves.  I like a slightly over-specified motherboard personally as it generally has more life in it than something that I might wish had more free memory slots or PCI/PCI-e slots in time
  • Make sure you buy quality branded memory that is on the Qualified Vendor's List for your chosen motherboard - the motherboard manufacturer usually publishes this list on their Web site but it's not always easy to find   Go for the fastest clock speed memory that your system will reliably support and look at brands like Corsair and Crucial which have a good reputation
  • Do not over-clock your system - certainly not at first.  A stable system is better than a flaky over-clocked system every time
  • Ensure that you buy a decent case and a decent, quiet and over specificed power supply unit as cheap PSU's often under-perform
  • Go with a Windows 7 64 bit system and as much RAM as you can afford without being too greedy :-) - 8GB should be good to start unless you have a tri-channel system in which case you'll need 6GB or 12GB
  • If you need on-board fire-wire connectivity, choose a system that uses a Texas Instruments IEEE1394 chipset
  • You don't need a super fast gamer's graphics card for an audio machine, so a reasonablly priced main-stream card from a known supplier like Asus, Gigabyte etc... with either an nVidia or ATI chipset should be good.  You might want to consider a multiple output card (most are these days anyway) if you want to use multiple monitors
  • Always install WHQL tested drivers rather than the latest and possibly not fully tested drivers

Check out this Core i7 950 based system specifications from Scan at  http://3xs.scan.co.uk/ShowSystem.asp?SystemID=1221this uses the older i7 CPU type and X58 chipset, but is very similar to my own system and has plenty of life left in it.

Check out this newer Core i7 2600K system specifications from Scan at http://3xs.scan.co.uk/ShowSystem.asp?SystemID=1215

Ofcourse the available budget plays a big part in making choices.  Personally I don't see anything actually wrong with AMD based systems, however having built quite a few older AMD based systems I have to say that my experience was always that an AMD system required much more hands-on fiddling and tweaking to achieve stability rather than spending a few quid more and just having a stable Intel based system right from the off.  I still have a couple of my older AMD Athlon based systems and to be fair although they rarely get switched on these days they are OK.   I haven't built an AMD system for over eight years to be fair as I made my mind up a long time ago that Intel provided the right path for me,  so my experience of home built AMD is very old and probably now quite inaccurate given developments over the last eight years or so but in my job I do encounter AMD based systems in business, and I have to say my personal preference for reliability and longevity still sits with Intel, but I'm sure others will disagree with me and call me names LOL  (Oh and I really don't like Apple based systems either ), but seriously, for me I really do find Intel based systems work better for my audio related purposes.

Nick




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