Recording PC - newbie first build

atljogger

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I'm a newbie seeking to build my first PC. This is mainly for music recording. Other than that, I'd only use for basic web-surfing and business-related matters (MS Office). I'm not interested in gaming. I've always wanted to build a PC and partly I want to see if I can actually do it? My goal here is a quality desktop that is as cheap as possible (I'd love to do it all for under $500, no monitor); I may buy Used components off EBAY to keep cost down. I use a MOTU firewire recording interface and Cubase as my software.

Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 Wolfdale $220 - it may not be possible to stay under $500 with this processor but I definitely want to build my system around the E8400. I would like to find savings in other components
Operating System: XP Pro. A lot of music interfaces have problems with Vista so I will go with what works.
Memory: I think 2 gigs would be fine with XP. 3gb if its a good deal
Video: I don't care about gaming capability. I am fine with a average-below average video card.
Motherboard: This is an area I know little about. I need firewire with the Texas Instrument chipset. Perhaps I should be a dedicated FW card instead.
Hard Drive: Seagate 320gb, 7200RPM seems popular. I have an external HD so I don't need anything amazing as long as it has adequate storage, 7200RM, etc
Case: Whatever works. Doesn't matter what it looks like as long as it gets the job done
Cooling Fan: Probably something more on the quiet side since I will be recording
PSU: 400 watt maybe? Does the E8400 processor require me to have a larger power supply?

Sorry for the beginner questions - feel free to berate me for my newbie-ness.

Thanks,
J
 

g-paw

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The problem you're going to run into is that what you want to do is resource intensive especially the CPU and you're likely going to need a lot of mobo connections for external equipment as well as a sound card for recording, recommend you talk with musician friends and check professional sites for an audio card for recording and keeping it at a $500 quality machine is going to be tough. The one component you can save on is a video card, which isn't relevant for what you're doing. What you're doing would benefit from quad core but more expensive but the E8400 would work. For a mobo something like the ASUS P5K E loads of features, 6 SATA connectors and onboard eSATA and firewire but it's about $140 vs something like the Gigabyte DS3L at $100 with out the features. Something like the 8400GS would work. An AMD Phenom that is also quad core but isn't as fast as the Q660 but would likely save you around $100. How much you should spend rally depends on how serious you are about recording. If you're really serious, might be better to wait until you have a bigger budget.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814127296
 

bob8701

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you should find a focus point on your new build, and build everything around. The audio card will be most import thing in your set up. since you will not OC you computer, get some motherboard has on board video. and quiet 400 W power supply will be fine.
 

mlaporta

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I think this build will fit your needs and may stretch your budget but $500 is kinda unrealistic if you compare the dollar amounts to these high-quality low-priced components.

GA-P35-DS3LGIGABYTE GA-P35-DS3L LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX All Solid Capacitor Intel Motherboard
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Crucial Ballistix 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit
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Antec Sonata III 500 Black ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 500W Power Supply
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EVGA GeForce 8600GT 512MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card
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Seagate Barracuda ST3250310NS ES.2 250GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive
 

mlaporta

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if you don't plan to OC the stock cooler is fine and you need an optical drive:

Samsung SH-S203B SATA - (Get the "Retail" version of the optical drive in order to get software with it. This will include the decoder you'll need to watch movies on it.)
 

mlaporta

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Maybe a better card based on your budget: EVGA 256-P2-N615-TX GeForce 7600GT 256MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 SLI Supported Video Card
 

atljogger

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How about this setup (no video card/use on-board):
- Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 Wolfdale
- Western Digital Caviar SE 160GB 7200 RPM 8MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive
- ASUS P5K-E/WIFI-AP LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX Intel Motherboard
- 2GB DDR2 PC6400 DUAL CHANNEL MEMORY / CRUCIAL
- Antec NSK6580 ATX - Mid Tower Computer Case 430W Power Supply
- ARCTIC COOLING Freezer 7 Pro 92mm CPU Cooler
- Samsung SH-S203B SATA

Total: $520 (some of the prices are "Open Box")
 

dario77

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you'll definitely want the fasted hdd you can get. go with 3gb memory, and you really should consider a phenom as a budget quad core alternative...most of your multichannel audio apps like cubase are multithreaded, so you'll notice an improvement with 4 cores.
phenoms are excellent for just this type of app...oc the L3 to around 2200 and you're gravy. saves you $$ on your mainboard as well.

do go with a dedicated FW card as well...if you don't get that texas instruments chip, your 500-ish pc will look at your 800ish audio interface like a dog who has been shown a card trick!

happy recording!!!
 

atljogger

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Thanks! Lets say I went with the AMD Phenom 9500 2.2GHz Quad-Core. What is a good, economical motherboard with this processor?
 

atljogger

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I will be doing all of my recording/sound editing with a MOTU firewire interface (basically an external soundcard) so I'm not sure how important a separate soundcard will be. What it be possible to find an MB that has both on-board audio and video that works with E8400 processor? Just wondering.

Thanks
 
G

Guest

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Most motherboards come with onboard audio. If I were you and I was trying to build a music system for $500, I'd scratch intel and go with AMD because their stuff costs half as much and is just as good. Go on Newegg.com and you can get the Phenom x4 9950 (the highest Phenom they make) for $150. Off the top of my head the MSI 780a Diamond motherboard has onboard video and comes with a soundblaster x-fi pci card, but since you have the MOTU you wouldn't need it.

I make music with Cubase myself and I was reading an article about motherboards. The writer said he never chooses a mobo with an onboard video solution because it takes away CPU resources. If you get a dedicated video card, you will be freeing up your CPU resources for the audio. Unfortunately, even the cheapest of boards (under $100) come with onboard video. Take the $90 ECS 780g which has an ATI Radeon HD 3200 for example. Only until you get to the expensive $300 boards do they stop including onboard video because they know enthusiasts who spend that much are going to have their own dedicated video cards.

You might want to pick up this month's CPU computer power user magazine. They have a whole section on intel and amd mobos. Good luck.