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Thread: Desperately need help building a comp for a friend

  1. #1
    Member CaptHandsome's Avatar
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    Desperately need help building a comp for a friend

    Hello all,

    I have a friend, let's call him Chris. Chris is ready to upgrade from his Turion laptop to a new Intel desktop. He asked for my help, but alas, I have not kept abreast of hardware developments over the last few years. As you all know, if you're out of the loop for a week you're behind. So I am turning to good ol sysopt and the wealth of intelligent and experienced users to be found here.

    First off his needs. This system will not be used for any high end gaming at all. Strictly a work computer, Chris will be using CS4 or CS5 (I'm not exactly sure to what degree but assume he will be utilizing the program to their greatest extent), he will be using some CAD program dubbed CAD Cam, he will be using a program by the name of Rhinoceros (NURBS modeling) and also some Dreamweaver and 3D Studio Max. Also, Chris has about a $2000 budget for this computer. He doesn't care about the case or the sound card and as I mentioned before he will not be playing games on this computer.

    SO, does he need to spend $2000 on an i7, 12GB RAM, and dual video cards? Maybe I should rephrase that. Will he notice a difference between what I described above and saaaaay an i5, 6GB RAM and a single video card? Does he need a high end gaming card for the type of work he will be doing or is it overkill? He's very adamant about not having to deal with any sort of slow down or hiccups since he will be using this box to make a living.

    I know this post is a bit vague and unfortunately my friend needs this computer as soon as possible (it's a long story and this post is long enough as it is). I would be very grateful for any help you guys can give me, even just point me in the right direction. I just don't want my friend spending $2000 on a computer that will never be used to it's potential if he can spend $1000 or $1500 on one that will perform his tasks just as well as the $2000 box.

    Thanks again and HAPPY MONDAY!
    -TheCapt

  2. #2
    Stark Raving MOD Midknyte's Avatar
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    This is a very specialized situation. I don't use it myself, but here are some ideas.

    First look at the software recommendations for hardware, especially for video cards. CAD cards like the ATI FireGLs or Nvidia Quadros are not the same as gaming cards. I don't know if any CAD apps that support Crossfire or SLI. You'd have to check on that.

    CS5 supports CUDA on Nvidia cards. He'll probably want to lean that way, unless there is an overwhelming reason for him to go with ATI. AFAIK, CS5 doesn't support SLI.

    Remember that i7 is triple channel ram and i5 is dual. If anything it would be something like 12GB vs 8GB.

    I would go with an SSD, since storage is usually the slowest part of the system. If you go with i5, you can put some money towards SSD.

  3. #3
    Ultimate Member mobo57's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptHandsome View Post
    Hello all,
    using CS4 or CS5 (I'm not exactly sure to what degree but assume he will be utilizing the program to their greatest extent), he will be using some CAD program dubbed CAD Cam, he will be using a program by the name of Rhinoceros (NURBS modeling) and also some Dreamweaver and 3D Studio Max.

    SO, does he need to spend $2000 on an i7, 12GB RAM, and dual video cards? Maybe I should rephrase that. Will he notice a difference between what I described above and saaaaay an i5, 6GB RAM and a single video card? Does he need a high end gaming card for the type of work he will be doing or is it overkill? He's very adamant about not having to deal with any sort of slow down or hiccups since he will be using this box to make a living.

    Thanks again and HAPPY MONDAY!
    Voice of experience with all of those programs I am.

    Spend the 2000. Don't bother with dual vid cards, get the fastest single core possible such as a 480 or a pro card in that range from nvidia. Get the fastest multi core cpu with multi threading possible also.
    6 gig is the ok for memory, 12 is better, Max loves memory, especially when rendering. Scrimp on 6 and if he has a medium size project, that box will become an expensive paper weight.
    Don't over clock more than what can be done VERY conservatively if at all.
    An i5 with 6gig and a small video card, not good when crunch time comes.
    And stick with the higher end Intel, AMD's still pull the rear with Max.
    Profanity: a weak mind trying to express itself forcibly.
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    Member CaptHandsome's Avatar
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    Thanks for the replies guys.

    Okay so then definitely going i7 with 9-12 GB of RAM. I told him to stay away from the OCing because this is his work computer and he doesn't wanna deal with something crapping out on him when he's got a deadline.


    I have considered going the route of a CAD card, that was also a big factor. I have never used one myself and I don't know how they compare with gaming cards nowadays. Would you agree with mobo57 about a single beastly nVidia card? What's going to be better for this: a card with more RAM and a bigger datapath (256-bit+) or just higher clocks?

    As far as SSD goes, I've pretty much convinced him that it'd be like strapping a turbocharger onto his car, compared to having a 10k Raptor. I figure a low cap SSD with a 1TB backup SATA drive or something....sound about right?

    Anything else I should know/consider? Anything I may have forgotten? Ordinarily I'd be building this for my friend, but since it's not a recreational system I told him to go through a company that has their own tech support, warranty etc. Any recommendations?

    mobo57, what do you know about the CintiQ 21UX tablet?

    Thanks again for the replies guys!
    -TheCapt

  5. #5
    Extreme Member! BipolarBill's Avatar
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    Don't forget to load Windows 7 64-bit so that he can support ludicrous amounts of RAM. The motherboard should support ECC RAM as well. Garden variety memory should be avoided in the work environment.

    One nVidia Quadro is fine.
    MS MCP, MCSE

  6. #6
    Ultimate Member mobo57's Avatar
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    Compare the specs on the pro cards versus the gaming cards. RAM and data are the choice, clock speed is secondary. Not totally sure but Max has additional drivers that only work on pro cards AFAK. Problem is a decent pro card can eat up half your budget, or all of it.
    Question would be what is he doing. Real time rendering using such as 3d compositions will greatly benefit from the pro card. He will not have to wait for the screen to re-draw and can see his shaders, lighting effects etc. live rather than having to do a frame render.
    Not familiar with that tablet you are asking, though I now need to check them out. We use the Bamboo's, same manufacturer. Very good product.
    Why an SSD? Not needed here and unless it is over 128 g in capacity, will be filled pretty quickly with the OS, CS5, MAX, CAD and the related plugins and so on even if all his data is elsewhere.
    Don't know who to go to for a pre-made box. Pretty sure BpB would suggest Dell. My personal feelings I'd use an abacus before getting another Dell.
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    Check out the read and write speeds.
    Spendy too.

    http://www.crucial.com/store/listmod...ive~/list.html

    Just examples but I like the 256GB Crucial M225 which has a Limited Five Year Warranty.

  8. #8
    Extreme Member! BipolarBill's Avatar
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    I don't hate Dell. Their products have been fine for me. Polywell has been around for ages:

    http://www.polywell.com/us/index.asp

    They make good stuff and their support is excellent as well. Keep in mind that anyone can make a lemon. No one is perfect.
    MS MCP, MCSE

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    Stark Raving MOD Midknyte's Avatar
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    I figure a low cap SSD with a 1TB backup SATA drive or something....sound about right?
    That would be a good plan. Get the SSD for the OS/Apps and another drive for data. As I said, the storage subsystem is usually the slowest part of a system. SSDs put Raptor drives to shame.

  10. #10
    Member CaptHandsome's Avatar
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    BpB! Good to see you're still on this site dispensing wisdom. It's been a few years since I was on sysopt last. Checking out Polywell at the moment...I like what I'm seeing!

    Maybe low cap SSD wasn't the best choice of words. Definitely needs to be over 100GB SSD. 256GB is a little too pricey...and the 128s have the same read and write speeds! Thanks for the link Train.

    What about a Xeon?

    I'm looking at Quadros right now...looks like the only thing in my price range is the FX series. This is the one I'm looking at

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16814133272

    Any recommendation on something better price/performance wise?
    -TheCapt

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    Stark Raving MOD Midknyte's Avatar
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    A Xeon setup would cost you more than an i7. The processor and CPU are more, plus FBDIMMS are still pretty expensive. Most workstation boards I've seen take an EPS PSU as well.

    I'll defer to mobo57 about the video card.

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    Extreme Member! BipolarBill's Avatar
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    I've been rather busy with RL for awhile, but I usually make time to stop in here at SysOpt and help out, however infrequent that may be. I like this place. It's as close to "home" as it gets for me.

    It's not really necessary to go "whole hog" on a Xeon system. An i7 with ECC RAM and a Quadro would be just fine. Just make sure that the i7 motherboard supports ECC before spending the scratch on it. The folks at Polywell will tell you if you take the time to actually call them.

    Quadros run the gamut in price. While I'm sure that the card mentioned will work, more powerful versions are available for up to $1500 for the card alone! Keeping in mind what your budget is, $400 would be a safe starting point. If the user wants more, he can decide if he wants to spend $1500 for an upgrade later. You will have done your due diligence.
    MS MCP, MCSE

  14. #14
    Ultimate Member mobo57's Avatar
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    I would not go below a FX 1800. Prefer a 3700 or 3800. My station at home (on right now) has a 4800.
    As to those ws, all nice machines, but a mid/upper range i7 will blow most of the Xenons out of the water, even with dual quads installed. The 2k priced work station I saw on the page had 2 dual cores (4 ttl cores on two chips)..... ouch, bad bad bad... My i7 940 would just smoke that 2,100$ Poly FX1800 machine and has never let me down.

    Suggestion: drop the SSD and put the money in a faster card/cpu. Load time is not the issue when 95% of your work time is spent on rendering and re-drawing your screen.
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    Member CaptHandsome's Avatar
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    Awesome, guys, thank you thank you, a million times thank you. Nothing as refreshing and uplifting as man helping his fellow man.

    Sysopt truly is a warm blanket.

    Okay, no Xeon, i7 it is. The price jump between the 1800 and 3700 is significant, but mobo if you really think that it would be better to drop the SSD and boost the card (at the very least) I will pass the info to my friend. Unfortunately I've already got him creaming over the thought of an SSD, so I'm going to have to figure out how to un-convince him.

    Bill, or anyone else, any recommendations for an ECC board? I was looking at the Asus P6TSE (not sure if that's ECC supported, will need to check) but I'd much rather go off of someones recommendation.
    Last edited by CaptHandsome; 07-22-2010 at 05:30 AM.
    -TheCapt

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