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my new monster machine.


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#1
bonestonne

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A full disclaimer, right now the machine does not run OSx86 at all. I only have the CS6 suite for Windows, and I need the machine to be 100% reliable for school work. That aside, here is a gallery of my machine:



The system is used as a Premiere Pro CS6 HD video editor, I also use it for Pro Tools 10 audio editing. This machine runs Windows 8 Pro with Media Center currently.

The specs are:

2x Intel Xeon E5-2620
Asus Z9PA-D8
2x Xigmatek SD1283 Dark Knight
NZXT Source 210 Elite
Antec HCG-750
Kingston 16gb ECC Registered DDR3 (Will be upgrading to 32gb in coming weeks)
LG WH14NS40 BluRay Burner
Startech PEXUSB3S2E2I USB3.0 PCI-e x1
SIIG NN-E38012-S3 Firewire 400/800 PCI-e x1
Western Digital Velociraptor 250GB HHTZ model
2x Western Digital 640gb drives for storage and scratch disk use
Thermalright HR-55
Gigabyte GTX660TI 2GB OC
1200RPM PWM Scythe Slip Stream
2x Noiseblocker NB-eLoop B12-PS
Phantek 140mm fan with 7v adapter
Windows 8 Pro with Media Center

The machine is a complete animal, and will run rings around a 12 core Mac Pro I work with at my university, specifically because of the Hyperthreading support, faster hard drive, and more RAM (which never hurts).

It was very challenging to build this, as it put a lot of components in a small space. There will be changes that I need to make over time, because hardware is not all running as well as I need it to, however in it's current state, it is useable for what I need. You'll notice (if you look up all the hardware) that there is no audio output on the machine. Because it's a Pro Tools 10 workstation, I am using an M-Audio ProFire 2626 interface for all of my audio needs. On the desk I also have a pair of Avid Artist Mix units to assist in audio production. For basic recordings, I have either an MXL V63M or Shure SM7B which I use for voiceover work (depending on what sound I am looking for). The only changes that will be occurring over time will be a replacement Firewire card (the current one works, but I will be moving it to my backup machine, and replacing it with a FW card with a different TI chip for better performance, as well as adding an additional 16GB of RAM, as all video editing that gets done on this machine is in HD 1080p.

Any questions or comments are more than welcome.

#2
WhatTheTech

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Holy moly that thing looks like a beast! Those specs are to die (kill?) for!

Quick question (not a criticism) - why did you choose the Source 210 for this build? I own one, and despite being a great looking case, as you mentioned space was a little tight. Just wondering, like I said, not a criticism ;)

thanks for sharing!

#3
bonestonne

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It took me a very long time to really settle on which case I wanted to build the machine in. It look a lot of measuring, but I had to really fulfill a few requirements for this to really work out for me.

1) It needs to fit under my desk. My desk has a decent amount of space for a case, but that doesn't mean I want an Antec 1200 to fill it all.

2) I actually really wanted a white case. This narrowed down choices a lot.

3) I wanted a lot of space behind the motherboard tray, along with tool-less mounting choices because my machines tend to be open with me messing around with them. It meant one less tool I need in order to make any changes.

Amazing, there is no bulge with the back side cover. It takes a little practice to get it to line up just right, but there's no wrestling it down just to get it on. There is an amazing amount of space behind that motherboard tray. The USB3.0 meant I had to add a USB3.0 card for the front panel header, but I was fine with that. Overall, I have my problems with the case, but it is a good case overall. I'm picky as all hell, so the Source 210 Elite was a bit of a calculated risk. It was cheap, it fit my components, and I liked how it looked. As always, there are the catches once you get the case and you start building...The paint finish chips very easily, so I added paper washers for the side panels. It really meant I had to be careful with tools and cable routing, but this case was actually incredible for cable routing, especially because it worked so well with the motherboard layout. The build has changed slightly since the pictures in the gallery, and I haven't had a chance to update it, maybe I can do that this weekend. The FW card moved to right above the USB3.0 card, to allow full PCI-E bandwidth for the GTX660. The HDD cables have changed slightly, and the ODD cable changed to a black one.

I have plans to re-sleeve the power supply to a black and white scheme, and I want to modify the HDD power connectors to fit nicer and cleaner. I need to change the mounting for the HR-55 because it does conflict with the GTX660, but for now it can stay as it is, I need to do my school projects before my personal ones. I didn't mind the tight space to work in, I took it as a challenge to make the machine look as good as I could get it. I'd like to swap out the side panel with the vent for one with no vent, and I'd like to add acoustipack. I'd like to try and get even better cable routing, but these things will take a long time to perfect. The machine was purpose built for the adobe CS6 suite, and it works really well. I am starting to need that additional 16gb of RAM, but it will wait for the end of this month before I do that I think.

If I may ask, how do you like the Source 210? I did read several reviews, but most didn't get into any of the details I was really looking for about the paint finish and such.

#4
WhatTheTech

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A very thorough explanation, and I totally get you on the white case thing - it was the exact same reason why I picked up the 210. I considered the white version of the 600T but it was insanely expensive at the time. I also remarked that there wasn't any bulging with cable management, something I liked.

For a longer answer, you can see my Amazon review: http://www.amazon.co...e=&nodeID=&tag= , but in a nutshell I thought it was one of the best $50 cases I have ever come across in a decade of modding.

Definitely a good idea to sleeve - I've been doing the same with my G5 mod and it's time consuming but very rewarding!

I kept mine pretty simple - it's currently my test case:

Posted Image

#5
bonestonne

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That review is quite spot on, though I did do some different things in my build than most.

You mentioned using screws on the opposite sides for the ODD and HDDs, but I left the ODD with the single tool-less adapter (holds it in place fine, and doesn't rattle for me), and for the HDDs, I took off every other adapter, and moved them to the opposite side. It also helps protect the finish, because I find it to be very delicate. Unlike the NZXT Phantom, this did not have rubber washers for the side panel thumb screws, and that was a let down to me, especially because of the finish.

I also found the separate wiring for the front USB ports to be a hassle as well. It could have just as easily been wired to the USB3.0 header to reduce a cable. Additionally, I took out all of the stock fans. The 140mm fan caused a terrible rattle, and I never had plans to keep the rear fan, so I couldn't tell you whether that was problematic. My fans are all soft mounted, so vibrations aren't an issue there. The ports being upside down isn't really a deal breaker for me, I've gotten used to it, and don't mind it at all.

I do wish the case had less venting, and better grills. The rear and upper grills do restrict a lot of airflow comparatively, so I cut out the rear, and keep the 140mm at low speed (~750rpm) to keep noise to an absolute minimum. I may alter this with some bondo and rustoleum once the summer arrives, but I'm not sure. I want to go over the case with a matte clear coat for protection, but it will likely have to wait a long while, because I don't want to be constantly taking this build apart.

Compared to every other case I have ever built, this is the second best power button I could have ever asked for. The only thing better would be a no-click momentary switch, which I do have somewhere, but I can't find. Makes no noise at all. The power LED is a fabulous ring, and the HDD light as well, are non-obtrusive, and really compliment the case's quality, and I could easily see this case competing with much more expensive ones (especially with the ability to house a build like what I stuffed in).

I can't agree more that it's probably one of the best cases in a long time, considering all aspects of it.

#6
Mr.D.

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Kudos on a very solid audio box! I also have an audio workstation. in its previous incarnation, I used the M-Audio 2496 PCI card. I loved that card and I got it for a steal when my local Guitar Center went out of business. My new machine does not have a PCI slot, and after a suggestion from a friend to remove my d/a - a/d conversion to outside of the EMI prone box, I went with the E-MU 0404 USB. I love M-Audio products, but I have been priced out of their stuff for what I need. I don't do much 'studio' recording, and what I do, I can handle with one optical in and Audacity. I used to use Sampiltude, but find Audacity better for my audio only needs. I recently upgraded from a Behringer Eurodesk to a Behringer X32. I lover Behringer (ever have since I was in the radio biz) and that X32 board is perfect for me.

With regards to OSX, you can do what I am doing, which is to run OSX virtually. I have both 10.6.8 and 10.8.2 running stable in a virtual environment, I used both VirtualBox and VMWare Player to create my VMs. I even have full access to do audio mixing/remixing using Audacity (mac version) and my E-MU sound adapter thru the VM. And if they ever get unstable (haven't yet but ya never know), I can just stop the VM.

Very nice and clean build. Always appreciate a fellow DAW user. Now ya just need OSX on there!

#7
bonestonne

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It's not often I hear someone saying something good about M-Audio. I did to tech support with them for some time (2.5 years) and the company was doing pretty well as a whole. I started with them after Avid already acquired them, so that did help them out a lot.

Now that M-Audio is owned by InMusic, I'm hard pressed to say I would get any legacy products (PCI). The group doing support at InMusic has little experience with any of the interfaces, and when it comes to USB interfaces, they will completely pass the buck over to Avid (who kept all USB products after selling to InMusic). Anyone who is old enough to have MidiMan products, well, that lifetime warranty that the paperwork states may not be in effect anymore. The people over at InMusic only have the two ProFire units supported, and it's tough to say whether there will be many driver updates. InMusic's purchase of M-Audio didn't make much sense to me, it gives them firewire units, but they're mostly providing USB and/or DJ equipment, nothing for recording.

That said, before I built this latest machine, I had 2x Delta 1010 and 1x Delta 66 with Omni I/O as my setup. The ProFire 2626 was something I purchased while still doing work with M-Audio, so I got my great discount on it, and it did make a very good replacement for my Delta setup. I purposely went with a motherboard with no PCI support because it simply does not work very well anymore. Socket 1155 really highlighted that it was the beginning of the end for PCI, and for anyone who thinks they're going to "future-proof" their audio machine, the single most important investment will be a non-legacy interface.

As far as OS X goes on this machine, it's hard to say if I will even go with a VM running OS X. I have my MacBook Pro which runs great and has all the software I need on the go, but I only have the single license for CS6 for Windows. Sure I could pirate it if I wanted to, but I'm actually enjoying having a machine with 100% legit software installed on it. Everything from Pro Tools to Reaper, all the software is legit. Since this machine is going to be used to make the money back that was spent on it, I'm fine with it how it is. The other minor detail is that Firewire cannot be shared with virtual machines, so my interface wouldn't work at all. I do have the (now Avid) C400 USB interface, but that's something I only really use with my laptops.

I do have to update the BIOS on this machine, and I also have to figure out why the DPC Latency shows so high, and lastly, swap the FW card, as that should get me much better performance. Maybe I'll also get the x64 version of GeekBench, the 32 bit trial version gave me a 13k score last night, but I know the machine has more juice than that on tap.

Overall, it is one of those dream-come-true builds, but for me, the important part was to spend the little extra to make this one, and then sit back and relax, as I wont need a new machine for several years. That in itself saves me a lot of money. Upfront was more expensive, but it's nice to sit back and not have to loath seeing the hardware get outdated in a couple months.

#8
Mr.D.

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Good call on staying legit on software you use for work. When I was an IT man (many many moons ago) I found a little clause in the Visio documentation (this was before M$ bought them) that said that if you weren't curent on valid on your licenses, Visio Corp could take any work that was created on or thru their product as their IP. Needless to say when I brought this to the attention of the district manager, we got in compliance pretty quickly (the company did/does custom billing solutions for wireless and wire-line telephony/broadband companies). Its just smart to be 'by the book' for something that you are doing professionally. I wont argue the merits of student or educational purposes, or even casual use.

With regards to M-Audio - I really loved their card and their interface. It was great for what I needed. I have heard a lot of people lament the acquisition of E-MU by Creative, but I haven't needed support as of yet so I'm good thus far.

And I forgot about no firewire sharing on VM. Excellent point if that is where your hardware is. I stopped FW when apple made the 800 plug not compatible with the 400. I know its awesome how firewire handles the host-processor protocol onboard so it doesn't offload that overhead to the CPU like USB does, but good USB chipsets (v3.0) now also have that and they are cheaper and more universal so I jumped ship... a few years before Apple did.

#9
bonestonne

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Firewire 800 and Firewire 400 are completely cross compatible. Just use a 9 pin to 6 pin adapter, or 9 pin to 6 pin cable, and everything should work fine. I do this with my ProFire 2626, as the interface has 6 pin, and my MacBook Pro has 9 pin. My biggest use for FW is that I need it for external hard drives when doing HD capture, as I have a thunderbolt capture unit, and found it simpler and cheaper to skip a thunderbolt drive and just use the FW 800 ones that I have available. That said, I will be getting the OWC FW800/USB3.0 drive for use, so I have FW800 for the laptop and USB3.0 for the desktop. Should last years and years. It also helps for me to be able to chain drives together, especially for the drives I have lying around.

I also figured that I would use this opportunity having enough funds for the whole machine to take care of it all at once. The software is the biggest thing for me, both work and school has me using Premiere Pro, the Office suite, and a whole slew of other software, so just being able to have it all legit is something that I feel better about, especially going on to see projects start spreading out across a wider audience of professors and peers.

#10
Mr.D.

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Ohhh I know they are cross compatible, but I can't use a cable with a FW400 end in a FW800 port, nor vice versa - like I can with USB 1.0-3.0. Yeah I can buy adapters and new cables... but I'm cheap AND lazy so I made the switch to all USB. And don't get me started on Light Peak errr Thunderbolt.





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