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View Full Version : Seeking insight: current state-of-the-art in 3D-worthy PCs



Spinland
11-04-2017, 07:22 AM
Little insight: roughly 10 years ago I abandoned the PC world for the walled garden of Apple computing. I had had enough of crazy mix-and-match driver/component issues, weird paradigms like the "registry" and, as someone who came up the computing ranks as a Unix user, Apple's embracing the BSD Linux-based OS X appealed to my desire for a command line interface and a file system that actually make sense to me. The final straw came when I paid Apple-esque money for a boutique AlienWare workstation that ended up having even more weird driver issues than ever.

The honeymoon seems to be all but over.

Of late I've been having more and glitches, quirks and outright hangups/crashes and as Apple "improves" their OS my frustrations with their reliability seems to increase by contrast. Their focus these days appears to be on mobiles and computers meant to appeal to the Photoshop crowd more than to folks who need to crunch major data and to store huge piles of it on fast drives. I'm also encountering more and more instances where useful software simply does not run on a Mac.

So. I'm not planning to dump my Apple boxen in the dumpster but I'm considering giving the Windows world a probationary period starting with a main workstation while relegating the Apples to side duties like rendering and such. I am literally a decade out of touch with what's going on in the PC world. I could dive into a research period but, before I start that, it would be helpful to have some fast-track tips, pointers, and even maybe some links of tried-and-true workhorses that currently serve folks in this community (especially LW) in good stead. I'm not yet sure what sort of budget I could bring to bear, I don't even know where to begin scoping what the current price scale is. For a current Mac Pro the tab tends to be between US$5k and US$10k for a useable version. My presumption would be comparable PC units would be cheaper but maybe not.

So, my droogs...any insights?

Many thanks in advance! :jam:

Marander
11-04-2017, 08:46 AM
If you don't want to build on your own maybe HP Z Workstations or Dell XPS would be an option.

I use a new MacBook Pro for work which I like (also due to the fact that I can use a UNIX terminal). For 3D I use self-built Windows workstations and a Dell XPS 15" 4k and Surface Pro notebook.

For a Win workstation I wouldn't start below Hexacore and 64GB RAM, fast SSD snd GF 1080ti.

I don't know how LW runs on retina displays but on Win high-res displays LW is unusable for me. One of the reasons I stopped using LW.

Exclaim
11-04-2017, 08:58 AM
Little insight: roughly 10 years ago I abandoned the PC world for the walled garden of Apple computing. I had had enough of crazy mix-and-match driver/component issues, weird paradigms like the "registry" and, as someone who came up the computing ranks as a Unix user, Apple's embracing the BSD Linux-based OS X appealed to my desire for a command line interface and a file system that actually make sense to me. The final straw came when I paid Apple-esque money for a boutique AlienWare workstation that ended up having even more weird driver issues than ever.

The honeymoon seems to be all but over.

Of late I've been having more and glitches, quirks and outright hangups/crashes and as Apple "improves" their OS my frustrations with their reliability seems to increase by contrast. Their focus these days appears to be on mobiles and computers meant to appeal to the Photoshop crowd more than to folks who need to crunch major data and to store huge piles of it on fast drives. I'm also encountering more and more instances where useful software simply does not run on a Mac.

So. I'm not planning to dump my Apple boxen in the dumpster but I'm considering giving the Windows world a probationary period starting with a main workstation while relegating the Apples to side duties like rendering and such. I am literally a decade out of touch with what's going on in the PC world. I could dive into a research period but, before I start that, it would be helpful to have some fast-track tips, pointers, and even maybe some links of tried-and-true workhorses that currently serve folks in this community (especially LW) in good stead. I'm not yet sure what sort of budget I could bring to bear, I don't even know where to begin scoping what the current price scale is. For a current Mac Pro the tab tends to be between US$5k and US$10k for a useable version. My presumption would be comparable PC units would be cheaper but maybe not.

So, my droogs...any insights?

Many thanks in advance! :jam:
Build your own Workstation. It's cheaper, and you can decide where you need the power.
Start with the CPU. AMD's Ryzen delivered better multi-core performance for a low price. ThreadRipper is a very powerful cpu. If you will be using mostly single core operations, Intel is still fine. The rest of the components come down to: "get as much as you can afford." If you really don't want to build your own, check out Boxx Technologies.

Luc_Feri
11-04-2017, 09:13 AM
I would suggest Spinny on the graphics card side of things not to waste tons of money on Quadro style workstation cards and buy higher end gaming cards. The gaming cards are very capable indeed and most people are using them on GPU rendering instead of farms, simply because it is so much cheaper to buy a couple of good gaming cards than one bloated Quadro.

When I bought my GTX670 4GB for my home workstation a few years back, there was the 680 and 690 above that. When you go to cpubenchmark you can get the real figures to compare performance against price and IMO, my card was over 200 cheaper than the 690 at the time but the extra cost wasn't worth it to me for those performance gains.

Spinland
11-04-2017, 10:10 AM
Thanks for the tips thus far, guys. I'm hesitant to try a custom build, given my many years of being out of touch and ignorance as to the "good" components versus the lame ones and the money sucks. ;D

The suggestions thus far are quite helpful as I begin some searching.

Thanks again!

Spinland
11-04-2017, 10:51 AM
Just ran across this post at Tom's Hardware. I'd forgotten about that site but, as I recall, it's a treasure trove of tech geekery.

http://www.logicalincrements.com/articles/building-pc-3d-rendering-animation

squarewulf
11-04-2017, 11:20 AM
I'm hesitant to try a custom build

Don't be. It's definitely the way to go, WAYY cheaper, and MUCH easier than you'd think. Plus if you want to upgrade or fix anything in the future you'll know how.

Exclaim
11-04-2017, 01:14 PM
Just ran across this post at Tom's Hardware. I'd forgotten about that site but, as I recall, it's a treasure trove of tech geekery.

http://www.logicalincrements.com/articles/building-pc-3d-rendering-animation

Some nice builds. You might not need all those features though. For example "the forge of the gods" build sinks a lot of money into GPU and CPU. You might do well with a high clock speed i7 instead of the ThreadRipper if you strictly do GPU renders.

Kryslin
11-04-2017, 01:51 PM
I recommend a custom build as well. DDR4 Ram is still hideously expensive, and the i9 Intel CPUs are not worth the money, so you might want to step back a generation. I'm slowly acquiring the pile of parts for my next machine, based around dual Xeon e5-2690's, and a beefy GF 1080ti. Yes it's slower, and it's power hungry, but the CPU, Ram (128GB) and Motherboard cost as much as the i9 chip or it's ram. Also, I'll probably have to go with Win 10 Pro for workstations as well.

And make sure the case you choose can fit where it's supposed to go. I've got to modify my desk to get an extra 3" of clearance under it. :) (I have cats, therefore, the top of the computer, wherein lies the RESET button, is kept covered.)

rustythe1
11-04-2017, 07:01 PM
i didn't think Lightwave could render fully on a dual xeon setup as it can only see one processor at a time?

Kryslin
11-04-2017, 07:31 PM
I'll find out soon enough, won't I?

I have a number of other applications that can and do use multi-cpu set ups that do CPU heavy work. Besides, I could set up on CPU to handle rendering in the background, while I work on the other CPU.

gar26lw
11-04-2017, 07:58 PM
I've found dell workstatins to be good. Only issue is upgrade space. Like the cases though.
Support is good; if something breaks, a dude shows up with a replacement.

I do find that my i7 seems to render faster than Xeon and ssd is a must. I use Samsung Evo.

If building your own, do some research on a good mb. If you go to tonymac, you could build a hackintosh compatible so you could dual boot. Quadro is a lot more stable for me in windows 10 but that might be something to do with ms sys updates of late.

erikals
11-05-2017, 06:31 AM
i buy used, i basically saved tons doing that...

Up 2 U...

devin
11-05-2017, 07:26 AM
PC Parts Picker (http://pcpartspicker.com) and its forums are a great resource for system configuration, sourcing parts, determining parts compatability, etc.

erikals
11-05-2017, 07:54 AM
PC Parts Picker (http://pcpartspicker.com) and its forums are a great resource for system configuration, sourcing parts, determining parts compatibility, etc.

Awesome! :king: :bowdown:

Dexter2999
11-05-2017, 07:06 PM
i didn't think Lightwave could render fully on a dual xeon setup as it can only see one processor at a time?

It would only see one processor for modeling, but if you were doing CPU rendering it would register as an available node/threads.

If you were doing GPU rendering the second CPU wouldn't gain anything.

If I remember correctly. It has been about a decade since I used a dual processor machine. So, take it for what it's worth.

annatronci
01-04-2018, 04:19 AM
I just bought a 1950 Threadripper...I'm looking for optimizing suggestions...drivers etc?Any idea?

creacon
01-04-2018, 04:24 AM
Of course it can, has been able to use dual workstations for 15 years or so.


creacon



i didn't think Lightwave could render fully on a dual xeon setup as it can only see one processor at a time?

unstable
01-04-2018, 06:16 AM
You should checkout https://www.pugetsystems.com/ they are in Washington and maybe a little pricey but their service is off the hook. I bought a system a few years ago. Allowed them to run a checkup a year later and they detected a bad stick of memory and sent me a new one. They offer additional services if you want it as well. It’s worth a look I think

Greenlaw
01-04-2018, 08:13 AM
Good thread! My current system is really old so I'm very interested in this topic.

I've been buying HP for nearly 10 years and pretty satisfied with the gear and service. It's what we use at Dreamworks too.

That said, I think my next system will be custom built. It's been years since I've done that myself and I don't exactly have a lot of time, so I'll probably get somebody to do it for me.

erikals
01-04-2018, 10:48 AM
Greenlaw, might be of use :) >
https://pcpartpicker.com

Greenlaw
01-04-2018, 11:18 AM
Thanks! Looks like a fantastic resource.

erikals
01-04-2018, 12:18 PM
think it should be cool, that way you can choose PC parts that are "compatible" quite safely :)
all you need to focus on is Ram/CPU/motherboard

+strong power supply if you run multiple GPU cards

tcoursey
01-04-2018, 01:23 PM
Fun thread, I'll pitch in my .02

I've always build my own systems. All the way back to a kid where I had to beg my dad to purchase a "math co-processor" to go with my 386 chip so I could run AUTOCAD!

We have BOXX machines at the office and they are very well built. But the components are all off the shelf. You pay for SUPPORT, CUSTOM CASES and Tried and True components that go together well for DCC.

The last is less of an issue I find these days. Just about any quality product will go with any other quality product just the same. It use to be that Memory and drivers and motherboards needed to be matched up better... I don't feel that is the case these days.

As mentioned by others it's all in what you want to do with LW and this new machine. What render technology will you want to use? LW's new system, using CPU. Or Octane or other GPU engine?

If it's CPU you can go single i7, dual xeon, or even quad! Yes LW uses every single thread you can give it, from like day 1 20 years ago. It was a big deal back then. The more you give it the better, until you get to modler!!! doh. Try single thread slicing a big object.

It's fun, exciting and rewarding all at once to build your own machine and do production on it. But if anything goes wrong, you are the support. If your not comfortable in that roll, I'd buy HP, Dell, BOXX or other system. But just remember your paying upfront for something you may not need, but Insurance is the same!