Thursday, November 13, 2008

calling all computer nerds!

So, I'm picking out the parts for the Studyo's* next computer. I'm getting really excited. [NOTE: If you are not interested in computers and the like, please stop reading, as you might realize just how apt the name of my blog is.] As is my custom, I'm getting as many people to weigh in on the tech side of things before I make my purchase.

I'm trying to buy as few parts
as possible, but buy the most powerful ones I can afford (my minimalist philosophy on software is spilling over into my hardware). I've been really pleased with my old computer, and it has lasted a long time as a machine which can compete well with anything prefabbed. However, I've learned quite a few things since building my last one, and want to avoid a couple mistakes I made.

The biggest lesson I've learned is this: Never, ever underestimate the ability of Windows to waste space. Whatever they tell you is the recommended system requirements, double it. Since I don't trust Vista, I'm going to buy it and then downgrade to XP, but in case I ever develop dementia and decide to switch to Vista, I'm planning for its system requirements. They say that Vista needs to be put on a 40GB hard drive with 15GB of free space. I'm installing XP on an 80GB partition of a 160GB hard drive. I'm probably tempting fate by making this taunt, but, "Try and fill up all of THAT space with invisible crap, Windows!"

Secondly, I've learned that it's never a good idea to scrimp on RAM. Since I plan on running XP still, I'm going to use the max possible, at 4GB. It's going to be dual-channel (2X2GB) Corsair XMS3 DDR3 RAM, which come equipped with their own aluminum heat-sinks. And since it's DDR3, it's both faster and uses less voltage than DDR2.

Since I've already started doing it, let me get to the part all you computer nerds want. The parts list as it now stands. On each bullet point is a link to its stats on the website from which I'm buying the parts:
  • CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo 3.16GHz 65W Dual-Core Processor
  • RAM: 4GB of Corsair XMS3 240-pin DDR3 1600
  • Motherboard: ASUS Striker II ATX Intel Motherboard with a NVIDIA nForce 790i SLI Northbridge
  • Video Card: MSI GeForce 9500 PCI Express Video Gard with 512MB of on-board RAM
  • Hard Drives: For my OS and for my software, I'm going to go pretty standard, but for my audio and samples, I'm going to use a Western Digital Velociraptor 300GB SATA 3.0Gb/s drive running at 10,000RPM. Ahhh, yeeeeah.
  • Other stuff: I'm going to scavenge the case, power supply, wireless card, audio/MIDI card, and my 40GB SATA 1.5GB/s hard drive from my old computer.
Your thoughts? I'm excited to build this monster. It should be going down within the next 2 months. Wheeee! Yay for being a nerd! [I will update this post as changes occur.]

* My home studio is also my study, thus the amalgam, The Studyo.

Ok, so after many comments, I've changed my tune. I've made the following changes:
  • CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad Core 2.4Ghz (which I will overclock up to 3GHz)
  • Motherboard: An Intel motherboard that is compatible with everything else I've selected. It has an Intel X48 chipset. Is that better (Justin and Bart)?
  • Hard Drives: I will stream samples off of a 150GB 10,000RPM 3.0Gb/s drive, and run the audio for my projects on a 300GB drive of the same specifications. The OS and the programs will be on two separate, equally-sized partitions of a 160GB 7200RPM 3.0Gb/s drive.
  • Other Stuff: Like the CPU and Motherboard, my buddy Justin Aiken helped me find this nice, sporty little CPU cooling unit. He either has this one or something similar. It's supposedly super quiet. With that and the fanless video card I've selected, this should be one silent little beast.
Alrighty, my geeky brain trust, how's THAT?


  1. For the RAM, I'd definitely go with 78GH of Hotair XPMS 5847-needle JJK8 8488.

    The motherboard looks great, except I got the Southbridge version and was much happier. You'll thank me later.

    And you can have my old hard drive (36DD TATA)...if you want it.

  2. I don't have time to respond now - I will later - but for now let me just say DON'T BUY THAT STRIKER... horrible for audio.

  3. In my defense, I've heard about the horribleness of the Striker, but supposedly the Striker II fixes all those problems and is a decent motherboard for music computing. I read this thread on gearslutz:

  4. I'm not familiar with that particular MB, but (if you care) ProTools has issues with certain NVIDIA chipsets and their corresponding drivers.

  5. Really? I had no idea. What problems? And which chipsets? Looks like i MIGHT have to re-think that mobo.

  6. As luck would have it, their (Digi's) search engine is down. I just know that in my last upgrade (7.4) I had to disable some NVIDIA drivers to get it to work. While researching that on the DUC, I saw others with similar problems (all seemingly involving NVIDIA chipsets). Other than that, I'm a fan of ASUS. Of course, I'm also secretly a fan of AMD. My last Athlon build was a screamer.

  7. Yeah, I currently run an AMD rig. Athlon64 3500. I've loved it.

  8. That motherboard will be much better... and as a bonus, it would be pretty easy to get OSx86 running smooth, so if you get sick of windows and it's limitations, you can always experiment...

    Make sure your PSU isn't noisy... that's def. the weak link in my chain of quiet.

    As for HDs... you may not need them for samples or audio. I can have BFD2 and Ivory both streaming samples, and work with dozens of 88.2/24 tracks with no problems on 7200 drives... if you put your OS and programs on the fast drives you'll get faster startup/load times... just something to think about.

    What sample libraries do you use that all fit on a 150 GB drive?

    -Justin Aiken

  9. I don't really use many sample libraries. I don't need enormous libraries because I don't use samples with the intent to make the sound like the real instruments they're sampling. That's the only reason you'd need a huge library. I use samples as a starting point for manipulating and making my own stuff. I'm much more of a synthesist than a sample-holic.
    But, to actually ANSWER your question (haha), I use Konpakt, Kontakt, Intakt, Battery and have Reaktor but am not smart enough to use it yet.

  10. Do you HAVE to go with Windows? Downgrading to XP can actually be a huge burden. I have to acknowledge that I don't know as much about hardware as I wish I did, so I'm not sure if you can get a MoBo that plays nicely with both Vista and XP right out of the box, but if you've got one that was designed to work with Vista, there are a lot of changes that have to be made to make XP work, and even then you could run into problems (i.e. seeing the mighty BSOD often). How was that for a run-on sentence? Anyway, maybe one of your cooler and more geeky friends would know more than I would.

  11. Um, that was me... not Brandon. Sorry.

  12. So... you know the feeling you get as little kid when you hear someone talking about something and your ears perk up thinking, "Hey, I'm interested in that too..." but then you actually listen in and the big kids are talking way too fast or too loud or too high above your head that you get ignored, feel ridiculous for even trying to enter into the conversation, hang you head, and walk away... with your tail between your legs?

    That's me...

  13. Also, am I the only one who knows anything about a TATA hardware array... last time I checked they were specially designed to operate the production line at Ben & Jerry's, but I hadn't heard of too many hardware applications outside of that particular industry.

  14. hahahahaha, yeah. my wife is pretty ingenious. the whole joke within a joke of the 36DD tatas is pretty great.

  15. "Do you HAVE to go with Windows? Downgrading to XP can actually be a huge burden."

    Since you're buying just the parts and not a pre-fab Dell, you're not stuck buying or uninstalling Vista!

    It's just as easy to install XP as Vista,and can be had for cheap.

    Of course, you'll want to use nLite to make a nice streamlined windows with 80 percent less bloat...


  16. Wait wait wait, Justin, you can't BUY xp anymore. As of this past June 30th, you can't buy XP. You have to buy Vista and downgrade.

    Tell me more about this nLite though! I'm unaware.

  17. You can buy XP on ebay or amazon... the activation servers will still be up for several years.

    nLite takes your XP CD, and creates a new ISO out of it, letting you remove junk you don't want - extra languages, Outlook, IE, fax machine processes, etc...

    You can get the install down under 100 MB!