Which of these AMD or Intel builds for audio server?

Got a shopping cart of parts that you want opinions on? Get advice from members on your planned or existing system (or upgrade).

Moderators: NeilBlanchard, Ralf Hutter, sthayashi, Lawrence Lee

Post Reply
Posts: 29
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 5:19 am

Which of these AMD or Intel builds for audio server?

Post by dave_in_gva » Wed May 23, 2007 8:10 am


I'm building a PC that will serve audio files to a high end audio chain. The PC will be in the living room with the audio gear so I need it to be as near to silent as possible. It will be on permanently and will run XP, Foobar, iTunes, web surfing and spyware/virus progs apart from regular backups and maintenance utilities. It does not need to rip CDs, transcode or anything else.

I had initially thought to build an Intel system, posted here, and got advice that led me to look into AMD options. In the meantime I've seen locally I can acquire the new Intel E2160 chips.

So.....I've spec'd out either an AMD build or an Intel build and would like general feedback as well as on which one (AMD or Intel) people think will be better for my setting.

My main priority is stability and as close to inaudible a build as I can make it. If I read the reviews right the AMD system will consume less power but will not have quite as much muscle as the Intel build.

The AMD build would be based on a Sempron 3600 chip on the Gigabyte GA-MA69VM-S2 board (AMD 690V/AMD SB600 chipsets and Radeon X1200 graphics).

The Intel build would be based on the E2160 Allendale chip (1.8 GHz) Core 2 Duo on the Gigabyte GA-965GM-DS2 board (P965/ICH8 chipsets).

Features common to both platforms would be the Antec NSK3400 case (I may swap out the PSU for the Seasonic S12-380W unit), 1 Gig 800 DDR2 RAM, two Samsung SpinPoint 120 gig drives in a RAID 0 array, Scythe Ninja Plus Rev. B CPU cooler (I plan on running passively), and a single Scythe Kama Bay 120mm case fan.

Comments on the entire build welcome - these are all components I can find locally here in Switzerland and fit with my need to fit this into a micro-ATX enclosure, run a PCI soundcard, and RAID the drives to get around any IDE drivers in Windows. But the main thing of course is whether people think I should be going AMD at $545 or Intel at $640 (these are the prices without my soundcard and without the Seasonic PSU).


Dave M

Posts: 26
Joined: Thu Aug 03, 2006 7:06 pm

Post by vanhelmont » Wed May 23, 2007 10:34 am

You shouldn't see any difference in performance for your application between the two systems. If the difference in computing power concerns you, you could substitute a 65 nm athlon x2 for the sempron, (and use it for folding@home when you aren't doing audio streaming) and still save a few francs, or put them into a better sound card where it might matter.

One other point on energy use/heat dissipation, amd numbers are worst case, while intel numbers may be a sort of typical value, so the published numbers aren't directly comparable.

I always end up buying amd, and the only times I have had any instability is when I overclocked, and it was cured by backing off a little, or when something was overheating (dust in the heat sink of an old athlon) or failing (a passively cooled north bridge, which ran pretty hot, but your amd chipset and radeon graphics should be pretty cool).
An idle processor is the devil's workshop.

Contribute to medical research by putting your idle processor to work on [url=http://www.silentpcreview.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=11630]folding@home![/url]

Posts: 29
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 5:19 am

Post by dave_in_gva » Wed May 23, 2007 10:50 am

Thanks for this.

Your comment about overclocking reminds me about something I forgot to put in the original post.

I will actually be wanting to be underclocking and undervoltingthis system.

In case either one of these boards underclocks easier than the other that would also be of interest to me.

Thanks again for your quick input,

Dave M

Posts: 401
Joined: Mon Nov 27, 2006 6:51 am
Location: The Netherlands (NL)

Post by sjoukew » Wed May 23, 2007 10:59 am

If the system is running 24/7 the electricity bill will quickly rise if the pc consumes more power. Spending more on the pc to make it more energy efficient can be cheaper in the long run.
I have an asus p5w dh deluxe, with remote. With that remote I can put it into standby (s3) and resume it in a couple of seconds. (I can even power it up from "shutdown" with the remote ). Maybe something like that is also an option for you.

Posts: 29
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 5:19 am

Post by dave_in_gva » Wed May 23, 2007 12:49 pm

Thanks sjoukew,

The remote is an interesting idea.

I actually plan on running this PC as a headless unit (no monitor, no keyboard, no mouse) and logging on to it from an always on laptop in the living room through the Remote Desktop Connection available in XP.

I have been thinking that this should also function as a Wake on Lan event(the laptop accessing the audio server), so perhaps I can get the sort of standby/wakeup sequence you describe by setting that up in the BIOS.

But if I well understand either of those possibilities should be available to me from either the AMD based mobo or the Intel mobo I am considering (both are Gigabyte boards).

Thanks again for the very helpful comment and best wishes,

Dave M

Posts: 76
Joined: Thu May 10, 2007 1:44 am
Location: Australia

Post by johno » Wed May 23, 2007 6:43 pm

I would estimate that that AMD build with a 690V chipset would idle at around 40-45W with a single 3.5" hard disk an the SU-380 power supply. With a X2 3600 Brisbane core, I'd estimate the 45W. Based on viewtopic.php?t=35707 I'd say that the Intel option with one 3.5" hard disk again, would idle at around 70-75W. The C2D chips themselves don't use much power at idle, so there won't be a lot of variation among different chips on the same motherboard.

Do you mean 2.5" hard disks, because for 3.5" I'd be avoiding the RAID option: It'd add around another 12W, give more noise, poorer noise character, be less reliable, and with software raid, not be a whole lot faster in throughput. If you are using 2.5" drives the issues are a bit different, - but I'd still consider using separate drives rather than RAID, as it allows one to go into sleep mode if not being used.

Also, if using two disks, make sure the NSK-3400 mounting options are suitable. The two locations available are one in the upper compartment with the optical drive, and on the bottom of the case. Up the top they don't get a lot of airflow (my 3.5" runs 5 degrees hotter), and down the bottom it interferes with the lowest slot. They also mount using the bottom screws, rather than on the side - which may be relevant if you are using a 3.5 to 2.5 adapter.

If you want really quiet, then the SU-380 power supply in the NSK-3400 would want a fan swap. It's one of the more efficient power supplies available at light to moderate load though, so it doesn't need much airflow.

Posts: 29
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 5:19 am

Post by dave_in_gva » Wed May 23, 2007 9:37 pm

Thanks Johno,

I definitely mean 2.5" hard drives.

I also want to RAID them to get away from using any generic Windows IDE drivers. The optical drive will be removed from the system after install and I'll be cutting off most Windows service. All this to get EMI interference down to a minimum.

One thing you say about RAID caught my eye. If I run the two 2.5" drives in a RAID 0 array you seem to be saying I lose suspend to RAM, wake on LAN capability etc. Is this correct? If so, I didn't know that but doubt it would change anything for me.

Also your comment on the PSU was interesting. Is the stock PSU in the NSK-3400 any good? Who makes it? I was thinking the safest thing would be just to swap it out for the Seasonic but if it is really quite a good one with just a fan replacement needed I'd love to hear about which fan you'd recommend sticking in there. From the money point of view I am fine to pay out for the Seasonic and would prefer to do this if it will be quieter with the stock PSU and fan swap.

Best and thanks again everyone,

Dave M

Posts: 76
Joined: Thu May 10, 2007 1:44 am
Location: Australia

Post by johno » Thu May 24, 2007 12:09 am

There's a review on the SU-380 PSU in the NSK3400 here:
It suggests its Seasonic designed/made model, but it has a different fan to the seasonic branded one. There was a recent post about a fan swap in that supply, and it links to some other pages about it: viewtopic.php?t=40489

In terms of RAID, it shouldn't stop suspend to RAM or anything so dramatic. I just meant that if you just have it configured as two separate drives, then you could possibly arrange it so that one of them has the files that don't normally get accessed. Then that drive could spend most of its time in the powerdown state while the computer is in use accessing files from the other. Whereas if they are in RAID, then both drives need to be spinning in order to access anything.

Posts: 47
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2007 3:14 pm

Audio card

Post by tgdrums1990 » Tue Jul 17, 2007 9:33 am

I have the Gigabyte GA-MA69VM-S2 board. The on board audio is decent but noisey. If this will be for a high end ap. Please get an audio card.

Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2007 9:32 pm

Post by omega369 » Tue Jul 17, 2007 7:47 pm

since you said you just want a headless unit, why not save the hassle and get an airport express? it has optical out, and works natively from iTunes on your laptop...... load your music onto a NAS and its done.

Posts: 22
Joined: Sat Jul 07, 2007 6:32 pm
Location: Stafford, UK

Post by RichA » Wed Jul 18, 2007 2:43 pm

This is an audio server. It doesn't need a modern processor to decode FLAC, Ogg, MP3, or anything else. Do the world a favour and recycle an old system - any Athlon or P4 will do this with tremendous ease. Find a well specified motherboard and a mobile CPU. Chances are you'll get away with near-fanless cooling with minimal effort...

I have a Mobile Celeron Northwood-256 running at under 1.2v, and at 2.4ghz. Idles at under 29C, averages 31C with normal desktop use, and has never gone above 40C under 100% load. This is with the stock Intel heatsink and fan, but switched over to 5v from a molex connector. Fan is quiet - I'll pop on a silent 80mm fan when I get a chance.

It cost me a grand total of £55 for the mobile processor, Aopen MX4BS-N motherboard with 256mb PC2700, a damaged P4 processor with a pair of heatsinks, and 1gb PC3200. Shop around a little and you'll find a suitable buy for even less - I was after local(ish) stuff.

Be green! It isn't so much about the power used from the wall outlet, but the energy used in manufacturing. No need to have something new manufactured for such a light task... ;)


Post Reply