Description

*photos taken on Huawei Honor7; I'm an audio guy not a photog. Cable management was better inside the box than outside of it. :-)

This build is primarily as an audio workstation. Main software for music creation is Propellerhead Reason. Main audio mixing software is Saw Studio Lite with a view to possibly begin migration to Reaper or Pro Tools to support new audio editor hires and trainees.

I did a lot of research as this is my first build. Even though it seems like a tumultuous time to build a new machine, but the Sony VAIO i3 I have been using is far too limiting in processing power. Fortunately, I found myself with a £3500.00 budget to spec this build.

My top priority is quiet as possible running with an ability to not be limited by CPU and/or RAM. I wudnt interested in a disco lit interior when I started spec-ing, but... I do want a window to keep an eye on innards without having to open up the case. Over the past few years, I have been successfully tinkering with opening up all the family laptops and cleaning fans and innards and replacing thermal paste which bolstered my confidence to take on a computer build.

CPU & Mobo: I toiled over this, making several different parts lists to cross ref prices. Originally, I was looking to build Dual Xeon E5 v2. Research proved that I/O is going to be much better on a Z370 mobo than a dual server board. RAM mighta been cheaper too...as will temps be lower with Coffee Lake TDP running a lot cooler than any of my other previous gen considerations. i7 8700K price is low enough to experiment and highest possible single core clock speed is better for Reason and Saw as of this writing. Addendum 20180207: Well, Reason 10 is using all cores...SawStudio I haven't really stressed yet and needs to be run in Win XP SP3 compatibility mode or else gfx are broken.

RAM: Audio samples of orchestral instruments require A LOT of RAM. I really wanted 128GB minimum. I spec'd a couple of X299 builds: i9 7900X and i7 7820X. X299 i9 just doesn't seem priced right at £900; 7820X is a sweet spot price and I would have gone with it, yet I opted for the new chipset rather than the older one...thinking more options might arise for the new Z370. 64GB is the max allowable for Coffee Lake at the mo, so I accepted that RAM limit for my first build.

Addendum Feb 7, 2018 I finished the build about 2 weeks ago. I had some issues, but all of which I was able to resolve. Here are some my thoughts after finishing my first build:

It took about a week to for me to put all the parts together and my main stumbling block was case fan knowledge. If I was gonna start again today, I could probably put it all together in about 5-6 hrs.

I went all Noctua NF-A14 PWM after first ordering and installing NF-P14 FLX and the vendor is happy to exchange them. I have to say, this build, when sitting on the workbench, is FAR from silent with these Noctua fans all on their lowest settings (~500 RPM). After 2 weeks working with it under my desk, it is extremely quiet! Much quieter than laptops or very quiet Zalman laptop coolers (I have several Zalman coolers for other devices on my desk). I know many folks don't care for Noctua colors, but my favorite color is brown. I think the brown and cream Noctua colors are wonderful. I would have preferred a Titanium colored case, but the wait time was 2-3 weeks and I couldn't wait that long.

My house has very iffy power; daily power outages sometimes only for a few seconds, that's why I purchased an APC Back-UPS Pro 1500. I went waaaay overboard on Seasonic Prime Platinum 850 power supply. I bring this up because I wanted to build a SILENT computer and the last thing I wanted was to thwart the silent build with a noisy UPS. Luckily, the APC Back-UPS Pro 1500 is virtually silent as far as I can tell and I am very sensitive. There is a very faint high pitched whine if your ears are right next to the unit. The APC UPS is showing a draw of about 130 watts with computer, 2 x 24" computer monitors and my audio interface...I will further experiment connecting more of my audio gear at my workstation in future.

I am proud to say that watched A LOT of Linus Tech Tips YT vids, and learned an immense amount. I couldn’t have done it without YT. I like;y could have figured out how to put the parts together successfully...but I would have struggled to choose the parts in the first place without YT and this awesome pcpartpicker website. There is just so much to know that is changing fast.

FOIBLES OF THE BUILD: 1) The Seasonic Platinum PSU is treat of packaging. They include so much stuff: all the cables you’ll need, nice velcro ties, multiple high quality bags; the PSU is shipped in a branded velveteen bag! It is sheer class. The only negative is the 8 pin ATX power cable is too short for my liking for this build with the Fractal R5. It does work, but it is tight...really tight! I haven't replaced that cable with something else. Also, the 24 pin ATX main cable bundle’s shrink wrap is right where you need to bend the cable if you want it to look nice. That, and the Fractal USB 3 loom which doesn’t seat in the mobo very convincingly; these two realities meant it was unwise to use the R5 access holes for these 2 cable runs. It's either stressing the wires at the connector or the shrink wrap is blocking air and lookin ugly. I’m not that concerned with looks, so I removed the middle drive bay chassis, ran the cables through the huge hole created by removing the center bay and velcro’d to the bottom of the top non-removable drive bays and it relieves all the stress and ensures a quality mobo connection. I can definitely see the value in custom cabling and custom and/or high end kits would surely sort this out. Frankly, cable management and case fans are what took the most time in the build (beyond choosing components)/

2) locking the CPU in the mobo. I thought the mobo was gonna split! It really felt like I was doing something wrong. I quintuple checked. PC had been running for about 5 days straight after I first got it running...temps at about 24 celsius at idle...I haven't done any OC yet...so the CPU must be clamped down correctly.

3) Thermal Paste. I bought some Cooler Master stuff that I chose based on a video (not Linus). The Noctua CPU cooler comes with high end paste included that sits in the same area of quality in that video's findings. Probly Wasted 10 currency units, there.

4) Rookie Stuff: I put everything together, plugged into mains power ready to go under my desk...and the monitor wouldn’t come on. Back to the work table then :? To track the issue down, I read all kinds of internet suggestions. Forget that...once you have CPU cooler and RAM installed and a keyboard and monitor connected, start POSTing....add one component at a time...POST and check BIOS.

5) Fatal1ty mobo LED code readout was a blessing and a curse for newbies. The ASRock documentation could certainly be better written. It took me a while to realize that the mobo LED readout was telling me the STATUS of the POST. At first I thought the codes shown were ERROR codes. The documentation is not clear.

6) the reason my integrated gfx wasn’t displaying was a mobo BIOS setting. Neither hdmi port was sending any signal. Only by putting the components in one at a time did I track down the issue. It was the gfx card hdmi not being set active in the BIOS. With both integrated and PCIe gfx POSTing at the same time; neither hdmi was sending any signal.

7) Windows 10 Pro USB; easily the most annoying thing in the build. I specifically purchased full version of Win 10 Pro because of my incredibly slow internet connection. No way did I want to wait 3 days with Windows OS DLing! Well, blow me down, there was no avoiding the 72hrs of Windows 10 internet hog. AND what a mess, dialog boxes on top of dialog boxes giving conflicting info about what updates need to happen when. To top it all off, I unwhittingly bought a French version (English version was about 3 times more expensive and much longer to be delivered). The OS version on the USB key was much more like Win Home than Pro. That said, now that all the updates are current, there are a lot more features.

I am loving the new machine!

so, I hope I helped someone with that novel :-)

Comments

  • 19 months ago
  • 4 points

Noctua is love, Noctua is life.

  • 19 months ago
  • 1 point

So much Noctua, nice build

  • 19 months ago
  • 1 point

nice build... I built with the fatal1ty k6 and I wanted to punch something because of how terrible it is, and to this day it won't go into the bios unless I clear cmos, which is dreadfully annoying.

also, those cables under your desk look like seaweed, and that isn't a good thing

  • 19 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks for the comment Yeah, my desk situation is temporary I am amidst cleaning it up, yet it will always be a mess, man I am changing cables all the time, so permanent install is completely unfeasible at this time I figured some photos of it functioning are better than none :-)

  • 19 months ago
  • 1 point

Also, my installation is a DAW workstation where I work on a lot of forensic audio. It is common practice to not bundle cable runs because they can create noisy electromagnetism :-)

  • 18 months ago
  • 1 point

Finally a build with firewire! And a great build. :) I'm going to build something similar and to connect a soundcard via firewire too. Is this StarTech a good choice? Does it work on Windows 10 without problems, or does it need a lot of search for drivers? I couldn't find much info about firewire on win10, except of their drivers problems. Will appreciate your answer. :)

  • 18 months ago
  • 2 points

I have had no problems with FW so far. I currently have 2 devices connected: an old Lacie CDRW via 1394B and a 2x PreSonus FireStudio Mobile daisy chain via 1394A.

Windows 10 native drivers are working fine afaik. Appears in Device Manager as LSI 1394 OHCI Compliant Host Controller.

I should say I chose this specific StarTech PCIe card because it has been physically tested with my PreSonus FSMs and I had had problems with previous ExpressCard34 FW adaptors with TI chip sets the "should work" on PreSonus' FSM compatibility guide.

My main usage for this build is as an audio DAW and the audio interface is critical. I had been having some issues with the PreSonus FSM drivers and I have now reinstalled and the FSM daisy chain appears to be much more stable. I am certain this has little if anything to do with the StarTech PCIe card :-)

  • 18 months ago
  • 1 point

Thank you very much for your detailed answer! :) Looks, like this StarTech will be the first thing to try with my M-Audio, if the old FW card doesn't agree to work on the new pc (after i complete building it). At least, now i know that some FW work, not only fail on windows 10. :)

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