Editor's Note: Building Dream Machines, Studio PC and Media Server
Dec 05, 2009, 00:01 (12 Talkback[s])
by Carla Schroder
My fun winter projects are building two new computers: a
high-powered studio PC for music production and digital photo
editing and management, and a music and movie server.
The studio PC should be easy. I can re-use some of my existing
components. I want an Antec Sonata case for quiet and good cooling.
I think I want an Intel Core 2 Duo CPU and a boatload of memory. My
geekchums are pushing quad-core, but what for? As far as I can tell
none of the software I use takes advantage of those extra cores. If
they were offering to buy it for me I would give it a try, but even
then maybe not. Some articles I've read show worse performance
under some circumstances with quad-core.
I like a full-sized ATX motherboard to get extra PCI-e slots and
have more room for air circulation. My ATI-based video card is fat
with fan, so having extra space for it is good. It is
well-supported under Linux and does good 3D with native open-source
On my wish list is a higher-end monitor that I can profile for
accurate colors, something like the Samsung F2380 which I have
heard good things about. It goes for around $300, which doesn't
seem too bad. I'm also coveting a wide format color printer. But
first I need to test third-party inks because no way do I pay full
freight for ridiculously overpriced vendor inks. If truth in
advertising were enforced all the big brand-name inkjet cartridges
would be called "GREED".
Finally, it may be time to upgrade to a newer Wacom tablet. I
have one that is so old I don't remember where it came from, or
Linux has a number of great media servers, and this will be new
territory for me because I haven't paid much attention to the
small, quiet form-factor boxes people like to use for these. XMBC,
GeexBox, and Elisa all look interesting. I have dreams of stuffing
a big hard drive full of music in nice high-quality FLAC format,
and movies galore at my fingertips.
The next question is do I want to network the whole house and
try to pipe music and movies everywhere? Funny how these little
projects always want to grow.
And then comes the problem of backups. It may be time to break down
and build a central fileserver, one with RAID and gigantical hard
drives. Software RAID? A hardware RAID controller? And where do I
park the beast. So many questions.
We've come a long way from the era of finicky vinyl LP care and
feeding, cruddy videotapes, and rooms full of giant expensive
equipment for creating audio and video. It is amazing what can be
done on a PC-- I like this digital multimedia era a lot. What goes
into your dream PC, media server, or central file/backup