I just built myself a new "boring" PC for Cubase

Why “boring”?

I simply wanted to get to

  • a relatively high performance system
  • for a medium price
  • stay highly backward compatible
  • avoid too much fiddling with low level CPU mysteries and settings (like CPU affinity)
  • keep most of it for 5-10 years

And just in case, someone else here has similar high level priorities, and would like a high level starting point, this is an attempt to document my thinking and what I ended up with.


The resulting, more specific technical goals for this build became:

  • Avoid asymmetrical CPU architectures, since most software doesn’t really deal with those intelligently yet.
    • that eliminated the newer 12th and 13th Gen Intel i5, i7 and i9 and some of the high end AMD Ryzens with 3D cache
  • Get to pretty fast single core speed, since I see myself migrating to ever more modeled instruments and fx
    • that eliminates a lot of workstation CPUs (which also tend to become more expensive builds all around)
    • that led me to the second from the top Ryzen - also because it was quite a price jump to the top end
  • Get to a decent core count, so multi-core optimized software can spread out.
    • that got me to a Ryzen 9 series
  • Have generous number of m.2 slots (so I can keep using my older NVMe SSDs)
    • that led me to X670E based motherboards, since they have more of m2 slots than some of the less expensive motherboards.
  • Have decent upgrade potential
    • that also led me to the new Ryzen AM5 socket based systems rather than the prior (less expensive) generation, since this would facilitate a potential CPU upgrade sometime later, while keeping the rest of the system intact.
  • Try to get to low latency as best as possible
    • According to AMD, the sweet spot for the new Ryzen CPU’s is 6000MHz RAM, so I got that with CL32 latency, which was the lowest I could easily get.
    • And to get to good RAM clock speeds, one has to stay with just 2 RAM slots for now, even while the motherboard may allow for more - so 2x32GB sticks was the best currently feasible configuration. Since I don’t run large orchestral projects, 64GB should serve me well for quite a while.
  • Have a reasonably silent system
    • that was one of the motivating factors to over-provide on the power supply and also go pretty big on air cooling. Big power supply means it doesn’t have to use its fans most of the time. Big air cooler means, its fans can spin more slowly.
    • liquid cooling didn’t end up in my specs, because it’s not necessarily quieter, and I’m not into extreme overclocking - and it’s also slightly more risky
  • Try to stay on Windows 10 for the near term, just to stay in the environment that’s still the most well tested and debugged by software makers in general. Also with Win11, Microsoft made it even more effort to have full control over one’s own computer.

So as a result of the above converging subjective priorities, I ended up with my first AMD based system after building and running quite a few generations of Intel based systems before for a couple of decades:

  • CPU: Ryzen 7900x: 12 cores, 24 threads 4.7/5.5 GHz
  • Motherboard: ASUS Prime X670E-PRO WIFI with 4 m.2 slots
  • RAM: Trident Z5 64GB DDR5 6000MHz CL32 Dual Channel Kit (2x 32GB)
  • Storage: 3 NVMe SSDs, and 2 traditional hard disks: one large 18TB drive for internal backups, and another 2 TB drive for keeping installation programs and other “spare” stuff, that’s rarely used.
  • Power Supply: CorsairRMe Series 1000W 80+ Gold, Low-Noise, Dual EPS12V Full Modular
  • CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-D15
  • Case: Ended up going with a high air-flow case this time around, specifically the
    • Corsair 4000D Airflow ATX Computer Case (note: this case is a tight fit for the large cooler, but I could make it work).
    • The general idea is to keep fan speeds very low because of the superior air flow rather than having a really boxed in and sound proofed (often called “silent” or “quiet”) case where the fans have to do more work to move air past the hot items. – *However: This strategy may or may not work out, but would be relatively easy to correct later.
  • Video: For now I’m just using the integrated video from the CPU, since that’s plenty for DAW use. So a separate video card may or may not end up in that system - I’m just not sure yet.
  • And, as I had hoped, so far that system appears to be working well with Windows 10 Pro. I can now take my time to go beyond Windows 10 at some time in the future.
    • Maybe I’ll skip 11 entirely, if there’s a 12 before the support for 10 ends and assuming 11 doesn’t add highly desirable features and/or performance benefits. Historically I’ve skipped every second Windows version - going from XP to 7 to 10.

I haven’t done any overclocking other than the kind of stuff that comes as easy configuration within the BIOS, like using the faster RAM at it’s full rated speed. I’ve typically preferred overclockable CPUs, even while I’m not really into the overclocking game. That’s because those CPU’s tend to be made from the higher quality batches of wavers (chip binning)


p.s. I’m using the Apple ecosystem (MacOS, iOS) for my daily personal computing and had considered going MacOS for my music computer as well, but ended up deciding against that for the time being, because:

  • My music computer continues to address my desire for fiddling and tweaking to a degree, while still having access to a very wide and well supported ecosystem (Linux is still a much more tricky platform for music making)
  • In music, I still enjoy the use of older hardware and software, and that’s simply easier with Windows
  • On a very subjective personal level, I very much enjoy being multi-platform, using MacOS, Windows and Linux for different parts of my computing life. Not being stuck in one world has been meaningful to my self-definition pretty much all of my adult life. But I wouldn’t recommend it for most individuals, since it’s difficult enough to become good at using one eco-system. – There’s also the (old man shaking fists at clouds) bonus: I get to complain about the shortcomings of every computing platform! ! :slight_smile:

p.p.s. I’m using Linux for my server needs and some IoT fiddling, so I get my Linux kicks that way.

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Great post. Do you have any video or picture of the assembled version of your computer?

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I don’t have pictures or video - but any picture of the case I used should give a good idea what it looks like fully assembled.

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Very nice and long post Nico. I read it twice.
This could become an interesting one. But I am sure you can agree to disagree.
Question: what was the price ?

I do have a quite different philosophy:
I prefer high-end top specs at the moment of buying. Until now this allowed me to use a PC system for up to 4 years.
I quote you on the 5 - 10 years idea because I think that’s ‘Impossible’.

MoBo’s sockets do change with processer generation …
I hope your system is at least Win 11 compatible. There is no reason to stick with Win 10. ( But I understood you have your opinion about that).

The idea to purchase a computer with specs optimized for your needs doesn’t make sense to me.
My needs evolve, software evolves …
The idea to use the onboard graphics is just ‘wrong’ (As an opinion, not as a fact, so no discussion as far as I am concerned)

To be continued …

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That would help.
I have almost the same setup except that I assembled my PC around 3 years ago with AMD Ryzen 5900x with 12 cores, 24 threads, same RAM size and Gigabyte Aorus Master x570 with 3 m.2 slots.
It’s working great, only original AMD’s cpu fan is a bit loud and noisy and I need to replace it with Noctua NH-D15.
I’m using Windows 11 and I’m pretty happy with it so far :blush:
I’m a software developer at day time and I had the same reasoning as yours at the time.
Thank you for sharing Nico.

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… I totally agree with Nico about onboard GPU.
You really don’t need it if you’re not a gamer.
I ended up buying the cheapest GPU on the market, Radeon 550, since my CPU didn’t have one onboard, and I had no single issue.

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thank you! It took quite a while to write. :slight_smile:

It was CAD 2900 taxes included (Canadian Dollars). Which is similar to USD 2150 or EUR 2000.

If you have enough money - good for you!

My previous CPU/Motherboard combination was good enough for me for about 9 years. ( i4790K with ASUS ASUS X79 Deluxe ). - Over the years, I added RAM, upgraded HDD to SSD and NVMe and upgraded GPU.

But if you have higher needs and more money, then buying a new computer more often is more fun!

Intel yes, AMD not as often.

yes it is, and I have no idea what might make you doubt that. It is latest generation CPU and MoBo.

I’m not trying to convince you (or anyone) else of anything. Since you already have a philosophy, you don’t need a post like mine.

I simply spent some time and effort to share my objectives, thinking and resulting approach - just in case it helps somebody else with similar objectives and thought process. – If my post doesn’t work for your objectives or style, just ignore it.

Or even better: Create your own detailed post explaining your objectives and thought process - so readers of this forum can consider alternative approaches and pick their favourite - or a combination between different approaches.

10 years ago, I had that opinion, too.

If there are problems with my current approach (or if I ever get into machine learning, gaming or video production), I can always easily add a separate GPU into the now still empty PCIe 5.0 x16 slot.

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Okay, thanks for these comments. Interesting.
Just some additional thoughts:

For me a PC has to be Quiet. (I recommend ‘Be Quiet’ for case and cooler). This also means I prefer NOT to have any HDD anymore. NVMe and SSD are becoming affordable.
The graphics card should be quiet as well, so I stay away from gamers cards. (I currently use a RTX A4000) I understood you use onboard graphics (indeed the most Quiet option) but in my experience a computer benefits from a dedicated graphics card in terms of ‘responsiveness’.

I need a lot of USB ports. And I prefer NOT to use a HUB. So this impacts the choice of MoBo.

I want to be able to re-install Windows at any time without the need for backups. This requires to have a specific Storage space strategy. (Mind though, I do make internal and external backups on a regular basis)

Cheers and enjoy installing/building the system!

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Some of the better gamers GPU cards turn off their fans when in low demand mode - so that could be an option for someone like you, who likes high end parts for everything! :slight_smile: And if you ever want to run machine learning, then a high end NVIDIA gamer card is very useful. It would be noisy while running machine learning and quiet in normal use.

Yes, I chose a high end MoBo, too. Also for the extra m.2 slots. – But I still use an external USB2 hub for my many midi controllers. Midi is very low bandwith, so not a problem for my use case. And that also means I can have a nice empty internal USB hub dedicated to my audio interface, where it doesn’t share the path to the CPU with anything else.

One good advanced trick is to investigate how the different MoBo USB ports connect to the CPU (can be found in the MoBo manual), because the internal USB ports also use internal USB hubs and some connect to the CPU more directly than others, with less PCIe bandwidth sharing. It’s best for very low audio latency, if the audio interface does not have to share it’s internal USB hub and or PCIe express lane with any other USB device.

I agree on SSD better than HDD for silence - However, I put a couple of HDDs in my system, but they sleep most of the time. The large 18TB HDD only wakes up at night for backups. The smaller 2TB HDD only wakes up when I download and run installer programs. At all other times they are silent, because they are in sleep mode. :zzz: :bed:

I can understand that. But that makes some things bit more complicated, because not all software is programmed with making it easy to run it on a different drive than the C drive. – I assume you also know the trick of running Windows in a temporary sandbox, which can be useful for some situations, when you want a temporary testing environment without getting your main Windows installation messed up.

My system was finished 2 weeks ago and is now running very nicely. :slight_smile:

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Once more thank you for sharing your experience!

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For music use, there is currently little point in having a powerful GPU. However, some of the AI-powered plugins use TensorFlow, including I believe Spectralayers. The current version of Spectralayers doesn’t use GPU acceleration, but I suspect future versions will support GPU acceleration.

I’m not a gamer, but my photo and video editing has reached a point where a powerful GPU is a must - AI-powered software such as Topaz plugins are unbearably slow without a powerful GPU, plus many Adobe Creative Cloud functions including the Camera Raw engine use GPU acceleration. Video editing and streaming need a GPU with decent video encoding and decoding capabilities. Anyone making more than casual use of 3D design software will likely need a powerful GPU.

For a music-only PC, an integrated GPU is fine at present, but I would make sure that you have the PCIe slot and power supply available for a graphics card if you later find a good reason to fit one.

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Very good point, totally agree :+1:

Can you elaborate on this statement?
I am really interested in how you see this.

As my original post outlines, this is exactly the approach I’ve used. My MoBo has a nice (still empty) PCIe 5.0 x16 slot that is capable of taking a high performance GPU card, if I should ever get into machine learning, high end gaming or video production in the future. And my 1000W power supply is also generously spec’d, so can handle a potential future video card as well without needing an upgrade.

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At the risk of hijacking this excellent topic (and not wanting to), I think there may be a good reason now to fit a discrete graphics card, in the form of SpectraLayers 10 (from version 10.0.10 onwards) which adds GPU acceleration to the unmix processes, and which supports GPUs not only from Nvidia, but also AMD, Intel and more.

Thankfully, @Nico5 , you’ve already made allowance for this!

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Hi Nico! I am currently building almost the same PC, with the same philosophy for the future regarding the graphics card. Same Asus PRIME X670E-PRO WIFI motherboard, only Be Quiet 1000w PSU, and Ryzen 5 7600X processor for growth. I currently connect the Babyface Pro interface as the only external device. Which USB port do you recommend for this? Also haven’t been able to find any DAW oriented BIOS tweaks specifically for this motherboard. Maybe you can give some suggestions?

I’m honestly not sure, if it makes a meaningful difference in this kind of modern system, but I’ve plugged my RME audio interface into this slot:

And as a result, it shows up in the Win10 Device Manager like this (in the Device manager menu select “View > Devices by Connection”):

According to my interpretation of the motherboard documentation, that USB Hub and Controller have the shortest path to the CPU while some of the other USB plugs have a slightly longer path with more chipsets along the way and potentially lower PCI bus speeds. (As with many modern motherboards this one contains quite a mix of PCI 5.0, 4.0 and 3.0 lanes when you look into enough excruciating detail.)

( CAVEAT: If someone with more knowledge at this level of details reads this, please correct my impression if needed!)

I don’t remember tweaking the BIOS much, except enabling the DOCP automated RAM overclocking detection, so the RAM would run at its best.

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Thanks for the quick reply, it’s on point right now. I will use the usb slot you specified.
I have EXPO II enabled for the DIMM in the BIOS, for now. Still need to apply the Windows tweaks mentioned in “Unofficial Windows 10 Audio Workstation build and tweak guide” by Pete Brown. Will see what next… :hammer_and_wrench:

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I’m not sure how much of that guide is still important for current generation hardware and software, since it was made quite a while ago. Similarly with Steinberg’s official suggestions - they always seem to trail behind the evolution of modern hardware, drivers and operating systems.

The biggest trouble spots I’ve had to fight with in recent years were video driver related. I’ve learned to avoid game optimized graphics drivers. Both AMD and Nvidia graphics drivers have sometimes done weird things that introduced trouble when running Cubase.

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I have avoided discrete graphics, for this reason, for many years now, and have never experienced problems to the extent that other users have reported here on the forum. I just use integrated Intel graphics with only the absolute basic driver installed.

It’s getting complicated now because of the need to have GPU processing power available for modern applications like SpectraLayers, RipX and RX. I’m holding off for as long as possible but I think any new build of a dedicated audio PC will need some kind of discrete video card as a co-processor. At the moment, the drivers for these cards all prioritize FPS (“frames per second”) for gaming, but perhaps with all the hype around AI, there will be driver options to prioritize the computation needed for sound seperation and other audio processing.

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