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budget audio workstation / gaming rig / entertainment hub
by nozworth
Permalink:   (5 comments)
Description

First time build. Audio recording, gaming, web browsing, media streaming, and a little video editing and Photoshop for fun. My previous laptop was graphically underpowered, sounded like the apocalypse when I tried to run most programs beyond a web browser, didn't have a working battery, was incredibly noisy and whiny even when idling, overheated when I tried to fullscreen a Youtube video, and overheated at idle if I didn't hang the heatsink off the edge of my desk (the book-propping trick didn't work). This build had a few main goals:

  1. Run cooler than my HP laptop
  2. Run quieter than my HP laptop
  3. Run ProTools better than my friend's MacBook Pro
  4. Get higher FPS in Minecraft than my brother's Alienware
  5. Smallish form factor

I planned this build for months and months, so many of my part choices changed over time. I bought most of the parts during Black Friday sales. I had my parents buy me the CPU and mobo as my Christmas gift, and my dad later threw in the monitor which was pretty cool of him. (Don't know what he paid for the monitor so I didn't include that in the final cost.)

Case: I wanted something compact (had to be under 19" tall) with good airflow. The moment I saw that big ol' fan I was hooked. The windowed version of the TJ08 just came out so I had to go with that.

CPU: I originally planned to go with a locked, non-overclockable i5 to stay in my budget. I really wanted an i7 to improve performance in ProTools and image/video editing though, so I ended up asking my parents to get me the 4770k as a Christmas gift.

Stock Intel cooler for now. (Aren't they just the ugliest things ever?)

Memory: Wanted Corsair LP memory for the clean look, got it on sale during Black Friday. Wish it was lower latency and that I'd gotten 16Gb but I was looking for a good deal. RAM went up in price so much from the time I started planning to when I finally began buying parts. Hopefully I'll be able to add another stick soon.

OS: I don't have any problems with Windows 8, 90% of the time I'm in Chrome anyway. But I had to go with Windows 7 to avoid compatibility issues with my version of ProTools. I figured it's easier to spend $90 to deal with an older OS than to buy Windows 8 plus spend $600 on a new version of ProTools. I'll upgrade once I get paid from my first hit ;) (And yes, I bought a legit copy of Windows... I hate to steal especially when it's something I'll use every day for years).

PSU: I was originally going to use a Corsair semi-modular PSU, but I saw this one on sale. I mistakenly thought it was modular as well so I ordered it. Ended up making it work but always double check your research!

Video Card: Originally wanted a 650 Ti Boost, or any Nvidia card, but the 2Gb version of that card kept going up in price, so I decided to shell out another $30 above my graphics budget of $150 and get an AMD card with slightly better performance. I don't play a lot of graphics-intensive games so I think it should be enough. I got the 270 instead of the 270x because apparently overclocking can give it similar performance for a lower price. I may upgrade if I get heavier into PC gaming but for now this should be a huge improvement over what I'm used to. Which was 1 fps in Minecraft. (not kidding).

HDDs: Got the Seagate for a good price with a MIR. Needed a separate HDD for audio recording, saw the WD at an okay price and decided variety is good--some people swear by WD, so I might as well have one of each. Decided to mount it in the 5.25" bay to maintain airflow in the main part of the case. Mounted it in a HDD cooler just to be safe. I know there are heated debates* on whether cooling affects HDD lifespan/performance, but there would have been literally no airflow up there, and I think it looks cool. Unfortunately the cooler was incredibly noisy. I had to cancel my Windows installation just to unplug it because it was so loud and annoying. Still looks cool.

*(just saw this while proofreading, no pun was intended)

ODD: I want to be rid of optical drives altogether, but I still own tons of music CDs, and the digital 8-track recording device I used to use (and have many ideas/tracks still on) only burns CDs. (The year after I bought it, they came out with an updated model that could write to USB, go figure.) Anyway I saw this blu-ray drive at a good price... I always wanted to be able to watch blu ray discs.

Upgrade path: -Aftermarket heatsink -Add a second stick of RAM -Exhaust fan

If you have any criticisms, lay 'em on me, I know it isn't perfect and I think I can handle a few people yelling at me over the internet. If you have any questions about my audio recording setup, it's still in its infancy and very piecemeal, nothing to brag about, but I'll be upgrading over time. Just being able to run the software is a huge step from where I've been for years.

TL;DR I built a computer.

Part List
Details
Intel Core i7-4770K 3.5GHz Quad-Core Processor
CPU Clock Rate3.5GHz
CPU Temperature While Idle-
CPU Temperature Under Load-
Gigabyte Radeon R9 270 2GB WINDFORCE Video Card
GPU Core Clock Rate950MHz
GPU Effective Memory Clock Rate5.6GHz
GPU Temperature While Idle31.0° C
GPU Temperature Under Load78.0° C
3DMark 11 Benchmark Results
Extreme Preset ScoreX2587
Performance Preset ScoreP5208
Comments
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Sorted by:
 
 
EngageTheSun [1 Build] 1 point 7 months ago

Nice build man! +1

 
 
xx116xx [3 Builds] 1 point 7 months ago

I love that fan in front... nice parts too.

 
 
Kierkes 1 point 7 months ago

Ahh ProTools. You're the first person I've seen deliberately avoid the Mac for ProTools; friends of mine have shelled out several thousand dollars for Macs "because ProTools." It's the program I made myself learn to use, and never used again, haha.

Top choice sucking it up and getting the i7. So many DAW users keep trying to goose the price of their systems by getting i5's when they build, and since most builders are gamers, they miss the chance to be discouraged from the lack of hyperthreading. (It literally improves performance by at least 30% on heavy projects.)

And good on you with the drive situation. Basically, this is a great build that doesn't have any of the pitfalls of most DAW builds. If you're like me and are a VI nut, you're going to want to upgrade the RAM, but that's easy.

Sent from my 2.0GHz Penryn laptop with 4GB of RAM. Just biding my time until I don't have to bounce every MIDI file anymore.

 
 
cooperred [2 Builds] 1 point 7 months ago

Nice build! That slanted SSD is bugging more more than it should though...

 
 
mikemaddem [1 Build] 0 points 7 months ago

i might have went with the 270x or the 280x but nice build anyway