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mobile SSF pc for Music studio and stage NO GAMING


New Member
Jul 14, 2023
2 (0.01/day)
Long time lurker first time poster here. I've done extensive thinking about this and I'm looking for either confirmation or correction. Last PC I built was 10 Years ago, so there is some basic knowledge (it hasn't changed that much I guess). I've scanned through this forum and read the "Before you start" sticky. Sorry for the wall of text, its a rather special build. I've put the question in bold in order to find them faster.

There will be 3 use cases:
a. Music studio (multi track recording and real time sound generation via DSP software)
b. Live music on stage (multi track recording and real time sound generation via DSP) Has to have excellent latency figures. Hot environment.
c. Like 2. plus external GPU for real time 3d visuals via https://visualprogramming.net/

->a: I develop DSP software. The platform I'm using is still only single core. Being real time the resources needed to synchronize different cores would be huge and very inefficient. Sometimes I have to scale up number of voices at ridiculous sample rates while prototyping. So I'd need excellent single core performance. Also casual Video editing 1080p. iGPU should be ok for that. (Yes/no?) Everything else I do here isn't that demanding. Near silent cooling.
->b/c: STABILITY, you wouldn't want the pc to shut down in the middle of a show. Strong cooling, In the club it might get past 55° ambient. Doesn't have to be silent. Ambient sound is very loud.

So there will be no dGPU inside the case. NO GAMING, not even casual. No browsing. Minimal Software. The demand on the machine is professional. No experiments. Storage inside the case is m.2 only. PCI5 storage seems too hot AFAIK (?). High volume mass storage is external.

Priorities are as follows:
1. Stability (rules out overclocking?)
2. near silence for use case a. excellent cooling for use case b/c. I guess that can be achieved with 2 different cooling profiles (?)
3. SC performance
4. MC performance

use case c can wait another year or so. When building a music production PC you learn to omit everything that isn't necessary, because of signal integrity. Every LED can cause interference in the audio signal. That's not voodoo snake oil, its a fact. So no RGB, no water cooling, no fancy stuff. I don't care about design just the dimensions. It has to fit into a back pack. By using the iGPU I think that's possible. Super small is not necessary. The size of the case would depend on the CPU cooling solution. I don't need onboard sound. My audio solution is external.

Why no laptop?
- supply of laptops with strong CPUs and silent operation seems limited.
- I'll need a portable touch screen that I can put aside. People don't want to see a musician on stage who is behind a screen all the time.
- I'm not a laptop guy.

Budget is of no concern.

Intel. It has worked excellently in the past and I hear of a lot of problems with AMD since forever particularly in the music production scene. Whether it be USB problems, Audio dropouts etc. No experiments! But I have a pressing question about Base clock and boost clock. How is it utilized? Will the CPU boost as long as there are enough tasks to calculate and the temperature is alright? If that's the case what is the significance of the base clock? If I'd go for the highest base clock I'd take the i5. But I want 8 p-cores. i9 seems too hot but has the highest boost clock. Is it an option to undervolt the i9 and still have a high boost clock on 1 or 2 cores? Could undervolting impede stability? Same for i7.

I need 48 or 64 GB. Very fast. When working with big sample libraries good RAM is essential. What is the sweetspot? 2nd or 3rd fastest might be enough.

Again stability. mini ITX. 3x M.2, one of which should be at the backside to connect an external GPU for use case c. I'm leaning to MSI. With the newer generations I've heard bad tings about Asus and Gigabyte. True?

I need near silent cooling in the studio and strong cooling (can be loud) on stage. I have access to big 3d printers and a friend who can design cases. So I'm thinking about a cubic case with max. dimension 25cm x 25cm x 25cm and the Noctua NH-p1 huge passive cooler. Plus two 200mm case fans. In the studio they would run super slow. On stage they can run (very) fast. Would it be a disadvantage when the fans are not directly attached to the cooler, but rather 2cm away from it?

I'm confused by the TPU of CPUs. Seems very complicated. Would the HDPlex 250w be enough to power the CPU/MB/M.2 drives? https://hdplex.com/hdplex-fanless-250w-gan-aio-atx-psu.html

Thanks in advance! Every help or pointers to other threads would be helpful!
Jan 4, 2022
42 (0.06/day)
Considering the PSU question first, modern Intel CPUs consume large amounts of power when boosting. Modern AMD CPUs tend to be more power efficient, but you've ruled these out. I'm quite happy with my AMD 3800X and 7950X systems, but I have an equal number of Intel systems.

If you're considering an i9-series CPU, bear in mind the 13900K could pull up to 283W stock and 413W overclocked, so a 250W HDPlex PSU would be overwhelmed.

You don't need to attach fans directly to the NH-P1, merely direct a good flow of air through the vanes. Big slow fans (140mm or 180mm) are quieter than small high speed fans (80mm).

Modern CPUs boost according to the demands of the software you're running. When the machine is idling, the processor speed will automatically drop down to around 800MHz, way below the base clock speed. As the load on the CPU gradually increases, you'll see the CPU speed fluctuate wildly. Sometimes it will reach base clock speed then drop sway, other times it will boost well above base speed towards maximum. There is no average speed.

When maximum load is applied to all cores, e.g during Handbrake video conversion, the CPU will boost up to its maximum permitted temperature (usually 100C for Intel). The maximum speed and the amount of power consumed by the CPU is dependant on your cooling system. The more heat you can pull away from the CPU, the faster it will clock, consistent with staying at 100C and the power consumed can increase significantly with really good cooling (420mm AIO).

You can restrict the power limit on modern CPUs, to one of two or three lower settings and they will perform at roughly 80 to 90% of unlimited power performance. This is probably the easiest option to reduce power consumption, if you are not conversant with underclocking, where manually reducing the CPU voltage can lead to instability. When you're at a gig and noise is not important, you can ramp up the fans and remove the CPU power limit.

If you're running a PCI-Express GPU card or an external GPU that pulls power from the PC, check the maximum power consumption and add that to the maximum power consumed by the CPU. Add another 50W for power required by the motherboard/RAM, plus a nominal 10W for each additional large cooling fan or spinning hard disk drive.

With a 13900K and no PCI-e GPU card, I wouldn't fit anything lower than a 500W PSU. With a medium spec GPU and an i9-13900K, I'd increase the PSU rating to at least 850W. For a 13900K + RTX 4090 I might fit 1.0kW+. For an i3-13100 CPU you could probably get away with a 250W PSU.

I don't know what video editing software you're using, but I wouldn't dream of running Adobe Premiere Pro on anything less than a proper PCI-e GPU card with at least 6GB of video RAM (for 4K editing). My current GPU has 12GB of video RAM. Most CPU/BIOS restrict the amount of system RAM you can allocate to the iGPU function, e.g. to 2GB and you may find this insufficient to run modern video editing software.

I have a mixture of Asus, Gigabyte, Asrock and MSI motherboards. My 3800X and 7950X builds are on Asus mobos and work fine. You'll hear scare stories about all manufacturers. Avoid low-end cards and buy mid-range or high end cards if you want stability. Low-end cards may claim compatibility with the 13900K, but their VRMs aren't always the most capable at high power levels.

If you use any commercial apps, as opposed to writing your own code, check the software manufacturer's recommendations for suppliers of pre-built systems and see what components they use. If you're tempted to fit DDR5-7000 RAM or faster, remember that higher XMP speeds can increase latency. As you've guessed, there's probably a sweet spot for RAM and it might be DDR5-5600 or DDR5-6200 and not DDR5-8000. See if you can find any benchmark results for your apps.
Nov 13, 2007
10,058 (1.72/day)
Austin Texas
Processor 13700KF Undervolted @ 5.4/ 5.3, 4.8Ghz Ring
Motherboard MSI 690-I PRO
Cooling Thermalright Peerless Assassin 120 w/ Arctic P12 Fans
Memory 48 GB DDR5 7600 MHZ CL36
Video Card(s) RTX 4090 FE
Storage 2x 2TB WDC SN850, 1TB Samsung 960 prr
Display(s) Gigabyte MU 32" 4k 144hz
Case SLIGER S620
Audio Device(s) Yes
Power Supply Corsair SF750
Mouse Xlite V2
Keyboard RoyalAxe
Software Windows 11
Benchmark Scores They're pretty good, nothing crazy.
So I run an itx workstation currently. I too prefer intel and MSI for the lack of issues I generally face when building. I am currently using the z690i unifi with all 3 m2 slots filled (5tb of storage currently going to upgrade to soon to faster 4tb drives). MSI with 2 settings allows you to undervolt the processor and drop the temps drastically without changing much else, very easy to stabilize.
I've also had the best luck with them when pushing memory size/stability.

For cooling might want to consider this:
Amazon.com: Desktop Mini-ITX Case Desktop PC Computer Travel Storage Carrying Case Bag for NR200 NR200P (Bag Only) Black : Electronics

basically you want to fit a giant air cooler, and the cases that do this are things like SLIGER S620 (love this case for transport and silence), Dancase c4, and NR2000 etc. All of those cases fit perfectly in this bag. These are the itx cases that can really do silent builds, but they are pretty chunky - 15-18L, that extra space gives you a ton of silence and cooling potential, ability to fit D14s etc. If you take out the backpack restriction that will give you quite a bit in the way of your other requirements.

I use this setup to travel and it really works well.
Feb 3, 2017
3,427 (1.37/day)
Processor R5 5600X
Cooling Alpenföhn Black Ridge
Memory 2*16GB DDR4-2666 VLP @3800
Video Card(s) EVGA Geforce RTX 3080 XC3
Storage 1TB Samsung 970 Pro, 2TB Intel 660p
Display(s) ASUS PG279Q, Eizo EV2736W
Case Dan Cases A4-SFX
Power Supply Corsair SF600
Mouse Corsair Ironclaw Wireless RGB
Keyboard Corsair K60
Again stability. mini ITX. 3x M.2, one of which should be at the backside to connect an external GPU for use case c. I'm leaning to MSI.
Intel, meaning currently LGA1700, mITX and 2x M.2 makes your choices simple. You can have one of the following list of motherboards:
- ASRock Z790 PG-ITX/TB4

AFAIK that is the exhaustive list of such motherboards. Bigger form factors - especially ATX - gives you a whole lot more options.

As you are looking at HDPlex PSU, why not look at their cases as well, H5 Fanless might do the trick. The Power limit needed to be set on CPU is a thing you will eventually need to figure out by testing anyway. Especially if you are thinking about going completely passive.
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