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Thread: Advice on building 3D design/rendering machine please!

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    Advice on building 3D design/rendering machine please!

    Hi.

    I was hoping to get some advice on building a system which will be used almost exclusively for making and rendering 3D graphics using 3DS Max.

    Any general advice, specific tips, products, or build specs would be greatly appreciated.

    Im not particularly technical when it comes to putting hardware together and though I have some friends who are I thought it would be a good idea to get some advice from the world at large!

    I think im right in saying that rendering graphics is all about processors and memory. The gfx is obviously important to actually use the software and create the models but 3DS Max doesn’t actually require a £1000 card to do this and when it comes to rendering the gfx may as well be expensive RAM… I think!

    A solid state HD sounds a good idea from what I read and as I have tonnes of external storage it only needs to be big enough to handle the OS, software and any work in progress.

    And that’s about the limit of my knowledge! Ive seen systems with dual processors etc and I imagine this is a bit beyond my budget but that’s where I need the advice. Whether its better to have 2 of these than one of those. Or whether less faster RAM is better than more slower RAM… etc.

    I need no peripherals. No DVD drives. The gfx does needs to handle two monitors.

    So as stated, any pointers or advice and everything else would be greatly appreciated.

    At my old job I had 20+ cores at my disposal and though I appreciate my £800 budget isn’t going to get me much more than 6, I want the most powerful rendering system possible for my cash-monies!

    Thanks.


    -Theo

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    Re: Advice on building 3D design/rendering machine please!

    Is your budget for the whole computer including the monitor and a copy of an OS??


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    Re: Advice on building 3D design/rendering machine please!

    In this review the Core i5 2500K is faster than a Phenom II X6:

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/4083/t...2100-tested/17

    http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/146?vs=288

    However,in these reviews the Phenom II X6 is faster than a Core i5 2500k:

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/...k,2833-15.html

    http://www.behardware.com/articles/8...dy-bridge.html

    http://techgage.com/article/intels_s...00k_reviewed/6

    However,looking at the reviews it seems that the Phenom II X6 seems to have the edge over a Core i5 2500k in 3D Studio Max 2010.

    OTH,in 3D Studio Max 2010 the Core i7 2600k is slightly faster than the Phenom II X6 1100T.


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    Re: Advice on building 3D design/rendering machine please!

    Thanks CAT.

    Those comps are interesting. Ill have an in-depth look.

    Regarding budget the £800 is slightly flexible and does not include monitors or OS.

    Just case, mobo, chip, gfx, RAM and hd (and anything i have forgoten thats vital to making the insides of a computer GO!!)

    Thanks.

    -T

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    Re: Advice on building 3D design/rendering machine please!

    Remember when you get to 20 posts you can get free postage from Scan:

    http://forums.hexus.net/scan-care-he...-delivery.html

    I assume you are using Windows 7 too.

    This is one build you might want to consider:

    AMD CPU Phenom II 1090T Black Edition Six Core Processor ~ £150

    http://www.scan.co.uk/products/amd-p...he-125w-retail

    The Phenom II X6 1100T is clocked 100MHZ higher but is £28 more expensive.

    Asus M4A87TD EVO AMD 870 AM3 Motherboard ~ £79

    http://www.scan.co.uk/products/asus-...-sata-raid-atx

    This has SATA 3.0 and USB 3.0 ports.

    2XCorsair Memory XMS3 8GB DDR3 1600 MHz CAS 9 Dual Channel Desktop ~ £150

    http://www.scan.co.uk/products/8gb-%...-9-9-9-27-165v

    ATI FirePro V4800 ~ £132

    http://www.scan.co.uk/products/1gb-a...ort-1-x-dl-dvi

    Coolermaster RS600-80GAD3-UK Silent Pro Gold 600W ~ £70

    http://www.scan.co.uk/products/600w-...s12v-135mm-fan

    OCZ 60GB Vertex 2E SSD - Solid State Drive ~ £94

    http://www.scan.co.uk/products/s60gb...-write-275mb-s

    Samsung 1Tb Spinpoint F3 Hard Drive - HDD ~ £39

    http://www.scan.co.uk/products/ss1tb...-89-ms-ncq-oem

    ThermalTake Dokker ~ £43

    http://www.scan.co.uk/products/therm...3-5-25-w-o-psu

    The total comes to around £757. I would also look into whether a more elaborate hard disk arrangement such as a RAID 0 array would be worth considering.

    Also,I have specified 16GB of RAM but 8GB maybe enough.

    You could also get a Core i7 2600K and an H67 motherboard to replace the Phenom II X6 1090T and 870 motherboard but this will cost a few quid more:

    http://www.scan.co.uk/products/intel...che-95w-retail

    http://www.scan.co.uk/products/intel...s-raid-atx-vga

    The Intel motherboards are meant to be quite stable AFAIK.

    I would also check the following web-pages for special offers:

    http://www.scan.co.uk/todayonly/index.aspx

    http://www.scan.co.uk/shopoffers/index.aspx
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 17-03-2011 at 10:16 PM.


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    Re: Advice on building 3D design/rendering machine please!

    It seems the V4800 is almost as fast as the V5800 even though the former is much cheaper:

    http://www.pcper.com/article.php?aid...e=expert&pid=4


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    Re: Advice on building 3D design/rendering machine please!

    Cat has this nailed for you,

    as 3D rendering is a RAM intensive thing I'd get as good quality , as fast, and as much RAM as I could afford. If you're trying to reduce overall cost see if 2x4GB modules go for roughly half the price of 4x4GB. If so, why not try getting just the 8GB and see how you go, upgrading to add another 8GB if you find you need it. Def don't go less than 8GB to start with though IMO.

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    Re: Advice on building 3D design/rendering machine please!

    Good advice all, I'm one of this guys 'technical' friends!

    Interesting call on the i5 vs Phenom processor discussion, I was trying to steer him toward one of the i7's ideally was hoping to squeeze in one of the 6 core versions but I think the 970s or extremes might be a bit beyond current budget.

    On the RAM side of things, the last time I did any serious research we were all using DDR2 dual channel (I still am ) with regards to DDR3, is there any significant benefit in the tripple channel configs? or do you think it'd be better to stick with the dual channel and slap more in? I'm kind of assuming you need a mobo which would support tripple channel, but might be wrong.

    Overall I was thinking something along the lines of this in terms of overall balance - http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showpr...odid=FS-020-OP

    With perhaps a later upgrade to say 12gb of ram if the 6 in tripple channel isn't enough - http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showpr...atid=8&subcat=

    Any advances?

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    Re: Advice on building 3D design/rendering machine please!

    The Phenom II X6 build I suggested has much more RAM and a FireGL card. I have also included a better case which even has a HDD docking station included,a better PSU and an SSD too.

    The main problem with socket 1366 is the expense of the motherboards.

    If you look at the reviews in post 3 the Phenom II X6 1090T is faster than a Core i7 950 in 3DS Max 2010.


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    Re: Advice on building 3D design/rendering machine please!

    Sorry Cat but I don't think that the comment about the H67 motherboard is correct.

    http://forums.hexus.net/hexus-hardwa...ml#post2057935

    The original reviews of Sandybridge said that you can only overclock on the P series motherboards. I can't find the exact place where it's quoted but I'm fairly certain you can overclock with a P series board.

    There's absolutely no point in buying Sandybridge K series if you're not going to wring every ounce of performance out of it by overclocking. Otherwise, you may as well just buy the 2400 or 2500 if it exists instead of the 2500K.

    Please forgive the links to Bit-Tech...

    http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/cpu...ridge-review/7

    http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/cpu...ore-i5-2500k/1

    Regarding comparing i7 Bloomfield/Gulftown, I'd have to go with Cat on the choice of platform. Performance/£ Bloomfield/Gulftown is somewhat higher that even Sandybridge. The multicores are great but just not cost effective. The upgrade path is somewhat limited now too as the full range of processors has been launched, and to get one that is the dogs danglies will cost the the price of the entire build.

    Besides this, Designosaur has said that they have not specified that they have any desire or experience with overclocking - therefore the cheapest most powerful system you're going to get on stock settings is with an AMD setup.

    Cat knows his stuff and is better at quoting you sources than a Jehovah's Witness at open mic day at the local Synagogue....
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    Re: Advice on building 3D design/rendering machine please!

    Quote Originally Posted by Tattysnuc View Post
    Sorry Cat but I don't think that the comment about the H67 motherboard is correct.

    http://forums.hexus.net/hexus-hardwa...ml#post2057935

    The original reviews of Sandybridge said that you can only overclock on the P series motherboards. I can't find the exact place where it's quoted but I'm fairly certain you can overclock with a P series board.

    There's absolutely no point in buying Sandybridge K series if you're not going to wring every ounce of performance out of it by overclocking. Otherwise, you may as well just buy the 2400 or 2500 if it exists instead of the 2500K.
    Good spot!

    I was meaning to link to the cheaper non-K processor:
    http://www.scan.co.uk/products/intel...che-95w-retail



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    Re: Advice on building 3D design/rendering machine please!

    i do a bit of 3ds max work, nothing hugely detailed but i do think that 16GB RAM could be overkill in some situations, so maybe start with 8GB

    also, there's more to it than straight performance when it comes to 6 core amd vs. 4/8 core sandy bridge chips, when the SB chips are massively more power efficient. if it's not an urgent build, maybe wait for bulldozer?

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    Re: Advice on building 3D design/rendering machine please!

    Hi.

    Thanks for all the advice!

    Im trying my best to take it all in (and even understand a bit of it )

    Regarding the chips. I had rather assumed that i7 was going to be the only choice so its intersting to see how close the options actually are.

    In terms of memory. Assuming the set up is able to utilise all of it, i dont really think there is an overkill.

    The stuf i do mostly is mid to large scale architectural. High realism. As i said before i think. my old work set up was a little server for rendering but my own work computer there was a mac with a 6 core processor and 12gb Ram. I think i would be frustrated if i had less than that (by which i mean a system less powerful, im coming to appreciate that simply matching figures 12gb>12gb doesnt tell the whole story.)

    Any more advice or experience anyone has is greatly appreciated. Ill get together with above "technical" friend and try to spec out our version of a system then stick it on here for people to crit.

    Thanks again.

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    Re: Advice on building 3D design/rendering machine please!

    Besides this, Designosaur has said that they have not specified that they have any desire or experience with overclocking
    Overclocking is not an issue, I've was running my E6600 at just over 3Ghz for quite a while, I'm familar with aftermarket cooling and various bios tweaks for the standard bus speeds and multipliers and whilst my experience is a few years old now, I'm sure that things haven't moved on all that far!

    Designosaur did just mention to be about a possible requirement of needing to leave the thing running for quite a while at a time, so whilst finding the balance between cooling and power from the components won't be a problem, prolonging the lifespan of the system by not running beyond it's means will be important.

    Did anyone have anything to add on the dual vs tripple channel memory configs? I'm curious from a personal perspective as much as anything!

    Cheers,

    Doug

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    Re: Advice on building 3D design/rendering machine please!

    How about approaching it in a different way and make your own render farm using more budget
    parts. I have no idea how feasible that is but could be worth looking into.

    A few years ago I had a friend who used 3DS max and I remember him talking about being able
    to use different rendering plugins which can be hardware (GPU) or software based. Does the one
    you use make use of hardware acceleration? If not does having a proper rendering gpu make any
    difference if the rendering is done in software?

    heres some links that maybe of interest

    http://mos.futurenet.com/resources/3...W94.s_farm.pdf
    http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet...linkID=9241177
    http://www.visualz.com/free/down_on_the_farm.pdf

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    Re: Advice on building 3D design/rendering machine please!

    Im not sure is the answer to both those questions!

    Ill check those links. Thanks.

    Regarding the render farm. This PC is the start of one really. I have my old computer that will be ok to chug along in the background doing its bit. Or i will be using it for other work whilst the new PC is rendering.

    One issue is that i need a PC to create the work on in the first place. So whilst I may be able to build a small farm for similar money (not sure) i wouldnt actually be able to make any models to render on it!

    Thanks again.

    -T

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