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starbase1
07-13-2008, 03:17 PM
It's still a couple of months off buying, but that gives me time to get things right! I'm planning on buying a seriously good PC, with one of the main aims, if not the main aim, of making something very good for Lightwave (and other 3d graphics).

I don't play games, and I don't think there is anything else I do that would stretch the hardware. I have a budget of about 1500 UK pounds. Here's what I have so far, all suggestions and comments very gratefully received!

ASUS P5Q Pro motherboard. It's got good reviews, and it will take:

4 x 4 Gb of DDR2 Ram, for a whopping 16 Gb. This should let me work on seriously big stuff, and run multiple virtual machines without swapping. The price of this much is seriously eye watering, but I really want it...

Akasa Eclipse 62 Case. Again good reviews. Plenty of room inside.

CoolerMaster 700W REAL POWER PRO MODULAR PSU.

Philips 24" WIDE 240BW8EB 5ms DVI TFT. Apparently a 24" monitor which gives unusually realistic colours, (according to a review).

Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 1TB hard drives, 2 of them.

Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad Q9450 2.66GHz 12M Cache S775 1333MHZ

I'm not sure about going upmarket with this - It does seem that you pay a lot more for not much extra speed. I'd welcome some advice.

Graphics card I am 100% clueless on, but I figure on spending 100-150 pounds, and want something that works well under Linux too. (I am planning on dual booting Ubuntu Studio 64, and XP 64 Pro).

I'm also looking for a good hi-fi type sound card, (By which I mean 2 channels for producing stereo music as the producer intended, not something with 11.3 subwoofer channels to loosen the fillings from your teeth).

All suggestions for alternate hardware received with great interest!

Nick

toby
07-13-2008, 04:06 PM
Only one quad proc? Will this not be used for a lot of your rendering? Perhaps get 4-8gb ram for now if funds are an issue, add more later.

starbase1
07-13-2008, 04:12 PM
I'm afraid that all you'll get from that monitor is unusual colours and bad viewing angles. It's a TN panel based monitor as far as I can see. The contrast is also pretty weak. TN panels almost always have image uniformity (brightness) issues from top to bottom when you sit in front of them in normal use.

Since you mention colours, I take it that colour reproduction is of importance to you. In which case I'd steer well clear of anything with a TN panel.

At least get a decent LG with a MVA panel (sorry, I can't recall specific models at the moment). Those are cheap and a far better choice than anything TN.

Preferably get something based on variant IPS or PVA panel technologies. You will like the colours much better. IPS has the best viewing angles and PVA the greatest contrast (deepest blacks). Both panel types calibrate well to top notch colour reproduction.

Well, I'm probably not that critical as I find the one I have at the moment acceptable, and it's a TN. I suspect I will value size over quality. How much more are we talking about for alternate technologies at 24"? This is 300 pounds, and got the best buy in the most recent PC World. So I'm assuming its a relatively good example of the type.

starbase1
07-13-2008, 04:20 PM
Only one quad proc? Will this not be used for a lot of your rendering? Perhaps get 4-8gb ram for now if funds are an issue, add more later.

Can you point me at any good motherboards that will handle multiple processors, and do 4 x 4 Gb? (I already have 8 Gb on one machine and it's really good for having a lot of stuff on the boil!) This one also takes DDR3, so I can upgrade in that direction when the price comes down.

glebe digital
07-13-2008, 04:33 PM
It's a big budget for a quad system, I've just finished building a dual-quad system for less than your budget & I think you'll kick yourself for only going 4 cores.

An Intel Skulltrail board [D5400XS] plus two Xeon Harpertowns [5420s] offers a good bang-per-buck, 8-16gb will also be no problem on that mobo.

If you don't do games then a mid-level quadroFX is a pretty good solution.

starbase1
07-13-2008, 04:55 PM
It's a big budget for a quad system, I've just finished building a dual-quad system for less than your budget & I think you'll kick yourself for only going 4 cores.

An Intel Skulltrail board [D5400XS] plus two Xeon Harpertowns [5420s] offers a good bang-per-buck, 8-16gb will also be no problem on that mobo.

If you don't do games then a mid-level quadroFX is a pretty good solution.

That does seem to be a VERY expensive motherboard - anything cheaper that will do 2 CPU's and 16 Gb? Remember this includes buying a monitor, and I really don;t see how I can follow your suggestions and stay within budget...

BigHache
07-13-2008, 10:32 PM
Yes, there are cheaper solutions for dual 771 boards. Most of what I've seen available are server mobos, so you might want to pay specific attention to the form factor.

This is one I'm looking at for example:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813182146

Not that this is the best board by any means, but my case won't hold an E-ATX board and I'm trying to use what I have as much as possible.

glebe digital
07-14-2008, 03:31 AM
That does seem to be a VERY expensive motherboard - anything cheaper that will do 2 CPU's and 16 Gb? Remember this includes buying a monitor, and I really don;t see how I can follow your suggestions and stay within budget...

Well, you WILL get what you pay for. :hey:

mobo: 335
8Gb ram: 298
2x 5420s: 425
Eatx case: 105
500GB drive: 46
PSU: 74

total: 1,283

That leaves you around 300 for a GPU and screen........fail to see why you really need a 24".......you can get an excellent 20" monitor for about 160.

Bighache makes a good point about re-using as much kit as you can, is there anything you intend to strip from your current PC?

Thomas M.
07-14-2008, 03:48 AM
Go for an Eizo CG421W. Good quality for money and you can calibrate the hardware way. About 1600€.

glebe digital
07-14-2008, 03:53 AM
I know what you mean neverko, I use a 20" widescreen @1680px wide and it's way better than a 19" 5:4 @1280.............but costwise, that extra 4" is the equivalent of an extra 4-cores at rendertime........so gimme the extra cores anyday.

starbase1
07-14-2008, 04:56 AM
You'll probably have to shell out at least 450-500 pounds for something in a better league.

I'd say that a TN is adequate for most uses, I lived with 19" TN panel for a good while, though I had a 19" IPS panel alongside for colour proofing. The weak colour reproduction was my biggest issue with the TN tech. I need better colour reproduction than that. But it's also quite possible that TN panels have improved in this area.

I'm sure you are right and they are better... But I was seriously surprised at how much difference a bigger screen made to my working, so I think I am going to put size over quality in this case. It's depressingly easy to find expensive stuff I want, harder to work out where to cut the corners!

starbase1
07-14-2008, 05:02 AM
Well, you WILL get what you pay for. :hey:

mobo: 335
8Gb ram: 298
2x 5420s: 425
Eatx case: 105
500GB drive: 46
PSU: 74

total: 1,283

That leaves you around 300 for a GPU and screen........fail to see why you really need a 24".......you can get an excellent 20" monitor for about 160.

Bighache makes a good point about re-using as much kit as you can, is there anything you intend to strip from your current PC?

Well, that is half the memory, and a quarter the disk space! Also a bit less on the PSU I had in mind. I'll certainly give it some thought though, after all with a state of the art motherboard it would be easy to upgrade CPU's later as the price came down.

Nothing much to be recovered - I have 2 PC's at the moment and would abandon the older one which is a bit geriatric... (Actually I'll probably just virtualise it!).

starbase1
07-14-2008, 05:04 AM
For me, the biggest productivity booster in a while was going from a 19" 5:4 to a 24" 16:10 monitor. The higher resolution and extended workspace is worth every penny! Especially in applications where you utilize menus on both the left and right hand side of the screen. For me that's everything ranging from InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator to LightWave, modo and ZBrush. All of these applications are so much better with the added space and widescreen layout.

100% agree. It's also great to have reference pics onscreen right beside your version, without switching.

starbase1
07-14-2008, 05:07 AM
Go for an Eizo CG421W. Good quality for money and you can calibrate the hardware way. About 1600.

Which would leave me about enough cash for a ZX81 and a ram pack...

starbase1
07-14-2008, 05:17 AM
Of course, if you're completely loaded, you don't have to find and operate with your own justification principles. You simply go for it :)

I do find it tempting to go for the screen - not least because a good monitor is likely to stay cutting edge for a LOT longer than things like processors and motherboards and disks...

Kabaal
07-14-2008, 10:12 AM
plus two Xeon Harpertowns [5420s] offers a good bang-per-buck, 8-16gb will also be no problem on that mobo.

If you don't do games then a mid-level quadroFX is a pretty good solution.

I found this thread as I am looking to do a similar upgrade myself.
Does the board mentioned above support DDR 2 RAM? If so i think I have found my upgrade solution! Especially if I can use my existing SATA drives and 8800GTS GFX card (well until I can save up for a quadro) :boogiedow

Dexter2999
07-14-2008, 10:21 AM
Remember that if you get a mobo that can accomodate two processors, you don't have to fill them both right now.

I do this at work. I buy one that will take two processors but only get one. Then get the second processor the following year when I get a new operating budget.

Same thing can apply to your home computer

starbase1
07-14-2008, 04:13 PM
Remember that if you get a mobo that can accomodate two processors, you don't have to fill them both right now.

I do this at work. I buy one that will take two processors but only get one. Then get the second processor the following year when I get a new operating budget.

Same thing can apply to your home computer

A very good point, and worth remembering.

However, in the wise words of Freddy Mercury:

I want it all, I want it all, I want it all, and I want it now!

BigHache
07-14-2008, 05:46 PM
Kabaal, yes that board does support DDR2, but it's FB-DIMMs at 800/667 MHz, which is common for dual socket boards. You probably have SDRAM, which won't carry over.

starbase1
07-17-2008, 04:53 AM
I was very interested to see 2 group tests in the latest 3d World, the Space issue...

Not least because unlike the more general mags they have a good understanding of what people like us do, and even used Lightwave for one of the benchmarks.

Also, for their higher end test, they were looking at systems with a minimum of 8 Gb memory, and in serveral cases the abailty to handle more, often by means of many more slots for DDR2.

I think I need to take a close look at these, not least because the only way I reached my target 16 Gb in the first plan was to get 4 x 4 Gb, and the 4 Gb modules are a LOT more expensive than the 2 Gb ones. So I may well be able to get a better motherboard and lower the overall cost.

Nick

Kabaal
07-18-2008, 11:51 AM
Kabaal, yes that board does support DDR2, but it's FB-DIMMs at 800/667 MHz, which is common for dual socket boards. You probably have SDRAM, which won't carry over.

Thank you for the info BigHache. It is SDRAM I have, ah well guess you can't have everything :D

JonW
07-19-2008, 09:27 AM
for 1500 you should easily get 8 cores these days. Last year I got 8 cores (2x 5335, 8gb ram) for au$3600. Its easier now!

I have ordered a new box 2x E5450, 16gb ram, GTX280, Velocirator 300gb, plus a few other bits and pieces. Supermicro MB which are hellish expensive Australia.
Approx. au$6000.

If you strip this back a bit you should easily get 8 cores within your budget.

JonW
07-19-2008, 04:33 PM
Forgot to ad, this may be useful information for putting together a cheap V8.

http://newsgroups.derkeiler.com/pdf/Archive/Alt/alt.comp.hardware.pc-homebuilt/2008-05/msg00753.pdf

starbase1
07-20-2008, 12:17 PM
Thanks for the suggestions, appreciated!

starbase1
07-22-2008, 07:17 AM
http://blogs.zdnet.com/hardware/?p=2267

Chip prices coming down, that's a significant cut on the E8500...
Nick

archijam
07-24-2008, 02:59 AM
Bump. (Crash)

Time to get a workstation after 5 years of laptop nomadism, and finding it hard to choose.

Not least because my recent mac-crossover finally has a price tag :P

See attached screen shots (4 different setups) of what I've found (note: 1000 CHF is 966 USD). No monitor included. Indicative RAM price: Kingston KVR667D2D4F5/2G, 2GB, 667MHz, DDR2, FB, ECC is 109 CHF.

Could not believe the price difference for the mac. And without a good graphics card or ram. And this is THE CHEAPEST possible config for 2xquad. Any clarifications on that?

Tempted to PC-it.

(Nice thread by the way. :) )

*Pete*
07-24-2008, 03:29 AM
get two screens, im using two 19 inch monitors next to eachother...one for layout, other for modeller.

or, one for modeller/layout, other for referance photos/pictures...it feels like the curse of the separate modeller and layout suddenly has become a blessing...i modell while watching the images getting rendered..as soon as i see something that i missed, i correct it before its even ready rendered...two smaller screens is better than one big, and two big ones are far better than anything else. :D

Exception
07-24-2008, 04:14 AM
James, that PC seems to be a quad core, not a dual quad core.
Also, the apple has Xeons. That's an unfair comparison. Now you can argue about the value of xeons over normal quads, but it's still not a fair comparison price wise.

I'm not sure but I believe you can only make an 8-core with two xeons.

Exception
07-24-2008, 04:18 AM
Also, like JonW suggests, you can save BIG bucks on such a high-end machien by building it yourself. A LOT. For cheap pc's its hard to beat dell et al, but for these kinds of machines, it's easy.
Use JonW's guide for components, add them up, and you should be a lot cheaper than that apple 8-core, or a comparative dell.

archijam
07-24-2008, 05:30 AM
I was reading ... core 2 quad ... as 2 quads. Damnit. Why are there NO custom 8 core machines for sale in switzerland?

My bad. Its been a while it seems :) ..

ps. thanks Jonw .. looking into it.

Exception
07-24-2008, 05:31 AM
I was reading ... core 2 quad ... as 2 quads. Damnit. Why are there NO custom 8 core machines for sale in switzerland?

My bad. Its been a while it seems :) ..

Well, I know that is really confusing. I fell for that one myself for a while. But no such luck.

Build it and your bytes will come, my friend... just, grab that screwdriver...
I've not found a custom 8-core in the NL's either. I'm sure they're there, but for the little bit of time it takes to build one, I'd rather do it myself.

Thomas M.
07-24-2008, 05:50 AM
So, finally back in the NL?

JonW
07-24-2008, 07:45 AM
I’m not even building my new box myself, I can’t buy the parts for the price. I am just not using the “big” names, & have been using a small local shop over the years & go there every couple of years & have built a good rapport, I think 99% of their business is dual & quads, I do test them with my top end requests. You just get better service without the obscene pricing. On the high end computers it REALLY pays off, the box will be made from Intel, Supermicro parts etc, not the no name generic parts that the big companies have specifically made by the millions to a budget for their product range.

If you are really not sure what components to put together, plagiarise! & give the list to your local shop, they will be more than helpful.

You can also change things, in general. Upgrade add parts more ram, add a few hard drives (move them to a new box, V8s usually take 6 HDs if your keen and are Server quality), reuse parts for your next machine even the case. Try doing that with the big company “boxes”. The cheep parts are almost welded in! If you bought it with 2 gb ram quite often your stuffed for an upgrade!

At the end of the day what YOU put together using the same specs will render just as quick at 2/3 to 1/2 the price. Or for the same price an awfully lot quicker.

I really know nothing about computers, I just watch what other are using & make a list, there are plenty of people here who could come up with a parts list for any budget.

The rendering power you need is..... How long you can afford to keep your clients waiting.

The money I’m saving on my new E5450s 16gb box, I have spent on a new 30” monitor & still have money left over. (I really don’t know how I survived on my ‘tiny’ 24” the extra real estate is such a pleasure to use). The clients are impressed by the logo ‘above the desk!’

1. Buy as much CPU power as possible. (rendering is number crunching & clients are demanding more every year)....... V8.... E54xx
2. Buy enough ram for your type of work and a safety margin (you should have a feel for ram usage from WTM. (64 bit for 4 gb and more) 6gb DDR or 8gb ECC depending on your MB.
3. An 8xxx series graphics card is good enough for most situations, it doesn’t speed up rendering, it just makes the screen more pleasurable to use.
4. Build your models efficiently. ( I know I get lazy!)
5. Don’t wait for the next CPU if you have work to do buy it now it’s tax deductible.