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Snosrap
12-28-2010, 10:59 AM
My boss wants me to spec in new PC's for our 4 LW users. I'm not real sure where to start as I don't stay up on the hardware side of things. He set two guidlines.

1. It must be from Dell as we have a corporate account with them
2. Cannot go over $3500.

I know enough to know that I probably want to go with a 6 core proc., but don't have a clue about Zeon's vs i7 etc. Also graphics cards are a mystery to me.
Our suite of tools include LW, Photoshop, Illustrator, AutoDesk Inventor and Enovia Smarteam.

Any help from the LW community would be greatly appreciated.

Dexter2999
12-28-2010, 11:22 AM
:::EDIT:: Forget this. I just looked and for some reason it didn't register the 6 Core processor. It was a quad core. the 6 core put the unit at $4100.


::2nd Edit::
Tried another configuration. Those 6Core processors eat up alot of your budget.

Standard pretty much everything. No audio. Downgraded the video card to "entry level". Only 4 Gig of RAM.

Maybe you can "nickel and dime" them on RAM later?

Snosrap
12-28-2010, 02:59 PM
Thanks Dexter! Can anyone go the site and configure - if so do you an url? Yeah 4gigs of ram won't cut it, we've got 6 now and sometimes that's not enough.

Dexter2999
12-28-2010, 03:06 PM
Yeah, sure, anyone can go to the site and configure.
http://www.dell.com/us/business/p/precision-desktops
Just click select, then select again, then you should see the "customize" button and make adjustments to your hearts content. I picked the 7500 workstations you could try the next model down the T3500.

Good Luck.

dwburman
12-28-2010, 03:47 PM
Maybe go the AlienWare route... if your company's agreement with Dell covers the AlienWare line. You could do a separate color for each machine :)

JonW
12-28-2010, 04:18 PM
I would go for 980 CPUs, unless you get a top of the range dual Xeon box with X5680 CPUs it’s a waste of money. Unfortunately a X5680 dual set up will cost a lot more from the big names (Ghz per dollar per whole box set up is more expensive than an i7. Even more so with the lower spec Xeon CPUs). They also have extremely limited configuration.

A single CPU box has less of a price difference than from a small supplier.

Since you are looking for 4 units, do a quick check on 5 units, it may not cost that much more & at 3.5k per box there is room. You will then have a spare box, which can also be used in a render farm.

Or if you can get a couple of Dell 3011 monitors if you don't have any 30"ers. I've got a 3008 & it makes life so much easier, & have recently hooked it up to my Mac Mini, I just can't go back to a 24" any more!. If you can, at least squeeze one 3011 into the purchase, to put you into a position for the next round of purchases.


These boxes are getting a bit long in the tooth but will still give you an idea, just factor in the extra GHz of the 6 core CPUs
http://www.3dspeedmachine.com/?page=3&scene=39

Dexter2999
12-28-2010, 05:53 PM
I found the Alienware on the dell site under the business machines. So I don't see why not.

Snosrap
12-28-2010, 08:40 PM
Thanks for all the info guys. It looks like we might have to go with the T3500 to meet our budgeted amount. Depending on what kind of discount our company gets maybe we can upgrade to 12gig. The video card isn't the best, but my understanding is that LW doesn't really make use of extra graphics horsepower.

JonW
12-28-2010, 09:52 PM
LW doesn’t use graphics cards, except that it’s nice to have something half reasonable if you have a stack of polys to move around in the viewports. A GTX 460 or similar would be the go.

http://www.anandtech.com/show/3809/nvidias-geforce-gtx-460-the-200-king/
http://www.videocardbenchmark.net/high_end_gpus.html


The T3500 series uses the Xeon single CPU boards & x3xxxx CPU.

The non work station models use the i7 CPUs which don’t have the same price premiums as the Xeons.

You need to question if it's worthwhile paying a premium for a work station box with no CPU performance benefit. If you have the boxes rendering for days on end just make sure there is good air circulation.

Dexter2999
12-28-2010, 10:05 PM
Problem with buying from DELL is that they don't seem to be particularly flexible in which cards they let you choose for which models. I was just looking at one model of computer where the only options were ATI cards. Other models had only a single NVidia card as a choice.

But if that is all they have to work with, then make the best choice you can.

Silkrooster
12-28-2010, 11:15 PM
Thanks for all the info guys. It looks like we might have to go with the T3500 to meet our budgeted amount. Depending on what kind of discount our company gets maybe we can upgrade to 12gig. The video card isn't the best, but my understanding is that LW doesn't really make use of extra graphics horsepower.

I assume all of that cost has to do with the number of cores. Cause an I5 or I7 don't remember from HP with 12GB of ram and 1TB drive is about a 1000 less. And that included a blue-ray burner.

Silkrooster
12-28-2010, 11:35 PM
I did a price check on HP so you have something to compare with.

Dexter2999
12-28-2010, 11:45 PM
He is dealing with the same kind of stuff I deal with. His company has an account with DELL so he has to get DELL. My company has a contract with HP so any computer I buy has to be an HP (or a Mac...because IT doesn't consider them "real" computers).

There are always better deals somewhere, or building your own. But sometime you are stuck working inside the system.

Silkrooster
12-29-2010, 12:35 AM
Maybe he could convince them that Dell isn't worth it. Oh well, just a thought...

JonW
12-29-2010, 01:05 AM
Or run the HP quote past Dell!

$144.24 per GHz, is within reason.

Snosrap
12-29-2010, 06:53 AM
Yep, our company buys hundreds of PC's from Dell each year. We are on a three year cycle. Currently we are using T3400's with Core 2 Extreme Q6850 and FX1700 cards and 8gigs of ram.

bpritchard
12-29-2010, 09:55 AM
Hey JonW... i had a question about the video card statement you posted. I'm looking at getting a new rig going and was wondering if i should go quadro 2000 or stick w/a standard desktop card (something like a 6870 or 580)? I'm mainly using LW/Zbrush w/some maya dabbled in for game stuff... but am doing a lot of high poly work. I currently have a 4850 and it seems to handle the load ok... but was curious if going up to a "pro level" card made a difference. I've heard mixed reviews... and the Quadro 2K being a midline card has me second guessing.

Any advice?

Cheers
Bryan

Wade
12-29-2010, 12:55 PM
I have used the shuttle box for 15 or so builds like em and for < 3,000.00

From Newegg.

1 Shuttle SX58J3 Intel Core i7 (LGA1366) Intel Socket B(LGA1366) Intel
X58 none Barebone
$529.99
1 Western Digital Caviar Green WD20EARS 2TB SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5"
$20.00 Mail-in Rebate Card $99.99
1 CORSAIR DOMINATOR 16GB (4 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333
Desktop Memory Model CMP16GX3M4A1333C9
$299.99
1 Intel Core i7-980X Extreme Edition Gulftown 3.33GHz LGA 1366 130W
Six-Core Desktop Processor BX80613I7980X
$1,049.99
1 Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders -
$139.99
1 PNY VCQ4000-PB Quadro 4000 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16
HDCP Ready Workstation Video Card
$779.99
1 LG Black 10X Blu-ray Burner - Bulk SATA WH10LS30 LightScribe Support
$99.99
1 Red/cyan 3D Glasses For 3D Viewing On 3D Ready Television
-$4.99 Saving $4.99
$0.00
1 CyberLink PowerDVD 9, 3D edition
Item #: N82E16800991112
Return Policy: Standard Return Policy
-$14.99 Saving $14.99
$0.00
Subtotal: $2,999.93
Grand Total:* $2,999.93

you will have to add in keyboard mouse and monitor yet.

JonW
12-29-2010, 02:06 PM
I've heard mixed reviews... and the Quadro 2K being a midline card has me second guessing.
Any advice?
Cheers
Bryan

I have no experience with Quotro cards. The comments I have read in general that it makes no difference. I would still go for a 460 itís cheap enough. If itís not perfect then buy a Quotro. Or at least borrow one over the weekend first before buying one.

dwburman
12-29-2010, 06:58 PM
I was thinking the AlienWare because it's a Dell brand but you don't have to pay the premium for a XEON processor and a Quadro graphics card that won't be fully utilized by LW. There's a lot of $$$ left over for extra RAM and perhaps a 3D Connexion device.

Of course, AD apps might make use of the Quadro card.

Snosrap
12-29-2010, 07:45 PM
Thanks guys, you've been very helpful. Our purchasing department got a quote on 4 of these systems today with 4 UltraSharp U2311H 23-inch widescreen monitors for $3100. I don't know much about the monitors other than they are IPS tech. Should be pretty good.

Dexter2999
12-29-2010, 07:52 PM
Looks like they got you a good deal.

The only thing that made me go "ehhh..." was the 250Gig drive and no secondary drive. So not alot of local storage for a project (not that I like to keep media on my system drive in the first place.)

Drives are pertty cheap right now. I just bought two 2Tb Western Digital drives for $100 each (internal drives the eSATA cable was another $7.) Maybe you could tack that on for another quarter or something? Also not a deal breaker but in the "nice to have" catagory was USB 3.0. I know on all the models I looked at that was an add on option that apparently was causing errors because it said I was exceeding the number of PCIe slots. Which I didn't understand because I only installed one video card and a wifi card.

Anyway, looks like you will have a great little network going. Have fun!

Snosrap
12-29-2010, 08:05 PM
Yeah, we save everything to the network, so 250gig HD is plenty for my music library.:D

Silkrooster
12-30-2010, 11:20 PM
I found an excellent reason to have a secondary drive or at least a secondary partition.
Last night I decided to take care of a minor glitch on my drive (that I could have lived with) One of the files was listed in the directory that was no longer there.
So I thought I would be smart and just do a quick chkdsk, well come to find out it trashed my drive. The program on a small secondary partition only formats and reinstalls factory settings. No cancel button either.
Now if my data was on a secondary drive I wouldn't have had to worry about it. But as is, I ended up loosing some data. I haven't checked my external yet to see how much yet.
So for me lesson learned put all data on a secondary then if you need to recover it will be a quick fix and you can access the data to back up if needed.
Now I have a lot of reinstalling to do...

Dexter2999
12-31-2010, 05:27 AM
Yep, drive imaging periodically is important. Back up your system and data.

I think we all know it, but not many actually do it. (I don't. A friend of mine images all four of his computers once a month.)

But I hate the partition on the system drive with a passion. I even wrote HP asking them take the lie off their website that having the restore disk on the C drive was the safest/easiest solution. Because one thing 25 years of computer experience has shown me is that the hard drive is the single most likely component of a system to fail. And if your recovery is on that drive...you're done.

WillBellJr
12-31-2010, 07:47 AM
There are always better deals somewhere, or building your own. But sometime you are stuck working inside the system.

Agreed about the corporations - we're stuck with HP...

I just put together a i7 6-core / 24gig RAM system based around a Gigabyte motherboard (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128422) for $2400, this time I even went with a liquid cooling system (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835227006) cause for the first time in years, I'm going to over clock this sucka hopefully to 4ghz...

So thanks to some unexpected bonuses, I was able to upgrade to 64-bits before the end of the year like I had planned.

-Will

WillBellJr
12-31-2010, 07:59 AM
I found an excellent reason to have a secondary drive or at least a secondary partition.
Last night I decided to take care of a minor glitch on my drive (that I could have lived with) One of the files was listed in the directory that was no longer there.
So I thought I would be smart and just do a quick chkdsk, well come to find out it trashed my drive. The program on a small secondary partition only formats and reinstalls factory settings. No cancel button either.
Now if my data was on a secondary drive I wouldn't have had to worry about it. But as is, I ended up loosing some data. I haven't checked my external yet to see how much yet.
So for me lesson learned put all data on a secondary then if you need to recover it will be a quick fix and you can access the data to back up if needed.
Now I have a lot of reinstalling to do...

When I setup my system, I always install Acronis Trueimage and image right after the OS is installed and activated, then after video and other drivers and then finally all applications.

I keep the first 2 images on a DVD, and the following larger images on a seperate drive.

I always keep my data on a seperate (D: ) drive and I have an third (E: ) drive which is encrypted by TrueCrypt.

My (F: ) drive is always a RAID 0 setup for (F)ast access (video editing mostly etc.)

Two hot swap trays and an external eSata setup allow for the easy exchange of data on and off my system.

I've been setting up like this for years (USB before eSata) and it works out pretty well for me.

My crime is never really performing OS drive backups - I usually depend on system restore is something gets into a state I don't like which admittedly isn't good.

I'll force myself to come up with a backup strategy in the next month or so for the new year.

-Will