Advice on $2500 animation build

Hi guys! I figured you all are the best people to come to for this, based on how many other people you'vehelped. Here's my situation, if anyone has time to offer opinions.

I'm in grad school and am making the jump from 3d modeling to 3d animation this semester. I'm not the type of person that likes to spend nights in the lab at school, so I'd like to have a solid workstation at home that can crank out renders for me. I'm currently running a laptop with an i7, 8gb of ram, and an AMD Radeon HD 6570m. I plan on setting up Backburner to use this new desktop, my laptop, and my existing desktop (which is in deperate need of an update anyway and has 6gb of ram and nothing else that's really worth anything) for large that's the goal.

For the next three or four months, this will be almost exclusively for modelling in Maya and 3ds, and animating in 3ds. I'm doing a research project in video game design where I'll be using mainly Unity3D, but I'm going to dip in to Unreal, just because I want to. So gaming isn't really the focus, which is why I didn't go with one of the gaming builds that have been posted.

I've built computers before, but I've always had someone to hold my hand through the whole thing and I just made decisions after they'd narrowed down my choices for me. Plus, I've never needed as much power as I now suddenly do, so I don't really know where to start here. Any help is appreciated!!


Approximate Purchase Date: Hopefully this week (the sooner the better)

Budget Range: $2500-3000 (after rebates)

System Usage from Most to Least Important: 3d modeling/animation (3ds Max, Maya, Mudbox, Zbrush, After Effects), game development (UDK, Unity3D), illustration/design (Photoshop, Illustrator, Painter), interactive design (Flash)

Parts Not Required: keyboard/mouse, speakers

Preferred Website(s) for Parts:

Country of Origin: US

Overclocking: No?

SLI or Crossfire: No

Monitor Resolution: 1680x1050 at the moment - I currently have an Acer al2216w which I got a fabulous deal on quite a few years ago. If I can keep it, awesome. If not, I'm planning on going up to two (or three) monitors anyway, so suggestions are welcome! (Don't factor that into the price.)

Additional Comments: These are my only real concerns/wants: I'd like an Intel i7, at least 12gb of ram, and an NVIDIA Quadro. (I've had terrible luck with the Radeon that's in my laptop, so I'd like to go with NVIDIA - I've never had a problem with them before.) Hopefully that's all possible. I'm also leaning away from SSD based on some things I've read, but I'd love to hear opinions.


Thank you all in advance!!
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  2. Hey,
    I recently did a similar build for animating in 3ds Max, Mudbox etc. I used a i7 2600k, got a Corsair Hydro H60 and have it overclocked to 5.2GhZ. I had a Quaddro 4000 previously and found the biggest factor in decreasing rendering times was by overclocking. Getting a GTX570 will give you fluid viewport movement, Ive been reading that the 580 has more CUDA than a lot of the quaddros so a 580 sli setup would be the best setup for the money. Im using a 6970 with no problems at the moment.

    Im also using 16GB Corsair Vengeance, a Thermaltake 750W silentPro Psu, and a Gigabyte Z68 board.

    Its been running like a dream the 6 months
  3. Hey thanks guys! That's really helpful.

    I don't have any experience in overclocking, so I guess the thought of it just freaked me out a bit. But if it's worth it, I'm definitely interested.

    Interesting bit about the 580...I'll look into that. I'd just been hearing quadro, quadro, quadro, so I figured it'd be a good bet.
  4. With the Intel® Core™ i7-2600K and a good board it can be very easy to overclock this processor. While it is possible to overclock the Intel Core i7-2600K and get a very good performance overclocking it not all of them will be able to reach 5.2GHz (most of them won’t). If you do a Goggle search you will find a number of guides on how to overclock this processor (including a good one on this site.) Also there a number of good air coolers that you can use and some of them may perform better than some water coolers.

    Christian Wood
    Intel Enthusiast Team

    Christian Wood
  5. Best answer
    As your requirements for 3d are huge, I'd recommend an overbuild. I agree with the i7 2600K chip. $320

    I recommend the ASRock Extreme 7 Gen 3 mobo for its storage ports (6 SATA 6.0GBps & 4 SATA3.0 GBps) as well as the NF200 video bridge chip which will provide 16 X 16 PCI (for maximum output for video rendering from dual video cards). $290

    Go with an overbuild on the PSU. I'd go with the Lepa gold PSU You will need it if you SLI/Xfire in the future. $179

    8 GB of RAM is better for gaming, but for lots of video intensive tasks you may want 16 GB of RAM. $100

    You will want at least 4 TB of storage for 3D modeling. 2 X these Hitachis chould do: 2 X $80=$160.


    Video: GTX 580 with liquidcooling and CPU cooling $650

    All this for under $2100.
  6. BTW you can reduce the size of the SSD or go to a single HDD or cut 8 GB of RAM to save money.
  7. A SSD is a must if you want a fast system. Reliability is an issue, my first SSD crashed within a month, but it makes a real performance difference. The one thing about running a SSD is to keep regular backups in case of a crash.
  8. This is super helpful, thank you all!

    @Chesteracorgi - I was tempted to sacrifice speed for stability and stay away from the SSD, but I think it might be worth it to have as a scratch disk and keep the 4tb for storage, like you mentioned.

    @IntelEnthusiast - Thanks for that! I'll look into some of those tutorials. You're not the first person I've heard say that liquid cooling isn't always the best choice. Can anyone enlighten me there? Is that really only necessary when overclocking or if you want a dead silent system? I mean, I don't want it to sound like there's a jet in my office, but I'm not overly concerned with noise at the moment.
  9. Best answer selected by sinfinity.
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