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My first homebuilt workstation

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October 2, 2012 11:49:58 AM

Hello! I have never assembled computer hardware before, and even though I am very excited and quite well-read, I'm still scared shitless I'm putting together the wrong parts. I'd love to get somea lot of advice and recommendations.

I'm working on a budget of 1200 euros.

The software I use most are: Autodesk Maya, Pixologic's Zbrush, Vicon's Boujou and pretty much the whole Adobe Creative Suite.

My main demand is that I am able to get into my workflow without the computer freezing, crashing or slowing down.

These are the hardware components I'm currently eyeing:

Motherboard
ASROCK X79 Extreme 4

CPU
i7-3820

CPU Cooler
Xigmatek Dark Knight Night Hawk Edition

GPU
nVidia quadro 2000

RAM
G.Skill RipjawsX 32GB DDR3-1600

PSU
Cooler Master GX Lite 700W

Case
Corsair Carbide 500R Black

I already have an HD( Samsung HD103SJ 1TB) and an optical disk drive at home.

Would it make sense to assemble all these together? And should I get an extra cooler for the GPU or would the case provide enough cooling?

Thank you very much!

More about : homebuilt workstation

a b B Homebuilt system
October 2, 2012 12:10:40 PM

Go with 3770K on a Z77 mobp, it's faster. I recommend an SSD though. The case should indeed provide adequate cooling for all your components.
October 2, 2012 12:12:26 PM

Well i would go with the asus socket 2011 workstation and a i7 3930 other then that you are good.The stock gpu cooler should be fine the corsair cases are excellent in terms of cooling just check to make sure your board is compatible with that case not sure if that board is an eatx or just atx or what...
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October 2, 2012 6:30:32 PM

Thanks for the input, FinneousPJ and robustus64!

Quote:
Go with 3770K on a Z77 mobp, it's faster. I recommend an SSD though. The case should indeed provide adequate cooling for all your components.


May I ask why you'd pick the 3770K over the 3820, FinneousPJ? And, just wondering here, how would the integrated graphic chip coop with the nVidia quadro 2000?

Quote:
Well i would go with the asus socket 2011 workstation and a i7 3930 other then that you are good.The stock gpu cooler should be fine the corsair cases are excellent in terms of cooling just check to make sure your board is compatible with that case not sure if that board is an eatx or just atx or what...


I do wonder how much the system would profit from a hexacore, robustus64. I read both Photoshop, Illustrator and Maya are mostly single threaded programs (with a few exceptions). Rendering is a multi threaded task, but I don't need this build to be a superfast renderer. I wouldn't mind having it to run overnight. ZBrush is a program that would profit most from the twelve threads, but I find Zbrush to be really fast and responsive in general.
You did make me interested in the ASUS P9X79 though.
a b B Homebuilt system
October 2, 2012 6:45:13 PM

Crumblis said:
Thanks for the input, FinneousPJ and robustus64!

May I ask why you'd pick the 3770K over the 3820, FinneousPJ? And, just wondering here, how would the integrated graphic chip coop with the nVidia quadro 2000?


Because - as I said - it's faster. Isn't that reason enough? :D  And the integrated graphics wouldn't co-operate with the nVidia graphics.

Crumblis said:
I do wonder how much the system would profit from a hexacore, robustus64. I read both Photoshop, Illustrator and Maya are mostly single threaded programs (with a few exceptions). Rendering is a multi threaded task, but I don't need this build to be a superfast renderer. I wouldn't mind having it to run overnight. ZBrush is a program that would profit most from the twelve threads, but I find Zbrush to be really fast and responsive in general.
You did make me interested in the ASUS P9X79 though.

If in doubt the 6 core is probably not for you. It's damn expensive.
October 2, 2012 6:50:56 PM

FinneousPJ said:
Because - as I said - it's faster. Isn't that reason enough? :D  And the integrated graphics wouldn't co-operate with the nVidia graphics.


But is the speed worth the sixty euros? When I look at the specs the most noticeable difference is the lower bus/core ratio. Will that really make that much of a difference? If it does, I'll go for it.
a b B Homebuilt system
October 2, 2012 7:04:24 PM

What sixty euros? I can easily make you a system with 3770K for 1200€, and usually you can get a 3770K +mobo for less than a 3820 +mobo. Also, it's an improved architecture. Here you may gaze upon the difference: http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/551?vs=523 :p 
a b B Homebuilt system
October 2, 2012 7:06:14 PM

Oh, and if you get the non-K CPU and non-overclockable mobo it's definitely cheaper.
October 2, 2012 7:12:12 PM

Crumblis said:
But is the speed worth the sixty euros? When I look at the specs the most noticeable difference is the lower bus/core ratio. Will that really make that much of a difference? If it does, I'll go for it.

Probably not... and while a 3770k + Z77 Extr4 costs the same as a 3820 + X79 Extr4, the X79 chipset uses a quad-channel memory controller over the Z77's dual-channel. I'm assuming that since you've selected 32GB of RAM, the programs you'll be working in will actually make use of that - in which case the quad-channel controller would benefit you.

While I don't know much about professional video cards, I can say that I wouldn't trust any of that hardware to that power supply you've picked. Cooler Master is not known for making very many good power supplies, and the GX-series is not among those. Use, at minimum, something like a Corsair TX650-V2 (non-modular, preferably, for quality purposes) - if you're willing to pay a premium for quality/efficiency, an XFX ProSeries 750W (mfd. by Seasonic) or NZXT HALE 90 650W (mfd. by Super Flower) are also great choices. I don't think you'll need more than 600W at the very most, though, but it wouldn't hurt to be safe (especially if you plan on replacing the video card with something more powerful in the future).
a b B Homebuilt system
October 2, 2012 7:13:56 PM

As you can see from the anandtech benchmarks, the quad channel memory controller is quite irrelevant against the faster 3770.
October 2, 2012 7:19:34 PM

FinneousPJ said:
Oh, and if you get the non-K CPU and non-overclockable mobo it's definitely cheaper.

If he's going to go for a locked CPU, he may want to get something like a Xeon E3 for quite a bit less.
Edit: Xeon E3-1230 V2 for £173.08 including VAT. Slightly lower clocks than the 3770, locked multiplier, no IGP, Ivy Bridge architecture, socket LGA 1155.

FinneousPJ said:
As you can see from the anandtech benchmarks, the quad channel memory controller is quite irrelevant against the faster 3770.

Right, but I don't see how any of those tests have anything to do with RAM. They are CPU benchmarks, after all.
a b B Homebuilt system
October 2, 2012 7:38:58 PM

No they're not. Most programs on that list aren't strictly CPU benchmarks.
October 2, 2012 8:27:34 PM

FinneousPJ said:
No they're not. Most programs on that list aren't strictly CPU benchmarks.

Looking into it more, I'd have to agree with you in that the 3770k would likely be better - seems that most applications that are RAM-hungry (like the Adobe suites) benefit more from the amount rather than the bandwidth. Give me a little time and I'll put up a list of parts OP should look into.

PCPartPicker part list

CPU: Intel Core i7-3770k (£247.90 @ Amazon UK)
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme4 (£105.32 @ Scan.co.uk)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 32GB (4 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 (£140.74 @ Amazon UK)
Case: Corsair 500R Black (£95.40 @ Scan.co.uk)
Power Supply: Corsair TX650-V2 650W (£69.99 @ Ebuyer)
Total: £659.35
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)

These are parts we already discussed, but it's a list of some of the best prices. With the addition of a Quadro 2000, that'll set you to £1060ish, which leaves £140ish for a CPU cooler and an SSD if you'd like one. You can grab a 128GB OCZ Vertex 4 for £80 from ebuyer or £84 from dabs. As for the cooler, a Noctua NH-D14 can be had for just over £55, so as long as the 500R can fit it (pretty sure it can) you'll be able to get some great overclocks out of the 3770k. If you decide to ditch the SSD, you can grab a Corsair H100 for £80 if watercooling is what you'd prefer.

(Prices pulled from here)
a b B Homebuilt system
October 3, 2012 2:12:11 PM

I agree with most of what has already been said here

CPU:
3770K will OC better, and have generally better throughput compared to the 3820. However, either of the 6 core 12 thread LGA2011 CPUs would be the best option if you can cram it in the budget.

Mobo:
Also, while ASRock is great for gamer stuff, they are 'cheap' boards, and you should stick with ASUS if you are doing a pro build. They are simply a step above when it comes to the parts they use. Not immune to issues, but still your best bet.

Ram:
Bulk amounts of Ram is a huge consideration for what you are doing. I have 16GB of ram, which is enough for what I do, but if this is a serious work horse then you want a minimum of 32GB, and preferably 64GB so that you can do a Ram Drive. Obviously you can do 32GB of ram easily enough on an LGA1155 build, but you would need an LGA2011 build if you wanted to jump up to 64GB. The quad channel nature of LGA2011 gives marginal gains in benchmarks, and no real gains with real world tests.
Lastly on Ram, keep in mind that win7Home can only do 16GB max. If you want to do 32GB+ then you will need win7pro or win8pro. And yes, I have noticed a bit of a performance boost moving to win8RTM over win7. It is not a huge difference, but it is there, and it does show up when doing big renders and projects. Win8 simply handles hardware better.

Storage:
A single HDD is not capable of pushing enough data to keep your ram and CPU busy, and is a major liability if anything should go wrong with your system. I would highly suggest having a large SSD for your system drive, and then a RAID1 or RAID5 for your storage drives.
If you are like me and occasional down time is not an issue then go with a cheap 240-256GB SSD like a Mushkin or OCZ. This is just for programs, so it does not need to be the fastest or most reliable drive on the market. If down time is an issue, then get a more reliable Intel, Crucial, or Samsung SSD. Get a minimum of 240GB so that you have all memory slots populated and get the advertised specs that you expect. SSDs are rated by the series, not individual drive, so if you get a smaller drive then you will simply not get the advertised performance.
Your HDDs are where your important files are stored, and you should absolutely have it backed up both via a RAID, as well as off-loading your data to an external drive or some form of cloud storage. RAID (if done right) will also get you a nice performance boost which will help you fill up that ram and keep your CPU busier more of the time. Also, when doing a lot of heavy work there is always an issue of reading and writing on the same drive, which really kills performance (~50% or less throughput on most drives), and RAID (especially if on a RAID controller) will help mitigate that performance hit.
On my own rig I had a project drive fail recently, and while I was annoyed as hell about it, the drive was in RAID1 so I didn't lose any data. Thankfully one of my bosses at work let me borrow one of his drives for the moment while I save my pennies so I can do a proper RAID5 of 2-3TB drives. This will also help me buy some time so I can get some drives with a warranty that last longer than 1 year... which is stupidly short for something like a HDD.
Lastly, having separate OS and data drives helps protect your data from stupidity. I cannot tell you how many times (especially back in the win2K days) I picked up a virus forcing me to reformat my HDD and start over. Once I got my 2nd HDD for data I was able to just format with no worries, and all my data was relatively safe from me doing stupid things like trying new OS's, questionable software, etc.

Anywho, I would highly suggest getting the SSD now for your system drive, and then you can grow into a larger RAID array down the road if you cannot afford it yet.

Video and graphics:
Having a pro graphics card gives you 3 things:
1) performance drivers specific to a task, which can give a lot of extra performance (assuming that you do not have a bottleneck elsewhere in your system... like your single HDD)
2) ECC. Really, not a huge deal. How often to gamer cards have errors? Really it is not often, but still nice to know that when you are pushing your system on a week long render that you will not have a silly hickup messing you up.
3) 10bit color (10bits per color... so really it is 30bit color). TN displays only really show something like 6bit color, so be sure that you have an IPS monitor to get the most out of what you are working on. I recently got an old Apple Cinema Display (free! woot!), and OMG I cannot explain the difference in color depth and accuracy compared to my old 28" hanns-G that I have been using (and my hannsG is not bad for a TN display). It is fine if you cannot afford a nice display right now, but this is definitely something you will want to save up for, and you will really be short changing yourself if you do not follow though with it. Doubbly true if you do photo work that needs to be printed!

Keep in mind also that the GTX580 and the Quadro 2000 are essentially the same card, and many pieces of software will treat both cards the same. The quadro will have the ecc, better color, and some performance drivers for some software, but for a lot of stuff there would be very little difference. Keep in mind also that the new FirePro cards are very nice, and their open CL support will be a huge bonus down the road as software designers seem to be moving in that direction. If you are using older software, and do not intend to upgrade it any time soon then stick with the nVidia card, but if you like to keep your software up to date then you may want to go with AMD this time around. Also, nVidia is coming out with new Quadro cards some time before the end of the year, which should mean both better cards available, and a price drop on current gen cards like the 2000.

Also, the GPU and iGPU do not 'work together' as you put it. You can use the iGPU to do quick renders (and it is quick), but I have found that quicksync is not at the same level of end product quality, and tends to make for larger files compared to doing a traditional rendering process. Besides, you are spending good money for a real GPU so you may as well make use of it. The iGPU can be useful if you want to add extra monitors for more screen real estate, but that is about the only advantage you will get from it.


Lastly, and this is potentially a bit of a wrench in the system:
Consider going with an AMD CPU. Their chips absolutely suck for gaming and single thread applications, but they are actually quite good for doing server or productivity workloads. On top of that you can do a 'cheap' duel CPU AMD build (or at least much cheaper than a duel Xeon setup), which would grant you some major performance on the type of stuff you want to do. I love Intel stuff, and am a huge Intel fanboy, but AMD is quite compelling for doing photo/video/many-thread workloads.
October 5, 2012 2:26:40 PM

Before commencing the real message, I want to say thanks again. I really appreciate all the help!

Because of mousseng I'm now thinking of the intel xeon e3-1240v2. You made me rethink OC'ing and I realized, I probably don't have the balls to OC my future computer. I like this CPU for the clock speed, because I really want my cores to have a lot of ghz for Maya (mostly singlethreaded application except for 2d regeneration and rendering).
I just hope it will provide enough power for Adobe Photoshop. If this will allow me to dual view a 3000px x 3000px 300 dpi image, while applying filters, painting, etc, I'm sold! Would anyone be able to confirm it's able to do that?

And I'm also thinking of another mobo, a brand that hasn't been mentioned before in this topic. I'm very curious what you all think, since you all know its purpose. The one I'm thinking of is the Gigabyte GA-Z77-D3H . It has great benchmarks!

Anyway, this cpu will save me some money I can invest in all the other things you've pointed out to me.

And, CaedenV, thank you for mentioning nVidia is coming out with new Quadro cards, I appreciate it a lot. Sad to say, I simply can't wait that long. I really want to get back to work as quickly as possible. I'm also able to find the quadro 2000 way cheaper than the GTX580 in my country.

Anyway, I'd love to hear what you all think about this cpu!
October 5, 2012 6:00:45 PM

Crumblis said:
Because of mousseng I'm now thinking of the intel xeon e3-1240v2. You made me rethink OC'ing and I realized, I probably don't have the balls to OC my future computer.

I suppose if you're looking to get started as fast as possible, as well, then you wouldn't want to overclock, either. That could take a while, depending on how long you'd want to run stability tests.

Crumblis said:
If this will allow me to dual view a 3000px x 3000px 300 dpi image, while applying filters, painting, etc, I'm sold! Would anyone be able to confirm it's able to do that?

I couldn't say specifically, but considering Ivy Bridge quad-cores are some of the best processors on the market, I'd wager there's a fair chance it will.

Crumblis said:
The one I'm thinking of is the Gigabyte GA-Z77-D3H . It has great benchmarks!

Gigabyte's a good manufacturer, and the D3H is a solid board; roughly comparable to the Extreme 4.
a b B Homebuilt system
October 5, 2012 10:55:17 PM

Xeons do not work on z77 boards, even if they are LGA1155. This is a new but annoying Intel move where server and mainstream products are beginning to merge on a lot of fronts, but are not yet compatable with eachother.

Look for a C-series chipset on a server board if you want to go with xeon: http://ark.intel.com/products/65730/Intel-Xeon-Processo...

All that said, even if not OCing a high end i7 should still net you plenty of throughput. I have a locked CPU in my system, and it worked great even before OCing, and when I did decide to OC I still got a ton of performance from it, even though it is a locked product.
October 5, 2012 11:25:39 PM

CaedenV said:
Xeons do not work on z77 boards, even if they are LGA1155. This is a new but annoying Intel move where server and mainstream products are beginning to merge on a lot of fronts, but are not yet compatable with eachother.

Are you certain about that? There are a number of reviews on the 1230 V2 and 1240 V2 pages on Newegg stating that they've got these Xeon chips recognized and running on H77 and Z77 boards, quite a few from just the past few months.
a b B Homebuilt system
October 6, 2012 12:40:49 AM

I could be wrong, I just remember something about it from the initial release, and it is what it says on Intel's site.
October 11, 2012 7:38:29 PM

This board is fully compatible with the Intel Xeon e3-1240 v2 ( See here).

I incorporated the Kingston SSDNOW V200 128 GB in the build. I'm aware it's not as good as the brands already mentioned, but it keeps the build below budget. SSD's read and write faster than an HDD, yet, would anyone know if there are more advantages? Because if there are, I'm willing to spend over budget to purchase the Samsung 830, OCZ Vertex 4 or Plextor M3.

I have two questions regarding the build.

The mobo isn't mentioned in the list of qualified motherboards on gskills site when it comes to the memory (See here). But it does mention GA-Z77X-UD3H, is it safe to assume it will function optimally with the Gigabyte GA-Z77-D3H mobo as well?

My last question is quite embarassing, but I couldn't find a straight answer on the internet and I really don't want to mess this up. What parts are all connected to the PSU?

I'm still very open to suggestions and improvements.

CPU
Intel Xeon e3-1240 v2

GPU
Nvidia Quadro 2000

Motherboard
Gigabyte GA-Z77-D3H

RAM
G.Skill Ripjaws X series 32 GB DDR-1600

Case
Corsair 500R Black

CPU Cooler
Xigmatek Dark Knight Night Hawk Edition

PSU
XFX Pro 750 W Core edition

SSD
Kingston SSDNOW V200 128 GB
a b B Homebuilt system
October 11, 2012 8:12:28 PM

Crumblis said:
This board is fully compatible with the Intel Xeon e3-1240 v2 ( See here).

I incorporated the Kingston SSDNOW V200 128 GB in the build. I'm aware it's not as good as the brands already mentioned, but it keeps the build below budget. SSD's read and write faster than an HDD, yet, would anyone know if there are more advantages? Because if there are, I'm willing to spend over budget to purchase the Samsung 830, OCZ Vertex 4 or Plextor M3.

Basically SSDs use less power and don't use any moving parts. They don't wear out mechanically but they do wear out due to the way they're written and read. Kingston SSDs aren't as praised as others but I've never had any complaints about any Kingston products I've had (well, only RAM) and only read good things about their SSDs too.
Crumblis said:

I have two questions regarding the build.

The mobo isn't mentioned in the list of qualified motherboards on gskills site when it comes to the memory (See here). But it does mention GA-Z77X-UD3H, is it safe to assume it will function optimally with the Gigabyte GA-Z77-D3H mobo as well?

Yes, it is a safe assumption.
Crumblis said:

My last question is quite embarassing, but I couldn't find a straight answer on the internet and I really don't want to mess this up. What parts are all connected to the PSU?

You should definitely watch some assembly tutorials, I believe there's a series posted on NewEgg's youtube channel.

These parts would be mobo (usually two connectors), usually GPU (may have more than one connector), drives, sometimes fans and other extra stuff.
Crumblis said:

I'm still very open to suggestions and improvements.

CPU
Intel Xeon e3-1240 v2

GPU
Nvidia Quadro 2000

Motherboard
Gigabyte GA-Z77-D3H

RAM
G.Skill Ripjaws X series 32 GB DDR-1600

Case
Corsair 500R Black

CPU Cooler
Xigmatek Dark Knight Night Hawk Edition

PSU
XFX Pro 750 W Core edition

SSD
Kingston SSDNOW V200 128 GB

I would get the i7-3770K which is a bit more powerful.

Are you sure you need 32 GB RAM from day one? I'd try with less first and add more if insufficient - RAM is only becoming cheaper.

You don't need nowhere near 750 W BTW.
October 15, 2012 5:17:43 PM

FinneousPJ said:

I would get the i7-3770K which is a bit more powerful.

Are you sure you need 32 GB RAM from day one? I'd try with less first and add more if insufficient - RAM is only becoming cheaper.

You don't need nowhere near 750 W BTW.


Thank you. A lot of the specs between the i7-3770K and the xeon e3-1240v2 are exactly the same, except for bus-core ratio and an extra 0,1 GHz for the 3770k's clock speed and max turbo frequency (and the obvious iGPU). Will this really be worth it?

I don't know if you were thinking of overclocking when you said 'a bit more powerful', but in case you did: I really feel uncomfortable with overclocking, since I really want this system to last for at least 3 years and it should be able to stay on overnight. I did look into the overclocking capabilities of the i7-3770K and found it couldn't really be clocked beyond 4,4/4,5 GHz, otherwise it'd become unstable.This review even says the CPU tends to thermal throttle even before reaching 4,5 GHz.

I hate it when my workflow gets disrupted and eventhough I do see a lot of advantages with overclocking, I just can't have my system failing on me. I'd be great to have a superresponsive Photoshop, After Effects or Maya for 8 hours straight. But if that would cut the CPU's life to 6 months? Would it even be able to stay overclocked for 8 hours straight, 4 days per week? I just think my workflow and the huge variety of work I do isn't cut out for overclocking.

I was already thinking of going with another case and I suppose I could save 10 to 20 euros on another PSU as well. This way I can cram it into budget, maybe exceed it a little bit. Where it really comes down to is that I just really want to know if there's something I'm not seeing and if my two paragraphs about oc'ing are just two paragraphs of bollocks or not, because if they are and this cpu will actually safely provide me that clock speed whenever I want it, how long I want it, for at least three years, I am so definetly purchasing it.

And yes, I am going to fully use the 32 GB RAM. And then I will stick to the Kingston SSDs :) !
a b B Homebuilt system
October 16, 2012 6:05:13 AM

An overclocked system will survive past its usefulness. You can keep it on overnight normally. My overclocked system is on 24/7 since late 2009. It is safe if you wish to try it.
!