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Whats a good platform for 3D modeling + rendering?

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December 15, 2001 6:39:42 AM

I'd like to go with a Palomino XP, was considering the low cost Morgan Duron but saw how incredibly slow Morgan benched on the rendering test. It almost seems the Pentiums are better suited to the type of work I'd like to do. I'm a highschool student learning 3D graphics design and am planning on building a new system with skillz I gained from an A+ Certification class. The most sensible Athlon solution seems to be the Soyo Dragon but it scares me that it hasn't got either AMD or Windows XP approval (yet). The K7S5A looks interesting, but it really doesn't have the kind of ram slots I'm going to need for the ram-intensive software I'm going to be operating. A board with on board raid, on board nic, and onboard-anything-else-that-saves-money is also nice as long as it doesn't cause an overall performance hit. A low price point would be nice, but with the sort of features I'm demanding I suppose that's quite an ambitious request.

If my assumption that the Athlon platform would be good for 3D modeling/rendering and other uses that a student and gamer could want is wrong, could someone please point me in the right direction? I'm taking this interesting A+ Cert class and learning all about the particulars of computer hardware and have had some previous knowledge of computers besides, but I've not yet built one from the ground up. Any help with deciding the best solution for my situation would be greatly appreciated.

Current Plan:
Athlon XP 1600+
(?Mobo? SOYO Dragon? Asus A7v-E RAID?)
ATi RADEON 7500 (or maybe the older AIW...)
CRT
IDE 20gb x2 (or maybe SCSI 10gb x1 w/PCI controller)
sound if not integrated in new Mobo
Display Model Case, has front USB (free from friend, stop-gap solution till I come into some money)
AMD approved Power Supply

Old Parts:
Cannibalized CD-RW Burner
Cannibalized 10gb IDE HDD (bunch of stuff I can't lose)
Cannibalized NIC if not integrated in new Mobo
Cannibalized 3 pice speakers (with sub)
Cannibalized USB ZIP100 (for 3D modeling @school + home)

This old system I'm currently using is a celeron 600mhz eTower 600is and will be refurnished with the neccessary parts and sold to my little sis.
December 15, 2001 6:58:26 AM

I would go for an OEM Radeon 8500. Its has pixel shaders which could help you alot with textures and lighting.

Nice Nvidia and ATi users get a Cookie.... :smile: Yummy :smile:
December 16, 2001 6:38:04 PM

I thought about that, but it's price is still a bit steep for my budget. 7500 is quite a bit cheaper (almost half price OEM). What I really need to know is Pentium IV or Athlon XP (i'm leaning tward AMD) and most important of all, the subject of this forum, what mobo??? This stoopid wannabe graphics guru needs help!! What's a good mobo for the graphicyness (is that a word?) I want to be able to do?

Thanks for your input, rcf84, but I'm more worried about memory slots, ram efficiency, and render times than the graphics cards. I realize a OEM Radeon 85 would help immensely with image quality and even render speed, but I've been told that the programs I use require large ammounts of ram (maybe falsely so). So it seems logical to me that I should build a system with a mainboard that has many memory slots and efficient memory usage. Ideas appreciated.
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December 16, 2001 7:03:05 PM

Well, I doubt you'll need more than 512MB RAM. Dont' worry too much about the number of RAM slots. Go with the Athlon XP. It's faster than the P4 in 3D rendering because it has a superior FPU. For the motherboard, I'd get one based on the KT266A, as it's the fastest chipset currently available for the Athlon XP platform. The Asus K7V266-E is a great motherboard.

AMD technology + Intel technology = Intel/AMD Pentathlon IV; the <b>ULTIMATE</b> PC processor
a c 435 V Motherboard
December 16, 2001 7:36:00 PM

The asus board is a good choice, but if you're on a budget, I'd go for the shuttle ak31 version 3.1 ($80 newegg). It has 6 pci slots and 4 ddram slots. I haven't tried using all 4 ddram slots at once, but understand that you don't need registered memory to use them as with some other boards. 4 256 ddram sticks should be plenty for your applications. Stick with crucial, and order from their website for free shipping. The radeon was my first choice also, but I found a better deal at newegg for a refurbished gainward ti 500 with the geforce 2 chipset.
December 16, 2001 7:51:53 PM

Dual 800mhz G4 plus a Gig (or more) of RAM.
That would be a VERY good platform for 3D modeling + rendering.

See a real naked pic of Britney Spears <A HREF="http://www.geocities.com/stick_e_mouse" target="_new">here</A>!!!
December 17, 2001 5:15:09 AM

Thankyou everyone for the input. I saw that the ECS mobo with the sis745 had 3 ddr ram slots. I was wondering if that board would offer similar performance to the highly recommended Soyo Dragon Plus and Asus A7v-E or if it would be a significant performance drop from the aforementioned two. Or is that shuttle board a better "bang for your buck" deal?

I gotta say I'm leaning twards the Dragon because of all the integrated peripherals, but when I read posts saying that it isn't Win XP or AMD approved it makes me kinda scared to invest a large sum of cash in some unapproved little unit. I did a bit of research on the AMD and Microsoft sites and confirmed that the Soyo Dragon+ indeed is not on either companies list. Can anyone confirm or deny the Dragon's stability with Microsoft Windows XP?
December 17, 2001 5:45:22 AM

treadin on deadly ground there Stick_e_Mouse... :wink:
but i would say that that could be a pretty fast machine.
i would still rather use a good ol athlonxp...hehe...or dual mp's....

-DAvid

-Live, Learn, then build your own computer!-
December 17, 2001 5:55:00 AM

Memory is NO.1 priority. It doesn´t matter how fast processor you have if the program you use it out of RAM.
Number two is the processor, what I´ve heard AMD is faster when it comes to rendering calculations.
Graphicscard is also important, but it wont affect the rendering speed, only how fast your viewport updates (can be good if your´e playing with 1 million+ polygons) :) .
Furthermore, I´m not sure if the pixelshader in Radeon8500 is of any use to the 3D application, well, perhaps in the viewport but not in the final render.


I LOVE YOU BRITNEY SPEARS!
December 17, 2001 11:04:18 PM

Finally, people who're speaking my language! To-the-screen speed is important to me especially when working with large, intricate projects. Flamingo3D AcuRender has been known to take over an hour on the schools old Pentium II systems. Rhino3D's lesser refined, internal render tools can take just as long if the 3-Dimentional Model (3DM) is huge. (Info about rhino3D at www.rhino3d.com) Thanks for the tip, Jake, I appreciate it.

Thanks also to AMD man, i'm limiting myself to 2x 256mb crucial micron DDR at first and will add more if performance isn't up to par with what I'd like.

The off-handed remark about the Apple G4 Cube would be consistant with what I've heard about mac's having good performance for video editing and other similar industries, but that isn't really a viable solution for me =).

And... ShuttleMan (RocketMan??), can't forget about you... O1die, I'm just curious how the AK31 stacks up to ECS K7S5A's successor, the K7S6A (SIS745). Support for DDR333 sounds interesting, but if Palomino's successors don't get an FSB increase... I think most of us know the tale of the bandwidth.

Thankyou everyone.
December 18, 2001 12:46:21 AM

the A7V266-E won't give you any problems. If your concerned about ram the Abit KR7A raid has 4 slots for ram, and supposedly you don't need registered dimms when you want to occupy all 4 slots. I ordered the KR7A-RAID and expect to recieve it tomorrow with an Athlon XP 1800+. This and the A7V266-E both have the Via KT266a chipset inside and depending on where you see a review both boards are top performers.
If you get two IDE hard drives both of these boards will allow you to run RAID-0 which is very nice when you work with large files, but it takes a very expensive IDE raid array to get the same performance as a 10000 rpm scsi drive.
If raid doesn't matter to you, the Epox 8KHA+ performs on par with the Abit and Asus motherboards and costs about $50 less. If you went this path you could get more/faster of something else.
And if you don't want to pay to much performance, consider the Geforce 3 Ti200s. You can find a real nice one under $200 and it will deffinitely help give you higher FPS in your viewport. Go with AMD though, it'll save you $$$ and give you good performance, but make sure you don't go cheap on the Heat Sink Fan, get a nice performer. The Vantec 6027 I believe is around $20 and performs VERY well. And the new Globalwin CAK-II 38 and 68 models are looking to be the best HSFs available.

Welcome to the end of your life Mr. Intel CPU. Don't worry I promise its going to hurt.
a b V Motherboard
December 18, 2001 1:20:35 AM

I'm going to throw a huge monkey wrench in your plans. You should consider the Iwill XP333-R. A major concern may emerge when you try various editing hardware on your system with any VIA chipset. The SiS chipset is good, but ECS is spotty on quality. The XP333-R uses the Revision "C" ALi MAGiK 1, which offers great performance, and ALi is second only to Intel for compatability/stability. Plus it has an Ultra ATA133 Raid controller. And Iwill is a trusted manufacturer.

Trust me on this one, gaming hardware may be made to compensate for VIA's bugs, but some professional grade stuff isn't, and you wouldn't want to get stuck.

What's the frequency, Kenneth?
December 18, 2001 3:07:41 PM

oh gawd.. don't get ECS! i heard lots of bad things about them!

3D modeling is something i'm getting into also. Here's what to get.

a Athlon XP 1600+ is more then sufficent. You don't need Dual of anything. In the benchmarks it shows how actualy it's worst in a couple benchmarks. I think one was related to 3d studio max... <b><u>i'm not sure</u></b>!!!! (flamers did you get it? NOT SURE). Ram 256 is fine if your just starting off later you can can always upgrade to 512MB when you feel that it's becoming slugish. MOBO, i have the Gigabyte 7DXR! great board! super stable. The 7DXR+ comes with USB 2.0 JSYK! Video card i'd go with a nvidia card. You want stability not artifacts.

Athlon XP 1600+
256MB (or 512, depends on your budget) of RAM
GA-7DXR+ or an Abit board.
Geforce 3 ti500 from MSI or Leadtech.

and check out milkshape (which is for MAP making and mods and whatnot for UT and others) and the light version of 3d studio max which you can dowlnoad for free. It's called gmax. Great program i have it. The tutorials are pretty cool too. Let me know if you need links and such.

Also UT comes with unrealed.exe which is in the UT doirectory under system. It's a freeware 3d modeling program for making maps for UT. It's a different method then the 3d studio max and i still have to figure out how to use it.

Good luck and have fun! :) 

I know i am with what i've got! :) 

oh need a case?

i HIGHLY recommend the antec sx1040B!!! get it! you won't e dissapointed and it looks freakin sweet!

<A HREF="http://www.anandtech.com/mysystemrig.html?id=9933" target="_new"> My Rig </A><P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by xxsk8er101xx on 12/18/01 12:59 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
December 18, 2001 5:37:14 PM

I have plenty of friends using Lightwave for 3D modeling and rendering. Currently I just build a system for under $800(minus monitor and burner, since I was reusing these). They are pretty happy with their systems(1.2 T-Bird Processors(overclocked to 1.33-1.4), 1GB PC133 SDRAM), but mine beats up on theirs pretty decent. They definitely each spent over $1200 just 6-9 months ago. They, of couse, don't want to hear that, so I don't mention it ;-)

* Gigabyte GA-7VTX-H VIA KT266A Motherboard
* AMD 1600+ XP Processor
* 512MB(256 x 2) PC2400 DDR OCZ Technology(good ram and cheaper)
* 40GB Maxtor 7200RPM 133/100 Hard Drive
* ATI Radeon 7500 OEM(supports dual monitor, great for 3D)
* PIONEER 16X DVD
* Antec Workstation Tower(plenty of room, includes 2 fans)
* Microsoft Elite Keyboard
* Logic 3 Button w/ wheel optical mouse

Already had Sony 12x Burner and Viewsonic PS790 19" monitor

Basically I can set my bus speed to about 145-146 with great stability. This puts me at 1.53Ghz speed on the processor and is overclocking the memory. I am beating them pretty good on both CPU and CPU Multimedia performance on Sisoft Sandra Tests. On the memory tests i'm beating them by about 30%. I believe I was getting about 8ms access time on my hard drive.

Now the video card is a different story. One has a GeForce 2 MX dual and the other has a GeForce 2 Ultra and another in the pci slot. I know I beat the GeForce 2 MX Dual pretty good on most tests. The GeForce 2 i'm not sure on, but I know for a fact he can't do OpenGL across both. I have done zero tweaking on the Radeon, so with future drivers and tweaking it may beat the GeForce 2 Ultra and maybe older GeForce 3's, not sure though. I basically paid around $119 for the oem version of the 7500, and then bought the dvi-vga dongel(sp?) for $12(including 2 day air) from another site.

Probably in about a week or so, my friend is going to install lightwave on my machine and run some rendering tests to get true comparisons. Hope a little of that helps.

Also, I know they love throwing tons of memory at Lightwave. I was able to get 256MB PC2400 DDR for $50 each, but I think that's went up a little lately. I would strongly recommend 768MB Memory or higher if you can. The only problem with going higher, DDR get's more expensive when you hit the 512MB Chip arena. It appears to be much higher than double the 256 price right now.

Also, I forgot to mention the Motherboard comes with Great Sound on board, Creative Labs PCI 128 chip. It also comes with a Realtek 10/100 Lan chip on board. Basically from having a faster pc and lan on board, i've went from about 580 kbps to about 680 kbps, with my DSL, that was a pleasant surprise.

I did hear you mention something about raid and scsi earlier. It's up to you, but that tends to get expensive and complicated. The new 7200RPM IDE Drives are pretty fast now.

<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by jflongo on 12/18/01 01:47 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
December 20, 2001 5:37:52 AM

Crashman, that's a mighty big monkeywrench. I can't find much on the XP333-R and have heard much ill about the dubious ALi MAGiK 1 chipset... So you think this is a good setup for an amatuer 3D artist? Ok, sell it on me. I'd like to see some comparisons of this thing before I consider shelling out the dough. And another thing, what kinds of stability issues in "professional grade" software could result from going with a VIA solution? I should also say that no boards with the 'magic' chipset are on the AMD approval list for XP 1600+. Not to sound biased twards the VIA, but I want "just the facts, man". I'd love to be sold on this interesting concept, so sell, man!

sk8ter and jflongo, thanks for the advice + stories, it's all interesting since I don't hear anything from other amatuer 3D artists where I'm at (town located in a largely rural area). Registered ram will probably become an issue to me as the comps at school often get the "illegal operation", which i translate into "I ran out of ram" or "an error happened in the ram". But then again, these are Gateway Pentium II systems, which aren't a really good thing to measure all this advanced technology against. As for storage issues, the thing I'm currently going back and forth over is "low capacity SCSI" vs "IDE RAID array with several low capacity drives". If you guys think RAID isn't a good idea or think that a single high capacity IDE drive would be a better solution, by all means speak up. And about the Gigabyte boards, I see many different Gigabyte boards being paraded by local computer sellers. It's kinda intimidating to see that and then to have to do a messload of research to figure out the best one, though I may look down the Gigabyte path when the time comes to finalize my setup.

Another thing, is it just me or have the Gigabyte-manufactured and Ali MAGiK 1-chipseted boards all benched quite a bit lower than the similarly priced competition? Or maybe I'm looking at this all wrong and shouldn't mind a slight performance decrease for the sake of overall functionality. All this info is very interesting, keep it comming.
a b V Motherboard
December 20, 2001 1:27:11 PM

I haven't seen any problems directly caused by any ALi MAGiK 1 revision. When boards were initially released months ago, some had BIOS issues. The only BIOS issue remaining is the misreporting of temperatures by the Asus A7A266, which is obviously specific to that board.
The main reason ALi chipsets got bad amrks was that their memory performance was not up to the same level as their competition. The original Revision A provided 5% less performance than similar AMD 761/VIA 686B motherboards. Revision B was much closer to the 761 scores. Revision C is even better, but you'll have to judge the benchmarks on your own...so now
LINKS, I CAN'T FEEL MY LINKS!
I'm sure someone will post the links to the XP333 reviews, they come from sites I normally only visit when someone in here post a link. Or you could try tracking down the links yourself by searching the forum.
I've never had a PROGRAM the didn't like VIA chipsets except for DRIVERS. But many of my CARDS did not like VIA southbridges, or rather I should say, VIA southbridges did not like my cards, causing sharing problems mostly, but also PCI timing problems. Soundcards, SCSI cards, and Network cards have been the bain of VIA, since I can't remember the details (it's been several months since I owned a VIA chipset), I'll let you look up that information in previous post as well. It's your purchase, your research.

So look up the benchmarks on the XP333, look up the complaints in this forum about VIA chipset issues, then sell yourself!

Oh, I'd recommend a RAID 5 array using 3 drives for your system. RAID 5 assigns parity tracks to each drive, giving you data error protection. I don't know which IDE SCSI controllers offer RAID 5, but SCSI RAID controllers do.

What's the frequency, Kenneth?
December 20, 2001 6:05:45 PM

Well basically I thought you didn't want to spend too much money. That is a huge reason I think raid isn't worth it. The drives nowadays are running at 7200rpm, which is pretty fast. Probably to see any benefit in striping, you will need at least 3 drives. Now with this in mind, if you stripe and something goes bad, you run the chance of losing alot of data, so make sure you backup important data every night, if you use it alot. I know there's a decent amound of softare, like Nero, that supports backing up to cd now.

Your other option of course, is to mirror, but there goes the cashflow again. You basically have to figure if 7200RPM, with 8ms access time suites you. My guess is yes, but that's for you to decide.

Here's a couple of good options on drives, if you are curious, from www.newegg.com

MAXTOR EIDE HARD DRIVE MODEL # 6L040J2 40GB 7200RPM - OEM,
DRIVE ONLY D740X Plus ATA133/100 2MB Cache Buffer <8ms Seek Time $84.00

MAXTOR EIDE HARD DRIVE 60GB 7200RPM MODEL # 6L060J3 - OEM, DRIVE ONLY 3.5 inch DIAMONDMAX PLUS D740X Ultra ATA/133 2mb Cache Buffer 8.5ms Average Seek Time $116.00

MAXTOR EIDE HARD DRIVE 80GB 7200RPM MODEL # 6L080J4 - OEM, DRIVE ONLY D740X ATA 133 2mb Cache Buffer 8.5 ms Seek Time $155.00

all of these have there ATA 133, which in the future could help you as well, it's their new technology. just a few fyi's ;-)
December 20, 2001 9:06:09 PM

Of uttermost importance is the correct setup of the swap file! Unless going with something like 2 gigs of memory this wil be the one most important issue at hand. Shuttle will be stepping up to the plate next with a SIS 735 chipset board as well <A HREF="http://www.shuttleonline.com/spec.php3?model=as25" target="_new">http://www.shuttleonline.com/spec.php3?model=as25&lt;/A>
I think we will see broader support for the forthcoming SIS 745 chipset and might advise to wait on this. Have not been to impressed with ALI's solutions, although I can't say anything to negative about them other than they are underperformers. I would still recomend the ECS board for the price, coupled with an athlon xp+ processor. This will negate a majority of the problems that might arise with this board which typically occur with the newer revs of the board and older t-bird cores.

Another Cookie? Who is going to pay my dentist bill?
!