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Help with Student Workstation build

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October 29, 2010 2:52:44 PM

I've been working on trying to build a computer for school.
My goal was a build for 1500, it looks like it'll probably be 2000 so I'll try to be flexible

I use Adobe Creative Suite (mostly Photoshop, Illustrator and After Effects), Nuke, Maya, Pro Tools LE, and Final Cut Pro
And in the near future PF Track, Houdini, and RealFlow probably

There are so many options so I started with looking at Maya's recommended hardware (gfx card) and the EFi-X compatibility list.
Then I read about the EFi-X scam on tom's so I ditched that idea but my build was sort of built around that.

COOLER MASTER RC-690-KKN1-GP Black SECC/ ABS ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
GIGABYTE GA-X58A-UD3R LGA 1366 Intel X58 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
GIGABYTE GV-N285UD-1GH GeForce GTX 285 1GB 512-bit GDDR3
CORSAIR CMPSU-650TX 650W ATX12V
Intel Core i7-930 Bloomfield 2.8GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Desktop Processor BX80601930
(2x) G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666)
(2x) Western Digital Caviar Black WD1002FAEX 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5"
OCZ Vertex 2 OCZSSD2-2VTXE60G 2.5" 60GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)
Logitech 920-000914 Black USB Wired Ultra-thin Illuminated Keyboard
ASUS DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS Black SATA 24X DVD Burner - Bulk - OEM
$1,608.88 ($1549.89 after rebates on newegg)

Looking at Charts on tom's I decided on the Intel Core i7-950 Bloomfield 3.06GHz over the i7-930 only $6 more and a little faster.
Would it be better to build a dual CPU system and have 8-cores?
That is probably out of my price range but if it makes a huge difference on render times I'd consider it.
I was thinking maybe later I could just build a separate render farm.
I would still like the option of running mac os x because that's what I use now and at school most of the time.

I really appreciate anyone's help/opinion on this, I'd like to buy it on black friday.

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October 29, 2010 8:54:13 PM
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1. WHY would you want to run OSX on this!?!?!? There really is no reason to do this.

2. You can build a 2P system for $1.75k. This will make a BIG difference with rendering. I use Maya/Inventor (including Inventor Studio)/COSMOS and 3DS and I can tell you for rendering, with your max budget of $2k, 2P is the way to go.

3. Do you need this ASAP? If you don't wou may want to wait until Sandy Bridge hits. See here for preview: http://www.anandtech.com/show/3871/the-sandy-bridge-pre...
Notice that the SB CPU (a future mid range CPU) used in that review came close to the i7 980X in 3DS.

===========
Anyways, here is the 2P I recommend:

HAF 912 $60: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

2x Xeon 5506 $ 470: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

OCZ Vertex 2 120GB SSD for OS + programs $240: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

XFX 750W $130 : http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

ASUS Z8NA-D6C $260: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

2x 500GB F3s for storage in RAID1 $110: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

2x 3*2GB (12GB total) Crucial DDR3 ECC RAM $325: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

EVGA GTX460 (mainly due to good OpenGL performance, don't need much of a high end workstation card for CAD/rendering) $170: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Total: ~$1,762 before rebates. It should come close after the MIR. Only a bit more than the system in the OP but you get a much better system, esp. for multi tasking/rendering. I'm assuming you are doing some serious renderings and want it to last a while, else this is massive overkill. This is a entry/low mid level pro workstation. If running CS5, you get CUDA acceleration with the GTX460. If running Premere CS5, you will need to do a bit of modding to get the GTX460 to work with Mercury or you can get the GTX470/480 or a real workstation card.

note: Needs a CPU cooler for the Xeons. Pick which ever one you want that will fit in the case. You can obviously change the case to something else like a HAF 932. For OS, as a student you can grab Windows 7 Pro (which support 2P) for less than $100. You will also need a DVD burner,etc. You can get which ever one you want for this. I also wasn't sure if you wanted a BD burner, so I leave this up to you.

edit:
Also, if you don't have a good IPS display DO get one. There are a few Dell 22-23" IPS LCDs for ~$300 (example: http://accessories.us.dell.com/sna/products/Displays/pr... ). If you are serious about photo/vid editing IPS is the way to go. It makes a BIG difference in image quality.
October 30, 2010 3:17:08 PM

Hey thanks so much for the response.
No reason for a mac / windows debate I've been using a mac for 6 years so its really just comfort/productivity
I do like using maya on windows because it feels glitchy on mac

Thanks for the confirmation I wanted dual CPU just didn't know if I could justify the costs

I really would like this ASAP, I've been saving, researching, browsing for this thing since January and could use it for homework/projects

the Mobo/CPUs are really the most important purchase because I can always update ram/hd/gfx so I want to get the best I can afford

mac pro uses Intel Xeon E5620 Westmere 2.4GHz $384.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I'd like to get it but too pricey, a lot of people seem to be using the Intel Xeon E5520 2.26GHz $379.99

still too pricey but I did find this one

Intel Xeon W3520 Bloomfield 2.66GHz $306.49 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

ASUS Z8NA-D6C $259.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=13-131-...

OCZ Vertex 2 60GB $139.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX 750W $109.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

(2x) Kingston 4GB SDRAM ECC $219.98 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

EVGA GeForce GTX 470 $259.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

COOLER MASTER RC-692-KKN3 CM690 $69.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

total: $1,852.88 (with HD, cd/dvd burner, and keyboard)
Obviously I cut back on almost everything else for the CPUs but I did go ahead and jump up to the GTX 470 as you suggested
I'd prefer the expandability of 4GB sticks over the 2GB, only getting 1 smaller SSD (for now) and this PSU was just cheaper
For the case it's just preference I don't care for the HAF design and I like the top ports (esata/firewire) on the CM690
For storage I do plan on building/buying an external 4HD Raid 5 in the future

I didn't know about the windows 7 deal for students thanks for the heads up
I have an LGM237WD http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
convenient for dorm rooms as HDTV/Monitor lots of connections but I do want to get a 27" Dell Ultra sharp or Cinema Display later

I'll be working on my thesis this summer so yes I want it to be able to handle video editing, after effects and maya renders as smoothly/fast as possible and most likely fluid/particle effects from houdini/realflow

Maybe its more overkill than I think I'm probably just spoiled by the school labs but I really want it to last a while.

Thanks again for your help, I didn't mean to dismiss your build or anything I really appreciate you taking the time to respond


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October 30, 2010 8:28:04 PM

^The W3520 WILL NOT WORK WITH THAT ASUS board. Realize that NONE of the 2P LGA1366 boards on Newegg support the W3520, this is because ONLY the Intel 5xxx series supports 2P operation, this is why I did not use that CPU in the build I listed.

Imo, I'd avoid that CPU in the first place as it is an older 45nm Bloomfileld CPU and runs quite hot under load. As for RAM, fair enough. I'm assuming you will upgrade to 12GB or more down the road so yes, a single 4GB DIMM makes sense.
November 6, 2010 3:53:51 AM

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