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Thread: Build advice for 3D and video graphics machine (Please!)

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    Question Build advice for 3D and video graphics machine (Please!)

    Hello! (again)

    Quite a while back now I created thread about building a PC that I wanted to use for producing computer graphics. Here.

    http://forums.hexus.net/pc-hardware/...ne-please.html

    I got lots of really useful advice and specific builds suggested. Unfortunately, financial circumstances took a turn for the worse shortly afterwards and the build never happened. (Thanks to everyone who contributed before)

    Anyway, Im back for more advice (please!). And this time the purchase will be made at the weekend. I cant wait any longer!

    Pretty much the same brief.

    I need to run adobe graphics / video software but a heavy emphasis on using and rendering with 3DS Max.


    Need:

    Bests processor possible (whatever best may be now)
    Mobo (to support …)
    The world’s supply of RAM
    Graphics Card (to support 2x monitors)
    PSU
    DVD
    Solid state drive (for OS and software + works in progress)
    Standard HD (storage)
    Case (doesn’t have to be nice)
    Anything I have forgotten!


    Don’t Need:

    Mouse
    Keyboard
    Monitors
    Speakers
    OS (unless I can get it cheap)
    Anything else ive forgotten


    The budget is around £750-£850. but if an extra £20 over budget doubles the quality then please feel free.


    I apreciate its cheeky to ask for so much help so thanks in advance for any and all advice. It will all be greatly appreciated.


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    Re: Build advice for 3D and video graphics machine (Please!)

    Are you overclocking? The Xeon E3 was released since which is not overclockable but gives you Core i7 level performance for Core i5 level prices.


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    Re: Build advice for 3D and video graphics machine (Please!)

    Hi CAT .

    Firstly thanks for your advice the last time I asked this question. I was a few hours from pushing the button on your suggested build when I was made redundant and decided to save the cash (an error in hindsight!)

    Anyway, Im not necessarily opposed to overclocking however are there potential issues there as the machine could be running full tilt for a number of days in a row when rendering?

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    Re: Build advice for 3D and video graphics machine (Please!)

    Hi

    Another 3D guy here
    In the past I've done everything from water cooling to vapochills to get every last bit out of the processor.

    If you're using the PC for anything work related though, I'd strongly recommend against overclocking it. Most modern 3D apps use the CPU and sub system in such a way that I've had systems that have benched for days stable with all common 'burn in' software, but get upset after several hours of 3D work.

    It's absolutely not worth the risk of a render bombing out mid way - as soon as it does, you've lost any speed advantage by having to reset it back up from the position you lost it.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of overclocking - but I've learnt the hard way that if you're doing 3D work in any serious capacity, the risk:reward isn't worth it for me.
    Quote Originally Posted by Saracen View Post
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    Re: Build advice for 3D and video graphics machine (Please!)

    Completely agree with the above - for the same reason it's worth trying to source as many workstation level components as possible rather than desktop components which tend to push the performance and/or cost-cutting as much as possible. Workstation graphics cards aren't cheap, but they are more reliable with much more stable drivers for example.

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    Re: Build advice for 3D and video graphics machine (Please!)

    If you get up to 20 relevant posts you can get free postage from Scan:

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



    The build uses parts from Scan. The CPU cannot be overclocked. I have not looked at the lower load efficiency of the PSU,although it is not bad IIRC. This PSU is very efficient:

    http://www.scan.co.uk/products/360w-...gold-quiet-fan

    However,the relatively low wattage might be a limitation in the future,if you want to add a higher end graphics card for example.

    However I would shop around as some parts might be cheaper. Regarding the graphics card,there is debate on whether using a professional or consumer graphics card makes more sense.

    I would look at this review of the slower V3900:

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/...mark,3153.html

    The professional cards tend to have better drivers,which seems to mean better viewpoint speeds and better image quality.

    However,consumer cards are just more powerful at an equivalent price and can just "brute force" past the professional cards at things like GPU assisted rendering. I would do some research on this.

    Regarding the overclocking,I probably would not,although a number of people who do 3D work do overclock it seems(at least on forums),so you will need to weigh up the added costs and any potential issues with stability.

    You will need to go for a K series CPU. Both Novatech and CCL Computers seem to be getting rid of their old SB based Coe i7 stocks relatively cheaply:

    http://www.novatech.co.uk/products/c...300833908.html

    http://www.novatech.co.uk/products/c...72700koem.html

    http://www.cclonline.com/product/449...ssor-/CPU1107/

    I would be quick though!!

    The motherboard I chose should be good enough for a reasonable overclock. If you are really pushing the overclock I would get this:

    http://www.scan.co.uk/products/gigab...dvi-d-hdmi-atx

    These are meant to be decent budget coolers:

    http://www.scan.co.uk/products/gelid...am2-am2plus-am

    http://www.scan.co.uk/products/coole...55-1156-1366-a

    The IB based Core i7 3770K is a tad faster,consumes a bit more power and has PCI-E but is between £240 to £250,and tends run hotter. TBH,I do not think its worth the extra over a Core i7 2600K or Core i7 2700K.

    http://www.topcashback.co.uk/

    http://www.quidco.com/

    However,that is if you overclock. As I said I probably would not myself.

    You can get cashback with both companies:
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 30-10-2012 at 01:10 PM.


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    Re: Build advice for 3D and video graphics machine (Please!)

    Thanks Everyone.

    Any element of risk regarding overclocking is something i would look to avoid and seeing as this will be my machine for quite some time and it is used for work means i probably wont go down this path.

    Also i think a workstation card is the way forward. I havnt played a computer game in years and any added support / stability that it offers will be entirely welcome.

    Thanks CAT. Again we struggle to spec to a PC that is particularly better matched / performing than the above. I think I will consider doubling up on the RAM. Im spending this much already and though its nice to think i might add some extra memory in future... Once its built i wont open the box until something breaks so if its going in, its got to go in now!

    Thanks ALL!

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    Re: Build advice for 3D and video graphics machine (Please!)

    Supposedly the point in the workstation video card is that the drivers don't compromise image quality. If you are playing a game and getting a new frame in a 1/60th of a seconds time then being pixel perfect isn't as important as frame rate. It you are looking at a static image, then spending another fraction of a second on getting it right matters more.

    Upshot is you are paying at least double usually for the workstation video card to get this change in behaviour. The nvidia ones are usually underclocked as well which I guess improves the reliability, and helps keep the heatsink small so you can pack multiple cards into a case.

    For most people, I suspect most of this is irrelevant and you would be better off with a decent consumer card. If your final renders are done on the CPU, then gpu driver output quality is a wash and only matters for previews.

    Now I have been playing around with Blender (just messing, this isn't my job) and basically it seems that if you have an Nvidia card you can render on the GPU using CUDA acceleration, and if you have an ATI card then the OpenCL drivers are still too buggy to have any chance of doing the same any time soon. Looks from a quick google like 3DS Max has a similar CUDA based renderer called iRay built in, but for AMD support requires a extra cost addon called v-ray.

    I don't know what kind of work you are doing, but if you can use one of these renderers then it strikes me that you want to get a recent Nvidia card with as much vram on there as you can find. I would google for some benchmarks, the performance difference may be game changing and alter the balance of the machine spec.

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    Re: Build advice for 3D and video graphics machine (Please!)

    Ok. Thats quite interesting.

    I use Iray occasionally as a preview renderer really. rather than to produce final images. Which can be very useful. Though due to not having a very good machine atm i use it rarely as it cant keep up.

    Generally i render with the Mental Ray engine but the plan is to move to Vray asap. Ill have to look into this as, as you say. It could alter the balance of components.

    Thanks.

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    Re: Build advice for 3D and video graphics machine (Please!)

    The problem is that the Nvidia low end has not been updated for years. The thing is AMD has though. An example is the £95 V3900 against the £156 Quadro 600:

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/...rk,3153-4.html

    The V4900 is probably around 10% to 20% faster than a V4800, and you can see the viewport benchmarks run for the V4800 in 3DS Max 2012:

    http://www.cgchannel.com/2011/10/rev...a-vs-amd-2011/

    The OP would need to get a Quadro 2000 at least which is nearly around £400,and I really doubt the cards under it are that great for the price. The V4900 is probably at least FX5800 level or faster. The Quadro 2000 has twice the amount of shaders as a Quadro 600 and twice the memory bandwidth.

    Another aspect is the V4900 can support upto three monitors too.
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 31-10-2012 at 01:08 PM.


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    Re: Build advice for 3D and video graphics machine (Please!)

    Quote Originally Posted by DanceswithUnix View Post
    Supposedly the point in the workstation video card is that the drivers don't compromise image quality. If you are playing a game and getting a new frame in a 1/60th of a seconds time then being pixel perfect isn't as important as frame rate. It you are looking at a static image, then spending another fraction of a second on getting it right matters more.
    Static images are static images. Having a workstation card won't change a 2D image over digital compared to a consumer one. The only exception is contrast and other levels, all of which you can set manually.

    edit - This is without getting into the 10bit out stuff, which is a different area.

    Quote Originally Posted by DanceswithUnix View Post
    For most people, I suspect most of this is irrelevant and you would be better off with a decent consumer card. If your final renders are done on the CPU, then gpu driver output quality is a wash and only matters for previews.
    Final renders can be done on the GPU with a lot of software these days (CUDA, OpenCL), not just CPU. It still doesn't make a difference to the image quality of the final result though - it's still just maths that gets worked out by the GPU or CPU. It's the settings that you choose for the render that alter it's quality

    Quote Originally Posted by DanceswithUnix View Post
    Now I have been playing around with Blender (just messing, this isn't my job) and basically it seems that if you have an Nvidia card you can render on the GPU using CUDA acceleration, and if you have an ATI card then the OpenCL drivers are still too buggy to have any chance of doing the same any time soon. Looks from a quick google like 3DS Max has a similar CUDA based renderer called iRay built in, but for AMD support requires a extra cost addon called v-ray.
    Woah, slow down
    V-ray is a bit more than a extra addon. It's an entirely different renderer. You can't just swap renderers out and get faster / slower results. Changing a renderer changes a lot more: You might need to entirely alter the way your textures / materials are set up, alter the lighting (different lighting solutions have different lighting results) and in some cases, even modify the physical scene. Renderers are complex and it's rarely a case of just jumping between them when you're after professional results.

    The entire nVidia / AMd thing though: Go with nVidia. I'm not a fanboy by any means, but Dances is right. CUDA support and nVidia support in general is a lot better. AMD do not take the professional segment that seriously.

    Don't shy away from a none workstation card though - they can provide excellent results. The drivers are better on a workstation card, don't get me wrong, but it's that rare you'll ever encounter an issue (I speak from experience here) that I wouldn't worry about it too much. The 3D community find the bugs pretty quickly and you'll know if there is an issue that requires an upgrade / downgrade of drivers (not that nVidia don't patch them fast - they do).

    It's just a cost calculation that you need to consider. If you're slightly tech savvy (sp?) then I'd not worry about it personally. Not unless you're running a huge room of workstations that are loaded 24/7. The downtime off a consumer card is still going to be low, probability wise. Again, it's a risk:cost calculation that only you can decide.

    Quote Originally Posted by DanceswithUnix View Post
    I don't know what kind of work you are doing, but if you can use one of these renderers then it strikes me that you want to get a recent Nvidia card with as much vram on there as you can find. I would google for some benchmarks, the performance difference may be game changing and alter the balance of the machine spec.
    Totally agree - nVidia + vram. Although do keep in mind that vram amount needed is dependant on the type of work being done. Even the cheapest 6GB is ~£3000. That's a lot of dosh.
    I've found it more cost effective to use consumer cards in different machines and network render. Even if one machine goes down - it just takes a bit longer

    Quadro cards are good - I'll not say a bad word about them, but we're talking an entirely different market here. If the OP is a home professional user, then that cost consideration may not be realistic. Most of the 'home professional' or small businesses don't use Quadros and there is no shame in it as long as you know the pros and cons.
    Last edited by Agent; 31-10-2012 at 02:11 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Saracen View Post
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    Re: Build advice for 3D and video graphics machine (Please!)

    Actually,if the OP is willing to use Ebay,the Quadro 2000 is under £200:

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/csc/i.html?_so...mplete=1&rt=nc

    Many are new too - perhaps people have bought a prebuilt system and plonked in a higher end card?

    That article I linked to tested I-Ray too,so the Quadro 2000 would be very useful too. The OP only has a limited budget,so anything that much over £200 is moot.

    However,the distinct lack of reviews of the lower end Nvidia cards is a tad worrying though.
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 31-10-2012 at 01:39 PM.


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    Re: Build advice for 3D and video graphics machine (Please!)

    I will certainly have to continue to use Mental Ray for existing projects whilst moving forward onto mostly Vray work (is the plan anyway). I-ray to be honest is far less of a consideration.

    I would certainly consider ebay, however as cat points out. The budget is fairly fixed, esspecially if im looking at more RAM. I have to get monitors x2 aswell. though obv that is not included in the £800.


    Appreciating the debate! Even though im not particularly techy.

    Thanks.

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    Re: Build advice for 3D and video graphics machine (Please!)

    As I am a layperson really in terms of computers i dont fully appreciate some of the finer points regarding the card differences, vram etc.

    However if the Quadro is likley to offer significant benefits then i could potentially stretch to £200 for the card.

    I was always under the impression in the past that the card, when it came to rendering offered very little help. as mentioned above, the computing is done on the GPU when it comes to render time.

    If it makes any difference, the majority of my work is (meant to be!) high realism architectural, interior and product images / videos.

    Thanks.

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    Re: Build advice for 3D and video graphics machine (Please!)

    There is a new Quadro 2000 on Ebay for £200,but perhaps try an offer(you have three chances) and see what you can get it for??


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    Re: Build advice for 3D and video graphics machine (Please!)

    Ill certianly give it a go if it truly is worth the extra. They seem to go for upwards of 180.

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