PC experts needed for upgrade quest

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joninc
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PC experts needed for upgrade quest

Post by joninc » Sat Jun 19, 2021 5:35 pm

I think I am due to get a newer computer this year and am starting to research models.

I currently have an i7 3820 CPU @ 3.60GHz and am looking at a intel i7 6700k quad core. (I am running 64bit cubase 11)

The main thing it must have is a mobo that will still support pcie for my RME soundcard which I need to connect to my converters... and preferably reasonably quiet. C drive will be SSD for running software.

I don't know how fast the latest chipsets are and if this will be a significant improvement in terms of performance or not. Do you know?

I can spend a bit more if there's way better processors to be had and would love to hear from anyone who knows :)
Last edited by joninc on Sat Jul 03, 2021 8:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: PC exports needed for upgrade quest

Post by digitaldrummer » Sun Jun 20, 2021 7:41 am

I just recently bought a new Dell XPS (8940) and it has an i5-11400. I'm including this link just so you can compare cpu performance

https://www.cpubenchmark.net/compare/In ... 2565vs4233

the CPUs you mentioned are both pretty old now. current Intel are going to be "11th generation" (aka "Rocket Lake") for mobile/desktops (even 10th gen is way faster than what you mentioned). don't just look at the "cpu mark" but also look at the year it was introduced (first clue) and then also look at the single thread rating. hopefully all of those numbers are better than your current system (and should be by far). another thing that has steadily increased over time is the DDR (memory) type and speed. DDR4 is up to 3200Mhz (or MT, mega-transfers as it is sometimes shown). faster memory means loading applications, and native plugins, etc. faster. More cores is helpful for loading more native plugins, and for running the DAW overall. Higher cpu frequency can help too, but now you also have to look at the "turbo frequency", especially since you likely won't be running the CPU at 100% utilization all of the time (believe me the 9 year old CPU is much slower...)

note that i5, i7, i9, does not really matter unless you compare in the same generation. otherwise an I5 (like in the link I sent) can blow the doors off an i7 (if its older).

btw, the Dell XPS I bought is this -- https://deals.dell.com/en-us/productdetail/989z

but when I bought it over memorial day weekend, it was on sale for $599. then I added another drive. so if you have patience, watch and there are always deals, coupons, codes, etc. sometimes weekend prices are higher (more web traffic). or check the "Dell outlet" under "deals". Refurb or scratch and dent systems have the same warranty as new. I got a refurb laptop last year and it looked brand new, works great. inventory can move quickly there though.

btw, I was able to connect dual monitor using the onboard video ports (one DisplayPort and one HDMI), but I did have to get one new cable to go from display port to HDMi (on my monitor). And the XPS is very quiet. and this one has 3 PCIe slots -- a x16 (usually for graphics cards but I didn't need one), a x4 and a x1 card. So I transferred over a UAD2 solo card, a firewire 800 card (to connect to my Apollo 16) , and a x4 card adapter that has an M.2 NVMe on it (for additional fast storage that I put samples on).

since my upgrade, I've also noticed that boot time, DAW load time, and zipping up session files have all gotten faster. I'm happy I upgraded (even if it was from a 2017-era i5-7400, it's made a difference)
Last edited by digitaldrummer on Sun Jun 20, 2021 7:56 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: PC exports needed for upgrade quest

Post by digitaldrummer » Sun Jun 20, 2021 7:50 am

a note on storage also. If you get an SSD, the read speed of a SATA SSD caps out at around 530 MB/sec. That is pretty fast, but an NVMe, which is connected directly to PCIe (vs going through a SATA controller) can be capable of up to 3500 MB/sec (although most desktop NVMe are not going to perform that high, they are faster than SATA). That also translates to application load time - reading off the disk and loading into memory - any SSD is going to blow the doors off a spinning disk. Its a night and day difference.

write speed (saving data, writing WAVs, etc.) is always slower than reads on SSDs and varies a lot, but again it's almost always more than enough and at least 2-3x that of spinning hard drives (if not more).
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Re: PC exports needed for upgrade quest

Post by Magnetic Services » Mon Jun 21, 2021 8:20 am

If you're building, don't skimp on the case. I got this one and it's amazing: https://www.bequiet.com/en/case/1203

It's super quiet and has a switch so you can force the fans to a low speed when you need it extra quiet for recording. Also super sturdy, easy to get inside for maintenance and cleaning, and I think it looks cool, too.

I definitely recommend building, even if you think you don't know much about computers. I was intimidated going into the process, but as long as you do your research and make sure everything's compatible, then it just takes a day of hooking it all up and maybe an afternoon to get the operating system installed. I ran into a few little headaches here and there but ever since I turned it on it's been running smoothly!

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Re: PC exports needed for upgrade quest

Post by joninc » Fri Jul 02, 2021 11:51 am

this is all good info and helpful. Thank you!

A few followup questions:

What processor/mobo would be a solid current choice?

Looking at the 10th gen intel stuff on Amazon...how is something like this i9? :

https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B086ML ... F24J&psc=1

I don't need the absolute bleeding edge latest (ie: 11th gen) but if I'm gonna go through the hassle of switching everything over, I want it to be solid for at least the next 4-5 years and have noticeably more power than my current rig for plugins, high track counts, higher sample rates and stability.

Also - is it possible to clone my C drive and write that onto the new system so I don't have to re-install all software/plugins etc? That is the part that is the most daunting and time consuming for me.
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Re: PC exports needed for upgrade quest

Post by digitaldrummer » Sat Jul 03, 2021 6:32 am

yeah, that's a pretty stout CPU and will serve you well for several years. and so much more than your current system (use that cpubenchmark.net link I provided earlier to compare and see for yourself).

it is possible to clone a drive, but it's easier if you do it on a 3rd system... or you can use a backup/restore that can do a full image restore (I use the free backup from Veeam -- https://tapeop.com/reviews/gear/129/vee ... s-windows/). Or what about simply moving your boot drive from the old to the new? of course, this only works if the drive has the same interface (i.e., its not ancient). but if they are both sata, then that's pretty easily done.

then again, reloading windows and starting from scratch (with a more recent build of Windows 10) can actually "fix" some issues caused by upgrading over and over and over... and for me at least, it also gave me a chance to weed out some older plugins I never used, upgrade some that I had neglected (assuming I could download a free update),etc. tbh, this was the least problematic of my last upgrade. Having a full backup is required regardless. I had a few saved plugin settings that didn't move over properly, but luckily I was able to restore them from a backup.

get a SATA dock (assuming you have SATA drives) and it will help with your transfer. And you can also use these for backup (using any 2.5" or 3.5' SATA drive).

something like this --https://smile.amazon.com/WAVLINK-Extern ... 040&sr=8-8 but there are many similar devices out there.
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Re: PC exports needed for upgrade quest

Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Sat Jul 03, 2021 9:29 am

digitaldrummer wrote:
Sat Jul 03, 2021 6:32 am
reloading windows and starting from scratch (with a more recent build of Windows 10) can actually "fix" some issues caused by upgrading over and over and over... and for me at least, it also gave me a chance to weed out some older plugins I never used, upgrade some that I had neglected (assuming I could download a free update),etc. tbh, this was the least problematic of my last upgrade.
+1. I built a new computer for the studio recently, putting it together took an evening, reinstalling all the s/w took another evening. I was NOT looking forward to reinstalling the s/w, it felt like an overwhelming task that was going to be a huge pain in the ass. It wasn't, it went fine. Just took a little while. Had to dig up a few license keys but I mean...this is not grueling work, you're not digging a ditch in a hurricane.

I really think it's better to just start with a fresh version of Windows and a cleaned-up plugin folder. If your computer is gonna last for 5 years, spending a few hours on this at the beginning is no big whoop.

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Re: PC experts needed for upgrade quest

Post by joninc » Sat Jul 03, 2021 8:17 pm

Care to share what you built? (specs)

I honestly have never done this before so not really sure what MOBO or RAM is ideal - all I know is that I need a PCIe slot for RME audio card... I'll seek help to assemble but if I can source parts myself I'll save $$.
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Re: PC experts needed for upgrade quest

Post by digitaldrummer » Sun Jul 04, 2021 8:06 am

joninc wrote:
Sat Jul 03, 2021 8:17 pm
if I can source parts myself I'll save $$.
sometimes that is true, but not always. I know people that have done both with different results... so yes, if you wait for every fantastic sale you might save a few bucks, but it might take you a year to gather all the parts, and then its already "old". I wouldn't rule out buying a new or even refurb or used system (craigslist - sometimes gamers upgrade frequently...).

not sure what your shopping looks like in CA, but here the Sam's clubs and Costco usually have good prices on new (multiple brand names). right now its another US holiday, so lots of sales... Also with the "chip shortages" there are certain components that are harder to get, or more expensive (but the sales will be on available parts...)
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Re: PC experts needed for upgrade quest

Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Sun Jul 04, 2021 8:21 am

MOBO: ASUS Prime B460-PLUS LGA 1200 (Intel 10th Gen) ATX Motherboard (Dual M.2, 1Gb LAN, USB 3.2 Gen 1 Ports, HDMI, DisplayPort and Aura Sync RGB)

CPU: Intel Core i7-10700K Comet Lake 8-Core 3.8 GHz LGA 1200 125W Desktop Processor w/ Intel UHD Graphics 630

SYSTEM DRIVE: SAMSUNG 970 EVO M.2 2280 500GB PCIe Gen3. X4, NVMe 1.3 V-NAND 3-bit MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) MZ-V7E500BW

STORAGE: 2 SAMSUNG 860 EVO Series 2.5" 1TB SATA III V-NAND 3-bit MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) MZ-76E1T0B/AM

RAM: 2 CORSAIR Vengeance LPX 32GB (2 x 16GB) 288-Pin DDR4 SDRAM DDR4 3200 (PC4 25600) Intel XMP 2.0 Desktop Memory Model CMK32GX4M2B3200C16

Also a BeQuiet CPU cooler, Win 10 pro 64, I forget what the power supply is, but it's modular and 650 watts.

ADVICE: If this is living in your studio and not a machine room, don't skimp on the case and get a solid one, avoid the tempered glass side panels. My computer is totally silent EXCEPT that with the side panel on, it actually resonated like a drum and I could hear the drone of the power supply waxing and waning. Obviously not acceptable in a fancy mastering studio. After briefly losing my mind I solved the problem by simply taking the side panel off and just leaving it leaning against the case. The computer's hidden behind the fake front wall so looks don't matter.

Also if you're running any sort of bigger monitors, get a dedicated video card, the display will look horrible with onboard graphics. Like busted 1996 horrible.

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Re: PC experts needed for upgrade quest

Post by joninc » Sun Jul 04, 2021 1:31 pm

digitaldrummer wrote:
Sun Jul 04, 2021 8:06 am
[
sometimes that is true, but not always. I know people that have done both with different results...
What is both? A pre fab comp vs build your own?

Does anyone know of any good Dell or HP computers that are in this league that are good for audio recording? I'm open to ideas... I did assume it would be cheaper to build.
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Re: PC experts needed for upgrade quest

Post by digitaldrummer » Sun Jul 04, 2021 2:09 pm

look like MSE has some good ingredients there...

and yes by both, I meant that sometimes it was cheaper to build, sometimes cheaper to buy. and depends on your comfort level.

My last 2 studio computers have been Dell XPS. they are typically very quiet and had everything I needed. I would definitely recommend one if you are not sure about what to build. or you can check prices and see what is available for build vs buy. or you can (do like I did and) get the built system and add to it. For example, this last one I got the tower with the cpu and memory I wanted then added some different drives. On the previous computer I had bought a system with 8GB RAM and eventually upgraded to 16GB (just getting more RAM from Amazon).
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Re: PC experts needed for upgrade quest

Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Mon Jul 05, 2021 8:57 am

FWIW mine came to about $1500, which certainly isn't cheap. But, it's blazing fast with a ton of RAM and all super-solid components, and no pre-installed bloatware to worry about.

Obviously spending less money is preferable to spending more, but the computer is what makes the whole studio go, so I think it's wise to just spend the dough and get something really good. Amortize the cost over 5 years....mine'll come to less than a dollar a day. And you can write it off.

Also, putting one together is kind of intimidating when it's not something you do every day, but really it is pretty bonehead simple, you're just connecting stuff to the mobo. You don't have to be a rocket surgeon, just go slow and be patient. It'd been at least 5 years since I put my last one together and I was feeling awfully rusty, I watched a few vids made by young people and that was very helpful.

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Re: PC experts needed for upgrade quest

Post by Magnetic Services » Mon Jul 05, 2021 9:54 am

MoreSpaceEcho wrote:
Sun Jul 04, 2021 8:21 am
ADVICE: If this is living in your studio and not a machine room, don't skimp on the case and get a solid one, avoid the tempered glass side panels. My computer is totally silent EXCEPT that with the side panel on, it actually resonated like a drum and I could hear the drone of the power supply waxing and waning. Obviously not acceptable in a fancy mastering studio. After briefly losing my mind I solved the problem by simply taking the side panel off and just leaving it leaning against the case. The computer's hidden behind the fake front wall so looks don't matter.
I have a Be Quiet case with a glass side panel and it doesn't seem to resonate. I think it has a rubber gasket around the sides that helps. Also the PSU mounts with little rubber grommets, which is great for dampening. Really good design.

The problem with my build is my liquid CPU cooler (Arctic Liquid Freezer 2) - the radiator fans are controlled by the same input as the pump, which means it's always spinning at the same rate regardless of what the case fans are doing. I think there is a way to wire the radiator fans separately but it's really hard to access just because of the way it's built. So, OP, make sure you can easily control ALL of your fans when you need it extra quiet!

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Re: PC experts needed for upgrade quest

Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Mon Jul 05, 2021 4:27 pm

Yeah I'd expect the BeQuiet cases to be...quiet. I have their CPU cooler and it's super quiet but it's massive and it comes very close to touching the side panel....so I don't know if that's what's making the panel resonate or not. Anyway someone had warned me about the tempered glass panel and I ignored them, so I just felt like passing on the warning.

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