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Which of these workstations will be faster for 3DS Max 2010?

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December 1, 2009 7:57:49 PM

Will be running 3DS Max with Brazil v2 on 64-Bit Win 7, and want fast rendering as my primary focus. Looking at 2 system options that have been recommended to me, and want to make the best decision for the money:

OPTION 1 (about $2000)

Super Micro X8DAL-I Motherboard
Dual Xeon e5520 processors
6GB RAM
GeForce GTS 250 1GB PCI Express SLI Video Card
2X Seagate Barracuda 7200 / 750 GB
800W ATX SLI Crossfire Pwr Supply

OPTION 2 (about $1600)

NVIDIA nForce Pro 3600 ATX Dual Opteron SLI Motherboard
Dual AMD Opteron 2358 Barcelona 2.4GHz processors
8GM RAM
2X Seagate Barracuda 7200 / 750 GB
2x GeForce GTS 250 512MB PCI Express SLI Video Cards
950W ATX SLI Crossfire Pwr Supply

Thanks for your advice!
-Sean
December 1, 2009 11:20:13 PM

For the dual-Xeon, you need more than 6GB of ram because there are 8 or more ram slots with at least 4 PER cpu. So, you need an even amount of ram for both CPUs. At a minimum, you should get 2 6GB kits because the Xeons are triple channel. For best performance, each CPU needs a multiple of 3 ram slots used for triple channel. Furthermore, because this will be a workstation, 12GB of ram will provide much better performance.

Now that I looked at that SuperMicro motherboard, it has only 6 total slots for ram. If 12GB of ram is not within your budget, look at 2 4GB sticks which tend to run $125 each. It won't be triple channel but you will at least have 8GB of ram and can easily add more later.

As far as I know, all high end 3D software can't use SLI or Xfire. I only know of nvidia's Quadro being able to 'team' 2 GPUs for rendering but it doesn't use SLI for it.

For hard drives, the sweet spot is 1TB mainly because the platters are 500GB each and a 750GB is essentially a 1TB drive with less space available. Also, I believe the 1TB drives are only slightly more($10). 500GB drives are $60, 750GB are $80 and 1TB are $90.

For Power Supply: a 650w will be enough unless you add 5+ drives and/or high end graphics card later on. The PC Power & Cooling 750w is one of the best along with SeaSonic and Corsair.

You can't go wrong with the dual Xeon 5520. It is far faster than dual Opterons and only a dual 6-core Opteron can keep up with the Xeons but those Opterons are $1000+ each.

Do you already have a case? I ask because these dual-CPU motherboards require a larger case that can fit an E-ATX motherboard.

The only other thing you will need is a Molex to 8 pin CPU power plug($5).

To save some money, what about a 9800GT 1GB for aound $100.

Will this be purchased in the US?
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December 1, 2009 11:41:53 PM

Just a little note about the PSU: MAKE SURE, you get a high quality PSU AND make sure you have 2x 8 pin CPU connectors. Most PSUs only have 1x 8 pin CPU.

@OP:

1. You DO NOT need SLI/CrossFire for a workstation build.

2. Are the HDDs in RAID? If so RAID 01/5 or some thing else?

3. Try and get 500GB or 1TB Samsung F3s.

4. Is this for serious CAD/Rendering work? If not, consider a i7 920 based build for ~ 1/2 the price of the 2P Intel.
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