Animation workhorse - £1000

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: The next couple of days


SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: After Effects, 3DS Max, Photoshop. NOT gaming.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Anything outside the case.

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: I'm in the UK, the below build is all available at but I'd also consider novatech, scan etc.



OVERCLOCKING: Yes, nothing heavy.

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Not at this time

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I'm a designer about to start an MA in Animation. I'm accustomed to using macs but i'm not about to spend £2,500 on a machine that I could build as a PC for a fraction of the price. Plus i've never built a computer before and the idea of it quite appeals to me. This machine is intended as a home-based workhorse. I don't intend to do any gaming on it but will be doing a lot of 2D/3D work and rendering.

I've been researching this for a few weeks and I think the above is a pretty solid build that has good potential for future upgrades. Probably the only weakness is the graphics card but I thought that for my usage i'd be better off spending the money on processing power and upgrading the GPU at a later date if needs be. It's my first build so if i've missed anything obvious or made any glaring errors any advice would be much appreciated.

Many thanks,

7 answers Last reply
More about animation workhorse 1000
  1. The HD5770 is a solid general purpose/mid-level gaming GPU, but it will provide middling 2D/3D/rendering performance as compared to a Nvidia Quadro or ATI FireGL/FirePro/FireStream GPU. My preference is with the ATI family of workstation GPUs.

    BTW, what type of monitor (particularly its native resolution) do you plan to use?
  2. Thanks for your reply - the monitor I have is an HP 2335, it's a 23" TFT that runs natively at 1980 x 1200.

    I can get a 512mb FirePro V5700 for £260, that's £130 more than the 1GB HD5770. I'd say that's really the limit of what I can spend - do you think it's worth the extra money, and assuming I did spend that is this the best/most appropriate card for that price? I'm afraid I'm a little lost when it comes to the professional GPUs.
  3. I think your original idea of investing in CPU power now is the best idea and then figuring out is a GPU upgrade would be worth and what GPU to get and saving for it. Check PCPerspective for some good articles on pro GPUs. It's probably one of the best websites I've come across for articles on them.

    Seeing you don't need lots of PCI-E lanes I think you should consider a Lynnfield build, as you get this Intel Core i7-870 2.93Ghz Lynnfield 45nm £222.27 which outperforms the i7-930 And you can get 1156 motherboards for much less than 1366 motherboards, of course you would have to pay more to get 8GB of RAM, but the change in motherboard would probably pay for this.

    You could probably save 10 or 20 pounds on the PSU because your system won't use much power. Altho you are more likely to cover yourself with upgrades with that PSU.
  4. 2D/3d and video editing and rendering is all about accuracy. Gaming is all about speed. A workstation class GPU is more suited for the types of applications you are asking about in the long run. That being said, the 5770 will certainly function and get you started within your budget. You can always upgrade later.
  5. I am sketching out a Photoshop build now. If you intend to step up to Photoshop CS5, which is the latest release, you may need to modify your build.

    On the Adobe forum as well as some others, the preference seems to be for the i7 920 / 930 with nVidia GPUs. For Adobe builds on here, some folks have recommended the GeForce GTS 250 as an entry-level card.

    Right now, the only non-Quadro card approved by Adobe for CS5 is the GeForce GTX 285, and it is a power hungry beast. As the Quadros have similar hardware with different drivers, they may have similar power needs. In fact, one of the experts on the Adobe forum recommended a PSU with 850+ watts for a new CS Build.

    Although Photoshop appears to be the least important use in your list, should you want to move up to CS5 your PSU could be weak.
  6. Thank you all for your advice.

    Silvune, PCPerspective is indeed a useful resource and one that I'd not found before. My thinking behind the 1366 was more of a forwards compatibility thing than anything, it seems like that board would be the best option should I look to upgrade my processor further down the line (I'm thinking in terms of 2-3 years here).

    texbldr - That's a bit of an eye opener - I generally do a lot of PS work but hadn't really considered that it could be the most demanding of those apps. That said I don't do much that wouldn't be supported by the standard OpenGL (generally I'm working with adjustment layers and masks rather than the painting / distortion tools).

    As COLGeek says, I think I might be best just to go for the 5770 for now and upgrade when I have a better idea of how I'm actually using it / what direction my work is taking me in. Plus after having done some more reading I think it might be a good idea to spend a little money on a second (smaller) HDD to keep my OS & applications on while using the 1TB purely for data.
  7. I was a little surprised myself at the power requirements. If you go to the adobe forum here and look for Harm Millaard's post about a third of the way down you will see he recommends 850 as the minimum:

    Adobe Forum Millaard

    He does so on a number of other threads that I have seen. He is a heavyweight user of Adobe CS. I think he does a lot of video work.

    I have also seen threads by others where they recommend the same.

    I believe this is based on using a GeForce GTX 285 or comparable quadro card (only one).

    Most of the Adobe folks use and recommend Windows 7 Professional 64 bit. I cannot recall why at the moment. That might also be one additional change you may want to make.
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