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View Full Version : 1/2 price Boxx Workstation: Custom built equivalent


viktore
09-18-2012, 09:29 PM
Hi everyone,

I'm a Mac user and as most of you know, the updates and refreshes we kept expecting over the last few years never came and it just doesn't feel like a good investment in the long run to go Mac for CG work. Having a budget of 10k, I had made my mind on buying a Boxx.

However, after spending hours of reading this forum and exploring the different custom built workstation approaches that many of you have taken, I decided to try and price my own, just to see if the cost difference would be significant. After all, I may have decent budget, but I would rather buy twice the power for the same price right?

So here are the components I have picked from newegg:
(see the attched image for full specs)

- ASUS Z9PE-D8 MOTHERBOARD - $579
- 2x INTEL XEON E5-2670 2.6GHZ (3.3GHZ TURBO BOOST) 8 CORE - $3,079
- Nvidia QUADRO 4000 - $749
- CORSAIRE VENGEANCE 64GB (8X8GB) RAM - $374
- SAMSUNG 830 SERIES 256BG SSD - $199
- CORSAIR H100 LIQUID CPU COOLER - $114
- MK II 950W POWER SUPPLY - $149
- ANTEC NINE HUNDRED CASE - $99
- SAMSUNG 22X DVD - $16
- WINDOWS 7 PRO 64-BIT - $139

The total is around $5,500

I configured a box with essentially the same specs and the total is over $10,000.
(see attached image for specs)

I'm confident I can built this PC on my own but I have never done this before. Is there anything that doesn't make sense in my configuration? Things like the Case, Cooling and power supply are a little obscure to me. I would greatly appreciate any input. I don't particular like the case I picked, but it had great reviews and decently priced.

In terms of graphics, I'm a Maya user, so I concluded that the Quadro 4000 is the best bang for the buck. I also use other apps that may be better with a Fire Pro. I'm even considering buying one of each, but that would be for another thread. I'm open to any suggestion.

Am I being realistic by comparing this configuration with the Boxx equivalent?
It really seems like I could buy 2 workstations for the price of one.
Or rather save the money and configure and render node.

Thank you!

tswalk
09-19-2012, 07:08 AM
the case you have picked is not compatible with the SSI EEB form factor of the mainboard.

dmeyer
09-19-2012, 12:10 PM
I'd probably look at a Supermicro board for that and would go with an AX1200 PSU for some additional headroom in the future in case.

Spacelord
09-19-2012, 02:08 PM
I don't think that cooler will cool 2 processors.

cheers

viktore
09-19-2012, 05:28 PM
Thanks guys.

I knew I needed help for the case, power supply and cooling, but I didn't know I was this far off! I revisited my configurations with the following:

Motherboard:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813182343
Thanks for the suggestion dmeyer.
With the savings vs going with the Asus board (savings of $218), I would probably upgrade my processor to a Xeon E5-2690. There's even a $60 off on new egg for that combo.
The Supermicro board also supports up to 256gb of ram vs only 64gb for the asus.
However, it is limited to DDR3 1600 type only... that could be an issue for future ram upgrades.

Case:
Thanks for pointing this out tswalk. I can't find a lot of compatible cases.

Found these 2 cases linked below on newegg, but they are rather oversized for my needs and a little pricy. Also, would the included fans be sufficient to cool down the dual CPU and Quadro 4000?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811119252gfg
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811163217

There is this one as well:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811163185

I'm reading all the specs, but I would love to hear what others have used for dual xeon/SSI EEB cases.

Power supply:
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139014
Great suggestion once again dmeyer. For the cost difference, it's definitely worth it.

Cooling:
I guess this will depend on the case I pick.
What's a good option for this type of workstation? Liquid cooling? Using built-in case fans? Add more fans?

One thing I haven't investigated is noise. Liquid cooling is probably more quiet?
Will be using SSD only, so it should help a little bit.

tswalk
09-20-2012, 12:11 AM
i'm looking around... seems that the SSI-EEB standard is similar to E-ATX.

i do not think you'll find anything smaller than a full-size tower it.

i sent an email to Fractal Designs about this case as it supports E-ATX but doesn't specifically state SSI-EEB.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811352017

i'm a minimalist on design, but will let you know how they respond.

also, just as a reference i found this which may help:

http://www.silverstonetek.com/techtalk_cont.php?area&tid=wh11_008

dmeyer
09-20-2012, 03:12 AM
That particular Supermicro board does not have any PCI-E x16?

dmeyer
09-20-2012, 03:18 AM
i'm looking around... seems that the SSI-EEB standard is similar to E-ATX.

i do not think you'll find anything smaller than a full-size tower it.

i sent an email to Fractal Designs about this case as it supports E-ATX but doesn't specifically state SSI-EEB.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811352017

i'm a minimalist on design, but will let you know how they respond.

also, just as a reference i found this which may help:

http://www.silverstonetek.com/techtalk_cont.php?area&tid=wh11_008


SSI-EEB will fit in an e-ATX case but some of the mount holes won't line up. You can easily remove the unneeded mounts and drill your own if you're handy with a drill and tap. I did this recently to mount an Asus Z9PE-D8 WS in an EATX CaseLabs.

tswalk
09-20-2012, 03:23 AM
That particular Supermicro board does not have any PCI-E x16?


PCI Express 3.0 x16
- 4 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (dual x16 or quad x8)
- 2 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16
- 1 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (x8 mode)


formatting was wonky.. but looks like it does v3 and 2 x16

tswalk
09-20-2012, 03:25 AM
SSI-EEB will fit in an e-ATX case but some of the mount holes won't line up. You can easily remove the unneeded mounts and drill your own if you're handy with a drill and tap. I did this recently to mount an Asus Z9PE-D8 WS in an EATX CaseLabs.


good to know.. i knew there was a reason for buying that Dremel! :)

tswalk
09-20-2012, 08:31 PM
so I received a pretty quick response from Fractal support:

"...based off of our specs listed online, because we do not say that SSI EEB works. You would be trying this at your own risk .."

However:

"The only difference between the two is that the SSI EEB board is the same size as an EATX (12 13 in as opposed to the ATX spec 12 x 9.6) - they also share the same I/O (motherboard backpane) dimensions. If a case fits an EATX motherboard it should fit a SSI EEB. "

I thought this might be, but its' always ok to ask. It may be necessary to do some minor tweeks or mods to get a SSI-EEB board into a case that support EATX.

... or you could just buy one that already supports it :)

good luck!

qwatkins
09-21-2012, 01:02 PM
Question, what is it that you typically work on is it more 30 second type spots or more feature length type work? The reason I ask is because I have that same motherboard, which is great btw, but it does limit you to 64 GB RAM. I bought it because I couldn't wait for the SR-X but it turns out that it didn't matter because the E5's were locked anyway so no "free" overclocking. I just finished up a 30 second spot for the Superdome, full HD and I was utilizing about 40GB of my RAM. That being said, if I had it to do again I would seriously look at the Supermicro boards for the simple reason of higher max RAM (some as high as 512GB). With that though you would also probably want to add a nice sound card like the E Claro or something.

BTW I think it's great to see you building from scratch, I think for high end it's a great approach.

Edit: I forgot to mention, I was considering the H100s as well but was swayed at the last minute to the Noctua's and they have been great because they are very quiet and with no overclocking it isn't an issue.

viktore
09-22-2012, 05:02 AM
Hey tswalk, dmeyer, thanks for the great suggestions and for inquiring about the motherboards. I have been educating myself a bit more in the past few days and shopped around for better pricing. I came up with slightly different specs that makes more sense, which I will post shortly.

Thanks for your input qwatkins. I don't do a lot of motion work, mostly high resolution print work. This might look like an animation rig, but really I just want to speed up my still renders with as many cores as possible and a decent graphics card for GPU previews. The extra power will be welcomed when I do occasional motion work though.

I'm still undecided as far as motherboard selection. Every time I find one that I like and fits the specs, I read terrible reviews.

I took into consideration a lot of what has been discussed in this thread so far for my updated components selection. Overall, I think it's a solid configuration, but I do have a few questions which I will address soon.

viktore
09-22-2012, 05:43 AM
I'm almost there with the components. My first post was a little uninformed, but it was more of a starting point for advices.

MB: ? ASUS Z9PE-D8 - $590
CPU: 2 x Intel Xeon E5-2690 2.9GHz (3.8GHz Turbo Boost) - $4,200
RAM: 64 GB Kingston DDR3 1600 ECC REG (8x8gb) - $475
GPU: Nvidia Quadro 4000 - $750

SSD: Corsair 480gb SSD Force Series - $400
COOL: 2 x Corsair H100 - $200
PSU: Corsair 1200w - $240
CASE: Corsair Obsidian 800D - $280

With Win 7, dvd, keyboard and mouse the total cost is about $8,000 tx in.
The price bumped 2K from my original config, but this is a better machine as well. Processor went from 2.6 to 2.9, doubled the SSD size, picked better ram, better case. Also, I configured an equivalent Boxx as a reference, which ended up being $13,000. So we are more looking at 2/3 of the price rather than 1/2. I did a lot of shopping around and compared. Will also pick a few parts locally to save on shipping.

As you can see, I picked a lot of Corsair parts. They have great reviews and it seems that they are built solid. Their price is slightly above the average, but combining all these parts also insures compatibility with one another.

A few questions to come.

vlad
09-22-2012, 03:32 PM
I wonder where you're gonna put that 2nd radiator?

viktore
09-22-2012, 03:50 PM
Hey vlad, that's a great question. I've been looking for an answer all night, but somehow, I can't find any. I should probably contact corsair directly. Do you know if 2x h80 fit in a Obsidian 800D?

I was also considering getting Noctua's U9DXs, but there seems to be a problem in fitting 2 side by side for dual Xeons with most mother board.

vlad
09-22-2012, 06:42 PM
2 h80 would problably fit since you have 3 120mm fan sockets on top.

dmeyer
09-22-2012, 10:11 PM
Standard 800D has a 360 radiator space up top so 2x h100 will not fit without expanding that hole. A 480 radiator can be made to fit in that case, (so 2x H100 could likely fit, but you'd have to cut steel).

E5-2687w Xeons are both faster and cheaper.

viktore
09-22-2012, 11:58 PM
Hey Vlad - yea I figured it was best to get the h80s at the moment as it will fit for sure. Actually, just came back from my local store and bought 2 of them, the 800D case and 1200w power supply. Exciting to see the machine slowly starting to take shape!

dmeyer, I can't believe I didn't see the E5-2687w before, you just saved me $600!
So with the Z9PE motherboard, will it run the processors with Turbo Boost at 3.8GHz automatically?
Or to I need to do something to "activate" it?

Almost there. Only need to sort out the GPU now.

The safest choice, best quality/price option is to get the Quadro 4000.
There are tons of threads about this... contradictions all over the place.
Are the Fire Pro a better option, in your experience?
I also see many people doing a dual GTX 680 or similar type of configuration.
Like these guys for example: http://tinyurl.com/9dm2bsg
The GTX are tempting, cause you can put 2 in your system for the price of a Quadro and have much more Vram...
I'm opened to go with 2x quadro 4000 or 5000 if I can be convince it's worth the cost.

I should probably specify what software I use:
50% Maya + Vray
20% 3Ds max + Vray
15% Zbrush
15% Dynamics and fluid simulations (this will be covered by the CPU though)

I think I'm ready to order the remaining parts as soon as the GPU is figured out...

I appreciate the amazing help everyone!

viktore
09-23-2012, 12:13 AM
Forgot to mention about the Quadro K5000 which I saw on nvidia's website, but I don't think it's available yet. Quite a beast for the money. If it is available somewhere, please let me know, I'll buy one right away.

Also, AMD and Nvidia both have their own benefits. How about getting one of each? Is that even possible? You probably can't SLI them... I guess one of them would have the monitors connected to it and the other one is only used for GPU renderings?

vlad
09-23-2012, 04:35 AM
If you' re not doing any gpu rendering (you didnt mention anything about it), dual graphic cards will do nothing for you. No 3d soft (or any other content creation app afaik) supports SLI. And if you do, memory isnt cumulative between the 2 gpus, so a scene has to completely fit in whatever memory you have on one card.
I dont use Maya, so I have no idea how Quadros perform vs Geforces or ATIs, but in Max, Quadros dont offer much more than top Geforces, even for double or triple the cost.

viktore
09-23-2012, 06:44 AM
If you' re not doing any gpu rendering (you didnt mention anything about it), dual graphic cards will do nothing for you. No 3d soft (or any other content creation app afaik) supports SLI. And if you do, memory isnt cumulative between the 2 gpus, so a scene has to completely fit in whatever memory you have on one card.
I dont use Maya, so I have no idea how Quadros perform vs Geforces or ATIs, but in Max, Quadros dont offer much more than top Geforces, even for double or triple the cost.

I will be doing gpu renderings, for preview purpose mostly. There are a lot of youtube videos showing rigs with 4 gtx and doing vray rt with all 4 of them as well as other cards. I dont have much experience with gpus, but there's no way a dual gpu setup won't help rendering?

vlad
09-23-2012, 03:09 PM
Like I said, multiple gpus will help in gpu rendering (not cpu rendering), but even though you have 10 gpus on your system, your scene will have to fit in the one that has the least amount of memory. If it's 3gb, you cannot load a scene bigger than that. That's the most obvious drawback. I dont know what kind of 3D work you do, but my archviz scenes often reach over 20 gb. I do own VrayRT, but the gpu driven version is no use for me, even tho I use 2 cards (3 monitors). Not to mention the other limitations still inherent to gpu rendering. So if you know you'll have use for it, then go ahead. ;)

dmeyer
09-23-2012, 03:59 PM
Yes, the motherboard will run it at the max Turbo assuming things are setup properly in the bios. Set it to auto at first and see how it goes.

K5000 is shipping within weeks so if you're buying now, personally i might try to get bye with a cheap card for now.

dmeyer
09-23-2012, 04:00 PM
Forgot to mention about the Quadro K5000 which I saw on nvidia's website, but I don't think it's available yet. Quite a beast for the money. If it is available somewhere, please let me know, I'll buy one right away.

Also, AMD and Nvidia both have their own benefits. How about getting one of each? Is that even possible? You probably can't SLI them... I guess one of them would have the monitors connected to it and the other one is only used for GPU renderings?

ATI and nVidia cards in the same machine is generally a bad idea on windows.

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