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Architecture Student 1,300$ Build for Rendering/CAD/Photoshop

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November 19, 2011 6:11:01 PM

Approximate Purchase Date: Anywhere from black Monday to mid December.

Budget Range: 800-1300

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Rendering with Vray (raytracing), 3D modeling, Photoshop CS5, AutoCAD 2012, Revit, Grasshopper, Lightroom, Indesign. I also write papers and listen to music and internet browse.

Parts Not Required: mouse, monitor, speakers, OS

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg.com, not very partial though. Living in Florida.

Country: USA

Parts Preferences: Intel CPU, Nvidia (CUDA) GPU, "Quality" PSU,

Overclocking: Maybe a little but not enough to make the system unstable.

SLI or Crossfire: Maybe

Monitor Resolution: Currently have a Samsung SyncMaster 731bf (1280x1024) 17". Eventually will be going to a 21" or 23" HD monitor.

Additional Comments: I do not like the gaming towers (lights etc.). This build will be sitting in my studio and I would like it to look as inconspicuous as possible.

Case:
Antec Three Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Processor:
Intel Core i7-2600K Sandy Bridge 3.4GHz (3.8GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Motherboard:
ASUS P8P67 (REV 3.1) LGA 1155 Intel P67
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PSU:
SeaSonic X Series X650 Gold ((SS-650KM Active PFC F3)) 650W ATX12V
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Ram:
G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Video Card:
PNY VCQ600-PB Quadro 600 1GB 128-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

SSD (for OS and programs):
Corsair Force Series 3 CSSD-F90GB3-BK 2.5" 90GB SATA III Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Hard Drive:
SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Optical Drive:
LITE-ON DVD Burner
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Wireless Card:
Rosewill RNX-N300 Wireless N Adapter IEEE 802.11b/g/n PCI (1T2R)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CPU Cooler:
COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Keyboard:
Rosewill RIKB-11001 X-Slim Keyboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Total: $1,268.88 including present rebates


The parts I'm not sure about are the graphics card and the integration between ram, processor, and motherboard.

I'm not a gamer and will not be using this computer for any kind of games. I'm worried for the price point on that card, if a gaming card will perform better in the 3d modeling realm than the workstation card. I don't have the budget now to drop $500-$800 on a video card. I'm currently using a Compaq Presario C300 and Ive been getting by for over a year now on the integrated graphics using Rhino and CAD.

From what Ive read, id have to overclock the ram to take advantage of a higher speed and that a lower latency is better. I'm more interested in a balance between stability and speed than OCing the piss out of the thing.

I originally had the build speced out with an EVGA card but decided to go with the workstation card after reading an article that basically said that a workstation card would suit my needs better.

I originally had the build speced out with an I5 2500K but decided to go with the I7 For hyper threading and additional power. Plus with a 145$ price difference I think it is fairly justified.

Additionally, Id like for this build to last a few years and be forward compatible with the up and coming technology. I do realize that as soon as you buy something its already on its way out. I would like for this to last through grad school (Ill be done in 3.5 to 4 years) with some upgrades along the way (16gb ram, better GPU, upgrade processor if possible).

Any places to trim some fat without sacrificing a ton of performance? I'm open to all suggestions. Also, do I need extra fans or cables? It appears everything is included. I have some Arctic Sliver thermal paste leftover from a CPU swap on the C300.

Current computer: Compaq C300, Intel T1350 1.86GHz, 2GB RAM, 250GB 7200RPM HD, Windows XP 32bit.

Thank you in advance!

Christian
November 19, 2011 6:44:26 PM

Quote:
I originally had the build speced out with an EVGA card but decided to go with the workstation card after reading an article that basically said that a workstation card would suit my needs better.


Not necessarily - you can use gaming hardware with workstation software - the software isn't GPU specific. However, you can't play games on workstation hardware - the hardware isn't tweaked for gaming performance. And video card manufacturers are aware of this and tweak their products accordingly. I use a Sapphire Radeon 5800 in my workstation and it handles everything I need it for. On my network we use a variety of workstation and "gaming" graphics cards and we've never experienced the software acting differently on anything.

And most Autodesk products - including 3-D Revit - don't even come close to using the full CPU load on an SB workstation, nor do they take advantage of hyperthreading yet - I use 2011 LT with an i3-2100 - even on full redraws it doesn't come close.

Quote:
From what Ive read, id have to overclock the ram to take advantage of a higher speed and that a lower latency is better. I'm more interested in a balance between stability and speed than OCing the piss out of the thing.


NO. NO. Overclocking your RAM not only doesn't do much in terms of how well your PC performs, it has the potential to fry your motherboard. What the motherboard will do is that it will always take your RAM and run it at the lowest speed it can handle. You can default it to stock speeds but I wouldn't run it higher than that.

CPU is a bit overkill - most Autodesk products don't use hyperthreading yet - even Revit. Drop that down to an i5-2500K and you should be good to go. Instead use the difference and get a 64GB Crucial M4, and store all your programs and everything else on the Spinpoint - I use a pretty similar setup with an i3-2120.

Try this build - it's pretty similar to what I use:

Case: Corsair Carbide 400R - $89.99
PSU: Seasonic X650 Gold Certified - $129.99
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z68XP-UD3P - $169.99
CPU: 3.30GHz Intel Core i5-2500K - $219.99
Cooler: Corsair CFA70 - $38.99
RAM: G.Skill Ripjaw 8GB (4 x 2GB) DDR3 SDRAM 1600MHz - $44.99
SSD: 64GB Crucial M4 - $114.99
HD: Samsung Spinpoint 1TB - $159.99
Video Card: EVGA Geforce GTX 560TI - $249.99
Optical: Lite On 24X DVD Burner - $19.99

Total: $1255.99
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November 19, 2011 6:47:43 PM

Here's what I put on my CAD operator's desks for their home machines:

Case - $ 105 - Antec 902 V3 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
PSU - $ 90 - XFX Core Edition 850 PSU http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
MoBo - $ 180 - ASUS P8Z68-V/GEN3 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
CPU - $ 220 - Intel Core i5-2500K http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Cooler - $ 50 - Scythe Mugen 3 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
RAM - $ 50 - (2 x 4GB) Corsair CAS 9 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
GFX - $ 225 - Asus GTX 560 Ti 900 Mhz http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
GFX - - Same
HD - $ 120 - Seagate Barracuda ST31000524AS 1TB http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
SSD - $ 190 - OCZ Vertex 3 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
DVD Writer - $ 19 - Asus 24X http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$1249

ATI cards have historically been way way behind in 2D Drafting performance so we are an Nvidia only shop.

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/2d-windows-gdi,2539...

The reason we use regular GeForce cards is that they can be unlocked to use CUDA and also can serve double as a family PC with solid gaming performance
Here's how to make ya card doubly effective:

http://www.studio1productions.com/Articles/PremiereCS5....

Yes, fast RAM, low CAS RAM does have noticeable effect on AutoCAD performance
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Related resources
November 19, 2011 10:20:28 PM

A couple of other things I wanted to point out in the OP but didn't get to:

Quote:

SSD (for OS and programs):
Corsair Force Series 3 CSSD-F90GB3-BK 2.5" 90GB SATA III Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6820233204


Stay away from the Force 3 - the lower end models seem to have a lot of BSOD issues. I've heard that Corsair has cleaned up the firmware on the drive but I don't know if I'd trust it or not yet. But the low SSD / Spinpoint is the way to go.

Quote:
I originally had the build speced out with an I5 2500K but decided to go with the I7 For hyper threading and additional power. Plus with a 145$ price difference I think it is fairly justified.


No it isn't. You only need hyper threading if you're doing a ton of multimedia editing. Even 3-D engineering programs don't take full advantage of hyper threading yet. If you're using Adobe CS4 I'd say it's justified but for CAD/CAM/Excel/MS Office it isn't.

Quote:
I'm not a gamer and will not be using this computer for any kind of games. I'm worried for the price point on that card, if a gaming card will perform better in the 3d modeling realm than the workstation card. I don't have the budget now to drop $500-$800 on a video card. I'm currently using a Compaq Presario C300 and Ive been getting by for over a year now on the integrated graphics using Rhino and CAD.


You don't need a professional card. Those are only specifically made for 3-D workstations. Since you'll be using 2-D CAD/CAM programs for the time being you could actually get away with a low end Radeon 5450 and be perfectly fine. I wouldn't recommend it but it's worked before. Go with an EVGA or Sapphire card - it'll handle everything you need perfectly fine.

Quote:
Additionally, Id like for this build to last a few years and be forward compatible with the up and coming technology. I do realize that as soon as you buy something its already on its way out. I would like for this to last through grad school (Ill be done in 3.5 to 4 years) with some upgrades along the way (16gb ram, better GPU, upgrade processor if possible).


If you get a Z68 that should last you with minimum upgrades for the next 3 - 4 years. What AMD proved with the Bulldozer processors is that the technology isn't always getting better. More cores in a CPU doesn't mean it's going to perform better. A quad core will last a long time. I'm still using an X58 and it will handle any game and any thing I can throw at it. What you want to look for in choosing a motherboard is if it's PCI-e X3.0, SATA-6, and USB 3.0. It's impossible to tell what's going to be down the road in that time but once you get a build up and running in 2 - 3 years all you'll have to do is swap the motherboard, CPU, and RAM and that will be it.

Quote:

Wireless Card:
Rosewill RNX-N300 Wireless N Adapter IEEE 802.11b/g/n PCI (1T2R)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6833166038


Don't include small items like a Wifi adapter in your budget. Spend it on the hardware, then get the small items.
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November 19, 2011 11:11:38 PM

From what i understand about 2D CAD is that a relatively simple GPU will run it decently. My ancient Compaq runs autocad 2012 reasonably well on the integrated graphics. My main use for this computer is for 3d modeling and rendering first. From what I'm reading, Vray supports hyperthreading and can have a 20% increase all the way up to 30% over non HT CPUs.

I also found this, its not worth a whole lot but at least its worth a look,
http://vimeo.com/20094162

Is the Hyper 212 cooler bad? In not planning on OCing hard and might not even OC at all both of you suggested higher priced coolers.

Plus this: http://www.cgarchitect.com/news/Reviews/Review076_1.asp
While looking at it, the Radeon HD5870 excels in Autocad, the similarly priced Quadro FX1800 performs more consistently across the board.

The 560 isint even up there but from what I'e read it performs well in the 3D modeling realm. I'm going to switch some things up and see what i come up with.

Thank you for you input!
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November 19, 2011 11:13:31 PM

Sandforce BSOD issues are over:

http://www.anandtech.com/show/4973/sandforce-identifies...

As far as the 2500k / 2600k issue......with "InDesign" on the list, 2600k and HT is obviously the way to go if you want to take full advantage of that application. For example, when exporting large documents to PDF. It hands off the PDF export to another processor thread while you continue your work.

I use multiple boots, selectable thru the BIOS......4.6Ghz with HT on for apps that benefit from HT and 4.8 Ghz w/HT off for those that don't.
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November 19, 2011 11:19:16 PM

VRay will wad any processor up with a intense render. I realize that its more about having a balanced system but the render times are lower with the I7-2600 vs the I5-2500.
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November 20, 2011 4:07:25 PM

Quote:
While looking at it, the Radeon HD5870 excels in Autocad, the similarly priced Quadro FX1800 performs more consistently across the board.


Quadros are RIDICULOUSLY overpriced and they don't really offer much difference in terms of performance. You could get away with a Radeon 6790 and be perfectly fine. Where I work - all we use are Autodesk products (including 3-D Revit and the latest AutoCAD) and we use a wide variety of GPUs, CPUs, and system configurations. We've been able to get away with the bare minimum even using AutoCAD 2011. I'm the only SB workstation on the network so far and I've been able to get away with a dual core i3-2100 and a Radeon 5800, and I don't come close to using the full CPU load even on heavy redraws. I'd say go with a 6790 and save yourself some money.


Quote:
Is the Hyper 212 cooler bad? In not planning on OCing hard and might not even OC at all both of you suggested higher priced coolers.


Not a bad choice at all, it's what I use on my workstation and runs perfectly fine. The Corsair fan that I chose actually has 2 x 120mm PWM fans where the Hyper 212 only has one. I run two fans off of mine - I used a spare Antec fan from an old build and hooked the rails on it, that's not bad at all.

Quote:
From what i understand about 2D CAD is that a relatively simple GPU will run it decently. My ancient Compaq runs autocad 2012 reasonably well on the integrated graphics. My main use for this computer is for 3d modeling and rendering first. From what I'm reading, Vray supports hyperthreading and can have a 20% increase all the way up to 30% over non HT CPUs.


I've never used Vray but for most engineering programs and anything Autodesk makes, you don't need hyper threading. Most engineering programs are so far behind the hardware that you could actually get away with a 775 and still be fine. :lol: 

Quote:
I also found this, its not worth a whole lot but at least its worth a look,
http://vimeo.com/20094162


Whoa... you're looking at GPUs that are wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy overkill. You don't need either of them for most of those programs. I work in an engineering firm and we use like the bare minimum. We can't afford 580s or Quaddros and we get away perfectly fine.
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