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PC recommendations please

Buying or building computers for Hauptwerk, recommendations, troubleshooting computer hardware issues.
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eddie_ce

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PC recommendations please

PostWed Nov 11, 2020 11:16 am

In 2010 I built my present PC using an i7 and 24GB RAM, the maximum my Gigabyte MB GA58 will support, running HW4 advanced.

I have bought the HW V advanced upgrade and would like to run the SP Rotterdam sample set wet with surround and have been told that my present setup is not really sufficient. So it looks as if the time for an upgrade is here.

I am not very computer savvy and find it hard to keep up with current developments.

On an electronics forum I was told to go for AMD Ryzen but reading here I gather for HW Intel is recommended.

Would somebody be kind enough to recommend a suitable processor, with compatible MB for initially 64GB RAM with the option of upgrading to 128GB at a later stage.

My budget is limited, but I would rather invest in a reasonably future proof setup than have to start again in a couple of years time.

Many thanks for taking the time to reply.
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bobhehmann

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Re: PC recommendations please

PostThu Nov 12, 2020 3:18 am

I built my first new Windows PC in many a year around January of 2020. I'd intentionally avoided AMD for 20 years, and was on a default path to an Intel, probably a 9900K back then. HW was one of my two primary use cases, video editing/rendering the other. It would also be my primary PC for all general-purpose use. I changed over to AMD/Ryzen, which was getting great reviews in the press at that time. I acquired an R9-3900X, a 12 core/24 thread consumer processor. Like you, I started with 64GB, wanting an option to expand to 128GB RAM in the mid-range future.

I've been totally pleased with the build - never an audio glitch. I don't do any of those "latency tweaks" we read about - I am full-time on a high-speed Internet connection, running real-time AV, real-time cloud-based file backup, and the full-house Windows 10Pro stack. I've not turned off any background processes, have not mucked with Windows Pre-fetch, nor any of the other historical audio glitch-avoidance hacks. Using the polyphony test-organ, I'm at about 50% cpu with 30,500 pipes "sounding" simultaneously - the most the test can muster on one keyboard. I normally run Folding-at-Home full time (24x7) on my CPU and GPU, and still have no problems/glitches playing mid-sized organs at the same time..

The 3900x didn't need any special cooling - the cooling fan/heat-sink supplied by AMD in-box worked fine. I got an X570 MOBO for its extensibility over the next few gens of processors. 2x32GB DDR4 3200 memory, leaving 2 open slots for that eventual expansion to 128GB. 1TB M.2-NVME SSD for my primary storage, and an older 1TB SATA SSD and two large HDDs I scrapped off an older PC (I use the mid-performance SSD for secondary data, a 4TB HDD for bulk/archival storage, and a 6TB HDD for internal backup.) GPU is an NVIDIA 2070 Super, chosen for its video processing capability. (All this makes a nice gaming box also, but that's not my main use.) Onboard wireless LAN on the MOBO is superb, I get a reliable 300+ Mbps wireless Internet across my house from my router/access point. Video card and disks are overkill for a purely HW machine, though I'd definitely recommend a 1TB class M.2NVME SSD as your primary/boot drive. I just test loaded Schyven-Laeken (12GB cached) in 12 seconds, Anloo Magnuskirk in 6 seconds - with the machine utilization already at 100% in the background due to Folding-at-Home.

I think AMD has started to drop the included cooling tower in the CPUs that came after mine - but the point is you don't seem to need exotic/expensive high-end cooling solutions for these CPUs. If you need to buy a fan, check out the Scythe-Fuma2 - great performance and very quiet at less cost than the better-known brands. To save money, you can go with a less costly MOBO than the X570 series, though watch out for compatibility with newer processors. Building an AMD today, I'd seriously look at B550 MOBO's, which seem to run about 2/3 the cost of the nominally equivalent X570s, and are compatible with the latest generation processors. From my generation 3xxx processors, I'm confident the R7-3800X could handle anything HW, and the R5-3600X almost anything - but that is just extrapolation from my experiences with the R9-3900X.

Summary - I've been enormously pleased with the performance of my AMD R9 setup, with absolutely no problems relating to HW5, Audio, and any software compatibility of anything - super performance, no glitches, no crashes, no hassles at all. Hope this helps!
Cheers, Bob
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eddie_ce

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Re: PC recommendations please

PostThu Nov 12, 2020 7:21 am

Bob,
many thanks for your reply. A local PC seller has an online configurator and I have entered the following components:

AMD Ryzen 9 3900 12core 3.1 GHz
TUF X570 Motherboard
64GB Corsair Vengeance DDR4 3000MHz (2x32GB)
1 GB NVidia Geforce GT-710 as I believe HW doesn't put any extreme demands on the Graphics card???
Audio - MB has onboard, but I will be using a Focusrite 18i20 so onboard audio is irrelevant for HW???

Before I go ahead and order I would be grateful for your, and any other comments as I would not like to spend so much money again in the near future.

Eddie
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mdyde

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Re: PC recommendations please

PostThu Nov 12, 2020 7:43 am

Hello Eddie,

eddie_ce wrote:as I believe HW doesn't put any extreme demands on the Graphics card???


Correct.

eddie_ce wrote:MB has onboard, but I will be using a Focusrite 18i20 so onboard audio is irrelevant for HW???


Also correct,
Best regards, Martin.
Hauptwerk software designer/developer, Milan Digital Audio.
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bobhehmann

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Re: PC recommendations please

PostThu Nov 12, 2020 4:51 pm

Couple of thoughts:

1) That looks like a rather oldish CPU. 3900 was supplanted by 3900X mid 2019 (that's my chip), then by the 3900XT mid 2020, and the 5900 about now. The original uses less power than the X/XTs, and is clocked about 20% slower. Can't imagine you'd see a problem with HW, but it is slower enough to be noticeable for some uses. Very little difference between the X/XT models for the 3900 series, except that with the 3900XT, AMD no longer includes the CPU cooler, so add $50USD to buy that part. The 3900/3900X (and their R5/R7 equivalents) all include CPU coolers in the box. Intel does not include coolers with their CPUs.

HW seems to do a great job multi-tasking to the multiple cores and making effective use of the processor. My guess is the slower clock (3.1 vs 3.8+) would affect latency, while core-count would more directly affect max polyphony. You may want to consider a 3800XT - is has 8/16 cores, but clocks at 3.8. When I ran on slower PCs, I ran into latency issues/glitches far more often than polyphony limits. However, all these modern chips are way beyond what we had a few years back.

The AMD supplied cooling fans are fairly small, and should fit in most cases. However, if you ever go with an add-on cooler, be sure to check the cooler's size against clearance inside your case - some of those add-ons are huge! The default coolers can be noticeable - they tend to shift in and out of high RPMs quite constantly, and you will likely hear it in a quiet room. The constant RPM shift seems to call attention to their noise, above and beyond their objective dB level. Add-on fans can be near silent for all practical purposes.

2) Memory is fine for that CPU, in its sweet spot. I'm using the same brand (just 3200 speed) in my build, no probs at all. When you first build the machine, you'll have to engage what is most commonly called "XMP" in the BIOS to get the full rated memory clock speed. All DDR4 memory is technically rated at 2600MHz - anything faster is officially an overclock, and is not enabled by default. When you buy 3000/3200/3600... DDR4, the manufacturer is supplying chips it has certified as reliable at those overclock speeds. Each chip has a profile onboard of reliable timings/settings to achieve the rated overclock: enabling "XMP" (sometimes called something else by the MOBO manufacturer) causes the BIOS to read those settings off the memory stick and configure accordingly. But on first boot, until you change it, the MOBO will correctly report you as running at 2600MHz.

When you expand memory in the future, it is best to add the exact same memory part number. While different chips would usually work in the old slow days, with the narrow tolerances at modern speeds, there is a significant possibility memory mixing would cause mysterious faults and crashes.

3) In the TUF lineup, here in the USA there seems to be little price difference between the X570 and B550 series - so I'd take an otherwise equivalent X570 if buying TUF. For my manufacturer (AORUS), the cost difference is far greater. For HW use, can't imagine you'd see a difference. Both MOBO chipsets are compatible with AMD past (3000 series), present (5000 series) and likely one or more future gens of chips. There are other chipsets that cost far less than X570/B550s, and will work with 3000 series processors, but they are at their end of life, and are not/will not be compatible with the current-day 5000 CPUs and successors - for that, you need a B550 or X570 MOBO. For the last 5 years, AMD has been far better than Intel in keeping socket/chip compatibility across many levels and many generations of processors.

4) Before powering up your Scarlett (while connected to the PC) for the first time, be sure to first download and install their software driver "Focusrite Control", which includes their ASIO driver and basic device management software. Once that's installed, your PC will load the correct drivers when you first power-up the connected Scarlett. I'm running a Focusrite Clarett equivalent to your Scarlett (these are functionally almost identical), with the ASIO driver set to 1 buffer / 256 bytes (latency is about 3-6 msec), with no glitches. Default out of the box, the Focusrite will mix-down the first 3 stereo-channel output pairs (channels 1-6) and present the mix to both stereo pairs 7/8 and 9/10 on the back (as discrete Left/Right), and to the two front-panel headphone stereo jacks. So you could use one mix-down pair for headphones, and route the other to a sub-woofer, reserving the other 3 pairs to drive speakers. When you want, you can use the Focusrite Control to change that default mapping, and gain discrete access to those final four channels, useful if you plan on using more than 3 stereo-pairs of speakers.

5) You'll be fine for video - HW makes no serious demands there. My card is for video editing and AI work, and has no utility for HW. Do consider your eventual plans for multiple monitors, for example if you want to emulate stop-jams with touch-screens. Just make sure you would likely have an acceptable way to get there, if that's in your future plans. I wouldn't overbuy now - video cards sufficient for HW are relatively inexpensive, and price/performance can improve greatly over time. If you grow to multiple monitors, you may find it best to buy or upgrade to a single multi-monitor capable video card, conserving the limited expansion slots on the MOBO. These CPU chips don't handle video directly, so on-board video on the MOBO will be disabled - only your PCI video card(s) will drive a monitor(s).

6) I do notice a rather wide price discrepancy for the same parts here in the USA, and supply-chain disturbances don't help! When I bought, I found I could get significant savings splitting my purchases between two mainstream online-vendors. However, I researched about 6 vendor options for each part - after vendors 1&2 on my list, there were no further significant savings to be had.

Have fun, and I'd love to see a post about what you purchase and how it works out!
Cheers, Bob
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eddie_ce

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Re: PC recommendations please

PostFri Nov 13, 2020 3:06 am

Bob,
wow! What can I say other than thank you so much for this very detailed reply. Very kind of you.

It has given me much to think about. I will spend the weekend checking out the various points made in your post. I will keep you informed about how things go.

One thing i didn't specifically mention is that I am tempted to go for a ready made PC, ie specifiying what I require and have the supplier build it. The reason for this is I built my current machine myself and had trouble fitting the processor. At first the PC wouldn't boot and I spent many frustrating hours faultfinding. In the end I took the processor out, checked the pins and reinserted it. Since then it has been fine. I really thought I had damaged the processor which would have been an expensive mistake to make.

Thanks also for the information regarding the installation of the Focusrite.
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bobhehmann

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Re: PC recommendations please

PostFri Nov 13, 2020 4:50 pm

I do tend towards the long-winded - it is my second retirement hobby after music... :? My perspective assumes a general-use PC, one of those uses being Hauptwerk. If your target PC is solely dedicated to HW, different optimizations might be called for.

Totally understand. I can say for the modern AMD CPU, chip insertion is extremely easy, using a ZIF (Zero-Insertion Force) socket: flip up the lever, drop the processor in (no force beyond gravity), flip the lever down to secure. Don't over-use your thermal paste, just a pea-sized dab. When I formally tested thermal solutions, I was repeatedly pulling my cooling tower, removing the CPU, cleaning off old paste, reinstalling the CPU, applying new thermal paste, reinstalling the cooler - <5 minutes per cycle, mostly spent cleaning off the old thermal paste.

I think there are a few reasons for home-building, none universal: some find it fun/educational; more control over parts, possibly saves some money, but often not as much as one would think. A pre-built will generally have a system-level warranty, also possible for a custom job. If you build, parts will be under warranty, but not your build. There are now many YouTube videos demonstrating build techniques - I found those helpful, as I hadn't home-built in 20 years until this last machine. Had my college age son do 90% of the work, it took us about 2 hours from parts sorted on the table to booting Windows - and that was a fairly complex build... If you are getting a custom job, you should be able to get the quality parts matching your needs, and the builder may be able to make recommendations - but be careful, they may just be touting what they have (think waiter's recommendations at a restaurant...). I would do my own research before committing to a builder's suggestion(s), but I would definitely listen.

For non-custom commercial builds, OEMs often save money on Power Supplies and MOBOs. PSUs will often be rated for just enough power to support the initial config (little headroom for expansion), and are often a bit on the cheap side. Over the years, most PCs in my family have been non-custom, off-the-shelf pre-builts purchased from big-name retailers: every eventual failure of those units had a PSU connection. One pro-tip on selecting a PSU: add up your total everything-running power draw, and double it to roughly determine your ideal PSU power-rating. PSUs draw power based on current need, not on their "rated max". Their designs tend to be most efficient in terms of least power/heat waste at around 40-60% of their rated max. So an over-provisioned PSU, all things equal, should draw less power, emit less heat, and run quieter. Marketing terms like "Bronze/Silver/Gold/Platinum" represent actual industry average-efficiency standards in increasing order. In my region, "Gold" is the sweet spot in price/performance. Many good PSUs can/will run under normal load without spinning their fans (quiet!), and will generally advertise that capability.

Last tip - if purchasing a Windows license yourself, be aware that many (most?) online sellers listing at a large discount from Microsoft's retail list price are at least a bit on the shady side. Many of those licenses are "real" (not hacked), but not necessarily what they advertise - they may be keyed to old activation codes for defunct versions of the OS, and you may find that while you can activate them successfully once, they may not be allowed to activate on a successor PC, or under a MOBO swap-out on the same PC. Some of them are quite intentionally fraudulent, using old keys (say Windows 8.x), but creating a proper modern MS-looking USB stick with Windows 10 media on it, and reusing some authentic MS packaging - designed to look authentic but totally bogus - mislabeled licenses, authentic stickers removed from original MS parts and re-stuck to knock-offs, and other such nonsense. I worked with MS on tracking a few of those down. In my experience, they activate at least once (i.e. MS will activate the first time using the supplied code), but after that, you may be on your own. I'm guessing not necessarily illegal for the most part, but not fully sanctioned by MS, and contractually in a gray zone, and certainly misleading. If it activates, MS will supply updates/patches (the license is good), but may not honor a future transfer to and reactivation on a new machine, or a replacement MOBO. Unlike OEM Windows, a retail MS OS license entitles you to redeploy the license on a series of machines, as long as it is one machine at a time. So you could buy once, and upgrade/change-out your single PC multiple times reusing that same license, as long as it is one machine installed and activated at a time. OEM Windows is bound to the single original physical machine, and cannot legally transfer to a later replacement PC - new PC, new license. For that restriction, MS charges the OEM less for the license. A custom builder may provide multiple options here, but be sure you understand what the license restrictions will be - single use or transferable.

Cheers, Bob - and good luck.
Cheers, Bob
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eddie_ce

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Re: PC recommendations please

PostSun Nov 15, 2020 5:08 am

Bob,
again many thanks, without wishing to repeat myself and take too much advantage of your experience, what do you think of the following combination? I have been told that a 550W Power Supply would suffice, but the price difference to 650W is marginal and my reasoning is that the 650W model would run cooler.

1. Processor (CPU) AMD Ryzen 9 3900X-12 Core-CPU (3,8 GHz-4,6 GHz/70MB Cache/AM4+)
2. Motherboard ASUS® PRIME B550-Plus (DDR4, USB 3.2, 6 Gbit/s)
3. Memory 64 GB-Corsair VENGEANCE DDR4 3000 MHz (2 x 32 GB)
4. Graphic card 1 GB NVIDIA GEFORCE GT 710 – DVI, HDMI, VGA1
5. Storage 1 TB-PCS, 2,5" SSD, SATA 6 Gb (520 MB/R, 470 MB/W)
6. Power Supply CORSAIR 650 W-TXm-Series™ Modular 80 Plus® Gold

Regards,
Eddie

PS. The PC will be used exclusively for Hauptwerk.
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engrssc

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Re: PC recommendations please

PostSun Nov 15, 2020 10:27 am

Is there a reason not to use the M.2 slot on the mobo for storage rather than the SSD?

Rgds,
Ed
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eddie_ce

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Re: PC recommendations please

PostSun Nov 15, 2020 10:33 am

Ed,
forgive my ignorance, what is the M2 slot?
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engrssc

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Re: PC recommendations please

PostSun Nov 15, 2020 12:35 pm

An M.2 slot/socket is a connector on a (so equipped) motherboard that allows for the installation of an internal SSD (on the mobo) M.2 storage drive. In place of an external SSD.

See below: double click on second from the left small image. M.2 sockets are shown.

https://www.newegg.com/p/1JW-000C-00PF2?item=9SIA1K6BWG5310&source=region&nm_mc=knc-googlemkp-pc&cm_mmc=knc-googlemkp-pc-_-pla-hot+deals+4+less-_-motherboards+-+intel-_-9SIA1K6BWG5310&gclid=Cj0KCQiAwMP9BRCzARIsAPWTJ_HZrMjIbPrLGi3lH-nrVyeffr_pWV-kpy95zrCQE7F0_9Tqe24j-n8aAtoUEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

On this mobo, there are two M.2 sockets. Usually one socket runs at full speed while the other runs at half speed.

A M.2 drive such as a SAMSUNG 980 PRO M.2 2280 1TB PCI-Express 4.0 x4, NVMe Samsung V-NAND Internal Solid State Drive has very fast read/write speeds, the faster the read speed, the shorter the load time:

https://www.newegg.com/samsung-1tb-980-pro/p/N82E16820147790?Description=SAMSUNG%20980%20PRO%20M.2%201TB&cm_re=SAMSUNG_980%20PRO%20M.2%201TB-_-20-147-790-_-Product&quicklink=true

These internal M.2 drives are slightly larger than a stick of gum. Powered by Samsung custom Elpis Controller for PCIe 4.0 SSD, the 980 PRO is optimized for speed. It delivers read speeds up to 7,000 MB/s, making it 2 times faster than PCIe 3.0 SSDs and 12.7 times faster than SATA SSDs.

Many references to do some research:

https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1CHBD_enUS840US840&ei=-2GxX_-8I4u6tgWIlr7ABQ&q=samsung+980+pro+read+write+speed&oq=samsung+980+pro+read&gs_lcp=CgZwc3ktYWIQARgAMgUIABDJAzICCAA6BggAEBYQHjoICAAQyQMQkQI6BQgAEJECOgUIABCxA0oFCAgSATFQ4IgvWMu7L2DDzS9oAXAAeACAAaoBiAHVDJIBBDAuMTKYAQCgAQGqAQdnd3Mtd2l6wAEB&sclient=psy-ab

If you decide to go with Samsung, suggest you download (free) and use the Samsung Magician to optimize performance:

https://www.samsung.com/semiconductor/minisite/ssd/product/consumer/magician/

Rgds,
Ed
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eddie_ce

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Re: PC recommendations please

PostSun Nov 15, 2020 3:38 pm

Ed,
thanks for that,
I have learnt something new. Certainly food for thought, I will investigate further.

Eddie
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engrssc

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Re: PC recommendations please

PostSun Nov 15, 2020 4:00 pm

This technology is moving very fast, something new a few months ago has been improved now.

https://www.cdw.com/content/cdw/en/articles/computersandaccessories/2020/10/21/m2-sata-vs-nvme-ssds.html

NVMe drives have a latency of just a few microseconds, while SATA SSDs have latency in the 30-100 microsecond range. SATA-based SSDs top out around 550 MB/s, while NVMe drives can reach up to 3,500 MB/s on PCIe 3.0. When you look at it from that perspective, it sounds like a done deal NVMe is faster in every way.Jan 15, 2020

NVMe can deliver sustained read-write speed of 2000MB per second, way faster than the SATA SSD III, which limits at 600MB per second. Here the bottleneck is NAND technology, which is rapidly advancing, which means we'll likely see higher speeds soon with NVMe.Nov 15, 2019

https://www.pcgamer.com/best-nvme-ssd/

Rgds,
Ed
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engrssc

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Re: PC recommendations please

PostSun Nov 15, 2020 5:09 pm

An easy way to check a drive's read/write speed is with this (free) downloadable app

https://crystalmark.info/en/2019/10/31/crystaldiskmark-7-0-0/

The latest updated version , today [11/15/2020] is CrystalDiskMark 8.0.0 RC4. Just follow the download prompts.
In order to run this program click ALL If you have more than one drive, click on the middle (top) box to select which one you wish yo test. The program makes 5 passes for each drive tested with the final result being the best of 5. You can stop the test by clicking STOP. If want to just make a quick check, just click the left, second down from the top box.

BTW, there are other software programs available for read/write testing, this one is easy to use and understand. 8)

Rgds,
Ed
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Re: PC recommendations please

PostSun Nov 15, 2020 9:21 pm

1) Fully concur with the M.2 NVME SSD recommendation - you will objectively recognize this difference in speed. Your MOBO choice supports 2 of these. I use such for my primary/OS/cache disk, and it cuts 30-40% off load times for sample-sets. M.2 is the socket/form factor, NVME is the faster protocol, PCIe4/3 are the faster busses. There are M.2 SATA SSDs - those would be no faster than your regular SATA SSDs, as SATA is the limiting factor. Most M.2 SSDs are NVME, but not all, so read the fine print. I'm using a Samsung 970 EVO in this role, but all the major manufacturers have such. At the time I bought, that Samsung had a significantly longer lifetime (and corresponding warranty) than its competitors - but again, be sure to check the current manufacturer's options. While there are substantial differences in technology that lead to longer lives and higher speeds for (usually) more expensive SSDs, most uses won't exceed the rated life of most modern SSDs within a normal PC's lifespan. You will want to have excess storage capacity on an SSD - running an SSD near full will accelerate its decline as you write/rewrite data. Your 1TB should serve you fine, smaller might get tight fast if you build a library of sample sets or other large data sets. If you start collecting a lot of mostly static data, you could add a SATA SSD or low-cost HDD as secondary storage down the line.

3) This MOBO looks well set for the mid-future. It supports PCIe 4 & 3 - 4 is a newer, faster spec, but most stuff still uses PCIe3. 4 is downward compatible with 3. There are M.2 NVME SSDs built for PCIe4, and they are faster on paper than otherwise equivalent PCIe3 devices - but early returns indicate they may not impact your experience as much as SATA -> NVME (PCIe3) will. My money, a PCIe4 rated SSD is not worth the extra cash, yet. But prices will come down in the future, and your MOBO will be ready.

4) Memory - your choice is good stuff. Presently, in the USA, the Corsair's 2x32GB at 3200MHz is priced identical with the 3000. I bought the Corsair Vengeance Pro 3200 for mine, kind of the price/performance sweet spot for the 3900X. Up to 3600 is fine, but faster than that will actually degrade performance with this CPU. In my market, 3600 cost more than the performance uptick warranted, but if you can get the 3200 at the same price as 3000, or within a few Euros, take the 3200 (CAS16).

5) Either PSU should work fine. I use a 650 watt myself, with a heavier graphics card than you're going to use. Your video card draws <20 watts, from the MOBO, so 500 watts would leave plenty of headroom (my video can exceed 125W.) If you see an upgrade of video in your future (gaming, video rendering), then the 650 might come into play - but as spec'd you'd be fine at 500. The new video cards being released about now can draw a lot of power! As I type, my 3900X CPU is running 100% on 24 cores, drawing 126W, my video card is running flat out and drawing 91W - so my system total is probably sitting at <250watts, despite being a tad busy!

6) Good CPU. I wouldn't buy the slightly more modern 3900XT, as its improvement is barely measurable, and you have to buy a cooler - so it costs more for the (nearly) identical performance. Some of the other 3000X series got meaningful improvements with the introduction of their "XT" models, but not this one. The 3900X is the CPU I'd still buy today. The 5900 series is nice, but still scarce, as they were just introduced. If you were building a year from now, then the 5900 class would warrant consideration.

I think you'll be very pleased with any variant of what you're presently considering - it is an extremely capable, powerful general-purpose workstation. Unless you are using your PC cycles to generate income, and your time is expensive, there really isn't anything I can think of that this rig wouldn't do superbly well. And if you ever decide to get into serious gaming, or video production, or AI work, it is ready with the addition of a video card and little else.

Have fun!
Cheers, Bob
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