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I need help and advice on building a new computer.
Posted: 09 April 2014 01:56 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Hi All,

So I’ve decided that I would like to build my new computer as I’m convinced that it is the best way to stretch my budget and achieve an efficient, reliable machine. One of the problems that im facing is that I simply do not know very much about computer components. The moment that I start looking at components lists, I get lost in all the specs. I’ve read other posts but I’m having trouble trying to determine what I should buy or even need.

This would be a work/hobby machine and must be a desktop PC. I want to run Windows 7 64 bit as the OS. I cant do MAC because of work requirements. As far as hobbies go, DAZ and Hexagon are my primary concerns and gaming is second. I would like to keep the budget for this computer at 2000 USD.

If anyone has any advice I would really appreciate it. I know that memory is a huge concern with DAZ and that a good graphics card would really help, but other than that I’m kind of stuck.

Thanks for your help.

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Posted: 10 April 2014 06:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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somewhere between gaming rig and workstation is where you want to be with a rig.

A good motherboard will run between $100 and $400 depending on what you need it to do, most of the expensive ones tend to lend themselves to higher graphic card functions which if you are using Studio and Hex are really not going to give you much benefit. If you game or if you do GPU assisted renders then they will provided you have higher end graphic cards that utilize their potential.
What you should look for in this day and age is 6GB/s SATA and USB 3.0 for internal and external storage

CPU: Intel or AMD, it’s up to you. I prefer Intel, I once preferred AMD, AMD’s tend to be slightly less expensive. For rendering anything in 3Delight it’s all CPU and RAM so more cores are more better. If it’s a choice between a faster quad core i5 and a slower quad core i7 I’d go for the slower i7 since it allows you to use hyperthreading and behaves as if it has 8 cores are in the CPU. Hex cores are even faster (for dedicated CPU rendering) but your price range goes up for the extra cores, probably more-so with Intel than AMD.

GPU: Graphics Cards. If you don’t plan to use a high end GPU rendering engine you should go for a good but inexpensive card but don’t skimp, your GPU is the speed in which your interface responds to your using it. Slower cards redraw slower, but higher end cards tend to suck more power from the power supply and some high end cards are not optimized when it comes to using things like Studio so a $2000 workstation card can behave worse than a $150 Nvidia or ATI/AMD gaming card.  Go for at least 1GB VRAM DDR5 and you should be fine. I prefer Nvida since it seems to have become the dominate card on the market and more technology appears to be applied to it’s architecture. There will always be someone who reads an article about some new technology that’s on the horizon and some new card that is going to address this. first off, never get the first generation of anything that does this because you just paid to become a beta tester for a technology that’s going to change and secondly most software does not take advantage of that until it becomes standard unless that technology is based off existing technology and is verified to work with it.

RAM: 16 to 32 GB in this day and age is where you want to be. 1GHz. speed and above, DDR3 or higher. I tend to like Corsair RAM and I tend to buy it all in one batch so I don’t mix and match. If you introduce “slower” RAM to your computer all the RAM will sync down to that speed and possibly become a behavior problem so mixing is not where you want to go.

Storage: SSD is crazy fast but not great for storage, 6GB/s internal HD is very fast and great for storage. USB 2.0 is great for storing music, video and photos but 1/8 the bandwidth of SATA 3GB/s so don’t use it for runtime unless you like to wait around for folders to populate with data.

Power Supply: Power Supply or PSU should higher than the minimum requirement. You are building a rig to run hot and run big not view spreadsheets and update your Facebook status. 750 - 1000W PSU are very adequate for serious rendering boxes.  Going below 500W is generally for building a computer that will be seeing a lot of MS Office docs.

Case: Don’t skimp on case or cooling. Corsair makes an excellent case. Airflow is the difference between optimum functionality and BSOD’s because your CPU is overheating and you think you have a windows virus.

OS: Windows 7 64 bit seems to have the least amount of problems with Studio. I personally had so many problems with Hex I switched to Blender (and will never go back to Hex) but many use Hex in W7 64 and it runs like a champ for them.

Monitor: I’ve replaced dozens of LCD’s with Samsungs and my clients have been happy. I run two LCD’s, one for preview one for palettes.

Choosing: Once you narrow down your choices check with CNET.com and Tomshardware.com and read the reviews, also check newegg for their reviews and prices. For buying if you are in the US there is newegg.com and tigerdirect.com, I’ve used newegg dozens of times and I’ve had one bad experience which they were very eager to rectify so I would use them again.

Opinions expressed in this diatribe are my own, I build, I tech, I support a department full of graphic artists and magazine editors and social media guru’s but I work predominantly on Macs (however I am MS certified) and my tech reports might be outdated.

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Posted: 10 April 2014 07:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Listen to StratDragon - he is right!

My computer is two years old and cost something like $2000 (bought in Germany, so exact prices wouldn’t help you) - so you should get something better nowadays for the same price

Graphics card: GIGABYTE GV-N560448-13I (NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 Ti 448, 1280 MB)
CPU: Intel Core i7-2700K (3500 MHz, 2x4 cores)
CPU Cooler: Alpenföhn Himalaya
RAM: G.Skill DIMM 32 GB DDR3-1333 Quad-Kit (F3-1333C9Q-32GAO, Ares-Serie)
Power supply: Corsair CMPSU-750AX
Mainboard: Asrock Fatal1ty P67 Performance
Case: Fractal Design Arc
DVD burner: Pioneer DVR-219LBK
Harddrive C: Corsair ForceGT 2,5” SSD 180 GB
Harddrive D: Samsung HD103SJ 1 TB (Spinpoint F3)
OS: Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-Bit German

Observations:
The CPU Cooler is great - and deep, you need a wide case!
Case: not bad, but the built in coolers are a bit wonky
CPU: the k at the end means I am able to overclock, which meant I had to look for a Mainboard that allows overclocking too

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Posted: 10 April 2014 07:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Thanks for the info StratDragon and Kerya. That helps quite a bit.

Ill do some more research and post any of the components I choose.

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Posted: 10 April 2014 10:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I think the AMD FX CPU line with the 8 cores offers best render performance for your money.  The FX 8530 is affordable and super fast when it comes to 3d rendering.  Most 3d graphics apps* use the CPU extensively and only the GPU for User Interface (UI) and hardware 3d geometry processing manipulation when you are setting up and posing figures in the scene.  You really want stability over performance since GPU are not used during renders, where you will want the most performance with the CPU.  Also many 3d applications including the professional highly recommend a certified professional workstation or CAD graphics adapter.  Typically these are the AMD FirePro and NVIDIA Quadra product lines.  They can be expensive, however you only need a 1gb, shader 4 capable or better card, These can be purchased for $200.  I like the FirePro V8700 and V4900, but many others prefer the NVidia Quadra K series.  Use Windows 7 or 8 Pro Edition O/S and 32GB ram.  Liquid cool vs air cool if you live in hot, dusty or humid environments.  Consumer liquid cooling kits (I like Corsair) are actually easier to maintain than fan ans are not complicated to install.  If you go the fan CPU cooler route, Clean PC monthly.  Unfortunately cleaning CPU coolers is tricky and introduces risk.  Its a big reason I am a fan of liquid cooled.  Do replace your liquid cooling unit after 18-24 months of 100% duty cycle.  Dont even think of risking going longer…..  Oh and the powersupply - get a quality one, ratet 1/3 greater than your anticipated power needs.  A system like I am recommending wants a 750 watt bronze or 650wattt gold PSU IMO.  Google tiered power supply list to understand more on the topic.  HDD, avoid cheap and high Sea’s and gate around that brand that fails like no other; and you will be ok.  I rarely power up/.down so do not see much need for SDD, but do like a separate disk for my data.  A fast 500 gb like the wd raptor is great for the c; os, and 2tb for e: data (D: is optical DVR) .
In windows to save your data on a second disk, right click the Your Name\]MY Documents and Public\Documents and select the location tab.  Add new location in the box, referring to a auxiliary documents folder on the added disk.  Using this method Windows will automatically use the new location to store files and not take up the operating system swap (virtual cache) drive space.

IMO Game video cards are NOT THE WAY TO GO.  A low end w/s card is far more reliable and accurate.  Its drivers are in spec and optimized for the 3d the application and or its video driver API like OpenGL.  When your 36 hours into an animation render and your system hangs due to a video error you will regret the decision and give that over driven game card to your kid brother.

* Octane and several other specialized render engines have been developed that will accommodate some GPU architectures. Since GPU’s specs are highly diverse, it best to tailor a system to the specific needs of those specialized engines by checking with the developer.

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Posted: 10 April 2014 10:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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What Stratdragon said.

There are a lot of choice you must make in order to get the most appropriate Rig for what you plan to do with your computer. So first thing is to know what you really plan to do

Example : you could try to get the most silent possible PC or the less Power hungry Rig, or you plan to use External GPU rendering systems (Luxrender or Blender Cycles or whatever ) or you will only render with DAZ internal 3Delight rendering system, or you want to begin to get a good rig for Studio internal render and have room for futur improvement in your system (like beginning with 16Gb Ram and plan to go up to 64Gb so you’ll have to choose a motherboard that supports that amount)

Every little thing will narrow your choice

I’ll just add something about “beta testing” new card : Nvidia just released the GTX 750 which will be the fundation of their new geneneration Gfx Cards. Theses are designed for efficiency per Wat on the contrary of the actual generation. What is interesting with that card is that it seems more efficient for GPU rendering, only uses 60W instead of the 120W+ of the gaming cards. and has good enough capabilities for gaming. I’m very tempted by it but the 2Gb memory is refraining me for now, but I don’t think there would be any problem that couldn’t be solved with a driver update, especially as Nvidia has a rock solid software development team

The power consumption is often overlooked and if you make some calculations, you’d see you could be winning more than 100$ per year if building a low consumption system

For a starting point I’d say you need at least a Quad Core, 16Gb Ram. I also think it is usually better if you can buy the computer next to your house so that you can bring the computer back and get some assistance easily
For HDD I encourage the use of SSD for the OS as it really makes the system more responsive
For Graphic cards, with the recent demonstration of AMD showing that DirectX 11 is limiting the GPU a lot, Microsoft announced DirectX 12 and Cards compatible with DirectX 11 should benefit from it and have some power boost. But that won’t come before at least end of 2015. The problem right now is to know if it will be available for Windows 7. So you may have to be carefull not buying a Windows 7 PC and if you don’t like Win 8, you may have to choose between GC performance and having to get in the Win8 Wagon


If I was to build a system here are a few questions I’d ask in order to choose the components

- Do you want Intel or AMD as CPU or you don’t care
- Do you want the most Powerfull CPU possible in your price range in order to render with 3Delight?
- Do you want Nvidia or AMD as GPU or you don’t care
- Would it be acceptable to use an integrated Graphic card at the beginning and upgrade it eventually later?
- Do you want to do GPU rendering? If yes, will you only use Luxrender(via Reality or Luxus) or would you use some Cuda Rendering engine?
- If you are a gamer, do you plan to do some SLI/Crossfire?
- Do you want to build a very responsive system?
- Do you want to build a silent system?
- Do you want to build the less power hungry system?

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Posted: 10 April 2014 02:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Thanks all, more great responses.

In response to Takeo.Kensei’s questions:

1. I think I plan to stick with an Intel CPU simply because I’ve always had Intel and they’ve never done me wrong.
2. I am still very inexperienced with rendering in general so I think I’d like to get good with 3Delight before exploring other options. So, yes, A powerful CPU for 3Delight is what im concerned with.
3. I would like to stick with Nvidia also because I have always had good experiences with Nvidia.
4. I dont want to use an integrated graphics card as my primary.
5. I am not opposed to GPU rendering but at this point I dont have any reason to. I have zero experience with GPU rendering and would be fine with sticking with 3Delight. Although, I really like what I’ve seen with Reality renders.
6. I am a gamer but perhaps I should clarify my position on gaming. I have never been very interested in the latest and greatest nor have I ever been a graphics guy. So if I have a card that can run without hiccups at medium settings on a variety of titles, thats ok by me. What I really want is a card that can handle big scenes in DAZ, possibly Bryce. So SLI/Crossfire, perhaps, but it is not by any means a priority unless it would really benefit DAZ. I’m finding these days that playing in DAZ has become far more interesting than most of my games.
7. I would like a very responsive system.
8. The system does not have to be silent but I dont want it to be loud either… if that helps at all.
9. As far as having a less power hungry system goes, I think that I will need a system that strikes a good balance between what it needs and what it wants (vague enough for you smile). I suppose I really dont have an answer for this.

So, the only thing I really need for this computer is the ability to run Excel. As indicated, a descent gaming rig would be nice but I am more interested in its ability to render well and as quickly as possible. I also want to be able to work in Hexagon as I may try my hand at creating content for DAZ or whoever. Animating seems like it would be fun as well.

Thanks.

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Posted: 10 April 2014 02:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Well that prioritization speaks a lot to brand devotion and less on capability and performance requirements so recommendations will be rather inconsequential.

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Posted: 10 April 2014 03:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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For good DAZ Studio responsiveness there are three things.
Viewport (GPU) the viewport is run by the OpenGL version the card supports. The Better the cards OpenGL and RAM the faster it will update/refresh.
CPU speed will determine how fast mesh actions like collision and new posing updates in Ram and there fore in Program. Also determines render speeds by core.
And of course RAM, free ram is needed for the mesh updates, It will also determine the size of scenes created and rendered.

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Posted: 10 April 2014 03:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Hi Dream Cutter,

Agreed, it does indeed speak to brand devotion, something im not particularly fond of.

Id still like to hear your opinions though. And, given a general consensus, whose to say I wont change my mind?

Please try and remember, I know practically nothing about computer components, and far less about building computers. Given the fact that I dont have alot of budget to experiment with, I’m leaning towards what I know as opposed to trying something new.

Most importantly, I need a good, all around PC that will be reliable, and last for a long time.

Thanks.

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Posted: 10 April 2014 04:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Cool, sorry for the tone.  I just had put my detailed recommendation up above… anyways. The key point here is what Jaderail is saying. DS and other graphic software heavily rely on the OpenGL and/or DirectX reference specifications.  Video game graphic adapters (99% of consumer graphic cards)  specifically are optimized to CUT CORNERS to provide the fastest display.  Workstation graphic cards (also called professional display adapter or CAD graphics card) have firmware and drivers that 100% adhere to the specified standards (ISO VGA etcx) and have Direct X and OpenGL drivers that are certified.  Furthermore industry leaders in the graphic software (ugh) and many other graphic software have specific drivers optimized for their applications.  This ensures consistency of color, 3d coordinate orientation and scale, and an ability for developers to gauge and bench the performance of their product against known references.
So you will see game and workstation cards of the same chipset (GPU) and memory however know they are not the same, and will not perform at peak in each others respective domain.  Hot fast and loose are gaming cards.  Cool, steady and measured are workstation cards. Each has its own product line and tiered placement.  Workstation cards are tiered generally by Shader support and Pixel and Texture Fill Rates (performance).  Take a look at the lower end, 1-2GB models that support shader 4.1 or above.  I’ve recently found some deals can be had in the grey market.  It appears integrator have striped high 3d cards from workstations purchased for common desktop use where the internal graphics adapter is fine.

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Posted: 10 April 2014 06:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Hi Dream Cutter,

No worries at all.
What youre saying about game cards makes alot of sense to me…

It seems like I have a few things to consider. Decisions, decisions.

So if there are dedicated workstation graphics cards, are there such beasts as dedicated workstation motherboards? I keep seeing brands like ASUS and such but they all seem to be screaming about how good they are at running games.

Admittedly, the more I learn, the more confused I am getting…

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Posted: 10 April 2014 08:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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recepticle0 - 10 April 2014 06:16 PM

Hi Dream Cutter,

No worries at all.
What youre saying about game cards makes alot of sense to me…

It seems like I have a few things to consider. Decisions, decisions.

So if there are dedicated workstation graphics cards, are there such beasts as dedicated workstation motherboards? I keep seeing brands like ASUS and such but they all seem to be screaming about how good they are at running games.

Admittedly, the more I learn, the more confused I am getting…

Ultimately what is called a “workstaton” is really configuration optimized for a particular business purpose.  Graphics workstations may use consumer grade CPU’s and motherbords however often they use sevrer grade components.  Instead of the consumer grade Intel “I” series x86 processors like the 3.5ghx 4 core i7 at $400, workstations may employ the Xeon CPU.  For instance the 8 core 3.2ghz Xeon E3867 CPU costs $2000 for the chip alone.  On the other side of the fence AMD makes the AMD-FX 8 core line for under $200 and the 16 Core Opteron workstation/server chips which can run up to $1,600.  A neat property of Xeon and Opteron server grade CPU is that they can be linked together in high speed symmetric and massive parallel processing.  In other-words you can have multiple chips on a motherboard controlled by a single o/s instance.  Note Windows PROFESSIONAL is required for larger than 16gb ram and more to support dual cpu’s on a motherboard.  Windows Server is required for a quad cpu system, and it requires the .  Thats discrete chips not cpu cores.  I’ve done quite a bit of render testing.  IMO dollar for dolllar the best bang is a AMDFX-3250, 32gb ram and V4900 firepro.  There are faster and definitely more power efficient i7 solutions that may cost less to operate over the life of the unit but it will cost more upfront.

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Posted: 10 April 2014 08:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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The Bottom line for 3D? Buy the best you can afford. By best that means for me all three parts of the system. The Processor (CPU) this is your power, here Ghz and Cores matter hyperthreading is a plus on multi core CPU’s, RAM the more the better for when thinking 3Delight renders or other Renderman compliant render engines, and Graphic Card (GPU), for OpenGL support and as pointed out DirectX reasons, they also come in useful for other render engines that are GPU based. As for Motherboards, as long as the MB can support the CPU and RAM at full bandwidth, read GHz here, any type is fine, a gaming System or a workstation system is not going to differ enough in performance when it comes to dedicated 3D use to notice in a hobby type use. If you plan to go 100% PRO then they matter but not as much as most would think. At PRO levels its not only the MB, the CPU, GPU and SYS Ghz that matter but also the Monitor in use for TRUE color at Display for PRO quality output. On a Hobby level pushing things that tech specific is just not needed. Work for Pixlar? Then go 100% Pro, but only then.

Just my two cents.

i7 3970X Hex Core at 3.5 Ghz,  RAM 64GB (8 x 8GB) 240-Pin DDR3 1600MHz (PC3 12800) Quad Channel (HIGH PERFORMANCE), nVidia GeForce GTX690 4GB DDR5 and I still want more and better.

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Posted: 11 April 2014 06:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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CPU and RAM and the deciding factors on most rendering engines. The GPU and GPU hyrbrids are much faster provided you have the horsepower from your graphics card to dedicate to them but your looking at two factors; (1) COST: The cards that are necessary of this kind of speed can cost about as much as a good CPU and the software tends to be pretty expensive as well and (2) QUALITY: the renders they produce don’t always look as clean as their CPU counterparts because fewer calculations are performed. That being said 3Delight uses the cores of your CPU and all the RAM available for it’s needs and so does LuxRender which is the free rendering engine that is bridged from Studio by the plug-ins Luxus and Reality. LuxRender also works very well with Blender and a host of other modeling packages, so if you want to explore other inexpensive options later on you’ve got the hardware sorted for it.

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Posted: 11 April 2014 07:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Another piece of advice - when you decide on a CPU, remember you have to buy a mainboard for exactly that socket.
(newer CPUs with great power may require really expensive mainboards)

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