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Building an Indie Game Dev workstation - would love some advice

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August 21, 2012 3:58:57 PM

Hello experts!

I haven't built a PC in quite a while, and am trying desperately to catch up on gear as my primary Dev PC is starting to die. I've upgraded it to Frankenstein levels, but many components are 5+ years old.

I'm developing a game called FRACT OSC for windows & mac and as an indie dev, I'm doing a little bit of everything involving content creation: modelling, sound design, animation, making trailers, graphic design, and of course working on the actual game itself.



I'm not really interested in a cycle of endless upgrades, so I'd like to build a reliable and powerful system that lasts. Ideally I'd like the CPU, Motherboard, Ram, PSU and case to not change for years (barring any unexpected failures of course). I would be willing to upgrade the videocard down the road, but it's not something I'm really excited to do. Also, I'm completely un-interested in over clocking this system, period.

My big debate at this point is to go for an 3930k based system or a 3770k based system. Basically, I'm wondering if the added cores/threads of the 3930k will benefit me more than some of the 3rd gen features of 3770k. I'm leaning towards the 3930k, but if you can convince me otherwise, I'm all ears (especially since that road is cheaper).

One thing that does intrigue me about the 3770k is the option to test our game on the integrated GPU, but I suspect productivity will far outweigh this 'feature'. Also, PCIE 3.0 vs 2.0, thoughts?

So just to recap the two ways I'm thinking:
i7 3930k
x79, not crazy expensive based motherboard (a good one, I prize stability and speed over features like onboard THX audio)
32GB of the fastish RAM within reason that the CPU and MOBO will support (I was looking at corsair vengeance)
A nice modular PSU (corsair 850w was where I was looking)
A good, cable management friendly case, no lights please
A good, reasonable, SSD for software

i7 3770k
x77 based motherboard (a good one, I prize stability and speed over features like onboard THX audio)
32GB of the fastish RAM within reason that the CPU and MOBO will support (I was looking at corsair vengeance)
A nice modular PSU (corsair 850w was where I was looking)
A good, cable management friendly case, no lights please
A good, reasonable, SSD for software

What do you guys think?

Thanks so much,

Richard

August 21, 2012 4:00:41 PM

Also, any tips on long-term reliable cooling? I'm not opposed to liquid/water etc... but I won't be overclocking, I just want something reliable and low maintenance.

Thanks!
August 21, 2012 5:08:52 PM

Hav done this recently myself, replacing a 5.5yr old Q6600 development system I suggest the following.

i3770 4core + HT
32GB ram - Corsair Vengance is reasonable. As your not overclocking, the Corsair XMS 32GB kit would work too at half the cost. For most purposes, you wont notice the difference in speed.
Asus P877V pro
Crucial m4 256GB SDD (512GB if your budget will stretch)
HDD your choice
BD/DVD of your choice

Depending on your modeling program requirements,

nVidia 680 GTX (I prefer Asus) if using 3DStudio, Maya, Autocad and 2 monitors. (nvidia drivers for 3d modelling seem more stable when using consumer cards)
Asus ATI 7970 DCII if you have more than two monitors (I use several U2711's) - unfortunately this card is a little noisier than the GTX, but still bearable.


Or if serious modelling you should already know which Quaddro or Firepro card you want/can afford - although if getting this, then perhaps you should be looking at a workstation with dual xeons or something.


PSU I use Nesteq 700w semi fanless http://www.quietpc.com/products/psus-601-1100/nes-xzero..., which is really quiet. Have had no trouble with the 3 of these I've purchased. Would be on the tight side if used in a SLI/X-fire setup.

Fractal Design R4 case http://www.quietpc.com/products/pc-cases/fd-define-r4 I actually have the R2 version of these cases, but the newer versions seem just as nice.

Cooling, unless yo go water for noise reduction then any aftermarket cooler will be suitable. Lots of people have different opinions. I've got the previous revision of this one http://www.quietpc.com/products/lga1156-coolers/cnps10x... and I can run it dialed down in speed and still have the CPU under 30degC unless really stressing it.


For water cooling, you would need to look at a different case for an internal loop and add an additional $500 to do well, including blocks for the video card (although this could be slightly offset by using a reference layout card rather than Asus cards which are custom designed). Quaddro and Firepro cards don't tend to have waterblocks.
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August 22, 2012 1:03:10 PM

Thanks!

I really like the look of that case, thanks for pointing me to it, looks like my local shop has it too!

As for the vidcard, my style is a very low-poly, so consumer cards should do the trick just fine. Any reason why you wouldn't recommend nVidia for a 3 screen setup? (I'm currently running 3, but might go to 2 larger screens, or one enormous one)

Thanks!
August 23, 2012 2:58:53 PM

Each to their own really. The 680 will run three screens, but needs to use different ports which may have an impact on the available resolution, and you may need an adapter. Displayport generally provides the better output as far as I can tell.

AMD card also has 3GB, rather than 2GB. So better with higher resolution frame buffers. And the AMD allows upto 6 screens (I have the Asus 7970 DCII)

All depends on your monitors. I have Dell U2711s, which are 2560x1440.

Most reviews of the multi screen 680GTX are based on 1920x1080.

Overall, I do prefer nvidia cards but only because I've had issues with ATI drivers in the past, but my recent foray into 7970 seems to be not too bad once you find a stable driver set (I'm using 12.6 beta which have resolved the issues I was originaly got with this card).



a b B Homebuilt system
August 23, 2012 4:06:57 PM

i7 3770
Asrock z77 pro 4
G Skill Ares 64 gb 1600
FSP Aurum 700w gold
Nvidia gtx 670
Mushkin 240gb chronos deluxe
Seagate barracuda 1tb
Lite on 24x DVD writer
Cooler master 690 II Advanced case.
!