Hi all, new PC builder coming from Mac here. Ex-computer-retail guy (ages ago) and not unfamiliar with building regular PCs, but need some advice for a higher-end Windows workstation build that approximates the new Mac Pro.
Inspired by LTT’s ‘Fake Mac Pro’ build but more specifically, the EPYC / Gigabyte build that Wendell reviewed in his ‘Threadripper Lite 24 Core Epyc’ video.
Please note, I’m NOT looking for advice or recommendations to use Ryzen / TR. There are architectural limitations to that platform, and a lack of mobo hardware that meets my needs. I need all the bandwidth and all the memory and more slots than usual.
My use case is to run a DAW for audio editing / mastering, and also for MIDI composition, with the desire to run very large orchestral sample libraries like the Vienna Symphonic Library (VSL).
When I say they’re large, let’s say that the brass section alone takes up 36GB, and instruments that include alternate articulations (i.e. variations on how it’s played, many different volume responses, etc) can be bigger. So having lots of throughput in terms of PCIe lanes and memory channels is important here.
The other limitation is PCIe expansion. In addition to a video card, USB 3.2 cards and M.2 SSD carrier cards, I’d like to have at least 1-2 slots free for Universal Audio UAD-2 DSP cards for audio effect processing, presuming they are compatible with EPYC / the Gigabyte motherboard.
I will be building this in a Dune Pro case.
Current parts list:
- Gigabyte MZ32-AR0 motherboard with 7302p / 7402p CPU
- WX4100 video card (already have one) for multimonitor use, need it to be a single-slot GPU that can handle 4x UHD monitors, no need for 3D anything
- Sonnet Allegro USB 3.1 Gen 2 4-port card
- Silverstone ECU02 internal USB 3.1 Gen 2 header card (for case ports)
- When available: PCIe 4.0 4x M.2 carrier card
- 64GB ECC DDR4 / 2933 (Nemix kit from Newegg) to start
- 2x Samsung 970 M.2 x4 SSDs, 512GB
- Maybe: TP-link USB wifi adapter
- Corsair HX1200 power supply
- Noctua NH-U9 cooler/fan for SP3 (fits within this case)
- be quiet! Silent Wings 3x 120mm PWM front, 2x 80mm PWM rear
- heat sinks for M.2s
What I’d like to know, from people with EPYC experience:
- Are there any particular steps in building the system shown in that Level1Techs video that a new builder would have to know about? Presuming that I’m installing Windows for Workstations from a bootable USB drive.
- Anecdotally, I’ve seen reports that EPYCs run relatively cool for most tasks, most of the time. Do I need a liquid cooler as shown, or can I get away with a Noctua SP3 fan + 5x be quiet! case fans?) Trying to get it as quiet as I can for normal use.
- How do you modify the fan curve in the BIOS? The manual doesn’t really say anything except describe a ‘fan control table’ on a subscreen.
- For that particular motherboard (Gigabyte MZ32-AR0) it’s a little unclear how to hook up the case power button - there’s a multi-pin ‘Front Panel Header’. The Dune Case has a single power button, and a small daughterboard for the 2x USB 3.2 plugs, which I presume I’ll hook up to the Silverstone card.
- As it’s a server motherboard, it has one of those OCP mezzanine slots. Can I leave that empty? It’s very hard to get information on what kinds of OCP cards are available for it - I’d rather add USB 3.2 ports than more network ports.
From people with DAW experience:
- Should I even be considering EPYC for this, or are there too many compatibility issues? Reports seem conflicting. Xeon doesn’t have the same number of PCIe lanes, PCIe 4.0 compatibility (yet), and is more expensive, but is it a “safer” choice for stability?
- Are there any DAW choices which make better use of multi-core CPUs? Considering Live 10 now but open to Waveform, Reaper, etc. I have Waves Gold, Arturia V6 & many other softsynths, but nothing particularly CPU intensive like Diva… so anything that can handle those gracefully is a plus.
thanks in advance everyone!!