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needing some advice building 2 rigs, heavy vfx/post.

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Hi There,


I am new to this forum and wanted to ask some opinions from you guys before investing on a new rig, I ve seen many knowledgeable people while lurking through this forums :), so hopefully I can get some additional insights.

A bit about me. I do work mostly for film/vfx as a cg environment generalist. Mostly doing lookdev, lighting, texturing (w/mari) and rendering. And lately getting a lot into comp with nuke.


Using mostly xsi for vfx/film work and 3ds for product viz (freelance).


I am looking to upgrade/replace my current setup. Which is not too bad but when render times comes it shows its limits, also with massive scenes. Now, I am aware that real render power requires a farm. And thats not what I am looking for at least not for now. But surely I ll like to have a main workstation that kicks ass to say so, and maybe one or two render nodes.


My current setup look like this:


i7 930

quadro fx 1800

asus P6X58D

24G ram g.skill 1600

case, psu, etc..


I also have the following at home:


-2 brand new: 3930k cpu's

-12G ram


My current budget is: 2K$ to a maximum (hopefully not :) extend to 2.5K$


So I am not sure if only build two new rigs with the two 3930's or include my current as a third render node.


So I thought of the following configs:


first (dismembering current rig):


- 2 asus P9X79 mobo deluxe. (700$ both)

- 32G ram for second rig (first can use the 24G plus the 12G I have on spare and I couldnt fit because of mobo limits) (260$)

- 1 psu (130$)

- 1 gtx 670 4gb vram (1000$) (other I can re use my quadro fx1800)

- 1 case (130$)


total around: 1800$


second (having 2 workstation and 1 render node)


- 2 asus P9X79 mobo deluxe. (700$ both)

- 32G ram (divided on 2 render nodes) 260$

- 2 psu (260$) for both 3930k new rigs

- 2 gtx 670 4gb vram (1000$) for each 3930k rig, the third could keep the fx1800.

- 2 extra cases (300$)


total: around 2500+$


Third (having 1 main workstation and 2 render nodes) I am mostly between this and the first...


- 1 asus P9X79 mobo deluxe for main workstatin 3930k

- 1 cheaper mobo? for the 3930k render node

- 32G ram (divided on 2 render nodes) 260$

- 2 psu (260$) for both 3930k new rigs

- 1 gtx 670 4gb vram (500$)

- 1 cheaper gtx that still get the job done, not sure which.. (250$?) for render node

- 2 extra cases (300$)



Now I am not really saavy when it comes to hardware, setups etc. I know from what I read that 3930ks make good rendering cpu, and I was lucky to get both new for 700$ so I got them. I dont know anything about MOBOs, etc.. :)


I am not sure what is the difference between asus x9p79 deluxe, PRO, sabertooth they all look the same color to me! I know I want to overclock both 3930s to around 4.3


So hopefully you are still reading and can help me out with some thoughts

It ll be greatly appreciated.


Thanks in advanced.



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Why P9x79 "Deluxe"? Most likely you won't be using more than 1 workstation, so even if you do need the "Deluxe" features, that would be for one, not both 3930s - unless you need 2x NICs for both. Personally I have the P9x79 pro and I am satisfied (trying not to use the word Happy in vain!).


Same for the expensive GPU. I do have a 670 4GB atm, its ok, but why would you use 2x? Doubt that GPU accel. rendering is as effective over LAN between only 2 cards, unless we are talking really intensive stuff and a dozen+ cards forget it...

If you plan on getting 2x for GPU accelerated rendering, fit them both in the same workstation for your mari / GPU accelerated rendering as an active-shade tool, while the render nodes CPU-render the production images/videos etc. I would not even get a GTX for the render node. Just something that fires up and/or can work as a backup card in case of emergency. Maybe a 640 or the such, to still have some CUDA capabilities in case you need to man that headless node, while running cool and drawing minimal power when idling (what probably a render node will be doing with its GPU anyways).


$130-150 cases are also a bit overkill for a rendering node...1/2 that can easily get you big enough midis for you not to worry about proper air flow or fitting larger GPUs in the future. I can see spending some money (again epeen) for your workstation's case, but the nodes don't need anything fancy). I've used a $70 CM 690 II. I had a limited budget and didn't see the point getting anything bigger. I like the Switch 810, and I think that unless you need custom WC with more than 2x dual rads, there is hardly a need to go for something other than the 690 II, unless you are after looks / color scheme etc.


Cooler: An ND-14, silver arrow SB-E (that's in my rig) or Corsair H100 (even H80) will probably do sustain a 4.3-4.5GHz OC on a 3930K with ok temps. You have to take that into account as we are talking $75-110 x2.


RAM: I got myself Samsung 30nm PC 1600 chips (4GB sticks only unfortunately). Those run @ 2333 11-11-11 and 1.5V 24/7 with no issues in my rig (4.625 GHz CPU OC). If you will be OCing the 3930K, is needless to say that pushing your Ram with the X79 chipset is very easy. That will save you some money without compromises other than using all of your 8 slots for 32GB configs.

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Hi Dimitris,


Thanks for taking the time writing such a detailed reply. It definitely makes things a lot clearer to me man.


Ok From what you say I am probably choosing way to expensive components for single render nodes, which definitely make sense.


for the record, I don't really give a @#$% about looks (not for a computer!), to me the case, gpu, etc... could look like a mortar brick and I ll still buy it, given it does the job :)


Ok so going more specific this is what I gathered as possible pieces:

(used memoryexpress.com as source)


Main workstation


i7 3930k (already have it)


cosair vengeance 32 GB 189$


p9x79 pro 314$


corsair hx650 99$


evga gtx670 4gb vram 449$


I can reuse current case


intel ssd 520 - 240gb 269$ (looks like ssd520 its twice as fast, this can be very useful for mari as it normally rips the local drive in texture space while using it, even 24gb ram start to look small...at multiple 4k-8k patches)


corsair hydro H100 119$ (I read this and looks like the h100 is worth the extra bucks)


hdd 1tb caviar black 104$


total: 1543$


render nodes:


First (i7 3930k):


i7 3930k (already have it)


24 gb ram, g.skill 1600 (re using my current ram)


500gb memory (can reuse current wd black..)


120gb crucial ssd (can reuse current)


gpu: can reuse quadro fx1800


p9x79 pro 314$ (not sure if I can go cheaper on this, I d still need to overclock this cpu so it might be worth to keep a good mobo).


corsair hx650 99$


Case: cooler master CM 690 ii adv 59$


corsair hydro H100 119$


Total: 591$




Second node (optional):


Reuse mobo asus P6X58D


Reuse i7 930


reuse psu 650w corsair


reuse extra 500gb hdd caviar wd


reuse corsair dominator 12 GB


gpu: asus gtx 650 129$


Case: cooler master CM 690 ii adv 59$


cooling corsair H80 109$


Total: 297$



Grand total if including 3 configs: 2431$


having 3 over clocked CPUs including main workstation. Planning to have both 3930k's at around 4.2 - 4.5 and the 2 years old i7 930 at around 3.5 - 3.8




I have no real need for gpu rendering I think... I bought octane some months ago but I used only for product shots and for stills theres no big deal in time. Problem only comes when dealing with a whole cg shot and comp. And gpu have no place there yet.


So I ll be focusing more onto cpu. I use normally mental ray. But because of memory bottlenecks on a current project I am moving to vray and maybe even try 3delight.

Its a shame that theres not personal license for arnold. Having tested it lately at work its hard to settle for less... but well, thats out of reach for personal use.


in resume vray will be my main renderer, and looks such amazing, it simplifies tons of stuff coming from mr., I do not have much experience with it to be honest, but coming from using long time mental ray I think the transition should be smoother than switching to a rasterizer. I want to benefit from gpu rt, thats why I thought of two gtx 670's, for scene preview.


Sadly that feature isnt available yet on vray for xsi yet. And although I like max for its plugins and multiple features, it is almost imposible to use it for heavy vfx work not having any decent multipass system without any custom pipeline such as blur's...etc


I am not sure how good is rt for vray compared to the actual render but I am guessing the quality is not the same yet.


Also I am not sure on why would I choose gtx680 over gtx 670 they almost look the same with the exception of cuda cores which I dont really need that much.


lastly, do having lets say dual gtx 670 4gb on the same mobo, could allow me to work with one and do sims tests with the other at the same time??


also, what do you guys think of that config, does it make sense?





Edited by manuqc
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Well, the 3930K alone, when overclocked with 1.4V (or the such) and under 100% load can draw power in the ballpark of the average stock 4C CPU + a decent GPU tower (!!!) when the later is gaming...so...beware of what Chris wrote...

A quality 650W will do it anyday, but if you want some room for expand-ability/safety margin/efficiency etc, you could get a good 750. Since you will be drawing a lot of power, depending on the hours the day you will be running your system a 80+ Silver or Gold PSU will actually make its money back withing 3-4 years, while feeding cleaner (constant) power.

Your H100 probably won't let you do insane overclocks, but a 4.5-4.6GHz clock might be attainable with reasonable temps under load - needless to say that the 6C/12T 3930K simply crunches like crazy @ this clocks.


Overall I do agree with your configs - you can see that going in a bit more detail, your original plans for top of the line mobos and/GPUs for all nodes etc would leave a dent much bigger than $2500.


Hate to sound cliche, but I see little point skipping the Samsung 830 256 as the SSD of choice for your main rig. It is proven to be effectively just as fast, and actually more reliable than the 5xx Intels. Other solid choices I would get before the intel is the Crucial m4 (slowest of all mentioned but also VERY reliable, and aggressively priced lately - you can get it for $160-170 or less in some cases), and the OCZ Vertex 4.


The latter appears to be trading blows with the 830 in benchmarks as it is extremely fast (faster in most cases), but it comes with OCZ support which reputation was dented due to the terribad reliability of the Sandforce controllers (Intel 520) that OCZ was using before it acquired its own controller technology, and that the process for upgrading the firmware (something that many times is highly recommended) erases the drives - something not true for other designs/manufacturers.


I don't get what you are comparing the 520 to saying it is "twice as fast", but if it is your current 120GB SSD, yes, it is generally true that since SSD controllers usually have the flash mem chips connected in parallel to them, the more of them, the better. Almost all current drives use 8GB mem chips, so double the capacity equals double the chips in parallel.

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