CG Workstation – “The Powerhouse” – Q1 2015

Based on Intel i7-5960X – Q1 2015

PrintWith the coming of the Haswell-E last summer, Intel introduced the first “consumer” grade Octa-core, replacing six-core flagship “Extremes” that were leading the i7 pack since 2010 & socket 1366. This new CPU has a very high potential, but can it really make up for the 2-3 time higher cost vs. its 6-core s2011-3 siblings?

Well, wish the answer was that simple, but probably for most people, it won’t.

The reasoning is simple, most applications don’t care for all those cores. If your focus is not to render locally, rather producing models on any 3D modeling package for CG or CAM, photo editing with PS, illustrating with AI or focusing on producing architectural models with software packages like Revit & ArchiCAD without worrying too much about producing elaborate 3D visualizations yourself, going the s2011-3 route instead of the s1150 with our cheaper $1000 & 1500 workstation options you are not getting the best bang for your investment. All of the above packages care little about having lots of threads, and focus on the absolute performance of one core.

This is what I wrote for the 5820K built, but in this case, the lack of performance vs. a stock 4790K will be even more pronounced, as the stock clocks for the 5960X are even slower than its 6-core brethren.

Forget the extra PCI-e lanes, the larger cache or the DDR4 support – these are all great features on paper, but unfortunately insignificant in real life performance. The Haswell architecture is not memory starved, DDR3 does its job great with room to spare. PCIe 3.0 protocol is VERY fast already, and even Tri-SLI configurations work fine with the 5820K or PLX boards and s1150 – if gaming is of essence, as otherwise SLI/CF is pointless in the vast majority of industry standard 3D/CG apps. For people claiming otherwise, let them provide proof instead of theorizing. Outside of synthetic benchmarks, the differences are in-existent, non-applicable or even the opposite of what the pricetag would imply.

What matters the most is clocks, and pretty much the only way to get your money’s worth back from the 5960X is either use it exclusively for heavily multithreaded applications (i.e. render node) or overclock it, something it does pretty good given proper cooling.

You see, intel is trying to keep all their CPUs below a certain TDP that they feel is applicable to dissipate with mainstream coolers. Higher clocks require higher core voltages to be stable, and having more volts means more amps, which means more watts. Add to this the fact that higher clocks mean those amps pulsing back and forth the die more times per second, it leads to the real consumption sky-rocketing over the factory “limit” very aggressively as you pump speeds up. A highly clocked 5960X  (or any other high-end “unlocked” CPU) can easily double the amount of watts its pulling through the motherboard over its stock settings. Fortunately, even a mildy priced Asus X99-A is up to the task of feeding those watts to it stably. It is hard to get a “bad” X99 board, but the Asus line does provide some of the best.

That said and out of the way, lets move to our suggested configuration in summary:

$3500 (or around there) CG Workstation – Q1 2015

Processor Intel i7-5960X Octa Core 3.0GHz
8 Cores, 16 Threads @ 3.5Hz Turboboost
Motherboard Asus X99-Deluxe
Cooling Corsair H110 CLC or Noctua NH-D15
GPU Asus STRIX GTX970 4GB or K4200
Memory 32GB CruciaDDR4 (4x8GB)
System Drive Samsung 850 Pro 512GB
Storage Drive Samsung 850 EVO 1TB (Optional)
Case Fractal Design Define R5
Power Supply Cooler Master V750 80+ Gold
Operating System Windows 7 or 8.1 Pro 64-bit


And some background rational that drives each choice.


  • CPU: Intel i7-5960X Octa Core 3.0GHz (3.5GHz TurboBoost). The successor to the 4960X is the first octa-core i7. The core count alone is not enough to really make this CPU stand out in my opinion, and In order for the 5960X to flex its muscle at least a mild overclock is highly recommended. A good cooler is the first priority to achieve this, followed by a good quality motherboard (even a X99-A can do it, you don’t need Deluxe or ROG boards) and of course a decent PSU, as this beast will be sucking lots of power at full tick.
  • CPU Cooler: No cooler is included with Haswell-E s2011-3 CPUs, so an aftermarket part is mandatory. For stock clocks most s2011 air coolers will work fine with the s2011-3 CPUs, and a Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus would satisfy most users and workloads. If you would wish to overclock the CPU though, this class of coolers would not suffice. I would consider a large twin tower air-cooler like the Noctua ND-14 or Thermalright Silver Arrow IB-E as the bare minimum. If you were to choose a CLC water cooler, I would suggest something in the class of the Corsair Hydro H105 or H110. If you were to insist on air cooling, you are sacrificing little performance going for a Noctua NH-D15, but you get a far more quiet, and for many more reliable setup. The 5960X will probably ask for a custom water cooling loop to achieve its top overclocking potential, but you could steal clock it high enough to beat any hex in multithreading potential using top-shelf CLCs and air coolers.

  • Motherboard: Asus X99-Deluxe – This is not “really” needed if you are not after the extra Gbit NIC for port aggregation. The “vanilla” Asus Z97-A. should be able to extract identical performance and support similar overclocks with any s2011-3 CPU.  A Gigabyte GA-Z97X-UD3H could also be a safe bet for an excellent board.

  • RAM: Crucial Ballistic Sport 32GB DDR4-2300 kit (8GBx4) .
    You can get 1x or 2x of these kits for 16GB and 32GB respectively.Planing ahead is wise. Most motherboards for intel i5/i7 and AMD FX CPUs have up to 4 slots for RAM. CPUs can support up to 32GBs. Even if you don’t see the need for 32GB of RAM, opt for 8GB sticks unless you want to go for a special speed etc. This will allow room for growth without parting out your initial investment (often the case with 4GB sticks). Prefer low profile heat-spreaders. Those offer little to no gains in reliability and stability, but might cause installation issues obstructing the use of large CPU heasinks. We won’t be using those in this built, but I believe it is proper to choose versatile components that can be used interchangeably in many builds.

  • Graphics: This is a tough one. Depending on the direction you will move, this is the second most important component after the CPU, and in many ways the most important. I will list 3 options, trying to keep everyone happy:
    • Asus STRIX GTX970 4GB. The latest sub $400 gem from NVidia, the GTX 970 4GB is a truly great performer. Great compute capabilities for those interested in GPGPU accelerated tasks, good all around performance with a very low heat and noise signature. The Asus STRIX design improves upon the reference board offering better cooling. The best GTX 970 out there is probably the Gigabyte G1 Gaming edition, offering better port configuration – perhaps tied with the PNY GTX 970 – and the best cooling & power delivery configuration should you wish to overclock. The PNY board is not as impressive for overclocking, but with using mini-DP ports, it is convertible to a single slot GPU when paired with a full-cover waterblock. This can allow for great density GPGPU configurations for more advanced builders. The downside on the Gigabyte G1 is the massive size and the increased cost over the ASUS. At stock speeds there won’t be any noise or heat concerns using any 970 out there, and performance will be virtually indistinguishable, so you could opt for any one of them without any real sacrifices. Yes, the 980 is a faster card, but not considerably enough to justify the price difference – at least in my opinion. The “3.5~4GB” issue with 970s is really not a concern for viewport performance, and definately not for GPGPU.
    • PNY Quadro K2200 4GB.  In order for “workstation” cards to earn their pricetag’s worth,you will have to be using your workstation for engineering CAD applications like Solidworks, CATIA etc, that actually get a notable performance boost using workstation GPU drivers. The older Quadro K2000 is a mediocre performer, notably slower than the W5000, and certainly nowhere near a K2200. 4GB of VRam is a nice addition, but not a real requirement, i.e. don’t full yourself believing that the speed bump is because of it.


  • System Drive: Samsung 850 Pro 512GB. The latest and greatest SATA  drive from the most reliable SSD manufacturer. suspend writes on the defective blocks, while reads (thus access to your files) is technically possible “forever”. 250GB are enough to fit OS, your design and 3D suites and even keep some working files in, but if you can afford a bigger drive, by all means go for it. To ensure maximum performance, remember that you should not fill your SSDs more than 75-80% to their maximum capacity. Make sure you have your drive updated to the latest firmware.


  • Storage Drive: Samsung 850 EVO 1TB (Optional). As your budget goes up, and unless you have to have huge local storage, why not go all-out SSD? I really like Samsung EVOs – in fact I use them as boot drives too. The performance difference vs. the Pro is not that important for me.

  • Case: Fractal Design Define R5. Stylish and minimal design, great layout  along with good noise dampening make this a great workstation case. Other good choices would be the Corsair or – in case you want to cut down costs without sacrificing much. Of course there are a lot of other options and this could be the most subjective choice out of the whole kit. Get something you will be happy looking at, but don’t overspend for blink…it is just a metal can folks, and it has to be really badly designed to hinder the actual performance – given coolers fit and can be mounted properly, cards fit length wise etc.

  • PSU: Cooler Master V750 80+ Gold. This is a quality unit with consistently good reviews (latest Seasonic Design). 550W should be more than enough, as this system will probably be using less than 150W for normal operation, and would rarely break 250W of wall-plug load, but should you wish to overclock it 80+ Gold rating ensures that the unit is running cool and energy is not wasted.

  • Optical Drive: Optical Drives (ODs) are rarely utilized the last few years. Broadband connections, cloud storage and affordable flash drives are replacing them. For most ODs are limited to installing new software and OS. A Lite-On IHAS124-04 or Asus DRW-24B3ST would do the trick, but unless you are required to provide optical media to your clients/school projects or you like burning backups, ODs are trully optional these days.

  • Operating System: Windows 7 Professional SP1 64bit (OEM) Windows OS is guaranteeing compatibility with most rendering packages. Windows 8.1 Pro 64-bit has no real issues, but some users complain with the UI and are willing to trade the better memory management it offers for the “good enough” and more familiar Windows 7. Home editions are limited to 16GB of RAM. Professional and Ultimate versions allow up to 128GB, and offer some additional networking/remote access features that are desirable.

Disclaimer: For the total price, we assumed that you would go for the most basic configuration listed. No guarantees of pricing and availability in your region, just suggestions =)


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35 thoughts on “CG Workstation – “The Powerhouse” – Q1 2015

  1. Hi Dimitri. Firstly, thank you for taking the time to share your knowledge. Reading through all the comments, you are doing both me and many others a great service. I’ve getting close to putting together a machine, but am still confused about a few things which I hope you could make clearer. Mainly, is it better to have a workstation with an i7 set up like your ‘powerhouse’ stated here, adding a Xeon node for rendering (or the $600 node as you have listed on the site), or would you achieve the similar with going down the dual Xeon (e.g. 2680v2) route? What are the pro/con’s of one over the other, when only the basic programs for 3d are to be used, i.e. 3dsmax, Vray/corona, Ps, AE, and plugins), no gaming, and a need for large, clean renders, mainly of interiors. Is it possible, based on the setup outlined in your ‘Powerhouse’ parts list, to change out the i7 at a later date if needed to run dual Xeons, or would the whole configuration need to change? It’s like it sounds like that if you have around 6k, you can go the Dual Xeon route, around 3,5k, the i7 route, is there anything in between worth the cash? Any advice would be appreciated in putting together a final list. Cheers, Patrik

    • Patrick, you can get a dual Xeon E5 v3 pair to run much much faster than a s2011-3 i7 when rendering for $5K, but since workstations do more than rendering (modelling, post processing, particle sim) and rarely that is multi-threaded, multi-core Xeon CPUs that tend to be lower clocked than i7 actually perform worse than even 4-core desktop parts. As a matter of fact, the 4790K remains the fastest CPU out of the box for those tasks, and the lower clocked 6C and 8C parts for the s2011-3 platform cannot catch up unless overclocked. The “magic” of the 6 & 8C s2011-3 is really revealed when those are infact overclocked at 4.3~4.5GHz (or better under serious cooling, probably an open water loop) and make a superb single-box solution that does good in all-around WS and local rendering jobs, but supported by a few rendering nodes, a 4790K can be the center of a workstation with just as good, if not better speeds overall. Dual 10C and 12C dual Xeons are great for “serious” rendering nodes, but weak for WS tasks. Some fast clocked 8C/10C that cost an arm and a leg for each CPU can be great WS CPUs, but you cannot overclock them, so if you were willing to give that a try, a clocked 4960X will probably leave them in the dust (much like a stock 4970K – that’s the hard truth), but its the only way for you to go if you want more rendering performance out of a single box. As far as s2011-3 i7 and Xeon interchangeability, 2P s2011-3 motherboards work only with Xeons afaik, so you cannot. 1P X99 boards can work with both i7 and Xeon CPUs, but for the most part, 1P Xeons, even with 12+C will not do that good of a job at WS tasks for the change to worth it. You either go all-out 2P, or you stick with a 4960X (Preferably overclocked) as your best bet for 1P systems.

      • Thank you for making things a little clearer, Dimitris. I’m not that computer literate, and your site really helps in cutting the chest-beating bullshit you read elsewhere. Thanks again for your time, I can now purchase with a little more assuredness.

  2. Firstly, I would like to thank you your website, it is really helpful! I’m an architecture student using mostyle the following programs: autocad, revit, illustrator, lumion, 3dsmax. I’m on budget and I made came up with this draft: Processor: AMD FX-8350 Motherboard: M5A99FX Gpu: EVGA GTX960 Mem Ram: 2 x DDR3 Kingston 8GB 1866 Hyperx Fury Black HD: HD Kingston SSD Now V300 SV300S37A 240GB 2.5″ + HD Seagate 1.0TB 3.5″ 7200RPM 64MB Power Supply: Corsair CX600M 80 Plus Bronze 600W Would you mind reviewing my setup? I will appreaciate any suggestion. I would like to thank you again 😀 Best regards!

    • Its ok, should cover your needs, but so would a i5-4670 based rig that would probably be faster for most apps but the rendering itself. Modeling with 3DS or any suite, Sketchup, Revit, CAD etc will work notably faster with the i5. The 960 is not really needed, a 750Ti will do just as good for general modeling. The 960 will be better for gaming alone.

      • Dimitris, I appreaciate your answer. Thank you very much. Two more questions: 1. Is there something special with this GPU: 750Ti or can I go for 950 when released? (No gaming); 2. Do you think that this i5 4670 will handle rendering reasonably well or should I go for I7? Best Regards

        • The 750Ti is based on the same architecture the 9xx cards are. They never launced it as a 9xx as when it came out the 7xx series had the flagships, and the 8xx naming scheme was skipped altogether for desktop parts (only laptops got 8xx GTX). There is nothing special about the 750Ti other than being a pretty good value 2GB card. The 960 is just not “better enough” imho. If you want something better than the 750Ti, just go straight for the 970 or a Radeon R9 290.

          • Thank you Dimitris, for your time and attention. Your tips were really helpful. I will recommend your website.

  3. Hi Dimitris, I’ve spent two days reading your post and I think you’re the right person to solve this complicated and exhausting search. As many people have asked you, I work with Rhino Chaos Group, Photoshop, 3D printing software (Simplify3D), Zbrush and Mesh Mixer. Sometime I can work with the last 3 softwares open at the same time. RAM is an issue with Zbrush…I don’t play any games. I have decided to build it myself(wish me luck).. I came out with these two configurations. I think i’m looking for a workstation with a high number of multithreading. Budget £1200. Please suggest the best options this would be my work PC so I need it to performance. Thank you so much 🙂 Configuration 1 Sharkoon T9 Gaming Case (Red) CPU Intel Xeon – E3-1240 V3 – (4 x 3.4 GHZ) CPU Heatsink Intel Heatsink & Fan – Low Noise Memory 16 GB Corsair Vengeance 1600 MHz (2x8GB) – Lifetime Warranty (DDR3) Graphics Card NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 – 4 GB – (MSI) Twin Frozr V – (PCI-E) Motherboard Asus P9D-WS (Intel C226) – 4xUSB3/2xUSB2 Sound Card Motherboard Integrated HD Sound Wired Networking Motherboard Integrated Ethernet Lan (Broadband Ready) Power Supply Corsair 650W PSU – Low Noise CPU Compound Arctic Cooling MX-4 Thermal Compound Extra Case Fans Standard Fans Included With Case Wireless Networking Wireless 300Mbps (USB) Hard Drive #1 500 GB Seagate SATA-III HDD 7200 RPM 16MB Card Reader External Card Reader 50-in-1 Operating System Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64 BIT (Genuine DVD & COA Included) – FREE Windows 10 Upgrade Power Cable 1 x 1.8 Metre UK Mains Power Cable Configuration 2 Computer Case Cooler Master Force 500 CPU Intel Core i7 5820K Extreme (6 x 3.3 GHZ – Turbo 6 x 3.6 GHZ) CPU Heatsink Intel Heatsink & Fan – Low Noise Memory Corsair 32GB Vengeance LPX 2666MHz (8x4GB) – Lifetime Warranty (DDR4) Graphics Card NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti – 2 GB – (ZOTAC) – (PCI-E) Motherboard Gigabyte X99-UD4 (Intel X99) – 6xUSB3/4xUSB2 Sound Card Motherboard Integrated HD Sound Wired Networking Motherboard Integrated Ethernet Lan (Broadband Ready) Power Supply Corsair 350W PSU – Low Noise CPU Compound Standard CPU Compound Supplied With Heatsink Extra Case Fans Standard Fans Included With Case Wireless Networking Wireless 300Mbps (USB) Hard Drive #1 500 GB Seagate SATA-III HDD 7200 RPM 16MB Card Reader External Card Reader 50-in-1 Operating System Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64 BIT (Genuine DVD & COA Included) – FREE Windows 10 Upgrade Free Gift FREE – Bluetooth USB Dongle – 150 M Power Cable 1 x 1.8 Metre UK Mains Power Cable

    • The GTX750Ti is a good enough GPU. I would go for either 5820K or 4970K (K is important in the latter). No need for Corsair DDR4, it is overpriced. Crucial or Kingston 2133 or 2400 is fast enough. Save some room for a SSD to put on OS and Apps (at least 250GB). The speed boost worths the money 100% (much more than RAM being more than 2133).

  4. Hi Dimitris, really glad that i stumbled upon your website, really helpful and you explain things very clearly. I have a question for you, I’m an architect and besides 2D drawings in CAD I also do a lot of 3D modeling and rendering. I use mainly Autocad architecture 2014 for drawing and basic modeling and then import those models in 3ds max 2014 where i do some additional modeling, adding trees, furniture etc. and also some Photoshop for post production. I used to render in mental ray but i switched fully to vray 3.0 as i started to work on bigger and more complex models. My current rig is Dell Precision M 6700 laptop ( i7-3740QM Quad core @ 2.7GHZ, Nvidia Quadro K4000M-4GB and 8GB RAM), which serves me well for over 2 years but I need a faster PC for my office. I’ve assembled a config which is over my budget (budget is roughly 3000€ or 3500$ and this config is 4000€) so really need your help to switch some components for cheaper ones. Processor – Intel i7-5960X Motherboard – Asus X99-Deluxe Cooling – NZXT Kraken X61 GPU – GTX Titan Black 6GB / 980ti 6GB Memory – 32GB CruciaDDR4 (4x8GB) System Drive – Samsung 850 Pro 256GB Storage Drive – WD Caviar Black 2tb Case – Phanteks Enthoo Pro Power Supply – EVGA Supernova 850G2 Operating System – Windows 7 Additional Noctua fans for the case maybe and also need at least 24” monitor (maybe Dell u2414h). I chose these GPU-s as I need really good viewport performance and would definitely try some GPU rendering (VrayRT or Iray) in the future as the works builds up and deadlines get shorter and shorter. I’ve assembled this list reading some forums but i’m really not an expert so need some help and would really appreciate your advice.

    • Appears to be fine. I would not go for a Kepler GTX Titan at this point, unless I would find one at incredible price. The 980Ti is a faster card, but again, don’t expect miracles using it over a much cheaper GTX 970. For sure look into getting at least a 500GB SSD (850 EVO works fine for me, I don’t see the need for the Pro, and I would go straight to an M.2 drive if the EVO wasn’t fast enough). I would also recommend looking into a 27″ 1440p monitor instead of a cheap 24 – perhaps an ASUS PB278Q or a Dell U2713HM. Would gladly save some money on the Mobo, going for a X99-A instead of settling for a 24″ 1080p a 1440p at this point.

      • Thank you so much for your reply, the thing is i need to cut at least 1000€ from that rig but don’t know on which part to keep the rendering times low. Don’t know if I should get a cheaper board or processor since the i7 5820k is 750€ cheaper than 5960x but i would loose 2 cores. That’s the main reason i chose a bit cheaper monitor and WD Black drive.

  5. Hi Dimitris, Thanks for your continued expert advice. I need to replace my defunct rendering node. I work with Rhino/Vray with 60-70Mb scenes. You can check some at My question is, would the specs that you put together last year in your article still valid today or would you change anything that might have improved over the last year? Thanks again Juan

    • The post you are citing (why did you not comment on that one if its about a node? 😛 ) was aiming at “countering” the $500 AMD node with a closely or better performing, good value intel based one. It was about that “cheap” E3 s1150 Xeon with the potential to do better than a i5 through the support of HT while providing a IGP. Though the 6th Generation i7 CPUs for s1151 are already out, a chip like the E3-1245 v5 is not readily available, not it is really cheaper than a i7-6xxx. If I was building an intel rendering node today, it would be either based on a i7-4790 I would acquire on sale, or a new 6700/6700K. The end price is not as attractive, but for sure it packs a lot of punch for its end-use wattage.

      • Thanks Dimitris, I apologize for posting in the wrong page. I was going from one page to another through your articles and I ended up posting in the wrong one … I’ll look into the PCU’s that you suggested. Juan

  6. Hi Dimitris, thanks a lot for so much useful information. I’m building my first workstation mainly for such softwares as Houdini, Maya, Nuke. I hope that this built will be enough for my needs: 5820K, Asus GTX 980Ti, Asus X99-A, Corsair Carbide Series Air 540, Noctua NH-D15 S. I’ve seen how huge this cooler is, and I’m afraid that it might be blocking something on the motherboard. Will it? If I decide to instal the Noctua NH-D15 S, then how much can I overclock the 5820K? I mean how much would be safe to overclock it with this cooler? And finally, is it ok that the cooler is so close to the video card? Dimitris, any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • Your setup is pretty solid. The cooler is huge, but its tall enough not to interfere with the components below it (unless you get ridiculously tall RAM heatsinks) and short enough to fit in the case (although tightly). The performance of this cooler with 2x fans is pretty close to that of most thin-rad-240mm closed loop water coolers. Depending on your chip, you could be looking at 4.4~4.6GHz with it, but 6-cores will get hot under full load in either case (ND15 or thin 240mm CLC). Still, I think a stable system, even when peaking at 80+ oC is a safe system. Motherboard can take it, and the CPU does and will throttle well before it reaches temperatures that can hurt it. It is voltage that kills CPUs, and you can only sustain dangerous voltages with custom water or LN2 cooling. Otherwise the CPU will reach 100oC within seconds and will power itself down.

      • wow… it’s a bit confusing. So, just to make sure that I understand correctly… WITHOUT custom water or LN2 cooling, the CPU will reach 100C and will power itself down? Perhaps, it’s safer NOT to overclock? Because I don’t think that I can get LN2 cooling, and I don’t know anything about custom water. I was hoping that ND15 is enough to do overclocking.

        • Not exactly and sorry for confusing you. You can find lots of guides out there that spell out each setting, but in a nutshell you can go 1.3~1.35V on your Haswell-E and not worry about meaningful chip degradation. I.e. the chip can work all its meaningful life (lets say 6-7 years) overclocked without issues. Most likely a ND15 or similar cooler will be able to pull a 4.3~4.5GHz @ 1.3V or less overclock and maintain sub 85oC temps. Even if you would do something “wrong”, the only thing that can degrade the CPU overtime is not temperatures – as most people would wrongly insist on – but high over-voltage. Problem is that the CPU has temperature safeguards that you cannot disable, meaning it will shut down if it ever reaches 100oC which intel deems as its TJmax, but won’t power down based on voltage. So if you do have a very powerful / extreme cooling solution, like custom loops, peltiers, LN2 etc, you can theoretically succeed in maintaining voltages well above 1.4V and never go even close to TJmax. The CPU will never throttle down, and the increased voltage will eat it overtime inside-out. A medium-stregnth cooler like the ND15, will never be able to keep a 5820K with more than 1.4-1.45V cool enough to fool the internal safeguards, thus it is actually safer for the CPU longevity: if you push it far, it will shutdown within seconds without any real damage.

          • Dimitris, thanks so much for your incredible help! From your explanation, I understood that it will be safer (for the CPU longevity) to have it overclocked to around 4.3GHz @ 1.3V with the ND15.

            • Excuse me Dimitris, I’m curious if I’m going to get the intel 750 series SSD (instead of the Samsung EVO), how much is this going to increase the speed of my workflow?… you know how they say that a chain is as strong as it’s weakest link. So, I want to make sure that my system is balanced. And also does it worth to get an 1000W PSU – because I heard that higher wattage power supply will also run cooler if used at half capacity.

              • Realistically? The 750 won’t give you nearly as much boost as a fast vanilla SSD will for normal operations. SSDs boost the time things get to load/deploy, so you will see differences in the time it takes to open really big 3DS, SKP, PSD etc files, perhaps the performance of applications that deal with huge files (say video editing with multiple streams of full HD or especially 4K video), but for Arch Viz and general design workflow, there won’t be a noticeable difference…applications will be launching in less seconds. FYI, the only area I could see being spoiled with a PCIe SSD myself, would be loading/switching between big game maps (GTA V, Fallout 4, BF4 etc). For the PSU: for as single CPU, hex or octa and a single GPU, the 750W is plenty. You will see close to or more than 50% utilization only if you overclock. If you don’t plan to overclock heavily, and only the CPU at that, even a quality 550-600W is plenty (when not renderign you will be using less than 200W, and all-out rendering with an overclocked CPU ~4,5GHz will be in the low 300Ws. Multiple GPUs is what stards upping the demand rapidly, and then 1000 or even 1300W are coming into play.

  7. Dimitris great article! But in the configuration of the workstation you mentioned GPU Asus STRIX GTX970 4GB or K4200. And then in the GPU section you talk about 970 and K2200. My question is this I am currently working on a 4960x CPU combined with a 750ti card and have an opportunity to go for a 970 or a quadro K4200. What card would you recommend me to take for mainly viewport performance? Since I mainly use CPU rendering and need a GPU to handle big scenes with over 100milions of poligons?

    • Vuk, thanks for taking the time to read the blog – even taking notes 🙂 . If I was spending my money, I would not go for a K4200 unless I was into product design suites (Solidworks, Siemens NX and the such). Maya, especially after viewport 2.0, doesn’t seem to be asking for a Quadro/Firepro card. Performance of GTX versions with similar shader count appear to be working just fine – that is, in-line or better than Quadros that cost 2-3 times the money. Note that there is a tipping point for any short of hardware: all cards can be brought to their limits easily if you don’t adapt your workflow to their limitations, but those appear to be in the same point for GTX/Quadro at the moment.

  8. Thnx for a fast response! Do you then think that it is a viable upgrade from a 750ti to a gtx 970? A Friend of mine has a 960 and a few weeks he was sitting next working in 3ds Max. We noticed that there is a 3-5 FPS difference between the 750ti and his 960 on a scene that for me averaged 30 fps. But then again no scene is same and every situation and workflow is different. My guessing was that the 970 is pretty much faster the the 960 as the 960 is faster then the 750ti in fps?

    • The 970 is far more powerful than the 960, than the 960 is over the 750Ti. Problem is, outside of games the gains are not experienced in a linear fashion, and although the 970 has more than 2.6x the shaders of the 750Ti, won’t translate to 2.5+ the performance, just like the 750Ti being “60%” of a 960 core-wise, performs better than 60% of the 960 in your example. All GPUs are CPU & driver limited after one point in Maya/3DS etc. If you are already at 30+ fps, I would not go for a marginal upgrade like the 960 would be. Then again, if the 750Ti produces workable results for you, you might wait a bit more to see what the Pascal architecture will bring in a few months for the cost of a 970 today.

  9. Hi Dimitri and happy new year. I recently decided to invest time and some money to get into 3d modelling and 3d Cad. Currently i am focusing learning 3ds max and Rhino 3d. In the near future i would like to study fusion 360. I am putting together a new system for those, it is going to be a gradual build unfortunately. I am torn between the 6700k and the 5820k. In both scenarios the accompanying gpu would be the gtx 970. So besides the cpu everything would be identical and as i said some things would be upgraded over time. What would you suggest regarding the CPU conundrum. Thx for the wonderful articles and again have a great year.

    • The 6700K will be faster for pretty much anything other than rendering, so if you are focusing in modelling and not rendering large scenes it might be your best bet. The 5820K remains a great value 6-core CPU, but clock for clock is a tad slower, and more demanding to cool properly when overclocking.

      • Thanks for the reply. How big of a difference do the extra 2cores/4threads do in real life scenarios? Does it scales linearly? It is very difficult to find real life data on those subjects for some reason. This is why what you do here is valuable.

  10. Happy new years Dimitris. I’m looking for expert advise and would like to build a workstation for professional level work. Anything for 3d modeling, animating, CAD, video editing, the whole adobe suite, and local rendering of large scenes. I would greatly appreciate to be pointed in the right direction.

  11. Hello Dimitri, I need your help in building a workstation for video editing using Premiere, AfterEffects and Adobe Media Encoder. I will be using Photoshop and Lightroom also. Just work, no play machine. I was thinking of something like this I have a budget of around 2000 EUR give or take a hundred. I am mostly concerned about GPU and CUDA i will be rendering in ADOBE so i want to get the maximum out of my GPU combination is it worth getting two maybe less expensive GPU’s ? Thanx for the help.

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