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DarkEdge11
08-19-2012, 09:07 PM
Hi everyone,

Im a 3D generalist in the US looking to build a quality workstation for under $5,000 in the next few weeks. Ill be using this mostly for creating high-detail character animations (from modeling thru to rendering and compositing), as well as some music recording and video editing. What Im shooting for is a rig that is not only great for modeling/texturing/animating, but can also handle complex simulations and hi-res sequence renders without too much trouble. My main software packages include Maya, Mental Ray, ZBrush, Mari, Nuke, Vue xStream, Adobe CS6, and Cakewalk Sonar.

This will be my first ever build, so I need all the support and encouragement I can get. Though Ive done lots of research, I know Id be foolish to go ahead and start buying without consulting with experts such yourselves. Therefore, if you could look over my component choices and questions below, and let me know your thoughts and recommendations, Id be most grateful. Thanks so much!



Build:

CPU (2x) Intel Xeon E5645 Westmere-EP 2.4GHz 6 x 256KB L2 Cache 12MB L3 Cache LGA 1366 80W Six-Core Server Processor BX80614E5645

http://www.superbiiz.com/detail.php?name=XEON5645BX

Mobo EVGA Classified SR-2 270-WS-W555-A2 LGA 1366 Intel 5520 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 HPTX Intel Motherboard

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813188070&Tpk=evga%20sr-2

GPU PNY VCQ4000-PB Quadro 4000 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready Workstation Video Card

http://www.superbiiz.com/detail.php?name=PNY-4000PB

RAM (2x) G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 24GB (6 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9T2-24GBRL

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231359

SSD (boot drive) SAMSUNG 830 Series MZ-7PC256B/WW 2.5" 256GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820147164 (http://www.superbiiz.com/detail.php?name=CT256M4SSD)

HDD (storage drive) Western Digital Caviar Black WD2002FAEX 2TB 7200 RPM 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136792

PSU SeaSonic Platinum-1000 1000W ATX12V / EPS12V 80 PLUS PLATINUM Certified Full Modular Power Supply

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817151105&Tpk=seasonic%201000

Case Xigmatek Elysium Black CCC-HSA0DS-U01 All Black Aluminum / Steel ATX Super Tower Computer Case

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811815011

CPU Cooler (2x) CORSAIR H100 (CWCH100) Extreme Performance Liquid CPU Cooler

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835181017&Tpk=CORSAIR%20H100%20%28CWCH100%29%20Extreme%20Performance%20Liquid

Optical Drive LITE-ON 24X DVD Writer 24X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 12X DVD+R DL 24X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM Black SATA Model iHAS424-98 LightScribe Support

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827106335&Tpk=lite%20on%20ihas424%2098

Display Dell UltraSharp U2711 IPS-Panel Black 27" 6ms HDMI Swivel & Height Adjustable Widescreen LCD Monitor with PremierColor 350 cd/m2 80000:1 (1000:1)

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16824260038

FireWire SIIG FireWire 2-Port PCIe (NN-E20012-S2)

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000G6U8VY/

OS Microsoft Windows 7 Professional
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832116717 (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832116716)

UPS CyberPower CP1500PFCLCD UPS 1500VA / 900W PFC compatible Pure sine wave

http://www.amazon.com/CyberPower-CP1500PFCLCD-Compatible-1500VA-Tower/dp/B00429N19W/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1345326635&sr=8-1&keywords=CyberPower+CP1500PFCLCD

OR

APC BR1500G 1500 VA 865 Watt 10 Outlets Power Saving Back-UPS RS 1500

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16842101419&Tpk=br1500g



Questions/Concerns:

1. For the mobo, I chose the EVGA SR-2 because as far as I can tell its the only dual socket mobo that currently supports OCing. Though this setup uses LGA 1366s, it seems to have better bang for the buck than a setup involving dual 2011s without OC'ing. Does this seem about right?

2. For the SSD and/or HDD would you recommend getting a second one for a RAID configuration, specifically RAID 0? It seems like overkill on the SSD, and one 2TB HDD seems like enough space for me for right now, but is the speed increase worth it?

3. For cooling, Im leaning towards the Corsair H100 since water cooling seems to be preferred over air when OCing. Since I have two CPUs, obviously Ill need two of them. From what I can tell the Xigmatek Elysium case has ample room and then some to support the two 240mm radiators, but can someone confirm whether or not this a good and viable setup?

4. What do you think about the Dell UltraSharp U2711 as compared to similarly priced 27 2560 x 1440 res monitors such as the HP ZR2740w, Samsung S27A850D, and Apple Cinema Display?

5. Although Ill probably buy most items from Newegg and a few from Amazon, a few big ticket items (such as the CPUs and GPU) are quite a bit cheaper from SuperBiiz. Is SuperBiiz a good store or should I just stick to Newegg and Amazon?

Again, thanks in advance for all your help. I couldnt do it without you!


Edit: My specs/questions have changed slightly since I first posted this on Sunday.

DarkEdge11
08-24-2012, 06:58 PM
Ok, based on further research I'll attempt to answer my own questions.

1. Yes, SR-2 with OC'd CPUs is still a good and powerful bang for your buck system.

2. I'll go without RAID for now.

3. Installing two separate closed loops in one machine is not very efficient. Better look again at air, or go with a custom loop, such as an XSPC Raystorm 750 RS240.

4. Which displays look best is subjective (I'd still be curious what other CG artists are using).

5. SuperBiiz is fine.

If you guys can offer any other feedback, it would be most welcome. Thanks!

DoverStudios
08-29-2012, 02:36 AM
If you are going to have the system sitting next to you all day rendering at 100% CPU load, the sound level might be a concern. You should probably build the system with excess cooling capacity so the fans don't have to run at full speed all the time.

tswalk
08-29-2012, 06:32 AM
Hi Dark,

not sure i have answers, but some thoughts...

1. http://www.legitreviews.com/article/1437/7/ (i guess its' possible, but not sure at what costs and wow, look at the power consumption on that...)

2. what will you do for backup? and however you use it, the SSD will be nice.

3. its' really hard to tell in the pics of the case, but is the top screened or closed?, would it even support the H100? It looks to me like it could be a problem. If the cooler is not a closed system like the H50 or Antec KUHLER H20, i would totally stay away from it.. even having built several of my own systems, it is way more trouble to deal with a custom liquid cooling system than it is worth.

4. no idea on this one

5. IMO, whomever does you right

tswalk
08-29-2012, 06:38 AM
Case Xigmatek Elysium Black CCC-HSA0DS-U01 All Black Aluminum / Steel ATX Super Tower Computer Case

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811815011



i know the one you have is HPTX, but take a look at these too:

http://www.evga.com/forums/tm.aspx?m=238992

sentry66
08-29-2012, 07:17 AM
I don't like water cooling for computers that are going to be doing long hours of rendering when you're not there. If the water pump fails, it could mean damaged hardware. I'm not sure if there's a good option for heavy duty air cooling for a dual xeon system like this though, so maybe water is the best overall choice?

I think water cooling for gaming is generally preferred though. At least when you're gaming, you're there to read the notification that the water pump isn't performing well.

DarkEdge11
08-29-2012, 03:24 PM
Thanks tswalk and sentry66 for the feedback.

For backup, I was planning to backup to an external drive as I've been doing and see how that goes. I can always upgrade to RAID 1 down the road if needed. I thought about RAID 5, but I'm not sure I want to go that route, since if one drive fails after a few years I may have a hard time replacing it and may need to replace them all.

For cooling, it appears I may be able to get away with a couple Hyper 212+'s from what I've been reading on the EVGA forums, so I may try that and see how far that takes me. It's so much cheaper, so if I need an upgrade to closed loops down the line it's not so big a loss. But I agree, custom water has too many potential headaches.

For the case, I looked at many others, and the Xigmatek seems to have the right combo of required size, looks, and price (not sure I want to drop $400+ on a Lian Li or CaseLabs case, eg). And yes, it can support the two 240mm rads with the H100s, so no worries if I went that route (both top and bottom are screened).

Does all that make sense?

Thanks!

olson
08-29-2012, 04:53 PM
RAM (2x) G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 24GB (6 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9T2-24GBRL

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231359

CPU Cooler (2x) CORSAIR H100 (CWCH100) Extreme Performance Liquid CPU Cooler

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835181017&Tpk=CORSAIR%20H100%20%28CWCH100%29%20Extreme%20Performance%20Liquid

UPS CyberPower CP1500PFCLCD UPS 1500VA / 900W PFC compatible Pure sine wave

http://www.amazon.com/CyberPower-CP1500PFCLCD-Compatible-1500VA-Tower/dp/B00429N19W/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1345326635&sr=8-1&keywords=CyberPower+CP1500PFCLCD

OR

APC BR1500G 1500 VA 865 Watt 10 Outlets Power Saving Back-UPS RS 1500

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16842101419&Tpk=br1500g


I would get memory from a reputable manufacturer like Crucial, also with ECC if you're going with workstation class hardware like Xeon processors. Why the water cooling? There are plenty of air coolers that are more than sufficient (I also don't trust water cooling for anything other than shits and giggles). Definitely go with a UPS from APC, they are worth every penny.


I thought about RAID 5, but I'm not sure I want to go that route, since if one drive fails after a few years I may have a hard time replacing it and may need to replace them all.


I use RAID 5 on all of my workstations for the data storage disks (RAID 1 for the boot and application disks when possible). Down the road if one disk fails it can be replaced with any disk that is the same size or larger and of similar performance. The exact disk make and model are not important. If you go this route be sure to get a good controller, not a cheap one that uses the system CPU for calculations (less than $400 probably doesn't have dedicated processor). Note that RAID is not a backup! It just allows work to continue if a disk dies, it doesn't help if the problem is malware, accidentally deleted files, malice, etc. So still backup your files regardless of what hard disk configuration you use.

DarkEdge11
08-29-2012, 07:26 PM
Thanks olson for your feedback.

I'll definitely give ECC memory another look. Just curious, what are its advantages in CG work? Is it better at preventing crashes, or errors during complex sims/renderings?

As for cooling, simplicity is definitely preferred. I'll try going with a couple Hyper 212+'s and see how that works.

Thanks for correcting me about RAID, that really helps. I think in the end I'll go without for now and see where that takes me.

One last question: Do you think a 1000w PSU is sufficient, or should I consider going bigger? Though I'll be OC'ing and may add some HDs in the future, I won't be adding additional GPUs so I feel like it should be enough. I used one of those power consumption calculators and even when accounting for possible future additions, I still only clocked in at around 650w.

Thanks so much!

tswalk
08-29-2012, 07:33 PM
...I may be able to get away with a couple Hyper 212+'s ...


in my opinion, i would invest just a bit more to get the Hyper 612 for two reasons.

i know this seems "common sense" but when you look at how heat dissipation works it begins at the contact surface material. in the case of the 212+, the majority of the surface is aluminum and only the heat pipes are copper, whereas the 612 provides a consistent material surface with no transfer gaps to the pipes. (even the normal hyper 212 (no +) has solid copper)

also, the layout of the pipes in the 212+ is a strange pattern.. look at the thermal images on their website and how poor the dissipation is on the far pipes... the 612 appears to have pipes aligned so that each is parallel and equal-distant to airflow, and in my mind would provide more consistency...

but i'm just theorizing here based on what i'm reading about them.. i don't have any to test for ya.

i just know you've said this is your first system and want to overclock... those don't mix too well when you just want to "get by", especially with cooling. i'm not trying to discourage your enthusiasm, but OCing and water cooling really are enthusiast undertakings. they spend most of their time doing just that, whereas most people doing DCC just want the most powerful system they can afford (without the hassle) to do what they enjoy, making graphics.

at the costs you are looking to put into this venture, it may very well do you good to reconsider the dual xeon for day to day workflow and re-evaluate the i7/X79 class systems for your main production computer. I know you want more cores for the types of jobs you are planning to do, but from what i've seen and read, there are only a few use cases where having that many available cores will provide greatest benefit (ie: rendering).

olson
08-29-2012, 08:01 PM
I'll definitely give ECC memory another look. Just curious, what are its advantages in CG work? Is it better at preventing crashes, or errors during complex sims/renderings?


If using registered ECC memory the system can handle more memory in total, hundreds of gigabytes if needed. If using unbuffered memory (typical desktop memory) it will be limited to 48 GB distributed across the 12 memory slots. The price difference between the two is minimal right now historically speaking.


One last question: Do you think a 1000w PSU is sufficient, or should I consider going bigger? Though I'll be OC'ing and may add some HDs in the future, I won't be adding additional GPUs so I feel like it should be enough. I used one of those power consumption calculators and even when accounting for possible future additions, I still only clocked in at around 650w.


A 1,000 watt power supply is more than enough for any dual processor socket system and most quad socket systems. If you want to save some money a 750 watt power supply would do just fine and still have some upgradability.

Also something to consider is if using a UPS, a huge wattage power supply might trip the overload when first turning on. Not because the system is drawing more current than the UPS can supply but because the filtering capacitors in the huge wattage power supply will draw a lot of current when powering on (roughly equivalent to the full load for fractions of a second). So you wouldn't want a 1,500 watt power supply on a 800 watt UPS even if the system uses only 500 watts.

DarkEdge11
08-29-2012, 09:24 PM
in my opinion, i would invest just a bit more to get the Hyper 612 for two reasons.

My only worry with these bigger fans is whether they'll fit. The case I'm looking at is 9.06" wide, but what about clearing RAM? Hmmm, so much to consider...

i just know you've said this is your first system and want to overclock... those don't mix too well when you just want to "get by", especially with cooling. i'm not trying to discourage your enthusiasm, but OCing and water cooling really are enthusiast undertakings. they spend most of their time doing just that, whereas most people doing DCC just want the most powerful system they can afford (without the hassle) to do what they enjoy, making graphics.

Yeah, to be honest custom water and OC'ing scare me a bit. I certainly have no interest in constantly tweaking BIOS to squeeze out every last drop of speed. However, if I can get a decent, stable overclock that I can use 24/7, than I think it's worth the time to setup.

at the costs you are looking to put into this venture, it may very well do you good to reconsider the dual xeon for day to day workflow and re-evaluate the i7/X79 class systems for your main production computer. I know you want more cores for the types of jobs you are planning to do, but from what i've seen and read, there are only a few use cases where having that many available cores will provide greatest benefit (ie: rendering).

I'll certainly take your advice and reevaluate other build options again. I still think having more cores is so handy not only for faster final renders, but for test rendering during shaders/lighting setup, etc, not to mention music recording.

If using registered ECC memory the system can handle more memory in total, hundreds of gigabytes if needed. If using unbuffered memory (typical desktop memory) it will be limited to 48 GB distributed across the 12 memory slots. The price difference between the two is minimal right now historically speaking.

Are you saying that I could exeed the mobo's max supported memory as long as I used registed ECC memory? If so, that's amazing (how did I not know that?).

A 1,000 watt power supply is more than enough for any dual processor socket system and most quad socket systems. If you want to save some money a 750 watt power supply would do just fine and still have some upgradability.

Thanks, olson, that really puts my mind at ease. By the way, are you the same guy that did that Houdini shattering tutorial for Digital Tutors? I checked it out when I was messing around with Houdini for fun. Really nice work, I learned a lot!

olson
08-29-2012, 09:57 PM
Are you saying that I could exeed the mobo's max supported memory as long as I used registed ECC memory? If so, that's amazing (how did I not know that?).


Not sure why motherboard manufacturers continue to use that in the specifications, it doesn't matter, all that matters is the number of memory slots. Modern processors control the memory directly instead of going through the motherboard chipset (like older computers did for so long). What matters is what the processor can support. The motherboard just provides a physical connection between the memory and processor. Here's information about that processor.

http://ark.intel.com/products/48768/Intel-Xeon-Processor-E5645-(12M-Cache-2_40-GHz-5_86-GTs-Intel-QPI)

See where it says "Max Memory Size (dependent on memory type)" followed by 288 GB? By memory type they mean registered ECC versus unbuffered memory.


Thanks, olson, that really puts my mind at ease. By the way, are you the same guy that did that Houdini shattering tutorial for Digital Tutors? I checked it out when I was messing around with Houdini for fun. Really nice work, I learned a lot!

Yes, I'm glad you liked it! I enjoy teaching and authoring when there's time for it. :thumbsup:

DarkEdge11
08-29-2012, 11:00 PM
See where it says "Max Memory Size (dependent on memory type)" followed by 288 GB? By memory type they mean registered ECC versus unbuffered memory.

Wow, either I'm an idiot (more than likely) or that's a pretty well kept secret. ECC it is, case closed. I think I'll get me two of these Crucial 3x 8GB kits as a start http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820148445&Tpk=CT3KIT102472BB1339

Thanks olson, you da man!

sentry66
08-30-2012, 12:59 AM
how do you know this particular motherboard supports up go 288 gigs then when all its literature says it maxes out at 48 gigs? Surely the bios has an impact on maximum memory despite the processor and architecture components allowing up to 288 gigs

tswalk
08-30-2012, 03:44 AM
well, the controllers are being integrated into the CPU... the limits are there and in the BIOS, which manufacturers could always do better at updating, but never seem to for long (other than fixing major problems)

olson
08-30-2012, 02:47 PM
how do you know this particular motherboard supports up go 288 gigs then when all its literature says it maxes out at 48 gigs? Surely the bios has an impact on maximum memory despite the processor and architecture components allowing up to 288 gigs

At least one user has reported using 96 GB of memory on that board.

http://www.evga.com/forums/tm.aspx?m=1538509

DarkEdge11
08-30-2012, 03:33 PM
Nice find, olson, that thread's just the confirmation I needed. I was worried that exceeding 48GB would limit OC'ing, but not necessarily so. I'm not sure I'll ever try and max out at 96GB, but knowing that it's possible makes my decision easier to go ahead and get the Crucial ECC. I'll start with 48GB for a start.

Thanks so much to everyone for your help! I cannot express to you all how much it is appreciated. If it wasn't for people like you, I'm not sure I'd have the confidence to go though with assembling a computer myself. Once again, thank you! I am most grateful!

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