Help Building Monster DAW

Hi all!

The time has come to upgrade my computer and I want to spare no expense on this new DAW. I’m interested in your opinions about the ideas I have atm, so please share your thoughts!

First of all I’d like to say that with ‘Monster DAW’ I mean the very best you can get, but without going to such extremes that the system will be prone to compatibility issues and being somehow unstable.

Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

CPU - Intel i7 (4, 6 or 8 cores and hyperthreading for 8, 12 or 16 at >3Ghz) Sandy Bridge, or wait for Ivy Bridge or Sandy Bridge-E?
RAM - 16 or 32 GB (quad channel 4x4 or 4x8)
System Disk - Option 1: 2x 300Gb SSD RAID mirroring, Option 2: 2x 300Gb Velociraptor RAID mirroring, Option 3: 1x 300Gb SSD or Velociraptor, no mirroring
Data Disks: 2x 2Tb Western Digital Black 7200rpm SATA3 (one for projects, one for samples and libraries)
Motherboard: ASUS, anything that will do the trick for the above and is also able to handle the following PCI cards.

Graphics Card: any reasonable card (passive cooling?) that has at least 3x DisplayPort to resolution 2560x1400
Powercore Express PCIe (I think it’s 16x or 8x, fits in big slot)
UAD-Quad PCIe (I think it’s 1x, fits in small or big slot)
Another UAD-Quad PCIe like above
RME HDSP 96-32 PCI Soundcard

3x Samsung S27A850D Displays (2560x1400 resolution)

That’s about it for the essential stuff.

An issue that I see is that most graphics cards use 1 slot, but actually use room for 2 because of the cooling, so all the cards will need to fit on the motherboard in addition to this.

Also I’m a little confused about the whole RAID mirroring and if this might cause issues in a DAW. I mainly want to use it so that when the system disk dies I will be able to keep working on my music while replacing it. I will backup data manually.

RAID shouldn’t cause any issues in a DAW. It might, if your RAID controller is poor (like the ones in most motherboards) but good quality RAID array in DAW is just fine. But I wouldn’t use RAID in system disk anyway. With system disks it’s more probable to have OS/software/controller related issues than physical disk failure. And RAID doesn’t help with these. If you want to have 100% uptime, I would recommend to keep an off-line mirror of your system disk: use some disc cloning program to create a mirror of your system disk any time you modify your system. Then disconnect the mirror disk.

The place where RAID makes sense in DAW is your project disk. That’s where you are having continously changing invaluable data.

But remember: RAID is NOT a backup. There exist too many failure modes in which RAID does not save your day.

Thanks Jarno, this is helping me a lot. Chances will indeed be more likely that the OS or software will cause system problems, which won’t be helped by the RAID mirror. I’ll most likely skip on RAID altogether then. I didn’t intend to use it for backup, because I’d like to have control over these myself and also store them in a different physical location than where my computer is. Any other thoughts?