New workstation build for heavy 3D - budget range £2500 - £5000 ex VAT

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Old 02 February 2014   #1
Post New workstation build for heavy 3D - budget range £2500 - £5000 ex VAT

Hi,

Studio I work for (UK localization) will be upgrading equipment soon (within 1 month most likely). So far over here only Mac were used, but because some of the software require Windows (bootcamp and virtual machine don't do the job) we need to get a few PCs (I'm the only person in the company who uses PC on daily bases).

As we might get a few PC it is likely they will be on different spec depending for whom they will be (roto artists or fluid / rendering artists). This is why budget range is so wide. However the most important build is a high-end one that will need to handle a lot of 3D creation and rendering. The aim might not be to use all £5000, but to create the most cost effective build. There is no point to spend extra money if it will not increase performance in a important way.

Applications:

- Maya (3D animation and rendering - MentaRay)
- After Effects (including raytracing)
- Realflow (fluid simulation)

After some research I found those companies that do workstations (we need to order it from company that will get us reliable warranty, so buying products one buy one and assembling it our self is not possible):
http://www.armari.co.uk
http://www.broadberry.co.uk/workstations
http://3xs.scan.co.uk/custom/profes...cs/form-factors

It is hard to choose, as every component is important. RAM and massive HDD for fluids, CPU for rendering in 3D, GPU (preference is a GeForce with CUDA cores) to support rendering in both Maya and AE.

32GB RAM - minimum, pref 64GB

GPU - GeForce with CUDA (K4000 3GB seams alright)

High end build - 2 x CPU ( I assume it is better to go with more slower cores than fewer faster ones, is that correct?)

1 SSD ~250GB and 1 HDD 3-4 TB (or would it better to get 2x 2 TB?)

If I missed any important information please let me know.

All input is more than welcome

Thank you
 
Old 02 February 2014   #2
Originally Posted by AdamKk: I assume it is better to go with more slower cores than fewer faster ones, is that correct?


More slower core will help you only for final rendering or large fluid simulation but in daily use most programs/operations are not multicore optimized therefore it's better to get few faster core and most important the best turbo performance for single thread operation.
If I had to go for a dual Xeon systems today I'll look for a compromise between total speed and single thread performance, so the ideal setup is a dual E5 2687W-V2(16core/32thread @3.4ghz single core turbo @4ghz) or a dual E5 2690-V2(20core/40thread @3ghz single core turbo @3.6ghz), but I think they are both out of your budget.
You can consider a single CPU solution like an overclocked I7 6core, it's as as fast as an old dual Xeon 5xxx 12core system(like the old macpro) and in single thread performance is much faster(also faster than any recent dual Xeon setup equipped with E5 26xx-V2), plus is cheaper than a Xeon solution. For massive multithread performance IMO it's better to get some external nodes(many renderer and realflow can offload the processing to renderfarms, but consider also the licensing policy of your software).
 
Old 02 February 2014   #3
Thank you for your post sirio. I will definitely take that into account. On that base I did below build. The only problem is the fact, that as for now it should perform well, but I don't think it will give much option for future upgrades.

Custom Armari Magnetar® S16-AW1050S

System : Armari Magnetar® S16-AW1050S Professional Workstation Base system
Case Accessories : Magnetar S-Series (top panel)/M-Series (Front panel) 2x USB 3.0+ 2x USB 2.0 ports
CPU : Intel Core™ i7-4960X Extreme (UNLOCKED) Processor 3.50GHz (Six-Core/12-Thread)
Memory : 64GB DDR3-1600 2R (PC3-12800) SDRAM (8 x 8GBs)
Graphics : PNY Quadro K4000 (Kepler) 3GB GDDR5 PCIe 2.0 Professional 3D Graphics Card
Hard drive : Western Digital SE Enterprise NAS 3TB SATA Hard Disk
Additional HDs : 1 x Intel SSD DC S3500 2.5" 300GB, 2.5" Enterprise MLC SATA 6Gb SSD
CD/DVD Drive : Samsung Multi-Format DVD Writer. Int. SATA Black
USB Card : Akasa USB3.0 Dual port PCIe x1 Card (1 x Internal, 1 x external) AK-PCCU3-02
Firewire Card : Lycom PE-107 Dual port 1394b FireWire 800 + 1x 1394a FireWire 400 PCIe x1 Card
Network : Draytek Vigor N65 Wireless 802.11n USB Dongle Dual-band (2.4/5GHz)
Sound : On-board Sound. High Definition 7.1 Channel Audio, built onto the motherboard
O/S : Microsoft Windows 8 Professional 64Bit (OEM)
Warranty : Armari Magnetar S/M/X Series - 3 Year Premium workstation warranty
Carriage : Collect in person from our UK office (Watford WD18)

Price quoted online excluding VAT £3563.18
 
Old 02 February 2014   #4
The bits youve picked out are pretty much decent, and I agree with the above post, unless youre going to spend a moderate amount on a dual xeon machine, stick with a nicely clocked 6 core i7. I cringe every time I get given a xeon machine to work on only to discover its chugging along at 2GHz.

And dont worry about ECC memory, it doesnt do anything for graphics apps
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www.3dfluff.com
 
Old 02 February 2014   #5
Thank you for your input imashination. I didn't know that the memory I had select is a ECC one. It was only 64GB option (highest) on that particular workstation customisation. How were you able to tell it's ECC?
 
Old 02 February 2014   #6
Originally Posted by AdamKk: CPU : Intel Core™ i7-4960X Extreme (UNLOCKED) Processor 3.50GHz (Six-Core/12-Thread)


Better to go for the 4930K, it's just <5% slower but cost about half the price of the 4960.
Also consider that you can build a better DIY PC for half the price of the one configured by Armary.

Last edited by sirio : 02 February 2014 at 01:20 PM.
 
Old 02 February 2014   #7
Thanks again sirio. DIY might be a problem, as we need reliable warranty & quick fix options in case something would go wrong.

Any ideas on actual % that those companies that make workstation put on the top of component's price?
 
Old 02 February 2014   #8
Originally Posted by AdamKk: Thank you for your input imashination. I didn't know that the memory I had select is a ECC one. It was only 64GB option (highest) on that particular workstation customisation. How were you able to tell it's ECC?


I didn't, I guessed ;-) It was more "If you're given the option to spend extra for ECC, then don't". ECC memory is often touted as improving the stability of your machine, and whilst thats technically true, it won't actually stop your machine from crashing due to buggy code, which is 99.9% of all the crashes you'll ever encounter.
__________________
Matthew O'Neill
www.3dfluff.com
 
Old 02 February 2014   #9
Ohhh, ok. I didn't want to buy ECC, I agree it is unnecessary unless you deal with serious calculation that need to be perfect.

I did a build with 3cx.scan.co.uk and it ended up quite cheaper than the previous one I did.

Fractal Design Define R4 - Quiet Full Tower £79.68
Asus P9X79, Intel X79 Chipset £188.15
Intel Core i7 4930K Extreme, Ivy Bridge, Six Core, 3.4GHz, 3.9GHz Turbo £427.40
Overclocked up to 4.2GHz - Tuned for optimal performance while retaining stability.
Corsair H80 Hydro - Performance Liquid CPU Cooler £59.40
64GB Corsair Vengeance LP - 1600MHz, CAS 9-9-9-24, 1.5V £535.68
3GB NVIDIA Quadro K4000 - Supports 4 Displays (2xDP + DVI) £624.00
Corsair RM750W Modular Gold Silent PSU £90.90
256GB Samsung 840 PRO - 540MB/s Read, 530MB/s Write, 100K IOPS £175.50
3TB Seagate Barracuda, 7200rpm, 64MB Cache £82.52
Samsung SH-224DB - 24x DVD Reader & Writer £12.83
Edimax EW-7622UMn, USB 2.0, 300Mbps, 802.11b/g/n, 2.4 Ghz, Wireless Adaptor £10.07
Microsoft Windows 8.1 Pro 64 Bit £105.37

Total (inc VAT) £2567.39 (include delivery)

That is significantly cheaper than Armari, so I could go with K5000 or second K4000 as an extra. What would be better in your opinion cg fellows?

Last edited by AdamKk : 02 February 2014 at 03:11 PM.
 
Old 02 February 2014   #10
Dont buy a second card unless you will be rendering with a specialised gpu render engine, otherwise it wont do anything.
__________________
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www.3dfluff.com
 
Old 02 February 2014   #11
I will not use those renderers, but After Effects use GPU, so I will either stay with K4000 or upgrade K5000.
 
Old 02 February 2014   #12
If you can hold out a month or two, Haswell-E and x99 boards are right around the corner.
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Fix it in pre.
 
Old 02 February 2014   #13
Thanks dmeyer. I did a quick research and it seams that Haswell-E will not be in for more than 2 months and I can't wait that long.

What's your opinion about how well it will perform compering to its price?

Intel Core i7 4930K Extreme, Ivy Bridge, Six Core, 3.4GHz, 3.9GHz Turbo (Overclocked to 4 point 'something' ) cost $580 and Haswell-E suppose to cost around $1000. I guess motherboard will be significantly more expensive compering to: $244 Asus P9X79, Intel X79 Chipset.
 
Old 02 February 2014   #14
Originally Posted by AdamKk: Thanks dmeyer. I did a quick research and it seams that Haswell-E will not be in for more than 2 months and I can't wait that long.

What's your opinion about how well it will perform compering to its price?

Intel Core i7 4930K Extreme, Ivy Bridge, Six Core, 3.4GHz, 3.9GHz Turbo (Overclocked to 4 point 'something' ) cost $580 and Haswell-E suppose to cost around $1000. I guess motherboard will be significantly more expensive compering to: $244 Asus P9X79, Intel X79 Chipset.


The prices won't go up much. The top end Haswell-E will be around $1000 as the 4960x is now, but they'll have a model below that - similar to the 4930x.

But none of that matters if you need it now.
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Fix it in pre.
 
Old 02 February 2014   #15
Ok, in that case it might be something nice for future However I will not be able to to wait that long anyway :/

Thank you for your post dmeyer
 
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