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Looking to build a new workstation with $3000 - $4000 budget

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April 11, 2012 5:23:42 PM

Approximate Purchase Date: The next week or two

Budget Range: $3000 - $4000 after rebates

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Workstation - Photoshop CS5, Illustrator CS5, Vegas Video 10, Cubase

Parts Not Required: Keyboard, mouse, speakers, Windows 7, optical drive

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Newegg, Amazon

Country: USA

Parts Preferences: No real preference

Overclocking: No

SLI or Crossfire: Not sure if I need one of them?

Monitor Resolution: 1920x1200 (at least two, possibly three monitors)

Additional Comments: I am looking to build a new workstation to replace my old Dell Precision 690. That machine is running dual 3.2 GHz Xenon processors with 12 GB of RAM and roughly 4 TB of hard disk space (RAID 1). I'm thinking that another dual-processor i7 or similar setup would be good.

I do a TON of high-resolution image editing and resampling (images range from 6000 x 6000 pixels to 10,000 x 10,000 pixels), HD video editing and multitrack audio recording and editing, so a lot of RAM and disk space are important. I don't do any gaming at all on this system.

I have built many machines in the past and I am comfortable working on computers in general. That said, it's been 4 or 5 years since the last one. Wow have things changed! :)  Stability, speed and storage space are the things I'm most concerned with in this build, as is some degree of future-proofing. I have had my Precision 690 for around 5 years and would like to keep this one for a similar duration.

Please let me know if I left anything out and I'll add whatever info I forgot.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions or configurations -- I'm completely lost with all the new technologies that are out there these days!
April 12, 2012 3:34:30 PM

Nobody wants to help spend my money? ;-)
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a b B Homebuilt system
April 13, 2012 1:15:32 PM

for your kind of work and you also need monitors.


ether go with those 27" ips x3 and build a 1400$ system

or build a 3000$ system and spend 1000$ on monitors


ips is the best choice for the colour accuracy and picture perfect quality



intel i7 3930k

asus sabertooth x79

corsair vengence 4x8 gb 1600mhz ddr3 low profile ram

cm hyper 212 evo

pny quadro 4000

seasonic x 850 w 80+ gold

cm cosmos ii

intel 520 180 gb ssd

2 x wd carvier black 1tb hdd for work files in raid 1

1 x seagate 3tb hdd

3 x asus pro art 24" 1920x1200 ips monitor
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April 19, 2012 5:37:48 PM

I think I'd like to get the most system for the money now and then add monitors in a couple months. I've got a trio of decent Dell 24" monitors that will work for now.

That said, the Aasus Sabertooth x79 appears to be a single-processor motherboard, correct? Ideally I'd like a dual-processor board to take advantage of multi-processor support in such applications as Photoshop, Vegas, etc.

So, excluding monitors, what's a good workstation build for my $4K? I'm ready to pull the trigger at any time.

Thanks again!
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April 19, 2012 7:46:30 PM

Was also looking at this Xeon W3680 Westmere-EP processor, but one of the reviews said something about it not working on a dual-CPU motherboard. Could that be right?
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a b B Homebuilt system
April 20, 2012 5:38:59 AM

it is that photoshop will take as much cpu and cores you can through as you can.

currently no consumer software supports more that 16cores. and photoshop doesnt need hyperthreading at all.

so a 2 processor system is a overkill.

instead the system i suggested will run photoshop faster than the 2p system because quadro will help to draw images faster and reduce the render time.

also if you want to make photoshop fast then add quadro for fast and accurate drawing and ssd to open the files and programs faster.

also 16gb will be enough ram for you if not then 4x8gb kit is what you need thats why i suggested before.


for the hptx motherboard you suggested is very old.

evga srx is gonna release soon and will support new sandy bridge xeons.

check out these

EVGA Classified SR-X

Intel Xeon E5-2650 Sandy Bridge-EP 2.0GHz 20MB L3 Cache LGA 2011 95W 8-Core Server Processor

happy to help :D 

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April 20, 2012 2:24:19 PM

Very cool, thanks for the help!

My thinking on the dual-processor board is that I want to keep this machine for at least 5 years (like my current workstation), and I'm trying to future-proof to some degree. My guess is that more and more apps will take better advantage of two CPUs in the future.

Also, I'm also running Sony Vegas Video 10 for video and Cubase 5 for audio on the same machine, so it's not just Photoshop/Illustrator that I'm worried about.

Does any of this change your advice on the single-processor setup?

Thanks again!
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a b B Homebuilt system
April 20, 2012 4:17:15 PM

for next few years or till 2015 only single cpu pcs will be fully compatible.

a 6core will be enough for 3 years as software writers always present specs 2 gens before todays hardware.
E.g., cs6 will support 1 gen i3,i5,i7 and at some extent core2 duo AND QUADS.

also it will support 3 rd gen and possibly forth gen hardware by updates.


sony vegas 10 and cubas 5 still dosent exceed consumption upto 2 processor configuration.

6 core will be enough for 3 years or upgradw to ive bridge-E 8 core processor after 1-2 years.

the choice is yours.

video editing is dependent on cpu as well as gpu .

eg for photoshop = 60:40

maya = 90:10 for render and 70:30 for normal use and 40:60 for real time ray tracing.

the comparasion is cpu:gpu.

all comparisons are not accurate and may vary . it is just to give sence of comparison.

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April 20, 2012 4:44:56 PM

Thanks, that definitely helps! Knowing all that, would your original recommendations change as far as spending $3500 to $4000 on a system only? I'll purchase new monitors separately in 3 - 6 months.
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a b B Homebuilt system
April 20, 2012 5:38:00 PM

for that my recommendation changes to

http://secure.newegg.com/WishList/PublicWishDetail.aspx...

the build is a bit out of budget but i made few changes.


1. motherboard

the sabertooth was a nice one with rugged design but it was ment for gamers .

ws series or workstation is better in each and every way. it has 4-way sli , cfx , quadro and tesla ready , stable platform and lots more.

2. power supply

i changed the power supply to pc power and cooling silencer mkii 950w because its 950w 80+ silver psu @120 bucks after mail in rebates.

3. hard drive

2 x seagate 1 tb hdd in raid 1 will ensure that your precious data is not lost and will be safe even if the drive gets failed.

1 x seagate 3tb will give you all the space to store the high resolution images you are gonna use and those HD videos and audio will eat 100gb for breakfast will last for long.

crucial m4 128gb ssd will give enough space to accomodate photoshop , illastrator , vegas , etc and os to speed up to light fasting response time.

4. case

cosmosii is a mamoth and a case ever wanted. it can accomodate a varitie or hardware and cool it efficiently.

5. gpu

quadro 5000 is what you want to edit videos and pictures and turn you skill into master piece.


i again tried to fit an sr-x and intel xeons 8cores and still it didnt fit in your budget and wanted more funding. also you would lose the precious quadro gpu.


it onto you.


good luck and feel free to question.

see you afterwards :hello: 

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April 20, 2012 6:33:28 PM

Wow -- this is fantastic. Thanks for taking the time to put it together. Just a few more questions:

1) GPU: $1750 seems like a ton to spend considering that I won't be doing any 3D rendering, CAD work, etc. Maybe this Quadro 4000 would be a good choice?

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

That would also free up another $1000 for a better processor/other components. Is the extra $1000 worth the cost?

2) Case: That case is amazing, but I just checked and it won't fit under my desk. It's 27.7" high and the distance from the floor to the bottom of my desk is 27.5". Any other suggestions on that?

3) Drives: Is there a downside (aside from cost) to going with all 3TB drives? I'm thinking 2 for RAID 1 storage and 1 for OS/working files. As for the SSD drive, it looks like that motherboard has some ability to pair the SSD drive with a high-capacity standalone drive for caching. Is that what you're thinking?

I'm just about ready to pull the trigger on this -- thanks again!
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Best solution

a b B Homebuilt system
April 21, 2012 7:33:51 AM

i will answer by your questions.

1. GPU : you are absolutely right , the difference you will notice between quadro 4000 and 5000 will be very small. the motive behind it was it has more memory and gpu horsepower. but my guess was wrong as you dont use any 3D applications which consumes gbs of vram .

go for quadro 4000.

2. CASE : ok thats bad news. one of the best case that you could affort cannot sit under your bench :cry: 

allternative.

corsair 800D

coolermaster HAF X

coolermaster storm Trooper

i especially like the storm trooper for its handle on top and few extra features as well as HAF X. check out their website for more detail specifications.


3. Drives : as $1000 has been freed why not make an drive setup.

i had a nice idea of securing the work files and having them in a touch of a button.

2 x seagate baracuda 3TB 7200rpm hdd in raid 1 for stock videos , pictures , images , music , etc.

2 x crucial m4 256 gb sata3 ssd in raid 1 for saving work files and project , etc.

2 x crucial m4 64gb ssd in raid 0 for os + programs and software and will speet up the boot times and loading times of photoshop and other software.

this will roughly cost you

= 2 x 170 + 2 x 300 + 2 x 90

= 340 + 600 + 180

= 1120 USD.

but this setup will ensure the safety of the workfiles and speed you need to complete your work.


always happy to help :sol: 
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April 21, 2012 5:54:32 PM

OKAY! So here's my final configuration:

- COOLER MASTER HAF X RC-942-KKN1 Black Steel/ Plastic ATX Full Tower Computer Case
- PC Power and Cooling Silencer Mk II 950W High Performance 80PLUS Silver SLI CrossFire ready Power Supply
- ASUS P9X79 WS LGA 2011 Intel X79 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 SSI CEB Intel Motherboard with USB BIOS
- Intel Core i7-3930K Sandy Bridge-E 3.2GHz (3.8GHz Turbo) LGA 2011 130W Six-Core Desktop Processor
- CORSAIR H100 (CWCH100) Extreme Performance Liquid CPU Cooler
- G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory
- PNY VCQ4000-PB Quadro 4000 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready Workstation Video Card
- 4x Seagate Barracuda 3TB 7200 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Drives (RAID 0+1 for storage)
- 2x Crucial M4 128GB SATA III SSD (RAID 0 for OS and applications)
- 1x Crucial M4 256GB SATA III SSD (For working files - no long-term storage here)
- AFT PRO-57U All-in-one USB 3.0 5.25" Media Card Reader

Total with shipping is $3684.35. How'd I do? Any other ancillary items I should add like thermal paste, additional fans, cables, etc?

:wahoo: 
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April 21, 2012 6:19:07 PM

Thermal paste is a must. It comes pre-applied to the CPU cooler but I don't know how good that stuff is. Someone else might.
Looks like your case has 4 massive fans to keep things cool. It only comes with 1 top 200mm fan...so you might as well add a second since you're going top notch with this build. Also, if you can, keep the case off the floor to limit dust intake. Spray with air duster every few months and heat wont be a problem for you.
Looks like you've covered everything
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April 21, 2012 8:31:07 PM

Thanks! I added an additional fan and some arctic silver. I would also love to get some opinions on switching the video card to this AMD FirePro V7900:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Unfortunately, the Quadro 4000 doesn't seem to support three monitors which is pretty important to me. The AMD card seems comparable performance and price-wise, and it supports up to 6 (!) monitors. Is there any reason this card will be worse for Photoshop, Illustrator, Vegas Video, etc?

Also, I'm thinking about just adding three of these 23" NEC IPS monitors as well:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The size doesn't really bother me (since I'll be using three of them), and the price seems right. Thoughts?

Thanks again!!!
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a b B Homebuilt system
April 22, 2012 7:28:39 AM

yes i just suggested quadro because it has cuda cores which will help to speed up the programs.

other than that ati is a good one.

why not 2 4000 in sli.

but still get the ati one. do some research. i cant provide each and every detail of every thing as i dont have enough time.

nec monitors are good also check out asus and dell ips monitor.

the paste which comes eith h100 is good but arctic silver is better.

the stock fans will be enough. just beware while positioning the fans it should not disturb the natural flow of heat.

other that that you are good to go.

your work files are not in a raid 1 drive so always keep a back up of that drive.

just pull the trigger . good to go. :D 
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April 23, 2012 8:44:07 PM

Got it -- thanks again for your feedback!

I took your point about the importance of cuda cores for Adobe software and about doing some research, and I ended up going with a PNY GeForce GTX 680 video card directly from PNY. I know it's not specifically a "workstation" card, but it's the only thing I could find that combines both cuda and 3-monitor support at a reasonable price.

Otherwise, here's the final configuration:

- COOLER MASTER HAF X Black Steel/ Plastic ATX Full Tower Computer Case
- PC Power and Cooling Silencer Mk II 950W High Performance 80PLUS Silver SLI CrossFire ready Power Supply
- ASUS P9X79 WS LGA 2011 Intel X79 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 SSI CEB Intel Motherboard with USB BIOS
- Intel Core i7-3930K Sandy Bridge-E 3.2GHz (3.8GHz Turbo) LGA 2011 130W Six-Core Desktop Processor
- CORSAIR H100 (CWCH100) Extreme Performance Liquid CPU Cooler
- 32 GB G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 16GB (4 x 8GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory (32 GB total)
- PNY GeForce GTX 680 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support
- 4x Seagate Barracuda 3TB 7200 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Drives (RAID 0+1 for file storage)
- 3x Crucial M4 256GB SATA III SSD (Not sure how to configure this - please see below)
- AFT PRO-57U All-in-one USB 3.0 5.25" Media Card Reader
- 3x NEC Display Solutions EA232WMI-BK Black 23" 14ms Full HD Height,Swivel & Pivot Adjustable IPS Panel

So, how did we do? :) 

My only other question is on the SSD drives. It wasn't all that much more expensive to go with three of the 256 GB versions, so I did that. Would I be better served to run two of them striped for the OS/programs, two of them mirrored as a working data drive, or all three separate (one OS/program drive, one scratch disk and one for working files)? Again, data will not remain on the working data drive for more than a few days at a time, so I would put a premium on speed of programs and data access over redundancy.
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a b B Homebuilt system
April 24, 2012 6:58:21 AM

noo

dont get gtx 680 as it gives worse results than 580. but if you wont game then get quadro which are specifically aimed for professional work. they also posses ecc memory and full professional support which geforce dontget.

although ecc starts from 4000 series still the lower series are as good as them.

get 2 x quadro 2000 if possible(i dont know if quadro 2000 can be sli.) or get away with 2 x 560ti. thats the best bet.

for the ssd part.

its better to leave the os and programs ssd seperate. if infected it wont get into your workfiles.

other than that do what you see logical and is better for you.

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May 9, 2012 2:54:27 AM

Hi all,

I got everything together and this machine absolutely SCREAMS. So unbelievably fast. That said, I changed things up on the storage side a bit and have a question.

After thinking about it, I decided to go with three RAID arrays and one large SSD for OS and programs. The configuration is as follows:

- 1x 500 GB SSD for OS and programs
- 4x 256 GB SSD in RAID 0+1 for working files
- 2x 128 GB SSD in RAID 0 for paging/temp files
- 4x 3 TB Seagate Barracuda HDD in RAID 0+1 for storage

This required me to purchase an Adaptec 6805E RAID controller card for the second 0+1 array.

My question is whether I should connect the 4x SSD drives to the Adaptec RAID controller or to the 4-port RAID controller on the motherboard? Any thoughts on which will be faster overall?

Thanks again!!
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May 16, 2012 12:28:21 AM

Best answer selected by feckman.
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