Looking for the Best and Cheapest PC option for Audio Production

ADef95

Prominent
Jun 10, 2017
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Hi all,

I'm a Canadian music producer looking for the best and cheapest PC option to be able to support my hobby. It's also important to note that I'm a student... so my budget is tight. I need the PC to be able to run VST plugins such as Omnisphere 2 and provide enough hard drive space to store VST sound libraries as well as sound kits.

Also, if possible, I'd like it to be able to run CAD software as I'm an engineering student.

I'm open to all suggestions and advice, from building a PC to buying a refurbished laptop, but a cheap, prebuilt setup is ideal for me.

Note: I already have a Scarlett 2i2 Audio interface so the internal sound card doesn't have to be amazing

Thanks in advance!

 


ADef95,

Between the E5-1650 v2 and the E5-1620, the E5-1650 v2 would be preferable as the it has a higher single-thread performnace- better for 3D modeling, audio, and gaming, the RAM is DDR1866 instead of 1600, and in general the v2 CPU's have higher clock speeds. Having 6-cores mean faster CPU rendering for single images in architectural work. All my office's renderings are CPU-based. Also some larger scale VST recording software- Sonar Producer which I'm changing to when I buy a new MIDI controller, for example, can also use multiple cores for effects processing and that takes out latency when multi-tracking.

The E5-1620 system does have the SSD, but the $70 difference would go a ways to adding that to the E5-1650 v2.

Both systems will need a good GPU. Amazingly, the Quadro FX580 (512MB) is from 2003 and is still useful and highly reliable 2D GPU. I still use these in a business system and to run a monitor for the office server. If you can find your way to buy it, it would worth a stretch to buy one of the new Pascal Quadro P600;'s. These are CAN $240 but the performance is really good- in 3D those are about as fast as a GTX 750- an entry level gaming card. I'm using a P2000 5GB and that is a fast as a GTX 1060 6GB.

It would be extremely difficult to build a system that would match the E5-1650 v2 fro less than US $1,800 but I'll have a go. How about:.

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

CPU: AMD - Ryzen 5 1600 3.2/3.6GHz 6-Core Processor ($279.95 @ shopRBC)
Motherboard: ASRock - AB350 Pro4 ATX AM4 Motherboard ($119.50 @ Vuugo)
Memory: PNY - Anarchy 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4-2133 Memory ($111.99 @ Amazon Canada)
Storage: Kingston - HyperX Fury 240GB 2.5" Solid State Drive ($107.00 @ Amazon Canada)
Storage: Western Digital - Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($64.75 @ Vuugo)
Video Card: PNY - Quadro P600 2GB Video Card ($239.99 @ Newegg Canada)
Case: Thermaltake - Versa H24 ATX Mid Tower Case ($49.99 @ Newegg Canada)
Power Supply: SeaSonic - 520W 80+ Bronze Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply ($84.99 @ Newegg Canada)
Optical Drive: Asus - DRW-24F1ST DVD/CD Writer ($19.95 @ Vuugo)
Operating System: Microsoft - Windows 10 Pro OEM 64-bit ($183.50 @ Vuugo)
Total: $1261.61
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2017-06-11 14:08 EDT-0400

And that would be an all-new modern, fast, reliable system that could be slightly overclocked to about the same speed as the E5-1650 v2, would have faster memory and NVMe support, and later might be upgraded to an 8-core if needed.

Something for comparison anyway.

Cheers,

BambiBoom

 


ADef95,

How about: HP Z420 Workstation | 3.60GHz Xeon Quad Core E5-1620 | 16gb DDR3 | DVD-RW > Sold for $C $268.60

Try to find one with 16GB which is the bare entry level for CPU rendering. To this, add a used Quadro z620 2GB ,a 240-256GB SSD if possible for the OS.Program drive, and a 2TB HD- HGST are the most reliable.

I have two HP z420's and these are made for long, reliable running and are very quiet. One has a Xeon E5-1620 and other is E5-1660 v2 (6-core @ 3.7/4.0) and both of these systems are used for architectural, industrial design, and graphic design, using AutoCad, Revit, 3Ds, Adobe CS6, Sketchup, Solidworks, Corel Technical designer, and etc. The 4-core is surprisingly fast in VRay CPU rendering , but a 6 or 8 core would be preferable. You might find a z420 with an E5-2690 ( 8-core @ 2.9/3.8GHz). The 3.8 Turbo speed still makes the 3D modeling quite good. Those cost US $2,050 new but today are about $200. We have an HP z620 with a pair of E5-2690's for rendering. In the last 4 years these systems have had 100% reliability- not one failed component or any data loss.

The E5-1620 is 4-core @ 3.6 /3.8GHz= plenty fast, there are 40 PCIe lanes for peripherals, a good array of PCIe and 1 PCI slot, SATAIII and USB.3.0. If you need more cores, the CPU can be changed to up to an 8-core.

By coincidence, I've been shopping for a Scarlett 2i4 which will connect a Yamaha S90, Neumann KM184's, and etc to either the z420 / E5-1620 / Quadro 4000 as a dedicated sound/ recording system or to an HP z620 /E5-1680 v2 / Quadro P2000 system which is the 3D modeling system.

Cheers,

BambiBoom
 

ADef95

Prominent
Jun 10, 2017
3
0
510
0


Hey BambiBoom,

Thanks for your quick reply! If it's as powerful and reliable as you say it would be perfect! I'm having a hard time finding one even nearly as cheap as the one you posted though. Do you have any website recommendations where I could pick one up for close to that price?

Thanks again! :)
 


ADef95,

The best way is to look at the system that will meet the needs of the particular applications, the performance expectation, and the longer-term goal. The cheapest is not always the cheapest if it needs everything changed. My approach has been to buy a low specification system in very good condition and then change the CPU, RAM, GPU, and drives- really everything, which makes a "barebones:" sometimes the best idea, or buy one that only has the CPU of choice and expect to change everything else. The important factor is what it will cost in total when it meets the requirements and how long will it remain useful.

What is your budget?

The prices seem to be all over and the Summer usually sees a bit lower prices, but here is an example of an untested but promising system going for very little:

You didn't mention a budget, but in the long run, spending more on a system can be a better long-term purchase:

HP Z420 Workstation Xeon E5-1650 V2 3.5ghz 6-Core 32gb 1tb FX570 Win7 Pro64 > US $450

> That has a Xeon E5-1650 v2 6-core @ 3.5/3.9GHz and 32GB of RAM. The GPU would need to be changed- suggest Quadro K620 or GTX 1050 and the drives as well. However, SSD;s do start quickly and make faster transfers, but working a conventional drive is not so bad.

Other systems to consider would be Dell Precision T3600 and , better, the T3610 which can use E5-v2 processors.

One other factor is that there is new processor /platform technology from both Intel and AMD starting in only a couple of weeks and by the end of the Summer, there may be flood of systems being replaced. August may see some very low prices as everything sold used takes a generation step back.

Cheers,

BambiBoom



 

ADef95

Prominent
Jun 10, 2017
3
0
510
0
ADef95,

The best way is to look at the system that will meet the needs of the particular applications, the performance expectation, and the longer-term goal. The cheapest is not always the cheapest if it needs everything changed. My approach has been to buy a low specification system in very good condition and then change the CPU, RAM, GPU, and drives- really everything, which makes a "barebones:" sometimes the best idea, or buy one that only has the CPU of choice and expect to change everything else. The important factor is what it will cost in total when it meets the requirements and how long will it remain useful.

What is your budget?

The prices seem to be all over and the Summer usually sees a bit lower prices, but here is an example of an untested but promising system going for very little:

You didn't mention a budget, but in the long run, spending more on a system can be a better long-term purchase:

HP Z420 Workstation Xeon E5-1650 V2 3.5ghz 6-Core 32gb 1tb FX570 Win7 Pro64 > US $450

> That has a Xeon E5-1650 v2 6-core @ 3.5/3.9GHz and 32GB of RAM. The GPU would need to be changed- suggest Quadro K620 or GTX 1050 and the drives as well. However, SSD;s do start quickly and make faster transfers, but working a conventional drive is not so bad.

Other systems to consider would be Dell Precision T3600 and , better, the T3610 which can use E5-v2 processors.

One other factor is that there is new processor /platform technology from both Intel and AMD starting in only a couple of weeks and by the end of the Summer, there may be flood of systems being replaced. August may see some very low prices as everything sold used takes a generation step back.

Cheers,

BambiBoom
BambiBoom,

I was looking to stay under 800$ but my budget is flexible based on the scenario.

That system looks great! I also found this:
HP Z420 WorkStation
Intel Xeon Quad Core E5-1620 3.60Ghz
32Gb RAM
240GB SSD Drive
2Tb 7.2K SATA 3.5" HDD
nVidia Quadro FX580 Video Card
for $798.00 CAD shipped

The one you just suggested would come out to $728.00 CAD shipped to me.

Let me know what you think about it compared to the one you suggested! I'm not the most knowledgable or up to date with computer specs and costs.

Also, for that price, or a few hundred dollars more, would building a PC from scratch be a better option? I was thinking I could maybe get a bit more out of it in terms of performance or maybe even gaming that way...

Thanks again for your help, I really appreciate it!
 


ADef95,

Between the E5-1650 v2 and the E5-1620, the E5-1650 v2 would be preferable as the it has a higher single-thread performnace- better for 3D modeling, audio, and gaming, the RAM is DDR1866 instead of 1600, and in general the v2 CPU's have higher clock speeds. Having 6-cores mean faster CPU rendering for single images in architectural work. All my office's renderings are CPU-based. Also some larger scale VST recording software- Sonar Producer which I'm changing to when I buy a new MIDI controller, for example, can also use multiple cores for effects processing and that takes out latency when multi-tracking.

The E5-1620 system does have the SSD, but the $70 difference would go a ways to adding that to the E5-1650 v2.

Both systems will need a good GPU. Amazingly, the Quadro FX580 (512MB) is from 2003 and is still useful and highly reliable 2D GPU. I still use these in a business system and to run a monitor for the office server. If you can find your way to buy it, it would worth a stretch to buy one of the new Pascal Quadro P600;'s. These are CAN $240 but the performance is really good- in 3D those are about as fast as a GTX 750- an entry level gaming card. I'm using a P2000 5GB and that is a fast as a GTX 1060 6GB.

It would be extremely difficult to build a system that would match the E5-1650 v2 fro less than US $1,800 but I'll have a go. How about:.

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

CPU: AMD - Ryzen 5 1600 3.2/3.6GHz 6-Core Processor ($279.95 @ shopRBC)
Motherboard: ASRock - AB350 Pro4 ATX AM4 Motherboard ($119.50 @ Vuugo)
Memory: PNY - Anarchy 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4-2133 Memory ($111.99 @ Amazon Canada)
Storage: Kingston - HyperX Fury 240GB 2.5" Solid State Drive ($107.00 @ Amazon Canada)
Storage: Western Digital - Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($64.75 @ Vuugo)
Video Card: PNY - Quadro P600 2GB Video Card ($239.99 @ Newegg Canada)
Case: Thermaltake - Versa H24 ATX Mid Tower Case ($49.99 @ Newegg Canada)
Power Supply: SeaSonic - 520W 80+ Bronze Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply ($84.99 @ Newegg Canada)
Optical Drive: Asus - DRW-24F1ST DVD/CD Writer ($19.95 @ Vuugo)
Operating System: Microsoft - Windows 10 Pro OEM 64-bit ($183.50 @ Vuugo)
Total: $1261.61
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2017-06-11 14:08 EDT-0400

And that would be an all-new modern, fast, reliable system that could be slightly overclocked to about the same speed as the E5-1650 v2, would have faster memory and NVMe support, and later might be upgraded to an 8-core if needed.

Something for comparison anyway.

Cheers,

BambiBoom

 

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