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View Full Version : $3500 on a workstation - What would you do?


brewerjoseph
07-26-2005, 03:53 AM
Hey everyone

I've been out of the hardware loop for a bit - Dual core stuff is all new to me. Anyway I've got a budget of about $3500 to spend on a nice 3d workstation. What do you suggest?

I was thinking of going with dual xeons - yay or nay? I'd like to get atleast 3gb of ram. And I prefer nVidia over ATI - unless someone can convert me otherwise.

Looking forward to your comments!
-
Joe

brewerjoseph
07-26-2005, 04:48 AM
btw I've read the other posts: the one where he has $1500 to spend on a system, and the AMD vs Intel etc. Looks like I want to wait a bit (or not since my budget is higher?) for the budget AMDs. I currently run a dual AMD MP 2800 system with 2 gb ram. geforce ti-4400 (bought a quadro fx1000 and found out there aren't any dual mp motherboards that support agp 8x). Its been great to me - just need something that can render faster and keep up with me better ;)

So ya I don't mean to start such a similar thread - I'm just wondering because I have more money to spend so what would you all suggest over the $1500 thread trying to spend around $3000 to $3500?

-
Joe

brewerjoseph
07-28-2005, 04:25 PM
I gotta get this thing ordered today! Please someone help me decide! I'm leaning a bit more towards AMDs right now - Do I go with the Opteron or X2? Or should I still conisder Xeons?

Someone tell me what your dream workstation would be ;) Also should I go through someone like Alienware? Or Dell? I'd prefer not to build it myself but I guess I could if I had to.
-
Joe

enygma
07-28-2005, 04:33 PM
Most likely, you will want an AMD based system. I would suggest giving Ed Caracappa (Director of sales at Boxx Tech.) a shout. He can set you up with a nice Boxx to fit your budget.

(512)-225-6313

lots
07-28-2005, 04:35 PM
Take a look at Boxx if you dont want to build it your self. They are pretty good, and Ed can hook you up :)

brewerjoseph
07-28-2005, 05:22 PM
blast Ed is out of the office til Aug 8th :P

I'm pretty certain I can build it myself without any major problems. I've built over 100 computers. Just nothing in the last 2 years. Where's the best site to find cheapest prices for parts? Pricewatch.com ?

I think I want to go with a dual opteron 265?
What motherboard should I get?
Do I go with nVidia Quadro FX 3400 or the geforce 7800gt?
10k rpm drive? any specific brand thats good?
Also Is Windows X64 any good?

or maybe the other route I'll take is the
AMD 64 X2 4200+ when it comes out on what... tuesday?
what motherboard should I go with on this one? Can the X2s be doubled up on a dual motherboard?

We just got a TOP of the line Mac G5 here at work and so far I'm not too impressed (4gb ram, dual 2.7ghz, geforce 6800gt). I think they spent over $4k on it. I'm more of a PC guy myself and so it'd be cool to get a machine that'll TOTALLY smoke this mac for almost 1/2 the price! :)

Thanks for your help!
-
Joe

enygma
07-28-2005, 05:49 PM
I think I want to go with a dual opteron 265?
If your budget fits it, go for it.

What motherboard should I get?
Tyan Thunder K8WE

Do I go with nVidia Quadro FX 3400 or the geforce 7800gt?
Really up to you. It is possible to softmod it for some serious OpenGL performance. Davidaleon over at 3D Buzz seems to have already done so with his 7800 GTX. If hardware rendering using Mayas hardware renderer or Gelato is of any importance, I would suggest Quadro.

10k rpm drive? any specific brand thats good?
Western Digital executes the 10k RPM drive very well, although I think for the same price as the 74GB drive, you can get a couple higher capacity drives and run them in RAID 0 for better speeds. That is really up to you though as RAID 0 would effectively increase your chances of data loss.

Also Is Windows X64 any good?
Personally, I'll find out soon. The mailman just stopped by the office with 4 copies of Windows XP Pro x64 Edition, so I'll be busy on the path of installation soon.

AMD 64 X2 4200+ when it comes out on what... tuesday?
Not sure when they come out or if they are out. It is definately cheaper to go with an X2 system than it is a dual Opteron system.

what motherboard should I go with on this one?
Any socket 939 board. I prefer the DFI LanParti NF4 SLI-DR

Can the X2s be doubled up on a dual motherboard?
Nope. Only Opterons.

I'm more of a PC guy myself and so it'd be cool to get a machine that'll TOTALLY smoke this mac for almost 1/2 the price!
Somehow, I doubt this, but then again, it depends on the application and whether it is multithreaded or not. Although I highly doubt being able to smoke that system for half the price in multithreaded apps. It is a powerhouse of a Mac. Not as powerful as a top of the line PC, but definately cheaper than one.

lots
07-28-2005, 05:50 PM
Well if you go the Opteron route, the Tyan K8WE is one of the best you can buy ;)

Do I go with nVidia Quadro FX 3400 or the geforce 7800gt?
That is up to your budget. If you do buy two dual core Opterons, this will effectivly eat up a large portion of your budget, so it may be cheaper to go with the Geforce. If you dont have anything really complex or demanding, in other words takes advantage of the quadro, then I wouldnt worry about getting it over the Geforce.

If you went for a single socket dual core solution (The X2) then you will fall well below your budget, and so you can probably afford to get all the bells and whistles with that system. Granted you dont get 8 banks of memory like on the Opteron platform, but it will be much cheaper.

Either solution should prove very competative and in most cases better than that G5 :P

brewerjoseph
07-28-2005, 06:30 PM
Ok here's my options: (Priced out at monarchcomputers.com)

Mb - tyan k8we $455
Processors - (2) opteron 265 dualcore ($851 ea) $1702
Memory - 4gb (400) 3200 reg ecc (patriot sig) $830
Graphics Card - Geforce 7800 gtx $520

Total Price: $3507 (My budget is $3000 to $3500) so that works - I can probably go $200 more if I really need to.

or I go with

Mb - Abit AN8 SLi $171
Processors - AMD 64 X2 4400+ $645
Memory - 4 gb corsair (400) 3200 $608
Graphics Card - Quadro FX 3400 $1k

Total Price: $2500 (with a much happier boss - not that I care so much)

Am I on the right track??
-
Joe

enygma
07-28-2005, 06:40 PM
Do you already have hard drives, case, power supply, optical drive, etc.?

Can't forget about the various other parts you need to throw in that computer. Don't think you're getting away with $3507 that easily... :D

pixemo
07-28-2005, 06:45 PM
Its probably not worth the cost, but does anyone know if dual core/dual cpu systems will run or render maya faster than a single cpu (either dual or single core)? Can maya multithread effectively 4 cpu's?

novadude
07-28-2005, 06:47 PM
You'll have a hard time fitting two DC Opterons into that budget and coming out with a full system. I'd say get a single Opteron 275 on the K8WE and get the second CPU when you have the budget (if the software you use will make use of all of the cores).

enygma
07-28-2005, 06:53 PM
Its probably not worth the cost, but does anyone know if dual core/dual cpu systems will run or render maya faster than a single cpu (either dual or single core)? Can maya multithread effectively 4 cpu's?
I know in MEntal Ray for Maya, under the batch render options, you can select to render on up to 4 threads, so dual dual core systems will be able to render effectively. I think Maya supports 8 threads.

brewerjoseph
07-28-2005, 07:16 PM
You'll have a hard time fitting two DC Opterons into that budget and coming out with a full system. I'd say get a single Opteron 275 on the K8WE and get the second CPU when you have the budget (if the software you use will make use of all of the cores).

I think thats what I'll end up doing.

What does the Opteron 275 compare to as far as speed goes? Will it out perform the X2 4200+ ?

Ckerr812
07-28-2005, 07:18 PM
Its probably not worth the cost, but does anyone know if dual core/dual cpu systems will run or render maya faster than a single cpu (either dual or single core)? Can maya multithread effectively 4 cpu's?

Maya can't interactivly, meaning in the veiwports, it still only uses one processor.

Mental Ray can support up to 8 threads, and Maya software is 2 I think.

So you will notice speed in rendering only, not actually "in" maya, when playing back, or tweaking in the veiwports.

MadMax
07-28-2005, 08:26 PM
Personally I'd opt for the Opteron 275 like Nova said.

FYI, X2 4200's have been out for awhile now.

The ones pending are the 3800 and 4000 models.

BoXX is the best for pre built systems. However Ed is at Siggraph.

lots
07-28-2005, 08:36 PM
Opteron 275: $1335 2.2 GHz
Athlon64 X2 4200+: $555 2.2GHz

Performance wise the two should be roughly similar. The slight advantage goes to the X2 due to the use of non-ECC memory. But the CPUs them selves are pretty much equal. That is on a single socket solution.

The perk to the Opteron, of cource, is the fact it can operate with another 275 and give you 4 cores.

pixemo
07-29-2005, 05:42 PM
somewhat of a tangent, but since cpu's require memory....

I read somewhere that CPU's with Windows XP can only use 2Gig of memory, so even though the mobo's can handle gobs more its pointless to get more. I'm wondering - if you have on e of these new systems with two dual core CPU's - can that system use 8Gigs of ram (when rendering in Mental ray for example)?

Also, would it be more efficient/cost effective to buy a single cpu with say a dual SLI 7800 nVidia for a workstation and buy another box with all the dual core, dual cpu's and memory to handle renders. That way you can send renders to another machine and still work without interuptions. Of course if your in games, I guess rendering isn't much of an issue.

ok one more thing - what is more efficient (and by efficient I mean in terms of render speed and cost) - a single machine that is dual core dual cpu mega memory, etc. (like the Opterons);
or a couple of machines that are cheaper but faster - like the X2's. I'm wondering what to do for a rendering farm type situation.

thanks for the info - sorry for butting into your thread - I'll start a new one if you'd like...

BTW nice case lots - that thing looks vicious - is that a lian-li case?

MadMax
07-29-2005, 07:39 PM
somewhat of a tangent, but since cpu's require memory....

I read somewhere that CPU's with Windows XP can only use 2Gig of memory, so even though the mobo's can handle gobs more its pointless to get more. I'm wondering - if you have on e of these new systems with two dual core CPU's - can that system use 8Gigs of ram (when rendering in Mental ray for example)?



Ever heard of Win64?

pixemo
07-29-2005, 07:58 PM
mad max - Is that windows XP 64 or something? could you elaborate? I'm a noob when is comes to all this stuff.

thanks for the help

MadMax
07-29-2005, 08:29 PM
mad max - Is that windows XP 64 or something? could you elaborate? I'm a noob when is comes to all this stuff.

thanks for the help

yes.

Microsoft released this a couple of months ago for retail sale, so it is an official release, not beta, not vaporware.

It runs almost 100% rexactly like XP, has about the same stability.

While there are not drivers for everything on the market, some of the most important ones are there.

An nForce4 board has almost everything you need integrated. nForce unified drivers will take care of all that.

nVidia has video drivers.

Wacom has 64 bit drivers for their tablets.

Promise, LSI, and others have raid and controller card drivers in 64 bit.

Siggraph has a ton of 64 bit software being announced.

mass drivers will follow now that all the big boys are on board.

pixemo
07-29-2005, 09:40 PM
Thanks MadMax - So that means that it will run the extra memory, I take it.

What do you think of the studio setup I mentioned above - single (dual core)cpu for the workstation, and dual/dual for the render?

MadMax
07-29-2005, 10:36 PM
Thanks MadMax - So that means that it will run the extra memory, I take it.

What do you think of the studio setup I mentioned above - single (dual core)cpu for the workstation, and dual/dual for the render?

either way will serve you well.

I have multiple Asus A8N SLI systems now a couple have been upgraded to having 4400's, and I have a number of Tyan K8WE boards, one recently installed with Opteron 275's.

the dertermining fact is really how much do you feel comfortable with spending?

remember, a dual core X2 is going to be pretty much the same as having a dual CPU system.

EDIT: Because of certain announcements that will be made next week at Siggraph, I personally would opt for the Tyan K8WE and get a single 275 if you can afford it and add a second later.

tikal26
07-30-2005, 02:27 AM
if I was you I woudl go with the TYANbut I would also look at newegg instead of monarch

MadMax
07-30-2005, 06:38 PM
if I was you I woudl go with the TYANbut I would also look at newegg instead of monarch

depends on where you are located.

If you live in California you get to pax tax. Monarch you don't. Prices are similar and Monarch is every bit as reliable as Newegg.

Generally if it's a really large purchase, like entire systems, I'll go Monarch.

pixemo
08-02-2005, 06:52 AM
http://www.amd.com/us-en/Corporate/VirtualPressRoom/0,,51_104_543~100309,00.html

yalcinaydin
08-02-2005, 08:01 AM
Opteron 275 vs Xeons in 3D rendering performance:
http://www.gamepc.com/labs/view_content.asp?id=opteron275&page=7

Athlon64 X2s are good but they can be used just single, their 3D rendering performance:
http://www.gamepc.com/labs/view_content.asp?id=a64x2&page=7
AMD knows they have a phenomenal chip on their hands, and unfortunately, they are charging out the nose for them. Even the “cheapest” Athlon64 X2 processors are well over $600 ranging in upwards to $1200 for the top of the line models. In addition, chip supplies have been low, so prices are staying high even though these chips have been out for a few weeks. While the Athlon64 X2 is a steal in comparison to a dual Opteron processor configuration, it may be tough to convince a casual buyer that AMD’s chips are better compared to Intel’s Pentium-D lineup which runs at higher clock speeds and is about half as expensive. Believe me, the Athlon64 X2 is a far better way to go for a dual-core workstation/server/game rig. Still, if you’re looking for a true budget dual-core solution, Intel’s Pentium-D reaches price points the X2 cannot touch at this time. Rumors have abounded that AMD will release a lower clocked X2 model to address these needs, but we have not seen any concrete evidence of such a processor yet. Sorry Intel, you’ve been beat once again.

lots
08-02-2005, 02:49 PM
Actually the cheapest X2 is $350. And it is actually running on a newer core, one specifically designed to reduce cost. The CPU is actually smaller than the other X2s and will take up less space on the waffer, thus increasing yields and lowering cost due to fewer transistors.

deathman20
08-02-2005, 05:01 PM
Actually the cheapest X2 is $350. And it is actually running on a newer core, one specifically designed to reduce cost. The CPU is actually smaller than the other X2s and will take up less space on the waffer, thus increasing yields and lowering cost due to fewer transistors.

I thought the X2 3800 was a downgraded X2 4200 and a X2 4600? (all have 512kb cache on each CPU) (Thermal design is around 89W Max) (Same core type)
The X2 4400 and X2 4800 (both have 1mb cache on each CPU) (Thermal design is around 110W Max) (Same core type)

Truely if its going to be a work station you might as well go for the server grade hardware... And might I suggest getting SCSI Harddrives possibley? I mean if your thinking of WD's Raptor series drive might as well compare it to the other high end one if you got a few extra dollars to spare. Also depending on how soon you need this you might consider holding out on what you got and ask to see if you can upgrade next year to some of the newer sockets, newer chips (server grade chips will become dual core for at least Intel early next year not sure about AMD).

Program wise utilizing more CPU's or threads. Well I know 3D Max 7, it does utilize my P4 HT cpu with both threads, in view port and in rendering. I think the majority of programs utilize as much power as they can in there products to maximize rendering speed since we all know it can take long amoutns of time to render a frame or a short clip with some complex scenes.

pixemo
08-03-2005, 02:53 AM
Great reviews

also, deathman, lots and madmax - I'm going to hold off at least til siggraph is over...

MadMax
08-03-2005, 07:57 AM
Great reviews

also, deathman, lots and madmax - I'm going to hold off at least til siggraph is over...

Go the the AMD boothg and check out the BoXX quad 7400. AWESOME. Even if you can't afford it.

bonestructure
08-03-2005, 11:06 AM
Alienware used to be my first choice. Until I discovered Monarch Computers. monarchcomputer.com.
I prefer AMDs because, well, it's a subjective opinion but they just handle graphics work better and more efficiently.

lightwolf
08-03-2005, 11:15 AM
I thought the X2 3800 was a downgraded X2 4200 and a X2 4600? (all have 512kb cache on each CPU) (Thermal design is around 89W Max) (Same core type)

No, the 3800 is a newer core that uses even less power. Actually the 4200 will supposedly be replaced by parts using the newer core soon as well.
From what I gather, the current 512kB parts are basically downgraded 1MB cache parts, whereas the newer 3800 and 4200 use new dies that only have 512kB from the outset and have thus a smaller size as well...
It seems that AMD is really doing well with their 90nm process though...
Cheers,
Mike

lots
08-03-2005, 03:08 PM
I thought the X2 3800 was a downgraded X2 4200 and a X2 4600? (all have 512kb cache on each CPU) (Thermal design is around 89W Max) (Same core type)
The X2 4400 and X2 4800 (both have 1mb cache on each CPU) (Thermal design is around 110W Max) (Same core type)
This is sort of true. The first X2 4200s and 4600s were based no the same core that the 4400 and 4800 are based on. These cores are large due to the 2MB worth of cache they carry. The 4200 and 4600 were basically 4400s and 4800s that didnt make the cut. So these 4200s and 4600s all have the same transistor count that the 4400s and 4800s due to inactive cache that exists on the chip. The new X2s (3800+) have a total of only 1MB cache. Thus a large portion of transistors are no longer needed, shrinking the size of the die and creating more space on the waffer for a larger volume. Hence more CPUs are a lower cost.

deathman20
08-03-2005, 03:51 PM
Ah ha.... Thanks Lots and Lightwolf. Makes sence now... Sorta new to the whole thing AMD is trying to do (havn't looked at computer stuff in a few months).

Valkyrien
08-03-2005, 03:57 PM
Quad dual-core Opterons :thumbsup:

lightwolf
08-03-2005, 03:57 PM
Quad dual-core Opterons :thumbsup:
Why Quad, when you can get eight for twice the money? ;)

Cheers,
Mike - yeah, I wish... *sigh*

pixemo
08-03-2005, 04:42 PM
Go the the AMD boothg and check out the BoXX quad 7400. AWESOME. Even if you can't afford it.

Well unfortunately I'm not at siggraph...:cry:
Do they have a virtual booth I could check online, perhaps?

brewerjoseph
08-03-2005, 05:55 PM
Ok so I decided to go with the X2 4200+, Asus a8n-sli deluxe - and I've assembled it all together. Win XP sp2 is up and running but when I right click on my computer and go to properties it says model unknown. Also if I hit CTL+ALT+DEL and go to 'performance' shouldn't I see 2 cpu usage history monitors? Is this how its supposed to be?
-
Joe

lightwolf
08-03-2005, 06:44 PM
Ok so I decided to go with the X2 4200+, Asus a8n-sli deluxe - and I've assembled it all together. Win XP sp2 is up and running but when I right click on my computer and go to properties it says model unknown. Also if I hit CTL+ALT+DEL and go to 'performance' shouldn't I see 2 cpu usage history monitors? Is this how its supposed to be?
-
Joe
You should see two. If you don't you might need a bios upgrade. Check with Asus for that.

Cheers,
Mike

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