Help configuring a desktop PC

My home workstation is showing its age. I am thinking of building a box that will run Solidworks, Z-brush, Houdini/Maya and the Adobe Creative Suite including Premiere.

These are the components that I was looking at purchasing from

Antec P182 Gun Metal Black Computer Case

Intel Core i7 Extreme Edition 965 Nehalem 3.2GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor Model BX80601965
ARCTIC COOLING Freezer 7 Pro 92mm CPU Cooler
ASUS P6T Deluxe LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard

Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive
Pioneer 20X DVD±R DVD Burner

Patriot Viper 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 2000

PNY VCQFX1700-PCIE-PB Quadro FX1700 512MB 128-bit GDDR2 PCI Express x16 Workstation Video Card (It is a Solidworks compliant card- not sure how it might handle Silo/Zbrush though)

CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX 750W Power Supply

Silverstone FP35B USB 2.0 Card Reader with extra silver front panel

Microsoft Windows XP Professional 64Bit SP2C for System Builders

Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound

Am I missing something? Is there something that could be optimized for ID?

Looks like a pretty sweet rig. Have you looked at the ATI cards, I’ve heard good things about the FireGL V5600 ($390 on Newegg) and V3600 ($150).


Apparently money isn’t an issue. If it is an issue you can save quite a bit (at least I think you can…prices have been basically crashing) by taking one step back from the latest technology.

I bought that case when it was $200 and even at that price its totally worth it. For years I had been buying cheap cases and was getting sick of it. The build quality and features and look are top notch. One warning…take a look at its size, its big.

edit: looks like it comes in at $2,690.88 which isn’t tooo bad for how beefy that rig is.

What about a monitor? Might be worth it to pull back on some of those components and get a sweet 24" monitor.

Input devices? Speakers? Router? You probably already have that stuff, but getting nice versions of them have a big difference in how you experience all that tech that you are buying.

building a rig is geeky fun, enjoy it.

Choto- Yes, ATI was an option I was looking at as well. I have had good luck with nvidia in the past, so I just picked a Solidworks compliant card from them. I need to do some reasearch though to see how both cardshandles large poly sets in zbrush, and whether that even makes a difference.

Asango- thanks for pricing that out for me. I will be re-using a lot of my peripherals. Luckily or unluckily for me, my eyes cant handle the brightness of some of these newer screens is a little too much for my eyes even at lowest settings. I have a nice 21in Samsung Syncmaster that I will be using as a screen.

Price wise, it is a little bit more than I want to pay for, but I have always considered my PCs to be good investments. I have always used slightly older tech in my home stations, but thought I might buy the best I could this time around. I might step back on the processor though as you noted. It is the high end i7 processor, and I was hoping to overclock it since nvidia seems to want to throttle down the lower end processors. However it looks like folks are already overclocking the 920 and 940, so I might go with the core i7 940.

Thanks for the really fast replies.

if you go with windows 64, you can bump up your ram 4x. We run these giant Dells at work with 16 GB ram and it can open the craziest giant SW and ProE CAD models…

Sounds like a cool rig, have fun building it - Good luck!

Here would be my feedback:

You could get a sickly fast box for SO much less.

Don’t spend all that cash on the CPU. If you MUST have a Nehalem, save the $700 and put it towards the 920. Do a little homework and you’ll see people have comfortably gotten the 920 up to 3.8ghz.

If you spent even a fraction of that additional money on a quality water cooling setup, not only would you have a machine that was nearly silent, but could run cool and comfortable all day under 100% load.

If you want my honest to goodness computer wisdom - don’t get a i7 at all. The Q6600 is a solid overclocker up until around 3ghz. You’d be able to get 8 gigs of good overclocking DDR2 ram for under $100, vs $300 for 4 gigs of DDR3, which really isn’t providing you any noticable performance boost.

All in all you could get 95% of the performance for 50% of the price.

So if I were you I would drop down to the Q6600 and a good mobo + water cooling system, add a 10k RPM Raptor drive as your system drive to store all your apps and Windows on (then keep all your data on the 1TB drive).

The power supply you should comfortably be able to drop to a good modular 500 watt PSU. 750watts is overkill unless you’re driving a huge amount of devices (my machine has a 750watt PSU but I’m driving and overclocked processor, 2 video cards, a physX graphics card, sound card, 4 HDDs, 2 DVD burners, and every USB port is full)

Take some of the money you have left over and dump it either into a savings account, or something else that could be useful (Cintiq,Space ball, new speakers/sound system, etc).

Hope that helps.

thanks Cyberdemon- thats good advice.

For those using Maxwell, this posts really good comparisons of various combinations of OS, processors etc. Might be helpful if rendering is important.

Im interested to see how the i7’s compare in there.

The only one is at no8. overclocked to 3.8. I wonder how more RAM would help that render speed.

Wow didn’t notice that - very impressive #'s for only 3 gigs and the 32 bit OS. Run your machine once you get it and let us know the results.

Nice to know that CPU is living up to the hype.

one thing you’ve overlooked…

get yourself a 32GB Solid State Hard Drive to install your operating system onto. you may be able to install one or two other programs (Photoshop, Illustrator) on the Solid State Disk as well, if there is enough space left to squeeze them in.

I’ve been reading up on this SSD / OS setup for a couple of weeks now, and it seems to be nothing but good news.

system start up times as low as 6 seconds on Windows XP.
all processes/tasks/etc related to Windows will be faster as well.

I’ll be purchasing my 32GB SSD this week, and will be installing 64bit XP, I can shoot back if you’d like to hear the results

good luck

SSD’s will definately be much bigger going foward - right now I feel like it’s still a bit immature for the desktop market when I know that in another year SSD drives will probably have doubled in capacity and halved in price. A 32 gig drive is tiny. I learned that the hard way by getting a 40 gig primary drive in my laptop. Just after installing a few basic programs I was full. If you have to install half your apps on a regular 7200 RPM drive then you’re losing most of that performance gain.

The 10k raptor drives make a pretty good performance jump and still let you have a decent chunk of space. I’m not nearly as concerned with windows startup times as I am with opening or writing files to disk. For example if you’re working on a 50 meg illustrator file or 100 meg engineering database, everytime you save you have to wait for it to write to the slow disk. With a raptor you have enough space to store your working files on the drive to get quicker writes. I save my files 100 times a day, but I’m only starting windows once (or less since I usually only suspend my machine at night for quick boots).

Don’t get me wrong - I know it’s faster and is the way of the future, I just think the bang for buck is still too low and the technology still has a big price drop coming. I already kicked myself for buying a blu-ray drive at the beginning of this year before the format war ended, it’s already 1/3rd the price!

I suppose I didn’t fully explain myself.

32 GB is not enough for anyone today. Definitely no one in the design field.

I currently have 1 TB, and will be upgrading to 2 TB within the next week. Both drives are internal on my PC.

What I was suggesting is…

Get the 32 GB SSD for your primary Operating System drive.
You may be able to squeeze one or two more programs along with the OS (Photoshop/Illustrator would be a good idea).
This will make your system screaming fast. XP startup times of likely 4-5 seconds with your super setup. Additional OS system processes will take much less time, etc, etc. You can imagine how often Windows XP needs to read from your C drive, and now it would be reading from a SSD.

So once you have the 32 GB SSD, add another TB or 2 for your secondary drives. You can install all the other programs on these drives, as well as storing your data.

Regardless of going SSD or not, I’ve always kept my OS on a separate drive from my data storage.

Best of luck


I understood what you meant the first time. I completely agree with the faster OS drive which is why I suggested he get a Raptor, but I guess the point I was trying to make is I feel like SSD’s are still so young and typically low capacity that it’s still a little early to be making that jump. What brand drive did you go with? I’ve read a lot of mixed reviews about some of the lower end drives and the higher end ones cost $$$. I guess those memory modules have limited write cycles which means it’s possible to have a failed drive in less time if you’re putting it under heavy usage.

I like my speed, I just don’t know if you’d see as noticable of a performance boost outside of loading windows if most of your apps and files were still being loaded from the 7200rpm drive, thats all.

I’d love to see some 3.5" desktop specific/workstation class SSD’s coming out in the next year and then start dropping the prices. I’d love the super fast load times if I could actually load most of my apps onto it (especially things like games which take minutes to load even from a fast drive).