1k Desktop Machine for Student

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Old 09 September 2013   #1
1k Desktop Machine for Student

Hey there!

I'm a student in college looking to buy a desktop machine to hone my CAD skills. I'll mainly be using it to learn how to make animations in 3DsMax using Vray. I'll also be using Solidworks, Rhino, After Effects, and Premiere for HD video-editing, along with the usual Adobe trifecta (Ps, Ill, Indd).

Being a student I don't have that much money so I'd like to spend around 1k—if possible. I'd like to build it myself, but I'll admit that I have no idea what parts I need. It's also a bit daunting to see that there are so many different components out there that I can use.

If building it myself is too difficult, I'd be willing to buy a pre-assembled desktop. A friend suggested I look into older high-end machines that often are still quite good and cost relatively little. He mentioned something like a Lenove Thinkstation D20 could be good. But even on eBay they range from $350 to $1500. (http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_fro...on+d20&LH_BIN=1)

I have no clue what to do... I just want to start making some animations!

Got any suggestions on what I could do?
 
Old 09 September 2013   #2
Okay, so for under $1000 I'm leaning towards getting an XPS 8700.

As for a custom build, based on suggestions I made this list for parts:
http://pcpartpicker.com/p/1DjYI

The GPU seems quite expensive. Someone else suggested I get an Nvidia 660 which would lower the total cost to about $1000.

Another concern in that list is the mother board. Do I really need such a costly one? I have no clue what differentiates a high-range mobo from a lower one. I guess it's the number of ports? The current $200 mobo still seems like a lot. Could I settle for a cheaper one considering I'm not planning on doing SLI or using that many ports? I'm really interested in keeping the computer for a while, so if $200 guarantees it won't become obsolete overnight than I'll consider it.

Here's is a quick comparison I made between the XPS 8700 and the current custom build that was suggested.



At the moment they're not really comparable because of their price difference, but if I were to get a different GPU, say the Nvidia 660, do you think they would be about equivalent in terms of performance?

I'm also considering spending a bit more, so please let me know if you have any suggestions for a $1500 rig!
 
Old 09 September 2013   #3
Okay, so after perusing the internet at length and asking around, I've decided to go with the following setup:

http://pcpartpicker.com/p/1F0LY

Of course, it's not perfect, but I believe it'll be more than enough for my needs (3DsMax modeling and animation mainly).

I'll also be getting two 22" Dell Ultrasharp monitors.
 
Old 09 September 2013   #4
Hi there, Sebastien. Let me just comment on a few things:

First off, are you a gamer too? If you won't be using this computer for games, then you certainly don't need to spend all that money on a 760. Even if you're a gamer, I don't believe the 760 is worth 50$ over a 660Ti.

Secondly, you chose the non-K version of that CPU, which means you cannot overclock it. So your choice of a water cooling unit and three big-ass fans is a bit puzzling. The CPU will run just fine with the stock cooler, perhaps a bit loud but you can get a decent silent air cooler and you will be well served, trust me.

That is a good motherboard, it has great warranty and supposedly superior components. But you can go a bit lower and still have great quality. The Gigabyte GA-Z87X-UD3H is very good and about 20$ cheaper. You can even go lower and be well served.

http://pcpartpicker.com/p/1F3ai

These are the changes I suggest. There is nothing wrong with your config, it's pretty solid. But if you can use those 130$, you won't be worse off with my changes, especially for 3D work.
 
Old 09 September 2013   #5
I would get the K version and if money is tight, switch to the H50 cooler, it's still enough.
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Old 09 September 2013   #6
Yeah the K is usually worth it, even if no OC is done, both for longevity and resale value. But if cutting costs is a main priority it's always one more corner to cut.
 
Old 09 September 2013   #7
If you are getting a corsair cooler, you don't need to buy the thermal paste. The cooler has pre-applied compound.
 
Old 09 September 2013   #8
Originally Posted by Darkherow: If you are getting a corsair cooler, you don't need to buy the thermal paste. The cooler has pre-applied compound.

Correct.
All their closed circuit coolers come with, at the very least, Shin Etsu paste. They are modern and efficient compounds.
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Old 09 September 2013   #9
Originally Posted by Srek: Correct.
I would get the K version and if money is tight, switch to the H50 cooler, it's still enough.


Getting the K version then!

Originally Posted by ChrisCorr: Hi there, Sebastien. Let me just comment on a few things:

First off, are you a gamer too? If you won't be using this computer for games, then you certainly don't need to spend all that money on a 760. Even if you're a gamer, I don't believe the 760 is worth 50$ over a 660Ti.

Secondly, you chose the non-K version of that CPU, which means you cannot overclock it. So your choice of a water cooling unit and three big-ass fans is a bit puzzling. The CPU will run just fine with the stock cooler, perhaps a bit loud but you can get a decent silent air cooler and you will be well served, trust me.

That is a good motherboard, it has great warranty and supposedly superior components. But you can go a bit lower and still have great quality. The Gigabyte GA-Z87X-UD3H is very good and about 20$ cheaper. You can even go lower and be well served.

http://pcpartpicker.com/p/1F3ai

These are the changes I suggest. There is nothing wrong with your config, it's pretty solid. But if you can use those 130$, you won't be worse off with my changes, especially for 3D work.


Nope, not a gamer so I'll get the 660Ti. I'm probably not going to overclock the CPU because I wouldn't know how to do it safely. What are the benefits of the silent air cooler you selected versus the H50 water cooling unit Strek suggested? If no one objects, I'm also removing the two extra fans as you did in your list since they seem to be excessive.

Originally Posted by ThE_JacO: Correct.
All their closed circuit coolers come with, at the very least, Shin Etsu paste. They are modern and efficient compounds.


I was recommended to remove the stock paste and use the Noctua stuff because it's supposedly better quality. Since I see that many people don't think it's necessary I will omit this step.

Here's the updated list reflecting everyone's suggestions:

http://pcpartpicker.com/p/1FfZS

Thanks for the support everyone! It really helps a lot!
 
Old 09 September 2013   #10
Originally Posted by sebastienMelmoth: I was recommended to remove the stock paste and use the Noctua stuff because it's supposedly better quality. Since I see that many people don't think it's necessary I will omit this step.

It's a valid enough recommendation for a lot of heatsinks actually, just if you're looking at Corsair liquid setups they all come with excellent paste. Before you bother replacing it, in case you pick a different cooler, check what that particular cooling setup uses.
More and more higher end setups over the last two years have started using modern compounds that perform brilliantly even when coming from a solid strip form.
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Old 09 September 2013   #11
If you're not a gamer AT ALL, then even an 660Ti is overkill. :\ If you don't play games, a basic graphics card will probably give you just as much performance in 3D applications. UNLESS you plan on getting into GPU render engines.

There are no benefits of the air cooler over the H50, except that it's cheaper and perhaps easier to install. But if you don't plan on doing overclocking I really see no reason to go with the H50. You only need to replace the stock cooler that comes with the CPU for one of two reasons: you plan on overclocking and you don't want your CPU to overheat; you really care about a very silent system.

Last edited by ChrisCorr : 09 September 2013 at 06:33 AM.
 
Old 09 September 2013   #12
The OP mentioned about honing CAD skill. If AutoCAD is part of the software he wants to use then he could probably benefit from Quadro card? (Though he didn't mention about auto CAD)
 
Old 09 September 2013   #13
Within his budget, I don't think there is any professional card worth buying.
 
Old 09 September 2013   #14
Originally Posted by ChrisCorr: If you're not a gamer AT ALL, then even an 660Ti is overkill. :\ If you don't play games, a basic graphics card will probably give you just as much performance in 3D applications. UNLESS you plan on getting into GPU render engines.

There are no benefits of the air cooler over the H50, except that it's cheaper and perhaps easier to install. But if you don't plan on doing overclocking I really see no reason to go with the H50. You only need to replace the stock cooler that comes with the CPU for one of two reasons: you plan on overclocking and you don't want your CPU to overheat; you really care about a very silent system.


Do you have any suggestions for a basic graphics card? I'm planning to do all my rendering in 3DsMax using Vray. I know there's Vray RT but it doesn't seem to be at the same level as CPU rendering yet. The only reason I see for getting a better GPU is to ensure that all my viewports in 3D applications run smoothly, but I'm not sure how good the GPU has to be for that. The H80 cooler was initially suggested to me because I was told that the i7 had overheating issues. But I've looked around and it seems that the fan you selected is quite good, so I guess I'll get that instead! Does the adobe suite (including premiere and after effects) require a good GPU? I'll only be doing very basic after effects stuff, so no crazy effects rendering.

Originally Posted by Panupat: The OP mentioned about honing CAD skill. If AutoCAD is part of the software he wants to use then he could probably benefit from Quadro card? (Though he didn't mention about auto CAD)


I won't be using AutoCAD, but I will be doing some basic modelling in Solidworks and Rhino. My main reason for getting this setup is to learn how to model and render short 1-3min animations in 3DsMax.
 
Old 09 September 2013   #15
Originally Posted by sebastienMelmoth: Do you have any suggestions for a basic graphics card? I'm planning to do all my rendering in 3DsMax using Vray. I know there's Vray RT but it doesn't seem to be at the same level as CPU rendering yet. The only reason I see for getting a better GPU is to ensure that all my viewports in 3D applications run smoothly, but I'm not sure how good the GPU has to be for that.

I'll have to respectfully disagree with Chris that the videocard makes little difference, though I agree there's no room, and I'd say no value anyway, to slip a quadro in there.

Depending on what you toss around in the viewport the videocard can make a gigantic difference.
There are speed gain factors, many of which have diminishing returns (IE: subdivision modelling tends to be CPU capped rather than videocard capped), but there are situations where the videocard becomes a clear cut bottlenecck (IE: VRam required to render something, which is very easy to slam if you start using the fancy DX shaders or have a fair chunk of textures being drawn).

The 580 remains one of the best bang for buck out there, as does the 670. I wouldn't go below those to be honest.
I would, however, seriously consider second hand for the videocard. No reason not to.

Quote: The H80 cooler was initially suggested to me because I was told that the i7 had overheating issues. But I've looked around and it seems that the fan you selected is quite good, so I guess I'll get that instead! Does the adobe suite (including premiere and after effects) require a good GPU? I'll only be doing very basic after effects stuff, so no crazy effects rendering.

The overheating issues are both grossly exagerated, and usually completely out of context. For its intended use Haswell CPUs and Ivy-E CPUs are absolutely and perfectly fine.

Most of them (misplaced overheating notions) come from the overclocking scene numbers game an comparisons with some very OC friendly ivies or even i7 Mark I. How it's been turned into "Haswell CPUs have overheating issues" is, frankly, ridiculous.
Yes, they do heat up under hard OCing more than Ivy Bridge ones did (largely on account of the internal fill being paste and not soldering, but mostly because voltage regulation has been moved on die), but that's like saying the European Ford Focus Mark I engine is unreliable because if you slap a turbine on it and slice the ECU and you keep ticking the 8RPM mark it chugs. It'd be true, but it's not normal use or something 99.9% of the population would care about

An H50 will be relatively affordable, and can keep any Haswell CPU more than cool enough at any overclock level that doesn't require you start fine tuning your settings to death, which is what most people buying a K will do. A decent air cooling set up would be on par or almost on par, a bit easier to set up, but more cumbersome. The H80 and H100 would be overkill.
Only the people looking for the highest number they can get bump into the overheating issues, but that's not how you setup a machine for use and rendering.
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