3D CAD Workstation build. Advice required Please.

Hi all.

I have only built a couple of home PC's before and I really don't know an awfull lot about what goes on inside the black box at my right knee, but I do know my current machine (an off the shelf HP Pavillion with Nvidia Quadro FX 550 running XP64bit Pro) can't keep up with my requirement.

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: this week/next week


SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: 3D MCAD Avg 200 parts in assembly; nurbs surfacing (up to 10,000 individual surfaces) and solids. Photoreal rendering both GPU and CPU based. Low end, linear single part FEA/CFD/Kinematic simulation (possibly more complex/non-linear/assemblies in future). Usual office apps and accounts. Surfing the internet,

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: http://www.scan.co.uk



Case; NZXT Whisper Full Tower. http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/NZXT-Whisper-Black-Full-Tower-Silent-Case-w-o-PSU

MoBo; Asus-P6T7-WS-SuperComputer (would allow me to run CUDA (later), and ECC memory. http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Asus-P6T7-WS-SuperComputer-Intel-X58-S1366-PCI-E-20(x16)-Triple-DDR3-2000-(OC)-SAS-SATA-RAID

CPU; Intel W3520 Xenon 2.66GHz (OC to 3.2GHz?) Quad core, Skt 1366. http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Intel-Xeon-W3520-S1366-266-GHz-48-GT-s-QPI-8MB-Cache-20x-Ratio-130W-Retail

Heat sink; Prolimatech Megahalems Super-6-Heatpipe Tower Cooler (passive?). http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Prolimatech-Megahalems-Super-6-Heatpipe-Tower-Cooler-for-NEW-1156-and-775-1366-(Fanless)

PSU; 850W-Corsair, 1x 12v, 6x PCI, 1x 8pin. http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/850W-Corsair-CMPSU-850HXUK-ATX-EPS12V-Modular-UK-Version-7-Year-Warranty

GPU; Nvidia Quadro FX4800 1Gb. http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/1GB-PNY-Quadro-FX3800-PCI-E-20-(x16)-256Bit-1600-MHz-GDDR3-2x-Display-Port-Dual-Link-DVI-Retail

Memory; (6 x 4Gb) 12Gb DDR3 PC1600 CAS7 ECC (need to search out brand/part number from approved vendor list)

HDD (option 1) Raid 10 Corsair Nova 128Gb, Read 270Mb/s Write 195Mb/s SSD http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/128GB-Corsair-Nova-Series-64MB-DDR2-25-SSD-SATA-II-Read-270MB-s-Write-195MB-s-Retail

HDD (option 2) Raid 10 Velociraptor http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/300-GB-Western-Digital-WD3000HLFS-VelociRaptor-SATA-300-10000-rpm-16MB-Cache-42-ms-NCQ

HDD (option 3... the cheap one) Raid 10 500Gb Samsung Spinpoint F3. http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/500Gb-Samsung-Spinpoint-F3-HD502HJ-SATA-3Gb-s-7200rpm-16Mb-Cache-8ms-OEM


SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No (possibly SLI at later date for CUDA with 4Gb Nvidia Tesla GPU)

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 2x Samsung 305T 30" (2560 x 1600). http://www.samsung.com/ca/consumer/office/monitors/lcd/LS30HUBCB/XAA/index.idx?pagetype=prd_detail

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I REALLY, REALLY would like a quiet PC. Whilst I have budget to £5K if nessesary I don't really want to wast money, but I REALLY REALLY don't want to waste time with system crashing and not responding when trying to design complex surfaces/assemblies.

I ope you more knowlageable guys ca help be specify a reasonably priced/speced machine for my needs as my machine is really doing my head in. RAID 1 is more important to me than RAID 0 as I'm rubbish at backing up my stuff


37 answers Last reply
More about workstation build advice required please
  1. Looks like your preferred website/supplier is well stocked . . .

    What software tools will you be using ? I would like to research "System Requirements."

    I can already tell you you are going to want a socket 1366 system (desktop or workstation) and one (or two) of these processors.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] -_-Product

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] -_-Product

    I am a little worried that (given your "black box" statement, you may not possess the skills (confidence?) to properly seat the cpu(s) and apply the correct coat of thermal paste, etc. If you want to try, we will coach you but this is an expensive build, which you are proposing.

    We just finished a Perfect Build" yesterday and it was approved by two of our most able and experienced members. I can postr that link, once I'm sure what direction you are headedwith this build.

    Listen (especially) to those members who show an "addict" rating, under their photo/avitar ... they have seen it all, many times.

    = Best of Luck to You, Sir ! =
  2. Storage Option #4
  3. Hi Alvin,

    Thanks for taking the time to reply.

    I think I'm Ok with the seating issue. My lack of PC knowlage is more about configuration rather than assembly. I do some electronics work in my business from time to time and have the nessesary tool to spread the paste, grounding mats, wrist straps etc.

    Storage option 4 is something I haven't ever come across before. Is my understanding correct that the PCI bus will have a faster transfer rate?

    It would seem the recently the write speed of SSD's are much improved (and would help when saving my CAD files?)

    Whilst I have no real need to penny pinch, I wonder if the Samsung Spinpoint F3 in a RAID array will do just fine (I just read on hear that they could be faster than the WD Velociraptors at 10Krpm?)

    Thank you again

  4. Oops, I forgot to answer you apps Q

    I run Seimens NX7 (formerly Unigraphics) for MCAD/surfacing.

    Rhino3D NURBS surfacing (runs fine on my current machine)

    Autodesk Alias Studio

    Occasionally Photoshop CS4

    Autodesk Showcase (really tests the GPU.. perhaps I should save on SSD's and spend more on this and go for the Quadro FX5800?)

    Luxion Keyshot (CPU based photorendering) more cores the better here, plan to upgrade to the 6 core Intel when released. Dual Xenons would be over spec I think and go over budget

    Some of the Apps I use with a Wacom Cintiqu21 which I have to unplug a monitor for... sometimes I use the Wacom as a makeshift monitor
  5. Correct ... The 4X slot blows SATA clean outta the tank !

    Now, for something 10X faster than that ... TWO GIGABYTES / SECOND !


    = Dont't forget to order a "Class B" fire extinguisher ! =
  6. There is also a 256GB version which is a little more than half the price (and also a little more than half that speed).

    = Al =
  7. WOW... That's what I'm talking about right there... I want one of those :-D

    Speed and stability... not just at the end of a rainbow then?
  8. Well, you *ARE* going to need that Pot-o-Gold !

    = cha-ching ! =
  9. lol, indeed
  10. And, of course, my math went wrong ... 2GB/sec is 10x faster (only) than the average hi-performance, individual SATA SSD (@ 200MB/sec).

    Just to set the record straight.

    = sigh =
  11. Kinda makes the sustained 600Mb/s for $2k look like a good deal
  12. If you are into CAD (the vectors .. the VECTORS!) rendering or any kind of editing with professional bitrates and effects, you are REALLY gonna feel the benefit of a large capacity SSD ...

    ... Another very useful tip (and a recommendation) ...

    Purchase a very fast (write) and smallish (40-60GB) SSD and partition it into two partitions ... One partition for utilities and the other as a dedicated "Render Destination" bin ... This eliminates lots of random access and keeps everything streaming through the caches (much less flushing).

    I want an SSD for BOOT ... another for Apps ... another for UTILS/Renders, and one for "Content" ...

    This allows what I am evangelizing as "dedicated drive caching" ... it keeps the various program, OS, utility, and content streams contiguous and keeps all the caches primed and also keeps the "pointers" hovering on "current ops" ... VERY important for mechanical latency, cause it keeps the heads on the current track and keeps the caches from flushing.

    = Just FYI = (in case ya didn't thinka that)
  13. No I didn't think of that at all. This is where my lack of knowlage really shows. It does kinda make sence though. :-D

    This then would be preferable to a RAID 0 stripe set up? I really want to mirror the CAD data ("content"), but wouldn't need to do that for the OS/Apps which would be better striped and faster?

    Would I be better looking for HDD's with larger cache? What other bits of the spec should I be paying attention to?

    Looking like I should definately go with SSD and perhaps Samsung Spinpoint F3's for storage/back-up.

    I tend to work on the local drive'C' and when a project is finished, move it to an external drive and back up to a archival DVD

  14. You are kinda stuck cause you have work to do and you must buy soon but that is a bit of a shame ... because ...

    1) Mechanical drives are all but extinct. SSDs are what ... $3/GB now? They would need to be nearly half that to be attractive, to me but ... SSDs are AMAZINGLY reliable, in terms of being able to read your data, even when failed. Unbelievable shock resistance ... I can show you vide of the VP of CRUCIAL actually playing baseball with their SSDs, and then plugging them back in. They also ran over it with a pickup truck ... and plugged it back in ... etc., for a week, until a #4 driving iron finally breached the casing.

    ALSO As of this year, I'm gonnna make your life much easier cause, you won't have to be burning any more DVDs !! (yay). It is cheaper and faster and way easier to just by a stack of 1TB/5400RPM/SATA-II HDDs and rotate your backup ... Just drag the whole directory tree to a backup folder, turn off the lights, and go to dinner. You can just slap them into a drive drawer (Mobile Rack) and slide them in and out (called hot swap) and you can do all this while the system is running.

    Don't worry about HDD cache size ... Obviously 32M?B sounds way better than 2MB but many factors add up to give your "total performance" ... Rotational Speed and Record Density are prolly much more significant. Those 600GB (and above) drives are all "vertical record" drives and their magnetic density makes for fantastic streaming (sustained-sequential-reads .. and writes) ... (rather than "random").

  15. Took me a while to decipher what you mean by 'vertical record'

    I guess you mean stuff like films or music?

    OK so I guess if SSD is so fast and reliable, do I really need the RAID 1 array?

    if I got 2 SSD's in a RAID 0 instead of say 4 WD Velociraptors in Raid 10, there wouldn't be much differance in cost and would be a whole lot faster?

    Can Windows XP Pro SP3 see SSD's. Can RAID be used with SSD's or am I better going lke you said earlier and use one for OS and another for data.

    I found I cant use registared DDR3 but can use ECC with the Asus MoBo I mentioned. Is this OK?
  16. First "vertical recording" refers to the physical orientation of the "rice-like" magnetic particles, that form the magnetic surface of the drive platter. Legacy drives had the particles just "strewn around" like rice in a tabletop ... VR drives have all the rice-grain-shaped particles standing "vertically" or "on end" ... sort of stacked like a sheaf of wheat... (I love my grains!) ... So, if the drive heads were a paint-brush, you would be painting data on the tiny ends of the rice grains, rather than on their sides, thus, more than doubling the density/square unit of area, on each platters surface(s).
    That does not make the heads move any faster, nor does it make the platter spin faster, but those littler data regions are moving under the head at twice the "data rate" while maintaining the same "linear rate".

    DUDE! Are you jerkin' me around or don't you have WikiPedia ??? I mean, you've got me talking about rice and wheat, here ! How humiliating !

    I'm gonna time myself and see how long it takes me to find and post that page ... GO!

    . . . took 30 seconds and I learned something ... can you guess what I learned ?


    . . . I entered "vertical recording" ... but, what came up was "perpendicular recording" ... I have heard it called both but looks like "PR" has become the defacto standard, since I last read up on it.

    ... Happy?

    I'm gonna take a break, just to punish you, and I'll answer the rest later ...
    ... anything you don't know? Wikipedia is amazingly comprehensive and precise.

    = tip of the day =
  17. LOL. point taken on the Wiki. I must be getting old or something. Funny how many times I've said to someone "google it"

    I'm having difficulty finding RAM for this MoBo ECC Non-Registared in 2Gb sticks. I can find it OK actually, but non that apear on the QVL. How important is it that to get memory that is on the QVL?

    I guess I'm gonna have to wait on that as your on a break ;-P

    And yes... before you ask... I did google it... been looking for it all freakin' day!
  18. Intel 40GB SSD for Boot
    Corsair P128 for apps, utils and render/compile destination
    4TB (external) G-RAID(Raid 1)=2TB+2TB(mirror) Work and active archive
    Six 1TB (or 2TB) "cheap drives" TWO alternating "Daily/Weekly/Monthly" Backup.

    Alternately, you could get a 256GB SSD (or 512 GB slot drive) as your workspace and And ... just 3 cheapie 2TB hot-swap drives as a rotating "whenever" backup system.

  19. Qualified Vendor List? Are you GEM/GSA ?
  20. Yes Qualified Vendor List.

    GEM/GSA?... hmm gonna have to hit the wikk pagesi ;-)
  21. huh... I think you're pulling my leg!
  22. Can you cut-n-paste a significant portion of that list ... is that "cool" ?

  23. I KNOW who will have it

    CDW or Arrow

    (is it CDW or CRW? . . . CDW, right?)

  24. its a pdf. wont copy (locked out I think)

    I can point you a link on Asus website though
  25. Thanks Alvin. You're a gem ;-)
  26. Hell, the global dnld site does not work and I do NOT trust dnlds from china ...

    ... If the description and the pin-count match ... should work.

    ... AsusTek might be able to help ? . . . Naw.

  27. Yeah I found that too. I did the download from China, no problems here.

    Must admit in the past I just stuffed in whatever I could get down at the local shop. But I think it's time I took this workstation thing a little more seriously. I've had about 6 system crashes today alone trying to run a large assembly
  28. prolly code syntax violations ... HA!
  29. The folks at CDW know their stuff and they have inside hot lines to all vendors .... You will pay full retail and may have to backorder for a week or two, but they WILL get it ... They got me a pre-ordered matrox card the day it was released.

    Point is they prolly "know" that mobo and zactly where to get the stix.


  30. LOL

    What you think about this SSD?

    OCZ Colossus 120GB 260Mb/s write 260Mb/s read 128mb cache

  31. but ya have to talk to the rep ... on the phone .. get extension .. make a friend!

    ... unless you see exactly what you need, in stock and online.

  32. Milwaukee. About 6 hour behind UK. Will have to wait up a couple of hours I guess.
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