rendering pc for poor architecture student?

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  10 October 2012
rendering pc for poor architecture student?

Hey guys,

I'm an arch student looking into buying a workstation for architectural visualization. As I don't have much experience with building my own rig I decided to look for expert advice before I shoot myself in the foot! Hopefully, someone can give me a few pointers as to what factors I should consider, or maybe even what specific hardware to buy.

Ideally, I want to avoid buying a computer at all, but, alas, I have already stretched the limits of my poor little 15" macbook pro beyond recognition. Price-wise, the closer to zero it gets, the better, but I'm able to fork out USD1600 max.

My main criteria are speed and reliability for rendering; my top priority is to churn out good quality work within deadlines and not be controlled by rendering times and crashes.
The ability to handle high resolution images, large vector files and complex 3d scenes is definitely a plus.

Software I'm using: 3ds max Design 2013 with MR, Illustrator CS6, Photoshop CS6, Autocad 2011/13, Revit, Rhino 4/5 with Grasshopper and T-Splines, Google Sketchup, Maya.

In summary, I'm trying to find the sweet spot between price and performance as applied to architectural visualization. Thanks for reading and thanks for helping!
  10 October 2012
i7 3770k is a good start. what's your budget?
  10 October 2012
You might be able to get away with a low end dual socket setup for around 1600.

You wont need a GPU if its a render slave, so you can put all your money into 16+GB of RAM and as much CPU as possible.

  10 October 2012
I'd suggest checking out the AMD FX-8350 for a budget build. For the money you can't beat it. Also be sure to check out if you can get a discounted copy of Windows through your school (or a general academic reseller). I was able to get a copy when I was in school for like $10 from the bookstore.
  10 October 2012
Thanks for the replies!

Would it make sense to have high cpu speed and ram with a low-end gpu? In my understanding I'd still need a pretty decent gpu for everything else beside rendering, right?

Is it possible to get a dual quadcore system with a budget of 1600? Is it better to have less but faster cores or more but slower?

If I had to choose between more ram or more cpu, which is it?

Sorry about all the questions, I'm trying to understand what factors to consider when building a 3d-work-specific pc.
  10 October 2012
Well if your just doing arch viz, you probably don't need to go too crazy with the GPU.

I do mostly still stuff with millions of polys, and I get along just fine with my $60 GPU. My view frame rate is pretty slow, but it doesn't slow me down at all for static modelling work.

I would suppose if your doing lots of animation and particle crazyness, having that extra realtime view performance would help.

I would look at cinibench scores of various platforms, and see what offers the best bang for your buck. A high end single socket 6-8 core setup will usually outperform a low end dual quad core setup in raytracing.

This ones 570 and scores an 11.

These two are 600, and would score around 9-10.


Last edited by AJ1 : 11 November 2012 at 10:35 AM.
  11 November 2012
If your budget is limited I would not consider buying a dual/multi socket socket system.

The CPUs are usually more expensive and slower than the desktop cpus. You can can decent single socket motherboards for less than 100 bucks. Good multi socket boards usually cost 3 to 4 times as much. PSU will be more expensive etc. etc.

Just build two systems for comparison and you will see that any single core system will beat dual socket systems if it comes to cost per speed.

Plus: If you build 3 renderslaves instead of having one huge machine - if one of the PCs is crashing the renders before you go to bed. Two are still rendering. If the big single machine crashed - lots of render hours lost.

Plus: If you don't have to render but only work - a single socket workstation will suck a lot less electricity while you can turn off the rendernodes and save energy and money. When the huge machine if always runnign in idle it will waste your money.

Just buy similar machines, built and update them, install all the software and then clone the disks with clonezilla. Of course theres a number where the cost of software licenses and OS will be higher than the benefit from the desktop / consumer price, but that is pretty high imo.

  11 November 2012
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