Should I upgrade or buy a new rig?

Hey guys, I do a lot of 3D graphics and rendering in Blender and Zbrush, occasionally gaming. I've never been one to have the fastest rig out there, and can settle for less, however I really want to speed up my rendering times.

The other day Blender (www.blender.org) a 3D modelling app just released an updated version which allows for GPU rendering, or CPU rendering. The GPU rendering is a bit faster on my rig, but still not quite where I want to be.

Here's what I'm running:

AMD Phenom II X4 925 2.8 GHZ Quad Core
Nvidia Geforce GTS 250 1 GB
6.0GB Dual-Channel DDR2 @ 399MHz
Win 7 Home 64 bit


I'm wondering if I should just upgrade my GPU, or go with a whole new system. The AMD processor, while not bad, isn't quite amazing, but it works. I'm looking at some HP computers:

HP Pavilion HPE h8z series
AMD FX-8100 eight-core processor [2.8GHz, 8MB L2/8MB L3 Cache]
8GB DDR3-1333MHz
Nvidia GTX 550 TI


$1,059.99

Or

HP Pavilion HPE h8se series
Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-970 six-core [3.2GHz, 1.5MB L2 + 12MB shared L3 cache]
12GB DDR3-1066MHz
Nvidia GTX 550 TI


$1,609.99


Either that or I just buy a Geforce GTX 560 ($239.99) and hope i get a good speed upgrade.

What is your professional opinion?
3 answers Last reply
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  1. I am no expert on rendering apps.
    But, it looks to me like the 2500K is about the best price performer out there for most everything., particularly if overclocked.
    The 2600K is a better value if your apps are capable of using many threads.


    You might look at Anandtech bench to see how various cpu's do:
    http://www.anandtech.com/bench/CPU/27

    If your app can use "quicksync", then that might be very good also. You need to do some google research there.
    You would want a Z68 based motherboard for that.

    It is not clear to me if you want to buy a pre-built, or if you will build/upgrade your own.
    On a higher end pc, it is usually cheaper and better to select your own parts and build your own.
  2. I'd skip the store bought stuff and use a custom builder or build yaself a Sandy Bridge based system. Trying to stay under $1500 .....

    Case - $ 135 - Antec DF-85 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129087
    Case Fan - $ Later - Antec Red 120 mm http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835209013
    PSU - $ 115 - Antec CP-850 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817371024
    MoBo - $ 190 - ASUS P8Z68-V/GEN3 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131792
    CPU - $ 220 - Intel Core i5-2500K http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115072
    Cooler - $ 50 - Hyper 612 PWM http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835103103
    RAM - $ 46 - (2 x 4GB) Corsair Vengeance http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820233186
    GFX - $ 230 - Asus GTX 560 (900MHz) http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814121424
    GFX - Later - Same
    HD - $ 140 - Spinpoint F3 1TB http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822152185
    SSD - $ 184 - Mushkin Chronos Deluxe 120 GB http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820226236
    DVD Writer - $ 59 - Asus 24X DRW-24B3L w/ LS http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827135247
    OS - $ 100 - Win 7-64 Home Premium OEM http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832116986

    That's $1,484

    Adding the 2nd GFX card and case fan will get ya a 75% increase in fps when ya ready.

    Note that, out of the current generation cards, CUDA is only officially supported on the 570 and 580. But ya can unlock CUDA on the 560 by using the technique here:

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

    Otherwise, an extra $80 or so will get ya a 570.


    http://wiki.blender.org/index.php/Doc:2.6/Manual/Render/Cycles/GPU_Rendering
  3. Double RAM to 16 GB. A 2500K is a good start, but the 2600K is better. You'll see a huge improvement on render times based on that alone.

    As far as GPU, a 560 will see massive gains over your 250 GT.

    What exactly is your budget?
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