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New high-end workstation/gaming rig

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November 27, 2011 4:25:44 AM

Hello Tom's Hardware! Long time reader, now a member! I recently started my education as a Game Designer and now I'm in greater need of a computer than ever. I'm not really updated on the hardware front, because my last computer I built back in 2005. Since then I've built a couple computers for my friends, but that's it.


Approximate Purchase Date: Early February 2012

Budget Range: Unlimited, but I don't want it to be TOO much future proofed.

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Game Designing (Unity and Unreal Engine primarily), 3D Modeling (Maya, ZBrush etc), some Animation and Graphic Editing, Gaming

Parts Not Required: I need a monitor. Any tips for a good quality monitor around 24''?

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: www.newegg.com

Country: USA

Parts Preferences: Preferably Intel, but I'm open for suggestions. SSD or not? Here's the part where I need really need help.

Overclocking: Maybe

SLI or Crossfire: Probably.

Monitor Resolution: 1920x1200

Additional Comments: I would like it to be as quit as possible since I'm basically going to sleep next to it. (NOT A MUST)

Mybe something like this?

CPU: Intel Core i7-2600K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($279.99 @ Microcenter)
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-P67A-UD7-B3 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($269.99 @ NCIX US)
Memory: G.Skill Sniper Gaming Series 12GB (3 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($79.99 @ Newegg)
Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($189.00 @ Amazon)
Hard Drive: OCZ Agility 2 120GB 3.5" Solid State Disk ($172.53 @ Mac Connection)
Video Card: Galaxy GeForce GTX 580 1.5GB Video Card (2-Way SLI) ($439.99 @ Newegg)
Video Card: Galaxy GeForce GTX 580 1.5GB Video Card (2-Way SLI) ($439.99 @ Newegg)

As you can see it's going to be mainly a workstation but also a gaming rig from time to time.

Feel free to ask me anything and give critic/help!

- strutsbajs

Best solution

November 27, 2011 7:37:22 AM

You can get a 2TB drive from newegg for almost the same price.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I prefer the ASRock Extreme7 Gen3 in that price range over the Gigabyte that you chose. They're both good boards, though.

You should get an SSD if you can afford it, but I would go with a different one. The Crucial M4 128GB is my standard recommendation, but there's some competition lately. The Patriot Wildfire and Samsung 830 are also considered good drives. The M4 has proven itself reliable, though.

I don't know much about Galaxy, but I wouldn't trust them to make me a high-end video card. $440 is a good price, but a GTX580 is not the part that you want manufactured poorly. After a quick perusal of the listings on newegg I'd pick this Gigabyte:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
I'm not the biggest expert on video cards, though, so hopefully someone else can weigh in on that.

You didn't list a PSU or a case. Two 580's are going to put off a lot of heat and use a lot of power. I'd go with the Corsair HX1050, but whatever you choose make sure it's a high-powered PSU (at least 1000W) from a reputable manufacturer. Making a 1kW+ PSU is difficult and not many manufacturers do it well. I think the top tier is Corsair, Antec, and Seasonic. Some people put PC Power & Cooling and XFX in that group, too.

You need a case that can handle the heat of the two 580's and there aren't that many. The Silverstone Raven is a good one, but there are others
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
It got Tom's recommendation for best combination of price, noise, and heat dissipation.
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November 27, 2011 8:01:48 AM

danraies said:
You can get a 2TB drive from newegg for almost the same price.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I prefer the ASRock Extreme7 Gen3 in that price range over the Gigabyte that you chose. They're both good boards, though.

You should get an SSD if you can afford it, but I would go with a different one. The Crucial M4 128GB is my standard recommendation, but there's some competition lately. The Patriot Wildfire and Samsung 830 are also considered good drives. The M4 has proven itself reliable, though.

I don't know much about Galaxy, but I wouldn't trust them to make me a high-end video card. $440 is a good price, but a GTX580 is not the part that you want manufactured poorly. After a quick perusal of the listings on newegg I'd pick this Gigabyte:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
I'm not the biggest expert on video cards, though, so hopefully someone else can weigh in on that.

You didn't list a PSU or a case. Two 580's are going to put off a lot of heat and use a lot of power. I'd go with the Corsair HX1050, but whatever you choose make sure it's a high-powered PSU (at least 1000W) from a reputable manufacturer. Making a 1kW+ PSU is difficult and not many manufacturers do it well. I think the top tier is Corsair, Antec, and Seasonic. Some people put PC Power & Cooling and XFX in that group, too.

You need a case that can handle the heat of the two 580's and there aren't that many. The Silverstone Raven is a good one, but there are others
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
It got Tom's recommendation for best combination of price, noise, and heat dissipation.


A 5400rpm drive on a high end system O_o? That's one big nono

1000w+ psu? that's one hell of a waste. Without OC 650w is plenty, if you want to be safe and OC you could go for an 850w, but 1050w is seriously overkill, not to mention inefficient for the power levels he will draw.
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November 27, 2011 8:21:14 AM

650W for two 580's? That's one gigantic "nono." Nvidia recommends at least 600W for a single 580. 850W might be just enough for sli but it's not smart to risk it. 950W is probably comfortable but I wouldn't go under that. Based on your signature you're powering a gtx470 with an HX850? Talk about "one hell of a waste."

Also, the RPM of the storage drive barely makes a difference in most applications and I also linked to a Seagate 7200RPM anyway. It's obviously a bad idea to use a 5400RPM drive to boot, but it's fine for mass storage - that is what 5400RPM drives exist for.
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November 27, 2011 8:43:56 AM

470s consume the same amount of power as 580s. And yes I got 850w for 470 sli and oc, however seeing as I never met any gpu bottlenecks I ended up not getting the second 470. So yes I agree it was kind of a waste. Nevertheless I was planning on using 850w for 470sli whereas you reccomend 1050w for a system that consumes +/- 40w the same?

And yeah sorry did not see the second hdd link, but still 5400rpm would be a bad idea since you can never fit all your system files on 120gb. I have 300gb+ system files and counting. I currently run 1.2 tb raid0 for system files and 4tb 5400rpm for storage and I will get a 120gb ssd(maybe in raid0) soon for priority system files. I find that to be a very desirable setup.

http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/graphics/2011/06/03/ms...

as you can see a system with a 580gtx consumes 330w. And a 590gtx(essentially 2 580s) uses 500w. Granted this is not the worst case load senario(as the cpu is not fully stressed and the GPUs are not OC'd even UC'd in the 590 scenario which is why I reccomend 850w to leave the extra room.

And yes nvidia reccomends 600w for a single 580, intel also recommends we do not OC ....
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November 27, 2011 5:09:26 PM

First of all, a 590 is not just essentially two 580's in terms of power consumption.

Also, as you can see, in my link a 580 sli uses 719W and as we all know if you have a system that uses 719W then one will require a PSU with a significantly higher total wattage because that because the power gets pulled from several rails. As you can see, there is an estimated 522W drawn by the GPU's which is 43.5A and the cpu draws roughly 8A-10A. It is *very* easy to find an 850W PSU that only puts 60A on the +12V rail which is just barely enough and leaves no headroom.

There exist 850W power supplies that will do the job but let's not pretend like all 850W power supplies leave plenty of headroom. Some power supplies from some brands that are rated at 850W are probably enough, but there's nothing wrong with going 150W or so (I recommended 1kW) over the bare minimum in the case of an upgrade or in case the efficiency drops eventually or so it can be used in the next computer.

http://www.guru3d.com/article/geforce-gtx-580-sli-revie...
I can find several more supporting links if you want.

I don't like to be argumentative-forum-guy but it needs to be clear that 850W here is the bare minimum and 650W is not even close to sufficient.
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November 27, 2011 6:10:03 PM

First of all I mentioned a 590 is a UC'd 580 sli setup which is in terms of power consumption the only difference that matters.

I would never ever reccomend a 650w psu for a system like this, but the fact is a good 650w power supply can power gtx 580s in sli(without any OCs on anything). Even with your numbers(although I cannot believe the 470 sli nuymbers). Where the cpu has a reasonable OC, and like mentioned there are many cathodes, ... the system consumes just over 700w. Factor in the OC and lights and all and we are back at 650w. Now that is power from the wall, factor in effeciency and voila we are slightly over 600w.

Now I see where you are coming from and why one would go with 1kw PSUs, but it is unneccesary. I think I have proven that a 850w will do.

Another important factor is that efficiency is lower if your psu has a too high or too low wattage rating for the system.

That being said I see no point in going for 1kw however you won't suffer badly from it either. Let the op decide.
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November 27, 2011 8:36:17 PM

danraies said:
You can get a 2TB drive from newegg for almost the same price.
I don't know much about Galaxy, but I wouldn't trust them to make me a high-end video card. $440 is a good price, but a GTX580 is not the part that you want manufactured poorly. After a quick perusal of the listings on newegg I'd pick this Gigabyte:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
I'm not the biggest expert on video cards, though, so hopefully someone else can weigh in on that.


Thanks for the advice, will keep that in mind!

And about the PSU. I will probably go with the 1050W just because I can afford it. I know it's not really needed but as someone said, to save it for a future build.

The Silverstone Raven case looks great, will definitely look in to that! Do you have any other tips when it comes to cases? I can put in a little extra when choosing case, want it to look discrete and be as quiet as possible.

Thanks for the help guys.
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November 28, 2011 2:15:52 AM

If you're going to be doing design in Maya, etc. you probably want to look into either an Nvidia Quadro or AMD Firepro video card. You can check the Autodesk site for certified compatible cards. Would hate for you to shell out nearly $1,000 on cards that aren't best suited for your use.
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November 28, 2011 8:12:19 AM

For Maya use, the 'normal' Nvidia cards are fine, but keep in mind that you shouldn't count on SLI working in workstation 3d applications.

I'd also avoid the FirePro like the plague considering the problems I had with them while testing the HP machine.
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November 28, 2011 8:55:04 AM

Draven35 said:
For Maya use, the 'normal' Nvidia cards are fine, but keep in mind that you shouldn't count on SLI working in workstation 3d applications.


Yes, read a lot about it in another thread. Apparently it's not worth getting a professional graphic card compared to what the consumer cards has to offer. You get "more bang for the bucks" with a consumer graphic card as someone expressed it.

As you wrote and as I just relized; 3D applications and such don't use the SLI. Is it still worth getting the GTX 580 in SLI mode?

I also have a question about the future, don't know if anyone can tell however. Will nivida release a new series of graphic cards any soon?

Thanks for the help so far!
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November 28, 2011 8:57:57 AM

No, not really. Just get a 580 with as much memory as you can.
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November 28, 2011 1:25:46 PM

I doubt nvidia will release anything soon, fermi is a a very solid system. They may bring out some updated fermi cards, but if they design something entirely new we will probably know in advance. I would see no point in waiting for the next gen.

As for cases, in a system like this I would suggest a top end case. My preferences: silverstone FT02B(undisputed air cooling champion, also one of the quitest cases out there would have gotten it if it was full tower), lian li a71f(I've got this one, not much to say, it's the cleanest case you will ever see and it's dead silent), corsair 700d(designed mainly for watercooling though), atcs 840 and well anything else lian li.

I don't like windows maybe you do?

Cases are pieces of art. They are functionally fairly useless(yes they give a few buttons and interconnects and cooling, but that is somewaht minor imo) so take the one you like.
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November 28, 2011 6:02:15 PM

I agree with Somebody_007 that cases are mostly about personal preference, but with two 580's you'll need something that can dissipate a lot of heat. You need strong and sufficient fans for both intake and exhaust as well as enough room inside the case for the air to move. It is also good to have a fan or two right on the case by the graphics cards because they will be the hottest part.
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December 4, 2011 11:36:33 PM

Best answer selected by strutsbajs.
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