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Custom Build for Rendering

By cookiedude
May 7, 2014
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  1. Hi all

    Up until very recently I have been using Scan (3XS) for custom build workstations for our 3D designers in our London studio. Unfortunately their customer service has fallen off a cliff in the last few months, so I am looking at alternative options. One of the biggest advantages with Scan was their prices relative to more established competitors and I'm hoping to find a similarly competitive option. I have used Mesh in the past, but unfortunately they don't include Quadro graphics cards in any of their systems (this is an essential as we work with Solidworks & AutoCAD as much as we do 3ds Max).

    I have built my own in the past, but as this is a work machine, we'd prefer to be backed up by a professional warranty. What I am considering at the moment is the HP Z420, but these use Xeon E5-1620 CPUs which, according to Intel, aren't recommended for rendering. I'm still happy to consider off-the-shelf systems, but ideally I'd like to get something along the lines of:

    Windows 7 Pro 64bit
    i7 4770k (or newer)
    nVidia Quadro K2000 (or better)
    16gb RAM (Minimum)
    24" IPS Monitor (eg, Dell U2413)
    3yr Warranty
    Under £2k

    Any suggestions would be appreciated?

    Thanks in advance
     
  2. JC713

    JC713 TS Evangelist Posts: 7,063   +919

    The Xeon E5-1650 that is in the HP Z420 is an aging processor. I would recommend something newer. I would take a look at the HP workstation site before making a decision through a 3rd party seller like ebuyer.com.

    I would recommend looking at newer CPUs such as the ones found >>here<<.

    One option is the HP Z420, but it gets quite pricey (~4000 USD not including a monitor (if I am not mistaken)). It has a beefy Xeon E5-1650 V2 inside along with a bunch of other goodies like a Quadro K4000 and a 512GB SSD.

    It doesn't seem to me like many of the HP workstations have GPUs, so this is what I recommend: buy a nice HP workstation with a beefy new Xeon E5 6 core CPU (this will kick some mean *** in SolidWorks, AutoCad, and 3DS Max, trust me!) and buy a Quadro or FirePro GPU yourself. Make sure you check the specifications of the PSU first though to confirm that you can run a Quadro GPU on top of the other components. Also, you can easily get a SSD later if you dont want to pay extra for it in the HP workstation. That will run you like $300-500.

    If the HP workstations dont work out (the pricing just doesnt workout in the end with the monitors and GPUs and such), then I would get off the shelf parts, but the problem with those is that it is hard to find components with extended warranties. If they do have long warranties, they will probably be expensive.

    I hope this helps.

    -JC
     
    GhostRyder likes this.
  3. GhostRyder

    GhostRyder TS Evangelist Posts: 2,294   +547

    As far as the workstation itself goes, JC713 hit the nail on the head and pretty much got this answered completely as I would go off his suggestion.

    I would say though as far as the GPU goes, I would suggest going a little further to the K4000 when doing hard core rendering just because of the ram and feature set on board. I have seen a few machine in the data center that use those cards and the performance difference is noticeable in render setups from the K2000. I would invest a bit more in the CPU and GPU first and then build up personally when im on a budget.

    Also on the CPU, you may just wanna get a 4820k and use the X79 chipset. Might be a better option for you, but that's just a thought because a Xeon is the best of all for this but I would not get the 4770k for that type of machine.
     
    JC713 likes this.
  4. JC713

    JC713 TS Evangelist Posts: 7,063   +919

    Yeah the 4930K (he would need a 6 core) and an ASUS X79 WS motherboard would be a really good option. I am just on the edge about it since he needs a reliable warranty and putting together parts will be tedious since some dont have long warranties.
     
  5. GhostRyder

    GhostRyder TS Evangelist Posts: 2,294   +547

    True I understand that just thought id throw a few suggested parts. But on the 4930k, if hes on a budget that won't accommodate it I would get the 4820k which still gives you some of the benefits of that platform.
     
  6. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,948   +728

    Well, on that note you'll be hard pressed to beat an OEM's pricing and 24/7 support structure.
    The Dell T5610 features a Xeon E5-2620v2 six core (lower speed than the i7, slightly larger L3), a U2413 monitor, and an Nvidia K4000 for a little under 2K without VAT. You'd need to grab an additional kit of ECC RAM (not overly expensive), and a secondary harddrive most likely, so a lot would depend on your tax rebate/VAT structure.

    If you're building from consumer parts and don't mind building the system yourself, then:

    Xeon E5-2630 6 core/12 thread (2.3GHz) £300
    Supermicro X9SRA-O server mobo C602 chipset £227
    16GB (2x8GB) Crucial DDR3-1866 ECC ~£150 (inc shipping)
    Nvidia Quadro K4000 £600
    Dell U2413 £377
    Win 7 Pro OEM £105
    Crucial M500 120GB SSD (OS drive) £56
    Western Digital 1TB Black (storage) £60
    EVGA 650W SuperNova PSU (80Plus Gold) £70
    Corsair Carbide 300R mid tower £60
    Total £1945 ( or £1998 if you substitute a 4TB storage drive for the 1TB and you don't mind going a little over budget or are claiming VAT back)

    Just a note. There are a lot of X79 boards on the market. A lot offer features you may never use. For a workstation I'd suggest the C602/C606 chipsets which are the server version of the X79 (or rather the X79 is a consumer version of the C602/606), and are fully functional -including the SAS ports which may, or may not be operational on some X79's. Supermicro's boards don't look flashy but they solid to the point of being near bulletproof.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2014
  7. cookiedude

    cookiedude TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 230

    Hi everyone, thanks for all the input. Just to reiterate a couple of points though, self-build isn't an option unfortunately. Typically it would be my preferred route, but my boss wants the reassurances of a proper warranty.

    Regarding the Quadro, we don't do any GPU based rendering so the CPU is my only concern relating to rendering speed. The K2000 has proven to be more than sufficient for the scale of CAD work we currently do. If this grows though, I will look at upgrading a few machines to the K4000.

    I looked into the Dell T5610 but the spec that I'd require came in at around £1k higher than my budget, so that's a no go too.

    Unfortunately we need the machines ASAP so had to plump for the HP Z420 as we can get them delivered tomorrow. Whilst not ideal for rendering they'll be more than adequate for AutoCAD and Solidworks so I'll try to allocate them to people more weighted towards CAD. I'm hoping to convince my boss to fork out for a render farm in the near future so the Xeons in the HPs won't be a problem for too long.

    Thanks all (y)

    PS: I've just double checked the spec of the Z420 against the Intel link that JC713 posted and it looks like it is the 1620v2 with the P4600 on-board GPU, so at least it's the latest revision :)
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2014
    JC713 likes this.
  8. GhostRyder

    GhostRyder TS Evangelist Posts: 2,294   +547

    If thats the case, the K2000 should suffice and you should just try for a very nice Xeon (Or Dual Xeon) platform to make up with alot of CPU power for your rendering. I thought by the way you were talking and some of the programs listed you would be using some other programs that would really benefit from the GPU. Try using some place other than Dell mostly because while Dell offers a great warranty your going to pay a fortune for those servers.

    The HP Z420 is actually a pretty good choice as it will perform nicely (I have worked before on similar machine and tey are very solid built). Both my home server rack mount machines are HP as well and in reality they offer good price to performance as far as OEM is concerned. You can also with that machine upgrade it pretty far.

    Good luck to ya.
     
    cookiedude likes this.
  9. JC713

    JC713 TS Evangelist Posts: 7,063   +919

    Best of luck! Sounds like a really great workstation!
     


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