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GPU / RAM Upgrade advice needed please??

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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May 29, 2012 7:27:49 PM

Hi all,

I had my workstation built about 4 years ago now for £1000 but as I do a lot of intensive modelling/rendering (2D and possibly animation) I am thinking it is about time to upgrade some specs, I am thinking without spending a fortune its probably going to be the GPU, RAM and I would also like some advice on whether it is worth/safe to overclock my existing system??

What I am in essence trying to improve is rendering speed and being able to render and multi-task on the likes of Photoshop etc.

Here are the details:

Approximate Purchase Date: Anytime this is solved within the next 3 months.

Budget Range: £500 (but obviously it is all about value for money.)

System Usage: 3D Modelling/Rendering (No gaming whatsoever really)

So here is what I already have:

- Case: Black Trident case + 2 front USB
- Processor (CPU): Intel® Core™2 Quad Q8200 (4 X 2.33GHz) 1333MHz FSB/4MB Cache
- Motherboard: ASUS® P5Q WS: DDR2, SATAII, PCI-e x16, 1 PCI, 2 x PCI-e x1
- Memory (RAM): 4GB CORSAIR XMS2 800MHz (2x2GB)
- Graphics Card: 512MB QUADRO FX1700 PCI Express + 2 x DVI + HD-OUT
- 2nd Graphics Card: NONE
- 1st Hard Disk: HITACHI 1TB 32mb SATA 7200rpm HDD
- 2nd Hard Disk: MAXTOR 320GB SERIAL ATA II HARD DRIVE WITH 8MB CACHE (7,200rpm)
- Power Supply: 450W Quiet Dual Rail PSU + 120mm Case Fan
- Processor Cooling: 22dBA TRIPLE COPPER HEATPIPE CPU COOLER
- OS: Windows 7 64bit


Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Any really, as long as suitable for UK.

Overclocking: Would like to yes if this is worth doing/ not going to kill my hardware.

SLI or Crossfire: Not entirely sure what this means tbh sorry, from what I can gather this would be using two GPU's?? Does this mean I can run my original quadro & another as well??

Monitor Resolution: 2 X 1920x1080

Additional Comments:
- Reducing power consumption is bonus but not critical at all.
- Any general advice on what might be best to upgrade would be really helpful.
- Am I right in thinking my maximum RAM is 2GB per slot totaling 8GB?
- Again, advice on overclocking would be appreciated.
- Advice on whether to stick to QUADRO for my 3D work, or whether now times have changed is it worth me switching to a gaming card for better value?? I do run a lot of AUTODESK software, I think they prefer nvidia??
- I presume there is no point in upgrading the motherboard or CPU as this would be too costly??

Thanks in advance for all of your help.
a b U Graphics card
May 29, 2012 8:17:04 PM

Are the programs you use hardware accelerated by graphics? I'm not familiar with AUTODESK.

For rendering, I would upgrade to 8GB and get a new GPU. The FX1700 is old. You could buy a regular desktop GPU, but the drivers aren't certified like Quadro drivers. If you don't need the certified drivers then you could get away with a Geforce card, but the firmware is a bit different (Geforce tends to look for speed over quality)
May 29, 2012 8:35:50 PM

I'm not entirely sure what you mean by
Quote:
hardware accelerated by graphics
, I do know it requires:

" - Direct3D 10, Direct3D 9, or OpenGL-capable graphics card
- 1 GB or higher video card memory "

What benefit does certified actually have? I have only ever had this Quadro, and never had any problem with it, but haven't got anything to compare it to.

Also, speed over quality? So the final renders from a Geforce would be produced faster than a Quadro but would have a decrease in quality? Meaning grainy? The images produced arn't ultra-high end, but are not armature either.

Was I right in thinking my MB is maxed out at 8GB? Also any advice on overclocking CPU/GPU? Can I run my old GPU and another at the same time? Any recommendations on GPU's?

Sorry for all the questions and thanks again for the advice
Related resources
a b U Graphics card
May 29, 2012 8:44:39 PM

Nope, you can go up to 16GB with 4x4GB sticks.

Certified Drivers if you are working for a company that requires it. If not, it doesn't matter.

I have the same CPU (Well the Q8300, so clocked a little faster) and you will be limited in OC. I'm running stock, but it has a low multiplier that is locked. So you would have to up the FSB, which won't get your much extra speed. I think a new GPU would get the biggest gain since AUTODESK does appear to use DirectX or OpenGL.

Speed in terms of pumping out pixels for things like gaming, while the Quadro and Tesla cards are better at Double-Precision Floating Point operations. For you, you don't need that though, you can buy a good Geforce card and improve your rendering speed while getting some gaming ability if you get into that ;) 
May 29, 2012 8:59:07 PM

Ah ok, it is just the website (http://uk.asus.com/Motherboards/Intel_Socket_775/P5Q_WS...)
Says:

"4 x DIMM, Max. 8 GB, DDR2 1200/1066/800/667 Non-ECC,Un-buffered Memory
Dual Channel memory architecture"

Yeah it is just for personal use so certified seems like it won't be much of an issue then.

So in terms of the GPU, how come Quadro are usually recommended for 3D work?? Purely on the certification issue?? Getting a Geforce would improve render speed over the same affordable Quadro whilst still retaining quality?

Cheers VetteDude, appreciated.



a b U Graphics card
May 29, 2012 9:18:34 PM

Well then 8GB is the max I suppose, I just went off a random P5Q model on their site since you didn't say the exact model.

Quadro is great for professionals because of the drivers. Those kind of people whose career depends on their GPU (exaggerating a bit) don't want to have to deal with the regular Geforce drivers and firmware that comes out monthly and can have new issues pop up. Instead they get certified drivers that just plain work. They can't really game on them though since they aren't optimizing the drivers for that each month, but they don't care about gaming performance. Most Quadro (maybe all now?) use the same GPU cores as Geforce cards.
a c 177 U Graphics card
May 29, 2012 10:23:44 PM

AFAIK, other than quicksilver or iray, autodesk doesn't package any other gpu accelerated renderers so if you aren't using these , it is purely cpu based so a gpu will not help at all. There are a number of third party renderers that are gpu accelerated and would probably be a good investment as they are noticably faster and won't let your gpu go unused. It would help to know which software you are using, which renderer, as well as what resolution (1080p or less is irrelevant to quality on quadro vs geforce). Certified just means they've tested it themselves. I've never had a issue with any ati/amd/nvidia card with any autodesk software. Direct3d and open-gl refers to the viewport not the final renderer. Sli is for the exact same cards only so isn't something you should worry about.

There are many differences in workstation vs consumer cards. It really depends on your budget and uses for which one is for you. Sure you can say deep down they are the same architecture but that's about it. The driver thing pops up a lot but for the most part you won't run into issues. The main concern is nvidia's geforce drivers intentionally handicap opengl performance so you would buy a quadro or tesla. This isn't really a bad thing since you can just change the viewport to directx for autodesk software but others aren't so fortunate.

(He did state the exact mobo model.) http://www.asus.com/Motherboards/Intel_Socket_775/P5Q_W... The US asus website, states up to 16gb ram. Truthfully I would say no to spending money on ddr2. I think it is almost time to retire that old girl and get new cpu/mobo/ram. Depending on what software/renderer this may be a better investment than ram+gpu.
May 29, 2012 10:46:25 PM

I do quite a bit in Autodesk 3DS Max, which uses Mentalray. I've also dabbled in using Microstation which uses Luxology rendering which I'm growing to like but not sure which I will pursue more yet.

Should I be trying to push for something that uses gpu acceleration, does it make that much of a difference??

I definitely render over 1080p, when I'm doing big final presentation 2D renders ive always wanted to achieve plus 3000 but had to limit it at about 2500.


Yeah regarding retiring what I have (sadface) I've been recommended by someone else on these, what are your thoughts??:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... [...] i5%202550k

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

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


So do you really think I'm wasting upgrading what I've got? I just need to do some heavy modelling/rendering for another 3 years really, then I might look at spending another £1k on a new build.


Thanks again...



a c 177 U Graphics card
May 30, 2012 1:17:01 AM

If you have Max 2011 or later, it comes with quicksilver so you could actually test render speeds. Some features aren't supported yet and mentalray/luxology can achieve much better lighting so it is your decision on which renderer to use. Since those 2 renderers are cpu based, I would suggest a cpu upgrade. Your budget can easily fit an i7 2600k. Overclocking sandy bridge or ivy bridge is much simpler than your core 2. Of course you don't have to if you don't want to, but we are here to help. Since prices will be different for you, those exact parts might not be the best choice. I doubt you will ever sli so you can actually get a lower mobo but I'd say go with z77 chipset. And for ram just get ddr3 1600mhz, 1.5v or lower, 2x4gb or 2x8gb.
May 31, 2012 7:59:42 PM

k1114 said:
If you have Max 2011 or later, it comes with quicksilver so you could actually test render speeds. Some features aren't supported yet and mentalray/luxology can achieve much better lighting so it is your decision on which renderer to use. Since those 2 renderers are cpu based, I would suggest a cpu upgrade. Your budget can easily fit an i7 2600k. Overclocking sandy bridge or ivy bridge is much simpler than your core 2. Of course you don't have to if you don't want to, but we are here to help. Since prices will be different for you, those exact parts might not be the best choice. I doubt you will ever sli so you can actually get a lower mobo but I'd say go with z77 chipset. And for ram just get ddr3 1600mhz, 1.5v or lower, 2x4gb or 2x8gb.


That seems great help so far...thanks!

Yeah I think I'm looking at the whole shazam now..

Is there much difference between sandy bridge/ivy bridge?? I've been looking at the i7-2700K which is Sandy Bridge right? I've read somewhere this can be OC'd to 4.7ghz and even 5ghz? How achievable is that and is that just overkill?

My PSU is 450w, so am I right in thinking I could OC enough without needing to buy another?

You're right, I don't particularly have a passion to SLI, so I've been looking at the z77 as suggested, however there does seem to be many versions and I am not that clued up on mobo's so some better clarity would help, I've seen these two models but no idea really:

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

Ram: I've been looking at this:

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

Regarding the GPU matter. As you've said that my rendering is CPU intensive, are you suggesting i stick with my FX1700, or is it still worth getting something else?
Someone suggested this to me:

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

Again sorry for all the questions, your help is much appreciated.
a c 177 U Graphics card
June 1, 2012 1:35:48 AM

Newegg doesn't ship to uk incase you didn't know. Sandy bridge and Ivy bridge will oc to around the same performance. But IB is notoriously hotter (10-20C) but uses less power. Most people will get to ~4.5ghz on SB, even with a more expensive cooler it's not guaranteed to get to 5ghz; few do. It's also not worth the extra money for a better cooler for such a small gain. Your psu is fine. The only difference in those mobos are the extreme4m can sli, it's m-atx (smaller size), 1 esata connection, and another heatsink on the mosfets around the cpu. Don't get that ram, the heatsinks will get in the way of most coolers. Your renders are cpu only, so if you aren't satisfied with viewport performance than that is the only reason to upgrade the gpu. You can ask as many questions as you'd like.
June 1, 2012 9:52:35 AM

Yes I understand the case with newegg, it was just for ease and familiarity to show you. I will aim to just achieve 4.5ghz then. Do you believe I would need any additional cooling to what I have? Also, I have seen the digital fan controller (NEZT sentry 2). Are these worthwhile?
If that RAM isn't ok? Any suggestions? I'm pretty sure I want 16gb 2x8 leaving me room to upgrade easily. I need to have a good think about viewport performance but I suppose it's easy enough to do at a later stage. Also you suggested the 2600k and myself the 2700k, is there any reason to go with the former rather than the latter?

Again, thank you for your advice.
a c 177 U Graphics card
June 2, 2012 4:31:27 AM

I'm not sure what cooler you have but it should be enough if it is 120mm. An external fan controller isn't necessary, fans will go faster automatically when it gets hotter. You can set the temp when it goes faster in the bios as well as monitor and control it in windows. The problem with that ram is the high heatsinks, you can see in the pictures. Most of the other ones aren't high but if you go with corsair, make sure to get the low profile version. Although, gskill is popular and is what I have now. The 2600k and 2700k will oc to around the same. Other than the extra 100mhz at stock and the extra cost, there is no difference.
June 3, 2012 7:12:24 PM

Great, I'll look into the gskill then.
I'll probably stick to the 2600k then like you said, they overclock to the same.

Really stuck on the mobo issue, i didn't realise there was so much choice regarding the z77 chipset.

To help me decide (as I have no clue really) I just did the 'best rated' search on newegg.

The top two are:

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

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

Both seem extremely good, and are only £30 difference between them.

Are these actually the best boards to buy?? And they seem very similarly priced to anything else I'v looked at.

Thanks again
a c 177 U Graphics card
June 4, 2012 2:49:35 AM

Those expensive boards aren't necessary, it's better to spend more money on the cpu or gpu rather than mobo. The asrock extreme4 as originally suggested is the highest I'd say; as it has sli if you ever do want it and anything else you might need. There's really not much difference other than extra connections.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
June 4, 2012 2:54:54 PM

I understand. As you have said that CPU is the main driver in rendering, i'm wondering whether the 2600k is right seen as there are 3rd gens etc?
I just had a quick look at the 3770k but seems very mixed reviews on gain, and a lot hotter as you have said. (http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/ivy-bridge-benchmar...)

I just wanted to make sure there wasn't a next level of cpu that I could achieve that would dramatically effect my rendering performance by spending a little bit more without the need to purchase better cooling/psu.

Thanks so much again.
a c 177 U Graphics card
June 5, 2012 1:13:32 AM

Well the next cpu up would be the 3930k but this would be over budget and less bang/buck since it's almost twice the price for only ~25% improvement.
!