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View Full Version : Hardware dumb, what computer should I get?


Velocamonkey
05-15-2002, 02:34 PM
Hi, I've decided to get a new computer but I know very little to do with hardware so if you could help me out through suggestions or pointing me to sites I'd be mopst happy.

I've already got a fairly standard computer AMD 800mhz, 250 MB Ram, 15 GB hard disk, CDRW rom, DVD, ZIP FLOPPY disk.

I'm now using 3d heavily (Mainly 3ds Max) so I need to get a computer with a little more power.

My idea is to build a new computer taking out parts from this old one such as the Hard disk and rom drives and using the old monitor to cut down on the overall price. How about compatability problems? Will this hardware work with any other mother board?

So basically I want to get new:
Tower
Processor
RAM
3d card (maybe)

I'd like to spend upto £1000. I basically want the rendering to be fast as well as the performance of max.

Where online for the UK is a good place to shop for computer stuff?

Thanks, I realise this is all pretty vague but I get phased by all the techno terms.

dg3d
05-15-2002, 02:55 PM
Ok, in computer those are always good question.

If you need more power for rendering then you will need a bigger processor in speed. Since the rendering is done by the cpu only, the more speed you have in Mhz or Ghz, the faster the render will be.

By taking the parts you mention you shouldn't have any trouble with compatibility. Those issues are found in general with motherboards, memory chip and video card and so on. I do not know 3D Max alot but if it support Dual processing you could go there too. I myself i am using a Dual Processor Pentium 3 866Mhz that system is going great.

I would suggest to go with 512 MB of RAM, and a very good video card, like the new GeForce 4 with a minimum of 64 MB or when available the new Matrox card. don't forget to check them all like ATI too.

You have the choice of AMD Athlon XP or Intel Pentium 4 processor. So there its much about price and personal choice.

For the case, take on that has at least a 350 watts power supply so you will have enough juice to make that puppy run.

And the best thing is to check what are the specifications for running 3D Studio and to go from there. I always check what i want and then look around the net for info and reviews.

Hope this help a little bit, i cannot help you for UK online places because i don't live there. Oh forgot, you could check at Ebay too.

Denis

Velocamonkey
05-16-2002, 08:33 AM
Thanks I've got a question though, what exactly is dual processing? I guess it's got something to do with two simultaneous processes, but how does this effect 3d programs for example?
What program do you use if not MAX?

dg3d
05-16-2002, 07:43 PM
Ok, dual processing its having two processor working side by side at the same time. If 3D Studio Max support dual processor system then the work will be easier and the render will be faster since he can use the full speed of bith processor. If the software doesn't support dual processing in a dual processor sytem then the software will use only 50% speed capacity of the processor (meaning it is using 25% on each processor). Maya is a software that can use 2 processors.

hope this help....if more questions aks me.

ZrO-1
05-17-2002, 02:35 AM
DenisG: there are a few statements you made in that last post which are wrong.

A dual processor system is a computer that has 2 CPU's instead of just one. The ability for a program to use both of those processors is called Multi-threading. All of the major 3D programs support multi-threading.
If a program does not support multi-threading, then the OS (operating system) manages the threading for the program. What typically happens when a program is not multi-threaded is that one processor will do the processing for the program and the second processor will do other tasks that the OS needs. If you look at a CPU usage program while a non-multi-threaded program is running it will show 50% usage. That's because 1 processor is working fully (~100%) and the other processor is idle (~0%).
One other thing to note is that none of the windows 9x OS's support dual CPU's (that includes Win Me). I know some people in this forum still use a variant of Win 9x/Me.

So...back on to the topic of this thread...
Velocamonkey: If you don't know about computer hardware then you really should not build/upgrade a computer yourself. It isn't difficult to put the parts together, but you need an in-depth understanding of hardware components and how the OS uses them to get a stable system (which is primary for a workstation). I strongly recomend you buy a new computer from a reputable workstation provider.
Here's a few links to companies on the web other than Dell/Gateway/HP/Compaq....
http://www.the3dshop.com
http://www.gamepc.com
http://www.boxxtech.com

dg3d
05-17-2002, 03:29 AM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by ZrO-1
[B]DenisG: there are a few statements you made in that last post which are wrong.

A dual processor system is a computer that has 2 CPU's instead of just one. The ability for a program to use both of those processors is called Multi-threading. All of the major 3D programs support multi-threading.
If a program does not support multi-threading, then the OS (operating system) manages the threading for the program. What typically happens when a program is not multi-threaded is that one processor will do the processing for the program and the second processor will do other tasks that the OS needs. If you look at a CPU usage program while a non-multi-threaded program is running it will show 50% usage. That's because 1 processor is working fully (~100%) and the other processor is idle (~0%).
One other thing to note is that none of the windows 9x OS's support dual CPU's (that includes Win Me). I know some people in this forum still use a variant of Win 9x/Me.

Sorry my friend, but i still said a dual processor system has 2 cpus inside. and if you look correctly in windows 2000 or XP you are going to see that both processor are working at the sime time. I used a lot of software on this computer and what i meant is that the software who has the coding inside its programming will be able to use the speed of both processor at there fullest. And i was trying not to be too much technical when a new person start asking for info like that because if they find that there too much and don't understand they will do what they think would be right with out asking. But look correctly at your Wndows Task Manager because you will see that both processor works. maybe not each time at half speed but they will work. By the way of meaning no disrespect., read the post correctly.

Good web site you gave there. Much better that buying Dell/Compaq (now HP). But the best way to learn too build computer is too upgrade one. You are going to get frustrated sometime but you will learn. Like i said browse the web and you will see there is much to learn but a lot of information to build or upgrade your own computer.

Velocamonkey
05-17-2002, 01:26 PM
Thanks for the response! So a dual processor will work with 3dsMAx 4.2? If so is it possible to render at the same time as working in 3ds max? What operating systems work with duel processors then: Win 2000 pro? Windows XP?


The main reason I want to salvage from my old computer and build a new one is money. My brother built his computer and he's pretty knowledgable and all but he's a programmer so he probably doen't know about hardware that's good for 3d stuff. so I'm gonna try and build my next computer.

Time to figure out what to buy.

3DMadness
05-17-2002, 03:14 PM
Yes, 3dsmax can use both processors, but not all the time. For exemplo, viewport running software z-buffer (heidi) is fully supported by both processors. But in rendering is not all the time... the first part, where it says "preparing lights" is NOT Multi-threaded, so in this part it will only use one processor. Another part is atmosferic effects that also use only one processor. But raytrace and the rest of the rendering is fully supported for both processors.
But using a dual processor system you will have a really fast machine for all tasks. The OSes that can be used with dual are Windows NT4/2000/XP.
Other good sites:
www.alienware.com
www.xicomputer.com
Cheers! :beer:

3D Madness

Velocamonkey
05-18-2002, 11:18 AM
Okay. I was thinking the other day and I don't have my computer to try it out, but if you have Windows 2000 and you opened 2 3ds Max at once (ie two of the same program running at once), would you be able to set one to be rendering a scene whilst in the other you're modelling?
Can you do this normally or would a dual processor make this a possibility?

Oh and what's the difference between AMD XP and AMD MP? The XP isn't referring to the operating system is it?
What do the numbers refer to as well like what's changed between the AMD MP 2000+ and the AMD Athlon XP 2100+, is it just a brand name or is it referring to smoething important in some way?

What's the best processor you can get at the minute for doing 3d work? The Intel Pentium 4 2.20GHz, or are AMDs better?

Too many questions...

dg3d
05-18-2002, 01:59 PM
For 3D Studio MAx i can't help you with that since i don't have it.

The AMD Athlon™ XP processor with QuantiSpeed™ architecture powers desktops with the next generation in computing platforms, delivering extra performance for cutting-edge applications and an extraordinary computing experience. The AMD Athlon XP process is designed to meet the computation-intensive requirements of cutting-edge software applications running on high-performance desktop systems. Tailored for Microsoft® Windows® XP

The AMD Athlon™ MP processor offers unsurpassed multiprocessing capability to power 1- and 2-way server and workstation platforms, especially for users in the commercial and enterprise arenas. The AMD Athlon MP processor offers full-featured logic implementation to support smarter multiprocessing, based on AMD Smart MP technology. AMD Athlon™ MP Processors for Servers and Workstations

These are model numbers. AMD identifies the AMD Athlon XP processor using model numbers, as opposed to megahertz, such as 2100, 2000+, 1900+, 1800+, and 1700+ versions. Model numbers are designed to communicate the relative application performance among the various AMD Athlon XP processors. The AMD Athlon XP processor 2100+ will outperform an Intel Pentium® 4 processor operating at 2.0GHz on a broad array of en-user applications.

AMD Athlon XP processor 2100+ operates at a frequency of 1.73GHz.
AMD Athlon XP processor 2000+ operates at a frequency of 1.67GHz.
AMD Athlon XP processor 1900+ operates at a frequency of 1.60GHz.
AMD Athlon XP processor 1800+ operates at a frequency of 1.533GHz.
AMD Athlon XP processor 1700+ operates at a frequency of 1.47GHz.

3D Gaming Benchmark (http://www.amd.com/us-en/Processors/ProductInformation/0,,30_118_756_3734^3750~10125,00.html)

Digital Media Benchmark (http://www.amd.com/us-en/Processors/ProductInformation/0,,30_118_756_3734^3750~10122,00.html)

There you will some of bench mark made by AMD.

What's better, Intel has Speed and solid processor but it seems that AMD Athlon XP Processor have a great architecture in the like of Apple G4 processor, they less speed but they can do the same function and faster that Intel CPU. AMD is a good joice in 3D Graphics.

Velocamonkey
05-18-2002, 03:11 PM
"The AMD Athlon XP processor 2100+ will outperform an Intel Pentium® 4 processor operating at 2.0GHz on a broad array of en-user applications. "

Is this right? I thought that having a faster processing speed would mean that the Pentium would be faster at rendering and so on, I think 3ds MAX 4 actually is specified for best performances on Pentiums somehow as well.

dg3d
05-18-2002, 04:41 PM
It has to do with how much step the processor use for doing is processing. You must has heard about how a G4 can beat a Pentium 4 processor. AMD architecture processor has some identical technic like the G4 from apple.

Check this link comparison (http://www.amd.com/us-en/Processors/ProductInformation/0,,30_118_756_3734^3759,00.html)

3DMadness
05-19-2002, 04:58 PM
I second that!!
Intel have to pay a price for it's Pentium4 processor's architecture: it must run in really high clock speed to be as fast as Athlon's lowest clock speed.
And in 3dsmax, an Athlon XP2100+ can be as fast as a Pentium 4 running at 2.4ghz!
About the other question: yes, you can make one processor rendering and the other driving another instance of 3dsmax.
The final words: Athlon is not only really fast but it's really cheap compared to a system with Intel Pentium 4 fastest processor.
Oh, BTW, I have an Athlon XP1600+ and I'm very happy with it (and the price I paid for it as well). ;)
Cheers! :beer:

Flávio

Tellerve
05-21-2002, 09:51 PM
Yep, I second the fondness of amd for cheap powerful cpus. I run two 1800XP's on a Gigabyte 7dpxdw motherboard. If you do decide to go p4 though you could try overclocking a 1.6a northwood as they are notoriously amazing for overclocking and can oftentimes reach 2.2~2.6ghz from all the people I've read about. Again, however, you might not want to go this route seeing as your not overly knowledgable about hardware. On the other hand, I agree with dg3d...you learn by doing and messing around. Besides you have to start somewhere.

Tellerve

ZrO-1
05-21-2002, 09:59 PM
I am strongly against doing any sort of overclocking on a system you are going to use as a workstation. If you just want a kick-a$$ PC then by all means overclock and tweak to your hearts content. But don't expect it to be stable. I kept my old PC and have it overclocked by about 12% overall...it's fine for gaming, but I don't do any work on it that I can't afford to loose. I keep my workstation at stock specs.

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