$2K 3D software / gaming PC

This will be my first new system build, though I've upgraded some systems before.

Approximate Purchase Date: next week or two

Budget Range: $1800-2300 After Rebates, including OS (Windows 7 Home Premium)

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Lightwave & Blender modeling, animiation and rendering, Gaming (1600x1200), Programming

Parts Not Required: keyboard, mouse monitor

Preferred Website(s) for Parts:

Country of Origin: US

Parts Preferences: NVIDIA for GPU

Overclocking: Maybe

SLI or Crossfire: No

Monitor Resolution: 1600x1200

Additional Comments: case goes in enclosed desk space (big enough for a tower) with open back (and usually open front), styling not important but prefer lots of front panel access to USB, audio; want fast booting and startup of a few important programs so would like an SSD boot disk

For 3d modeling/rendering getting as many fast processors as possible is important, as well as having a lot of memory (at least 8GB, would prefer more, say 12GB). Gaming use is not extreme, but would like it to keep up with needs of games for next 3-4 years. For foreseeable future, not expecting to use very high resolution monitor or SLI.

I've never overclocked before and would rather sacrifice some performance than spend many days tuning and risking hard-to-track-down crashes, but am interested gingerly dipping my foot into it.

So far I've picked out a modified version of the modified $2k system builder's marathon, downplaying extreme graphics performance at high resolution by dumping one of the two graphics cards, and adding more memory and an SSD drive.

Motherboard: Gigabyte X58A-UD3R
CPU: i7 970 3.2GHz 12MB L3 6 core model BX80613I7970
Memory: Mushkin Silverline 998768 12GB (6x2GB) DDR3 1333
Graphics: MSI N460GTX Hawk 1GB
Hard Drive: Samsung F3 HD103SJ 1TB
SSD: Vertex 2 50GB
Optical: LG DVD
Case: Antec Three Hundred Illusion ATX Mid Tower
Power: Seasonic SS 850HT 80 Plus Silver 850W
CPU Cooler: Scythe Mugen 2 SCMG 2100

Some things I am unsure about:
- is the 1333 memory a good match for this, or should I get faster memory?
- I'm worried that 50GB SSD is too small; I'm intrigued by the OCZ RevoDrive PCI-E x4 120GB PCI Express, which could be faster too, but am worried that it looks like it might be difficult to bring up as a boot disk (for a first time builder), and also that it is kind of new and maybe still has bugs to work out (and, does it interfere with Graphics speed, using a PCI slot?), so figure it is safer to stick with Vertex 2 50GB for now.
- not sure if I have a good mobo / case combo for best cooling when the sides are somewhat enclosed and the rear/front are open
7 answers Last reply Best Answer
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  1. Best answer
    the i7 970 is a waste of money IMO get the i7 950.


    get 2 gtx460s

    see how much you can get if you get a 950..
  2. Thanks Mr Pizza.

    I do teeter back and forth between 970 and 950. For rendering, the 970 looks like it goes almost 50% faster due to the two more cores. Is that worth an extra $580 to me? Some days I feel yes, some days no.

    How much does a second graphics card and SLI help at 1600x1200?

    Is the advantage of the modular power supply that the wiring can be neater? Easier? Or more than that?
  3. well u want 3d graphics....a single 460 GTX probably isnt enough....for hardcore rendering you can go with a AMD 1090 BE build....they are great for your needs if i understand correctly
  4. From a price/performance standpoint, the AMD 1055t is you best bet.

    How do you feel about dual Xeon 5620s?
  5. Thanks jasonp12 and sp12.

    I've been looking at these benchmarks
    and it feels like to get the best performance on the mixture of tasks I care about, I should get the i7 970 (hoping to overclock into stock 980 performance), but an overclocked AMD 1075T looks close, and probably the i7 950 is close for most things (except rendering). I hadn't really looked at the Xeons and two of those look like they might be good too, but worried that for single threaded apps the lower clock rate might hurt me.

    I've been looking at a system recommended by banthracis on a similar thread ($2000 Gaming / Rending Build) here, and it is tempting. Uses a 950 and two GTX 470s for a different cpu/gpu tradeoff. Looks like I have to investigate the performance of SLI and 460 vs 470 some more to see where the bottlenecks are. It could be that for tumbling around while modeling, having SLI could help on huge models.
  6. Best answer selected by htrick.
  7. I ended up getting 2 gtx460s, after looking at the replies here and doing some more research. And I got a 120GB SSD, but otherwise got what I initially posted (to take advantage of a package). So pushed the budget a bit above the $2k mark.
    It went together OK. My remaining problem is that with 12 GB of RAM, I had to lower the mem frequency a lot. I'm now doing research to figure out what BIOS changes I should make to fix that.

    Thanks again for the replies here.
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