Please help me upgrade my DAW

Hello, I have a DAW that’s several years old that I’m getting ready to upgrade (based on a Core 2 Q6600, so it’s long overdue!). I plan to stick with Windows 7, and use mostly Cubase, but also Vegas a bit (remarkably, Cubase still works pretty well on the system, but I do plan to get heavier into track counts, plug-ins, and virtual instruments, so that probably won’t last long…Vegas glitches a lot). I would like to get away with re-using a lot of the current components - hard drives, 800w power supply, etc., and try to get away with just a new mobo, CPU, and RAM, if possible. I’m thinking I want to go with Haswell i7-4770k. Here are my questions:

  1. I have a UAD-2 Quad and an old (Mackie!) UAD-1 card - from what I understand, 1150 supports PCI-e but doesn’t support old PCI slots, the boards that do use some kind of bridge to make it work work. Is an 1150 mobo with PCI a drawback? I certainly know that the Quad has way more power than the UAD-1, is it even worth it to look for a PCI equipped board to be able to use the UAD-1?

  2. I understand that the 4770k chip is designed for overclocking, but I will probably hold off on that unless it becomes necessary. Without overclocking, is the stock cooler that comes with the chip sufficient? If not, any quiet recommendations?

  3. Are any motherboards specifically recommended, or recommended against for DAWs? Last time I build a computer (non-DAW), ASUS was having a lot of problems and it was recommended I not get one, so I went with Gigabyte, which has been great…any similar issues these days? What about any particular chipset, etc. to go for?

  4. I’m using a PreSonus FireStudio, so I’ll probably have to get a TI FireWire card - any known issues with any mobos and the FireStudio or PreSonus in general?

  5. For a video card, I currently have a NVIDIA GeForce 8600GT. I understand the new motherboards have onboard video, but I figured a video card may take some of the strain off of the system…is this true? Will this card be compatible with the new board, and up to the task? I won’t be doing any crazy intense video editing in Vegas.

Anything else I need to know? Particular connections, etc. to make sure I get/avoid? What about RAM speed/brand/etc. recommendations?

Sorry to write a novel (and sorry if anyone read the same post on gearslutz, haha!), thank you very much for any information!

It isn’t really much you can re-use. Upgrading for an old Q6000 computer, you have to nearly buy everything all new.
Here is what you need to get:

  • mobo (with legacy PCI slot(s) onboard)
  • cpu (4770k)
  • ram (your old Q6600 mobo could be using DDR2 ram, which mean you need to upgrade to DDR3)
  • PSU (the Haswell architecture uses very low power levels, which could mean that your PSU is compatible)
  • GFX card (if not embedded on the mobo you’re buying, or you need to play 3D games)
  • SSD drive? (very fast for your operating system. I still wouldn’t use it for samples/project…, too expensive)

You might re-use your case and fans, harddisk(s), maybe DVD drive - it it’s a SATA, but I don’t think much else. Check your PSU, if it is “haswell ready”.

The old PCI slots are bridged to the PCI express bus on new mobo’s. You can get Haswell mobos with legacy PCI slots. If you’ve asked about a Ivy Bridge mobo, I’ve known what to look at, last years - asus p8z77-v, pro or deluxe version, where the deluxe version doesn’t have legacy PCI slots. The other 2 boards have 2 slots each. But if you’re in the position of upgrading/selling the old legacy PCI card, or just doesn’t need it, I would drop it. The bridge performance/compatibility isn’t as good as PCI express. It’s the same with you soundcard. When that it said, many old legacy PCI cards does work fine in the Legacy PCI slots. I know that RME legacy cards could be among those legacy cards, that works fine.

Another possibility is, to buy a new mobo with native PCI slots. I think the X79 serie mobos, has native PCI. And only some of the cheaper, lower spec. mobos has native PCI. Not sure if it only is the Ivy Bridge mobos that has native PCI slot, or it also stands for some of the latest Haswell.

But search, and find out what newer mobos people are using together with legacy PCI cards, that works. Or upgrade your cards to PCIe.

The stock cooler should be fine. But don’t expect it to be low noise :slight_smile: I’ve mounted more Intel stock coolers, and they does make noise. It’s also depended on you case, how good it is keeping the noise in the case. But don’t expect very low cpu core temps with the stock cooler. It’ll probably run a little high, but not in the “red” :slight_smile:

As said, I like Asus. But that’s more because of their BIOS design + design in general (more beautiful in my opinion), and that I never had any big problems with Asus. Gigabyte and other popular brands should also be fine. I also has a Gigabyte mobo, and it has been running fine from the day I got it.

I’m not too crazy about firewire. Mostly because I’ve read about so many people having problems with drivers / performance and stability. But again, I’m oldschool and does stick to what performs best, and has the predicted best stability. Namely PCI/PCIe. You have to google what people says about your sound card wishes. I’ve read more times, that Steinbergs/yamaha’s soundcard should be great, and again also RME. But I’m sure that other brands also are fine with the right FF chipset & configuration.

Your video card should be fine. Normally I would go with ATI gfx card, as ATI seems to have better control of PDC latency. I’ve had trouble with Nvidia drivers, especially for fast new 3d card. But since your gfx card is of older data, you probably are going to use an older legacy driver for it. Which could be all fine. If you already have the gfx card, then just try it out. You can always use the onboard gfx on you new mobo, if you buy a haswell mobo with DVI output.

Motherboards can be a little picky about the ram brand/type. So lookup the ram list for the mobo you buy, and check what ram it has been tested with. I’ve never had any problems with standard DDR3 Corsair ram in my mobos. But I’ve read about people having trouble with types/brands of ram.


Thank you so much for taking the time to write the response, I really appreciate the info!! :slight_smile:

Just checked my power supply, it’s a BFG…which apparently went out of business a few years back, so probably not Haswell ready! :cry: Is there any way to tell if it is? I may just go with a new one to be safe…what is essential to look for in a power supply for a DAW these days? Obviously quiet, I’m thinking 800 watts? Anything else?

Anybody else have any thoughts? Again, thank you!!

Hmm… the thing with Haswell cpu’s is, that they’re able to use very little power, which can be hard for some PSU’s to deliver with 100% stability. It’s only about 0.05A, after what I’ve read. So it has nothing to do with how high the watt peak performance is, but how fine it delivers the very low power, if it can deliver it. Some PSU’s works fine, and others don’t. You have to try it out, and see if everything runs as it should with no problems. Many PSU brands has approved their PSU’s for Haswell. I know Corsair has.

I’m using Corsair. The HX, AX series is very good, but also on the expensive side. Seasonic is also very good, but again pretty expensive. The build in fan on Corsair AX series and Seasonic’s PSU’s, doesn’t turn until it uses a percentage of it’s watt power. So they will be silent, until you push the watt up over the threshold of the PSU’s. You could check out their sites, and read about it. Cheaper PSU’s will probably also do fine. But I have not much experience with anything else than those brands. I think, that you can buy a PSU that is passive cooled. But don’t ask me about brand, price and watt. You have to google a bit on that :slight_smile:

800 watt is a lot for a “normal” computer. I think it comes down to what cards you’re putting in it. A big modern 3D gfx card will use 200-300 watt at peak performance. And your DSP cards isn’t nearly as hungry for watt. I can’t tell you how much power they use each. But you can probably look the specs up, if you google. The haswell core computer parts (mobo, hdd, dvd drive, cpu, ram…) doesn’t use much power. Probably under 100watt, where the cpu is the most hungry. Check out some power usage testes of the 4770k.


Thank you again…I’ll probably get a new PSU as a precaution…BTW, disregard question 1…just realized that UA dropped support for the UAD-1 several versions ago…DUH, should’ve known that!! :confused: