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Build around an I7 for music production

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Hi all,

I am using a basic MacBook Pro 13 inch early 2015.
For music production, I use Fl Studio 20 and Pro tools, my MacBook has become way too slow, especially when creating a track with multiple instances of Omnisphere for example.

So I want to upgrade to a bigger and better machine, but ran into the same problem as you guys, I don't want a windows PC, but I also don't want to spend 3/4k on a new computer.

With my very limited knowledge about this, I am quite certain an I7 with 16GB of ram will suffice.
Obviously I've read a ton of threads on this website already, but I could not find everything I was looking for.

Do I need a graphics card for music production only?
When looking through the buyers guide I saw the Sapphire Radeon Nitro+ RX 5700 XT 8GB is recommended.
Looking for this graphics card made me realize that they're sold out almost everywhere, and if not they're really expensive. This was also the case with all other recommended graphics cards..

Could someone give me an exact list of components for my build?
I know this might be a stretch, but looking for a build that would fit me, I got kind of lost.
There's a million options for every component. What components would be best for my purpose right now (Feb 2021). Because I am planning to run macOs Big Sur.

Thanks a lot in advance for your advice & suggestions!
 
Joined
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Gigabyte Z370 Gaming 5
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I9 9900k
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Hi all,

I am using a basic MacBook Pro 13 inch early 2015.
For music production, I use Fl Studio 20 and Pro tools, my MacBook has become way too slow, especially when creating a track with multiple instances of Omnisphere for example.

So I want to upgrade to a bigger and better machine, but ran into the same problem as you guys, I don't want a windows PC, but I also don't want to spend 3/4k on a new computer.

With my very limited knowledge about this, I am quite certain an I7 with 16GB of ram will suffice.
Obviously I've read a ton of threads on this website already, but I could not find everything I was looking for.

Do I need a graphics card for music production only?
When looking through the buyers guide I saw the Sapphire Radeon Nitro+ RX 5700 XT 8GB is recommended.
Looking for this graphics card made me realize that they're sold out almost everywhere, and if not they're really expensive. This was also the case with all other recommended graphics cards..

Could someone give me an exact list of components for my build?
I know this might be a stretch, but looking for a build that would fit me, I got kind of lost.
There's a million options for every component. What components would be best for my purpose right now (Feb 2021). Because I am planning to run macOs Big Sur.

Thanks a lot in advance for your advice & suggestions!
It is really hard to give you an exact list, but if you look at the different golden builds you will find all of them are totally capable setups for music production.

The Golden Builds specifically the Designer z390 and the Vision D z490 have lots of users that do music production. You could also consider getting a new M1 Mac, the mini is super cheap, and if you are a student even cheaper.
 
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It is really hard to give you an exact list, but if you look at the different golden builds you will find all of them are totally capable setups for music production.

The Golden Builds specifically the Designer z390 and the Vision D z490 have lots of users that do music production. You could also consider getting a new M1 Mac, the mini is super cheap, and if you are a student even cheaper.
Thanks for your reply! I've looked into it, the mini would be a really great choice, it's just that it isn't upgradable. Which is also one of the reasons for me to build a Hackintosh.

I now have this list, they're almost all components of the buyer's guide.

Only thing missing is a case and a graphics card, haven't found a nice looking case yet. And again I don't know if a graphics card is necessary for my purpose.

Am I missing anything?

Thanks in advance.
 
Joined
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Motherboard
Gigabyte Z370 Gaming 5
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I9 9900k
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  1. Mac mini
  2. Mac Pro
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Thanks for your reply! I've looked into it, the mini would be a really great choice, it's just that it isn't upgradable. Which is also one of the reasons for me to build a Hackintosh.

I now have this list, they're almost all components of the buyer's guide.

Only thing missing is a case and a graphics card, haven't found a nice looking case yet. And again I don't know if a graphics card is necessary for my purpose.

Am I missing anything?

Thanks in advance.

For the price of the new mini and apple trade-in program, it is kind of throw-away upgradeable. I mean the M1 is a few hundred dollars cheaper than its I7 counterpart but is more powerful in every aspect except that the 2018 mac Mini can upgrade its memory.

For music production, you do not need a GPU unless you are going to be doing some music videos or something. if in the future your planning to get a DGPU then you will need a better power supply. I would shoot for 750 but that is just me. I likely only use about 650 of my PSU but I have 1k, which keeps it cooler and keeps the fan from kicking on. For music production you want the least amount of fan noise, that is why I suggest the new M1 Mac Mini as it is super silent.
 
Joined
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GA-Z170X-Designare
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i7 6700k
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Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 570 8G G5
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Hi there,

My build is used exclusively for music productions using Pro Tools and I would recommend a discrete GPU for working in PT. I know my build is a few years old but from my experience PT is surprisingly heavy on the GPU and would not work at all with the iGPU when I tried it in 2017. I am currently putting together a build for a fellow musician and would be very interested to hear if the iGPU-only config does work for Pro Tools now, as I also ran into the issue that AMD GPU's are all sold out atm.. The only one I have found available in Europe, at a reasonable price, is the AMD Radeon Pro WX 4100, but it is still more than I paid for an RX 580 last year so it would be great if the iGPU-only setup works!

I would recommend the Fractal Design Define C case, it is built very well, has isolation for noise-reduction, has better airflow than the newer, more expensive Define 7-series. Just make sure it has all the features you need of course :)
EDIT: I realised that you were looking to get a mini-ITX board so the Define C is a bit over-sized for this. See below post for better recommendation.
 
Last edited:
Joined
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Messages
4
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GA-Z170X-Designare
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i7 6700k
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Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 570 8G G5
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  1. MacBook Pro
Mobile Phone
  1. Android
Couldn't help myself so put together a short list with some comments on parts I would suggest. As I haven't tried this build myself I am not making any promises that it will work flawlessly, however the components are chosen with care and after checking compatibility lists that are available. This list is based on the parts you listed in a previous post, so I tried to keep the budget and specs similar to this. If your budget is more flexible I would also recommend one of the existing Golden Builds like the "Gigabyte Z490 Vision D (Thunderbolt 3) + i5-10400 + AMD RX 580" by CaseySJ.
Hope it helps you a bit :)

Mainboard: Unless you really want a tiny miniITX-computer, I would recommend the Z490-microATX-board. It has more RAM-slots for a future upgrade to 32GB(16GB is really the lowest limit for most audio applications nowadays), it has more PCIE-slots so you can add both a GPU and a supported WiFi-card(if needed) and it can make proper use of the CPU/RAM speeds! Being a music producer also means you may need Thunderbolt at some point and as neither of these boards have it built-in, you would need an extra PCIE-slot for this. Regarding WiFi, the module that comes with the miniITX-board seems to be partially supported nowadays but I wouldn't rely on it yet as the only connection, so if you need WiFi your best bet would still be to get a supported PCIE-card for this.
1. GIGABYTE Z490M Gaming X (microATX)
€149
2. ASUS ROG Strix H470-I Gaming (90MB12U0-M0EAY0) (mini-ITX)
€150

CPU: The i5's nowadays are very powerful and cover the needs for most usecases, so I would recommend it over the i7. The money you save here can be spent on a better CPU-cooler.
1. Intel Core i5-10600K, 6C/12T, 4.10-4.80GHz, tray (CM8070104282134)
€211
2. Intel Core i7-10700, 8C/16T, 2.90-4.80GHz, tray (CM8070104282327)
€282

CPU-cooler: I highly recommend the D-15S for anything audio, it is so quiet that I can record vocals and more right next to the computer, but if your budget is tight I believe the U12S will be sufficient just not as silent and your CPU will most likely run hotter in general. I have not tested the U12S so this is mere speculation..
1. Noctua NH-D15S
€75
2. Noctua NH-U12S
€57

Memory: Both of these kits are officially supported by both mainboards, they are very similar and if you end up choosing the miniITX-mainboard there should be no difference in performance. So go for whichever is cheapest at the time just make sure to get the exact models I listed! I choose these specifically for compatibility with the two mainboards and with the CPU-cooler, some other memories are too high.
1. Kingston HyperX Fury black DIMM kit 16GB, DDR4-3466, CL16-18-18 (HX434C16FB3K2/16)
€88
2. Corsair Vengeance LPX black DIMM kit 16GB, DDR4-3200, CL16-18-18-36 (CMK16GX4M2Z3200C16)
€84

SSD: Both mainboards support M2-drives and they are significantly faster than SATA.
1. Silicon Power P34A80 1TB, M.2 (SP001TBP34A80M28)
€119

Case: If you get the miniITX-board then the Nano S-case should fit all you need. If you get the microATX-board, you will need the mini C-case!
1. Fractal Design Define mini C, noise-insulated (FD-CA-DEF-MINI-C-BK)
€74
2. Fractal Design Define Nano S, noise-insulated, mini-ITX (FD-CA-DEF-NANO-S-BK)
€63

Power supply: This Seasonic is semi-passive so the fan won't make a sound unless it has to. If you end up buying a heavy duty GPU then I would agree with scottkendall that you need a more powerful PSU. I have good experience with the Seasonic ones but they are a bit pricey when it comes to 550W<. There are a few other semi-passive/passive ones out there so just check which one fits your budget, if you want a quiet computer.
1. Seasonic Focus GX 550W ATX 2.4 (FOCUS-GX-550)
€73

USB-stick:
1
. SanDisk extreme Go 64GB, USB-A 3.0 (SDCZ800-064G-G46)
€17

All prices are from sellers who have the parts in stock today (Feb. 19th 2021)
 
Last edited:
Joined
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Couldn't help myself so put together a short list with some comments on parts I would suggest. As I haven't tried this build myself I am not making any promises that it will work flawlessly, however the components are chosen with care and after checking compatibility lists that are available. This list is based on the parts you listed in a previous post, so I tried to keep the budget and specs similar to this. If your budget is more flexible I would also recommend one of the existing Golden Builds like the "Gigabyte Z490 Vision D (Thunderbolt 3) + i5-10400 + AMD RX 580" by CaseySJ.
Hope it helps you a bit :)

Mainboard: Unless you really want a tiny miniITX-computer, I would recommend the Z490-microATX-board. It has more RAM-slots for a future upgrade to 32GB(16GB is really the lowest limit for most audio applications nowadays), it has more PCIE-slots so you can add both a GPU and a supported WiFi-card(if needed) and it can make proper use of the CPU/RAM speeds! Being a music producer also means you may need Thunderbolt at some point and as neither of these boards have it built-in, you would need an extra PCIE-slot for this. Regarding WiFi, the module that comes with the miniITX-board seems to be partially supported nowadays but I wouldn't rely on it yet as the only connection, so if you need WiFi your best bet would still be to get a supported PCIE-card for this.
1. GIGABYTE Z490M Gaming X (microATX)
€149
2. ASUS ROG Strix H470-I Gaming (90MB12U0-M0EAY0) (mini-ITX)
€150

CPU: The i5's nowadays are very powerful and cover the needs for most usecases, so I would recommend it over the i7. The money you save here can be spent on a better CPU-cooler.
1. Intel Core i5-10600K, 6C/12T, 4.10-4.80GHz, tray (CM8070104282134)
€211
2. Intel Core i7-10700, 8C/16T, 2.90-4.80GHz, tray (CM8070104282327)
€282

CPU-cooler: I highly recommend the D-15S for anything audio, it is so quiet that I can record vocals and more right next to the computer, but if your budget is tight I believe the U12S will be sufficient just not as silent and your CPU will most likely run hotter in general. I have not tested the U12S so this is mere speculation..
1. Noctua NH-D15S
€75
2. Noctua NH-U12S
€57

Memory: Both of these kits are officially supported by both mainboards, they are very similar and if you end up choosing the miniITX-mainboard there should be no difference in performance. So go for whichever is cheapest at the time just make sure to get the exact models I listed! I choose these specifically for compatibility with the two mainboards and with the CPU-cooler, some other memories are too high.
1. Kingston HyperX Fury black DIMM kit 16GB, DDR4-3466, CL16-18-18 (HX434C16FB3K2/16)
€88
2. Corsair Vengeance LPX black DIMM kit 16GB, DDR4-3200, CL16-18-18-36 (CMK16GX4M2Z3200C16)
€84

SSD: Both mainboards support M2-drives and they are significantly faster than SATA.
1. Silicon Power P34A80 1TB, M.2 (SP001TBP34A80M28)
€119

Case: If you get the miniITX-board then the Nano S-case should fit all you need. If you get the microATX-board, you will need the mini C-case!
1. Fractal Design Define mini C, noise-insulated (FD-CA-DEF-MINI-C-BK)
€74
2. Fractal Design Define Nano S, noise-insulated, mini-ITX (FD-CA-DEF-NANO-S-BK)
€63

Power supply: This Seasonic is semi-passive so the fan won't make a sound unless it has to. If you end up buying a heavy duty GPU then I would agree with scottkendall that you need a more powerful PSU. I have good experience with the Seasonic ones but they are a bit pricey when it comes to 550W<. There are a few other semi-passive/passive ones out there so just check which one fits your budget, if you want a quiet computer.
1. Seasonic Focus GX 550W ATX 2.4 (FOCUS-GX-550)
€73

USB-stick:
1
. SanDisk extreme Go 64GB, USB-A 3.0 (SDCZ800-064G-G46)
€17

All prices are from sellers who have the parts in stock today (Feb. 19th 2021)
Thank you so much for this list, it's really helpful!
@scottkendall you have a really good point with the Mac mini being a very good (and cheap) option, but I think there's also a little part in me that just really wants to build my own machine.

I am going to look into this list, and will definitely post an update once I make a decision on what I will do!
Thank you guys again!
 
Joined
Jul 24, 2020
Messages
4
Motherboard
GA-Z170X-Designare
CPU
i7 6700k
Graphics
Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 570 8G G5
Mac
  1. MacBook Pro
Mobile Phone
  1. Android
Thank you so much for this list, it's really helpful!
@scottkendall you have a really good point with the Mac mini being a very good (and cheap) option, but I think there's also a little part in me that just really wants to build my own machine.

I am going to look into this list, and will definitely post an update once I make a decision on what I will do!
Thank you guys again!
Make sure to check that the CPU-cooler fits the case, could be a very tight fit with the Nano S-case and D15S-cooler..
Good luck!
 
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Make sure to check that the CPU-cooler fits the case, could be a very tight fit with the Nano S-case and D15S-cooler..
Good luck!
Right now my shopping cart is looking like this.


Gigabyte Z490M GAMING X
€145,45

Intel Core i5 10600K
€220,00

Corsair DDR4 Vengeance LPX 2x8GB 3200
€95,05

Fractal Design Define Mini C TG Micro ATX
€84,90

be quiet! System Power 9 500W PSU
€51,99

Intel 665P 1TB M.2 SSD
€99,00

Noctua NH-D15S
€75,05

So I did go with the microATX board just because of any possible future upgrades.
I won't need a Wifi-card (yet) because I have very easy acces to an ethernet cable.
As you can see I almost exactly copied your list except for the SSD, I chose for the Intel one just because it's on sale right now, and the PSU, The 'be quiet!' PSU has great reviews and is quite a bit cheaper than the Seasonic. Because I have an external HDD drive I don't need the USB-stick (right?)

I think I'm ready to order the parts. Just posting to make sure that all these parts are compatible, and I did not mess anything up..

And also one more question, does anyone have suggestions for a keyboard and mouse? Either wired or with a Usb receiver, especially looking for something very simplistic and good looking. All I know is that Logitech makes some keyboards that are compatible with MacOS.
 
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