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Newbie Question Kind of!? 3D Rendering/Games Computer...

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January 2, 2007 8:53:19 PM

Hi All,

I have a few questions for you. I'm sure this is the right section to ask them, if not apologies.

My dilemma...

I need to build a specialist computer for 3d graphics work ie rendering, modeling, etc... I would also like to use it for games. I have built 'home' computers from scratch before and have done ok so far. So I am not a complete beginner. I'm posting in hope that a fellow 3d artist will pick up and recommend some key bits to get. I'm on a budget of around 2000 pounds. Hopefully I can spend less but I'm not keeping my hopes up.

My questions to you.

1. I am not part of a massive company, I am an individual who freelances in 3d design (cad, 3ds max). i've checked out the quad core processors the high end duo core processors and the xeon chips. I'm at a dead loss here so much choice. The work that I produce is not massive like pixar or the likes. But is still quite big, so i need something to cope.

2. Graphics... where to start quadro, geforce 8 series, ati, all good cards some amazingly expensive, what advanatges am i going to get if any out of a 1000 pound quatro to an 8 series?? I guess that quatro is good for cad but geforce is better for games?? Is there a comprimise??? Sorry Ive been reading and reading and am now starting to confuse myself. (I'm sure you know the score).

3. I'm pretty sure i'll need a lot of ram i was planning 4gb, but what ****ing speed???

I have loads of questions like this, If anyone could point me in the right direction I will be very gratefull :) 

Thanks in advance,

Colin.
January 2, 2007 9:42:52 PM

For 2000 quid you'll be able to get a really decent machine, although of course you might not be able to squeeze 'pro' parts like Quad-core CPUs or high-end Quadro cards to the rig.

Perhaps a dual-CPU low-end Xeon rig would be budgetable. Anything built on Core architecture is pretty much golden right now so you can't go far wrong there.

As for the card - you're really going to have to decide what's more important to you, work or play. An 8800GTX will rip through games, but falter when it comes to CAD etc... and the inverse is true of the Quadro cards.

At a push, I'd say that the 'gaming' cards will be better at CAD than the CAD cards will be at gaming, although I'm fully prepared to have someone disagree with me because I haven't looked at Quadro cards for quite some time.
January 2, 2007 10:07:36 PM

What sort of thing are you planning on doing with the 3D stuff ?
If its very high polygon count then go with the Quadro if not then a Geforce will be fine. As renderers are multi-threaded, get as many cores as you can afford because rendering is going to tie up your machine for long periods. The number of cores will effect rendering speed far more than any difference between those cores.

As for memory again it depends on what you want to do. The higher the of number polygons, objects and especially textures you use the more RAM required
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January 2, 2007 10:30:44 PM

Hi again, Thanks for both of your replys, valuable input.

I am not planning to make any giant monkeys , mainly structure and transport. However at some stage i would like to be able to make high poly models.

when you say high poly, how high is high?

Question for mesarectifier

Ive looked at the dual core xeon chips, what is the active and passive thing all about?

Thanks again.
January 3, 2007 12:20:43 AM

I know I'm not... mesarectifier, but I have experience with Xeons... and I'll tell you this: you WILL losing gaming performance if you go with the xeons. However, gaming will be acceptable... and if you went with an 8800GTX I think you'd have decent CAD performance. I mean I know that gaming cards do fall a little short when it comes with CAD, but that unified architecture helps a bit.

Hope this helps and happy building!
January 3, 2007 12:24:39 AM

I haven't done nearly enough 3d work to be an expert, but these are my observations.

CPU's. Definitely get something based on the Core 2 Duo. If your software supports it, the quad core will do you wonders. The very least a dual core C2D.

Graphics. I've only used 'gaming' cards but they seem to do okay to pretty good for working in 3d development. Wish I could give you a comparison to a professional card, but never had the need or cash to get one.

RAM speed. From what's been reported C2D's or C2Q's work well with either 667mhz or 800mhz ram well. It's when you get into overclocking where you'd experience the most difference.

Something that you didn't post about, but what I'll throw in is: Storage Subsystem.

If you're going to be doing large renders that read/output to harddisk you DEFINITELY want to take hard drive performance into consideration. Back when the 36Gb Raptor first came out I went from a 45 minute encode to less than 10 with the same video stream. Many will say that a Raptor doesn't have good price/Gb (which is true) but it's hard to beat their performance when time is money. And a SATA Raptor is a lot less fussy than my experiences with SCSI drives.
January 3, 2007 6:58:32 AM

'Active' Xeons need an active cooler, passive can use a passive heatsink, however you need a specially designed case to run a passive one, I believe.

A pair of Active 5130 Xeons from Dabs is ±£450, to give you an idea - that's four 2ghz cores with 4mb L2 cache per-pair (=QUICK!!!).

A Tyan 5000P motherboard with dual 771-sockets is £400.

Add that to about £100/gb for FB-DIMMs and you've got a processor, motherboard and 4gb RAM for around 1200 quid.

An 8800GTX is about another £350/400, bringing the total to around £1600.

That leaves £400 for hard disks, cooling products, DVD±RW etc... any any extra tweaks you want (like a posh case or something).
January 3, 2007 8:58:08 AM

Hi All,

Thanks for your input again, very helpfull! I'm glad to recieve information like this.

I think after a lot of thought I will go with an 8 series card because I'm never going to use the full potential of a quadro or equivalent.

I'm still deciding between the quadcore and the dual xeon set up but am favouring the quad core at the moment.

Thanks for the info on ram speed and hdd I saw the raptors and wanted one.

One last question, SCSI... I have not used SCSI before, Im sure I need a SCSI card to have SCSI HDD's how does it work can i run a raid set up with 1 card or do i need 1 card per drive? Is it a pain to install a driver in windows? Am I going to see any difference in speed in a raptor raid array?

Thanks.
January 3, 2007 9:19:38 AM

Is this card any good?

nVidia Quadro FX4000 AGP 8x 256MB DDR3 SDRAM 2xDVI or wouls the 8800 out perform it?
January 3, 2007 9:58:03 AM

No, that card is older (it's AGP rather than PCIe which will limit your motherboard and CPU choices) - an 8800 will outperform it.

While a Quad-core CPU won't require such a pricey motherboard or RAM, the CPU itself costs £200 more. That said, it does have a higher clock speed.

They'll probably work out about the same value, but depending on whether you pick pricey options like SCSI will determine if it means you go over budget.
January 3, 2007 10:39:20 AM

Hi,
I work in video editing and have always built my workstations for the company i work for. If you were going to ask me what to do here's what i would say.

1 Don't buy Xeons. The quad core C2D is probably going to be the best buy for your rig. I have 2 Xeon systems and one C2D and by far the C2D takes less power, generates less heat, and overall less maintenance. Its true that the processor costs a little more but you can save money when buying the motherboard and the ram.

2) Xeons dont work as well for gaming i have found. They will be ok but I think you will find less issues with a Core 2 processor.

3) Buy a decent video card but unless rendering High Polygon count images you probably don't need a Quadro card. Remember that Quadro cards aren't ment for games so for the price you won't be getting your money's worth.

Hope this has helped.
January 3, 2007 11:49:46 AM

Hi All,

Thats great, I'm building this more for work than games, but you know how it goes...

You lot have been brilliant, I feel as though I can now make some decent purchasing decisions.

I think ill leave the SCSI because it will bump up the cost, so raptors win. The quad core has also won, this leaves the ram and mother board. I'm sure that I'll figure that one out for myself.

Thanks again for all of you advice and I hope that this post may help someone else in a similar situation.

I'll be back on to let you know what i have and how it went.

Kind Regards,

Colin.
January 11, 2007 9:11:13 AM

Hi,

Well I have built my system finally. I manged to get a quadro fx4400 from ebay for £330 3 months old! That saved me a fortune and the quad core processor for £560 again saving me money. So the final line up is

Intel quad core extreme 2.66 ccpu
evga 680i motherboard
4gb of ocz 6400 -800mhz ram
Nvidia quatro fx4400 gpu
2x 36gb 10000 rpm raptors in a striped array
xp x64 version

plus a few other extras like storage hdd, dvd burner.

Not a great deal of issues with it apart from not being able to find drivers... I didnt see that one coming...

I have a problem with the dvd rom drive timing out when coping information from it to the hdd. it gives me an i/o error? Not sure what that is about. Not spinning fast enough/at all?
Im pleased with the performance so far, I did buy a huge heatsync for the cpu so I may be able to turn up the cpu if im feeling brave.
Does anyone know of an accurate bench marking tool? I'll post the results on here!

Regards,

Colin.
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