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Advice High End 3D Development Machine

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July 24, 2008 1:39:48 AM

Hi, I’m looking for some advice on building a high end system for 3D Games programming and playing games.
Now I’ve built all my PC’s over the years so I’m extremely competent in that department, four years ago I built a mother of a system and its lasted a long time but it’s long overdue to be replaced now. Unfortunately I’ve lost touch with the advances in technology over the past few years which is where I’d like some advice (yep I’m getting old).
I’m a programmer by trade so over time I’ve stopped playing games on the PC and just use it to code and used my 360 to play.
BUT!
Now I’m heavily getting into 3D programming so here’s where I want an awesome power house workstation but I also need high end graphics capabilities.
Money wise I’m probably going to be looking at spending in the region of £2000-£3000 which equates roughly to $4000-$6000 in US. I could go higher.

My requirements:
Serious CPU power I’m thinking of a Quad Core Q9550 2.83 GHz 12mb cache 1333fsb ( I read this will overclock and perform better in the long run than a Core 2 Extreme?)
SLI or ATI... hmmm now I’ve always been a nVidia fanboy but I hear the ATI out performs the nVidia and I guess my motherboard depends on this. Really need advice here.
I’m thinking DDR3 as fast as possible probably at least 4gb to start with.
Motherboard.. I’m totally lost here every time I find one that looks good on paper with the features I want it gets bad reviews. Any suggestions?
Audio, probably one of the Creative X-Fi cards, always had creative, even if the MB has built in audio I disable and go creative!
Hard Drives I want uber fast access I’m thinking RAID but don’t have much experience with it, SATA was *new* when I built my last PC lol
I would also like to drop in an Agea PhysX card as well.
Goes without saying but must have DX10, must run Vista (should I use 64-bit version with a quad core or will 32-bit be ok?)

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
July 24, 2008 1:48:34 AM

Can you wait until next month for the ATI 4870X2?
July 24, 2008 1:55:33 AM

Yes I can
Sorry I should have also added a bit more about what Im looking for in the 3D department
I need a card that supports as many DX10 features as possible and delivers blistering performance, target will be cross platform development between windows and Xbox 360, resolutions will be aimed at both 720p and 1080p, not hugely concerned with anything over that
Unfortunately I can’t stretch to the developer 3D cards which go for like 6k or something lol
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July 24, 2008 2:05:41 AM

You're going to want the 4870X2 then. 2GB of GDDR5, and the estimation of its performance compared to two 4870s in CF, it's going to be the card to watch. I could piece out a good system now, but things could change between now and next month.
July 24, 2008 2:13:14 AM

Sounds very good I guess thats a starting point, I think the Q9550 Quad Core will do me just fine so its finding a motherboard that supports DDR3 and RAID with a decent chipset and isn't twarted with problems. Seen some bad reviews of MB's this evening...
Onboard lan would be nice too, I dont do wireless lol
Need enough slots for a sound card and the physX card too
July 24, 2008 2:17:32 AM

Also (being dense here Im from the days of one card) I assume I can use more than one 4870X2? Would it be worth it?
Im not clued up on ATI's tech as I said I was an nVidia fanboy, I understand SLI I had voodoo 2's back in the day I need to read up a bit
July 24, 2008 2:33:02 AM

well, you could go dual 4870x2, and that would end up in being 5TFLOPS of power. but i dont think that you would need that much for 3d programming. a single x2 will do you fine.
July 24, 2008 3:42:44 AM

I was thinking I'll need my own powerstation soon, already got 4 xbox 360's, 3 high spec PC's, 1 laptop, a 50" plasma TV, bunch of TFT's, soon to be a new LCD full HD TV and this new system LOL

Ok then reccomend me a motherboard with RAID and DDR3 thats will compliment the 4870x2 and Q9550 :-)
What watt PSU would I needfor this bad boy
July 24, 2008 3:51:15 AM

Well If you can wait some time longer around end of this year the New Intel Proccessor is coming out with Memory controler and alot of new stuff their getting rid of the south bridge in mother board, alond with higher clock rates plus thier is DDR3 RAM 2000+ or w/e it is going to support, it is going to be very quick and recomend 4870x2 2gb GDDR5 :o  and by waiting it is going to be bit cheaper at least the graphics card and possible the memory because it might go mainstream. And the x58 motherboards come out same time Intell's processor.
July 24, 2008 4:08:42 AM

Dont think I can put it off till the end of the year tbh although I can wait a month for the gfx card.
Is that new board with the x58 chipset?

I think the quad core 2.83 will be absoluty fine and its cheep enough, would rather spend on a bucket of RAM than a slightly faster CPU/ board
I'll be getting 9k soon so moneys not an issue although I dont want to spend more than 3k if I can help it.

Whats the opinions on the x38/48 chipsets? Am I going the right way opting for intel chipsets and CPU's? I dont rate AMD CPU's tbh
July 24, 2008 4:13:44 AM

X48 is the way to go. It performs better than X38's crossfire. It's a small difference though. I'd pull up the article, but I can't be bothered.
July 24, 2008 4:36:34 AM

RichMcc said:
Dont think I can put it off till the end of the year tbh although I can wait a month for the gfx card.
Is that new board with the x58 chipset?

I think the quad core 2.83 will be absoluty fine and its cheep enough, would rather spend on a bucket of RAM than a slightly faster CPU/ board
I'll be getting 9k soon so moneys not an issue although I dont want to spend more than 3k if I can help it.

Whats the opinions on the x38/48 chipsets? Am I going the right way opting for intel chipsets and CPU's? I dont rate AMD CPU's tbh

Well It will have a different pin number so if you get a x48 the new processors Intel is making will not work on a x48.
July 24, 2008 5:17:39 AM

Woohh thats sweet, I am an ASUS fan Im running one now, had a gigabyte before tho it was ok.

Problem is theres always something better coming out, I'll end up waiting forever and not buying anything LOL
July 24, 2008 5:17:48 AM

Looks good but I wounder why Gig~ Didn't support DDR3 2000 Ram
July 24, 2008 5:21:21 AM

RichMcc said:
Woohh thats sweet, I am an ASUS fan Im running one now, had a gigabyte before tho it was ok.

Problem is theres always something better coming out, I'll end up waiting forever and not buying anything LOL

True butt....
This will be a new pinn number
They will get rid of south bridge intirely
Say you want to upgrade to 16 core you don't have to get a new moatherboard and your graphics card will be good for a very long time.
July 24, 2008 5:26:39 AM

Thinking about it I could just get the bare minimum CPU and MB required to run the 4870x2 and spend as little as possible on them so I'll be able to develop on the card (which is what I want to do), then upgrade to x58 once its out...
Then I'll use the spare bits for a HTPC or something and bin the PC Im on now.
July 24, 2008 4:04:27 PM

Well I always like the creative sound cards even if it is a 30$ it makes so much of a difference :) 
July 24, 2008 7:45:02 PM

Good news, Nehalem is shipping sooner than predicted. Late September/early October, along with X58.
July 25, 2008 5:38:16 PM

Thats brilliant news! I guess I'll wait for X58 then.
Depending on price I may just get two 4870x2 as well just for insanitys sake haha! I dont do things by half I like to get the best thats available to ensure my system lasts as long as possible.

But I wonder if theres an element of overkill, I mean what the hell would run on it?? Im guessing nothing yet!
I dont know of any games that support quad cores let alone 8 cores but I suppose I wouldn't need another system for a good number of years yet.

So Im thinking as a rough spec

8 Core CPU
X58 Motherboard
Two 4870x2
Agea PhysX
Creative X-Fi sound card
4 or 6 Gig of DDR3
Watercooling
Graphics tablet, good keyboard & mouse
Couple of SATA HD's in RAID configuration
Power... Im thinking nuclear? I guess 1000W would be essential

My god this will be an insane system! =)
Come on Intel and ATI, hurry up and get this shizzle on the market!
July 25, 2008 5:45:56 PM

Well they won't have 8-core CPU's in the first Nehalem chips. They'll be quads with Hyper-Threading. You'll be able to run RAM in double and triple channel, and you can get the extreme edition for only $999.
July 25, 2008 7:35:47 PM

Ahh ok I thought they were releasing the 8's at the same time.... no matter.
8 would be serious overkill anyway but I guess price wise that would be about 500 pounds here given the exchange rate from your lovely dollars so thats not bad =)
I still doubt we'll see much software supporting quads cores or more for a good while yet tho...

Thanks for the x58 tips tho folks really good to know!
!