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Architecture Student, Low Budget??

Tags:
  • Photoshop
  • Illustrator
  • Computers
  • cheap
  • budget
  • modelling
  • drafting
  • sketchup
  • architecture
  • student
  • Adobe
  • Systems
  • drawing
  • CAD
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July 12, 2014 12:28:20 PM

Hi guys, I'll try to keep it quick and answer any questions you have rather than overload this post with lots of my questions, but basically I'm an architecture student that needs help figuring out a new system to buy on a budget.

I understand that this may mean getting cheaper 'future proof' parts now with the intent of upgrading them at a later date - so long as the system I do get will not crash/overheat in the early hours of the morning.

So yeah, any advice/suggestions really would be appreciated! As my options now seem so open-ended that I just don't know what to do!


*EDIT: Just discovered the forum template...*

Approximate Purchase Date: August
Budget Range: Max £600 including VAT / Shipping (ideally less)
System Usage: Adobe Suite, 3D Modelling/Rendering, 2D Drafting, Watching Films (all simultaneously as I'm an architecture student - see additional comments for specific software)
Are you buying a monitor: No
Do you need to buy OS: Ideally yes, but not a necessity.
Preferred Website(s) for Parts: No preference
Location: London, UK
Parts Preferences: No preference, I hear Intel is better?
Overclocking: I'm not a gamer, so would I notice the difference?
SLI or Crossfire: I'm not a gamer, so would I notice the difference?
Your Monitor Resolution: Currently 1440x900, but in the future may go bigger
Additional Comments: Architecture student simultaneously using Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, SketchUp, Rhino, 3DSmax, AutoCAD, MentalRay Renderer and Vray Renderer as well as watching films (often on a second monitor)
Reason for upgrade: My current laptop has died due to overheating (i3-330m @ 2.13ghz, 4gb ram, 1gb nvidia GeForce GT 330M)

More about : architecture student low budget

July 12, 2014 2:11:04 PM

I have tried figuring out 2 possible set ups, but both are over budget (they are essentially the same build but with a change in CPU/Motherboard as I'm not sure which is better out of Intel or AMD?).

1. Intel-based, total £685.12
http://uk.pcpartpicker.com/p/gwBqP6

2. AMD-based, total £636.84
http://uk.pcpartpicker.com/p/kNMC4D

Firstly, do these systems seem like they would be suitable for my needs? And if so, are there any parts you suggest that I could replace for something cheaper??

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July 12, 2014 3:05:07 PM

Are there any other software's you'd like to include? Since you have rendering plugins for a number of software's you've listed above and some software take care of them in suite. If you can wait a little while, I can get back to you and see if we can make progress on this front :) 

Furthermore would you be considering;
1| a GPU upgrade later down the road or contend with sticking with hardware for a good number of years
2| Placing this system in an office/home office setup?
3| Using this for professional work or only for student activities?
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July 12, 2014 3:42:54 PM

Hi Lutfi,

I have updated my initial post with the rendering software I use (MentalRay/Vray), thanks for pointing it out! As for your questions...

1. As I need a decent GPU for the work I do anyway, ideally I would just buy one now that is good enough to stick with for a few years (unless there really is a massive difference in price)
2. It will be set up as a personal computer in my room, no office setup
3. It will only be used for student work, although this is arguable more demanding than professional work (regular 14 hours/day as opposed to 9 hours/day at work)
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July 12, 2014 4:11:55 PM

You're welcome. Being an Architect myself, I thought I'd point that out to you :) 

Regarding *3, I didn't mean it in that sense. I was asking if you'd be using your machine for professional activities. Usually students tend to do some freelancing work like poster designs and sometimes adverts. I knew of some students who'd render for some hot shot firms and made some pocket change... something worth looking into if you're tight on a budget.

Alright, here goes;

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

CPU: Intel Core i5-4670K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor (£155.99 @ Aria PC)
CPU Cooler: EVGA ACX mITX 46.5 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler (£28.86 @ Overclockers.co.uk)
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z97N-Gaming 5 Mini ITX LGA1150 Motherboard (£109.07 @ Ebuyer)
Memory: Kingston Beast 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-2133 Memory (£119.99 @ Amazon UK)
Storage: Crucial M550 128GB 2.5" Solid State Drive (£64.90 @ CCL Computers)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Green 2TB 3.5" 5400RPM Internal Hard Drive (£68.00 @ Amazon UK)
Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 750 Ti 2GB Superclocked Video Card (£113.70 @ Scan.co.uk)
Case: EVGA Hadron Mini ITX Tower Case w/500W Power Supply (£104.99 @ Scan.co.uk)
Total: £765.50
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
I thought I'd go the ideal route and quote a build that is minimalist in nature.

Case comes with 500W gold rated PSU and is capable of accepting a GTX 780, something that will help you latter down the road if you'd like to upgrade to a beefier card.

CPU is an i5-4670K and is well balanced to hold on par with an i7-4770K but in terms of rendering duties, the i7 decimates anything you throw at it.

Mobo is an itx and has everything you'd need included even your wifi card. I noticed you had a wifi PCI card in your earlier revision, you won't need that if you're going for a teeny tiny USB wifi dongle. Takes up one USB port and leaves the rest of your PCI slots available(if you went with a matx/atx build) and the same applies for a network card. The onboard NIC is much better than any PCI network card unless you would physically make your machine into a render farm.

Ram is @ 2133MHz which is said to be the sweet spot for any Ivy Bridge/Haswell i5/i7 CPU.

You'll benefit alot out of a SSD as your bootup/programme launch times will be reduced by half or more and you can get more work done in a shorter space of time.

For all those works, I've included a 2TB HDD

As far as GPU's are concerned the GTX 750Ti is ranked higher than a R7 260X. You may be arguing on the fact that I've quoted a gaming card for semi professional duties where in reality I should be hunting a workstation grade GPU for the likes of your profession. Truth is they are crazy expensive and the tech used in todays GPU architecture is far from the '90s and 2000's. It might take longer to work on a gaming GPU but it'll get the job done. Besides you might also want to play games after a long hard day of brainstorming. We also need to account for multi monitor setups @ 1080p(comes handy for watching HD movies) and rendering at high detail settings.

Something for you to read through;
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/specviewperf-12-wor...

Lastly a CPU cooler that goes with your rig and is capable of cooling your overclocked processor.

Over budget I know but I can tell you you'd be set for a good number of years and it also looks good doing it! If it makes you shiver in fear, we could tone some things down...

:) 

In this day and age, do you really rely on Optical storage? You could opt for an external ODD...?
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July 13, 2014 6:33:53 AM

Wow thanks for all that advice Lutfij, and it's nice to know what you're saying is based on experience in the same discipline as myself!

Sorry about the misunderstanding in *3, yes I do have freelance work that I will be doing on my home computer, but I don't think it is any different (or more demanding) than the stuff normal architecture stuff I do.

It's probably worth mentioning that although I do 3D render, I don't do the extremely high end photo-realistic renders; I much prefer producing clay renders before applying more stylised textures/materials/linework in Photoshop & Illustrator. Would this have much affect on the most suitable/affordable build for me?

In terms of the build you suggested, it does look perfect for my needs, but my main problem is that I really cannot afford to spend that much :(  As I said before, £600 really is my absolute limit, with £400-£500 being my most comfortable cost.
Is there anyway this could be achieved? You're right about the optical drive so that can be omitted altogether.

And finally, would I not be limiting my future upgrades with an ITX? Isn't a mATX more 'future proof'?
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July 13, 2014 7:09:17 AM

Again, what I meant by *3 is if you are on a deadline, producing work on a presentable level for clients is worth looking into. Having a machine capable of delivering consistent output would help you keep your clients in a steady stream and avoid down time...i.e: looking at a professional stand point, you wouldn't loose potential clients(due to waiting) and would help you recover your expenses.

You're welcome, I figured this is one aspect of builds that isn't covered. I apparently learnt it the hard way by testing out on some hardware before any of the in depth analysis and back then the software were specifically coded to workstation grade GPU's and the architecture inside a GPU were segregated to gaming and workstation cards.

I tend to work off manually and use sketchup liberally otherwise renders are something I do after my design has been finalized not before it. Its a good thing you clarified your work path since I included 16GB of ram in your system, you'd see no issue with Photoshop. You may need more Space for your C: (boot drive) since Photoshop utilizes scratch disk space(borrowed from C: ) so you'd benefit from it if you worked on larger res images say 1920+ res'

In terms of future proofing its more of a relative question. Will you be doing multi card setups? like SLI/crossfire? If not then you have slots on a mobo that aren't utilized and most often they sit around to gather dust and become prone to corrosion. With an matx, you yet retain mutli card support to dual crossfire or dual SLI but then again if you aren't going to buy a similar GPU(since mutli GPU works with similar class GPU's) later down the road due to budget constraints or being too busy then an matx isn't worth while. It does bring a point into light, you do get bang for the buck on a matx board but when you begin to include add-on cards or accessories that margin dwindles. Mitx boards nowadays are fully featured and you get alot on the board itself. You get a wifi card so your connected wirelessly out of the box after you install OS(provided you have a wifi router or an existing wireless connection). You also get good NIC and audio solutions so that should keep you up if you're into online gaming(or gaming). Again I'm looking at squeezing maximum potential from your wallet and the build. No point in regretting a purchase after the build is assembled.

You could forgo the GPU altogether and run off the iGPU on the i5-4670K and that should shave off 113quid from the build but you'd need to do some test render runs to see if the iGPU can pull it off. You could dial down on the renderings and when you have cash, you can pick up a good GPU after and maybe you could drop in an entry level Quadro/Firepro card(add salt to that comment since a gaming GPU of the similar price point may perform better on a wider scale.g; gaming, movies and renders)

You should also consider that tech isn't always constant for more than 6 months. Something is always coming around the corner... what you could do is keep some things constant.

HDD, unless damaged will last you quiet a while. PSU if robust and reliable should see you able to add larger and more powerful GPU(s) to the build. Case is unlikely to change unless you think you need more space for 5+ HDD's. Speaking of HDD's you can skip the 2TB large drive for a 2.5" laptop 2TB drive and that way you can have 4 laptop sized drives inside the Hadron air case and fully utilize the ~4(5 onboard) sata ports on the mobo. So that brings you down to 3 things; Mobo, CPU and ram. They can be swapped out easily while the rest remain intact and thus would require less investment down the road.

Your build went to 700 quid so I assumed you could spend a little more to get a really well off system.

This is my opinion though, if you're in a major hurdle to get a system asap then we can cut down on costs but remember you'll be going into some compromises such as lower frequency'd ram and lower output and underutilized potential.

Here's the link though;
http://uk.pcpartpicker.com/p/jYxfnQ
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July 13, 2014 7:22:45 AM

Just want to point out that the GPU does actually matter quite a bit for cad programs.. I tried running Inventor on my i3 laptop with intel HD 3000 and it was painfully slow. He should at least get a decent graphics card. I would go for a GTX 760.

Photoshop doesn't require a powerful gpu for basic needs however.
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July 13, 2014 7:28:49 AM

Part of the horsepower comes from the CPU as well. On that note the i3 found on a laptop isn't the same found on a desktop. You also have the heat dump to content with on a laptop.

If budget allowed, I'd have picked a GTX Titan.
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July 13, 2014 7:41:50 AM

Lutfij said:
Part of the horsepower comes from the CPU as well. On that note the i3 found on a laptop isn't the same found on a desktop. You also have the heat dump to content with on a laptop.

If budget allowed, I'd have picked a GTX Titan.


Even if it's the mobile version I have friends who have a dedicated graphics card in their laptop with a much older cpu, can't remember the exact model now, but overall performance was much snappier. My school computers use an i5 ivybridge and a GT 630, and while basic modeling is smooth, rendering times are again very slow.

Here's my recommendation:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

CPU: Intel Core i5-4440 3.1GHz Quad-Core Processor (£122.00 @ Amazon UK)
Motherboard: MSI Z87-G41 PC Mate ATX LGA1150 Motherboard (£53.84 @ Scan.co.uk)
Memory: Kingston LV XMP 10th Anniversary Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory (£100.45 @ Amazon UK)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 2TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive (£52.79 @ Aria PC)
Video Card: MSI GeForce GTX 760 2GB TWIN FROZR Video Card (£168.91 @ Scan.co.uk)
Case: Corsair 200R ATX Mid Tower Case (£44.99 @ Amazon UK)
Power Supply: XFX 550W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply (£44.11 @ CCL Computers)
Total: £587.09
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
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July 13, 2014 12:01:35 PM

Razer, I agree with you about the GPU, I've had noticeable differences in similar situations as you mention. I definitely need a GPU in my system, and the one you suggest is definitely a contender as its in my price range!


Lutfij, I see what you're saying about *3 now, but I doubt I'll have enough freelance work over the coming years for that to be a priority at the moment.

I did not realise that the mITX motherboard had a wifi card/soundcard etc. Is this common to all mITX boards, or would I have to manually check every single one?

I totally agree that the system you suggest is the most cost effective for a well off system, but I'd be interested to know what you would suggest for a cost effective cheaper system? Say around the £500 mark?

Also this may be a stupid question, but could I potentially reuse bits from my current laptop in my new computer? Or is the build completely different to fit into the laptop? I'm thinking the internal 500gb hardrive, 1gb GeForce GT 330M, i3-330m, 2x2gb ram in addition to my 500gb external hardrive and external 5.1 creative soundblaster soundcard.
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July 13, 2014 1:24:13 PM

With all due respect, you'd benefit alot from going with an overclockable CPU later down the road. If your mind set is " I need a PC now, even if its held on by hot glue" then we can tone alot of things down and opt for a less powerful but budget friendly build.

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

CPU: AMD Athlon X4 760K 3.8GHz Quad-Core Processor (£57.31 @ Scan.co.uk)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler (£24.25 @ Scan.co.uk)
Motherboard: MSI A88XM GAMING Micro ATX FM2+ Motherboard (£76.66 @ Scan.co.uk)
Memory: Kingston Beast 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-2133 Memory (£119.99 @ Amazon UK)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive (£36.00 @ Aria PC)
Video Card: Asus GeForce GTX 750 Ti 2GB Video Card (£99.99 @ Amazon UK)
Case: Cooler Master N200 MicroATX Mid Tower Case (£31.44 @ Aria PC)
Power Supply: XFX TS 550W 80+ Gold Certified ATX Power Supply (£59.99 @ Scan.co.uk)
Total: £505.63
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available

^ mind you if you want to save a little more then you could look at this;
PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

CPU: AMD A10-7850K 3.7GHz Quad-Core Processor (£111.97 @ CCL Computers)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler (£24.25 @ Scan.co.uk)
Motherboard: MSI A88XM GAMING Micro ATX FM2+ Motherboard (£76.66 @ Scan.co.uk)
Memory: Kingston Beast 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-2133 Memory (£119.99 @ Amazon UK)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive (£36.00 @ Aria PC)
Case: Cooler Master N200 MicroATX Mid Tower Case (£31.44 @ Aria PC)
Power Supply: XFX TS 550W 80+ Gold Certified ATX Power Supply (£59.99 @ Scan.co.uk)
Wireless Network Adapter: Netgear WNA3100-100ENS 802.11b/g/n USB 2.0 Wi-Fi Adapter (£11.99 @ Novatech)
Total: £472.29
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available

The machine that I'm currently responding from and work off of is;
A10-6800K @ stock clocks
ASRock A85X-itx
Mushkin 996991 (2000MHZ ram) running at 1866Mhz now but I've taken it on 2133Mhz(sweet spot for any AMD kaveri/Richland build) without problems
Crucial M4 128GB SSD
Toshiba 1TB laptop drive
In win BP 659
^ hooked upto 2 23" monitors and will later power a third 32" TV via HDMI

^ this build is for my office and is capable of my professional duties but isn't capable of gaming. At least not the latest titles since I tend to game on the off time :whistle: 

I run the softwares you've mentioned and they are great(including high res artwork on PS CS5.5). SO if that is any indication of a build, the A10-7850K is a step above that.

It's also capable of overclocking and you can do a Crossfire setup later down the road and until then run your apps off the integrated GPU on the A10.

As per your last question;
No, laptop grade parts aren't(usually) compatible with desktop units. Aside from the laptop HDD, everything else is non recyclable. Ram if SO-DIMM's would've been possible for recycling but your mobo won't support that or you'd need a much more crippled system then whats being prescribed. The rams , judging from the CPU, makes me think the ram would be running at 1333MHz and the external card is below the built in audio solutions found on motherboards since 2010.

In essence, if the Laptop drive is intact, then you can salvage the HDD and drop it into your rig...and you can save up on the HDD price;
PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

CPU: AMD A10-7850K 3.7GHz Quad-Core Processor (£111.97 @ CCL Computers)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler (£24.25 @ Scan.co.uk)
Motherboard: MSI A88XM GAMING Micro ATX FM2+ Motherboard (£76.66 @ Scan.co.uk)
Memory: Kingston Beast 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-2133 Memory (£119.99 @ Amazon UK)
Storage: Crucial MX100 128GB 2.5" Solid State Drive (£51.98 @ Aria PC)
Case: Cooler Master N200 MicroATX Mid Tower Case (£31.44 @ Aria PC)
Power Supply: XFX TS 550W 80+ Gold Certified ATX Power Supply (£59.99 @ Scan.co.uk)
Wireless Network Adapter: Netgear WNA3100-100ENS 802.11b/g/n USB 2.0 Wi-Fi Adapter (£11.99 @ Novatech)
Total: £488.27
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available

Drop the HDD from the quote and you have more left to spend on the SSD. If you don't need a wifi adapter (but have a wired connection) then we can drop the adapter too and the cost drops close to 400 quid if you also drop the SSD. Though I hope your not decreasing on a 100 quid basis per post.

I've had the hardship of also being on a budget and building a system during my student years but the lesson I learnt is that if I saved a little more and then bought a better system from the start I'd have ended my Graduation with it instead of adding parts and also spending time on it. Time I could've allocated to other things more important (like sleep) :) 

Quote:
or would I have to manually check every single one?
I'd suggest you to Google everything I say/write since you'd need to understand what you're buying even if it means having multiple tabs open and comparing them side by side.

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