PCs for surface modelling and rendering

Good morning!

Having just had enough of overpriced Apple hardware after too many years of brand loyalty, we decided to toss it all out before this year ends and build our own PCs for surface modelling and rendering - no 3D games will be played on 'em, no 2D movies will be watched, not even music played in the background...

After consulting this very educational site for a week, we ordered most of the parts below, thinking that with the two configurations below, we're just hitting the current price/performance sweet-spot. And, having been lobotomised consumers before, PC building will probably a good learning experience, whilst being an affordable option to upgrade equipment in this harsh financial climate. Of course, modding lurks just aroung the corner now - I'm already contemplating the right shade of blue for SATA cables and zip-ties matching the ASUS colour scheme ;)

559,00 Intel Core i7-3930K
232,75 ASUS P9X79 PRO
 65,00 Noctua NH-D14 2011
 16,83 Noctua NF-P12
 73,08 Kingston KHX1600C9D3K4/16GX
117,00 Samsung SpinPoint F4 EcoGreen 2TB SATA II
179,00 Samsung SSD 830 Series 128GB SATA III
151,09 ATI FirePro V4900 1GB
 23,80 TP-LINK TL-WN951N
100,90 Corsair HX 650W ATX 2.2
 99,90 Fractal Design Define R3 Arctic White
472,43 HP LP2475w
 24,18 Lite-On iHAS624
109,00 SB Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64Bit SP1

2223,96 (EUR - "workstation" and rendering PC)

273,16 Intel Core i7-2600K
163,63 ASUS P8Z68-V PRO/GEN3
 48,30 Thermalright Silver Arrow
  6,98 Thermalright TY-140
114,90 Samsung SpinPoint F4 EcoGreen 2TB SATA II
 73,08 Kingston KHX1600C9D3K4/16GX
100,90 Corsair HX 650W ATX 2.2
 99,90 Fractal Design Define R3 Arctic White
109,00 SB Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64Bit SP1

989,85 (EUR - "beheaded" render-node)

149,00 Filco Majestouch 2 MX brown/tactile Swedish layout (oh, well... why not go all the way?)

So, is this stuff reasonable in terms of price/performance and, also important, upgradeability? Or should one already replace parts or refuse delivery those yet undelivered?

Thank you very much in advance!
12 answers Last reply
More about surface modelling rendering
  1. You went a bit overboard on the PSUs, but it's not going to hurt anything :)

    Given your occupation and Apple history the aesthetics are understandable, but I would have recommended some nice brushed aluminum cases from Lian Li or Silverstone. Or Corsair.

    That's the extent of my criticisms :)
  2. Proximon said:
    You went a bit overboard on the PSUs, but it's not going to hurt anything :)

    Given your occupation and Apple history the aesthetics are understandable, but I would have recommended some nice brushed aluminum cases from Lian Li or Silverstone. Or Corsair.

    That's the extent of my criticisms :)

    Well, yes, there's still quite some residual Apple bacteria in the bloodstream; but now that SAAB is dead and VOLVO Chinese, it had to be a Swedish case, which is made in China ;)

    I saw in another post here to go for a slightly more powerful PSU in case of future upgrades - for an ATI FirePro V7900, for example.

    The smaller Lian-Li cases are very nice indeed, their full aluminium construction befits cooling and allows for anodisation; black chrome or brass would have looked great on the PC-A04 or PC-A05N.
  3. What Proximon said , plus RAM with tighter timings may have been worth the extra cost

    Possibly too , the machine without an SSD could use a 40 gig cache SSD to speed load and boot times . The green drive is a little slower than a conventional drive

    Add some good realtime back up software, and some kind of networked storage . Perhaps just an external USB 3 hard drive
  4. My recommendation would involve taking the firepro and using it for sporting clays practice. I have no disrespect for ATI/AMD's graphics cards performance wise, but i just don't trust their opengl drivers.
  5. Well yes, big memory intensive tasks can benefit from better RAM. I recall doing the math one time for someone and it gave them an extra week every year.

    NAS in another room is a great way to keep a backup, and Win 7 Pro makes it simple.
  6. From other posts I flicked through, I had the impression that RAM speed is actually not making so much of a difference? The decapitated machine is just rendering with interval saves so I thought a sluggish large Samsung will do. The FirePro I already bought after having had a go with it; we have to use graphics cards from software vendor's approved list and Maxwell Render does not benefit from Nvidia's CUDA cores, for example. But, if it fails, I'm certainly keen to blend it ;)
  7. Maxwell Render doesn't currently use the graphics card at all... but you want a stable card in your workstation that is doing the authoring.
  8. RAM speed and latency don't make any significant difference to gamers or general office tasks. It's only bragging rights there.

    RAM performance can make a difference, possibly, for you. There is not much info on programs like Solidworks and almost no benchmarking. Take a look at these two pages, and consider what a possible 3% time reduction might be worth (I consider that very possible) Also think a bit about potential larger time savings that might be possible, but are less likely.

    (this is an older test but still applicable to modern systems)

  9. There's almost no benchmarks because its $4500 and Dassault doesn't like handing out eval copies to mere mortals.
  10. Yes, that's why the render nodes are left decapitated, administered only via remote desktop. The ATI FirePro V4900 works very well when I checked briefly with Solidworks and Alias - but maybe later, probably much later, I'd like to get the V7900, hence my choice of PSU. From what the 3DS Max and Photoshop benchmarks show, I rather skip the bragging option coming with faster RAM and go ahead with these cozy Kingstons :)

    ps: if someone mails me the full range of FirePros and Quadros, I'm happy to benchmark them with Dassault's and Autodesk's offering :D
  11. Hi!
    I'm grateful that you have as much info on your posts as you do! I'm in the process of upgrading several of our artroom workstations that rely heavily on Maxwel Render. We just upgraded one station from a 6 core AMD Phenom II 1090T to the FX 8 core (8150) and saw amazing performance gains in that one step alone.
    My question is how to get the biggest bang from our buck to do this for a few more stations.

    I'm open to new motherboard and CPU combinations as well - our local vendor is still of the frame of mind that a good i7 will still beat anything AMD can do but I'm more about value and performance.
    When Maxwel Render is going full tilt all 8 cores are operating and at very high levels - this is contrary to what I've read that says that it will underutilize that many cores. Also the comments about Video Card performance becomes moot too if what I read in this stream is correct about Maxwel not using any GPU power. (again contrary to what I read about nVidia and CUDA and performance gains) - glad I didn't get them new video cards to boot!

    I realize that bleeding edge hardware is only good until the competition comes out with the next best thing. I want to give the staff something to be proud of that can give amazing performance without breaking the bank - Motherboard and CPU/RAM is all that I need to change out at this point.

    The way I look at it I have 3 choices:
    - Upgrade to FX 8 cores (cheap and easy)
    - AMD Opteron 12/16 core CPU with new mobo (do more cores really = faster renders past 8?)
    - Intel Xeon CPU with new mobo (less cores but potentially faster clock)

    (should I even consider the Extreme Edition i7?)

    Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!
    Thanks in advance :)
  12. Well, I'm using Maxwell Render 2.6.0/1 professionally (<10 licenses) and in a design education context (>30 licenses). What - from my experience - I would say is this:

    1. Maxwell Render does not benefit from a CUDA enabled graphics card
    2. Maxwell Render utilises any core it can find on the local machine and on the network (node licenses necessary for the latter); very simple: more cores = better performance
    3. The current price/performance sweet spot is with the i7-2600K and the i7-3930K
    4. The i7-3960X (twice the price of the i7-3930K) is only 17% faster
    5. Faster (expensive) DIMMs than 1333MHz save approx. 7 minutes in 24 hours rendering - useless
    6. The non-gamer ASUS motherboards, if used with EZ-Mode "Optimal" overclocking for dummies, are reliable 24/7 and the speed gain is approx. 1GHz whilst keeping temperature low
    7. For reliability, fiddling with the BIOS I would not recommend, the "Optimal" mode gains 25% speed already
    8. The Xeons are not so very much faster than the i7-3930K to justify their extortionate price (and the more expensive motherboard to boot)
    9. I have no knowledge about AMD processor's performance
    10. A newer, faster, snazzier product always appears the very day after your purchase - buy now when you need it

    Hope that helps ;)
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