Reverse Planning - Software/Case/CPU first, Comment, Ideas, Information Needed.

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Thread Starter
Jan 21, 2015
HI Folks,

Please understand, everything in this post is up for discussion. I'm in the planning stage of a new pc. I'll give you the specs and reasoning before I go into the new stuff.

What I use my pc for: 1. Music Making, 2. Gaming, and lastly 3. Media (music/movies/surfing). 4. Business stuff - letters/spreadsheets etc).

Current build:

i5-2500 (no K, so can't overclock)
16 GB of RAM (2 x 4GB @1333) and (2 x 4GB @1600)
CPU Cooling = Stock heat sink
MOTHERBOARD: Asus P8z77-lx
GPU = Zotac GTX 760 4GB (reference)
BootDrive: 250GB Samsung EVO => SSD
Storage: 1TB WD - 7200rpm BLACK
PSU: OCZ 700w
Case: Antec 300 Mid-Tower
Display Monitor -> Samsung 2253bw.
(Please remember some of these are form the original build 8 years ago)

So what I'm thinking of doing is upgrading but also splitting my PC up.

PC - #1 (media/music/couch-surfing/movies)
PC - #2 (desk/office/music-making-gaming)

Since Cubase & Presonus & Ableton all seem to be able to utilize mutiple cores. I thought the i7-4790 was based on information available be the sweetspot. Also of 2 games (I might play, WoW and Dragon's Age - Inqusition - DAI) are not multi-core heavy. Although that said, on my i5-2500 chip. DA-I causes the cpu to go from 20% load to 95% load when playing.

When it comes to making music, the more plug-ins and VST's you have happening in your tracks, the greater the cpu loading. However, when it comes to the actual number of tracks in a project, its the amount of RAM that is limiting, before you get out of memory messages. So 32GB is handled by most mATX boards. mITX boards have only 2 slots available, which means max RAM is 16GB, unless you go for a Xeon chip, with ECC RAM then you might be able to go up to 32 or 64GB of RAM, given that Xeon chips have a super huge RAM limitatin of like 132 or something or another. Also since there are diminishing returns to anything above 1600hz RAM, due to CAS latency increasing as the hz increases, the 2 start cancelling each other out, and the benefit becomes none-existent, just wasted money.

Ram Reference ->

Which brings me to the next point. After searching high and low. NO mATX board has on-board WIFI. It is available in full ATX, and mITX motherboards but not mATX, which could make you go..WTF?

I still haven't figured out the best motherboard yet. It seems the Asus Maximus Genie VI and Gigabyte's Sniper are favored, but those are high end board above the $220 price point, and I'm not sure I'd ever use all the features of it, since I don't overclock.

I do have a Zotac GTX 760 4GB reference GPU. Specs says it can do some ridiculous resolution of 4096 x 2180. I doubt very much if I would notice this, given that my 8 year old monitor has mas resolution of 1620 x 1080 and 60hz. Also the average person, even average gamer, can't tell the difference between 60hz/120hz/144hz. Maybe after a while of playing the game, or games, you might be able to tell. But I don't play enough to notice. The GPU with stock fans at 46 decibels might be considered loud. I can also flip these to quieter fans if need be.

Lastly to go into the system, my 250GB Samsung EVO, along with another 500GB Samsung EVO, and 2 TB WD green (5400rpm) for backing up the system. The back up could go external, so could project files, but with 750GB of SSD space available, I'm not sure how quickly I'd use it up. Since I've only used about 370GB of my 1TB WD Black. And on my 250GB SSD, I'm about 47% used.

Where the reverse planning comes into play is this. I would very much like to use a CoolTek (Jonsboro) U3 mATX chassis. With a footprint of 8x11 and 14.5 high. Its perhaps the smallest stylish cases I've seen, and can easily sit on my desktop in the corner without intruding upon the working area. It also removes it from the floor, and in a tight space, floor real estate is at a premium.

The U3 though, ONLY takes an mATX board. SO while most choose the case last, choosing the case FIRST creates the limiting factors for the other components. Since any 1150 socket mATX, mITX, ATX, eATX accepts the i7-4790 its no the cpu that's deciding on the motherboard size, its the case. Along with that size may come RAM limitations. For example. the U3, has a maximum CPU heatsink clearance of 175mm. This limits the CPU heatsink size, do to a height restriction, but it should not affect the heatsink's ability to cool, since there's a billion different ways to do it, from passive towers, to liquid cooling. (more about liquid cooling further down). So a side blowing Noctua will work (height is 140mm), but also know it has a GPU restriction, its not every card you can put in this case. It has a GPU length restriction of 260mm. My zotac at 245mm will be a tight fit, but WILL fit. A GTX TITAN at 267mm, will not. Now lets go back to the heatsink for a minute, since I'm choosing 24 - 32GB of RAM, that means all 4 slots are filled. I can take 8GB from the old system and into the new. But depending on how wide and long that heatsink is, I may have to go for low-profile RAM. IT functions the same, its just a litte shorter. IT also means I have to cautious in buying the 16GB of RAM add on. Now if my original RAM doesn't work at all, then I'd opt for 32GB brand new RAM, it may or may not have to be low profile, but it has to work in conjunction with the possible space restrictions, since the RAM slots can sit relatively close to the CPU socket.

Now I said more about liquid cooling further down so here it is. While liquid cooling comes in a sundry of formats, from pump and fill to self contained, it creates more FAIL points for the system, as a whole. It also creates a concern in that, if a leak is sprung, your computer is now toast, water on a motherboard generally doesn't make it last more than 5 seconds. It also has noise contributions. From fans going to cool the liquid down, to the pump running. Every mechanical thing you add into the computer will add to the noise of the computer. We're going for silent to near silent to really quiet for the music making side of things. SO I avoid liquid cooling because of its a) potential fail points b) increased complexity of system design c) hassles to replace / upgrade components in a tight space, means pulling the whole system apart instead of just popping a card and d) noise.

So CPU chosen. check.
Case chosen. check.
Motherboard, RAM, TBD.
GPU: check.
SSD's check.
HDD. check.

What about a PSU. Well I've been doing some checking. Apparently, that 80 plus bronze/silver/gold/platinum means nothing. Here's why. If your the manufacturer, and I'm the tester, then it gives you the opportunity to tweak your PSU so it passes my testing. It can be geared towards the test, its a cheat. If I the tester go out and randomly select your hard drives from retail, then the test becomes valid, because you have no idea which units I'm testing, because it is now random. Which also means, you have to put out a quality product each and every time to meet the testing requirements, now you can't tweak the unit to ensure it passes testing because in theory all units would be built to the same standard.

PSU Reference ->

But for all intents and purposes, I'll probably go with a Seasonic Xseries 650w PSU. Why? because from all the reviews I've read, I've never seen anything really bad about them. Further, their Tier 1 PSU's available in Canada :) . Not all Tier 1 are available in Canada.

Lastly are case fans. the U3 comes stock with 1 on the rear panel, I'll probably switch it to Noctua one. Simply to get the decibel level down as much as possible. The unit also has a few shock absorption rubber mounts. but doesn't come with noise damping material, I wonder if I could add this in later, with 2 sided tape.

Anyway, if someone can help me choose a motherboard, (I get very confused with z77, z87 and newer z97, and the new new z99 chips. Like most consumers, I'm looking for bang for my buck, there's absolutely no point in loading something in features if I never use them, or more importantly don't about the, or how they may or may not affect me.

I would like to use wireless keyboard and mouse (and before gamers jump all over me) surfice it to say, I'm soo tired of seeing rats nests of wires running around, its bad enough I have RJ45's running to the pc, display cables, power calbes, usb cables. I'm attempting to shrink it all down as much as possible, which is why, I'll probably go with a brother wireless laser all in one. Since the router is wireless.

But before I go into my curiosity about wireless, I had mentioned a second PC for media/music/movies.

Well remember I started with an i5-2500 and 16GB of RAM. Well. i5-2500 cpu + mITX(new) + 8GB of RAM + 1TB WD Black + mITX SFF case(new) + OCZ 700w PSU = media computer.

I've just re-purposed all the components of my previous machine, with exception of potentially 8GB of RAM, and the Antec 300 case, along with 5 case fans.

Now lets go back to displays for a minute. I have a 42" LG LED TV, it says it runs up to 120hz trumotion - FAIL -> its a 1/2 truth. It might get to 120hz refresh, with the tv's onboard cpu tweaking the picture. But the minute I set the resolution on my graphics card, to anything higher than 1280x1024, it gives a refresh rate of 60hz (default), and the tv gets a shimmer across it, with green lines. Why? because the tv can't keep up with the resolution and/or the refresh rate.

Even when I plug the tv into the onboard (motherboard) HDMI, Win7-64bit can't send 1 set of display instructions to 1 monitor and another set to another monitor, it wants to send the same set to BOTH monitors. Since I'm using duplicate or mirroring displays and not extending the desktop, this becomes problematic. (Extending the desktop, doesn't work in my situation, because the tv is 18 feet away opposite the monitor on the desk, which means i'd have to turn 180 degrees to see anything on the extended).

SO I can use onboard motherboard HDMI for the media/music/movies, no reason it can't handle 1080p. With 8GB of RAM. It'll work just nicely and sit in the entertainment unit's cubby hole for electronic components (dvd player/amp/etc.etc.).

But now I do need to upgrade my display, I mean 1680x1080, is well, ok. But I'm also looking at jumping from a 22" to a 27". There is multiple threads out there, that indicate there is a significant increase in productivity when you increase screen real estate.

So far I'm thinking the HP 27xi. It has a bottom silver bezel/frame. 7mg gtg, and 1920x1080. Sure there are other higher resolution monitors out there, but at what cost? I'd like to keep the cost < $400 CAD.

Last deciding factors: the U3 case is available in Silver or Black. So silver with silver, black with black. If I get a black u3, I'll get a black framed monitor, black wireless keyboad, black mouse, black wireless speakers. If I go for a silver monitor I'll get the silver of everything. but silver is harder to find, especially for keyboards and mouse. And some things are available in Europe but not in North America. Cherry makes a silver wireless keyboard and mouse, but you can't buy it in NA. Logitech and rapoo are here in NA.

I also have no idea what the difference between 16:9 and 16:10 ratio is. LOL (OMG My brain is hurting LOLOL)

Lastly..if some who understands wireless signals, can answer this for me...really appreciate it.

If I'm on my sofa with a Logitech KB400 for my media center and my tv, (wireless), will the signal get confused, lost or other wise screwed up, with wireless device 18 feet away (keyboard/mouse/speakers[maybe speakers, they might be blue tooth with a seperate dongle).

All wireless device are on dongles. :)

Anyway, thanks for reading, and if you have suggestions, or comments, or ideas, thoughts, please do write them in here...I'm still looking for the most appropriate motherboard (mATX), IF you do make big projects in Cubase/Ableton/Preonus Studio One, love for you to comment on my thoughts and research

Thanks again.


It's My Birthday!
May 12, 2011
Different signal types for wireless mice/keyboards/devices, bluetooth and network connectivity, so they won't get "confused". Having said that, using multiple devices of the same type (ie: mice for example) can interfere with each other.

As for case selection, the smaller the case, the less airflow. In a machine that isn't stressed, this would be a non-issue. But it appears your hardware selections are based on the fact that you want/need the increased processing power. It could still be a non (short term) issue. But increased heat typically relates to decreased life span.
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