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Kaptive
08-25-2014, 02:33 PM
So there are many threads on building PCs, best specifications etc...

I am at that point (again) where I am bumping into technical limitations presented by my hardware, and it is time to upgrade immediately.
While I was looking at specs and prices, my missus suggested the idea of renting a machine. I'd never really considered this as an option, but on comparing prices and keeping in mind the idea of yearly updating my hardware rather than holding on too long and falling behind, it looks like it might be a better choice. Hardware doesn't hold its value, and most old PCs end up sitting in cupboards or just turned off taking up space somewhere.

I'm wondering if anyone else has gone this route, and if so, was it a good choice over buying/building a custom machine?

Secondary question, if you're in the UK, where did you go and were they any good?

Kris

ernpchan
08-25-2014, 02:45 PM
TBH I've never heard of this on a workstation scale. For editing and post production workstations yes, but not on the desktop level.

Kaptive
08-25-2014, 02:59 PM
This is in the UK...

http://rentit.biz/computer_rental.htm

To be honest, having had a semi-decent search, there aren't many companies out there that do it. But this one seems most reasonable so far.
In their FAQ, they state the following...

__________________________________________________ __
What type of companies do you rent to?

Due to the specialist nature of some our products we do tend to find ourselves represented more in some markets than others. A selection of the industries we provide for consist of the following.

Graphic design studios
Animation studios
CAD studios
Offshore markets
Marine markets
Training Companies

We are not restricted to these fields so please contact our sales team to allow us to try and meet your specific requirements.
_______________________________________

So I guess other animators/studios have had a similar idea.

ernpchan
08-25-2014, 03:11 PM
Ah interesting.

Is the issue creating the content or rendering it? If it's the rendering that's the bottleneck, you could always use a render farm service. Garagefarm just got a recent plug on the forum as a LW friendly service.

Kaptive
08-25-2014, 03:30 PM
Ah interesting.

Is the issue creating the content or rendering it? If it's the rendering that's the bottleneck, you could always use a render farm service. Garagefarm just got a recent plug on the forum as a LW friendly service.

Hehe, yeah I use them already. In a way, I guess the introduction of external rendering has opened up just how fast you can render big scenes... as you say, it is creating them that is the bottleneck.

I have (though it's starting to die), a small render farm and it was great for most jobs a couple of years ago. But as jobs (specifically architectural jobs) have become more demanding, using high poly prefab models, and HQ textures, millions of instances... well, it all grinds to a standstill as it hits the memory wall, the HD and network limits etc.

Also, (and this will be an exclusive moan on my part about the split program issue which normally I am fine with) opening a model in modeler when you already have a bloated scene open is pretty much enough loading time to go take a bath lol.

Memory is my real bottle neck, I know this, but all aspects of the machine are now out of date and need to retire. But yes, I couldn't recommend GarageFarm enough, great company.

spherical
08-25-2014, 04:06 PM
Some things to consider:


Usually, as in the case of software rental for many businesses, rented hardware is on an as-need basis. IOW, short term when under a crunch is where it makes the most sense.
Any data that you have would have to be transferred off and the rented drives wiped before you return it. Otherwise, you'd use external drives for data or add your own internal drives that you can then remove easily. You'd need to learn if you can do these additions of hardware without violating their terms.
Many applications are default installed onto the %SystemDrive% in /Program Files. You'd also have to ensure that no remnants of them are left on the drive or you're risking your software licenses. To minimize this, a Restore Point created (and archived so it doesn't get auto-deleted) when you get the box would help in returning it to close to its original state. Uninstall all of the applications first, then restore from that first clean snapshot.
With a self-built box, you get exactly what you want; surgically chosen and first-person assembled. This may not be possible with a rented unit, as they will have their own preferences; mostly based upon price and volume purchases. When something goes south, the rented box will have to go back to them for repair. With your own box, you know how it is built and can repair/replace/upgrade at will on your schedule.

We always buy all of our equipment. Loss of control of business related hardware isn't an option. We do a bit of wide format printing for ourselves and for other artists, both 2D/traditional and digital/3D reproductions. Rather than deal with service bureaus that just couldn't ever match colors (grossly off—Did you even LOOK at the proof we gave you?), the wait time—often impacting our deadline, we invested in an 11-color 44" Epson 9900 and rid ourselves of all of that. We can print at 04:00 if we need to and ship that day. Not a direct analogy to a computer, but you get the idea.

As has been suggested, if it's a rendering bottleneck, an online render service would be a good option. Because it isn't physical delivery, one downside of the printing example, above, is removed.

Kaptive
08-25-2014, 05:58 PM
Some things to consider:


Usually, as in the case of software rental for many businesses, rented hardware is on an as-need basis. IOW, short term when under a crunch is where it makes the most sense.
Any data that you have would have to be transferred off and the rented drives wiped before you return it. Otherwise, you'd use external drives for data or add your own internal drives that you can then remove easily. You'd need to learn if you can do these additions of hardware without violating their terms.
Many applications are default installed onto the %SystemDrive% in /Program Files. You'd also have to ensure that no remnants of them are left on the drive or you're risking your software licenses. To minimize this, a Restore Point created (and archived so it doesn't get auto-deleted) when you get the box would help in returning it to close to its original state. Uninstall all of the applications first, then restore from that first clean snapshot.
With a self-built box, you get exactly what you want; surgically chosen and first-person assembled. This may not be possible with a rented unit, as they will have their own preferences; mostly based upon price and volume purchases. When something goes south, the rented box will have to go back to them for repair. With your own box, you know how it is built and can repair/replace/upgrade at will on your schedule.

We always buy all of our equipment. Loss of control of business related hardware isn't an option. We do a bit of wide format printing for ourselves and for other artists, both 2D/traditional and digital/3D reproductions. Rather than deal with service bureaus that just couldn't ever match colors (grossly off—Did you even LOOK at the proof we gave you?), the wait time—often impacting our deadline, we invested in an 11-color 44" Epson 9900 and rid ourselves of all of that. We can print at 04:00 if we need to and ship that day. Not a direct analogy to a computer, but you get the idea.

As has been suggested, if it's a rendering bottleneck, an online render service would be a good option. Because it isn't physical delivery, one downside of the printing example, above, is removed.

All great points and I'll keep them in mind. Though on the hard drive front, they blank all HDs and reapply the image on return. So really I just need to make sure I delete sensitive data (if any). They say you can format the drive yourself prior to return also.
I'm not overly worried about it breaking. I still have computers to fall back on, and only in the most extreme of circumstances will I be left in trouble. Fortunately I work with a few people who can take over remotely if it really went bad.

Anyway, many thanks for your thoughts and time putting them down. Most appreciated :)

OnlineRender
08-25-2014, 06:18 PM
sorry I quickly skimmed the link you gave , so it's kinda radiorentals but for pc's ? , I got approved for finance the other day using this site https://www.pcspecialist.co.uk/ , I built an uber rig and thought meh I will get knocked back I am poor ... nope got it so quickly shut down the page * i can't afford the rig I built :) but it was £59 over 3 years .


* however you can probably build your own for cheaper , I just don't have the hard cash to fork out for a new machine

I have i7 atm

Kaptive
08-25-2014, 07:10 PM
sorry I quickly skimmed the link you gave , so it's kinda radiorentals but for pc's ? , I got approved for finance the other day using this site https://www.pcspecialist.co.uk/ , I built an uber rig and thought meh I will get knocked back I am poor ... nope got it so quickly shut down the page * i can't afford the rig I built :) but it was £59 over 3 years .


* however you can probably build your own for cheaper , I just don't have the hard cash to fork out for a new machine

I have i7 atm

Yeah, I've got an older i7 currently.

Funnily, i saw the site you linked earlier on today and I also made a rig to see how much it came out at. Just looking at the price burnt a hole in my virtual wallet lol.
These days I avoid anything on finance.... finance, loans, borrowing of any kind. It burns every time, and you end up paying for things years after they are out of date or broken. Everything I've bought on hire-purchase has always made me feel a little sad inside.

I saw this earlier... and it seems to fit somehow...

123862

I always think that we (as individuals) need to think of our future selves as our best friends and have to look out for them, because he/she is looking back at us right now shaking their head at the idiot mistakes we make today.
If I bought a computer on finance, then I just know my future self would be crying looking at the bank statements. I just can't do that to him lol.

In fact, just carrying on with the concept... (possibly thinking out loud/ranting, be warned!)

If I buy a PC outright, and it costs about 2k (comparable to the rental machine) then future me would still be happy, but he also might "make do" with it for longer than he should... knowing what he's like.

Where as, a future me who gets to stay reasonably near the top end of tech (which is my bread and butter at the end of the day) will be just as happy, and if anything breaks then I don't have to cash out on anything. That makes future me happy, even if it might be a bit more costly on a daily/monthly basis. The amount of time I have lost recently.. just waiting for LW and my PC to tango could pay the rent for a few months.

Mmm, I think I've decided actually.

If nothing else, a major gain of renting is that (with the company I posted at least), if it doesn't work out, then i can return it, and they just charge you the difference on their rate for however long I had it. pretty fair. I can then go and buy a machine later if it seems a smarter idea. I may post again to just share how it all goes and how smoothly. Might be useful to someone I'm sure.

Lightwolf
08-26-2014, 04:26 AM
You might want to see if you can find refurbished brand name workstations as an alternative.

Having said that, if you can deduct the rent as a direct business expense, then it'll probably make sense from a financial perspective as well.

Cheers,
Mike

OFF
08-26-2014, 07:53 AM
There is an option to look on ebay. For example:
Lenovo ThinkStation D10 Dual Xeon Quad Core E5460 3.16Ghz 4GB 1TB DVD-RW Tower (http://www.ebay.com/itm/110585626008?_trksid=p2055119.m1438.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT)

erikals
08-26-2014, 11:18 AM
note, you might cut the rendertime in half using this trick,


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCJw2uDYpaE


-----------

and i assume you use NeatVideo or such... ?

Kaptive
08-26-2014, 04:42 PM
note, you might cut the rendertime in half using this trick,


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCJw2uDYpaE

-----------

and i assume you use NeatVideo or such... ?

Is this a reply to me? It seems a bit out of place... however, very useful :) So thanks!

Regarding the rental....

Well, I changed my mind. It ended up costing more than I had initially been lead to believe and it costs as much to rent it for a year as build it. A big pity.

So now I'm back on the route of buying. Most likely incremental, updating my current PC and then eventually creating a new one and transferring anything transferable. More IT faff. A decade ago that sort of thing interested me. These days it's just a ball ache :)

Thanks for all your thoughts folks.

Kris

allabulle
08-27-2014, 08:46 AM
You could consider leasing as a middle-of-the-road compromise. Once I did and I wasn't convinced, but I know of others that were happy. Every two years, I think, they had new hardware to replace the workstations or they could keep the machines and call it a day. Depending on your business model and local taxes it can make sense.

spherical
08-27-2014, 03:06 PM
For me, in addition to the other points, my future self is happy that he has had the ability to do individual component upgrades at will, within the budget at hand at the time. Changing out this device or that can reap major strides in performance and/or reliability. Most important is choosing a motherboard with a socket that has a future.