$2000 3D Modelling/Texturing/Animation Workstation

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: within the next 3-4 weeks.

BUDGET RANGE: $1500-$2000

Other 3D packages/utilties (Maya, etc.)

Monitor, speakers, sound card, mouse, keyboard...I only need the guts, no extras.

I like NCIX.com, but I'll go elsewhere for a better deal.

Intel Core i7 920 Processor
6-8 gigs of ram minimum
Windows 7


OVERCLOCKING: *EDIT* Maybe. My technical knowledge isn't great, but if the process is fairly straightforward and the risks not too great, and I can boost performance significantly, i might be willing to give it a try.

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No, unless there's a really good reason to consider it.

This system will be used strictly for 3D work - sculpting, modeling, texturing, generating various other kinds of maps, and simple renderings/turntables. I have a separate system for gaming and entertainment. Eventually I may want to upgrade to handle more complex work like rendering large scenes and animations. What makes this tricky for me to figure out is that I want to make sure I get a powerful system without going overboard with components that are way more powerful (and expensive) than I need. For example, when I mention I'm building a 3D system, lots of people recommend looking at a Quadro FX 1800, however I've also read that XSI plays very well with high-end gaming cards, and pro workstation cards like the Quadro are overkill unless you're doing some really hard core stuff. And Zbrush doesn't use the GPU at all, relying instead on RAM and proc speed. So i need help hitting that sweet spot of performance and value. Any help/advice is appreciated! Thanks.
12 answers Last reply
More about 2000 modelling texturing animation workstation
  1. This is a build with US prices, I'll work on converting the links/prices to Newegg.ca...

    CPU/Mobo: i7-930 and Asus P6X58D-E $535
    RAM: G.Skill Pi 6x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 $384 (cheaper on shipping than two 6 GB kits)
    GPU: GTX 480 $560
    HDD: Seagate 7200.12 1 TB $85
    PSU: Silverstone 850W 80+ Silver $160
    Case: HAF 922 $110
    Optical: Cheap SATA DVD burner $22
    OS (if needed): Windows 7 Home 64-bit OEM $109

    Total: $1,965
  2. Waiting for a render myself so I thought I would take a hack at this :).

    $504.98 (combo) CPU/Mobo: i7-930 and GIGABYTE GA-X58A-UD3R Motherboard
    $349.47 RAM: 3x Crucial 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333
    $404.49 GPU: PNY VCQFX1800-PCIE-PB Quadro FX 1800
    $99.99 HDD: Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5"
    $119.99 PSU: Rosewill Libertas Series LIB-800 800W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified
    $89.99 Case: Antec Three Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
    $31.00 (ish) Optical: Lightscribe Dual layer DVD Drive (brand optional)
    $144.49 OS: Windows 7 64 Professional Edition

    This little rascal was put together off Newegg.ca for the grand total (sans shipping of course) of:


    That should do fantasically as a 3D workstation. If you use After Effects like myself you might benefit more from getting an Nvidia 285 GTX for it's Cuda support.


    -edited because I forgot the DVD Burner in the price
  3. A big probelm with that build is the PSU. Rosewill is very low quality and should be avoided at all costs.
  4. Really? I must have been on a lucky streak then. I've had 2 Rosewills (both 80 plus certified) over the last few years with no problems to mention. If that is the case, then the PSU you mentioned above would work fine. Although for alternatives, Antec makes a similar priced one to what I listed above that I have heard good things about as well as Seasonic (which is hands down one of the best out there).

    This would cost the same as the Rosewill mentioned above.

    Antec PSU

    or if you are really concerned with PSU quality, here's the grandaddy poobah of em all :) This would add $80 to the build price

    Seasonic X750 Gold

  5. A poor quality PSU doesn't mean it gets there DOA. It's a combination of things that aren't that measurable. The first part of it is how much power it actually puts out. Lower quality units put out less wattage than what they actually state they do. The second main part is how long it takes them to fail. Poor quality units will generally fail sooner than a quality unit. That doesn't mean the individual unit you have won't last, it's just the odds are better that it will fail sooner. The third part of the equation is what happens when they fail. Poor quality units have a tendency to take other parts with them when they fail. The most common targets are the GPU and CPU, as they're the major power drains and somewhat connected directly to the PSU.
  6. I do similar work. 3dsmax/maya/photoshop.

    I've got an i7-860 with 4 gig of ocz ram with an 512mb Nvidia 8800gt and is more than adequate to handle large scenes. I've played with overclocking but there really is no need. I would probably get a better video card than what I've got with at least a gig of ram but for the rest it's plenty fast enough.

    What I would definately recommend is getting a solid state drive. I've got an OCZ 60gb Agillity and all my programs are installed on that with a normal hard drive for backup.

    Photshop launches in under 3 seconds and max in about 10. That drive has really made a big difference to my workflow and I would recommend including one in your system.

    Hope that helps
  7. Ahh gotcha, although just out of curiosity (and off topic) does the 80 Plus certification mean anything to the quality of a PSU? This topic is ironic just because I'm in the process of pricing together a new workstation to replace my old Core 2 Duo. After Effects is having it's way with that poor cpu and the i7 system I quoted up there would go circles around it.


    MadAdmiral said:
    A poor quality PSU doesn't mean it gets there DOA. It's a combination of things that aren't that measurable. The first part of it is how much power it actually puts out. Lower quality units put out less wattage than what they actually state they do. The second main part is how long it takes them to fail. Poor quality units will generally fail sooner than a quality unit. That doesn't mean the individual unit you have won't last, it's just the odds are better that it will fail sooner. The third part of the equation is what happens when they fail. Poor quality units have a tendency to take other parts with them when they fail. The most common targets are the GPU and CPU, as they're the major power drains and somewhat connected directly to the PSU.

    I've been on the fence about SSDs merely because they still are quite pricey. If you want fast boot up times and loading you could get 2 smaller drives (say 640GB or 500GB) and stripe them for a system disk although to be honest I don't spend too much time loading programs. I do much better with a smaller system disk and a striped media drive although my primary application of After Effects is very I/O intensive. YMMV, but make sure you have a good backup solution, striping can be dangerous.

  8. The 80 Plus certification means a little for quality. It's just a measure of efficiency, so a higher efficiency generally indicates quality. However, you also have to look at what other units in that range are doing. If it's 80+ and every other unit is as well, it doesn't mean anything. If the unit is 80+ when most of the others are 80+ Bronze, then the unit is probably not that great.
  9. Case / PSU - You got the budget so there's two comparable choices...you list SLI / Xfire as not likely and if you're sure you can drop to a 650 watter however, you won't save much money. First I gave the US links cause I can cut / paste ....Canadian ones below

    Antec 1200 w/ CP-850 $230

    HAF 932 + Corsair HX850 (or XFX 850W Black Edition) $310

    Both cases match up well according to the THG review trading pluses and minuses.....all of the PSU's get a 10.0 performance rating on jonnyguru.com....the CP-850 also makes silentpcreview,com's Editor's Choice list. Given the cost savings and the fact that this is a work box where quiet is an important consideration, I'd lt styling choices take a back seat and choose the Antec Combo.....and yes, the LED's do have OFF switches :)

    MoBo / CPU - This 930 combo seems more suited to your usage. If you need the dual LAN version, gonna cost you an extra $90.


    RAM - DDR3-1600, lowest CAS ya can afford ...and you can afford CAS 6.


    GFX Cards - Two choices here. The nVidia gaming cards are excellent at both gaming and rendering to a certain extent. ATI has historically had issues here and the 5xxx series changes nothing in this respect. If the depth and extent of your rendering warrants it, the Quadro cards are the kings of the hill. Anything with Adobe's new CS5, you're gonna want CUDA capable card and that means nVidia.

    $350 Asus ENGTX470/2DI/1280MD5 GTX 470 (Fermi) http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814121372

    $400 PNY VCQFX1800-PCIE-PB Quadro FX 1800 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814133272

    Hard Drives - Check out the performance charts and pick whatever 500 GB per platter drive performs best under your usage patterns. The 2 TB WD Black and XT from Seagate are good choice but at smaller capacities, you are limited to the Seagate 7200.12 or the Spinpoint F3. The 7200.12 excels in gaming, multimedia and pictures whereas the F3 wins at music and movie maker. See the comparisons here (copy past link in manually, link won't work in forum):


    Given your stated usage, the Seagate 7200.12 looks like the way to go.

    OS - Again, w/o budget restraints, spring for the Professional version of Win7-64 and get XP mode, simple file sharing and the other goodies.

    Heat Sink - For OC'ing. I used to list a bunch of review sites for HS's saying pick from the top 5.....given this last review, I'm not gonna bother.


    Again, at your budget, no need to skimp....here's my HS buy list:


    Canadian Links:

    Antec 1200 $180 http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129043
    Antec CP-850 $ 140 http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817371024
    Asus P6X58D-E $250 http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131641
    Intel i7-930 $300 http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115225
    Mushkin 998805 $225 http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820226121
    Seagate 7200.12 1 TB $85 http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822148433
    Win7 64 Pro OEM $145 http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832116758
    Prolimatech Megahalems $60 http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835242001
    OCZ Freeze TIM $6 http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835202006
    PWM Fan $12 x 2 http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835610003
    PWM SPlitter $1 http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16812119248
    AFT card Reader $41 http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820176016
    DVD Writer - Pick one $30

    $1487 ... $13 under your lower limit .... if ya wanna spend the other $500....add a SSD and maybe a Blue Ray player for movies.

    $414 Intel X25-M Mainstream 160GB http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820167017
    $126 (only $94 additional) Plextor Blue Ray http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827249055

    New Total = $1997
  10. Damn guys, thanks a ton for the quick and lengthy responses. This helped me out big time...I've decided to buy a lot sooner, probably in the next week. Basically it's down to the two complete builds suggested by pdxgfx and JackNaylorPE. They both look good, and both are right where I was hoping for price-wise. There's some differences, and i'm just wondering if either one is clearly better than the other in some way:

    Both systems include:
    Intel Core i-7 930 Bloomfield 2.8GHz
    PNY Quadro FX 1800 768MB
    Windows 7 Professional 64 bit
    LITE-ON Black DVD Writer LightScribe

    Build #1
    Asus P6X58D-E LGA 1366
    Mushkin Enhanced Redline 6GB (3x2GB) 240 pin DDR3 1600
    Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB 7200 RPM
    Antec Twelve Hundred Black Steel ATX Case
    Antec CP-850 850W i7 compatible PSU

    Build #2
    2X Crucial 4GB (2x2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 1333
    Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB 7200 RPM
    Antec Three Hundred Black Steel ATX Case
    Antec TruePower TP-750 750W Continuous Power PSU

    The only difference that I can make sense of is the RAM and price. Build #1 comes it at about $1800 has less RAM at 6G, but it's 1600, and it's triple channel. Build #2 comes in at $1630 with 8G of 1333 RAM, dual channel. I'm wondering, is 1600 superior enough to 1333 to be worth giving up 2g? And whether there is any benefit in going triple channel instead of dual channel.

    And I don't really know anything about mobos or psus, so I can't tell if the differences in those components above are significant.

    So, is one of the builds above hands-down superior? Is build #1 worth the extra $170? Any small tweaks that would make either build significantly better? Thanks!
  11. My quote above included 12 GB of ram total which takes advantage of the triple channel ram. I do know in graphics work, at least in my case quantity of RAM trumps speed as the CPU does the majority of the work and slowly GPU is beginning to share some of that burden.

    If you do run Adobe software like Premiere Pro (the only app that actually needs these specific cards taken from the Adobe website). Anything else and you roll the dice.

    * Quadro CX (Windows)
    * Quadro FX 3800 (Windows)
    * Quadro FX 4800 (Windows and Mac OS)
    * Quadro FX 5800 (Windows)
    * GeForce GTX 285 (Windows and Mac OS)

    If not, you can probably get along fine with a lower graphics card if you need to save some cash. I can also play devil's advocate and suggest one of AMD's new 6 core chips which can out-render the 930 in some of the multithreaded 3D apps. Happy spending!

  12. Your list is specific to Adobe's most GPU intensive Creative Suite 5 V-Production. All others are compatible with many more GraphFx cards. I was a beta tester on PSCS5 -Extended. This list is good for all CS5 except for Production which contains Prem Pro. All CS5 are 64 bit and the more Ram the merrier.

    Error toward the high end of this list. My general feeling is nothing less than a 200 level nVidia card or its equal ATI

    Amended list from Adobe

    NVIDIA GeForce
    7000, 8000, 9000, 100, 200, 400 series

    NVIDIA Quadro FX
    x500, x700, x800, FX370, FX380, FX580 series, Quadro CX cards

    ATI Radeon
    2000, 3000, 4000, 5000 series

    ATI FireGL
    FireGL (R600 family GPUs x6xx series): V3600, V5600, V7600, V7700, V8600, V8650
    FirePro (R700 family GPUs X7xx series): V3700 ,V3750, V5700, V7750, V8700, V8750

    ATI FirePro
    FirePro (R800 family GPUs x8xx series): V3800, V3850, V5800, V7800, V8800
Ask a new question

Read More

New Build 3D Systems Product