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3dsmax, Photoshop & NWN2 -- @$1000 rig

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September 17, 2007 7:49:13 AM

Well, having recently built a fairly nice machine (which I still need to add to my profile), my artistic friend contacted me about building one for him. He uses some pretty intensive applications, and often has 3dsmax 8 and Adobe Photoshop CS open at the same time. An additional goal here is to be able to run NWN2 (hog!) at close to max settings. I was shooting for about a grand on this build, but have overshot that -- mostly due to the graphics card. The only place I can see to reasonably trim off about 100 bucks is perhaps the mobo, so I thought I'd throw up the specs here and see what everyone else says. I'm kinda sold on the mobo as it's the same one that I put in my machine, and it was a breeze to work with, but I'm open to suggestions on that (and any other cost-saving areas). I've included my comments to him on each of the components as well.

So ... 3d modeling, photoshop and a poorly programmed, resource-hog game ... on this:

The case: COOLER MASTER Centurion 5 CAC-T05-UB Black /Blue Aluminum Bezel , SECC Chassis ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - $49.99
I like this one, as it's gotten good reviews by Tom's Hardware Guide, it isn't ugly, and it isn't expensive.

The motherboard (UPDATE: Changed to a P35 below): ASUS P5N32-E SLI LGA 775 NVIDIA nForce 680i SLI ATX Intel Motherboard - $204.99
This is one of the pricier components, but it's identical to the one I'm currently using. It's a great board, and the 680i chipset is highly geared towards our type of computer use. There are cheaper boards out there, but this thing gives you great upgrade capability -- you could pop a Quad core in here with no problem down the road if you wanted to. This would be one area where we could probably cut out $100 if we absolutely had to get under a grand.

The CPU (UPDATE: Changed to a Q6600 below): Intel Core 2 Duo E6750 Conroe 2.66GHz LGA 775 Processor Model BX80557E6750 - $199.99
This sumofabitch is faster than mine, and for less money than I paid. I have no idea why the price is so low. I'm not asking questions. We could get by with less, but the E6420 costs the exact same amount. Stupid.

The memory: A-DATA 1GB (2 x 512MB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model ADQVE1908K - $39.99
and A-DATA 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model ADQVE1A16K - Retail $72.99
That's three gig of RAM (max supported under XP) for $113 and there's a mail in rebate. A-DATA's gotten good reviews on Tom's as well.

The graphics card: EVGA 640-P2-N821-AR GeForce 8800GTS 640MB 320-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - $369.99
Yeah … ouch. But you know what? This is the first place the system will bottleneck if we use the motherboard and chip I've chosen. I'm almost inclined to bump it up to the top-of-the-line 8800GTX version for 500 bones. But this is the same card I have in my machine, and it currently smokes NWN2. I haven't tried multitasking it with other programs yet.

The power supply: HIPER HPU-4B580-MS ATX12V v2.2 580W Power Supply - $99.99
Arguably, one of the most important pieces in your machine. This is the power supply I was dying to get, but I ended up with one that cost $70 more. Why? Because this one is 110V only, and I didn't want to run a transformer (European voltage is 220). It's had great reviews, looks fab, and the modular cables are fantastic for building a machine.

The hard drive: Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST3320620AS (Perpendicular Recording Technology) 320GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - $79.99
Fast, reliable, just a little bit noisy on writing. Best bang for the buck, though, and you can add more HD's with ease should you want to later. Sounds like you've got external storage available as well, though.

The DVD/CD Burner: Update Sony NEC Optiarc 18X DVD±R DVD Burner, OEM Version Black SATA Model AWG170S-B2 - OEM - $32.99.

CPU cooling fan: ARCTIC COOLING Freezer 7 Pro 92mm CPU Cooler - $19.99
Perhaps one of the top three coolers out there, and for an incredibly stupid low price of 20 bucks. There are a few that are better, but they cost over $100. This one is great and won't hurt the pocket.

More about : 3dsmax photoshop nwn2 1000 rig

September 17, 2007 8:08:56 AM

very nice build however if u dont want SLI ,then go for P35 board also get a Q6600 if u can , (although E6750 will serve u very well , but Q6600 performs better in PHOTOSHOP )
September 17, 2007 11:35:43 AM

First off, ONE HARD DRIVE! Are you kidding me? Do you want the write heads to fall off? For what he does three hard drives is ideal, with two the absolute minimum.

Go with the Corsair 520watt from buy.com, $90 shipped:
http://www.buy.com/prod/corsair-520w-sli-certified-modu...

That motherboard is a complete waste. Stop pushing parts from your build onto his. This board is perfect for him and allows the Q6600:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

This aluminum case is just a little more than that one shipped and has better quality throughout:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

That cooler is pure budget, good for single cores, not for a quad. Go with something like this:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I personally prefer Pioneer burners:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I would also drop down to a 8800gts 320mb in favor of another hard disk.
Related resources
September 17, 2007 12:55:08 PM

I'm waiting until Oct - mid or beginning then MAx2008 will be out and I can purchase it so I can use it for home.

Currently Photoshop Cs3 ,Flash ProCs3, Dreamweaver Cs3 are up along with video and my machine runs like a champ. I even had Company of Heroes running while dreamweaver was still running in the background (by accident) and it ran awesome.

It seems like a waste of 1k to build a machine that won't be able to handle the polygons of next generation modeling techniques. Max 2008 is going 64bit Vista, Photoshop CS3 now fully supports 64bit - so if your pal is a serious developer then he should consider a much higher end system - if he just tinkers then this should be fine.
September 17, 2007 1:04:16 PM

Maziar said:
very nice build however if u dont want SLI ,then go for P35 board also get a Q6600 if u can , (although E6750 will serve u very well , but Q6600 performs better in PHOTOSHOP )

Ok, with a bit of juggling, I've found a mobo/cpu combo that incorporates a Q6600 and only adds up to a whopping $9.99 more than the P5N/E6750 combo. I think that's the way I'll go unless someone wants to warn me off of the ASUS board I've picked:

The Motherboard: ASUS P5K LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX Intel Motherboard - $134.99 (saves me $70)
The CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 Kentsfield 2.4GHz LGA 775 Processor Model BX80562Q6600 - $279.99 (costs me $79.99 more)

@Noya
  • Why wouldn't I "push parts" from my build onto his? I like ASUS boards. They make good products, and I'm going to stick with them. However, I am willing to step it down a bit, as he won't be running SLI.
  • Interesting choice in PSUs -- I have the 620W version of that Corsair and love it. However, your link puts it at $99.99 shipped so I think I'll go with the Hiper even if only to keep the whole order on the Egg. And I wouldn't want to be accused of pushing parts from my build onto his. ;) 
  • Lian Li cases are lovely, light and high quality for sure. In fact, I looked at them first. However, for the $40 savings, I think the Cooler Master is going to be "good enough" for this build.
  • On the Arctic Pro versus the Scythe, do you have some reviews that compare the two? From what I read (customer reviews only), the Arctic seems to do well on quads. However, this is also an area where I won't skimp, and for an extra $20 I would consider the Scythe if there were some quantitative data comparing the two.
  • Any reasons on why you prefer Pioneer to Sony on the DVD? This is an area where I have absolutely zero opinion, so I'm open to suggestions.

    And finally...

    Noya said:
    First off, ONE HARD DRIVE! Are you kidding me? Do you want the write heads to fall off? For what he does three hard drives is ideal, with two the absolute minimum.

    Ok, you got me there. I suppose I could splurge for him considering the low cost of storage nowadays. Would it be a bad idea to put in a smaller HD for just the OS/programs and then drop in a 500Gb drive for storage? Or should I keep one drive at 320 and put in two more identical ones?

    Every dollar matters to him, hence my apparent tight-fist when it comes to even $10 increments. Thanks for the feedback, though -- I'm ready for more! :D 
    September 17, 2007 1:06:50 PM

    GenericName said:
    so if your pal is a serious developer then he should consider a much higher end system - if he just tinkers then this should be fine.

    Actually, he's more of a serious tinkerer. :D 

    His main work right now is modeling/texturing for NWN2, hence the purely 32-bit requirements. What is your current build that is running so well?
    September 17, 2007 1:32:15 PM

    e2180
    freezer 7 pro
    asus p5k
    2x1gb pc2-6400 ballistix
    8800gts 640mb
    antec sonata iii with 500w (the psu is high quality)
    seagate 320gb sataii

    $885 before tax & shipping

    Then, put it together & overclock it to 2.4 to 3ghz. Assuming he ain't going sli.
    September 18, 2007 12:39:05 AM

    COOLER MASTER Stacker RC-832
    (2) Dell 2407 UltraSharp 24" Wide DVI 6ms 9-in-2 Card Reader
    Vista Ultimate 64Bit / Office Standard 2007
    Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700 Kentsfield 2.66GHz
    ASUS P5N32-E SLI LGA 775 NVIDIA nForce 680i - BIOS 1201 BETA
    (2 SLI)- EVGA 768-P2-N835-AR GeForce 8800GTX 768MB SuperClocked
    (4) Gigs RAM OCZ model # OCZ2T8002GK
    Tagan TG1100-U96 ATX12V Power Supply
    Seagate Barracuda 750GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb
    ZEROtherm BTF90 92mm Silent UFO CPU Cooler
    (4) Scythe S-FLEX SFF21F 120mm Case Fan
    Sony NEC Optiarc Combo Drive Black IDE Model CRX320EE/B2S W/O SW
    SUPER TALENT INT-AIN1-C All-in-one USB 2.0 Card Reader
    ESET NOD32 Anti-Virus

    He must be contracting? or wants to take his work home. Not sure how hefty the polycounts get for NWN2 as its not a game I play, but if you drop 1k why not drop some more for a 64bit system.

    Anyhow I've already gone through 250 gigs of space so hard drives fill fast especially with many iterations of a Max/Photoshop file. Hope it all works out for him - its certainly scary making your own lol - but I survived.
    September 18, 2007 7:02:39 AM

    GenericName said:
    Lots of high speed equipment

    :o  Yoicks! You could use that system to launch the space shuttle, I think!

    GenericName said:
    He must be contracting? or wants to take his work home. Not sure how hefty the polycounts get for NWN2 as its not a game I play, but if you drop 1k why not drop some more for a 64bit system.

    Anyhow I've already gone through 250 gigs of space so hard drives fill fast especially with many iterations of a Max/Photoshop file.

    Actually, it's at the hobby level only right now. The poly count on NWN2 is fairly low (some say "annoyingly low") so models used in the game don't hog up too much disk space. He's used to working on a 3-yr-old system, so even an E6600 would blow his socks off compared to the computer he had that just went tits-up.

    GenericName said:
    Hope it all works out for him - its certainly scary making your own lol - but I survived.

    Thanks for the well-wishes. He's not scared at all about it, since I'm getting all the parts and putting it together. I'm enjoying the chance to build another machine so soon on the heels of my most recent one ... which was also my first build. And yeah -- I survived too. :D 
    !