Best PC rack build for a museum acquisition?

  • Hi Izzy's, 

    A large art gallery has bought my double-projection interactive video-audio installation. It was exhibited there for four months in 2019, but had some performance issues (running on a 2010 Mac Mini) since I was quote ambitious with the design at the the time and it had to be hidden in a wall.

    The gallery is now committed to the work and adding it to their permanent collection. Great news for me! But of course they would love it future-proofed as much as possible and we both agree that Windows is the better choice in that regard. The gallery wants to put together the optimal custom PC rack system for the permanent installation. Budget is not really much of an issue for them.

    I will have to recreate the artwork in Windows Isadora 3.0x instead, and to recommend the best system for them to purchase. Since I dont have a windows machine to test on (I live in the Arctic currently), this is my moment to also acquire a personal PC system, though I am not sure I can choose the same gear they would choose for the installation.

    I also started a thread in the Isadora User group on Facebook, if anyone prefers that format for discussing this?
    The most recent similar thread I saw on the troika forum was two years old, so I am starting a new thread here. Thanks in advance for any recommendations with your rationales. 

    I am shifting to Windows after 30 years on Mac, so learning as fast as I can, so recommendations are gratefully received, even if you only have time to point me in a general direction.

    The artwork has:

    • X2 different stage outputs, sending to a pair of 20K lumens projectors
    • Scenes contain either x2 or x4 movie players running 1080 clips with randomisation of scene jumps, but no movie player speed changes
    • x4 separate channels of audio output (in a separate always active scene) with randomisation of echo, delay, reverb etc so I will have to redesign to the constraints of Windows Izzy 3.0x.

    Jamie Griffiths / Nunavut, Canada

  • Hi Jamie - I don't know anything about Win machines, but congratulations!

  • Hi Jamie,

    Congrats indeed!
    ASIDE from the sound output - I am not quite sure how you would do that, I am not a sound expert - the Intel NUC in my sig would do the job just fine: it will run four 1080p movies simultaneously.  It's equipped with 2 Nvme SSDs with ridiculously fast read speeds, and the graphics card is more than capable. For the sound you may have to get an external multichannel sound card too. These NUC miniPCs are available worldwide.

    But since money is no object, and if the museum is in the UK, I can suggest a couple of system builders who will build and do next-day on-site maintenance. Let me know.

  • @primaldivine hey in these kind of situations I look for a machine with a service option. I have used some high end rack mount dell workstations as they have a 5 year on site service call for a little extra in the price. They also have pull out ssd drives they can boot from. This lets me get everything perfect and make a couple of clones of the entire system. If anything goes wrong the first option is to shut down and swap the boot drive for a clone. If there are other problems it is hardware and the service contract takes over.

    So far so good for me with these kinds of setups.

    Rme have pcie audio cards that will do your sound and be rock solid.

    I use always up to run permanent installations on windows machines. There is a good amount of config needed to make sure the machines never update and never show notifications, but the latest version of windows does that, is maybe the museum has a domain controller.

    Check the Dell Precision 7920 Rack series. As much as for other machines and my own use I would go for very different solutions, dell are going to be attend for a while and have great corporate service contracts and international support (and they won't run out of spare parts in a few years). 

    I have some similar rack mount workstations in a theme park running 365 days a year for a few years now without a hitch.