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Are there any computer hardware nerds here among the audiophiles?


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Anybody here interested in actual computer hardware besides just using it for audio output?

 

I don't have any audiophile computers but I do have a few machines here that I've built.

 

My hardware:

 

main system:

i7 2600K, Maximus IV extreme (P67 B3), 2X4GB G skill Ripjaws 1600 C8, 120GB Intel 510 SSD, 150GB WD Velociraptor 10K RPM

GTX980 Windforce G1, Corsair 500R, Noctua NHD14

 

HTPC:

Pentium 20th Anniversary G3258, ASRock Z97 Anniversary (Z97), 2X2GB G Skill Ripjaws 1600 C9, 120GB Samsung 840 EVO, 1TB WD Caviar Blue 7200RPM, Antec P100, Arctic Freezer 7 Pro

 

Bedroom PC:

AMD Athlon 5150 SOC, ASRock AM1B-ITX (AM1 FS1B), 1X4GB Corsair Vengeance 1600 C9, 120GB Corsair Force LS, 250GB WD Caviar 7200RPM (circa 2008), Silverstone PS08B, stock cooler

 

My favorite machine that I have is the HTPC. I've been impressed by that CPU and motherboard considering their low cost. It's great that Intel is selling an unlocked chip in such a low price bracket. I hope they'll release unlocked chips for all segments some day, not just i5/i7. I'd like to see unlocked Atom/Celeron/Pentium/i3/i5/i7/i7EX. The only problem with doing that on low end chips is making sure that people buy boards with sufficiently robust voltage delivery sections to support the chips overvolted.

 

I'm a member of several computer forums and my main area of knowledge is hardware because that's what interests me. If anybody has any questions about building a PC (don't ask me about building a PC for max audio quality because I don't know enough about that to help you) let me know.

 

What machines do you guys have? Did you build them yourselves? What got you interested in computer hardware?

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Oh yeah.... but like you, audio isn't central to a lot of things. :)

 

I love mainframes, and have both a P390 and an IBM Laptop with zOS on it. I run zLinux in emulation and with z/VM on some fairly hefty iron at work too. :)

 

Hanging around here are Itanium CPUs running HP/IX, Open VMS, and Linux, as well as an antiquated but much loved HP3000. In emulation, a lot more stuff of course.

 

For personal computers, a slew of old PCs hanging around, most of which are prebuilt buggers, going back a while. I mean, the 486 isn't used any longer, but I suspect it would power up and labor through checking that 1mb of RAM in there. The old Fat Mac with 512K powers right up and runs. (grin) Not too sure about the old AT&T 3B2, the PDP-8, or some of the other more esoteric gear. NS3200 coprocessor card anyone? The iSeries 820 in my closest is still a very nice database machine, and very easy to use. It also "just works."

 

I tend to use Macs for personal or portable work these days. Not because they are "better" than Windows PC, but because not only is trivial to run Windows on them, but they are Unix based and so very familiar to me. They also seem to be rugged, standardized, and mostly "just work." A few Mac Minis around in various configurations, mostly i5 or i7, but also a few Power4 machines to support some really old software. I use a MacBook Pro with a 2.9ghz i7 in it for most things, as the rMPB has been - errr - "confiscated." I am considering either buying a new 15" MBP, a 27" Retina iMac, or some combination. I find I need a touch screen monitor for some projects, so that is a bit "up in the air" at the moment.

 

For personal computers used in our living area and not stashed away in office space or office closets, quietness is a very big thing. This is driving me to all flash drives at this point, and to light, power efficient machines. Gads - I broke out an only PowerBook Titanium the other day to retrieve some ancient source code, and that sucker was *heavy*. Maybe I am just getting old, but whew!

 

As you might have guessed, I am more of a software and networking guy than a hardware guy. To me, the hardware is just what I need to run the software, or write the software, or gloat over the software, whatever the case may be. But I do love the hardware, yes indeed I do. If I had the space, I know just where an old IBM z800 and ESS800 Shark would go, even though it would take a mortgage payment per month in electricity to run 'em. :)

 

-Paul

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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Wow Paul, you have some amazing hardware. Especially for a guy who says he's "Not a hardware guy" :). Color me impressed.

I think I might build a cheap secondary system exclusively for audio playback. Doesn't seem like it's too expensive to do (outside of the linear PSU). It looks like fanless, GPUless, Hard driveless is the way to go.

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Wow Paul, you have some amazing hardware. Especially for a guy who says he's "Not a hardware guy" :). Color me impressed.

I think I might build a cheap secondary system exclusively for audio playback. Doesn't seem like it's too expensive to do (outside of the linear PSU). It looks like fanless, GPUless, Hard driveless is the way to go.

 

Might want to consider putting a GPU in the mix. Not only can iTunes and JRMC manage & play your video library for you, but MacOS and (I think) Windows can also steal cycles from the GPU to do useful things.

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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Might want to consider putting a GPU in the mix. Not only can iTunes and JRMC manage & play your video library for you, but MacOS and (I think) Windows can also steal cycles from the GPU to do useful things.

 

Why would I need a GPU? I don't do anything that I would want to steal cycles from a GPU for. As far as playing back video with hardware acceleration, the igpu on-die in my G3258 handles that swimmingly. Also, a GPU adds noise that can be heard (sometimes) in the audio output (or so I gather). And it adds cost. An HTPC is supposed to be a relatively affordable thing.

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Why would I need a GPU? I don't do anything that I would want to steal cycles from a GPU for. As far as playing back video with hardware acceleration, the igpu on-die in my G3258 handles that swimmingly. Also, a GPU adds noise that can be heard (sometimes) in the audio output (or so I gather). And it adds cost. An HTPC is supposed to be a relatively affordable thing.

 

You probably know more about that that I do, but a GPU lets you use a much lower power system to achieve great results, and at least in some cases, let's you 'borrow" processing power if and when you need it.

 

I am not sure "supposed to be relatively affordable" is precisely true. People do "cheap out" so on computers, grimacing when asked to spend $1K on hardware. Seems to be the total antithesis of the audiophile crowd.

 

I am not innocent of that behavior myself. :)

 

-Paul

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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To note, I have been building computers for 15 years (since I was 15, actually!), and used to be heavy into the overclocking/gaming community... I currently have a system that is the original core i7-920 (LGA 1336) at 4gHZ water-cooled, and it is used in the 'hackintosh' environment for audio work (Logic/Izotope RX for cleaning vinyl up for people and my own label)...

 

I recently started having some weird noise issues where I could hear the processor thinking through my Focusrite firewire setup, and after hours and hours of troubleshooting various power supplies, conditioners, and Isolators, it ended up being an issue of power-sharing between the GPU card I had in there and the PCI firewire card. I couldn't get rid of my graphics card because I use it to unload Adobe video stuff as well as gaming in a Windows environment, so I just put one of my older cpus in a rack above it and run the Focusrite through that, copying the files over for editing after the fact. Something to keep in mind in regards to adding a discrete GPU to a new build.

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