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New Workstation Build - i7 vs. Xeon E5 2640

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March 28, 2012 1:58:18 AM

Hi All,

I'm looking to build a post-production workstation. I'm switching from the Mac platform to a PC because of increased options/performance for the money. This will be my first build. My biggest concern in regards to performance is renders in After Effects and ability to grade HD+ footage in Resolve.

I have a few question areas - specifically CPU, GPU, Storage and RAID.

Approximate Purchase Date: (1-3 Months)

Budget Range: (5000-6000)

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Workstation: Avid, After Effects, DaVinci Resolve. Secondary: Autodesk Entertainment Creation Suite (Maya)

Parts Not Required: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: (newegg.com, suggestions?)

Country: USA

Build:

(CPU) Not sure if the E5 will be a boost in performance with its lower frequency

Intel Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition Sandy Bridge-E 3.3GHz (3.9GHz Turbo) LGA 2011 130W Six-Core Desktop Processor BX80619i73960X

or

(2X)Intel Xeon E5-2640 Sandy Bridge-EP 2.5GHz LGA 2011 95W Six-Core Server Processor BX80621E52640

or

Intel Core i7-3930K Sandy Bridge-E 3.2GHz (3.8GHz Turbo) LGA 2011 130W Six-Core Desktop Processor BX80619i73930K

(GPU): It seems the 680 outspecs the quadro, but any input appreciated.

(1x and eventually purchase a second) PNY VCQ4000-PB Quadro 4000 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready Workstation Video Card

or

(2x) PNY VCGGTX680XPB GeForce GTX 680 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card

Storage:

(OS and Application Drive)


(2X, RAID): Intel 520 Series Cherryville SSDSC2CW060A3K5 2.5" 60GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

or

(1X): Intel 520 Series Cherryville SSDSC2CW120A3K5 2.5" 120GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

(Media Drives) : My biggest concern is speed with these drives. Does RAID 0 make sense? Also, how does SSD Caching work. Can I have 1 SSD (60GB) work as a cache for 1 or 2 separate RAIDs? Can I use one controller card for multiple raids (i.e. 2 SSD for OS, and 2 separate Arrays made of 2x2TB drives a piece?)

(2 or 3X) Seagate Cheetah 15K.7 ST3600057SS 600GB 15000 RPM SAS 6Gb/s 3.5" Internal Enterprise Hard Drive -Bare Drive

or

(4x) Seagate Barracuda XT ST32000641AS 2TB 7200 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

RAID Controller:

Not sure about which RAID controller to purchase.

Memory:

I want 64GB of memory. Most likely 1600MHz. Any suggestions on reliable memory?

Cooling:

I'm a little concerned about cooling with this system, especially if I have two video cards. Any suggestions greatly appreciated.

COOLER MASTER HAF 932 Advanced RC-932-KKN5-GP Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case with USB 3.0, Black Interior and Four Fans-1x ...

CORSAIR H100 (CWCH100) Extreme Performance Liquid CPU Cooler
Item #: N82E16835181017

Overclocking: Maybe

SLI or Crossfire: No

Thanks!

:pt1cable: 
March 28, 2012 3:33:36 AM

Quote:
(CPU) Not sure if the E5 will be a boost in performance with its lower frequency

Intel Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition Sandy Bridge-E 3.3GHz (3.9GHz Turbo) LGA 2011 130W Six-Core Desktop Processor BX80619i73960X

or

(2X)Intel Xeon E5-2640 Sandy Bridge-EP 2.5GHz LGA 2011 95W Six-Core Server Processor BX80621E52640

or

Intel Core i7-3930K Sandy Bridge-E 3.2GHz (3.8GHz Turbo) LGA 2011 130W Six-Core Desktop Processor BX80619i73930K

I believe the Xeons will give you somewhat of an edge, but then again the new i7s are strong performers as well. Another option could be 2x3930Ks on an EVGA SR-X motherboard... :) 

Quote:
(GPU): It seems the 680 outspecs the quadro, but any input appreciated.

(1x and eventually purchase a second) PNY VCQ4000-PB Quadro 4000 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready Workstation Video Card

or

(2x) PNY VCGGTX680XPB GeForce GTX 680 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card

The Quadros have special drivers that give you performance boosts in professional applications (OpenGL, etc). The GeForce drivers are really tweaked for gaming performance, so even though they have better raw specs, they're not efficiently programmed for workstation tasks. Quadros also have larger memory flavors (4GB+).

Quote:
Storage:

(OS and Application Drive)


(2X, RAID): Intel 520 Series Cherryville SSDSC2CW060A3K5 2.5" 60GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

or

(1X): Intel 520 Series Cherryville SSDSC2CW120A3K5 2.5" 120GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

RAID 0 should give you a pretty good speed boost, but then again you probably won't see too much of a difference since the drives are already SATA III. Either way the 520s are a good choice.

Quote:
(Media Drives) : My biggest concern is speed with these drives. Does RAID 0 make sense? Also, how does SSD Caching work. Can I have 1 SSD (60GB) work as a cache for 1 or 2 separate RAIDs? Can I use one controller card for multiple raids (i.e. 2 SSD for OS, and 2 separate Arrays made of 2x2TB drives a piece?)

(2 or 3X) Seagate Cheetah 15K.7 ST3600057SS 600GB 15000 RPM SAS 6Gb/s 3.5" Internal Enterprise Hard Drive -Bare Drive

or

(4x) Seagate Barracuda XT ST32000641AS 2TB 7200 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

Not really sure about the enterprise drive. You might want to find benchmarks on those. RAID 0 will increase you read speeds but not write speeds.

I don't think you'll benefit from caching, but I've never heard of it being used for a rendering workstation.


Quote:
RAID Controller:

Not sure about which RAID controller to purchase.

Generally there are ones built in to motherboards, but it never hurts to research them and add-on RAID cards.

Quote:
Memory:

I want 64GB of memory. Most likely 1600MHz. Any suggestions on reliable memory?

G.Skill, Corsair, and Mushkin are the top 3 I'd buy. Kingston doesn't like making anything below 1.65V without charging a premium on it, and Patriot is rather pricey.

Quote:
Cooling:

I'm a little concerned about cooling with this system, especially if I have two video cards. Any suggestions greatly appreciated.

COOLER MASTER HAF 932 Advanced RC-932-KKN5-GP Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case with USB 3.0, Black Interior and Four Fans-1x ...

CORSAIR H100 (CWCH100) Extreme Performance Liquid CPU Cooler
Item #: N82E16835181017

The HAF 932 is a great case, but depending on if you go with a workstation or desktop motherboard you might have to change the case. Workstation/server boards have a different standard than desktop boards and won't fit in the HAF.

The H100 isn't really necessary - as long as you have good airflow (like in a good case like the HAF 932) you can stick with a solid air cooler. Even the $30 Hyper 212+ would be plenty in a good cooling setup.

Also, keep in mind the Quadros have a TDP lower than GeForce GPUs.
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