Workstation specs feedback

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  01 January 2018
Workstation specs feedback

Hi and happy 2018 to all !

I am looking into buying a new workstation, optimised for the below workflow: 
Modelling in Rhino 3d & rendering in MaxwellRender, hires images 10.000 x 10.000 (for printing large format at 300 dpi), with lots of hi-res displacement maps and SSS.

May I have your feedback on the below machine please:

CPU:
Overclocked Intel® Core™ i9-7980XE 18 Core (2.60GHz @ up to 4.6GHz) 

Motherboard: 
ASUS® PRIME X299-A: ATX, USB 3.1, SATA 6 GB/s, RGB Ready

RAM:
128GB Corsair VENGEANCE DDR4 2666MHz (8 x 16GB) 

HDD:
500GB SAMSUNG 960 EVO M.2, PCIe NVMe (up to 3200MB/R, 1900MB/W) 

GPU:
11GB ASUS ROG STRIX GEFORCE GTX 1080 Ti - DVI, HDMI, DP 

POWER:
CORSAIR 750W TXm SERIES™ SEMI-MODULAR 80 PLUS® GOLD, ULTRA QUIET 

COOLING:
Noctua NH-U14S Ultra Quiet Performance CPU Cooler 

OS:
Genuine Windows 10 Professional 64 Bit 

£ 
4750

couple of questions:
- Is it safe to get the CPU overclocked or is there a risk of unstable system (the vendor does the overclocking so it will be done professionally)?
- the GTX 1080 Ti costs pretty much same as Quadro P4000, which one is better in your opinion for both modelling in Rhino and GPU rendering? (I am thinking about getting second GPU once MaxwellRender provides full functionality, so will have two of these)
- And finally, regarding the CPU, do you think that dual Xeon system would be a better choice in regards to cutting down render times?

thanks a lot!

Dan
 
  01 January 2018
Oc'ing the 7980XE at 4.6GHz with a Noctua NH-14S is just impossible, not just optimistic. You'll be needing at least a top AIO cooler (280 or 360mm), if not a custom cooling solution if you want to use this processor for rendering and at speeds higher than stock. 

I think that the P4000 would be better in viewports in Rhino (I was a Rhino user until recently, and its old OpenGL version should behave better with a Quadro imo), but the 1080Ti would be a much better option for rendering, due to more cuda cores, higher clocks and larger Vram (11gb vs 8gb). 

Imo, you shouldn't throw money on an nvme ssd like the 960. Either go with a classic sata ssd with larger capacity (you can buy a 1-2 TB ssd with the same money), or, if you want the best drive out there that would really be faster in everyday use (random reads/writes of small files), go for this one https://geizhals.de/intel-optane-ss...hloc=at&hloc=de. The Samsung would be faster only in certain scenarios. 

As for your last question, you could probably build a Dual Xeon system for slightly faster rendering with your money, but it would be slower in all other tasks (modeling, everyday use) due to lower turbo boost frequencies. The 7980XE has 4.4GHz turbo frequency for one core, that is quite decent for single threaded operations. In my opinion, leave the i9 at stock speeds. Overclocking this beast is not worth the risk, and the outcome could be worse than expected. 
 
  01 January 2018
I agree with everything Father Nick said, except that the Quadros don't really perform any better in Rhino than the GeForce cards (in my experience). You're much better off with the 1080Ti, as it will pretty much remove any roadblocks Rhino might have. I've never used Maxwell inside Rhino (how do you UV-map stuff? Rhino is terrible with UVs!) but from a Viewport and complexity perspective, the greater Vram with the 1080Ti would be much more beneficial and cost much less as well. It will likely feel more responsive too, in heavy scenes.
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  01 January 2018
Im surprised to see optane drives are actually out at decent sizes with sensible prices, what is the current state of play for these, I can't seem to find much recent info, every article just talks about them as 16gb harddrive caches, which always seemed like a pretty pointless use of the technology. Wasn't this stuff supposed to replace harddrives and memory at the same time, effectively giving access to absurd amounts of ram, high speed storage and no wearing out issues?

Also yeah, don't expect to get 4.6ghz out of an 18 core chip on all cores. It will run at 4.6ghz and seem fine but by all reports its not that stable, it will crash every few hours, but not enough that you cant seemingly do all the benchmarks and make it seem stable. Stable clocks for the 18 core are 4 to 4.2ghz.
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Matthew O'Neill
www.3dfluff.com
 
  01 January 2018
Thanks for your replies FatherN, InternalDarkness & imashination !

ok so:

- will not overclock the CPU to be safe. Is the Noctua sufficient then? (machine will be on 24/7, modelling during day & rendering over night. On the other hand: The case has 3 x 120mm front fans1 x 140mm rear fan so hope that helps)

-will stick with the 1080Ti. I am planning to get an additional 2x in future, so will have 3x1080Ti. Does the motherboard allow for this? And the 750w power?

-is there any point going with higher mhz RAM? I need stability, but dont want to limit bottleneck the system anywhere...

-the Optane HDD is not available from the vendor i am using... you think the M.2 is waste of money? MaxwellRender saves its files periodically (every hour or so) and these are 4GB+ files, so it takes ages on my current (but quite old) HDD

thanks again for your great help gentlemen!

D
 
  01 January 2018
Do overclock, the i7's do it very nicely. Bump the 18 core i7 up to 4ghz and enjoy much faster rendering.

M.2 pcie ssds are nice and fast, i'd recommend one if your budget is high enough. SATA drives top out at 550 megs a second, pcie m.2 can do over 3000.

3 gfx cards will really need a 1000+ watt PSU. Assume roughly 250 watts each for gpus and cpus. So 750 watts would be enough for 2 cards and the cpu.
__________________
Matthew O'Neill
www.3dfluff.com
 
  01 January 2018
hi imashination,

So in the end I've placed an order for the below. Lets see how it turns out performing.

(compared to the initial post specs, I've selected better motherboard + liquid cooling so that I can overclock, also kept the m.2, and opted for rather nice case, and bumped PSU to 1000w, probably tho will have to replace it with 1200w once I get additional 2x 1080ti, but thats in future, MaxwellRender right now limits some features while running ong GPU, so will render fully CPU for the time being. )

Case
NZXT H700i MID-TOWER GAMING CASE (WHITE)

Overclocked CPU
Overclocked Intel® Core™ i9-7980XE 18 Core (2.60GHz @ up to 4.6GHz)

Motherboard
ASUS® ROG RAMPAGE VI EXTREME: DDR4, 6Gb/s, CrossFireX/SLI, WIFI - RGB Ready

Memory (RAM)
128GB Corsair VENGEANCE DDR4 2666MHz (8 x 16GB)

Graphics Card
11GB NVIDIA GEFORCE GTX 1080 Ti - HDMI, 3x DP GeForce - GTX VR Ready!

M.2 SSD Drive
500GB SAMSUNG 960 EVO M.2, PCIe NVMe (up to 3200MB/R, 1900MB/W)

Power Supply
CORSAIR 1000W RMx SERIES™ MODULAR 80 PLUS® GOLD, ULTRA QUIET

Processor Cooling
Corsair H110i Hydro Series High Performance CPU Cooler

Thermal Paste
EK-TIM ECTOTHERM THERMAL COMPOUND

Operating System
Genuine Windows 10 Professional 64 Bit - inc DVD & Single Licence

Warranty
3 Year Gold Warranty (2 Year Collect & Return, 2 Year Parts, 3 Year Labour)

Price £5,229.00 including VAT and delivery 
 
  01 January 2018
Looks great, you'll likely be fine with x3 1080ti cards.
__________________
Matthew O'Neill
www.3dfluff.com
 
  01 January 2018
I don't know If you're interested in an alternative build, or you've already made up your mind about it, but this is my part list suggestion for this rig:

1 Intel Optane SSD 900P 480GB, PCIe 3.0 x4 (SSDPED1D480GASX/SSDPED1D480GAX1)
1 Intel Core i9-7980XE extreme Edition, 18x 2.60GHz, boxed without cooler (BX80673I97980X)
2 Corsair Vengeance LPX black DIMM kit 64GB, DDR4-2800, CL14-16-16-36 (CMK64GX4M4B2800C14)
1 MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Armor 11G OC, 11GB GDDR5X, DVI, 2x HDMI, 2x DisplayPort (V360-010R)
1 MSI X299 XPower Gaming AC (7A91-001R)
1 be quiet! Dark Base Pro 900 white Edition white, glass window, noise-insulated (BGW13)
1 NZXT Kraken X61
1 Corsair HX Series HX1200 80PLUS Platinum 1200W ATX 2.4 (CP-9020140)
1 Microsoft: Windows 10 Pro 64bit, DSP/SB (English) (PC) (FQC-08929)

GRAND TOTAL: £ 5046.07 without shipping cost. 

Some comments:
1. The Rampage Extreme is a top motherboard for overclockers, competitions etc., but it's too expensive for what you really need (basically, a good distribution of x16 pcie slots). Most of its features would be useless in your case. 

2. You don't really need a discrete thermal compound for your AIO cooler. Most of the top AIO manufacturers (like Corsair, NZXT etc.) include high quality thermal pastes inside their products.

3. For a system like this, with a 7980XE (especially oc'ed) and 2-3 1080Ti's for rendering, I would feel more comfortable with a 1200W (or higher) high efficiency psu. With a 1000W unit, things could be a bit tight imo. 

4. As I've mentioned in a previous post, with a budget like yours, the new Intel's Optane ssd is a must. It would be faster than the 960 EVO most of the time. 
 
  02 February 2018
Gentlemen, thanks for your feedback, it was very useful!

So in the end, I got this:

Case     
NZXT H700i MID-TOWERGAMING CASE (WHITE)
 
Overclocked CPU            
Overclocked Intel®Core™ i9-7980XE 18 Core (2.60GHz @ up to 4.6GHz)
 
Motherboard   
ASUS® ROG RAMPAGE VIEXTREME: DDR4, 6Gb/s, CrossFireX/SLI, WIFI - RGB Ready
 
Power Supply   
CORSAIR 1000W RMxSERIES™ MODULAR 80 PLUS® GOLD, ULTRA QUIET
 
Processor Cooling           
Corsair H110i HydroSeries High Performance CPU Cooler
 
Memory (RAM)
128GB CorsairVENGEANCE DDR4 2666MHz (8 x 16GB)
 
Graphics Card   
11GB NVIDIA GEFORCEGTX 1080 Ti - HDMI, 3x DP
 
1st M.2 SSD Drive            
500GB SAMSUNG 960 EVOM.2, PCIe NVMe (up to 3200MB/R, 1900MB/W)
 
Price      £5,229.00

I will run it under load for a while and let you know how it feels.

thanks again for your help!

D
 
  02 February 2018
btw, the processor was overclocked to 4.0 Ghz, not to the full 4.6Ghz, for the sake of stability.
 
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