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3D CAD/rendering computer and what components i should choose? CPU/GPU

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May 3, 2010 5:36:00 AM

:)  Hey guys i'm new here and would like to thankyou in advance for the help.

So i am putting together a beast for my masters of architecture degree, even though i don't start the degree until the beginning of next year. i am thinking of buying now because computers are much cheaper in america (where i'm living at the moment, but not for so much longer) versus back home in australia.

The programs in question would consist of 3Ds MAX, Maya, Rhino, Revit, ArchiCAD, Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign, Sketchup, ETC. This machine will be a 3d modeling and rendering machine, also with spending all this money on a computer i would like to be able to run some high-end games as well.


So my questions are:

Should i buy a system with:

DUAL CPU Quad Core Intel Xeon Processor E5530 (2.4GHz, 8M L3, 5.8GT/s, turbo)
or
SINGLE CPU Intel® Core™ i7-960 Processor (8M Cache, 3.20 GHz, 4.80 GT/s)

Is the i7 or the dual cpu Xeons going to come out on top?


Should i buy a system with:

512MB ATI FirePro V5700, DUAL MON, 2 DP & 1 DVI
or
nVidia GeForce GTX 260 1792MB

Is the 260 or the v5700 going to come out on top? the 260 is a much, much stronger card although when it comes to 3d applications and programs that favor workstation cards is it still going to come out on top?



PS. is the GTX 260 one of the cards that can be flashed with the workstation BIOS to perform similar to its workstation equivalent, the Quadro FX4800 or Quadro CX from my research?


Thank-you for your time guys.
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May 3, 2010 6:33:45 AM

Well, the dual Xeon E5530s would offer far more processing power, although I'm not sure if your applications can utilise all 16 threads that the system would offer. The i7 960 would be faster for gaming, and applications which can only use eight threads.

The FirePro V5700 is faster in 3D applications, simply because the drivers are far more optimised. AFAIK, the GeForce GTX 260 can softmodded into a Quadro FX 4800.
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May 3, 2010 12:48:20 PM

I use the same packages as you and I have an I7-860 @ 2.8ghz which is fine for modeling but the power of the cpu only comes into play when rendering 3d studio scenes. Using the default rendering engine, it only uses 1 core to render but using mental ray, it uses all the cores available so the more cores, the faster the render.
Same goes for maya. I personally dont think there is much difference between the higher speeds though.
I did an overclock test and my scene took 12 seconds to render at 2.8ghz and 11 seconds at 3.4ghz. So I've taken it back down again.

I dont think the other packages will benefit from mulitple cores, although i'm not sure on that. I have no complaints when using them.

Video card wise, I always go for Nvidia cards and I will suggest you get one with as much ram as you can. 3dsmax and maya use the video ram to display textures in viewports so the more you have the faster and higher resolutions you can display in your viewports which is ideal for texturing work.
I currently have a 512mb card and max is not happy when i have larger amounts of textures loaded as it has to swap them in and out of ram and video memory.

Not sure what you mean with your last question. I have a Quadro FX at work which feels slower than my 8800gt I have at home. So I really wouldnt worry about card speed for modeling work.


Oh and my machine handles any game I throw at it. :p 


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May 3, 2010 12:52:40 PM

oh, I forgot that when actually modeling, it only uses 1 core. So i would go for the processor with the highest clock speed.
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May 5, 2010 5:44:58 AM

@Lmeow
the xeons don't have HT though do they so they would only be 8 threads/8 cores, compared to the i7's that would be 4 cores/8 threads and a much higher clock speed. i would love to see some benchmarks between these 2 cpu setups?

I am not worried about the cpu for modelling that will handle fine, the cpu i get will be for the rendering side of things. the problem with the dual xeons is that i can only get that with the 512mn v5700, and that card seems old and pretty weak.

can the HD 5770, 5850, 5870 be softmodded into workstation cards?


@dutch_delight
It's good to see someone using similar packages opinion, does anyone know of any benchmarks done comparing dual core xeon's with i7's?

but with that overclock test, what if it was a 30 minute render? that 1 second in a 12 second time frame could make a huge difference.

I'm worried about the lack of memory in the v5700 as well, it seems very overpriced for how much i'll be paying for it.

Thanks guys
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May 5, 2010 8:58:36 AM

Not sure if I can post a link but I use this website when buying new processors.
http://www.cpubenchmark.net/

the i7 comes out at rank 9, meaning there are only 8 faster processors on their site and the xeon comes out at rank 39. I know which one i would have

if my overclock test was shaving 1/10 of rendering time, it would mean 3 minutes from a 30 minute render.

But like you say, we need some benchmark tests.

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May 5, 2010 6:59:57 PM

although if you look at the multi cpu chart the dual e5530 comes in with nearly 10000 passmark points, the i7-960 only manages 6700.

is passmark bias/favor at all to dual cpus system's at all?

Although the single e5530 only manages 4600, which seems a little fishy with the dual cpu e5530 getting more than double that amount?
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May 10, 2010 6:58:41 AM

hey guys,

should i bother trying to find a dual cpu system with something like 2x xeon e5530's in it?

i have found a really good deal on a system with a i7-975 in it, how much time would i save on an 30min mental ray render with the 2x e5530 system over the i7-975? can i make up a bit of the difference with ram/ssd at all?

Cheers
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May 10, 2010 7:00:15 AM

ps. also are there any new processors/ new technology that i should have my eye on that will blow the i7-975 out of the water? (not including the i7-980x)
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