Best CPU for 3D animation (Blender/3D Max)

Hi you all, I'm about to upgrade my machine. I use software like AE, Premier, Blender, 3D Max, PS, Illustrator, Flash, and such.

I have a budget of $2000 to $3000. Could I get some advises about Video Card. Sound Card, Mother card, Ram, Processor, and such?

I've heard to go for the Intel’s i7 and 4core with NVidia card, but I really want to invest my money considering the opinion from people that know about this things.

If there is something more expensive, please let me know cause I can get some extra budget since I really want to go in the 3D production with a good machine.

Thanks for any advice on this one.
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  1. Based on simple research Blender and 3D Max can take advantage of Hyper Threading. Therefore, the best CPU to buy is the i7 2600k.
  2. Well this is a case where several components working together would give you the best experience.

    I would second the recommendation of the Intel i7-2600K as its Integer Per Clock performance rate is second to none in the consumer desktop arena. It is one hella of an efficient uarch.

    I would couple that with an AMD Radeon HD 5770 or higher Graphics card as your renderer (main card) and maybe something like an nVIDIA GT 240 or GTS 450 as a dedicated CUDA accelerator.

    Reason being that AMD graphics card consistently outscore nVIDIA graphics cards when it comes to rendering HD content. The amount of filters and optimizations available for Video purposes in the AMD Control Center is second to none. Tom's hardware has a review on this fact.

    Some of those applications support nVIDIA CUDA acceleration and as such it is a good thing to have an nVIDIA card installed in the rig to take advantage of some of the performance benefits (taking some of the load off the CPU).

    My 2 cents.
  3. I would like to thank you for your helpful comments. I will take them in consideration. I will make up my mind next week, nevertheless if there is anything else that anyone would like to add to this tread I would appreciate it as well.

  4. Your budget is actually in the 'Enterprise' range -- but most likely you will be able to assemble a substantial build for half of what you have initially anticipated if you are so inclined without detriment to overall performance. Are you considering some new fancy monitor action in addition to your new box?

    Unless you have a specific need for a separate DSP, the on-board sound chips these days should be more than capable for your usage, so you can save some cash on a dedicated card.

    If Intel is your thang, the i5-2500k will save you $100 or so against the i7-2600k. You may peruse this Anandtech review comparing the two chips and decide if the additional cost is worth it. With your budget I guess I should also note that the i7-980X Extreme is considered a little outside the envelop from a price/performance/chipset standpoint but the *X58* platform does have certain advantages over the *K* chips.

    Just to be contrary :D I will recommend 4x Samsung Spinpoint F4 HD322GJ/U 320GB HDDs in 2 RAIDs for your I/O and a Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB for storage/backups. (The reason I'm being 'contrary' is that your choices on P67 with extended SATA 6Gb/s support is very limited, and those RAIDs really need it to 'fly high')

    I think a 64GB SSD would be enough for your OS/Apps drive but suspect most folks will recommend a 120GB for you.

    I think Elmo nailed it on the graphics -- I'll just add with the AMD HD5770 you will have 'Eyefinity' (3-monitor) support with a displayport connector.

    Finally, if you can hold out a few weeks AMDs new Bulldozer Zambezi should hit the street (anticipated June 10-20). We have no leaked performance numbers and are grasping (and gasping - LOL) for information. So we are stuck with 'reading between the lines' on comments like this:

    jf-amd said:
    With SSSE3, SSE4.1 and SSE4.2 in BD, my guess is you will see less emphasis on Photoshop benchmarks from the other guy in the future. They'll find a different horse to ride....

    (Poking John with a stick...) Heretofore, John has not shown an inclination toward hyperbole BUT he does work on the Enterprise side for AMD, so over the next couple weeks you can read between the lines with the rest of us until we see performance #s and reviews.
  5. Hi wisecracker, thanks for such a deteiled comment. I would get this systems for $2.000, What would you think about it? Is there something better to change, improve, or something related with blender or 3D applications that could be better to add or buy?.

    This is going to be my work station and in a near future I'm going to build a render farm, but this is my first step. What would you think?

    1 Hsi ATX Twr P4 (STEP-307)Blk Case
    1 ITL i7 Core 3.06GHz (950) 4.8GT/sec 8M processor LGA (Procesor)
    1 ITL MBoard DX58SO 3PCIex 16X i7 ATX FCPA-1366 (MotherBoard)
    2 KVR 4GB 1333MHz DDR3 Non-ECC CL9 DIMM KVR1333D3N9/4G (Memory)
    1 WD WD10EARS 1000gb SATA2 64mb IntelliPower (Hard Drive)
    1 Samsung. DVD-RW 22X Sata SH-223B/BEBE BULK Black (Optic unit)
    1 AOC LED 22" e2243Fws 1920x1080 (Monitor)
    2 ATI XFX RADEON HD 5670 PCI-E 1GB DDR5 HDMI DVI 775M (VideoCard)
    1 SONIDO MAKER VALUE 5.1 PCI (SoundBoard)
    1 MS Keyboard Natural Ergo Keybrd 4000 Spa (Keyboard)
    1 Logitech Cordless Opt Mouse M215 Dark Silver ntbks U (Mouse)
    1 P4 Power Supply 580W 20+4 pin ATX 12V PG-580 (Power supply)

    Since I'm more a designer person than a hardware guy (which is not an xcuse for my ignorance) There are some technical issues that you could spot out under this configuration way better than me.

    Thanks for any advise on this one.
  6. The i7-950 on the X58 platform is a great package, but it's a dead end, and that specific MB has no USB3 or SATA 6Gb/s, and it doesn't have trip-channel RAMs (which would be one of the major reasons to go X58).

    I suspect on smaller projects the i5-2500k would eat it alive simply because it's the 'latest and greatest' processor on the Intel side with better SIMD optimizations -- on larger projects the X58 would most likely have a significant bandwidth advantage (it's more of an 'Enterprise' class platform) that would off-set the SIMD optimizations of the i5

    If you are interested in X58 you should look for a model that has SATA 6Gb/s, USB3 and trip-channel RAMs.

    I believe there is an AsRock motherboard that has 8xSATA6Gb/s with 2xeSATA that would work.

    If you need someone to build a rig for you I would suggest buying the components yourself and paying a local $200 or so to build it to your liking.

    I would also suggest trying to be patient if you can. Nobody knows but I suspect an 8-core Bulldozer might 'plow' through Blender quite well - LOL
  7. Just a thought - with that budget you could easily afford a used professional GPU,
    eg. Quadro FX 5500, 4500, etc. For working with wireframe (especially AA wireframe)
    that would be a lot faster than a gaming card, with more accurate rendering aswell.
    Gamer cards are cheap, but for professional tasks a proper pro card makes a lot more
    sense. I've been accumulating some results on my site:

    Lots more data to add for a whole range of other pro cards (I have a whole stack to
    test, from an entry FX 1400 128MB to a rather large FX 5600 1.5GB, also including
    two FX 5500s in SLI).

    In your case, look at the Viewperf 10 results (not yet run V11 on many setups, and I
    need to redo the V11 results now that my system has more RAM and Win7/U/64):

    Note especially how the FX 5500 stomps all over a GTX 460 for 3DSMax, Maya and other
    tests (Ensight is a curious exception), and it's a fast 460 I'm testing (EVGA FTW,
    850MHz core - a lot quicker than a 5770). On the other hand, a used pro card might
    not have some of the features mentioned by ElMoIsEviL, and AMD boards do have good
    multi-display support, though I'd be surprised if you really needed more than 2
    displays which pretty much any card can do these days, including all the pro cards.
    Either way, check specs and compare with your requirements.

    The Asrock motherboard wisecracker referred to is probably the Extreme6. I might get
    one of these soon, with a 970. Not sure yet.

    SSD-wise, I recommend a 120GB minimum. Remember that some of the space on an SSD
    is used for idle garbage collection, etc., so a 60GB won't actually give you 60GB
    to play with. 120GB is optimal, though with your budget you could easily afford a
    much quicker SATA 240GB OCZ Vertex3. Personally though, I'd recommend the 120GB
    Vertex2 as a baseline. For general storage, two sets of 1 or 2TB SATA each in RAID0,
    treated as RAID1, would be wise. Again though, with your budget do note that you
    could easily afford used SAS instead which would be a lot quicker, and the RAID
    functions are done in hw, eg. LSI SAS3442E-R (cheap off eBay, I've bought loads).
    All depends on how professional you want your system to be, but with $2K+ such
    items are well within your reach, eg. I recently built a Dell T7500 and was able to
    obtain some new 600GB 15K SAS disks off eBay for only about $225 each. Or as an
    inbetween option, given your budget, you could use Enterprise SATA or better
    reliability vs. consumer SATA (or a blend of both).

    With respect to the 2500K/2600K, they're good, but if they're not overclocked (oc'd
    for short) then for your needs a 6-core X58 does offer some advantages with respect
    to threaded rendering, etc. Note that a 4-core on X58 would not be competitive with
    a 2600K unless it was oc'd, but then the 2600K can be oc'd aswell. Whether or not
    you want to delve into that is another issue, though it does offer major speed
    improvements if you know how to do it (and it's not really that difficult these
    days), eg. I've just finished building a 4GHz i7 870 system for my brother, which
    gives CB10 (X-CPU) = 23415, and CB11.5 (CPU) = 6.87, beating a stock 2600K for CB10
    (Anand review) and almost matching a 2600K for CB11.5, and all with a mbd that only
    cost 65 UKP new (these results are 30% and 25% faster than stock speed respectively).

    If you don't want to deal with overclocking though, then the 2600K would be best
    in general, but remember a 6-core X58 will be quicker for highly threaded tasks
    like rendering. Best of all would be an oc'd 6-core X58 of course, but then that
    leads back to the equivalent option of being able to oc a 2600K aswell. Your example
    950 config is not logical compared to a 2600K though. If you're not going to oc the\
    950, then a 2600K is better.

    RAM-wise, if you're not going to overclock, then there's a plethora of good 8GB
    DDR3/1600 kits which are more than adequate. Just avoid the cheap stuff (Kingston
    Value Ram? Nooo!). For oc'ing though, I've been particularly impressed with the
    surprisingly low cost DDR3/2133 8GB Mushkin Ridgeback kit, though the GSkill Ripjaw
    series is also good. The 4GHz 870 system I built for my brother has a 4GB DDR3/2K
    Corsair kit which also works well. If you're not going to oc though, then 2GHz-rated
    RAM is not necessary. Hmm, have to say btw, I did not like the Kingston HyperX 2GHz
    4GB kit - I couldn't even get it to run at 1600 properly when the CPU was at 4GHz.

    wisecracker has a good point about getting someone else to build a system for you,
    especially if you like the idea of an oc'd setup. I do build systems for people,
    but I suspect I'm on the wrong continent. :D (I'm in the UK) He's also right
    about 8-core Bulldozer possibly being a good contender for Blender, etc., but who
    knows? I doubt Intel is standing still, and then there's unknown issue of pricing.
    Are you in a hurry to sort out this purchase? If not, then learning more about the
    issues involved while waiting for the BD launch might be wise, and in the meantime
    prices should continue to fall.

    NB: I actually have some good used pro cards for sale (less than half new price),
    but you can probably get them cheaper off eBay. Just be careful you don't get mixed
    up with the really old gamer cards of yesteryear which in some cases have similar
    names. :D (simply ignore anything with less than 512MB RAM). Obviously though, if
    you want a proper warranty, etc. then buy new, which given your budget would tend
    to push you more towards gamer cards though.

    Oh, I'd be happy to run any tests if you like, if there's something more specific
    you'd want checked.


    PS. If you're really more of a pro user, then get a 1920x1200 display, not
    1920x1080. The extra height really helps for such work, eg. the display I bought
    for my brother is an Iiyama 26" Prolite E2607WS. For myself I bought the even
    better HP LP2475W H-IPS 24" 1920x1200, but that's a pricey unit (check the review
    on If you're doing animation/design though, then 1200+ height
    is a must IMO.
  8. CPU: Intel core i7 2600k

    Motherboard: ASUS Maximus IV extreme

    Video card: Nvidia GeForce gtx 580 (evga)

    Sound card: ASUS Xonar Essence ST 24-bit 192KHz


    CPU case: Coolermaster HAF X

    HDD: Western digital cavair green 2TB

    SSD: ocz VERTEX 2 90GB (optional)

    PSU: Corsair TX 850

    Blu ray drive: Samsung black 12x bd rom drive

    Monitor: ASUS VG236HE Black 23" 1920X1080

    Speakers: Antec soundscience rockus 3D 2.1 Speakers

    Mouse: RAZER Naga Molten RZ01-00280500-R3M1

    Keyboard:Thermaltake Tt eSPORTS CHALLENGER

    UPS: APC BR1000G (optional)

    Calculate the prices to make sure that if these components really fit in your budget. Anyways, for that money you can get a monster.

    As per my calculations you will get all these components (incl. optional ones) under or around 3000 USD.
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