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Thread: Need help building i7 3D/rendering workstation

  1. #1
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    Need help building i7 3D/rendering workstation

    Any and all comments on the build will be more than welcome. Despite my best efforts at research I still need your feedback.

    The purpose of the machine will be primarily to function as a 3D/HD video/graphics workstation and secondary to function as a render machine.

    Both goals, and especially the second, require the PC to have as much raw computing (CPU) power as humanly possible. The system should also be very stable as it will be running days, sometimes even weeks on end with full load.

    BUDGET RANGE: About $1500 or thereabouts. Since I’ll buy it in euro (I'm in Belgium) you shouldn’t worry too much about conversions and just go for an approximate guess. The parts I listed cost about as much as I'm willing to spend on that particular kind of part (CPU, mobo, ...)

    APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Within the next month. Would be willing to wait only if something is around the corner that will suit my needs a lot more than current possibilities.

    SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: 3D and HD graphics workstation. Rendering machine. A tiny bit of gaming if possible.

    PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Keyboard, mouse, screen.

    PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: I’m afraid I’m stuck with a local builder/shop as I’m having it be built there. Luckily they have a pretty wide choice of parts so most if not any of your suggestions are acceptable.

    None that I can think of.

    OVERCLOCKING: Yes. SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Not in the near future.

    MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1680 x 1050

    ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I know it’s a lot to ask for considering it is to be overclocked and will need a cooler the size of Mt Everest, but I really, really would prefer a PC which runs as quietly as possible. My current one is on 24/7 standby to be drafted by the military for use as a sonic weapon. It’s really driving me crazy to be working next to something that sounds like it’s about to go into orbit at any second.



    i7 920 or i7 930.

    I prefer the 1366 socket over the 1156 because the i7 920/930 offers more “bandwith” (that’s how I understood it anyways) which apparently makes a difference for video editing.

    The CPU would then be OC’d to 3,5 Ghz at least, Hyperthreading enabled of course. I’d get as much as I can. The magical 4 Ghz if possible. But the machine should be stable as a rock, so I doubt that’ll work out.

    I’m in doubt about going for a 920 or a 930. Apparently the only difference is that the 930 is clocked somewhat higher. But someone suggested somewhere that the 930 is somewhat newer in design so should be easier to overclock.

    CPU Cooler:

    I was thinking of getting the Noctua NH-D14. It’s a massive beast, and it seems to be scoring best on all the benchmarks.

    Since I just noticed the shop I’m using doesn’t carry the damn thing anymore I might have to go for the Cooler Master V10 which is also reported to cool reasonably well.
    Anyone have experiences about which of the two performs better?

    If you guys think the Noctua would be a lot better I’ll do my very best to get it.


    Cooler Master HAF 922

    The only reason I picked this one is because both the Noctua and Cooler Master coolers are immense in size and not all cases will fit them. Reviews also note the case’s fine airflow. I hope I’m right in choosing this case.


    Asus P6T probably. I’m a little at a loss as to which mobo to go for. I’m inclined to go for the P6T as it fits my budget and does nice in reviews. But considering I’m OC’ing I’m wondering if I should go for the Deluxe or another line of mobo’s entirely. Your advice on this matter would be much appreciated.


    12GB. I know, it’s a lot. But I’m wanting to start running quite a lot of simulations and they’re very heavy on RAM. My workflow is also very “multitasky” so I’m sure the 12GB will come in handy.

    Corsair 12 GB DDR3-1600 Hex-Kit Retail. I don’t know anything about RAM and its relation to OC’ing. I heard having a lot of RAM (in this case an insane 12GB) will make it harder to OC. I also have no idea) will make it harder to OC. I also have no idea whether having 1600 Mhz ram or this 9-9-9-24 thing make any difference. The guides about overclocking the i7 didn't provide much information about this.


    This is a tough one. I first considered getting a Quadro workstation card… But then I realized they’re all basically consumer type chipsets with some extra RAM and a disproportionate extra cost.

    Unless someone can convince me they have some amazing advantage I don’t know about they’re not an option.

    I’m torn between the Nvidia GTX260 and the Radeon 5770. The 260 is said to score better in the 2D field which is rather important. It’s also CUDA enabled, which could be the next big thing in rendering. On the downside it has only 896 MB RAM, which isn’t enough to run a brand new kind of program which uses the GPU to help with rendering.
    Then the 5770 has the advantage of 1Gig RAM. I heard that Nvidia artificially keeps the performance of their gaming cards down when dealing with Adobe graphics software, so that people will buy the Quadro cards. I’m not sure if this is true or not.

    I occasionally game although the ability to do so or not isn’t a deal breaker.

    Hard drive:

    I honestly have no idea. I’m probably going to be editing HD footage so I’m guessing I’ll need some speed. I was advised against the raptor since it’s not safe enough. A SSD is outside my budget.

    Currently I’m going for 2HD’s WD Caviar Black 640 GB. I don’t know anything about RAID.

    Help with this would be great.


    Corsair CMPSU-650TX
    Will 650 be enough?

    Here’s my questions summarized:

    920 or 930?

    Cooler Master V10 or Noctua NH-D14?

    Will the case fit the cooler?

    Which motherboard should I get? Overclockability is a prime concern of course.

    Will the RAM be a hurdle to OC'ing?

    Which GPU to get? The GTX260 or the Radeon 5770?

    Which hard drive solution to get to ensure the best data rate while editing?

    How powerful a PSU will I need?

    Thanks heaps in advance for reading my wall of text. And even more thanks for any reply.

  2. #2
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    Re: Need help building i7 3D/rendering workstation

    The Phenom II X6 processor is being released at the end of next month and it would be useful to see how these perform in rendering and video editing tasks.

    Those despicable Elk,stealing the pond weed!

  3. #3
    Senior Member Pob255's Avatar
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    • Pob255's system
      • Motherboard:
      • Asus M5A99X EVO
      • CPU:
      • PhenomII x4 955 & CM Hyper 212+
      • Memory:
      • 2x 4gb Corsair Vengence 1600mhz cas9
      • Storage:
      • 250gb SATA Westerndigital + 500gb samsung +1tb Samsung
      • Graphics card(s):
      • Asus GTX560ti CuII
      • PSU:
      • Be Quiet E9 680w
      • Case:
      • HAF 912+
      • Operating System:
      • W7 Pro
      • Monitor(s):
      • Dell 21" ips something

    Re: Need help building i7 3D/rendering workstation

    Looking at your plans an SSD would not be outside your budget if it's just used for OS and software, with files stored on a seperate hard drive. something like a 60gb drive should be enough for that (games will probably have to go on the hard drive as well as files)

    12gb of memory is not overkill for what you want
    a i7 920 is a good choise as still the majority of rendering is done on the cpu not the gpu.
    There is the possibility of gpu's getting more involved but it's still a bit to early to fully decide yet, off hand I'd say go with the 5770 although be aware that if gpu rendering takes off you may need to replace it.
    The difference between consumer and pro graphics cards is the drivers and the level of driver/gpu interaction.
    If you cannot aford the £1000 or so for a top end Pro card just stick with a mid range consumer card, the mid to low end Pro cards tend to be rather rubbish.

    Personally I'd not go for the HAF esp the smaller 922
    I'd look at the NZXT Hades, the rather ugly but very functional Antec 600 and even the NZXT Panzerbox
    Also look at the Coolermaster 690 II advanced and the thermaltake (yes I said TT) element T or element G (yes the fan colour changeing is rather but the speed control on 3x 220mm fans isn't)

    Although my current fav case atm is the Lancool K58 (with additional fans) or K62

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