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Looking for advice on Engineering/Graphic Design/Gaming rig for $1,800

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May 27, 2011 5:38:41 AM

Hey all - I haven't built myself since the days of the Pentium 4. No, I haven't been running on the P4 rig since then, it's was delegated to the graveyard quite a while ago. Anyways, I haven't built in a while, and I'm looking to get together a pretty powerful rig on a budget of aprox. 1,800 USD - preferably one that will last a while :D 

Uses and Goals:

Engineering Applications

  • MathCAD
  • MatLab
  • AspenPlus (hopefully not too much of this one)
  • Solidworks


    Graphic Design
  • Adobe Creative Suite - PS, AI, ID, FL
  • Blender

    Video Production - Currently minimal
  • Adobe AfterEffects
  • Adobe Encore
  • Adobe Premiere Pro

    Music Production
  • Reason
  • Adobe Soundbooth
  • Ableton
  • FL Studio Pro
  • Traktor

    Gaming - Do I really need to list? I'll go with a range instead.
  • From the Deus Ex of 2000 all the way up to Deus Ex of 2011

    Potential Future Upgrades
  • XFire
  • EyeFinity setup (3x1)
  • SSD boot drive (when their prices come down, naturally)
  • WC loop
  • RAID10 array for storage


    I've listed parts below. Input would be welcome!


    CPU
    Intel Core i7 2600K: Newegg.com - Intel Core i7-2600K Sandy Bridge 3.4GHz (3.8GHz Turbo Boost) 4 x 256KB L2 Cache 8MB L3 Cache LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor BX80623I72600K

    CPU Cooler
    CM H212: Newegg.com - COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus RR-B10-212P-G1 "Heatpipe Direct Contact" Long Life Sleeve 120mm CPU Cooler Compatible Intel Core i5 & Intel Core i7

    Mobo
    ASUS P8P67 WS Revolution: Newegg.com - ASUS P8P67 WS REVOLUTION LGA 1155 Intel P67 / NVIDIA NF200 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

    PSU
    Enermax MODU87+ 900W PSU: Newegg.com - ENERMAX MODU87+ EMG900EWT 900W (Peak 990W) ATX12V v2.3 / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS GOLD Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply

    Video Card
    MSI Radeon HD 6970 Lightning: Newegg.com - MSI R6970 Lightning Radeon HD 6970 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card

    HDD
    WD Caviar Black 1TB SATA III HDD: Newegg.com - Western Digital Caviar Black WD1002FAEX 1TB 7200 RPM 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

    RAM
    G.SKILL Sniper Series 8GB (2 x 4GB): Newegg.com - G.SKILL Sniper Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1866 (PC3 14900) Desktop Memory Model F3-14900CL9D-8GBSR

    Disk Drives
    LiteON 4x BluRay Reader/Combo Drive: Newegg.com - LITE-ON Black 4X BD-ROM 8X DVD-ROM 32X CD-ROM SATA Internal 4X Blu-ray Reader Model iHOS104-06 - Blu-Ray Drives

    Case
    Corsair Obsidian 800D: Newegg.com - Corsair Obsidian Series 800D CC800DW Black Aluminum / Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case

    How future-'proof' would you say the build is at this point? Any general advice or thoughts on it all? Also, I am considering sleeving as well - any opinion regarding that? Thanks for your help and advice in advance!

    -Ricco
  • More about : advice engineering graphic design gaming rig 800

    May 27, 2011 6:00:53 AM

    ^ Nice parts,...
    Some suggestions -

    PSU - If planning for watercooling in the future and 2+ graphic cards + Overclock, then IMO 900W might be too tight,... For that price you get very good 1KW+ PSU,...

    Graphics - The HD 6970 no doubt is the best card in that price range, but when using Adobe suite and other productivity apps, then IMO Nvidia would be a better option because of CUDA - The Premier PRO and other apps take good advantage of CUDA - GTX 570 would be a very good option,...
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    May 27, 2011 6:07:55 AM

    I know this may be a stupid question :whistle:  but are you planning on overclocking the 2600k.
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    May 27, 2011 6:17:59 AM

    @James296: No of course not! Why would I ever mess with the perfection of the stock Intel speeds. Those were put there for a reason and I would never, on my life, touch those numbers! Besides, BIOS is yucky!

    Really though, I'd ideally like to get a 4.6 or 4.7 on a decently low vcore on air, and when I go to water, see what stability at 5 is like - maybe I'll get a chip that likes to play nice and go fast.

    @gkay09: Out of box 3x1 monitor support is a HUGE selling point for me with any of AMDs cards. If nVidia did that on a single card design, it would be a much harder decision. Noted about the PSU, maybe I'll expand the budget a bit... Premiere is one of the lesser used apps - only comes out to play every other month, if its lucky (and if every other project I have going doesn't push it to the side yet again) so that isn't that big a deal. Are there any benchmarks showcasing the productivity gain in other apps like PS or Blender (or other apps that use CUDA that I'm not aware of)? The difference of a few minutes/hours saved on a render that only happens 3 times a year versus all around performance, and outstanding multi-display performance would make my opinion tip towards the 6970. Plus, if I ever do XFire, AMD GPUs scale much better than their equivalent counterparts on the nVidia side.
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    May 27, 2011 6:57:59 AM

    Hi, Wow what a great build - I love the Corsair 800D. I have some options:

    1. Two 1 GB or 2 GB ATI 6950 in crossfire may be within your budget and they outperform the single 6970. The 1 GB 6950 cards are around $220 each. The GTX 570 is a great card but it is expensive. I am not sure how much a difference CUDA will make but hopefully someone who has hands-on experience can comment on this

    2. For a PSU, I would recommend the Corsair AX 1200 gold plus rated. It is overkill for your needs but it is fairly cheap and it has gotten rave reviews. It is $263 at newegg right now with shipping included after rebates. Here is a review of it:

    http://www.jonnyguru.com/modules.php?name=NDReviews&op=...

    It is fully modular, gold-plus rated, comes with all the cables you could ever need, is over 90% efficient, puts out over 1500 W and has a seven year warranty from Corsair, one of the best in the business. Again you don't need this much power, but it is comparable to what you are specifying and it is a great choice. With a high overclock and two big GPUs (like two 6970s), Raid 10 storage, eyefinity setup and more it won't even break a sweat and it will be 90% efficient

    3. For a big rig like this I really like the Noctua NH-D14 CPU cooler. It is maybe the best air cooler made if you take noise into account. The difference between the D14 and other coolers is that it remains reasonably quiet at high fan settings (46 DB) and it is second to none in cooling. It is not cheap, it is $90, but it should be within your budget

    4. For an extra $40 you can get a 12 X blu ray burning drive if you want

    5. The 800D does not have USB 3.0 yet and I think the hot swap bays are Sata II not Sata III - still I really love this case and Corsair is selling a USB 3.0 upgrade kit very cheaply

    6. I don't know if you will need the Sync video function on the Z68 board but take a look at the Z68 additional functions. Many people do not need the Sync or caching functions but still they are worth a look.

    Hope this helps :-)

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    May 27, 2011 7:21:41 AM

    ^ Some nice suggestions there, though might add up to the price, but are good...

    As for CUDA performance, some are present in this review
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/adobe-cs5-cuda-64-b...

    Also to see if the apps that you use will utilize CUDA, then search in Google...

    But again, like you said, if the productivity tasks will not be done often and if they dont utilize CUDA, then sticking with HD 6970 is better,...
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    May 27, 2011 7:49:22 AM

    @flong

    1. You present an argument that I myself have had nightly over the past two weeks: two 6950s or one 6970 for now... I won't be upgrading monitors until the fall, maybe even the holidays, at which point I'll have saved up for a second card - likely a duplicate
    6970. That will give me >6990 performance on a single monitor, and god knows what kind of gains ahead of that dual-gpu beast on 3! Then again, the cost... *grubmle* I would be open to debate on this one for sure.

    2. I didn't even see this because of the power range I was looking in. WOW. I know what PSU I'm going to buy now.

    3. Taken into consideration, thanks for the recommendation! How would you say that would compare to a good liquid-cooling solution on the CPU? I know of some good kits in that price range, or I'd be willing to wait out a bit to let funds build up if the cooling performance was remarkably different.

    4. That extra 40 is going to save up for an SSD boot disk :D  I don't ever plan on burning a bluray disk, thats what flash drives are for hahaha.

    5. I can deal with the lack of those things for now and buy the upgrades on the cheap when I want/need em. 20/25 bucks isn't bad for that stuff ,but I won't be using it immediately.

    6. Z68 only makes sense if you plan on using onboard video. For the rest of the answer, see #1 lol

    Thanks for a great reply! I'd've been blown away with simply the PSU tip :) 


    @gkay

    Thanks for the review - seems it only makes sense if you use premere as your life, with minor gains in other Adobe software. Frankly, the price tag for the overall performance just doesnt make sense for what I'll be doing. If all I did was edit video (in a perfect world....) I'd love to have it, but I won't notice, and it will already speed by when I do (currently working on a C2D 2.8GHz with a nVidia 9600m GT - pre CUDA) and lets just say that I could probably draw the frames faster than Premiere can render them; the new rig will be like.... Honestly I don't know what it will be like, it's been so long since I've had that 'new tech thrill' that comes with a build :D 
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    May 27, 2011 7:13:21 PM

    Quote:
    @James296: No of course not! Why would I ever mess with the perfection of the stock Intel speeds. Those were put there for a reason and I would never, on my life, touch those numbers! Besides, BIOS is yucky!


    I was super confused for a second :p 
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    May 27, 2011 7:20:38 PM

    I have the Obsidian 800D case. Very satisfied.

    I also have an HD5870 card and i am using Autodesk 3ds max and abit autocad. I know that these programs take advantage of CUDA when rendering but the final quality of the work produced either by an nVidia gpu or simply the processor is just the same.

    I have an i7 930 @ 2.8ghz which triple channel ram and sometimes i set an overclock when i know i will use those programs for rendering and things are decently fast. My point is that your more modern and top-end CPU will just handle everything properly and the CUDA thing of nVidia doesnt matter unless you are a proffessional producer who deals with huge projects needing multiple GB's of video ram and an nVidia quadro card, in which case you would buy those proffesional orientated cards.

    Personally I am using 2x 500GB black caviar in raid 0 but they are SATA 2. 2 or 3 doesnt matter anyway. These Hdd's dont give more than 150-200MB/sec or read/write so when you will need SATA 3 for your SSD, feel free to put them in the SATA 2 ports of your motherboard.

    VERY IMPORTANT: make sure that the hot-swap bays for your HDD and SSD are SATA-3 compatible, as the default Corsair obsidian 800D bays support SATA-2 only. Maybe you will have it by default since you are buying now and I bought 1 year ago. In any cause, Corsair offer the sata-3 plugs for the hot-swap on their website from a small amount of $. Otherwise you can get a 5.25" to 3.5" or 2.5" adaptors and put the drives / ssd in the dvd-drives bays.
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    May 27, 2011 9:43:23 PM

    tlg said:
    I have the Obsidian 800D case. Very satisfied.

    I also have an HD5870 card and i am using Autodesk 3ds max and abit autocad. I know that these programs take advantage of CUDA when rendering but the final quality of the work produced either by an nVidia gpu or simply the processor is just the same.

    I have an i7 930 @ 2.8ghz which triple channel ram and sometimes i set an overclock when i know i will use those programs for rendering and things are decently fast. My point is that your more modern and top-end CPU will just handle everything properly and the CUDA thing of nVidia doesnt matter unless you are a proffessional producer who deals with huge projects needing multiple GB's of video ram and an nVidia quadro card, in which case you would buy those proffesional orientated cards.

    Personally I am using 2x 500GB black caviar in raid 0 but they are SATA 2. 2 or 3 doesnt matter anyway. These Hdd's dont give more than 150-200MB/sec or read/write so when you will need SATA 3 for your SSD, feel free to put them in the SATA 2 ports of your motherboard.

    VERY IMPORTANT: make sure that the hot-swap bays for your HDD and SSD are SATA-3 compatible, as the default Corsair obsidian 800D bays support SATA-2 only. Maybe you will have it by default since you are buying now and I bought 1 year ago. In any cause, Corsair offer the sata-3 plugs for the hot-swap on their website from a small amount of $. Otherwise you can get a 5.25" to 3.5" or 2.5" adaptors and put the drives / ssd in the dvd-drives bays.



    ^ What a great post :-) - thanks for adding your thoughts. One small point, the new Sata III HDDs are starting to outperform the Sata II HDDs and this trend may continue because Seagate has a 1 TB single tray hard drive. I know that it should not matter for an HDD because of the 3 GB/S bandwidth of Sata II but for some reason the Sata III drives are starting to pull away from the Sata II drives (not by much). I am not sure why because Sata II has plenty of bandwidth for today's HDDs. SSDs of course are where the Sate III bandwidth becomes very important.

    Again an excellent post. I learned from it.
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    May 27, 2011 11:18:19 PM

    Thanks for the info tlg! raw info is sometimes very helpful opposed to abstract numbers and benchmarks. All of it was very informative, and puts things in yet another perspective.

    Interesting note about the SATA III/SATA II HDDs flong - good to know. at the end of the day, though, SSD still wins :p  I've gotten countless recommendations that that is where any spare cash should go - what do you all think?
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