New build for 3D and VFX


Hey All,

I’ve been doing 3D and VFX for about 10 years now, but sadly I don’t trust myself to build my own machine. I really want to get into the nitty gritty of doing this soon, but wanted to ask what would be the best approach.

I visit Newegg alot, but just don’t really know where to start and I don’t want to get an off the shelf system, due to not being able to add on and whatnot.

My budget is around 1200-1500 and want something that can handle Cinema 4D, Nuke, After Effects and all the in-betweens. Any insight would be greatly appreciated.



Hey man,

A good starting place would be an Intel 3770K and an LGA 1155 motherboard.

What are the specs on your current system? You might be able to save some money by recycling some parts.



Hey AJ1,

Thanks for the response. I really want to have a system that I can upgrade with no issues. Currently I have this HP pavilion that’s got an i7 w/ 9 gigs of ram. I’ve had that for about 3 years now.The thing is so compact that I can’t simply swap out older for newer. I’d rather start from scratch with a good case and have a good system that I can beef up when that moment arrives. Ultimately, I would like to have something I can add more ram, processors, etc and whatnot as time progresses.



Do you have something like an Intel 860 or 920?

For $1200, you may only be able to get a system that's around 50% faster. 

A good idea might be to grab a new GPU, RAM, PSU, SSD and case, and then recycle your motherboard, processor, and HDD with your OS and programs. Is your OS 64 bit?

You could maybe recycle the PSU if its big enough for your new GPU. They sometimes make the cords too short. so you’ll need to grab extensions.

You could mabye grab a new MB and processor when something comes along that would be dramatically faster than what you have. 




I have the i7 920, Nvidia Geforce GTS 250 card. If you think I can recycle some of the goods, then that’s fine. I normally think I have to start from scratch, but maybe I can just upgrade a few components, etc.

I would need a new case and would like to upgrade to a better graphics card, etc.


Hey man,

You could grab a GPU that's several times faster than what you've got now for around $400, but the new $330 i7 quad core is only about 50% faster than your 920 in the 3D rendering benchmarks. Unless your going to splash on the $600 6 core, your not in bad shape with what you've got. 

DDR3 RAM isn't going anywhere any time soon, so a 16-32 GB kit would be a good investment. Just make sure your MB can hold more than 16. A SSD is a great investment as well. 



Excellent! Thanks for the info and will get the goods together in the next couple weeks. I’m just a bit daft when it comes to this and want to get to a point where I feel comfortable to DIY. Things like, making sure my current i7 will fit in the new MB and also making sure the MB will take on 16-32 of ram, etc…stuff like that.



You current MB should be fine.

Its probably a micro ATX board with 4 RAM slots, and just a single PCIx16 slot. Sometimes those boards only support 16GB, but it can be really tough to find out.


Thanks again for the help…now…what’s a good case :wink:


You might want to have a look in your computer, and see if you have a full size ATX board, or micro ATX. The micro boards are 9.6" square, and the ATX boards are 9.6"x 12".

Intel is launching a new 6 core 22nm chip later this year, so you might want to hold out for that. :applause:Any new parts you buy now would slot right into a new motherboard/CPU just fine.



Ok, will do. I am curious about something. Is it possible to invest in a dual socket mobo or am I just asking for trouble? Does that change the whole scope of the rebuild?


You can run a dual socket MB with just one CPU.

The CPUs that slot into a dual socket MB are different, and you have to pay a premium for the luxury. You’ll have to buy a pair of $890 2640’s to equal the rendering power of a single $560 3930k. The dual socket chips that are equivalent of the 3930K are around 2K a pop. So the dual socket setup doesn’t become cost effective unless your looking to spend 3-4K. If you do high end professional work, it can be worth it, but if you just need a bang for your buck rig for home use, go for the single socket.



I am by no means an expert but I have built a several PCs. The motherboards I have bought always come with good instructions, it really is quite straight forward, just make sure everything is plugged in - if there’s something you’re unclear about - look for a youtube video of just google it.

Researching your build takes some time but you could begin by looking at a bundle (motherboard, memory, processor from on online store, or even check out the systems that they’re building), that’s what I did first time, and then research and adapt components from there. And post the build here.

This company is based in the UK:

And AMD is sooo much cheaper than Intel hehe! It may not be as fast but if you need it for rendering purposes and one isn’t cutting the mustard - well, just build a second one for a fraction of the cost.


Lets check the obvious things first, what speed are you running the i7 920 at? The 920 chip was notoriously good at overclocking. The native speed was 2.66GHz, but even with the stock cooler and no voltage changes, it would run at 3.8GHz without so much as a hiccup. Pop a better fan on it and youll be hitting 4GHz. Ive been running mine at 3.8GHz for over 3 years 24 hours a day.

In terms of spending money, I’d do things in this order:
$50 Buy better heatsink and fan to allow for a good cpu speed
$200 geforce 560, will give a good speed bump over your budget card
If the motherboard is some locked down HP item, then budget in $300 for a new motherboard, case and PSU. At the same time this would give you the choice of jumping up to 12, 16 or 32 gigs of ram.


i’m in late on this topic, but all you mentioned was you had an HP Pavilion?

which one, because almost every single “mainstream” builder has custom crap in their systems and can really prove to be a bitch to workaround when trying to upgrade components.

I’ve seen some really squirrelly shtuff that left my head scratching… so ya, those “over the counter” computers can sometimes prove in the long run to not be upgradable so easily.


Ha ha, yea. A pair of sheet metal cutters and a metal file really help when upgrading Dells and HPs. :wink:

After you break through all the plastic, cut the wire ties, cut out the rear PCI slot dividers, and do a clean install of the OS, things aren’t too bad. Some extensions for the PSU cables really helps as well, especially if your dropping in a larger GPU.


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