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System for Motion Graphics - budget: 4k

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May 14, 2012 12:22:32 AM

Im looking to buy or build a new system for motion graphics, 3d, and compositing. My budget is around 4k but not super strict. I definitely can't surpass $4700 all in but would prefer to stay in the low 4's. I'm coming fom a Mac background and so am not entirely hardware savvy. I'm trying to understnd the ins and outs of clock speed vs cores, Xeon vs i7, ivy bridge vs sandy bridge etc. and what options are most important with regard to real time motion graphics work and rendering. I was thinking about a prebuilt system from a custom builder, but I keep hearing people advising to build your own as far as price/value are concerned. Any suggested configurations or general advice is much appreciated! ~ d
May 14, 2012 12:27:22 AM

If you arent tech savvy or experienced in actually building a PC, for whatever purpose, your best bet is to pay someone to deisgn and assemble the system for you. THats a lot of money to be experimenting around on.
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May 14, 2012 12:38:26 AM

I've been looking at systems from boxx and maingear. I keep hearing HP, but I don't like the graphics or memory options on the preconfigs. How much overhead usually goes to these builders? $800+?
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May 14, 2012 1:06:06 AM

Bleh. I think you should custom build it by yourself. There is always the possibility of damaging expensive parts, but with a ESD band you should be safe.

Back to the main questions. Do you play games, even a small amount? What else will you do on your machine? Will you overclock your CPU/graphics?
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May 14, 2012 1:22:10 AM

Actually I think you should keep researching around these forums and look at parts from Newegg.com or whatever. Computers are so easy to build these days (compared to ten years ago). There are numerous guides and videos on how to set everything up.

You need a case, PSU, processor, ram, motherboard, HDD and optionally a disc drive.

That being said, I think you should go with an i7, either a 2nd gen Core (Sandy Bridge) or the newer 3rd gen (Ivy Bridge). If it doesn't come with a heatsink and fan, get one also. Since you have the budget, the Xeons are the server/workstation grade processors with higher performance. Make sure your motherboard supports them.

Find a motherboard that supports your processor and make sure the form factor will fit into your chosen case (mATX, ATX, eATX, etc)

For graphics, I'd either get an Nvidia GTX 680 (670 to save a little cash), 690 (since you have the cash) or a Quadro (graphics card mainly for graphics rather than gaming) for graphics work (Some people prefer AMD, but I like Nvidia because of the Adobe Mercury Engine support).

I'd get a minimum of 8GB, ideally 16GB (RAM is cheap, might as well).

Get a quality 600-800W PSU (Corsair, Seasonic, etc).

I would an SSD, OCZ and Intel are my favorites, and a HDD for your files.

If you need a disc drive for Blu-Ray or DVDs or CDs, throw that in too.

Since you aren't that hardware-savvy, I would not overclock your stuff.

Hope this helps!
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May 14, 2012 1:27:50 AM

Getting a Quadro/FireGL is much better than a 680 for 3d if you don't do any gaming.
For a CPU, I recommend a i7-3930K (6 cores) with a LGA 2011 motherboard.
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May 14, 2012 1:44:04 AM

I don't do any gaming. My primary use will be after effects, cinema 4d, premiere pro, and possibly some nuke. I also do audio production and web design.

So, whats up with Xeon E3 vs E5 vs i7? As I understand it the speeds of i7 are helpful for real time performance but the Xeon cores are better at multicore multithreaded tasks like rendering? To be able to handle rendering in the background would be amazing, I've heard some Xeon systems can handle this? As for video cards, I keep hearing things about the less expensive gtx 580 being as good as quadro cards and can deal with cuda open gl/cl and mercury, that it's the same architecture as the overpriced quadro cards on the lower end. Can anyone help me clarify my understanding of these points?
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May 14, 2012 2:09:02 AM

The GTX series (580, 590, 680, 690) are meant for gaming only. Quadro is meant for rendering, so that should suit your needs better.
Most of the stuff you use should support multicore/multithread, which means you should get a Xeon. Also, if you use a Xeon, you have the ability to add another processor. As for E3, E5, E7, I don't really know myself.

EDIT: Get this processor. OC'able, $200 cheaper than an i7, and upgradeable.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Intel Xeon E5-2620 Sandy Bridge-EP 2.0GHz 15MB L3 Cache LGA 2011 95W Six-Core Server Processor

Dual CPU Motherboards are generally very expensive, but with a $4000 budget, you should be fine. Oh, and they can fit a HUGE amount of RAM in them. The board below should fit in a regular ATX case.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
SUPERMICRO MBD-X9DRL-3F-O ATX Server Motherboard Dual LGA 2011 DDR3 1600

You will need DDR3-1600 memory, here is a link to some:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Kingston 32GB (4 x 8GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM ECC Registered DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Server Memory DR x4 w/TS Intel Model KVR1600D3D4R11SK4/32GI
32 GB should be sufficient, if too much, get 16GB instead.

The motherboard comes with a free DVD drive, so you got that covered.

Also, how many monitors do you have or will use?
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May 14, 2012 10:44:14 AM

Actually the high end GTX series have better rendering than some of the Quadros. If you want to save some cash, get a 680 or a 690. Since you have the budget, higher end Quadros are better.
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May 14, 2012 11:07:35 AM

I've read in some forums from people who use 3D CAD for professional work advising people to not use gaming cards for that program. Their reasoning was that gaming cards were not as precise as professional cards which resulted in wrong drawings and what not.
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May 14, 2012 2:11:44 PM

It sounds like maybe Quadros are better for rendering and content creation then the GTX's, which are great for real time texture performance and what not. I just keep hearing that quadro's are drastically overpriced right now.

I'm probably not going to be building this until July-ish. So what tech developments should I be watching out for? How much new ivy bridge stuff will I see? Will the performance difference for xeon's on ivy bridge be worth considering over sandy bridge-e? I want to be somewhat forward thinking, but not getting screwed either on price/performance. Are these new boards and chips going to be insanely expensive?

Also, am I going to be waay better off getting two xeons 6 core of a slower clock speed, like the cheaper 2.0ghz listed above, or a better 8 core xeon at a higher speed? Again, this is really a price/performance question.
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May 16, 2012 3:27:05 PM

fpoon - as per your processor recommendation, I thought the e5's weren't OC'able?

Also, that is a great price deal, but I've heard some warning that I still need a balance of decent ghz + multicore. I see 2.5's but they are over twice the price! Still, I'm wary of going with a 2ghz processor.

Can you clarify any of this for me?

Cheers, d
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May 17, 2012 2:31:44 AM

Ahhh... Sorry. My bad. The e5s aren't OC'able, as a matter of fact. I'll take everything back. Get an i7-3930K, althought it would cost more.

EDIT: Quadro's haven't been updated in a long time, so get a 580. GTX's will be more versatile.
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May 17, 2012 3:26:43 AM

I've now been configuring an i7 system that looks like this:

MB: ASUS Rampage IV Extreme LGA 2011 Intel X79 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Extended ATX Intel Motherboard

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

RAM: G.SKILL Ares Series 32GB (4 x 8GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)

Video Card: EVGA SuperClocked+ 02G-P4-2684-KR GeForce GTX 680 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 x16

HD: (x2)Crucial M4 CT256M4SSD2CCA 2.5" 256GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) with Transfer Kit

(x3)Seagate Barracuda XT ST32000641AS 2TB 7200 RPM 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5"

PSU: CORSAIR Professional Series Gold AX850 850W ATX12V v2.31 / EPS12V v2.92 80 PLUS GOLD Certified

Case: NZXT Switch 810 - CA-SW810-B1 Black Steel / Plastic ATX Full Tower Computer Case with USB 3.0

Total Price: 3309.89


It sounds like this is the way I'm going to go. I can't justify the price performance ratio on higher end dual Xeons right now.
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May 18, 2012 12:14:48 AM

You forgot about the DVD drive.
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June 18, 2012 3:58:41 PM

Best answer selected by dbit.
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