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1000 - 1500 USD Gaming Workstation Build

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November 26, 2012 2:07:27 PM

Good day

Maybe it's a little too early to ask, but I'm a media arts student who's looking to get a new system next year likely April or May next year.

Since I'm trying to squeeze everything out of a thousand USD equivalent (in the Philippines here), and I'm thinking that if I go and wait to get Haswell, the prices of new parts might not make it within my budget. I'm thinking Sandy/Ivy will still pack the gear anyway.

Approximate Purchase Date: 5-6 months

Budget Range: equivalent of 1000 USD, ideally, but the highest I can push for is probably 1500 USD equivalent (and that's really pushing it).

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Work over gaming. So...

3D applications like Maya/Max & Mudbox/Zbrush > Adobe Creative Suite > Resolve Lite > Corel Painter > Games (Metro and Crysis Titles)

Are you buying a monitor: Yes - but this can wait

Parts to Upgrade: everything new

Do you need to buy OS: Yes

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: I'll be looking to local retailers here for this. They can also do the assembly.

Location: Philippines. That's why I keep mentioning USD equivalent. I check local prices. They're pretty close.

Parts Preferences: Definitely an Intel CPU and an Nvidia GPU for CUDA. I have a preference for a Corsair PSU as well.

Overclocking: Maybe - this is subject to careful consideration. Philippine summer temps (heck even on some days during the monsoon season) can reach over 30C on a daily basis. I may consider overclocking if I have saved enough for a replacement CPU.

SLI or Crossfire: Maybe - but if ever, it will be much later. I want a powerful GPU instead of two weaker ones. So CFX/SLI consideration is very low priority.

Monitor Resolution: If I don't immediately get a 1920 x 1200 monitor, it'll be 1600 x 1050.

Additional Comments: I'll be needing a lot of cooling to take on ambient heat.

Thanks.
November 26, 2012 2:48:21 PM

Many people including myself have been trying for years to find a GPU that will run both games & professional software acceptably. You'll be the first I've heard of. It seems the drivers are diametrically opposed to each other.
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November 26, 2012 3:10:50 PM

Nvidia's gaming gpus run 3D applications very well, they just take a lot more time than workstation-specific cards because Nvidia can't sell $3000 gpus if their $500 gaming chip has the same horsepower. AMD's workstation drivers are such a mess they can't even regularly outperform the handicapped gaming cards.
You'd do well with this setup

GTX 680 - Your preference in brand, newegg has one at $427
Intel 3770k - $300
Rosewill R5 gaming case - $60 right now on newegg
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
650w platinum rated power supply from rosewill- $110
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Hard Drive- Western Digital 1tb - $85
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Motherboard - Asrock Z77 Extreme3, $100
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Noctua NH-d14 heatsink, $70
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
G.skill 2400mhz trident X ram - $70
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Total price $1222 without monitor. I would advocate buying three 1080p displays with this kind of setup, if you have the desk space there's no reason not to when they cost like $140 a piece.
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November 26, 2012 3:28:19 PM

I would go with a 3770K for the cpu so you get hyperthreading. As far as graphics goes, Nvidia is the direction I would go. A 5 series (570 or 580) will get you the most performance out of your apps, but by the time you build your rig, many of the software companies will have caught up with the Kepler architecture, so a 6 series may be the way to go in the future. Lots of memory is important too. Get 1600mhz of it and as its so cheap, go with 32GB.
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November 26, 2012 4:49:19 PM

Uhhh, is there anything out there these days that uses more than 8gb? 32Gb of 1600mhz is a very weird combination to use. If you need more than 8gb of ram it would be much more sensible to pay $140 for 16gb of 2400mhz than to pay $120 for 32gb of low-end 1600mhz.
Just because today's apps don't need 2400mhz of bandwidth doesn't mean tomorrow's won't. The 2400mhz CL10 solution is also better because its relative latency is lower than the 1600mhz CL9 solutions.
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November 27, 2012 2:16:46 AM

Interesting. I don't really know the benefits of faster RAM. Care to explain more?

Also will sticking to Windows 7 be better than 8?

On another note, does the Twin Frozr Cooler actually help with GPU cooling?
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November 27, 2012 4:39:02 AM

Msi's gpu cooling solution "Twin Frozr" is one of the best on the market, arguably the best in very close competition with gigabyte and asus. Gigabyte's has been tested to cool better but has reliability issues, and the asus cooler for most gpus is very similar in performance to the twin frozr. So yes, it does help compared to the lousy reference cooler, very close to the advertised "18 degrees C cooler than reference" or whatever they put on the box these days.

Faster ram timings (lower= better) are good for very high-demand applications where the sheer number of hits between the cpu and ram start to make the ram latency a factor. In workstation applications this effect is seen because they constantly work the cpu very hard while not necessarily using a lot of ram. You won't see a difference at all in games, but when you're hitting a 3770k at 100% you might squeak things out a little bit faster with better timings.
Higher Speed (the 1600mhz vs. 2400mhz) ensures that when you tax the cpu that hard that it is able to pull information from the RAM as quickly as possible. This is, as mentioned earlier, a much more important detail in workstation applications than games because they tax the cpu.
While the outcome of using higher clock speeds and lower relative timings isn't always noticeable, having more ram is surely only useful if the application you're running requires it. For example if your system uses 1gb of ram and the software package for adobe or whatever is using an absurd 5gb you're only using 6gb total, and will never use the extra 8gb you paid for. 32gb of ram being used is completely and totally absurd now and in the next few years.
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November 27, 2012 9:31:09 AM

I see. Will those Corsair closed liquid coolers do good in case I have to leave my system on for days at a time?
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November 27, 2012 1:08:57 PM

No, prebuilt closed loop liquid coolers are usually bad. They don't have the longevity that an air cooler does because the motors and tubing can wear out quickly. The Xigmatek Dark Knight II, Zalman CNPS12X, and Noctua NH-D14 all cool cpus just as well as a H100, are much cheaper, and last longer.
If you want liquid cooling than go all out and buy a pump and a radiator and the accessories, that way however short the cooling system's life is you'll know how to repair it and it will certainly be better than air cooling.
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