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Old 09-28-2012, 09:29 AM   #1
Neil V
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New PC advice

Hi all.

I'm after a bit of fatherly advice.

I'm weighing up whether to get a new Mac Pro but am sorely tempted to cross over to the dark side and get myself a beast of a PC. I'm doing some pretty render-intensive work these days and my 3 year old Mac just ain't cutting it. I've always been a Mac user as some of you may know but I have to make a sensible business decision on what the best deal is I can get for my hard earned cash. I'm also falling a little bit out of love with Apple these days as their strategy clearly lies elsewhere as far as development goes.

I know next to nothing about PCs so I honestly don't know what I'll be getting. I had the following PC spec'd up for me (see below). Is this a good deal at £3200? Is there anything there I can do without? Is there anything I could change for a cheaper but equally good alternative? Why do I need two graphics cards if I only use one monitor? As you can tell I'm pretty clueless.

Any help or advice would be great. Thanks in advance.


Processor: Intel® Xeon® Quad Core E3-1280 (3.5 GHz, 4.80 GT/s)
Motherboard: ASUS® P8Z77 WS - ATX, USB 3.0, SATA 6 GB/s
RAM:32GB SAMSUNG DUAL-DDR3 1333MHz (4 X 8GB)
Graphics Card: 4GB NVIDIA GEFORCE GTX 690 DUAL GPU - 3 x DVI-I, 1 x mDP
2nd Graphics Card: 4GB NVIDIA GEFORCE GTX 690 DUAL GPU - 3 x DVI-I, 1 x mDP
Memory - 120GB INTEL® 330 SERIES SSD, SATA 6 Gb/s (upto 500MB/sR | 450MB/sW)
2nd Hard Disk: 1TB WD CAVIAR GREEN WD10EARX, SATA 6 Gb/s, 64MB CACHE
1st Drive: DVD/BLU-RAY Drive 24x DUAL LAYER DVD WRITER ±R/±RW/RAM
2nd Drive: DVD/BLU-RAY Drive
Memory Card Reader: INTERNAL 52 IN 1 CARD READER (XD, MS, CF, SD, etc) + 1 x USB 2.0 PORT
Power Supply: CORSAIR 1050W PRO SERIES™ HX1050-80 PLUS® GOLD MODULAR (£158)
Processor Cooling: SUPER QUIET 22dBA TRIPLE COPPER HEATPIPE INTEL CPU COOLER (£19)
Sound Card: ONBOARD 8 CHANNEL (7.1) HIGH DEF AUDIO (AS STANDARD)
Network Facilities: 2 x ONBOARD 10/100/1000 GIGABIT LAN PORTS
USB Options: 8 x USB 2.0 PORTS @ BACK PANEL (MIN 2 FRONT PORTS) AS STANDARD
Firewire
NONE
OS: Windows 7 Professional 64 Bit w/SP1

Price: £3,270.00
 
Old 09-28-2012, 09:59 AM   #2
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The E3 Xeons are single socket, for a workstation they have no advantage over a Core i7 of the same generation. Take a 6 Core i7 if you want this machine not only for editing but also for rendering.
The dual GPU graphics cards will be of no use for the viewport of any 3D DCC package, only GPU renderer will take any advantage and you should make sure beforehand that the renderengine in question realy does support the setup you are looking for.
I would go for a Seagate harddisk, the failure rate i have with WD is abysmal.
If you go for two powerfull graphics cards you not only need to provide them with enough power (the >1 KW PSU should handle that) but you also need to take care of the excess heat which is a tough task if you also want the machine to not be very loud.
Good luck
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Edit: PS i moved your thread to the correct forum
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Old 09-28-2012, 10:25 AM   #3
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Thanks Srek.

I appreciate your swift response and this is the sort of feedback I need. Sorry I also posted in the wrong forum - I didn't even notice there was a Technical and Hardware forum ;o)

Thanks again.
 
Old 09-28-2012, 10:40 AM   #4
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OK then. How does this revised spec grab you? Better? It comes in at just under £3000:

Processor: Intel® Core™i7 Six Core Processor Extreme i7-3960X (3.3GHz) 15MB Cache
Motherboard: ASUS® RAMPAGE IV EXTREME: INTEL X79, SOCKET 2011, R.O.G
RAM: 32GB SAMSUNG QUAD-DDR3 1333MHz (8 X 4GB)
Graphics Card: 4GB NVIDIA GEFORCE GTX 680 - 2 DVI, HDMI, DP - 3D Vision Ready
2nd Graphics Card: 4GB NVIDIA GEFORCE GTX 680 - 2 DVI, HDMI, DP - 3D Vision Ready
Memory - 1st Hard Disk: 500GB SEAGATE MOMENTUS XT HYBRID, SATA 3 Gb/s, 32MB CACHE (7200 rpm)
2nd Hard Disk: 1TB 3.5" SATA-III 6GB/s HDD 7200RPM 32MB CACHE
1st DVD/BLU-RAY Drive: 24x DUAL LAYER DVD WRITER ±R/±RW/RAM
2nd DVD/BLU-RAY Drive NONE
Memory Card Reader: INTERNAL 52 IN 1 CARD READER (XD, MS, CF, SD, etc) + 1 x USB 2.0 PORT
Power Supply: CORSAIR 1050W PRO SERIES™ HX1050-80 PLUS® GOLD MODULAR (£158)
Processor Cooling: COOLIT ECO II C240 DUAL RAD LIQUID CPU COOLER (Special Offer) (£69)
Fan Controller NONE
Sound Card: ONBOARD 8 CHANNEL (7.1) HIGH DEF AUDIO (AS STANDARD)
Network Facilities: 10/100/1000 GIGABIT LAN PORT - AS STANDARD ON ALL PCs
USB Options: 6 x USB 2.0 PORTS @ BACK PANEL (MIN 2 FRONT PORTS) AS STANDARD
OS: Windows 7 Professional 64 Bit w/SP1
 
Old 09-28-2012, 11:10 AM   #5
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Thats a terrible machine, it wastes a large amount of cash on underpowered components with a high profit margin and even more on pointless hardware that wont be used.

First, whats the main source of frustration for you right now, general working in apps or the specific rendering portion? That will determine if you want a very high speed low number of cores, or a larger number of cores at a lower speed.

That particular Xeon is pointless, its overpriced and underpowered. Aim for a 6-core intel i7 as the heart of the machine, the 3.2 ghz one has a good price point and will happily run at over 4ghz with minimal effort.

The gfx card, just get a single geforce 680 gtx, plump for one with 4 gigs ram if you think you might try some gpu rendering in the future, otherwise you wont notice any difference with a 2gig version.

2 blu ray drives, really, who cares? Just grab one if you care, I doubt my next machine will even have an optical drive, i certainly dont miss it on the laptop.

SSDs do very little for desktop machines unless you can afford such a quantity that you can replace all your data storage drives with them. A 128gig ssd will have no significant impact on the responsiveness of your machine. Just aim for a good volume of high capacity regular drives. 4x 2TB drives in a raid 10 is quite nice. You get a huge amount of read speed, a very good write speed and if a drive keels over, you lose nothing. This will give you 4TB of usable space.

In terms of components, you can have:

3.2 GHz 6-core i7, £380
Suitable motherboard with 8 ram slots, £220
64 gigs of ram, £280
geforce 680, 4 gigs ram £400
4x 2tb hitachi drives, £320
Case, psu, better heatsink, bluray drive, win 7 £300

£1900
£380 vat

£2280 total. Tack on whatever youre happy to pay for someone to build it, clock it to 4ghz and guarantee it runs and youre still well short of the other machine.

If you want to save even more beer tokens, or put the spare towards an awesome pair of screens, halve the ram and harddrives, knock the geforce 680 down to a 660 and youll not notice a huge difference.
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Old 09-28-2012, 11:14 AM   #6
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Still lots wasted on the second spec, that extra 0.1GHz speed bump is costing you hundreds, the second gfx card will still sit there doing nothing but burning your electricity bill, and a 500gig harddrive, even with the fluffy hybrid tag, is a waste of cash.
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Old 09-28-2012, 11:27 AM   #7
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Agree with mash apart from the SSD statement, that is misleading, they make a huge difference to desktop use. No one is buying an SSD just for storage capacity they buy it for its speed. I run 2x120Gb in Raid with 6Tb of HDD. The SSDs are for programs and for active projects the HDDs for large files, I've also got a revodrive as a cache/scratch disk. if i had to go back to running off HDDs I'd cry, and I'd get bored waiting
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Old 09-28-2012, 11:49 AM   #8
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Mash and brasco, thanks for the replies. This is what I need - a no bull**** approach. Tell me what I need.

What I'm after mostly is rendering speed. My Mac Pro is great for most things but I do very little design anymore and produce mainly 3D stills and animations. I'd like to get into using Maxwell properly at some point but it kills my machine.

I'm not bothered about gaming or anything else. I may do a bit of video editing work in such apps as After Effects but it will mostly be C4D, VRay, Maxwell, Photoshop. That's your lot really.
 
Old 09-28-2012, 12:16 PM   #9
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Brasco, with 64 gigs of ram, apps will all launch instantly regardless, windows 7 will cache and preload the most commonly used apps, so PS, AE, C4D etc will be resident in memory as soon as the machine is booted. The only thing that might help is for the live projects, but unless he's doing huge particle sims or has a baking fetish, the file sizes of 3d projects are for the most part insignificant. Presumably he'll be keeping his library of textures on the larger harddrive storage space, so even the large files will have to come from the slower storage unless he spends time bouncing files back and forth.

But now, if render speed really is the issue, if youre doing high res still, maybe consider the dual 6 core xeon route but do keep in mind, unless you can afford xeons of somewhat equal speed as the i7, youll gain very little; and for £3k, that wont get you what you want. ie theres no point going for 12 cores of 2.5ghz xeons when you could have 4-4.5ghz of 6core i7 for less money, the render speeds will be almost the same and in general the xeon will be slower at everything else.

If youre doing animations, take a look at stuff like rebus farm or one of the many others, 100's of machines which will often work out faster and cheaper than maintaining your own render machine.
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Old 09-28-2012, 12:39 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imashination
unless he's doing huge particle sims or has a baking fetish,.


How did you know about my baking fetish. I'm frequently complimented on the quality of my buns ;o)

Thanks again Mash. you're right, I will mainlybe doing high res stills and animations but I very rarely, if ever get involved in high particles counts or Realflow simulations. My main bread and butter is arch vis with a bit of product visualisation occasionally. Textures will be kept on one drive in the same directory. I also use rebusfarm a lot these days. In fact, only this morning I completed a job with them.

So that's it in a nutshell really. Looks like the 4-4.5ghz 6 core i7 is the way to go then from all accounts.
 
Old 09-28-2012, 01:30 PM   #11
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I have the system you're basically speccing there, and I will say it's not a beast when compared to the dual E5 Xeons in the render department but thrashes them in everyday use, and the value is insanely good as mash says.

My ideal would be to have a dual Xeon box for render out tests etc while I can keep working on the hexacore as the workstation and use Rebusfarm for the finals. I currently have a 2600K rendernode (old workstation) and it's fine but lacking at pure render power.

Quote:
Originally Posted by imashination
Brasco, with 64 gigs of ram, apps will all launch instantly regardless, windows 7 will cache and preload the most commonly used apps, so PS, AE, C4D etc will be resident in memory as soon as the machine is booted. The only thing that might help is for the live projects, but unless he's doing huge particle sims or has a baking fetish, the file sizes of 3d projects are for the most part insignificant.


That's not completely true, the programs still have to be loaded into the RAM and pulled off the SSD/HDD, loading times are significantly faster on an SSD, that's just a fact regardless of RAM amount.
I run 32GB of RAM on this system and have to clear it constantly for use with AE and C4D so I suppose I benefit from the faster drive there. My cache and storage use is quite standard I'd say for a 3D artist or TD, lots of baking, sim caching and highpolycounts, but of course everyday 3D files aren't an issue.

Maybe we're arguing different points here, but the overall speed boost in everyday use from an SSD is unquestionable, not just for caches. They're not even that expensive any more!

cheers
brasc
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Old 09-28-2012, 08:59 PM   #12
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OK chaps, so how does this revision look to you?

Processor: Intel® Core™i7 Six Core Processor Extreme i7-3960X (3.3GHz) 15MB Cache
Motherboard: ASUS® SABERTOOTH X79: SOCKET 2011, R.O.G
RAM: 32GB SAMSUNG QUAD-DDR3 1333MHz (8 X 4GB)
Graphics Card: 4GB NVIDIA GEFORCE GTX 680 - 2 DVI, HDMI, DP - 3D Vision Ready
2nd Graphics Card NONE
Memory - 1st Hard Disk: 500GB SEAGATE MOMENTUS XT HYBRID, SATA 3 Gb/s, 32MB CACHE (7200 rpm)
2nd Hard Disk: 1TB 3.5" SATA-III 6GB/s HDD 7200RPM 32MB CACHE
SSD CACHE DRIVE: 20GB INTEL® SSD 313 SERIES - SLC CACHE DRIVE FOR SYSTEM / 1st HDD
1st DVD/BLU-RAY Drive: 24x DUAL LAYER DVD WRITER ±R/±RW/RAM
Memory Card Reader: INTERNAL 52 IN 1 CARD READER (XD, MS, CF, SD, etc) + 1 x USB 2.0 PORT
Power Supply: CORSAIR 1050W PRO SERIES™ HX1050-80 PLUS® GOLD MODULAR (£158)
Processor Cooling: COOLIT ECO II C240 DUAL RAD LIQUID CPU COOLER (Special Offer) (£69)
Sound Card: ONBOARD 8 CHANNEL (7.1) HIGH DEF AUDIO (AS STANDARD)
Network Facilities: 10/100/1000 GIGABIT LAN PORT - AS STANDARD ON ALL PCs
USB Options: 6 x USB 2.0 PORTS @ BACK PANEL (MIN 2 FRONT PORTS) AS STANDARD
OS: Windows 7 Professional 64 Bit w/SP1
 
Old 09-28-2012, 09:53 PM   #13
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Board is good, GPU is good

3960X is just a massive waste of money, go 3930K, it's so much better value at only 0.1 Ghz lower and you can overclock it as well as the 3960X.

Spend some of the 400 quid you'd save on the CPU on some good quality RAM, Corsair or G.Skill 1600Mhz+ 4x8Gb would do well, the less slots you use the higher your OC will go

I have no experience or much knowledge on hybrid drives so can't really advise there.

Where are you speccing this up by the way? The cooler there is really old and discontinued, I'd go for an corsair H100, they actually have Coolit make their rads anyway but they are more up to date.

cheers
brasc

edit: Buyme There you go, press buy all :P
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Last edited by brasco : 09-28-2012 at 10:02 PM.
 
Old 09-28-2012, 10:14 PM   #14
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Great advice there brasco so thank you.

I'm speccing the machine from a site called pcspecialist.co.uk and when it comes to the cooler I'm only being given limited choice. These are:
SUPER QUIET 22dba TRIPLE COPPER HEATPIPE INTEL CPU COOLER
SPIRE GEMINI REV.3-THERMAX HDT TWIN FAN CPU COOLER
COOLIT ECO II A.L.C. ADVANCED LIQUID COOLER
COOLIT ECO II FAT BOY PUSH/PULL CONFIG LIQUID CPU COOLER
INTEL CERTIFIED LIQUID CPU COOLER FOR SOCKET LG2011
COOLIT ECO II C240 DUAL RAD LIQUID CPU COOLER

The RAM I've gone for is KINGSTON HYPERX GENESIS QUAD-DDR3 1600MHZ

Is this better? I feel like I'm getting somewhere now.
 
Old 09-28-2012, 10:30 PM   #15
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If I'm honest, it feels like they're trying to get rid of old stock with some of those coolers, but I may be wrong! Also a lot of the product descriptions have errors which puts me off, and calling HDDs memory scares and confuses me

I added a link in my post above to a system I'd say is good for a 2.5K budget, some of the SSD HDD config I may change. I buy from scan, as I trust them to deliver and are great on the RMAs, also for the choice, do you have any particular attachement to these other guys?

Also on a second look, not sure what the point of having a hybrid drive (which has it's own SSD cache drive internally) and a secondary cache drive is.

If you're brave enough to build it yourself, you'll get much better value IMO.

cheers
brasc
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