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Parts Check for New Builder's Workstation

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July 19, 2008 2:39:27 AM

Hey, I'm putting together my first computer soon, to the best of my knowledge I've chosen parts that all work with each other, but I'd like some one who knows more than me to confirm it. The system is going to be used for 3d animation and video editing primarily. Heres my build:

CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 Kentsfield 2.4GHz 2 x 4MB L2 Cache LGA 775 Quad-Core Processor

MOBO: ASUS P5N-E SLI LGA 775 NVIDIA nForce 650i SLI ATX Intel Motherboard

MEMORY: CORSAIR XMS2 2GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Desktop Memory(Im buying 4 of these)

GRAPHICS CARD: ATI 100-505507 FireGL V3600 256MB 128-bit GDDR2 PCI Express x16 Workstation Video Card

PSU: Corsair TX 650W ATX12V Power Supply

CASE: Antec Nine Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

I'm also a little concerned about cooling, I'm getting the processor with the G0 stepping but using the Intel stock sink/fan, and the case has three fans that were well reviewed, will this be enough to keep it safely cool? and are these parts compatible?

Thanks in advance!
July 19, 2008 2:50:43 AM

I wouldn't go with an nvidia chipset mobo, get a P45 or a Workstation mobo. The rest of the build looks fine. You are missing a hard drive.
July 19, 2008 2:54:12 AM

If your not overclocking the stock cooler will be fine. If your not going SLI you should go with Intel chipset P35 or P45
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July 19, 2008 2:55:10 AM

yeah
July 19, 2008 3:04:22 AM

wow, thanks for the quick replies! Haha, I do have a hdd, but I know that will work. As for the mobo, could you reccomend one? I hadn't even known there were such things as workstation mobos. The one listed I'm getting for $110, and I'm hoping to keep the price in that area. thanks.
July 19, 2008 3:20:00 AM

searching for a p45 chipset i found this one: Foxconn P45A-S LGA 775 Intel P45 ATX Intel Motherboard. What do you think if this one? And where could I find a workstation mobo, and what features make it a workstation mobo?
July 19, 2008 3:35:31 AM

Official Intel branded boards are designed for business use and max stability, and thus don't have overclocking features, which you won't need anyway. Try picking up one of them instead of the Asus P5N-E.
July 19, 2008 4:16:46 AM

I would get Asus or Gigabyte
July 19, 2008 5:14:17 AM

Well Ive found two p35 boards, one intel and one asus. Im inclined to pick the intel because its cheaper, and the asus seems much more set up for OCing which Im not planning on doing. Is there any other reason for choosing the asus i should be aware of? Also, will my other components be compatible with either of these boards?

(The intel is the Intel DP35DP and the Asus is the Asus P5K EPU)
July 19, 2008 5:33:09 AM

Quote:
I would get Asus or Gigabyte


get either P35 or P45 variants. both are good

Forget FireGL... unless you plan to use it on openGL applications – which i don’t recommend. If you insist on using openGL or your program lacks support for directX, you’re better of getting nvidia gaming card. They’re much better with archaic logic and thus openGL.

firegl v3600 = radeon 2600pro

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_ATI_Graphics...

For openGL needs, nvidia 8600gt will be much faster. I believe you can get that card for less than 100$ now. I don’t recommend it since, 8800gt, 9800gtx are waaaay better than it, but if you want to stay in same performance range and disregarding money, 8600gt is the way to go.

Read my post to find out more about professional version cards ripoff here:
http://area.autodesk.com/index.php/forums/viewthread/40...

I wrote that in february 2008 so its a bit dated, but the point is still there. What i actually recommend now is ati hd 4870. This is one badass card with 800 unified shaders 115gb/sec memory bandwidth. Its just really cool.

If you have money and find it, get the 1gb variant. This card just totals competition and has memory frame buffer to mach. I read 2gb versions are coming out, but that is probably too much ram for a mortal man today.

Again, if you want to get the best OpenGL card awailable today, I’ll have to refer you to archaic logic nvidia and their gtx 280. Its about 500$ now. And fact remains, that you cant get better performing openGL card than it. Hd 4870 shouldn’t be much slower in opengl, but it probably is- slower.

In directX for 3d digital content creation (dcc) ATI’s HD 4870 has no competition.

If you’re still not convinced, I have even more words on the matter :) 
http://area.autodesk.com/index.php/forums/viewthread/14...

cheers
July 19, 2008 6:10:03 AM

Thank you so much for this information! I was actually set to buy an 8800gt a few days ago, after hearing the quadro fx series was crap, when someone told me to get a firegl.

The 4870 is just out of my price range, but I'm now planning on buying the 4850, if you think that will meet my needs. Im gonna be using this for 3d animation (lightwave if you know it) and video editing.

I have two questions about the 4850 though: will it require more power than the firegl wouldve? and will I be able to use it for gaming at all?

As for the mobo, Ive now decided on the ASUS P5Q Pro, unless anyone knows something bad about that one...

However the memory standard for this board is DDR2 1200, so do I need different ram now? Because the Corsairs I was gonna buy are DDR2 800, though the pins are the same.
July 19, 2008 4:33:46 PM

Quote:
but I'm now planning on buying the 4850, if you think that will meet my needs.


Next to 4870, 4850 is the next best thing- only slightly slower, but still with full 800 shaders. Its memory bandwidth is 50% slower though, not that it will make much difference in ligthwave.

Quote:
I have two questions about the 4850 though: will it require more power than the firegl wouldve?


Absolutely. That firegl had 120 processors, this one has 800. That said, a decent 400w PSU should be enough. I’d recommend getting a decent 500w PSU just to be on the safe side, and be able to upgrade at some time in future.

Quote:
and will I be able to use it for gaming at all?


O yes. 4850 is slightly better than 9800gtx for games. With antialiasing (aa) 8x its same as gtx 260, I recommend you use 8x aa whatever you do- it just makes picture so much better.

For 3d dcc under directx – 4870>4850>gtx 280> hd 3870 > hd 3850 > gtx 260 > gf 9/8 series.

For games with 8x aa – 4870> gtx 280 >hd 4850 > gtx 280 > gf 9/8 > hd 3870 > hd 3850

For 3d dcc under openGL > nvidia cards> ati cards - in general.

I’m not sure if LightWave has D3D support or not, but its good to have stats above in mind.

I do have to say one thing here- any of the above mentioned cards are way too good for 3d dcc weather openGL or D3D. In most cases more ram is going to be better- instance- hd 3850 1gb will be better than hd 4870 with 512mb ram.

That said, I think that 512mb is more than enough for 99% of 3d work.

In summary with the graphic cards- all mentioned above are super fast and for 3d dcc will do wonders, you cant go wrong with either one. If you play games as well, getting the best gaming card makes most sense, because games (unlike 3d dcc) can push cards to their limits.

So if hd 4850 fits in your budget (~200$) it’s the best one you can get. If you choose to chose it, consider spending another 30$ to get a better cooler. Or if you don’t care about temperatures, its default cooler will keep it working too, hot, but working.

Quote:
As for the mobo, Ive now decided on the ASUS P5Q Pro, unless anyone knows something bad about that one...


I’ve heard only good things about p5q. However, I didn’t hear that many things about it anyway.

Quote:
However the memory standard for this board is DDR2 1200, so do I need different ram now? Because the Corsairs I was gonna buy are DDR2 800, though the pins are the same.


Mobo will accept anything from ddr2 pc 667 to 1200. Don’t worry about ram.

Since you’re taking c2q 6600, get pc 800 memory. With it you can OC CPU to 3.6ghz. Get a good aftermarket cooler to reach these speeds. ( 3.6ghz = fsb 400 x 9, so memory pc 800 is just what you need for fsb 400, any more ands its wasted, as I doubt you will be able to OC this CPU any higher than fsb 400)
July 19, 2008 4:56:38 PM

The important thing to remember is that for AutoCAD and many similar applications, you must use a FireGL or Quadro to get the hardware acceleration capabilities of the program, which really speed it up. Look at what programs you are going to use and check what video cards are compatible with them for full hardware acceleration. If a normal video card works, then get a normal video card, but if you need a Quadro or FireGL for full acceleration, then definitely spring for it as it will speed up each program noticeably.
July 19, 2008 5:18:30 PM

Are you sure the quadro fx series are crap??? Damn... i have to take a look again. I just gonna buy a nVidia Quadro fx series for my aunt, using fully for AutoCAD.
July 19, 2008 5:38:03 PM

well i know that the low end quadros (like the 570) are crap, and saw some benchmarks for maya and 3ds max where the firegl 3600 surpassed much more expensive quadros...

Thanks so much for all of your help guys, especially you eodeo!

I wasn't planning on OCing, but since Im already getting the right memory, I Think I will OC the proccessor, especially if i can get it up to 3.6ghz!
July 19, 2008 9:17:02 PM

Quote:
The important thing to remember is that for AutoCAD and many similar applications, you must use a FireGL or Quadro to get the hardware acceleration capabilities of the program, which really speed it up. Look at what programs you are going to use and check what video cards are compatible with them for full hardware acceleration. If a normal video card works, then get a normal video card, but if you need a Quadro or FireGL for full acceleration, then definitely spring for it as it will speed up each program noticeably.


This is just wrong. All of it. Only thing quadro fireGL line have is a (to me) silly advantage in OpenGL. Even with it, they’re worlds slower compared to same class directX performance. And that’s not considering that gaming cards have admirable OpenGL performance to start with.

Quote:
Are you sure the quadro fx series are crap??? Damn... i have to take a look again. I just gonna buy a nVidia Quadro fx series for my aunt, using fully for AutoCAD.


Yep. I'm sure. Gaming cards are very fast now. Getting a current midrange gaming card outclasses ANY lower/midrange quadro/fireGL. Getting a high-end current gaming card outclasses ANY quadro/fireGL model. Period. Current gaming cards are much faster than the outdated model quadro/fireGL are built upon. Even with special openGL and synthetic benchmark cheating methods, they cant measure up to the next gen cards. The thing with graphic cards is that they tend to double their performance with each generation; quadro/fireGL line just can’t keep up the pace.

Don’t think that Quadro/FireGL line uses some magical transistors or chips, they’re exactly the same as their gaming card equivalent. Slightly slower to ensure stability, and have drivers optimized for OpenGL. That’s it… no wait, there’s the insensibly higher price tag- lets not forget that.

Now, obviously I cant tell you not to use OpenGL or not to use your program, whatever it maybe. I use 3d studio Max and it offers both OGL and D3D. AutoDesk has been kind enough, to default Max to use D3D and they’ve posted plenty of warnings saying that D3D is recommended and faster than OpenGL.

Now, I understand that you may be forced to use OpenGL, for one reason or other. Still, even than- getting the same class gaming card will provide you with very similar OpenGL performance and a lot lower price. Don’t forget that for the money you would get el-crappo qudro/firegl you can get midrange/ high-end gaming card. This one will just obliterate any chance “professional” cards ever had.

And one last thing to i-must-use-opengl users: get the nvidia card. Install quadro drivers= instant openGL optimization without the higher price tag.

Have fun :) 

p.s. ati users- you can always softmod your card to firegl- not that i recommend it- you will find it slightly slower in most things- but opengl would be slightly faster. Is it worth it? I don’t think so, but if you must use OpenGL and need it to be faster- go ahead.
July 19, 2008 9:21:08 PM

Almost forgot- eido, go here:
http://www.frostytech.com/top5heatsinks.cfm

and pick one of the top 10 intel heatsinks. Get it to ensure stability at 3.6ghz for your quad core. Without it, you can get to ~3.0ghz. I think that .6ghz with lower temperature is worth it.

For about 200$ + 50$ you will get higher 3d rendering performance than best intel’s c2q 9770 at ~1500$ ;) 
July 19, 2008 9:42:35 PM

And lets get one more thing straight here- even “slow” and frowned upon nvidia 8600gt or radeon 2600 pro are more than capable of displaying 10+ million polygons with 4k textures regardless of openGL or DirectX.

Getting a better graphic card can prove useful if you need 100m polygons or some such heavy scenes, but for those you’re really gonna need more than 512mb of video ram. Personally, the highest polygon scene was 3million polygon 17th century fortress. My old 6800gt /w 256mb ram was capable of displaying it in real time.

Your bottleneck is more than likely going to be your CPU. As you may or may not know, viewport performance (like rotation and scene navigation) depends only on your GPU. But, if you have 1million poly character that needs to be animated, your CPU will bottleneck you, as viewports cant use more than one core. Its very similar to games in that manner.

You might remember reading people actually recommending faster dual core CPU (e8400) over slightly slower but quad core CPU (q6600) for games. This is due to games, like viewports, and 90% of software cant use more than one core. Newer games are optimized for dual cores, but just barely- they're mainly still dependant on the one core.

Extra cores to be fully utilized need specially coded programs, like 3d digital content creation programs. Like 3ds max, or Lightwave.

In conclusion, I recommend getting quad core and overclocking it to 3.6ghz :) 
July 20, 2008 6:16:23 AM

thanks for that list of coolers, but how can i know they will fit? Is there a site that gives measurements of the space around a mobos socket? I really dont want to pay for something that i cant use...
July 20, 2008 2:44:36 PM

thanks for that list of coolers, but how can i know they will fit? Is there a site that gives measurements of the space around a mobos socket? I really dont want to pay for something that i cant use...
>> just click on any one of them and you will get 4 page review of it. including dimensions. Sinc I know you'll be using standard lga 775 socket i think its fair to say that no matter what intel heatsink you pick, you will do good.

Just make sure you get a decent sized case, such as antec 900 you listed in the begining :) 
July 21, 2008 12:37:22 AM

eodeo said:
Quote:
The important thing to remember is that for AutoCAD and many similar applications, you must use a FireGL or Quadro to get the hardware acceleration capabilities of the program, which really speed it up. Look at what programs you are going to use and check what video cards are compatible with them for full hardware acceleration. If a normal video card works, then get a normal video card, but if you need a Quadro or FireGL for full acceleration, then definitely spring for it as it will speed up each program noticeably.


This is just wrong. All of it. Only thing quadro fireGL line have is a (to me) silly advantage in OpenGL. Even with it, they’re worlds slower compared to same class directX performance. And that’s not considering that gaming cards have admirable OpenGL performance to start with.


Actually, if you look at AutoDesk's website, the supported list for AutoCAD 2009 is only Quadro and FireGL cards.

Link: http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet/hc?siteID=123112&i...

And it speeds it up a lot, trust me, I've set up a CAD lab of computers at my school, with lower stats then my home computer, but they ran AutoCAD faster, reason why being full hardware acceleration. So yes, what I've said is true. The only real difference between Quadros/FireGL and GeForce/Radeon is the driver set they use(the drivers are not interchangeable between them, however) which optimizes the Quadro/FireGL for perfect accuracy(to try to make renderings as accurate as possible) and the GeForce/Radeon for speed a small cost to accuracy(which is not noticeable in games).
July 22, 2008 10:12:46 PM

Of course AutoDesk is only going to support professional line of cards. For each card they certify they have to take their time and hire some people to do it. Not recommending/ certifying gaming graphic cards makes a lot of sense.

That, by no way means that those cards are better or more able, because in fact they aren’t. They aren’t even close to their modern gaming counterparts.

Quote:
And it speeds it up a lot, trust me, I've set up a CAD lab of computers at my school, with lower stats then my home computer, but they ran AutoCAD faster, reason why being full hardware acceleration. So yes, what I've said is true. The only real difference between Quadros/FireGL and GeForce/Radeon is the driver set they use(the drivers are not interchangeable between them, however) which optimizes the Quadro/FireGL for perfect accuracy(to try to make renderings as accurate as possible) and the GeForce/Radeon for speed a small cost to accuracy(which is not noticeable in games).


I don’t mean to sound rude so forgive me if i do come out as arrogant- but i do have to point out that you just contradicted yourself. You’re just repeating what graphic card manufacturers want you to think.

First you say that quadro/ firegl line has full acceleration, implying that their gaming equivalents somehow lack something. Than you say that professional line has perfect accuracy while gaming cards are sacrificing quality for speed. This is just so not true. Both line of cards ARE certified to run under full API they are certified to run under (4.1 for directx 10.1 and opengl 2.1- full acceleration- hardware certified on both gaming and professional line of cards)

Second, quality of display is selectable on both cards and with both drivers, and if you actually don’t select anything special they are going to have exactly the same quality as the defaults on both card lines and both driver lines have exactly the same defaults.

When you select it to be higher, you can go higher with antialiasing on proffesinal line of cards. Is this hardware specific? Advantage of professional line? No, simple software tweak that many programs can unlock for “free” if the underlying chip is the same. And if you look at:
For nvidia cards
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NVIDIA_Quadro
for ati cards:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_ATI_Graphics...

You can tell exactly what chip is used where, and if professional card can do it, and your’s cant you can bet your money that simple tweak can unlock it.


That said, on ATI cards you can go as high as todays anti-aliasing(aa) will go- real 24x aa.
As for nvidia, you can unlock 32x aa- but it looks way worse than its own 16qx aa so while the number sounds higher its actually lower in quality. And all geforce cards can do 16qx aa.
In conclusion, same chip at same speed= same card. In reality its like same chip but slower for the professional cards= so they’re actually slower (!) for more money than the gaming card. You could argue that they are more stable, but I challenge you to find an unstable commercially available card- professional or gaming.

As for quality, even though it might seam that professional cards have more potential, you will find that they default to same quality settings, and that the higher setting isn’t always better (32x nvidia)- even if you could use it (which you can even on geforce line with a simple tweak- not that i’d advise it)

Quote:
And it speeds it up a lot, trust me, I've set up a CAD lab of computers at my school, with lower stats then my home computer, but they ran AutoCAD faster, reason why being full hardware acceleration.


Can I ask what cards did the school use and what graphic card did you try at home? Unless it was in openGL id doubt that ANY professional card could come close to a current 100$+ gaming card in performance. And even in openGL the gaming card would really have to be bad to lose - noticeably.

(and i'm not being rude here, you can buy 512mb hd3850 card for ~100$- that one is miles faster than ANY quadro card awailable today- yes even the quadro fx 5600)
July 24, 2008 4:49:09 AM

The school used AGP Quadro FXs, I used a heavily overclocked and volt-modded 7900GS, but guess what, I couldn't enable hardware acceleration on my 7900, why you ask, because AutoCAD did not give me the option to. I know that the Quadros and FireGL are no different hardware wise, but it is an artificial difference created by nVidia and ATI, but AutoCAD also biases hardware acceleration options based on that difference. It would not allow me to enable hardware acceleration on my consumer level card. Therefore, you can assume it REQUIRES a workstation card for full hardware acceleration, not because the quadros or FireGLs are better cards, but because it is a software restriction.

I probably spoke poorly in my earlier post, but all the differences are driver/software based, not hardware, but if you are building a real workstation, one used for critical applications within a work environment, you don't want to rely on having to mod the Device ID value on your video cards in order to make them work.
July 24, 2008 11:43:24 AM

gravemind123,

You’re correct. I didn’t think my posts completely through. It does say building a workstation and not building a machine for 3d studio max.

I am no familiar with AutoCad and its ins and outs, so I have no right saying that quadro wont be better there. If your 7900gs cant use hardware acceleration it will be beaten by the very first geforce card that came out if that one could use the hardware acceleration.

Only two programs I am actually competent in saying that quadro/firegl cards are overpriced/ bs are Maya and 3DS Max. Both of these can use DirectX or OpenGL. I just assumed that other professional programs have hardware acceleration too, at least for OpenGL.

I was not aware of this limitation in the very respectable application like AutoCad. If it has it, it stands to reason that other popular applications have it too.

So I will have to agree with you that a general workstation is better off with crippled quadro/firegl if it means that you can use hardware acceleration. Even very poor hardware wins against the software CPU render.

On the other hand if you know that your application can use hardware acceleration regardless of the card, you’re better off getting the gaming card equivalent.

What I haven’t tried myself but my friends have: Lightwave and SoftImage XSI- I can tell you that those 2 will also work with hardware acceleration even on the gaming cards. Will it run faster on quadro/fireGL? Maybe, if OpenGL is the only hardware API you can pick, it probably will. I just never used those programs so I cant guarantee anything.
July 24, 2008 11:39:23 PM

Ah yes, I guess or difference of opinion is mostly through the software we have used and what they support. You seem to have more experience with rendering and me having more experience with drafting. I suppose the answer is when building a workstation is to look carefully into each program you need to use and look if it needs a Quadro/FireGL to work or can work on a normal card.

AutoCAD with no hardware acceleration is slow, even on my Core2Duo with 2GB of ram while trying to do a bit of 3D drafting work.
July 28, 2008 12:28:28 AM

Quote:
AutoCAD with no hardware acceleration is slow.


Yep. No hardware acceleration equals great pain of slowness. It’s annoying that they force you to use quadro/firegl cards for autocad. There is no hardware reason for this; its enforced through software alone. If i was into autocad I’d try to find a way to “crack” it to support every card capable of openGL- which is just about any card above 20$ today.
July 30, 2008 2:19:24 AM

I got interested in the AutoDesk not supporting D3D/ regular cards in AutoCad. This is what I found out:

http://discussion.autodesk.com/thread.jspa?threadID=650...

You can read the whole thread at the official autodesks forums, while I’ll just give you the juice here:

Quote:
In short, using Cadalyst's graphics C2006 benchmark tests with R2008, the
8800GTS totally blows away the FX1500 in AutoCAD 2008 using the Direct 3D
drivers!


Quote:
Vista does support OpenGL, but only through … a software abstraction layer that pipes OpenGL calls through to DirectX in the OS). This was all decided practically weeks before Vista was officially released. That's why the card makers had no OpenGL drivers ready once Vista shipped. They do now, but Acad also shipped '08 prior to the
back-handed OpenGL support, so they didn't have anything to work with during
development. This is what forced them to support DirectX for the first time
ever.


Quote:
Autodesk even said right here in this newsgroup that there was no way that they would ever support DirectX. Back when '07 first came out "requiring" workstation OpenGL cards…


Quote:
…and actually said that DirectX would be too problematic to implement.

Obviously, it really wasn't.


So.... as I said earlier:

Quote:
In directX for 3d digital content creation (dcc) ATI’s HD 4870 has no competition.

:) 
July 30, 2008 2:32:10 AM

And I just HAVE to give a shoutout to Microsoft. I usually yell at them for being bad and sad, but this is where they actually came out on top with user friendliness and goodness.

If Apple/ nVidia had their way, OpenGL and Quadro would be forced upon us all. We could only speculate how well a gaming card would perform it if it could perform.

Now not only does MS provide far superior 3d API to OpenGL – Direct3D, but their new OS- Vista, forced Autodesk to support DirectX/ Direct3D.

Speaking of the new MS OS, Vista – its actually bad and slow and I heavily do NOT recommend for any serious 3d work. They played around with D3D support and made it DX10. Which is good overall. And from the future standpoint, it’s actually way better than anything existing today.

Sad thing is, today is not the future. No 3d creation program supports DX 10 (yet), so using DX 9 actually makes it slower than win XP. So, for any real work, use Win XP. Go for win XP x64 for the extra ram support above 4gb.

Cheers :) 
July 30, 2008 3:25:01 AM

Only problem I have with Microsoft is not allowing D3D to be used on platforms other then Windows. They get a lot of developers to use it, and then it basically forces *nix and Mac users out of the gaming scene. If they would allow full DX9(10 would be nice, but most games can run in DX9 mode) to be used in an opensource implementation or at least a closed source method through Linux I would like D3D a whole lot more.

Other then that though, the DirectX API is fine, and I like how DX10 forces video card manufacturers to come up with unified shaders to comply with it, they really should have more of a push to get graphics up to spec by basically forcing it to happen if the manufacturer wants to claim a specific DirectX support.
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