Intel Core i5-4670 Digital Audio Workstation for Pulsar PCI cards

This build was for a recording artist who wanted to continue using their original Creamware Pulsar cards as they had a number of ongoing projects that were using the plugins and software that are part of the original Creamware architecture. The Creamware Pulsar cards have a PCI interface so we needed to use a motherboard that had at least 3 PCI slots.

ASUS H87 Plus

ASUS H87 Plus motherboard

The Asus H87-PLUS has a total of 4 x PCIe sockets (2 x 16 / 2 x1) and 3 x PCI sockets.

The Creamware cards are now supported by Sonic Core who provide an update to the Scope software to version 5.1, this allows the cards to run on windows 7 64bit. There are few bits of tweaking in the bios needed to get the cards to be stable but after some research and testing the unit was rock solid.

 

The full Spec;

  • Antec NSK4000 B2 Tower
  • ASUS H87-PLUS motherboard
  • Intel Core i5-4670
  • 8GB (Kit) DDR3 PC3-12800
  • Seagate Barracuda ST1000DM003 1 TB 3.5″ Internal Hard Drive
  • Optiarc AD-7241S-0B DVDRW SATA Black
  • firewire 1394a 2 port PCI Express Card
  • LiteOn IHAS124-04 DVD+-R/RW/DL/RAM
  • OCZ ZS Series 650W Power Supply 80 Plus Bronze
  • Windows 7 64bit

 

 

Intel Core i5-4670 Rackmount Digital Audio Workstation

This unit was built for a professional musician running reaper. The customer wanted the unit to be relatively quiet and mount in a 19″ rack. The operating noise was not too critical as there was a separate live area for recording but the customer wanted to make sure that the towers sound level would not be too intrusive while mixing.

Scythe Shuriken

Scythe Shuriken Rev B Quiet Low Profile CPU Cooler

The Scythe Shuriken CPU cooler has proved to be a very reliable unit and will cool CPU’s with a maximum Thermal Design Power of up to 95w, so it can work with pretty much all of the Intel Haswell Core i series CPU’s. There is a good article relating to CPU coolers on the quiet PC forum.

The Scythe CPU cooler combined with the FSP raider Power supply ensures that the operating noise is pretty minimal, even when pushing the performance of the CPU. One problem area with operating noise can be ‘case rattle’ but the Lian li tower is pretty good with rubber grommets to dampen any Hard drive noise.

The full spec;

  • Lian li PC-C32B Aluminium desktop tower including rack ears
  • FSP Raider 650W Quiet PSU 80+ Silver
  • ASUS H87-PLUS motherboard
  • Intel Core i5-4670 3.40 GHz Processor
  • 8GB (Kit) DDR3 PC3-12800
  • Seagate Barracuda ST1000DM003 1 TB 3.5″ Internal Hard Drive
  • Scythe Shuriken Rev B Quiet Low Profile CPU Cooler
  • LiteOn IHAS124-04 DVD+-R/RW/DL/RAM
  • Microsoft Windows 8.1 64bit
Intel Core i5-4670 Rackmount Digital Audio Workstation

Intel Core i5-4670 Rackmount Digital Audio Workstation

Lian li PC-C32B Aluminium tower

Lian li PC-C32B Aluminium rackmount tower

Haswell

Synology DS212J 2 Bay RAID NAS

You can never have too many backups. A customer had been having some computer issues and as a consequence had lost some important data. We decided to set up a RAID system so that the risk of data loss through hardware failure was minimised. There are obviously a few different options when it comes to backing up, online or ‘cloud’ services such as Google drive, Microsoft skydrive and dropbox offer online backup and sharing facilities that can be very useful. They do, however, rely on your internet speed and you are entrusting a 3rd party with your data. If you are using large files, such as uncompressed video or audio files, then a RAID system can offer a level of safety whilst allowing you to backup and access your data reasonably fast. I have used a number of NAS RAID units and the Synology units have always been very impressive. They are reasonably priced whilst offering a good range of features and have proved extremely reliable.

The customer’s system was used mainly for admin and storing images and audio. We built a new computer to replace the failing desktop and set up a Synology DS212J with 2 x Seagate Barracuda ST1000DM003 1 TB hard drives configured in a basic RAID 1 array. The customer could then access their data from a number of different computers in the building and also log in remotely via a secure HTTPS connection.

Drives fitted

Drives fitted

Installing the drives

Installing the drives

NAS with drives

NAS with drives

Intel Pentium G2120 Tower

Intel Pentium G2120 Tower

Synology DS212J NAS

Synology DS212J NAS

Intel Core i5-3570 Digital Audio Workstation

This build was for a musician that was recording material for their new album and also editing some visuals primarily using Sony’s Vegas software. The customer was having performance issues with their current computer system so we needed to make sure that the new machine could perform the required tasks whilst keeping an eye on the budget. The customer had recently purchased a new PSU and graphics card for their current workstation so we re-used them on this build.

An Intel Core i5-3570 CPU, 16GB RAM and the Crucial SSD provided more than enough performance. The Crucial SSD was set up as the main Windows drive and a 2TB Seagate Barracuda hard drive would be used mainly for storage. We also installed the Siig FireWire card for connecting a Focusrite audio interface. A few different video cameras were also going to be hooked up via firewire and the Siig card has proved to be much more reliable than some of the cheaper firewire cards.

Fractal Design Tower Crucial SSD Fractal Design Define R3

 

 

 

 

 

 

The full spec…

  • Fractal Design Define R3 Black Pearl Mid Tower Case USB 3.0
  • ASUS P8Z77-V LX2 S1155 Z77
  • Intel Core i5-3570 3.40 GHz Processor
  • 16GB kit (8GBx2), 240-pin DIMM, DDR3 PC3-12800 / 1.5V
  • SAMSUNG SH-224BB/BEBE DVD±RW SATA
  • Seagate Barracuda ST2000DM001 2 TB 3.5″ Internal Hard Drive
  • Crucial 128GB m4 2.5-inch SATA 6Gb/s
  • Siig FireWire 2-Port PCI Express Adapter Card (NN-E20012-S2 Texas Instruments)

Intel Core i5-3570 Photography Workstation

This build was for a photographer. Their old machine was starting to creak. After being brought in for repair a couple of times we decided to build a new machine. The customer was running Adobe Photoshop CS 6 with Adobe Lightroom 4. The software was mainly used for simple editing tasks, nothing too intensive, though processing raw images can be very slow if the resources are not available. We decided to build the machine around an Intel Ivy Bridge Core i5-3570 with 16GB RAM. This would provide the performance necessary for an efficient workflow.

Adobe Mercury Graphics Engine

Adobe have abandoned their support for Nvidia’s proprietary CUDA GPU acceleration found in earlier versions of their software, in favour of OpenCL. The Mercury graphics engine allows you to use other manufacturers graphics processors for GPU acceleration. This will speed up certain tasks but also allow you to utilise a number of options that are unavailable if you do not have a supported graphics card.

More information can be found on the Adobe website here and here

For this build we decided to stick with the on board Intel HD4000 Graphics, as this is supported by Photoshop and for the kind of tasks the customer would be running, it did not really seem necessary to add an expensive separate graphics card. Which could always be added at a later date if it seemed necessary.

The full spec…

  • GIGABYTE GZ-M1 Micro ATX Tower
  • OCZ CoreXStream 500W ATX PSU
  • Asus P8H77-M LE MATX Desktop Motherboard – Intel H77
  • Intel Core i5 i5-3570 3.40 GHz CPU
  • Crucial 16GB kit (8GBx2) Ballistix, DDR3 PC3-12800 RAM
  • Seagate Barracuda ST2000DM001 2TB Hard Drive
  • Pioneer BDR-207EBK Blu-ray drive
  • Microsoft Windows 8 (64-bit)
OCZ CoreXStream 500W ATX PSU

OCZ CoreXStream 500W ATX PSU

GIGABYTE GZ-M1

GIGABYTE GZ-M1

Asus P8H77-M LE

Asus P8H77-M LE

 

Intel Pentium G840 HTPC

This build was to be installed into a living room and connected to a 1080 HD TV and a NAS. It was mainly going to be used for playing media content such as TV, films and music. The case needed to be small enough to integrate into a living space but did not need to be particularly discreet. The Antec MINUET 350 Case has a reasonably small footprint and is good value for money with the PSU included in the price.

Most of the media content would be stored on the NAS, so drive space was not a major concern but the customer was intending to upload photos and videos from cameras and smartphones so we decided to install a 1TB Seagate Barracuda to ensure that there was enough space for the future. We also installed a card reader into the 3.5″ bay so transferring media from cameras would be easier.

The Intel Pentium G840 was more than capable of handling all the media tasks and is very reasonably priced.

The unit was running Windows 8 64 with VLC and Winamp handling a lot of the media playback. The customer had quite a few films they had ripped from DVD on the NAS and the nice thing about VLC is that it will play DVD image files as well as media files.

We also installed a Hauppauge WinTV-HVR900 DVB-T USB tuner which also has an analog input. I really like the Hauppage products. The software is easy to use, stable and fully supports Windows 8. This allowed the customer to schedule record TV programs and also connect an old VHS video recorder so they could watch and also record old videos on the computer.

The full spec…

  • Antec Minuet Piano Black Slimline PC Case inc 350w 80+ PSU
  • Asus P8H61-M LE Rev 3.0 Motherboard
  • Intel Pentium G840 (2.8GHz,65W,32nm,3MB)
  • 4GB kit (2GBx2) 240-pin DIMM DDR3 PC3-12800 CL=11 Unbuffered NON-ECC
  • Seagate Barracuda ST1000DM003 1 TB 3.5″ Internal Hard Drive
  • CIT IO-001B USB2 3.5″ Internal Card Reader with SIM slot
  • Hauppauge WinTV-HVR900 DVB-T USB Tuner.
  • LiteOn iHBS112 BLU-RAY WRITER

Antec HTPC

Antec case inc PSU

Antec case without cover

Intel Pentium G2120 Workstations

This build was for 5 workstations for a community organisation. They would be used for a number of projects including some video and audio production. The budget was restricted so we needed to balance the cost of the components carefully to make sure we got the most performance for the money. A 250GB hard drive, Asus H61 chipset board and the Foxconn tower allowed us to use 4GB of RAM with the Intel Pentium G2120 CPU keeping the performance of the machines reasonably fast. The drive size would not be too much of an issue as the machines would be connected to a server and external hard drives were available for big video projects.

The full spec…

  • FOXCONN TLM-436 MICRO ATX CASE WITH 300W PSU
  • Asus P8H61-M LX3 PLUS R2.0
  • Intel Pentium G2120 (3M Cache, 3.10 GHz)
  • Seagate Barracuda ST250DM000 250GB 3.5″ Internal Hard Drive
  • 4GB kit (2GBx2) 240-pin DIMM DDR3 PC3-12800
  • Optiarc AD-7280S-0B SATA DVD+-R/RW/DL

 

Intel i5-3550 Ivy Bridge Studio Office PC

This machine was for a customer who runs a mastering studio. They wanted a machine that was to be used in the office for email and admin stuff but would also be used for some general audio and video production.
The audio tasks would mainly be auditioning audio projects sent in from clients, this could be 2 track masters or possibly even multitrack arrangements. The customer wanted to run Cubase v5, Protools V9 and Wavelab V6. We decided on the Focusrite Saffire PRO 14 audio interface as it has proved itself very reliable on all the software I have tested it on, it also had the advantage of an s/pdif digital in and out which would connect to the customers DAC1 digital-to-analog converter.
The video tasks would not be too intensive, it was mainly going to be used for some promotional web videos and importing video files from a consumer video camera.
I used a StarTech PCI1394MP PCI firewire card to provide 3 x Firewire 400 ports which features a Texas Instruments chipset. These could be used to connect the Focusrite audio interface and any digital cameras.
The customer also wanted an old 5.25″ IDE hard drive caddy fitting as they also had a Mackie HDR unit that they still used. This allowed them to easily copy projects straight on to the PC. I used a StarTech PCI Express IDE Controller card to provide an IDE connection to the caddy which was fitted into one of the 5.25″ bays.
2 Seagate Barracuda drives were fitted, one for windows and all the software and a second drive for data storage of video and audio files.
We also fitted a LiteOn iHES112-115 Blu ray drive, mainly for the larger backup capabilities of blu ray disk.
A CIT card reader was fitted for any projects that might be sent on flash media.
All this was fitted into a Foxconn TLM-397 micro ATX tower as it needed to sit on a desk and be as compact as possible. I have found the Foxconn towers to be very good for their cost. I don’t think they are the most aesthetically pleasing towers on the market but they are fairly robust and don’t cost anywhere near as much as some of the other brands.


The full spec was as follows;

  • FOXCONN TLM-397 2BAY MATX Tower
  • Asus P8H77-M LE MATX Motherboard – Intel H77 Chipset – Socket H2 LGA-1155
  • Intel Core i5 i5-3550 3.30 GHz Processor – Socket H2 LGA-1155
  • XFX Pro 450W Power Supply Unit (Core Edition)
  • 4GB kit (2GBx2) DDR3 PC3-12800 CL=11 Unbuffered NON-ECC 1.5V
  • 2 x Seagate Barracuda ST1000DM003 1 TB 3.5″ Internal Hard Drive
  • LiteOn iHES112-115 12x Blu-Ray Combo drive SATA internal optical drive (black)
  • CIT IO-001B USB2 3.5″ Internal Card Reader with SIM slot
  • Gainward GeForce GT520 SilentFX 1024MB PCI-E VGA/DVI/HDMI
  • Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • StarTech.com 4-Port IEEE-1394a PCI Firewire Card TI chipset (PCI1394MP )
  • StarTech 1 Port PCI Express IDE Controller PCI Express x1
  • Focusrite Saffire PRO 14 Firewire Interface

Intel i7-3770 & GeForce GTX 680 Gaming Machine

This build was used mainly as a gaming machine. The Gainward GTX 680 card is very long!
The Antec tower has a removable 3.5″ bay and taking this out leaves plenty of room for the graphics card (see images). I can then fit the hard drive in the 5.25″ bay with the Akasa adapter. I have used this adapter in the past for fitting SSDs, I prefer these kinds of adapters to the brackets as they are less fiddly. The only problem with this is that you don’t get as many spaces for hard drives. I like the Antec NSK4000 tower. It looks good and is robust. The customer did not specify a particularly quiet machine but the Zalman PSUs have proved very reliable and have all the right connectors for the motherboard and graphics card. Suppliers don’t always seem to list the connectors properly on PSUs so it is sometimes hard to work out if it will fit out of the box. I hate using any kind of adapters, though Gainward seem to anticipate this as they provide a power adapter in the box. The CPU is running with the standard Intel stock cooler. The system was set up running Windows 7 home premium 64 bit.
The build went well with no problems.

  • Antec NSK4000 B2 Tower
  • Zalman ZM600-GT 600W 80-PLUS Quiet Power Supply
  • Asus P8Z77-V PRO Desktop Motherboard – Intel Z77 – Socket H2 LGA-1155
  • Intel Core i7 i7-3770 3.40 GHz CPU – Socket H2 LGA-1155
  • Crucial 8GB Kit (4GBx2), Ballistix 240-pin DIMM, DDR3 PC3-12800 memory module
  • Seagate Barracuda ST1000DM003 1 TB Internal Hard Drive
  • Optiarc AD-7241S-0B DVDRW SATA Black
  • Akasa SSD/HDD 2.5 & 3.5 Adapter AK-HDA-01
  • Gainward GeForce GTX 680 2048MB Graphics Card 426018336-2500 (PCIE 3.0 x16)

 

i7-2700K 19″ Rack PC

This was a build for a University. It had to be relatively quiet and they wanted it in the rack. It was going to be used for both music production software, mainly Cubase but also some video editing, hence the 2 x 2TB Seagate drives. They were using a Focusrite firewire interface. I have found the Zalman PSUs to offer good noise levels for their cost. You can get quieter PSUs. The Scythe Shuriken also offers good noise levels for its cost. The intel Z68 chipset also offers the option of a raid setup using the the Intel(R) Rapid Storage Technology. There is a related post here.
The customer has commented on how quiet the machine runs. It was set up running Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit. The StarTech PCI1394MP firewire card has proven to be very reliable with both firewire soundcards and connecting to various cameras. I also removed one of the internal fans to help with the noise levels.
The build went well with no problems.

  • Lian Li PC-C32B Aluminium Desktop CAse
  • Zalman ZM600-ST 600W Quiet ATX PSU
  • Asus P8Z68-V/GEN3 Desktop Motherboard
  • Intel Core i7 2700K 3.50 GHz Processor – Socket H2 LGA-1155
  • Scythe Shuriken RevB Quiet Low Profile CPU Cooler
  • 8GB Kit (4GBx2), Ballistix 240-pin DIMM, DDR3 PC3-12800
  • 1 x Seagate Barracuda ST1000DM003 1 TB / SATA600 / 7200 rpm / 64 MB
  • 2 x Seagate Barracuda ST2000DM001 2TB HDD / SATA600 / 7200rpm / 64MB
  • Optiarc AD-7240S-0B SATA DVDRW
  • Asus NVIDIA GeForce GT520 1GB Graphics Card 90-C1CQQ0-L0UANAYZ
  • StarTech.com 4-Port IEEE-1394a PCI Firewire Card TI chipset (PCI1394MP )