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View Full Version : want to upgrade my PC - what is the best?



csoars
05-18-2008, 07:59 PM
I - I have a pretty good PC but would like ot spead up render times. So I am planning to upgrade and am looking for advice as to the best way forward - any help is appreciated.

Colin

voriax
05-18-2008, 08:05 PM
Render times all depend on CPU power at the moment, so anything quad-core or higher is good. Plus ram, lots of ram.

csoars
05-19-2008, 04:12 AM
Thanks - what about multiple CPU's?

JonW
05-19-2008, 04:50 AM
Get your local computer shop to build what you want from the parts you specify, you will get about twice the computing power than if you buy a box from a large company.

8 or 16gb ram

http://www.custompc.co.uk/reviews/601998/intel-skulltrail.html

If you do complex scenes lots of transparent surfaces etc buy as much CPU power as you are prepared to wait for the render to take and no less than 8 CPUs. If you need faster rendering buy as many boxes as required for a render farm.

CC Rider
05-19-2008, 08:48 AM
Don't forget that all that extra memory won't mean a thing unless you are running a 64 bit OS and 64 bit version of LW!
In a 32 bit environment, the memory from your video card will take first dibs on the available 4GB of address space and the OS will get the rest...
applications can only get up to 3GB with the "/3GB" modifier added to the "boot.ini" file.

AbnRanger
05-20-2008, 06:30 AM
I don't know if you are the DIY (Do-It-Yourself) type or not, but in my experience, it's much better and cheaper to order the EXACT parts you want at the price you want for each individual component. There are only a handful of main components to a PC, although it doesn't appear that way when you open the case. Also, there are plently of video tutorials available free online that show you how to put the system together yourself. The best part is, that when you have done it once, you no longer need to HAVE to buy a pre-built one ever again, if you don't want.

You'll save yourself hundreds of dollars (that can be better spent on the hardware itself), and have the satisfaction that NO OEM (cheapest possible parts) components are in your system. Plus, you'll have the know-how to upgrade or switch out parts at any time. So, while it might be more convenient in the short term to pay more and have a pre-built one delivered, having the experience of building it yourself is a big benefit all on its own.

As it applies to a regular consumer desktop PC, there really aren't any good options for dual-socket/8 core setups (Intel has one, which is too expensive and tests reveal that the performance gain doesn't warrant it in most cases). If that's what you want, you'll pretty much have to go with server class CPU's (Intel Xeon's or AMD Opterons). Plus server/workstation class builds give you more than 8GB's of RAM capability.
If you have to stick to a relatively modest budget, an Intel Quad core (6600 or better) will do fine, and most newer PC motherboards allow you to put in 4 modules of 2GB each, for a max of 8GB's. Then, I'd advise buying Western Digital Raptor HD's (10,000RPM's compared to standard 7200RPM's) for disc's that run programs, active video content, and even scratch disc's. All of these will noticably benefit from the extra speed. But for simple storage of dormant files, a cheap standard SATA I or II will do.
Hope this helps in someway.

CC Rider
05-20-2008, 07:02 AM
AbnRanger makes all good points...
One addition to that would be that the Western Digital Raptors are fast but noisey! This may or may not be a problem but can be an annoyance or a problem in certain situations. For me, its a problem because I record voiceovers and edit on my machine as well, so I need it as quiet as possible. To get the needed disc performance minus the noise, I went with a RAID 0 configuration (multiple hard drives working together to boost performance. Lots of info on RAID on the net if you search...) and used 3 Seagate Barracuda drives. Much quieter (and less expensive).
Disk performance is really not as big of a deal with LW as it is with editing software for example. Most modern motherboard manufacturers have RAID capabilities built in. Configuration can make some a bit squeemish but its not that difficult in the grand scheme of things.
Just one more thing to consider.
Also, if you are not comfortable building it yourself, there a million computer companies in every city that can build it for you. You won't get it cheaper than going through Dell or the like, but you can hand pick your components and have yourself a real performance machine which in the end is the real advantage. Also, if you have a problem, you can take it in and let someone else fix it for you instead of going through the headaches of returns, replacement parts...

The problem with building it yourself is no support. If you have a friend who can bail you out in time of need I would say go for it!

But to AbnRanger's point, if you build it once you will be set for life!
It really is not that hard. You just have to do your homework first!

sadkkf
05-20-2008, 08:56 AM
I've just received the parts to a new PC for LW:

- Intel Q9450 processor
- 4GB DDR2 800mhz RAM
- Nvidia 780i chipset
- Windows XP x64
- GeForce 8800GTS video card

The most important part of a new PC for me is the processor. The 9450 was the most affordable for me with the most power. The next steps up were way too 'spensive for me.

All the reports I read state 32-bit versions of Windows can't use more than 3GB of RAM and 64-bit versions can't use more than 4GB so buying more is a waste.

After a bit of research and talking with some IT guys, I settled on the 780i chipset (vs 790i) for the SLI capabilities. Hopefully LW will be able to utilize this in the future. If not, no big deal.

Also, I still think DDR3 RAM is too expensive for the payoff.

I bought the BFG 512mb video card after reading it was actually *faster* than the 640mb cards. Again, you have to wonder what's better, speed or RAM. I went with speed because I'm tired of waiting. :) Also, I don't think there's enough of a difference in RAM to help much.

I bought all my stuff from www.tigerdirect.com. These guys are great. I ordered everything Thursday at 2:30 and it arrived less than 24 hours later with ground shipping. Of course, I'm very close, but they do have a reputation for quick shipping, but Australia may be a different story. ;)

All of this was going into an existing box (with the old psu) so I spent less than $900!

Hope this helps!

:kevin

CC Rider
05-20-2008, 10:02 AM
I would make double sure you have enough of a power supply to run all of that. A computer that is starved for power will act like its possessed! I know this first hand. There are calculators on the web where you can plug in all your pieces and it will tell you the recommended ps to use...the days of 350 or 400w power supplies are fading fast and sounds like yours may need some extra juice!

Also, I believe the max on memory for 64 bit is actually 128GB of Ram not 4GB...
Here is a link to check out on XP64 if you're interested...
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/64bit/overview.mspx
Also...
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/64bit/action/newtek.mspx
:thumbsup:

CC Rider
05-20-2008, 10:16 AM
Also, here is a link to the power supply calculator I mentioned...

http://support.asus.com/PowerSupplyCalculator/PSCalculator.aspx?SLanguage=en-us

:D

Eugeny
05-20-2008, 10:58 AM
According to that calculator i need 600 Watt Power Supply (Q6600 over clocked to 3 Ggz , GeForce 8800 GT, 4 memory modules DDR2, 2HD, 2 Optical, 1 wireless card, 2 Case fans ). And i have 400 Watt and it's run flawlessly on games, modeling and heavy render (right now I'm on heavy render it's already 89 hours non stop render and 52 hours to complete). I have 400 Watt Power supply that come with case (JCP-Tech H775D). Made this comp on September 2007, since then it's run non stop and newer had any problem (Vista 64 tweaked). So get this Power Supply calculations with grain of salt .

Cageman
05-20-2008, 11:01 AM
Hehe..

A while back we had a prototype NVidia card that required 1000W. :)

*LOL*

sadkkf
05-20-2008, 11:21 AM
I would make double sure you have enough of a power supply to run all of that. A computer that is starved for power will act like its possessed! I know this first hand. There are calculators on the web where you can plug in all your pieces and it will tell you the recommended ps to use...the days of 350 or 400w power supplies are fading fast and sounds like yours may need some extra juice!

Also, I believe the max on memory for 64 bit is actually 128GB of Ram not 4GB...
Here is a link to check out on XP64 if you're interested...
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/64bit/overview.mspx
Also...
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/64bit/action/newtek.mspx
:thumbsup:

D'oh. You're right. I never saw that post, but read on other forums where 4gb was the max.

I do have a giant psu from the old system so it's not a problem. I generally buy where more than I need for power. :)

Thanks for the info!

CC Rider
05-20-2008, 04:22 PM
According to that calculator i need 600 Watt Power Supply (Q6600 over clocked to 3 Ggz , GeForce 8800 GT, 4 memory modules DDR2, 2HD, 2 Optical, 1 wireless card, 2 Case fans ). And i have 400 Watt and it's run flawlessly on games, modeling and heavy render (right now I'm on heavy render it's already 89 hours non stop render and 52 hours to complete). I have 400 Watt Power supply that come with case (JCP-Tech H775D). Made this comp on September 2007, since then it's run non stop and newer had any problem (Vista 64 tweaked). So get this Power Supply calculations with grain of salt .

That may be...just thought I would relay some helpful personal experience I have had with this situation...at one point a year or so ago, I upgraded to a Nvidia Quadro FX 4500 from a lower end card. Machine would work fine lots of times but every once in a while I would get the BSOD. After upgrading the PS all problems were gone. I suppose it depends on how great the defeciency is and how many components are taxing the system at the same time...
I'm sure the calculator gives the results assuming the requirements as if all components are drawing power at the same time.
At least if you do have problems you'll have an additional place to look. Most people don't pay much attention to the PS...
I usually err on the side of caution and get more than you need so you can "grow in to it".
sounds like you have it under control.
Good luck with the new system!
:thumbsup:

csoars
05-21-2008, 09:43 PM
Guys thanks for the suggestions. I ALWAYS build my own stuff including my house, boat and even a car but particularly my computers. So I have just taken a day off and got the parts and built the machine.

I did put Vista on it and was startled by how easy all my software loaded back on. Only problem I now have is that last night I left the machine on all night to render a video file (AVI) which was suposed to go for 7 hours (on my old PC this file took 22 hours). However, when I got up this mornign the computer was off and the avi file would not run. So maybe it has not worked out soi well after all.

For the record I got core duo CPU and 4 GB RAM which I will change to 8 GB if anyone tells me that will be better.... Also got a WD 1Tb networked HDD and a 300 Gb HDD for the system (10,000)

And now another question - I have always rendered in avi because I get decent quality. But my friend the computer parts guy said to me "way yow use avi? wot wong wit yow? avi too slow and big". So I checked my available codex and did some tests and the quality off all the others is very poor. Any suggestions here?

Thanks

Hopper
05-21-2008, 09:48 PM
However, when I got up this mornign the computer was off and the avi file would not run. So maybe it has not worked out soi well after all.
Ahhhh.. Forget to turn off the Power Save functions did we? :D

csoars
05-21-2008, 10:06 PM
yeah probably right but didn't expect it to shut down while it was working on the render. I asume it shut before the render was complete and thats why the file wont work. Will try again tonight after shutting down the power saving functions

Cheers

Qexit
05-22-2008, 03:09 AM
Only problem I now have is that last night I left the machine on all night to render a video file (AVI) which was suposed to go for 7 hours (on my old PC this file took 22 hours). However, when I got up this mornign the computer was off and the avi file would not run. So maybe it has not worked out soi well after all.You've just discovered why it is normally standard practice to render out to image sequences rather than direct to animation files. If you are rendering out scenes that are taking hours to finish, then you really should switch to image sequences. If something goes wrong during the render, such as your PC shutting down for some reason, then all you lose is the frame being rendered at the time. You can then restart the render at that point without wasting all the work done already. Once you have an image sequence, you can then convert it into your favourite/preferred video format very quickly through LW or your video editor of choice. This also allows you the option of generating the final video file in several formats to see which is best without having to rerender the whole scene every time.