System Build from 1 PC -> 2PC's / Gaming and Music Making - > Building advice -> Planning


Dec 6, 2008
Hey Folks,

I've been hunting around for weeks, trying to ascertain if apple would be the way to go. It turns out, its not. Mostly because of the RAM limitations, save that of a Mac Pro. So I decided I would build my own PCs (yes its plural) = Time Frame, next 60 days.

Right now system build (although with some upgrades done):

Case: Antec 300
CPU: i5-2500 (no k, no overclock)
RAM: 16GB (2 x 4 @ 1333, 2 x 4 @ 1600) (If I remember right Kingston HyperX and GSkill Ripsaw are the 2 brands in there)
Motherboard: Asus p8z77-lx
SSD: Samsung Evo 250GB
HDD: WD Black 1TB, 7200rpm
PSU: OCZ 700w (oczgsx700)
DISPLAY: Samsung 2253bw (22"), 1680x1080 Max Resolution. (60hz)

For music making I use, Presonus Studio One, and currently Finale 2012c or Sibelius 7.5 (depends on mood). Finale and Sibelius are notation software, where Studio One is a DAW.
They all run ok on the current system. But I will be stretching my musical wings into orchestrations, and thereby acquiring a new DAW - Cubase. Both Cubase & Studio One can take advantage of multicore processors, and hyperthreading (something the i5-2500 doesn't do).

From my understanding the way Cubase works is this: It wants to use and will assign work to as many cores as you can give it. It'll manage all the plug-ins and Virtual Instruments. SO the more cores the better. Where you need RAM is the number of tracks. So if I'm running 9 tracks with tweaks, I might hit a 4GB out of memory message. 20 tracks 8GB, and so on. If we're talking orchestration, realistically could be looking at upwards of 80 - 100 tracks. The demand on resources becomes clear.

I also game. Not heavily. Nothing like BF4, or anything. But I do play Dragon's Age right now Inquisitor. My cpu jumps from 20 - 30% usage, to 80 - 95% usage when the game is running. It also uses about 5GB of RAM. Only because it can and its available. (it might do ok with 4GB - not sure).

So the reason for the upgrade is to jump the CPU for both gaming and music. While I could use an i5-4690, for music making, I was thinking the jump to an i7-4790 wood work best. Indeed, the cpu's have very close scores on

The question is if something can use alot all the cores, is the extra 4 threads worth the extra $100. ($235 for i5-4690, $335 for i7-4790)

For the CPU: I'm allowing up to $350.00 or current i7-4790 (Cooler out, add heat sink up to $90)

Before I go into motherboards and RAM and all the rest of the system components. I should mention I would like to use this case
[url=] but, its mATX (micro Atx / mini ATX). Its gotta sit on my black glass desktop, tucked into a corner, and out of the way. Floor space is at premium, so the Antec 300 has got to go.

Having said that, mATX doesn't offer onboard wifi. ATX and ITX do. hrmphf!. But to reach the 24 - 32 GB RAM capacity the mATX does, what the ITX and DTX can't. 2 extra ram slots.

So the idea is to take 8GB (1600) from old system and pair it with 16GB (to be purchased), to me it doesn't much matter who made it, as long as its 1600hz. Thereby giving me 24 GB. While keeping cost down. This is assuming the heatsink allows for it. And to that I'm thinking of this heatsink


So I have CASE, RAM, CPU??, but what motherboard to use. I mean is it worth splurging extra for z97 or even z99, when I would necessarily utilize all the functions. Motherboards still baffle me with all the extras. But bearing in mind I don't over clock, maybe someone can offer an idea as to a motherboard. It just has to be mATX and not MSI (i had an msi gtx 550ti, that stopped working after 5 months. It was a head-ache to RMA and wait for a new card for almost 4 weeks. So I got a 6870 instead, and the 550ti sat around collecting dust.)

For Motherboard, I have spent as much as $190 in the past, but would like to spend less if appropriate.

For ODD (Optical Drive), I figured i would just use an external desktop one. Since I rarely use one at all, everything is downloadable nowadays anyway. Chances are I'll get more up to date drivers from downloading than what was shipped by the manufacturer.

For Storage, I had planned on using the existing Samsung EVO 250GB SSD, with a new Samsung EVO 500GB SSD. I can certain add a mechanical drive, for more storage, or for back up. Since the case will tolerate 2 SSD's and 1 HDD. Samsun EVO 500GB Can be had for $240

If I use the internal HDD for more space, I can always run a USB external back up drive (2TB 5400 rpm WD Green). ?? About $100

PSU: I have narrowed it down to a Seasonic X series 650w. Should do the trick (its fully modular).
PSU: Is about $130

The Case fan, can be switched to a Noctua (i'm favoring this brand because their are near silent as you can get from what I've read, with one of the highest reliability ratings)

Ohhh GPU: Zotac GTX 760 4GB - Although the fans maybe a bit noisy. Can anyone recommend fans to replace the stock that would be quieter?

So PC 1 I think is ok.....if folks could input on Motherboard, and cpu, and my logic, would really appreciate it.

So TOTAL BUDGET (Case out): Say $900-$950 (does not include case or display)

The last thing to decide on is display. I don't know I'm the average gamer, but I'm not sure I'd noticed a big difference between 1920x1080 and 2560x1440. I'm open to it.
For the display I've seen HP 27xi going for cheap these days (like $230), but there could be other options worth visiting. the only thing is, a silver stand / metal would be nice to match the case of the U3, so ideally its all silver or all black one of the 2. So its not a hodge podge of things thrown together. But I would like to keep the cost of display UNDER $400.

I just need to find a wireless keyboard / mouse / trackpad to match the color scheme. Logitech and Rapoo have some options here.

If I import the case from Europe, it could cost me upwards of $150 bucks, just for the case, while there is a Rosewill version of it. I'm staying away from Rosewill for this reason:

if the link doesn't work, google = cnet & Rosewill not so Rosey

Moving on to PC #2.

Re-purpose the i5-2500 into an ITX case for media/movies/music
Re-purpose 2 x 4GB of RAM (1333) (hyper x - Kingston)
Re-purpose ODD: 1 x LG bluray dvd burner.
Re-purpose the 1TB HDD WD Black
Re-purpose OCZ 700w PSU
Keyboard: Logitech Wireless KB400 (with trackpad)

Could also house a back up drive via ethernet and making is a network drive.
THis is the case I'm thinking of Its footprint is very small.

Total Cost of PC #2 = $150

The big reason for splitting the machine displays. Windows can't send out 2 different resolutions and refresh rates. It can only send one. So the monitor (samsung 2253) has a resolution of 1680x1080 and refresh rate of 60hz. Applying these resolutions to the 42" tv, creates a shimmer as the tv tries to keep up to almost 3x its refresh rate of 24hz.

I am thinking that the onboard hdmi display for the ITX board, is sufficient enough to watch 1080p movies.

So that's what I'm thinking...if anyone has any ideas about it...or suggestions or thoughts please feel free to comment.

Last question: If I have logitech wireless devices on one side of the room, and wireless devices on the other side of the room, will the 2 collide or interfere with each other.

PS: I can use a bluetooth dongle for speakers, and a wireless dongle for keyboard/mouse/trackpad. :)

Once again, thank you all in advance for you ideas :) looking forward to your suggestions.

I would go with the i7-4790k for the CPU for your main system. On single threaded benchmarks you will not see much of a difference, but on multithreaded applications, like you are describing, the hyperthreading on top of the four physical cores will be what you need.

You should have 16 GB of RAM, but be aware that the new 16 GB kit you buy may not be compatible with your older 8 GB of RAM.

For the wifi, don't worry if it is on board. You can easily add wifi via PCI or USB.

I still like optical drives, and for under $20, LiteOn is a good choice for a DVDRW.


Dec 6, 2008
I do like optical drives as well, but I rarely use them, for the main pc, I was thinking of just running one via usb, for those situations that require it. the media PC would have 1 bluray optical drive installed, but most of the movies are converted on to usb sticks anyway...given the new case of the media build, there's a usb 3 and 2 available.