3D Workstation Build – Questions from a Mac user

I'm looking to do my first custom build, and I've got a bunch of questions. I've been using Macs almost exclusively for the last 22 years (since I was 6). I make my living as a freelance motion and graphic designer – a lot of C4D, After Effects, Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere, etc. I'm moving up from a Retina Macbook Pro– fantastic computer– but I've likely murdered it after two years of heat-intensive 15-hour C4D renders. I'd get a Mac Pro, but I'm not convinced that the Xeons are worth the extra cost, and everything is so CUDA-focused right now, I'm worried the beastly dual D700s won't do me much good. (I'm also looking to add some Octane Render in, which looks to be CUDA-exclusive for the foreseeable future.)

Here's what I've come up with on PCPartPicker:

PCPartPicker part list:

CPU: Intel Core i7-4930K 3.4GHz 6-Core Processor ($565.25 @ SuperBiiz)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($30.98 @ OutletPC)
Motherboard: Asus Sabertooth X79 ATX LGA2011 Motherboard ($310.98 @ Amazon)
Memory: Corsair Vengeance Pro 32GB (4 x 8GB) DDR3-1866 Memory ($350.98 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung 840 Pro Series 256GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($199.99 @ Amazon)
Storage: Samsung 840 Pro Series 256GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($199.99 @ Amazon)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($88.98 @ SuperBiiz)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($88.98 @ SuperBiiz)
Storage: Western Digital WD Black 4TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($249.91 @ B&H)
Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX Titan Black 6GB Video Card ($1099.99 @ B&H)
Case: Fractal Design Define R4 w/Window (Black Pearl) ATX Mid Tower Case ($99.99 @ Micro Center)
Power Supply: Corsair Professional 750W 80+ Gold Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply ($149.99 @ TigerDirect)
Optical Drive: LG UH12NS29 Blu-Ray Reader, DVD/CD Writer ($54.98 @ SuperBiiz)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8.1 Pro (OEM) (64-bit) ($133.00 @ Amazon)
Wireless Network Adapter: TP-Link TL-WDN4800 802.11a/b/g/n PCI-Express x1 Wi-Fi Adapter ($34.99 @ Micro Center)

Total: $3658.98

Some quesitons, if anyone would be so kind to answer:

-Any long-time Mac users who have gone this route? How would you describe your experience (building, usage, stability, difficulty in trouble-shooting, etc.)?

-Heat is a big concern for me. Overclocking I'm not as interested in. I just need it to run for long periods of time, for a long time, with solid performance. How does my build look in this regard?

-By going with only one Titan (possibly add a second later) will I run into any bottlenecks on GPU intensive tasks? Should I get a second, lower-powered card for display purposes?

-I don't need to build this immediately. Would the Haswell-E 8-core i7 and X99 be worth the wait?

-Storage broken down as follows: 256 SSD for system, 256 SSD for cache, 1 TB HD for projects, 1 TB HD for export, 4 TB HD for backup. Any media professionals that can speak to this configuration?

That's a lot of questions, I know. I would appreciate any feedback. Thanks!
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  1. Bueller? Bueller?
  2. Best answer
    Hey Taylor,

    I'm also in the same boat. I'm actually typing this using a nMP 6-core with D700's. I am a freelance Industrial Designer that needed a beast for 3D Modeling. I sold a beloved motorcycle to pay for my new Mac Pro. I am going to be brutally honest here and Apple *crazies* uhhhmm, people out there might get upset but I am NOT impressed with the new Mac Pro. I am still in my grace period for a return, and it's definitely going back.

    I, for the first time in over 10 years will be building a PC with similar specs to those you listed. My PCPartPicker is here:

    2 Titan Blacks in SLI
    32GB 1866Mhz Corsair Dominator RAM
    Asus Gene IV X79 mATX

    My suggestion for a motherboard is to go with the Asus X79 Deluxe. It's a newer board with features like AC wifi and Bluetooth 4.0. I'm actually on the fence whether to swap out my mATX board and use that one, in fact I probably will and just use the Corsair 450D case, I just fear big bulky ugly boxes but the 450D isn't bad.

    I think the D700's suck! Apple downclocked the cards, and I understand why nerds, workstation gpus/small form factor blah blah, but in reality they're re-labeled Radeon cards with the FirePro name ducktaped to em. No ECC memory, and in Windows they show up at HD 7900 series cards. They function at 25% LESS than the always compared W9000 cards. THAT is why they don't cost 3K a pop like the W9000's. NOT IMPRESSED. The build you mentioned above will do you just fine. GPU rendering is all over the board right now. What engines specifically would you be using?

    Also, if you're worried about your Workstaiton not running OS X, talk to Andrew at RampageDev. He specializes in installing OS X on Asus X79 motherboards with power management and speed step running just like on a real Mac. Flawless, and all the features of any of the Asus X79 boards (including WiFi/Bluetooth will work). I wish I had half the knowlege that dude has. His wordpress is For $50 he'll customize your SSDT for your hardware and provide support. He has guides for installing OS X and also has a DMG for post-OSX install that a 13 year old could understand. So do it! Run a dual boot system! That's what I'm doing and I know a LOT of once-OSX loving pros that are switching over as well after the "Trashcan". Don't get me wrong, it's a ton of power packed in a little cylinder, but come on, this is not what pros need. This is for people that edit video, and that's pretty much it. No OS X app can even utilize the dual-GPUs yet other than FCP.

    On the other hand, I love OS X for the creative apps like Adobe and Autodesk, so I'm telling yah, dual boot Hackintosh and never look back, it's not as scary as people make it out to be. And if something goes wrong with OS X, you'll always have Windows. I suggest running a data transfer HD that both OS can read/write to, unless you're dealing with huge files, and if that's the case there are apps for Mac that add NTFS support.

    As far as X99 support, wait unless you want to run OS X. The X79 chip has had so much shit bolted down to it to keep it running for so long. The X99 chip is gonna be where it's at - 40 open PCI lanes $$$$ 8-core consumer CPU *sigh*. BUT, that being said, it will be a long while for the Hackintosh community to work out all the kinks and it will come to PC before Mac. I'm sure the next gen Mac Pro will use it tho. I decided to just go for the LGA 2011 CPU because it's there now and it's easily Hackintosh-able with Mac Pro using it in their new Workstation. Ok then...

    Wow, that was long-winded. Sorry bout that.

    Best of luck
    - Danny
  3. Oh and even 1 Titan Black is gonna outshine dual 280x's err I mean D700's that have been downclocked. Just sayin.. Ok. That's it.
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