Workstation Help!

Postby seandavidson » June 27th, 2013, 9:08 am


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Hi all!

I am a product design student looking to switch over from a Mac to a Pc laptop. I have been searching for a suitable workstation and have narrowed my decision down to Lenovo's W series workstation, although I'm not necessarily dedicated to that decision. I am looking to focus on modeling/rendering/animation and have proficient skills with CAD programs, but i'm not necessarily working with hugely complex scenes.

So my question is, would going all out and buying Lenovo's W series laptop with the i7-3940XM Processor, NVIDIA Quadro K2000M and 32 Gb's of Ram be the correct path to take? I have a $3,500 budget, and this fits right under that price range.

If you have any other suggestions, I am open to those as well.

Thanks!

Re: Workstation Help!

Postby hatts » June 27th, 2013, 10:39 am


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Can you elaborate on what type of animation and rendering you do? If it's the typical fare of I.D. turntables and renderings, I'd say this laptop is serious overkill.

Since you say you're not working with complex scenes, then I also won't try to talk you into getting a desktop instead of a laptop. If we were having that conversation I'd mention that a desktop could get you much better specs for 1/2 the price.

If you want a laptop, that means you want portability. This thing is over 1.25" thick! Feels nostalgic...

For Solidworks, Keyshot, etc., I think Lenovo's S or X lines are more than capable; some of them even have i7 processors available. These are also way thinner and just better looking, and 33 - 50% of the price. I think a Macbook Pro with the retina display would also be a better investment than the W series.

Asus also makes good laptops.
Matthew Spencer | Jeff Koons Studio

Re: Workstation Help!

Postby seandavidson » June 27th, 2013, 11:35 am


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Thanks for the reply Hatts,

I am looking for something well rounded and portable that will support anything I throw at it. It will be used for anything from 3d renders in illustrator, keyshot or vray to modeling in Catia, Rhino, Solidworks and Maya. I might be animating a motor assembly, a derailleur on a mountain bike or even doing some motion graphics with Maya or 3d Studio Max. I am not using much else other than SolidWorks and Rhino at the moment, but I am looking to get into Maya and 3d studio max alot more in the future, so I'm not sure what that will entail as far as my needs for performance go. I might play a few games of TF2 as well..

I have looked at some of the other Lenovo's but most only allow up to 8 Gb's of Ram; which is what I am currently running in my Mac Book Pro and is not quick enough for me. I know! Its a shame that the thinkpad's aesthetics haven't changed a bit.

Re: Workstation Help!

Postby hatts » June 27th, 2013, 11:44 am


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A quick note: more RAM will not improve your speed. RAM only causes a bottleneck if you are working with very large files, or performing certain functions. 12GB is safe but 8 is pretty sufficient...where you'll definitely see improvement is in the superior i7 processor.

But yeah, might as well be a little more future-proof than 8gb.

Also, try to get a laptop with an SSD for the operating system. This is a dramatic improvement to any computer.
Matthew Spencer | Jeff Koons Studio

Re: Workstation Help!

Postby NURB » June 27th, 2013, 12:42 pm

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Do you have to have a laptop? For $3500 you could build an incredible desktop workstation...
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Re: Workstation Help!

Postby seandavidson » June 27th, 2013, 12:48 pm


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I am aware, and that is one of the main problems I have been experiencing while rendering. The system will slow down dramatically and all my other processes are plagued by the render, which I can't afford while working on other projects on the same device. Most other laptops I have looked at have had good processors, but there are never options for anything with a higher memory capability.

The W Series is the only device i've found that has a great processor and memory to match it. Another reason for creating this post was to find out if anyone knew of a company that has a similar product. Also the one I am looking at has a 256 gb SSD, Yay!

Re: Workstation Help!

Postby seandavidson » June 27th, 2013, 12:51 pm


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NURB wrote:Do you have to have a laptop? For $3500 you could build an incredible desktop workstation...


Nurb,

I would prefer a laptop mainly because I am a student now, and having a desktop would restrict my working time to only when I am at my apartment. I would love to have the extra power, but portability weighs more on my scale.

What did you have in mind for this incredible desktop workstation? If you don't mind sharing!

Re: Workstation Help!

Postby hatts » June 27th, 2013, 1:38 pm


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I am aware, and that is one of the main problems I have been experiencing while rendering. The system will slow down dramatically and all my other processes are plagued by the render, which I can't afford while working on other projects on the same device.


Yeah, I actually realized I may have insulted your intelligence. But anyway many people don't understand the interplay of RAM and CPU.

What did you have in mind for this incredible desktop workstation? If you don't mind sharing!

To piggy-back on this, here is an example PC build. Note that, at this price, it even squeezes in a monitor.

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i7-4770K 3.5GHz Quad-Core Processor ($279.99 @ Microcenter)
CPU Cooler: Corsair H100i 77.0 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler ($103.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z87X-UD5H ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($209.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 32GB (4 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($264.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung 840 Pro Series 128GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($129.98 @ Outlet PC)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 2TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($79.99 @ Newegg)
Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 780 3GB Video Card ($659.99 @ Amazon)
Case: Fractal Design Define R4 w/Window (Black Pearl) ATX Mid Tower Case ($79.99 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: Corsair 760W 80 PLUS Platinum Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($149.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD/CD Writer ($14.99 @ Newegg)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8 (OEM) (64-bit) ($88.98 @ Outlet PC)
Monitor: Asus PB278Q 27.0" Monitor ($570.09 @ Amazon)
Total: $2632.96

(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-06-27 14:35 EDT-0400)
Matthew Spencer | Jeff Koons Studio

Re: Workstation Help!

Postby NURB » June 27th, 2013, 1:53 pm

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Whoa. See, now you could really get some s*** done with that.

You could drop all that cash on a Mac Pro, too.

How often will you be working away from your apartment on a rendering? Or away from a computer lab at school? I know it's cool to sit in a coffee shop, working on 3D renderings an have people walk by and ask what you're up to, but you'll work significantly faster on a workstation. Getting your work done faster results in you having more time to hit the bars with your friends, and less time resenting your laptop purchase.

You'll get drunken texts from our buddies at 2AM, and you'll just say "Damn this slow machine! I could be out partying!"

Something to think about.
Chris Haar

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Those who define design as knowing how to use Illustrator will be condemned to using Illustrator their entire career. - @Mike_FTW

Re: Workstation Help!

Postby seandavidson » June 27th, 2013, 2:24 pm


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PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i7-4770K 3.5GHz Quad-Core Processor ($279.99 @ Microcenter)
CPU Cooler: Corsair H100i 77.0 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler ($103.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z87X-UD5H ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($209.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 32GB (4 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($264.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung 840 Pro Series 128GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($129.98 @ Outlet PC)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 2TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($79.99 @ Newegg)
Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 780 3GB Video Card ($659.99 @ Amazon)
Case: Fractal Design Define R4 w/Window (Black Pearl) ATX Mid Tower Case ($79.99 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: Corsair 760W 80 PLUS Platinum Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($149.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD/CD Writer ($14.99 @ Newegg)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8 (OEM) (64-bit) ($88.98 @ Outlet PC)
Monitor: Asus PB278Q 27.0" Monitor ($570.09 @ Amazon)
Total: $2632.96

(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-06-27 14:35 EDT-0400)


That is quite the beauty! But after researching the i7 4770k vs the i7 3840qm, it seems that the 4770 is only slightly faster. The only real advantage from what I can tell, is price and more disk space. Not saying that I wouldn't love to save a grand! I guess it's something i'll have to think on.

NURB wrote:Whoa. See, now you could really get some s*** done with that.

You could drop all that cash on a Mac Pro, too.

How often will you be working away from your apartment on a rendering? Or away from a computer lab at school? I know it's cool to sit in a coffee shop, working on 3D renderings an have people walk by and ask what you're up to, but you'll work significantly faster on a workstation. Getting your work done faster results in you having more time to hit the bars with your friends, and less time resenting your laptop purchase.

You'll get drunken texts from our buddies at 2AM, and you'll just say "Damn this slow machine! I could be out partying!"

Something to think about.


That's a hilarious way to put things into perspective, actually. Bravo sir.

What would be the advantage of running windows 7 on a Mac Pro vs building a desktop pc? Also are you alluding to the new mac pro or old mac pro?

Re: Workstation Help!

Postby NURB » June 27th, 2013, 2:30 pm

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Yeah, sorry. I noticed you had listed a few PC only programs up there.

Running Bootcamp works, but it's not ideal. I work on a Bootcamp iMac and it does have issues and I'm not really doing anything difficult like rendering out of Solidworks or anything.

If that's your choice, go PC.
Chris Haar

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Those who define design as knowing how to use Illustrator will be condemned to using Illustrator their entire career. - @Mike_FTW

Re: Workstation Help!

Postby Sain » June 27th, 2013, 2:51 pm

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Another option. Continue to use your current laptop for light work and switch the to desktop for the heavy stuff. I would do that quite often during school. Id get all my renderings set up no my laptop in studio. Go home drop the files on my workstation. Hit render and cook dinner.

It was much more time efficient and it allowed me get a much faster machine that is far more easily upgraded in the future.
emmanuel carrillo - emmanuelcarrillo.com

Re: Workstation Help!

Postby NURB » June 27th, 2013, 3:18 pm

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Great plan.

I'd usually run renders in the labs at 3AM across 15 machines...
Chris Haar

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Those who define design as knowing how to use Illustrator will be condemned to using Illustrator their entire career. - @Mike_FTW

Re: Workstation Help!

Postby seandavidson » June 27th, 2013, 3:41 pm


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Sain wrote:Another option. Continue to use your current laptop for light work and switch the to desktop for the heavy stuff. I would do that quite often during school. Id get all my renderings set up no my laptop in studio. Go home drop the files on my workstation. Hit render and cook dinner.

It was much more time efficient and it allowed me get a much faster machine that is far more easily upgraded in the future.


So sane, Sain. I sorta knew this was what I needed to do, but was too stubborn to actually want to do it. This is probably the route I will head down, as of now.

NURB wrote:Great plan.

I'd usually run renders in the labs at 3AM across 15 machines...


The woes of those next day deadlines.

Re: Workstation Help!

Postby Cyberdemon » June 27th, 2013, 3:48 pm

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Just to clarify (I'm not sure if this is what you meant) more ram will NOT improve multi-tasking while you render.

Modern rendering software will eat up 100% of the available cores. That's why your computer will suck at doing anything while you're rendering even if you have 64 gigs of ram.

I won't try to sell you on the desktop, there are reasons to buy a workstation class laptop, as long as you accept the fact it'll be an unruly beast.

Truthfully you can probably spend much less than that and get a burly machine.

Go with the fastest CPU you can spec (which you've done), the best display you can get (if you plan on working on the laptop display itself), a 512 gig SSD, and 16 gigs of ram. 32 gigs is overkill - I do work on gigantic assemblies and I rarely push past 8 even when heavily multi tasking with big databases and renderings.

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