Student in need of Hardware Advice

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Old 08 August 2013   #1
Student in need of Hardware Advice

Good morning. I would like to say that this may be a lengthy post, but I will try to explain as best I can. TLDR is available. I'm going to be attending some post graduate courses for 3d modelling and visual effects. I have been working on my portfolio, unfortunately it is very frustrating with my current computer(s). I have both 2011 MacBook Pro 15" and 27" iMac.

MacBook Pro; OS X 10.8.4, 2.2GHz i7, 4GB 1333 DDR3, AMD Radeon HD 6750M, 750GB SATA.

The iMac has pretty much identical hardware, however the CPU is an i5 and the GPU is the model under.

That being said, working in Mudbox is hell. When I try to add more detail the computer is nearly unresponsive. I will click, and it won't respond for a minute. Adding joints to pose a model is unbearable.

The first program I will be attending uses this software;

Autodesk Mudbox
Autodesk 3DS Max
Autodesk Maya
Adobe CC


& the second course;

Nuke
Mari
Hiero
PFTrack
Houdini


Each course is 8 months long. I'd preferably like to purchase a new system that will hold up for both of these programs.

Ideally I would like a new laptop, the portability will be beneficial to me for work. I'm open to desktop alternatives as well, though.

My budget will be around the $2500 CAD mark. If I can liquidate my current MBP and iMac quickly then that budget will double.

I've been reading reviews on laptops on Gizmodo, Tomshardware, etc but I am just unsure of what to get. It comes down to inexperience so I would like to ask what y'all would recommend.

If anyone could chime in with their two cents soon, that would be highly appreciated. I have a fast deadline approaching to get this all sorted out.

TLDR: Need a new workstation recommendation whether laptop, (preferred), or desktop to run: Mudbox, Maya, 3ds Max, Adobe CC, Houdini, Mari, Nuke, Hiero, PFTrack.

Thanks to all who contribute to this thread.
 
Old 08 August 2013   #2
Desktop, no doubt about it. Take a look at similar recent threads suggesting the i7-3930K processor.
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Old 08 August 2013   #3
Thanks. For laptops specifically should I be looking at a workstation card or does that really matter at this point?
 
Old 08 August 2013   #4
geforce M cards do OK or better usually. Don't hope to get away with integrated graphics, and be ready for a coin toss with AMD M.

I'm with Olson though. Unless you have immediate need for a laptop, and if you have a long stretch of studying ahead, liquidate everything and live off a decent workstation that won't funnel all of your budget until then.

In a year and half you'll be able to buy a laptop with the remainder that'll be more or less the same of what you'd spend now.

Get a decent videocard with enough ram if Mudbox and Mari are important btw.
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Old 08 August 2013   #5
Originally Posted by ThE_JacO: geforce M cards do OK or better usually. Don't hope to get away with integrated graphics, and be ready for a coin toss with AMD M.

I'm with Olson though. Unless you have immediate need for a laptop, and if you have a long stretch of studying ahead, liquidate everything and live off a decent workstation that won't funnel all of your budget until then.

In a year and half you'll be able to buy a laptop with the remainder that'll be more or less the same of what you'd spend now.

Get a decent videocard with enough ram if Mudbox and Mari are important btw.


Thank you! I agree with you and am leaning that way. That being said.

I'm located in Canada and will be buying this from TigerDirect. Can you guys comment on my choices? This is my first time building a computer ever.

Critiques please. Can I save money anywhere, gain performance, etc? Did I make the right choices? I do want to say that I am set on the Corsair case, I love the look of it and I see it has good heat control.

Thanks.

Case: CORSAIR OBSIDIAN 900D ($400)
http://www.tigerdirect.ca/applicati...32&Sku=C13-1900

Motherboard: MSI Z87 ($250)
http://www.tigerdirect.ca/applicati...041581&CatId=13

Ram: CORSAIR VENGEANCE 32GB DDR31600MHZ ($335)
http://www.tigerdirect.ca/applicati...5069&CatId=4534

CPU: Intel 4th Gen i7-4770k 3.5GHz ($350)
http://www.tigerdirect.ca/applicati...97&Sku=M69-7187

GPU: EVGA GEFORCE GTX 770 2GB ($430)
http://www.tigerdirect.ca/applicati...8320&CatId=7387

PSU: CORSAIR AX860 ($230)
http://www.tigerdirect.ca/applicati...3649&CatId=2534

SSD: CORSAIR NEUTRON GTX 240GB ($220)
http://www.tigerdirect.ca/applicati...5481&CatId=5300
 
Old 08 August 2013   #6
Swap the ram for cheaper (non vengeance) and go 1866.
In first place ivy and haswell, reportedly (and that's my experience too) work best with a little bit of elbow room, while things such as CAS timing and extreme clocking make hardly any difference (within reason).

I'm personally happy and happy to recommend G.Skill 1866 Ares for good bang for buck. Low profile, cools well, takes punishment, and inexpensive.

You are buying a 4770K, so I expect you intend to clock it up a bit, and that's one more reason to have at least a small margin (most of the upping will be mult and/or 125:100, but there's always a few Mhz to be had from bumping to 103-108).

For the SSD IMO go with Samsung. 840, 840pro and Evo all respectively mop the floor (in 256 and 512gb) with the competition in the same price bracket, and Samsung is probably the only brand left that has the entire stretch of the drive made internally. Not even Intel (which has dropped the ball) does any longer.

IMO you could save on case and PSU.
I'm not a fan of cheap cases, even less of cheap PSUs, but for a single videocard single CPU setup 650-700W are plenty. Go for a reputable brand with low noise levels first and foremost.

Same for the case. Do you really need/want to fork out as much for the case as you do for the CPU?
Yes, you usually get to keep the case for more upgrades than you do a CPU, but there's plenty silent, solid and spacious stuff to be had for 250 and less.

It's a good config, but you can easily shave some 300 bucks from it IMO without any loss of performance or reliability whatsoever.
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Old 08 August 2013   #7
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