Configuring new PC

Hi all. Although I’m a Mac person and love it, only working with my MacBook Pro is a bit of a pain. Every time I hook it up to my studio and UAD interface, Nuendo forgot half the output and input assignments. I need to manually re-assign those and go through several other settings to make everything works as expected. Then I unplug it and am on the road, only to find Nuendo complaining at every start that inputs and outputs are missing and I need to reconfigure them again. In short, Nuendo is not well made for a modular, changing environment such as a laptop.

For my studio I now want a PC with Windows (considering everything that’s going on performance-wise on the Mac). I haven’t been in the “build your own PC” game since 2005 and have no idea anymore what I need to look out for. Do you guys have any online shops that configure good and silent PCs for post and game work? I guess you all build your own machines :wink: So what do I need to look out for? Here are some questions:

  • Does Nuendo make good use of multiple CPU cores? Is it a good idea to get a 6 core CPU? Or 8 core? i5, i7, Xeon? I don’t use a lot of plugins so I don’t think I need super fast CPU. Is there a sweet spot?
  • I need Thunderbolt 3 to hook up my UAD Apollo. Does anybody have Windows and Apollo? Does that work well together considering they are Mac first?
  • Some of you have a Black Magic card to output to TV. Is that necessary? Why not use an HDMI output of the GFX card? What’s the advantage?
    And does it work with N8.1? I heard some Black Magic cards didn’t show a picture with the new video engine.
  • As I’m not using a lot of sample libs for post work (I mainly do sound and mixing) is 16GB enough or should I got for 32GB nonetheless?
  • I heard with Win10 you can now install drivers to freely route MIDI and audio data around. I would be interested in a setup to route the output of Nuendo and an external microphone to Skype so I could show clients over Skype how a session sounds, and talk to them via mic. What are you using for something like that? On Mac I use Loopback or Audio Hijack from Rogue Amoeba.
  • Is there something like TimeMachine on PC that does diff backups of your data regularly? What about when your system dies completely, how can you recover OS, software, settings, data after a total crash? It’s very easy with TimeMachine, what strategies are there on Windows?
  • Any other advice I should look out for?

Thanks everybody.

Building PC has become so complex that I can only recommend against doing it yourself.
Not what you want to hear, but I am very serious.
Give your wishlist to a pro DAW-PC builder and they will avoid all problems for you.
Just my 2 cents …

Fredo

But avoid scan in the uk. They build me a daw computer that overheats. They made some obvious mistakes putting it together.
It would take about a month to return it to them, them to fix it and to get it back to me again. Impossible. The support is slow and the person I dealt with changed almost weekly basis.
So I decided to fix it back here and never look at Scan again.

Just my 2 cents…

Any good online DAW builder websites you know of?

And I thought the experience of building your own PC was greatly improved? I know back in the days when I wanted to buy a special internal PCI video card to cut video, I think it was from Matrox, or a DigiDesign audio card, you had to REALLY pay attention. On the web pages of those companies were lists of mainboards and even specific chipset versions that would work and were tested. Otherwise you would have to fight with endless crashes. And since I didn’t have such a board, I fought with endless crashes and freezes. It was a nightmare. I thought those times are long gone?

Few years ago I bought a laptop from ADK in the states. It was and still is superb quality…

I can be mistaking, but I think these issues are still possible today. I have a dozen machines running with no significant problems.
While before, I had problems all of the time.

This is a very good one: http://xi-machines.com/de/
The guy running the company is a former Nuendo Product Manager, and he is still making the machines for Yamaha/Steinberg.
Tell Leon I said hello. He is a great guy.

In the US I would recommend: https://www.adkproaudio.com/


Fredo

www.steller-online.de

Rüsselsheim / Germany

I have not bought from them yet, but am planning to get a 10 core next year as my new PT PC.

I’m not so sure there’s an easy solution to your problem. Either the setup info follows your project as you move it between computers, or it retains some settings. If you route channels to specific outputs and they no longer exist as you move your project to a different computer then of course the software has to reflect that. Only thing I can suggest is just sitting down and thinking about your workflow and then set up templates including template setups for Control Room, Inputs/Outputs etc, and figure out how to quickly switch.

I don’t necessarily think it’s that difficult to build your own PC, it’s just time consuming to do the research. An alternative could be to visit Gearslutz for example and see what people are commonly using that works. There will probably be some motherboard/CPU/memory configurations that are more common than others and verified to work.

There’s a Microsoft limitation with core use which apparently affects some computers once you have more than 7 physical cores, or above 14 “logical” ones (i.e. multithreading). So I think that a six core CPU would be immune to that, and that some 8+ core CPUs are affected. From what I understand Nuendo makes good use of threads though.

BlackMagic cards have the advantage of being able to change the resolution and / or format on the fly without taxing your computer, and may also output a clean signal, if that’s important. If not then just use HDMI out. I just use my regular video card for video out to a separate screen. Of course it’s a desktop screen that I drag/maximize video on, and with a BM card you just get the video signal, not the desktop (unless they changed that recently).

For backup you could try Macrium Reflect. It has quite good reviews, and it’s the only free software I found that allowed me to do an identical clone of my system drive while the system was running. I think it has timemachine-like features, although they may be paid features. Other than that maybe see if Windows 10 itself offers sufficient backup.

Continuing on Mattias’ first point-- I know this isn’t a question you’re asking, but for what it’s worth, I use a MacBook Pro on the road and a MacPro tower at home, and haven’t had routing issues beyond having to occasionally reassign the interface in the Studio Monitor connections tab, usually because I have neglected to connect the laptop’s interface before starting Nuendo up. My templates do respect the inclusive output limits of both interfaces. Still, when I’ve prepared sessions at my partner’s PC Nuendo studio, his routing always travels with the project with all of the names and assignments intact.

I’d like to know what is happening with yours and to figure if there’s a reason for that behavior; what you’re experiencing would drive me crazy.

Chewy

I have always built my own PCs, but if you’re not familiar and don’t have the spare time to really learn the ropes properly before you start, I would follow Fredo’s advice and buy one pre-made. But NOT from the “normal” companies (Dell/HP/etc)…only from someone who builds DAWs and has a good reputation.

Too many variables in driver/hardware compatibility with the infinite choices in gear and software these days to dive in without the background. People who say it’s not hard just got lucky with their combo. If you decide to roll your own, find somebody who has a setup that works great and copy that exactly, including the video card and drivers.

For reference, my setup is an overclocked, liquid cooled 8 core and has dual video cards (lots of monitors now) and a total of 14 PCI/PCIe cards when you include the expansion chassis. Works flawlessly and crashfree (seriously). I know what I’m doing. But I spent the last 20 years doing this and there are always little issues to iron out initially in building a pro setup to make it truly professional. Unless you have the time to become one at building PCs, hire one. Unless you want to pay yourself about a dollar an hour to be frustrated fiddling with the thing instead of paying the same money overall to someone else so you don’t have to.

FWIW, complete Mac guy here but about to make the jump to my first PC. I have a video editor friend who had a PC built by ADK and has had nothing but troubles with it. He stated that the gentleman that was the face of the company is no longer present and my friend’s problems with the build they did for him are just due to sloppiness so I have taken them off my list. I’m currently looking at two PC’s; the top of the line Creation Station from Sweetwater and a build from PC Audio Labs in Los Angeles. The Sweetwater machine isn’t quite as high end as the PC Audio Labs machine but Sweetwater’s customer support is second to none. john

This is a huge topic! Just a few things for now. MattiasNYC’s points I concur with. I would spend some time doing some research in a bunch of varied places, not just the power user websites like Tom’s Hardware and AnandTech, as well as gaming enthusiast news sites like WCCFtech. There has been a lot of threads on this topic on the VI-Control forum. Many of the users are on Cubase. They are Media Composer focused so use case is slightly different than Post-Audio but lots of useful information. There is a debate on CPU clock speed vs number of cores. If you do video you will want to strike a balance between clock speed and number of cores. One more thing, there is also the concern of the number of PCI lanes a CPU is capable of and the number of lanes a motherboard can deal with. This affects not only the number of cards in your PC but also the number of high speed SATA Drives/SSDs you can have in your PC. More the merrier, in my view.

Here is a part picker site, the German variant:

https://de.pcpartpicker.com/

… but make sure you verify compatibility. I know of a couple of people who did not do their due diligence, after putting together a parts list and found memory incompatibility with the motherboard they chose. Things like this only happen rarely but you should verify things obviously.

Spend some time tracking down information on Intel’s CPU roadmap and make some decisions around whether or not you are building your PC for the long term or going an inexpensive route to tide you over for a year or two. There is a lot of transitional hardware right now due to the panic of Intel with the introduction of AMD’s Ryzen processor that took Intel by surprise this year. If you are going long term, there are motherboards you will want to avoid and you may wish to pick your entry point a few months down the road. Quiet PC stuff has gone mainstream, so you won’t have to go to a Quiet PC specialist site anymore. Quiet power supplies and quiet cases are made by the mainstream vendors and easy to identify. Have fun.

Just scanned the Sweetwater PCs. Very weak on performance. Their top of the line PC has a quad core CPU. No way I would build a 4 core now. There is only about a $200.00 US difference these days in the price of an Intel 4 core vs 8 core. That’s a no-brainer. I have one of each… night and day for low latency and heavy loads.

So Scott has finaly done it …
Last time we spoke, he just got into the restaurant business.

If Scott and Eric aren’t there anymore, then I can see that things go wrong.

Fredo

There‘s another one:

https://www.da-x.de

Just scanned the Sweetwater PCs. Very weak on performance. Their top of the line PC has a quad core CPU. No way I would build a 4 core now. There is only about a $200.00 US difference these days in the price of an Intel 4 core vs 8 core. That’s a no-brainer. I have one of each… night and day for low latency and heavy loads.

Thanks, as a PC newbie that’s good to know!

Thank you everybody for your replies! It’s a lot to go through, digest, and think about.

I looked at xi-machines, thanks Fredo, I think they’re very good workstations. However, as I work on games, I need to have the game development environments installed, and need more of a gaming PC setup with audio workstation capabilities than the other way around. xi-machines seems to be more focused on audio and 3D workstations for video and 3D modelling with pro graphics cards, not gaming graphics.

da-x looks very interesting in that regard, seems to hit the sweet spot between audio workstation and gaming gfx cards.

Does anybody have experience with http://www.silentmaxx.de ? They also offer very quiet gaming or workstation configurations.

None of those offers any system with Thunderbolt. How am I supposed to connect my Apollo interface :-/. There are Thunderbolt expansion cards for specific mainboard brands, so I’m kind of dependent on those mainboards being used in the workstation configurations to be able to get such a Thunderbolt expansion card (either Gigabyte or Asus). Sad Thunderbolt still plays such a very niche role.

Ask the computer guys at da-x whether they have one (and tested it). They are proud only to sell stuff (CPUs, GPUs …) tested in use for audio applications.

The Steller-online high end systems have a thunderbolt option for 69 Euros.