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Old March 19, 2010, 01:47 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2010
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Default Need help building i7 3D/rendering workstation

Any and all comments on the build will be more than welcome. Despite my best efforts at research I still need your feedback.

The purpose of the machine will be primarily to function as a 3D/HD video/graphics workstation and secondary to function as a render machine.

Both goals, and especially the second, require the PC to have as much raw computing (CPU) power as humanly possible. The system should also be very stable as it will be running days, sometimes even weeks on end with full load.

BUDGET RANGE: About $1500 or thereabouts. Since Iíll buy it in euro (I'm in Belgium) you shouldnít worry too much about conversions and just go for an approximate guess. The parts I listed cost about as much as I'm willing to spend on that particular kind of part (CPU, mobo, ...)

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Within the next month. Would be willing to wait only if something is around the corner that will suit my needs a lot more than current possibilities.

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: 3D and HD graphics workstation. Rendering machine. A tiny bit of gaming if possible.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Keyboard, mouse, screen.

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Iím afraid Iím stuck with a local builder/shop as Iím having it be built there. Luckily they have a pretty wide choice of parts so most if not any of your suggestions are acceptable.

PARTS PREFERENCES:
None that I can think of.

OVERCLOCKING: Yes. SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Not in the near future.

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1680 x 1050

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I know itís a lot to ask for considering it is to be overclocked and will need a cooler the size of Mt Everest, but I really, really would prefer a PC which runs as quietly as possible. My current one is on 24/7 standby to be drafted by the military for use as a sonic weapon. Itís really driving me crazy to be working next to something that sounds like itís about to go into orbit at any second.

WHAT I'VE GOT PLANNED SO FAR:


CPU:

i7 920 or i7 930.

I prefer the 1366 socket over the 1156 because the i7 920/930 offers more ďbandwithĒ (thatís how I understood it anyways) which apparently makes a difference for video editing.

The CPU would then be OCíd to 3,5 Ghz at least, Hyperthreading enabled of course. Iíd get as much as I can. The magical 4 Ghz if possible. But the machine should be stable as a rock, so I doubt thatíll work out.

Iím in doubt about going for a 920 or a 930. Apparently the only difference is that the 930 is clocked somewhat higher. But someone suggested somewhere that the 930 is somewhat newer in design so should be easier to overclock.

CPU Cooler:

I was thinking of getting the Noctua NH-D14. Itís a massive beast, and it seems to be scoring best on all the benchmarks.

Since I just noticed the shop Iím using doesnít carry the **** thing anymore I might have to go for the Cooler Master V10 which is also reported to cool reasonably well.
Anyone have experiences about which of the two performs better?

If you guys think the Noctua would be a lot better Iíll do my very best to get it.

Case:

Cooler Master HAF 922

The only reason I picked this one is because both the Noctua and Cooler Master coolers are immense in size and not all cases will fit them. Reviews also note the caseís fine airflow. I hope Iím right in choosing this case.

Motherboard:

Asus P6T probably. Iím a little at a loss as to which mobo to go for. Iím inclined to go for the P6T as it fits my budget and does nice in reviews. But considering Iím OCíing Iím wondering if I should go for the Deluxe or another line of moboís entirely. Your advice on this matter would be much appreciated.

RAM:

12GB. I know, itís a lot. But Iím wanting to start running quite a lot of simulations and theyíre very heavy on RAM. My workflow is also very ďmultitaskyĒ so Iím sure the 12GB will come in handy.

Corsair 12 GB DDR3-1600 Hex-Kit Retail. I donít know anything about RAM and its relation to OCíing. I heard having a lot of RAM (in this case an insane 12GB) will make it harder to OC. I also have no idea) will make it harder to OC. I also have no idea whether having 1600 Mhz ram or this 9-9-9-24 thing make any difference. The guides about overclocking the i7 didn't provide much information about this.

GPU:

This is a tough one. I first considered getting a Quadro workstation cardÖ But then I realized theyíre all basically consumer type chipsets with some extra RAM and a disproportionate extra cost.

Unless someone can convince me they have some amazing advantage I donít know about theyíre not an option.

Iím torn between the Nvidia GTX260 and the Radeon 5770. The 260 is said to score better in the 2D field (according to THIS test) which is rather important. Itís also CUDA enabled, which could be the next big thing in rendering. On the downside it has only 896 MB RAM, which isnít enough to run a brand new kind of program which uses the GPU to help with rendering.
Then the 5770 has the advantage of 1Gig RAM. I heard that Nvidia artificially keeps the performance of their gaming cards down when dealing with Adobe graphics software, so that people will buy the Quadro cards. Iím not sure if this is true or not.

I occasionally game although the ability to do so or not isnít a deal breaker.

Hard drive:

I honestly have no idea. Iím probably going to be editing HD footage so Iím guessing Iíll need some speed. I was advised against the raptor since itís not safe enough. A SSD is outside my budget.

Currently Iím going for 2HDís WD Caviar Black 640 GB. I donít know anything about RAID.

Help with this would be great.

PSU:

Corsair CMPSU-650TX
Will 650 be enough?

Hereís my questions summarized:


920 or 930?

Cooler Master V10 or Noctua NH-D14?

Will the case fit the cooler?

Which motherboard should I get? Overclockability is a prime concern of course.

Will the RAM be a hurdle to OC'ing?

Which GPU to get? The GTX260 or the Radeon 5770?

Which hard drive solution to get to ensure the best data rate while editing?

How powerful a PSU will I need?




Thanks heaps in advance for reading my wall of text. And even more thanks for any reply.
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