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NEWBIE HERE! MOBO and GPU ?'s for a 3D modeling/rendering i7 build

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May 27, 2009 5:16:57 AM

Ok, so first of all I'm completely new to this; never built a system before, may have installed a disc drive or two but that would be the extent of my DIY experience. That being said, I'm a quick learner and not afraid to try someting new. I am looking to build a system that will be primarily used to run 3D applications and rendering; ACAD, Revit, Rhino, Sketchup, Blender, Kerkythea, CS4, etc. I'm not a big gamer so that isn't a huge factor for me. I live in the US and would love to keep this under $1500, under $1000 would be great but so far seems unlikely since I need everything, monitor, keyboard, the whole deal. I am currently working on a toshiba laptop that is 5 years old and just about worthless. I'm an architecture student and need to upgrade my rig so I can quit spending the night in the comp lab at school waiting for s@#t to render!

I have been on here, newegg, and other random sites doing a ton of research and to a certain degree have begun to nail down the components I think would work for my needs:

Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz 4 x 256KB L2 Cache 8MB L3 Cache LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor - Retail http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GIGABYTE GA-EX58-UD3R LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PNY VCQFX580-PCIE-PB Quadro FX580 512MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 Workstation Video Card http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

OCZ Gold 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Triple Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model OCZ3G1600LV6GK - Retail http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drives - OEM http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

COOLER MASTER HAF 932 RC-932-KKN1-GP Black Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case - Retail http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

OCZ StealthXStream OCZ700SXS 700W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready Active PFC Power Supply - Retail http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

LG L227WTG-PF Black 22" 2ms Widescreen LCD Monitor 300 cd/m2 10000:1DCR with HDCP Support http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Definitely want to go with the i7 build but thats about the only certain thing. As it stands this set up would be about $1350.

Two main questions I have are, should I bump the MOBO up a bit? Seems like the gigabyte UD3R that I have selected works fine and can get the job done, but I have also read many good reviews of the ASUS P6t deluxe V2. Should I spend the extra 100 bucks more and jump up to this? http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The other big question, really my biggest sticking point right now is the graphics card. Currently I have selected the top of the line entry level (a bit oxymoronic) workstation card from nvidia, the QuadroFX580. Is this the way to go since I will be using this rig almost exclusively for 3D modeling/rendering? Or should I go with a consumer level card that has better specs like this one? http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... the GTX275 supports OpenGL and DirectX 10 which I know is important for many of the applications i'll be using, does it make sense to shell out a few more bucks for the GTX275 or should I go with the more task specific QuadroFX580? (Although I am not a gamer, having the ability to play every once and awhile, when time permits, wouldn't be bad!)

Any and all input/advice/criticism is welcome... As I mentioned the main questions for me are about the MOBO and the graphics card, but If there are other issues, like the PSU not being right or a way to save a few bucks on a different case, please feel free to chime in! Nothing is set in stone yet, I have about 2, maybe 3 more weeks before I bust out the magic money dispensing card and start ordering this beast so there's plenty of time to fine tune and nit-pick right now.

Thanks in advance for your assistance!
May 27, 2009 5:23:13 PM

I use an FX1700 for CAD/CAM. I do a ton of solid modeling and some artistic rendering and the workstation class cards are FAR superior to the desktop "gamer" counterparts. I'm not sure if the $250 jump ( http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ) from the FX580 is worth it to you though. It usually comes down to how much is your time worth to you. I have had absolutely zero problems with my card using ACAD 2009 and a ton of other CAD/CAM programs. I'm also looking at the GTX275 for my home rig that does double duty as a gamer, but can't seem to make up my mind. If games are really not important, than stick with the quadro. I personally prefer the quadro line over the fireGL for my applications, but some will argue on this.

Edit: The FX1800 ( http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ) is probablly a better buy right now opposed to the FX1700 as it adds OpenGL 3.0. All three choices have DX10 support.

May 27, 2009 6:36:09 PM

Hey thanks for your insight.

I think I am leaning more towards sticking with a workstation card; as much as I'd like to, I simply don't have the time for gaming any more.

The $250 jump in price for the FX1700 is gonna be too much for me though. The FX580 does support both DX10 and OpenGL 3.0 and from some of the reviews I've read it sounds like it's right up there with the FX1700 as far as speed is concerned: http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductReview.aspx?Item=N... Maybe this is due to the fact that it is a newer card that's meant to bridge the gap between the entry level and midrange cards.

This question will probably confirm what a noob I am, but is it possible with the right motherboard to install both the Quadro FX580 and the GTX275? One for work and one for play? Or would this just cause a ton of confusion for the system?

Also, assuming I just go with the single FX580, what do you think about the gigabyte UD3R motherboard? What are you running that FX1700 on? Should I splurge a bit more for the ASUS or is the difference relatively minor?

I am just a college student right now finishing my undergrad with 3 years of grad school yet to look forward to, so the absolute top of the line isn't necessary; just dont want to be dependent on the computers at school, and dont want to be completely inefficient with my time by using a completely inferior system at home.

Thanks again for taking the time to respond, any further insight into this matter would be tremendously appreciated!
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May 27, 2009 7:35:11 PM

Well...i'm running my FX1700 on an HPxw6400 dual quad xeon right now, so that dosen't help you very much. I can't really help you with MoBo choices, as I've avoided the i7 so far due to lack of ECC support - either xeons or Opty's for me....sorry. As far as your question on dual cards, one for gaming and one for CAD ? I've thought about this too, but there just dosen't seem to be an effecient way to pull it off. My ( limited ) understanding, is windows still uses the primary video card for rendering even if it's displayed on the secondary card, kind of defeating the purpose. The other problem is with the drivers...Windows now ( unlike XP ) requires both cards to use the same driver, again the defeating the purpose of specialized quadro drivers vs. gaming drivers. If you do go with the FX580, I would be interested in your performance, as I, like you, am still undecided on the quadro vs. GTX for my home rig ( 4 socket Opty ). What's your average file size when working with solids ? I know, when mine get large, the extra RAM really helps.

Edit: I just read the reviews from the newegg link. It seems the last poster is still trying to make the FX580 co-exist nicely with his GTX295. Maybe someone could chime in if this is in fact possible/practical. I agree that a $250 jump to the FX1800 is too much for the average home user ( including myself ) running both an FX580 and a GTX275 would be really sweet for a multi-purpose machine and is probablly the way I'de go too if I had some assurance it would work.

Or if you really want to save a buck or two, find a 8800GTX and soft-mod it into a Quadro FX5600. I've heard success stories, but never tried it myself. AFAIK there is still no way to soft-mod the GT200 chips though, so that's the best you can get soft-modding.
May 27, 2009 10:00:12 PM

Still pretty new to 3D work, so far we've mostly been working with Sketchup-Pro, Revit, and Rhino, no real exhorbatant files yet. Most of my big hang ups so far have come from indesign work and rendering where the files can get pretty large; the presentation boards I just did for one of my finals was 1.5gbs. I am taking a 3D modeling class over the summer that teaches AC3D and 3Ds Max so I am essentially trying to future proof myself as I continue through the architecture program.

This does touch on one of my concerns with the mobo I have potentially selected; I am planning on immediately outfitting it with 6gbs of DDR3 ram but that's just about the max the board can handle. Would it be wise then to go with a board that has more options for further expansion? I believe the ASUS can handle up to 24gbs. I initially thought 6gbs of ram would be more than enough considering the toshiba laptop I am currently using only has 512mbs! But maybe I'm underestimating the needs of the software i'll be using, what do you think?
May 27, 2009 11:09:10 PM

Autodesk does NOT recommend FX or FireGL cards for Revit. My suggestion is to contact an Autodesk reseller to inquire about their suggested hardware. Also read this for Revit (PDF attached to post on this page).
http://forums.aecsystems.com.au/index.php?topic=2461.0

Also Rendering is 100% CPU based in Revit (and most applicaitons), the speed of the CPU determines how long you will wait, the GPU does nothing for you. Seeing how long a quality drawing can take your better off with a faster CPU than a better GPU.

Here is what I would do: Contact the manufacturers for each application to get their recommendation, or look for a document similar to that which I linked. In cases like Autodesk you are better off sending a reseller a question than contacting Autodesk as Autodesk has a very odd support structure. The resellers primary motivation is selling software and/or training, but generally they will answer a general question such as a hardware recommendation (although perhaps not immediately).


That being said I'd look at the following:
1. Increasing the CPU speed if you will do a fair amount of rendering above draft quality
2. Whether you need an FX card
3. Dual monitors... every single one of our CAD people swears by them, be it in architecture, civil, or structural.
4. Make sure you install x64 verisons of Windows and the applications.





May 27, 2009 11:39:11 PM

number9 said:
Still pretty new to 3D work, so far we've mostly been working with Sketchup-Pro, Revit, and Rhino, no real exhorbatant files yet. Most of my big hang ups so far have come from indesign work and rendering where the files can get pretty large; the presentation boards I just did for one of my finals was 1.5gbs. I am taking a 3D modeling class over the summer that teaches AC3D and 3Ds Max so I am essentially trying to future proof myself as I continue through the architecture program.

This does touch on one of my concerns with the mobo I have potentially selected; I am planning on immediately outfitting it with 6gbs of DDR3 ram but that's just about the max the board can handle. Would it be wise then to go with a board that has more options for further expansion? I believe the ASUS can handle up to 24gbs. I initially thought 6gbs of ram would be more than enough considering the toshiba laptop I am currently using only has 512mbs! But maybe I'm underestimating the needs of the software i'll be using, what do you think?


Hard to say. Up until a few weeks ago, I thought 4GB's was enough, but one of my surface models got way out of hand while converting into a solid and loading into SolidWorks. I know it's not the software you use, but as it turned out, I couldn't even open that file on the machine that created it due too "insufficient memory" . My xw6400 with 16GB RAM handled it nicely, but it still took a half hour to open! I would think you'de be fine with 6GB though. It took me 10+ years of CAD/CAM modeling before I ran into a scenario like that, although I do not do large assemblies-only highly detailed/complicated single parts. I've also been told before, that my work in CAM does put me into that "crazy solid modeling" category, which usually dosen't effect architect types, for example the need for ECC.
May 27, 2009 11:48:32 PM

kamel5547 said:
Autodesk does NOT recommend FX or FireGL cards for Revit. My suggestion is to contact an Autodesk reseller to inquire about their suggested hardware. Also read this for Revit (PDF attached to post on this page).
http://forums.aecsystems.com.au/index.php?topic=2461.0

Also Rendering is 100% CPU based in Revit (and most applicaitons), the speed of the CPU determines how long you will wait, the GPU does nothing for you. Seeing how long a quality drawing can take your better off with a faster CPU than a better GPU.

Here is what I would do: Contact the manufacturers for each application to get their recommendation, or look for a document similar to that which I linked. In cases like Autodesk you are better off sending a reseller a question than contacting Autodesk as Autodesk has a very odd support structure. The resellers primary motivation is selling software and/or training, but generally they will answer a general question such as a hardware recommendation (although perhaps not immediately).


That being said I'd look at the following:
1. Increasing the CPU speed if you will do a fair amount of rendering above draft quality
2. Whether you need an FX card
3. Dual monitors... every single one of our CAD people swears by them, be it in architecture, civil, or structural.
4. Make sure you install x64 verisons of Windows and the applications.


I agree that the actual rendering process is CPU bound. Another point too consider is the lack of true multi-core support in most industrial software. ALL my CAD programs are limited to 2 cores while rendering or translating. This might not be a limitation in other software, just something to watch out for. With that being said, where the GPU comes into play, is the actual manipulation of the rendered solids. Lesser cards will absolutely choke on simple tasks such as 3D rotating. Gaming cards are even worse, as they will drop or incorrectly render ( display ) random parts of the complex object. This can be far more than an annoyance in day to day use.
May 28, 2009 12:37:29 AM

@ Kamel5547

Quote:
Also Rendering is 100% CPU based in Revit (and most applicaitons), the speed of the CPU determines how long you will wait, the GPU does nothing for you. Seeing how long a quality drawing can take your better off with a faster CPU than a better GPU.


That is what I have been finding out from these forums and talking to others so that is why I thought it best to go with the fastest CPU out there right now, the i7, and then skimp a bit on the GPU, the FX580. Does this sound like a good tandem to you? I have heard that the GPU does matter to a degree when working with 3D models as far as orbiting and rotating are concerned; for that reason I am hesitant to go with a consumer/gaming graphics card.

Also thanks for the heads up regarding Revit. How the hell does anyone get anything accomplished with all of these incompatibility issues!?!

@Shadowflash

Quote:
I just read the reviews from the newegg link. It seems the last poster is still trying to make the FX580 co-exist nicely with his GTX295. Maybe someone could chime in if this is in fact possible/practical. I agree that a $250 jump to the FX1800 is too much for the average home user ( including myself ) running both an FX580 and a GTX275 would be really sweet for a multi-purpose machine and is probablly the way I'de go too if I had some assurance it would work.


Yeah, that sounds like a just about perfect scenario if it could actually work! It really is way over my head though so I will continue to dream until someone else figures out how to pull it off!! (ie: you!) :) 

@Why_Me

Good looking out on the combo deal from ewiz, if I go with this mobo that deal would essentialy make my dvd drive free so thanks! Is it safe to assume based on the links you've provided that you consider the UD3R a worthwhile board? I have seen a few of your suggested builds on other threads and it seems you approve of them. Should I go up to the UD4P? Or at that price point should I just go with the popular ASUS P6t Deluxe V2? I'm not too concerned about OC'ing or SLI, that is why I felt the UD3R would be fine, but am a bit concerned about the amount of memory it can handle.

@ everybody!

Does anyone know if it is possible to run a Quadro workstation card for 3D work and a second GTX card for gaming all in the same rig? This would definiely be my ideal system but I have know idea if it is actually possible. Any input on this would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks for all of your comments and help so far!
May 28, 2009 12:41:25 AM

If you can afford the extra $20 I would def. go with the UD4P. It's a better board all the way around...although the UD3P isn't a bad budget board, but it's going to screw you later on if you want to add more memory or if you need extra SATA connectors for HD's, etc.... Check that "ewiz" site for the UD4P...they always have killer deals on that board...also check out the combo's with it....there might be some good ones.

http://www.ewiz.com/detail.php?name=MB-EX58U4P

May 28, 2009 1:33:35 AM

Why_Me said:
If you can afford the extra $20 I would def. go with the UD4P. It's a better board all the way around...although the UD3P isn't a bad budget board, but it's going to screw you later on if you want to add more memory or if you need extra SATA connectors for HD's, etc.... Check that "ewiz" site for the UD4P...they always have killer deals on that board...also check out the combo's with it....there might be some good ones.

http://www.ewiz.com/detail.php?name=MB-EX58U4P



Yeah, i'm pretty sold on this mobo @ this point... just wondering if there is a difference between this one, http://www.ewiz.com/detail.php?name=MB-EX58U4P&show=p and this one, http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

As far as I can tell all of the specs seem to be the same but there is a pretty substantial price difference. Also just noticed that the more expensive one descibes the socket type as LGA 1366 while the other just says 1366... is there anything to that? What does LGA mean?
May 28, 2009 1:42:11 AM

number9 said:
Yeah, i'm pretty sold on this mobo @ this point... just wondering if there is a difference between this one, http://www.ewiz.com/detail.php?name=MB-EX58U4P&show=p and this one, http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

As far as I can tell all of the specs seem to be the same but there is a pretty substantial price difference. Also just noticed that the more expensive one descibes the socket type as LGA 1366 while the other just says 1366... is there anything to that? What does LGA mean?


Those are the one and the same board. Also use this code for another $5 off on that UD4P @ ewiz MEMORIAL5
May 28, 2009 2:06:32 AM

@ Why_Me


Man you're quick! Thanks for looking at those two sites... Yeah spec wise they seemed the same to me but that's a pretty big price gap. The combo deal for the CPU and MOBO with superbiiz is about $25 less than the same combo with newegg... SOLD! Do you know how I make sure I'm getting the DO stepping version of the Core i7 and not the CO one?

I totally appreciate your taking the time to answer all my newbie questions that i'm sure you've probably answered a million times before, but I gotta ask one more: Do you know anything about the practicality/plausability of running a workstation card and gaming card on the same rig? Is this even possible? I'm not a hardcore gamer by any means, but it seems like i'm really closing the door on playing anything by going with the Quadro FX580. I do feel fairly confident that the workstation card is ultimately the best for my primary needs but I wouldn't mind at least having the option to occasionally play a little GTAIV!

Thanks again!
May 28, 2009 2:46:47 AM

Why_Me gives Excellant advice. Follow his lead and you won't go wrong!! Seems I read somewhere about being able to softmod a gamer card and it will speed it up for graphix work alot. May have been on here somewhere, can't remember. But if your going to do JUST graphix like cad and the likes, then I would go with one of those cards. Especially if gaming isn't in the cards right now.
May 28, 2009 11:40:28 AM

The 3d apps you mention don't support SLI very well. IMO, you might get the same performance from a high-end gamer card than using the FX580. I've been doing 3d animation and rendering since 1997, and have built and Specc'd more systems for 3d than you'd believe.
May 28, 2009 6:56:38 PM

@Jack64

Quote:
Why_Me gives Excellant advice. Follow his lead and you won't go wrong!!


For sure! I'm new to these boards but I have seen his suggestions and advice all over the place; grateful to have his input on my build!

Quote:
Seems I read somewhere about being able to softmod a gamer card and it will speed it up for graphix work alot.


Yeah I keep reading about that too but it sounds like nvidia has clamped down on the ability to do that now on the more recent gaming cards.

@Draven35

Quote:
The 3d apps you mention don't support SLI very well. IMO, you might get the same performance from a high-end gamer card than using the FX580.


Hey, thanks for your input, gotta couple questions for you then. I was just up at my school today, (good ol' University of Minnesota!!) and inquired about the GPU's on the computers we have in the design labs up there. Turns out they are running on the Quadro FX570's, an older and lower level card than the one I'm looking at, the FX580. From what I've read about the FX580, it sounds like its twice the card the FX570 is; twice as much memory (512mb), twice the bandwith (25.6 GBps), and twice the processor cores (32). http://www.nvidia.com/page/qfx_el.html My main use for this computer by far will be running AutoCAD, Rhino, Revit, Sketchup-pro, and then blender, Kerkythea, and CS4. I have used all of these on the computers at school with no problem but I must admit, I have nothing to compare my experience to since they are the only computers I've ever used these programs on. For a working professional, the systems at my school would probably drive them nuts but for me they have been totally tolerable. With the faster Core i7 CPU, and the better Quadro FX580 GPU, I am confident that my proposed system could meet my needs quite nicely. But here is my question: Knowing specifically which programs I will mainly use, (and since the rendering apps and CS4 are more reliant on the CPU), could I get away with a gamer card that will not lessen my experience with my main applications? That will at least perform as good as the FX580? And if so, which would you recommend, keeping in mind I'd like to stay under $300 for the GPU? Gaming isn't that important to me but it does seem a shame to put together such a nice system and not be able to blow some sh#t up!! Also, if i did go with a gaming card could I run it as-is or would I have to figure out how to do this softmodding nonsense I keep hearing about? :ouch: 

Thanks in advance for your time and insight!

!