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February 11, 2008

Someone Set Up Us The [Electrical Storm]!!


My recording computer bit it. I suppose I got off easy, though, when you consider that the same storm that ripped through several states in the south, killed several people, and leveled homes only managed to fry some components in my again Athlon 2800 pc. Especially since Kristin and I were driving home that night in the exact location of the tornadoes... I'm glad that we're all safe and that nothing else got fried.

But still - now I'm faced with a dilemma: how much money is prudent to sink into a new computer? I don't think it would be wise to throw a lot at trying to figure out exactly which component(s) is/are fried in the old one, so I'm going to have to build a new one. As usual, Digidesign (the makers of ProTools, my current recording software of choice) has some pretty specific requirements for pc components and chipsets, etc... ruling out the most cost-effective alternatives. I want the thing to perform well, and hold up under stress (for the relatively few but critically important times I do simultaneous recording of 16-odd tracks of audio), but I don't want to sink huge gobs of money into what is essentially a rapidly depreciating asset.

To complicate things further, i might as well take this opportunity to attempt to build a much more quiet computer. Doing so on a budget is a bit tough, but i'm looking into coolermax "silent" power supplies, a particular WD harddrive that silent pc review recommends, a heat-sink-cooled video card, perhaps a fan controller, and no overclocking anywhere on the system. I think that should bring about a dramatic reduction from my current fuzzbox of a computer. I'd really like to swap out the 20 inch CRT i'm still using for a 20 inch widescreen lcd, not only because they are much more awesome, power-efficient, etc, but because CRTs emit electromagnetic interference, which gets picked up by my guitar pickups ALL THE TIME. I end up recording with the monitor off half the time. Its a hassle. But i'm not sure i can convince the wife of the necessity of that purchase just yet.

So I'm looking at a Core2 Duo, perhaps an Allendale, even... 2 gigs of ram (initially), and a 250 or 500 gb WD drive, and a crappy-ish pci-e 16x 256 meg video card. But even with this spec'd down system, things are still not exactly "cheap."

I've also got sourcing issues: NewEgg has a warehouse in TN, so I would have to pay the nearly 10% state sales tax on the system if I ordered through them. I'm considering TigerDirect as a substitute. Does anyone know of any other good alternatives?


Of course, due to this minor hiccup, the "song-a-week" project is on hold indefinitely. I still have the sessions for the music I was working on safe on a grand total of three hard drives, so no data has been lost - yet.

Posted by pedalboy at February 11, 2008 3:33 PM | TrackBack

Tiger is my place of choice (if i can't get newegg and b/c tiger had an outlet store in naperville so i didnt have to pay shipping just sales tax), Zipzoomfly, and if you know exactly what you want already, also ebay but buying computer parts on ebay seems risky to me

Posted by: Ian K. at February 11, 2008 7:29 PM

Get a second job at an electronics store for a while. Earn extra money and if they sell any of the components you want you can get a discount!

Posted by: Allison at February 12, 2008 7:44 AM

get a mac? hehe. Ummmmmmmmmm... RAM is CHEAP right now, as is storage. I would say LCD is the way to go, they are def. more expensive than CRTs, but they are a lot cheaper than they used to be. Newegg has a 22" for $270 ish right now. And Intel is definitely the way to go these days. AMD's just been having a hard time on the proc side of things. They do have ATI now, so that's a plus on the side of graphics. And really, unless you plan on playing WOW or something, you can probably get by with a 256meg graphics card.

I'm still a Newegg fan, but it sucks that they have a warehouse in TN, if only because of the tax thing. Check pricewatch and see what you see. Oh and Coolermax is awesome :). Get a good heatsink, that's where most of the noise will come from. Good luck!

Posted by: Joel at February 12, 2008 10:09 AM

check this guy's shit out:

Posted by: Chase at February 14, 2008 11:53 PM

I've always liked Seasonic PSUs and they're highly recommended by Very very quiet. Don't get the s12II-330, spring for the 380w version as it has a bigger heatsink.

What WD HD are you talking about? If it's the Green Power series, then you're talking about the quietest drive spcr has ever tested. BUT its a 5400rpm drive, so if your recording stuff is super disk intensive maybe that would be a problem.

GPU: Do you need a discrete gpu? There are a few decent integrated gpus now that don't completely suck: intel x3100, geforce 7025-7150, radeon 1250. integrated will be cheaper and lower power/heat/noise than discrete. just be ready to give up some system ram to it (but ram is cheap now anyways).

CPU: Have you considered AMD? look for the 45w Athlon x2BE2400, typical A64s & C2D's are 65w+. The heatsink/fan combo that comes with the retail box on these is better than average and pretty quiet because it's not a hot proc to begin with.

And if you have $650+ burning a hole in your pocket, checkout Zalman's TNN300/500 for complete silence.

Posted by: Jared at February 16, 2008 10:01 PM

And my apologies for the unsolicited recommendations, but i've been researching a new rig for a few weeks now and have spent too many hours on spcr and newegg planning it out.

Oh, and if you go C2D, look into the new 45nm wolfdale parts (E8400). They're 'sposed to be a bit cooler than the 65nm c2ds (despite the same 65w tdp) and rock 6mb of l2 cache!

Posted by: Jared at February 16, 2008 10:10 PM
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