Originally posted 28 April 2009 on http://thestudio.draconiansaint.com
Or Rather the Parts
In the midst of making the initial posts to this blog I managed to bypass the reasoning behind the parts I had gathered to assemble the DAW. I mentioned what I had purchased but not the why of it all.
First and foremost is the chassis . As I had mentioned I had sourced this from Arrowmax. The reasoning for the selection of this particular chassis had to do with several factors. The first and foremost was that I wanted a chassis that was rack mountable and could ride on rails. the second reason was airflow to keep the components cool. The final reason was I wanted enough bays for the required drives and enough slots for the accessories I would eventually need as I expanded the system on down the line.
Next is the motherboard. Initially I had selected the AMD based board as I thought I would be building the system around a dual core due to cost constraints. But later I determined that a quad core capable machine would be more of interest. I’ve had good success with AMD based machines and can’t say the same with Intel based machines. I knew I needed the following:
- On board FireWire capability. This necessitated a T.I. (Texas Instruments) based fire wire (IEEE1394) chip to make sure I would not have any issues with any fire wire based components.
- I needed multiple USB 2.0 BUS I/Os
- I wanted to have accelerated graphics that could be pushed off to an external GPU, but I wanted multi GPU capability.
- I wanted to PCIe capability for when I can afford to add an RME HDSPe card.
- Support for AM2 and AM3 processors if I decided I wanted to step up in the future.
I selected a Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H Motherboard which fit all of the above criteria and offered a Crossfire ready board that would allow me to upgrade to an AM3. (I have since decided that I need additional PCIe slots and will be moving up to the full AT form factor board in the near future). Memory support for DDR2 1066 MHz Ram is also provided. While not really smokingly fast in todays terms it is still quite quick.
I then selected my hard drives. I run the machine in ACHI mode rather than raid but will be moving to RAID in the near future as the motherboard supports this. I went with a 500GB System drive for the Operating System and programs. This is a Seagate Barracuda drive with 16MB buffer and a 7200 RPM speed. Read/write times are in the 4 to 5 ms range. The other 500GB drive has similar specs but with a 32MB buffer. This second drive handles all of my streaming audio samples for my sample playing synths.
I have a 1.5 TB Seagate Baracuda with 32 MB buffer. Again similar performance specs. The separation of the drives allows for a more efficient streaming of audio.
The processor is of course an AMD quad core. I got the best I could at the time which was an AMD Phenom, Agena, 2.6 GHz Processor, Black edition. Works just fine. With 40+ tracks running in a project, multiple softsynths and sample players, realtime MIDI input and audio streams the processor is tasked at an average of 12%. Hardly pushing it at all.
I selected a FSP Group Mod 700 power supply as it had 4 12V rails to insure power stability in the system. They have a good reputation and upon testing the power supply outputs with a CoolMax PS-224 power supply tester I found that all outputs were well within specification. This is a must. You have to get a good power supply tester toi check your power supplies before installation. Too little juice and the system will become quirky and you will get BSOD and system failures that seem to be untraceable. Too much juice and you will start to fry components and boards. A very bad and expensive situation.
For RAM I selected DDR2 1066 2.0V Kingston HyperX RAM. A good value for a quality name product Currently I have 4 GB and will be expanding to 8 GB in the coming week. I figure you can’t ever be in a position of not having enough RAM. I’ll also be running 8GB high speed HCSD card in the machine for Readyboost which will handle the paging file system for Vista Ultimate. This should allow the system to perform even better though it’s hardly tasked to it’s limits now at 12% mentioned.
I selected a Samsung IDE ligthscribe DVD+/-R drive for CD and DVD burning and will be getting another to supplement this drive. The CD-RW drive that is in place right now seems to have a data buffer problem and fails consistently. So out it goes.
I purchased a 19″ Acer flatscreen because the value for the image resolution was good. I’ll be getting a second one at mid-month to provide me with a simultaneous tracking view and mixing view. I’m using this for music not for CGI so it will do fine. Another pair will allow me to post up views of FX and Softsynths while in production.
A Sapphire Radeon 3450 graphics card supporting Crossfire allows me to enhance the graphics power of the machine by adding 512 MB of GPU memory and a separate GPU processor to work with the one that is already on the motherboard. this pushes all the graphics handling onto the card and allows the processor to do it’s thing.
I purchased a Microsoft Media Keyboard to take advantage of some advanced keyboard functions when using Sonar. I had a logitech Marble trackball kicking around. I prefer trackballs when doing detail work. the thing goes where I want it to and I seem to have better control.
Now about the operating system. I use Vista and it works for me. That’s what matters. There are a lot of nay sayers. But even XP with the 3 GB switch you are somewhat limited. With SP 2 most of the stability issues have gone away. And you can use more than 3GB of RAM with Vista Ultimate 64. Kind of makes sense to me. I have yet to have any stability issues with Vista running SP2.
Well that’s it in a nutshell. Everything I purchased and why. The goal was to get a working system with little to no issues. I’ve accomplished that. It records, it plays back, there are no latency issues and it consistently works.
Till next time……