New Studio PC - Advice Needed

Hey Guys,

As my main studio PC just died a few weeks ago, I am in need of a new powerful configuration. Mainly for running Cubase and a few VSTs (like East West Products and Omnisphere), but also for a bit of video cutting with Magix.

Certainly not an AMD CPU, but Intel (experienced a lot of trouble with my last PC build, which had an AMD CPU). Of course SSD (at least 500 if not 1000GB) for quick response time and at least 16GB Ram. Don't know much as for the graphics card, but would love to hear your advice on it. I really don't plan to do heavyload video-cutting, but just rather descent projects with Magix Video (possibly 3-5 minutes length each).

My main questions:
1. Would you generally rather build your own PC completly instead of buying a prebuild one?
2. Is a mini PC usually much more expensive than a normal PC?
3. Is a good graphics card any important for my usages?
4. Would you use rather Windows 7 or Windows 10? (of course 64 bit!)
5. I have been using Cubase 5 for ages on my old machine. Would you update rather to 10?

I plan to move away to a new flat soon, and as I plan to travel too while working, a mini PC sounds somewhat like a comfortable solution. Or should I rather go with a normal PC (kept in studio) and buy another DAW laptop just for traveling?

The budget would be about 600 up to 1k USD – if you think that would be realistic.

Thanks!
-Frederic
 

Damarus

Active Member
Hard to ignore the 3900x from AMD right now but the 9900K or KS would be great.

Video card - get something decent like a 1660 or 5600XT when it comes out. People here will point out AMD cards have lower latency (in microseconds) - eh

Definitely Windows 10, it runs great and everyone will be on it soon anyways. 0 reason to be on win7

small form factor PC's look cool, save space but have potential cooling problems depending on the build. No reason for it imo

On that budget, yes build your own. Use a site like https://pcpartpicker.com/ to help with compatibility.
 

Technostica

Active Member
Or should I rather go with a normal PC (kept in studio) and buy another DAW laptop just for traveling?

The budget would be about 600 up to 1k USD – if you think that would be realistic.
I suggest deciding a firm budget and on whether you want one or two systems.
Even $1K is going to give you very low end gear if buying both.
$1k on one system is still mid range so I suggest that's the better option.
Forget Windows 7 as support ends this month and W10 is the future.
A dGPU is not needed for a DAW but can help with some aspects of Video work.
You'd need to look at the specs for your Magix software.
But with a budget of say $1k for a desktop I'd focus on other areas rather than a dGPU.
 

josejherring

Senior Member
Hey Guys,

As my main studio PC just died a few weeks ago, I am in need of a new powerful configuration. Mainly for running Cubase and a few VSTs (like East West Products and Omnisphere), but also for a bit of video cutting with Magix.

Certainly not an AMD CPU, but Intel (experienced a lot of trouble with my last PC build, which had an AMD CPU). Of course SSD (at least 500 if not 1000GB) for quick response time and at least 16GB Ram. Don't know much as for the graphics card, but would love to hear your advice on it. I really don't plan to do heavyload video-cutting, but just rather descent projects with Magix Video (possibly 3-5 minutes length each).

My main questions:
1. Would you generally rather build your own PC completly instead of buying a prebuild one?
2. Is a mini PC usually much more expensive than a normal PC?
3. Is a good graphics card any important for my usages?
4. Would you use rather Windows 7 or Windows 10? (of course 64 bit!)
5. I have been using Cubase 5 for ages on my old machine. Would you update rather to 10?

I plan to move away to a new flat soon, and as I plan to travel too while working, a mini PC sounds somewhat like a comfortable solution. Or should I rather go with a normal PC (kept in studio) and buy another DAW laptop just for traveling?

The budget would be about 600 up to 1k USD – if you think that would be realistic.

Thanks!
-Frederic
I've use both Intel and AMD currently and there is no difference. If you had trouble with your last build I assure you it wasn't the chip. It was some other component or components or the way you set up your software. That being said, I've always used Intel as my main machine and AMD for the slave machines just because I'm practically superstitious and that's the way I've always done it, but that might change soon.

1) I prefer to build my own PC but price is an issue for me. I can get more bang for my buck and my son can actually have money for school if I build my own machines rather than spend tens of thousands on prebuilt machines. I know people though who just use Dell and are perfectly fine. I think HZ said he used dell servers with little to no problems. Not sure if that is still the case though as I haven't seen his studio in years now. But, back when I was hanging around there all I saw was dozens and dozens of dell servers and Vision DAW. So you can't knock pre-built machines.

2) Why would mini PC's be more expensive? The CPU is the same price. The mobo's are generally a little cheaper. Ram the same price, ect.... Maybe you might save a few dollars on a mini pc build but generally unless you really know how to build I'd stick with standard ATX sizes. Unless you want to build a server. I know that Chimuelo a few years ago built some killer 1U machines. But as far as PC building goes, I consider him a Jedi Master. I'm still in the Padawan stages with no hopes of ascension into the higher ranks. I just want a PC that gives me no trouble and I can set and not worry about it for years until something breaks. As far as that, I've been very successful building PC's and I've always stuck to the standard ATX desktop form.

3) Graphics are of little importance to us as composers. You just want one that is powerful enough to run video easily if you score movies. I usually stick to the lower mid range of performance and have had zero issues with graphics.

4) I'd rather use windows 7 but it is no longer being supported so I'd go with Windows 10. I use both 7 and 10 and there really is little differences as far as music is concerned. I just like 7 better but maybe I'm a luddite when it comes to that. I still contend that windows XP was the best windows system ever.

5) For Christ sake update already. Even I'm not that much of a Luddite. But if you update to 10 then it is only supported on Windows 10 now, and it will be different than what you are use to. Cubase 5 was the first introduction of what I would consider the modern Cubase form but there have been a lot of refinements that are worth getting.
 
OP
FredericBernard
This is an example of how tight even a 1k budget is if you want a solid workstation.


You can start there if you'd like
This sounds great, except for the motherboard, as isn't it sort of overkill?! Possibly I should rather spend the 240 USD for a decently-powerful mainboard and a rather weak graphics card, OR a mainboard with onboard graphics (please correct me if that idea is bogus). As for the sound card I still got a really really old 1010lt MAudio lying around, but it seems to be worth an update for sure! What I would need is one with stereo chinch outputs, XLR input, and possibly also a midi input, of course one with a descent latency as well, but nothing crazy, as I don't want to use it in live environments.

Would anyone second on the innitial setup by Damarus?

Cheers!
-Frederic
 

BenG

Senior Member
Woul highly recommend Tobias Escher from Orchestral Templates+Orchestral Tools. Really knows his tuff Andy helped me build my custom machine a few years back.

Saved me hundreds, if not thousands, and really gave great advice on which parts/brands/etc.
 

kitekrazy

Senior Member
This sounds great, except for the motherboard, as isn't it sort of overkill?! Possibly I should rather spend the 240 USD for a decently-powerful mainboard and a rather weak graphics card, OR a mainboard with onboard graphics (please correct me if that idea is bogus). As for the sound card I still got a really really old 1010lt MAudio lying around, but it seems to be worth an update for sure! What I would need is one with stereo chinch outputs, XLR input, and possibly also a midi input, of course one with a descent latency as well, but nothing crazy, as I don't want to use it in live environments.

Would anyone second on the innitial setup by Damarus?

Cheers!
-Frederic
YES. There are plenty out there for under $200. I would go with Asus, Gigabyte, or AsRock. You will need a board that has PCI slots if you want to use that M-Audio card. I still run M-Audio PCI cards and they still work fine in a W10 system using W7 drivers.

That list is more for a gaming rig. A 1-2TB drive is what most gamers use for an OS drive.
 

JohnG

Senior Member
My OS drives are small these days -- 512 max. I use the large ones to record or to play back samples
 

Technostica

Active Member
What’s the advantage of a small OS Drive other than cost and disincentivizing using it for other things?
Quicker to clone it and restore if you hit issues.
The O/S drive is the one most likely to have issues so being able to get it back up and running quickly is useful.
I have a a 256GB boot drive.
 

JohnG

Senior Member
yes this ^^

it's a fair question. I am super paranoid about backups and have automatic and manual systems that partially are redundant. And repeat each other. [har har]
 

JohnG

Senior Member
also, I am using gigabyte boards that have PCI slot: H370 HD3. Make sure to buy a new one and not second hand, since only the new ones accommodate the i9 CPUs.

I think they max out at 64 GB but they are fine for music -- I have two PCs using this mobo, each with i9-9900k CPUs that are somewhat overclocked.

I saw a listing at $99 somewhere.
 

jbuhler

Senior Member
yes this ^^

it's a fair question. I am super paranoid about backups and have automatic and manual systems that partially are redundant. And repeat each other. [har har]
I am interested, not so much for my current set up which is locked to a hard to change iMac but for the next machine. And what size system drive should I be looking at.
 

JohnG

Senior Member
I am interested, not so much for my current set up which is locked to a hard to change iMac but for the next machine. And what size system drive should I be looking at.
IDK really -- some people may have a lot more software on the boot drive of PCs than I do. I have just OS, Kontakt, VE Pro, and the various players for sample purveyors.

One of my boot drives is only 120 GB. I would not go that small again, but it has 30 GB of spare capacity.
 

jbuhler

Senior Member
My boot drive is multi use in part because my studio computer is multi use. A smaller boot drive would definitely force better habits on that front. On the other hand I haven’t had any issues working this way. But it’s untidy. Which is not a problem until you need to troubleshoot some issue or restore from backup...
 
OP
FredericBernard
I now need to decide between two options. This selfmade configuration:

Intel Core i5-8400 Tray
GIGABYTE Z390 M

Kingston HyperX Fury Black 32GB DDR4 2400 CL15 K2 HX424C15FB3K2/32
Samsung 860 QVO SSD MZ-76Q1T0BW 1TB
Seagate IronWolf ST4000VN008 4TB
be quiet! Pure Power 11 80+ Gold 500 Watt
ASUS DRW-24D5MT DVD-Brenner bulk schwarz

be quiet! Pure Rock Fan
be quiet! Pure Base 600 Midi-Tower schwarz
generic display, keyboard and mouse
= around 1100 USD


...or a prebuild HP computer in about the same range, like the HP Pavilion 24-xa0035ng.

What do you guys think? Any opinion would be highly appreciated :).

Thanks,
-Frederic
 

Technostica

Active Member
I prefer a self build as you have more control over component choice which also makes it easier to build a quiet PC.
I would look at 2666MHz RAM which the CPU supports.