Workstation Build $4000 - $5000

Hey all, I'm a professional working in the film industry and focusing on high-end 3D rendering. Currently, I'm in need of a rather powerful workstation for some freelance work. If anyone wants to help me spec some parts, it'd be greatly appreciated.

Approximate Purchase Date: 1 - 2 months

Budget Range: $5000 Maximum (something closer to $4000 desired if possible)

System Usage from Most to Least Important: 3D modeling and rendering (Maya, Zbrush, Cinema 4D, VUE, 3DS Max), compositing HD and 2K video (After Effects, Nuke), painting/editing massive (e.g. 12,000x12,000px) images in Photoshop

Parts Not Required: I already own a keyboard, mouse, monitors, speakers, and other external hardware

Preferred Website(s) for Parts:, (I honestly don't care as long as it's a reputable site)

Parts Preferences: Intel CPU, nVidia graphics, everything else no preference

Overclocking: No

SLI or Crossfire: Maybe

Monitor Resolution: Dual 1920x1200 monitors

Additional Comments: I just want to note that I have zero intention of playing games on this box. It is going to be used purely for graphics work.

Parts I've already selected

CPU - Dual Intel Xeon E5645 Westmere-EP 2.4GHz 6 x 256KB L2 Cache 12MB L3 Cache LGA 1366 80W Six-Core Server Processor BX80614E5645
$590x2 = $1180
Currently, all of the 3D and editing programs I use render frames exclusively with the CPU, so I need quite a bit of raw power here. I saw some beefier Xeons, but for the price I'm leaning towards the E5645 since I'll still end up with 24 threads. I've used and liked the quad-core version of this processor before (same clock speed) so the hexa-core should more than meet my needs.

Graphics Card - nVidia Quadro 4000 (dual if budget allows)
All of the programs I use seem favor nVidia over AMD. Also, I don't see the cost/benefit of getting one of the more expensive models. Depending on how much of my budget remains, I may opt for a second Quadro 4000.

OS - Windows 7 Professional 64-bit

Total So Far

$2900 remaining in budget

Remaining Specs I Need

Motherboard - Dual socket with at least 24 Gb RAM support

RAM - 24 Gb minimum

Disk Drive - CD/DVD R/W (I'll probably just find this on my own unless you have a recommendation)

Hard Drives - I'm torn on hard drives right now. I thought about going with an SSD boot, but I'm not sure if that'll even matter if I have a decent HDD RAID setup, thoughts? If I go with a RAID I care more about speed than space. I might try either of these two (if you have recommendations, then by all means let me know):

Western Digital 7200RPM
Western Digital 10000RPM

I could also do a RAID with SSDs if things didn't get too costly.

All of videos I edit are very large in file size, so I need this computer to be able to read files rather quickly when I work to avoid too much bottlenecking.


Sound Card - I don't work with audio much, but I do like my sound. Any ideas for a decent, yet inexpensive, sound card?

Networking Card - I plan on using a wired connection, but the flexibility of wireless as well is nice. Just need something inexpensive.

Also, I need power supply and fan(s) recommendations. I'll probably pick my own case, but if you have a recommendation it'd be appreciated.

If I missed a part, let me know.

Thanks for your help!
2 answers Last reply
More about workstation build 4000 5000
  1. For photoshop, you should consider setting up a raid 0 with a couple HDs just for scratch drive - if you aren't doing this already, you will likely see a considerable performance boost at that file size.

    Also, in terms of running two cards, i'm not familiar with how the 3d modeling programs utilize video cards, but I do know that photoshop will only use 1 - so you might look into that before getting two video cards.
  2. Thanks for pointing that out! Did a little checking around it would appear dual GPU support is still pretty slim with the programs I use. I'll probably ditch the second card to start, but a few of my apps look like they'll start taking advantage of multiple CUDA-based GPUs in the next year or two. I'll just wait till that happens and upgrade accordingly.

    I also managed to find a Quadro 6000 for $2200. I might be swayed at that price, but it would still put me over-budget quite a bit.
Ask a new question

Read More

New Build Workstations Systems Product