So you’re an old fart then, David. But you’re not as old a fart as I am - my mobile phone isn’t programmable at all and is actually older than most sprogs. My phone is an old fart! Fortunately the internet enables us to de-olden-farten ourselves to a large degree, so with a little effort we can learn without embarrassment. And you are far more capable than you make out here. We can all see it by what you achieve (tell him, Horo).
Partitioning is a bit of a faff but worth the effort if you have only one hard disk. It’s much easier still to buy another hard disk and make that your data drive. You definitely need to back it up against mechanical death, of course, but it’s safe from a corrupted operating system requiring a “format C”. Having said that, modern operating systems are much more robust than the bad old days of Windows 95, etc, with which I learned my safety procedures.
Well, your divergence into Octane has certainly opened a new avenue of window shopping. If I follow you there (and it seems a worthy route considering the tumbleweed from DAZ regarding Bryce), graphics cards become interesting. For a while I was happy because the (out of date) FAQ on the Octane website indicates that the older 500 series of GeForce cards are better than the latest range. But checking out the forums shows that the 1.1 update changed things to the advantage of the 600 series.
To build a topflight(ish)* system to accommodate both Bryce (CPU) and Octane (GPU) will be very expensive. This can stay safely in the realm of window shopping until I get some time to actually enjoy the softwares.
*one of the Octane forum members bought four GeForce Titans. That’s £3600 in UK money. Way too rich for me.
The used Xeon route is tricky, there are so many variations and you have to look carefully to make sure you get the best options - taking account of availability of other items like motherboards and memory.
The main advantage is gaining 8 “enterprise” quality physical cores on which to run Bryce. But 8 physical cores is only worth it up to a point. Rashad has, or had, an 8 core Xeon setup, but it was outperformed by my overclocked 4 core Q6600. Bryce render speed is about clock cycles (of the floating point stylie), and if you can get more clock cycles out of “enthusiast desktop” gear that’s designed to be overclocked, than you can out of “enterprise workstation” gear that’s designed to not be overclocked, then the answer is obvious (unless you need “professional” durability).
The current-tech desktop route is ultimately faster, the used Xeon route is safer and… interesting. Watercooling is definitely needed to get the best out of desktop tech, so cost wise the choices are not too dissimilar for similar speed.
I’m certainly in the mood to build a new system (to some extent, just for the hell of it) but won’t rush. Trouble is, at the rate things are going, our morally and intellectually superior elites will soon turn my PC savings into about enough to buy a tin of beans. I’m certainly not keeping it in the bank…