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Beast Mode - Live Event / Video Production Machine - Buying Advice

Joined
Oct 10, 2010
Messages
7
Motherboard
<< need manufacturer and model # >> See Forum Rules !!
CPU
i7 3770
Graphics
GTX 580
Mac
  1. Mac Pro
Hi everyone, I’m researching parts for a new rig and could use some guidance. As the title suggests, this machine will be a workhorse used in a production environment as a mobile workstation and as a live event multimedia server. It will need to be a rock solid 100% functional build, and from a mechanical standpoint, it will also need to be able to handle the bumps of daily moves as well as extreme weather. It may very well end up spending nights and weekends on a truck year round.

The build must be Intel based with either 64 or 128 GB RAM and NVMe M.2 SSD for the OS. I already have Sapphire RX 580 Pulse 8GB

In addition to the usual stuff, this machine will need:
  • Video I/O Board: Blackmagic DeckLink Quad 2
  • Audio I/O Board: Lynx E22**
  • 16TB+ internal RAID: 4x 4TB ...HDD?
  • 4TB+ Backup Storage for proxies: Can be 1 drive or another RAID
  • 6TB+ Scratch Disk: Can also be 1 drive or another RAID
  • 5.25" SSD Hot Swap Bay: Kinda like this one
  • Thunderbolt 3: At least 2 ports, must be able to hotplug
  • 2 RJ45 Ethernet Connectors (with at least one being 2.5Gb)
  • WiFi 6
  • Bluetooth
  • A Badass Name
**Special Note on the Audio Board: This one is not strictly necessary but I'd really like to make it work. I'm looking to replace an external Scarlet 2i2 with an internal PCIe card. The Lynx E22 is the closest thing I've found that has core audio driver (which is a must). It doesn't have a preamp, which is a bummer, but I can work with that. If anyone knows of another card that is a better fit than the E22 I'm all ears!

Would also like to cram in:
  • Something to replace Netgear PoE Switch if possible
    • Need a minimum of 4 PoE Ports, up to 25W from each port
  • And maybe in the future, a 2nd Video I/O Board (another DeckLink Quad 2)

So, I'm thinking this is impossible to stuff into z490 mobo, right? One thing I need help with is determining how many PCIe Lanes I'll need to have available to me. I know graphics card is 16, video board is 8, M.2 is 4, so that's 28 right off the top. I don't know how much the rest will require.

I know I can get up to 48 from Cascade Lake-X. I've stumbled on some incredibly helpful posts on X299 by @kylec , who also referred me to @kgp 's posts. It looks promising and I'm leaning towards X299 currently. I'm also starting to look into C422 at the suggestion of @etorix . (Thanks both for your suggestions!)

Right now I don't know what I don't know and any help is much appreciated. I welcome any advice and ideas anyone would like to share. What do you think? Is this build possible? Is X299/C422 the best move for a fully functional build? Is this more trouble than it's worth? If it turns out to be a feasible project I'd love to see this become a golden build. Let's make a beast machine!
 
Joined
Oct 4, 2018
Messages
791
Motherboard
Gigabyte C246-WU4
CPU
E-2278G
Graphics
WX7100
Mac
  1. MacBook Pro
  2. Mac mini
PCIe count is easy.
GPU is x16… but may work with x8, and only the most demanding workloads, with heavy textures or the like, would feel the difference—it might be the case for you.
Your Video I/O is x8. I assume it needs it, so it has to be on the CPU.
Audio I/O is x1; this count typically comes from the PCH and doesn't count toward the CPU.
Each M.2 or U.2 would ideally be x4.
Thunderbolt is x4, from PCH.
An additional NIC would be x4, for one 10 GbE port, or x8 for more 10 GbE ports. I don't know if there are card which do provide PoE; 4*25W would go beyond what a PCIe port provides and I've never seen an Ethernet card with a power connector.
A SAS HBA or RAID controller would add x4 to x8 if there are not enough SATA ports, or you want to run a scratch array from the CPU to avoid the bottleneck of the DMI link to the PCH.

You can do it, just, on Z490 with the CPU bifurcated x8/x8, SATA ports and the rest on the PCH. Z590 would offer an extra x4 for storage on the CPU but Thunderbolt support is more limited.

For more functionality, including options for a second video I/O and/or HBA, X299 is the way to go—or C422 with the additional benefit of hoting much more RAM.
 
Joined
Mar 29, 2011
Messages
852
Motherboard
ASRock X99 Extreme6
CPU
E5-2690 v4
Graphics
Radeon VII
Chipset, aka PCH, Thunderbolt is acceptable on Z490, but note that the Thunderbolt hotplug implementation that's now available for X299 assumes it is CPU Thunderbolt.

In my opinion, the additional DMI bandwidth of Z590 finally makes it possible to design as @etorix suggests, and avoid HEDT, while still installing a lot of peripherals. But it's a minus, on the simplicity of hackintoshing front, which is summarized here. Using Z490 for a new high-end system doesn't seem right.

C422 is something that I've noticed a number of the most advanced users here are putting to good use, but I think it's a little harder to pull off.
 
Joined
Oct 4, 2018
Messages
791
Motherboard
Gigabyte C246-WU4
CPU
E-2278G
Graphics
WX7100
Mac
  1. MacBook Pro
  2. Mac mini
I've forgotten x1 PCIe for a Fenvi WiFi/BT card, as that's on the build list on top of 2*Ethernet. Consumer platforms may have that as a M.2 card (wired, but not taking up the space of a PCIe slot); HEDT would add that as PCIe AIC.

Which possibly makes up for a lot of cards: GPU, Video, Audio, TB, WiFi (4), possibly NIC, HBA/RAID, Video#2 (up to 7!). The number and disposition of slots will matter a lot, and it would be best to either use a 1-slot GPU (Radeon PRO WX7100, W5500) or deport the 2-slot RX580 vertically, as is possible in Fractal Design Define 7 or Nanoxia Deep Silence 8 Pro cases (and certainly many others).
If many hard drives are used, then the Nanoxia would be a better choice because it comes with tool-less trays whereas the holder plates of the Define, and their screws, are a bit of a PITA. (But I'm not sure that either case is ready for rough handling and a life on the road, issues being the side panel of the Define and the plastic front of the Nanoxia.)

An additional complication of C422 is that, while there are 4 memory channels, DDR4-2999 is only supported at 1 DIMM per channel, 2 DPC drops to 2666 MHz. I suppose the same applies to X299. If memory bandwidth is of relevance, this is a consideration…

Thunderbolt can presumably always be added with an AIC (Gigabyte Titan Ridge are preferred even on Asus MBs), but with "official" support through a 5-pin header drops the list of C422 boards to just two:

Asus WS C422 Pro/SE @obus has one, which he runs with two Gigabyte Titan Ridge, and there is a long support thread for it (and other C422 boards) in another forum, so it would be a well-supported build. The PCIe distribution, at x16/x16/x16 or x16/x16/x8/x8 plus 4 from PCH (plus 1 M.2 and either M.2 or U.2 from PCH) could be limiting.

Then, there is "the nuclear option", Asus WS C422 SAGE/10G: 7 PCIe slots, in any configuration from x16/x16 to x16/6*x8 thanks to 2 PLX multiplexers plus 1*M.2 and 2*U.2 on the CPU for fast storage (one data centre U.2 SSD, or two in software RAID0, would make for a seriously fast scratch drive—if money is no objection)
Block diagram, as found on page A-1 of the manual:
1635511493572.png
CEB size and expensive (neither the PLX chips nor the onboard 10 GbE NIC come cheap) but it makes the most of the platform. A quick search here has not located a successful build, but @ramazarusx has a Catalina build with the corresponding X299 board in his signature, so the C422 can certainly be done.

I leave the X299 side of things to those who know better—although the two C422 boards above have a counterpart in the Asus X299 line-up.
 

Ellybz

Retired
Joined
Apr 16, 2017
Messages
418
Motherboard
Gigabyte X299 WU-8
CPU
I9-7980Xe
Graphics
RX 580
Mobile Phone
  1. Android
Have you considered the RME HDSPE AIO as PCIe audio card? ( Core audio )
I've been using it for the last few years & love it. Most of the projects I run have an average of 150 tracks.
I use it with Pro Tools ( 2021.10 ); Cubase, Kontakt, ( Sometimes together )and many other audio apps.
It is Rock solid, even with OS Monterrey. Link Width is x1. However word Clock is an optional card if needed.
The Lynx E22/E44 are equally good.

Screen Shot 2021-11-06 at 00.01.07.png
 
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