Hey 09, long time no see!

I recently built a PC out of older components that were the best available circa 2013-2015. This may not be the way you want to go, but you can get a lot of horsepower for the money.

BASE MACHINE: Dell Precision T5600 with 8-core Xeon E5-2680 at 2.7GHz, 32GB DDR3 RAM (4 x 8GB Samsung server RAM). Plenty of ports, including two USB3 (one front, one back). This was a $350 thrift store find, which was actually the whole thing that got this started.

UPGRADES:
As this is a dual-socket motherboard, I added a second identical Xeon and another 32GB of RAM. Each processor must have the same amount of RAM in the same configuration.
Also, this is a special variety of server RAM. I matched what was in there already by taking a photo of one of the modules and looking for that serial number online.
Drives: Samsung 860 EVO 1TB x 4: system drive, two in software RAID as main project drive, one more for samples. External Fantom 3TB spinner for backups.
Video card: Nvidia GTX 1080 Founders Edition. This has three DisplayPort plus one HDMI connections, and supports up to 7680 x 1440 resolution.
That corresponds exactly to the three 27" Acer QHD monitors ($400 for all) I scored on Craigslist from a gamer in New Hampshire.

One caveat: There is no way, even with a PCI card, to upgrade from SATA to NVMe as a *boot* drive on this system. It's a BIOS thing, and even researching UEFI options I haven't found a way.
I believe you can use NVMe as a *storage* option, which could give me a screaming advantage for my media drives. Failing that I'll add a hardware RAID card and go crazier with the RAID.

For the cherry on the cake, my friend who helped me put the system together gave me an original IBM Model M clicky keyboard, in black, no less.

WITH the three displays and original machine, the entire thing cost under $2000. It positively screams on anything DAW-related, and edits 4K video competently. (For rendering video, I use a special codec package for Premiere called Vokouder, which takes full advantage of the GPUs in the Nvidia card. At Mike Martin's advice, I have gotten into DaVinci Resolve and am getting a lot happier.)

As always, YMMV. If I were building a current PC, I'd start with probably an AMD Ryzen 9 CPU and choose recommended parts on PC Parts Picker from there.

Last edited by Stephen Fortner; 09/10/19 05:14 PM.

"I'm just a confused musician who got sidetracked into this damned word business..." -Hunter S. Thompson

Stephen Fortner
Principal, Fortner Media
Senior Editor, Music Player Network
Former Editor in Chief, Keyboard Magazine