New DAW PC build - Suggestions, Please?

Hi All

My last DAW PC has (I can’t believe I’m saying this) lasted me almost 7 years - with just one RAM upgrade in that time. It still runs 10.5 pro, OK but I know it’s overdue for an upgrade really (you’ll see my spec in my signature below)

I usually use someone like PC Specialist to build my kit - but have to admit I’m a bit out of date with best components to include. So I was wondering if any of you would mind sharing your more recent expertise on things like

Best performing CPUs for DAW
best MOBO / RAM configuration (RAM speed etc) - number of slots -
Drives - I’m inexperienced with solid state - and I need at least 3TB for storage including a separate 1TB SATA drive that houses my EastWest samples
Quiet power supplies etc
Anything else that’s ‘new’ that I might not be considering but should -

I’m ok for sound because I use a UR44 - so I’m ‘outboard’ for that -

I’d also like it to be able to handle some video editing - so could do with advice on graphics cards - I only have a 2GB NVIDIA GEFORCE GTX 650Ti BOOST- at the moment -

Not looking for anyone to spend a lot of time building out my spec for me - but any hints and tips on any of the above would be very welcome. Thanks all ! - Jon

  1. Search this forum.
  2. Search this thread (start at the end and work toward the beginning):

  1. Check Scanproaudio’s benchmark tests on CPUs. They have the “DSP” test which compares CPU performance when focusing on effect plugins, and the “VST” test (or whatever it’s called) comparing how many voices you get when using virtual instruments.

  2. Check and pick your video editing software to the left and articles with benchmarks for it will show. Just check which GPU is recommended.

  • It would help if you state what budget you are looking at, because “best” typically is expensive and when people say “best” they almost never mean it. The recommendations they get are usually too expensive.

  • Also, consider what you’re going to do for video work. Just editing or also effects? Coloring? How much content? What resolution? Are you going to work off of transcoded proxies and just render to UHD or do you want to work in your final high resolution? Do you need a video output that gives you a true 1:1 image or do you expect to grade on your GUI monitor?.. etc…

Thanks for replying on this - the websites look really interesting. You’re right I should have included budget - I would say c£1500. For video editing - pretty basic stuff. Cropping, editing, maybe a bit of colour correction. No 3D or CGI type stuff - only a few titles etc. My needs on that side are quite small. As long as it can handle raw HD / 4K files I should be fine

Hopefully that provides a bit more context! thanks again for coming back to me -

Hi guys - thanks for all the suggestions above. I’ve narrowed my build down to the items below. Can I ask for any feedback (good or bad) on this pls? particularly if you think I’m about to make any crashing mistakes. I’m thinking an SSD for Cubase/Windows operation and active projects with the SATA as the archive - is that sensible? thanks guys - Jon

Case PCS 3601 CASE
Processor (CPU) Intel® CoreTM i9 10 Core Processor i9-10900 (2.8GHz) 20MB Cache
Motherboard Gigabyte Z490 UD (LGA1200, USB 3.2, CrossFireX) - ARGB Ready
Memory (RAM) 16GB Corsair VENGEANCE RGB PRO DDR4 3200MHz (2 x 8GB)
Graphics Card 6GB NVIDIA GEFORCE RTX 2060 - HDMI, DP - VR Ready!
1st Storage Drive 1TB PCS 2.5" SSD, SATA 6 Gb (520MB/R, 470MB/W)
2nd Storage Drive 4TB SEAGATE BARRACUDA SATA-III 3.5" HDD, 6GB/s, 5400RPM, 256MB
Power Cable 1 x 1 Metre UK Power Cable (Kettle Lead)
Processor Cooling PCS FrostFlow 100 RGB Series High Performance CPU Cooler
Wireless/Wired Networking WIRELESS 802.11N 300Mbps/2.4GHz PCI-E CARD
USB/Thunderbolt Options 2 PORT (1 x TYPE A, 1 x TYPE C+PD) USB 3.1 PCI-E 10Gbps CARD +
Operating System Windows 10 Professional 64 Bit - inc. Single Licence [MUP-00003]

I don’t really do video work, just renders for client reviews of mixes, but is 16GB enough for 4k work? And I’m assuming 6GB video memory on the video card is sufficient too…(?)

I would just double-check those two things before moving on.

Also make sure you have your backup situation squared. I only see two drives so you should add one more for backing up if you haven’t already… (and what about system drive?)

Thank you - good point on the RAM - I wasn’t thinking far enough ahead with 4k in mind so I will increase the RAM.

I back up to the cloud - so was thinking SSD for windows/cubase and live projects and then the SATA for the in system archive - does that make sense? or am I misinterpreting what you mean by system drive? thanks again - I appreciate you taking the time

I think you should increase the RAM quite a bit. Of course it depends on what you are using but on my system a clean empty Cubase instance uses about 300MB. With a single Keyscape instance loaded it uses 3.2 GB (the Cubase process alone), and that is only one VST. If you use a lot of sample based VSTs you will quickly run out of RAM.

Also depending on what you use you might want to increase the windows/cubase drive. I have Native Instruments Komplete, Spectrasonics Keyscape and Omnisphere and of course the Steinberg things (including some extra that isn’t included in Cubase). Instruments and samples from these three vendors use up about 725 GB of my disk.

that’s helpful - thank you

With system drive I meant OS drive, meaning the drive with the operating system. Most people I’ve seen set up relatively big machines have had the OS separate from the other stuff. So one OS drive, one for projects, one for backing up, and then if they have large sample libraries those would either be on the project drive or another separate drive.

That’s why I was asking. I’m not sure whether it’ll matter, just curious.

Agreed you should up the ram. I went with 32 in two slots giving me the option to go to 64 in 4 slots. Also what about M.2 drives? These are massively faster than ssd although not all can boot from them. I went with the i9 9900k which runs great. I also used a ssd for os but got a 1tb M.2 drive for samples. I use superior drummer 3 which loads kits in the gigabyte range and it is lightning fast with the M.2 drive. Does the motherboard have native M.2 slots? I still use a spinning disk 2tb for audio and have a 4tb external drive backing up all the drives and a NAS backing up that one. I’ve learnt in the past you can never be too careful

thats very useful - thanks

Whats an M.2 drive? the build team I am using don’t seem to offer it from their drop down list - maybe they call it something else?

thanks again

I must admit I’ve only ever had a system drive (with OS, Cubase, Projects etc) and a sample drive for EastWest, Superior drums etc and then back the projects up to the MS onedrive cloud and an external 2TB Hard drive for safety -

thanks again for replying though - this all useful stuff!

The M.2 drives are like an ssd but not restricted by the sata protocol so are much faster. I had mine built as well and added the drive on afterwards myself. Do a search as it all depends on the motherboard and then you need to look at the speeds of the drive.

thanks buddy - that’s really helpful - I appreciate it

I am also in the middle of selecting parts for my new pc but I hear bad things about the 10900 concerning heat (it’s getting too hot) so I might step up to the 10940 problem is that it makes everything a lot more expensive so I haven’t figuring out yet what to do. Did you consider the heat and power consumption of the 10900?

You may want to re-check the power supply. The GeForce RTX 2060 alone will take up at the Minimum 550W. (;

thanks I will check that out