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need advice on what kind of computer is best for graphics...


I am looking to put together a computer for graphics usage. I havent been keeping up with new technologies lately and I was wondering what kind of chipset is best for graphics.

basically what I do is:
3D Studio Max

I was looking at the Xeon processors... but i always see them being installed into server computers... so i was wondering if there is a better alternative for graphics.

thanks in advanced for your help!!


Sorry i am not offering any more points... i will add more as they become available
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1 Solution
At this point, the "best" option is PCI Express with the x16 PCIE slots.  This is the next generation of the PCI slot technology with a serial connection as opposed to the parallel mode of PCI.  The initial specification for a x16 card offers twice the transfer speed of 8x AGP.  The technology is also now commonly available on motherboards and systems.  I believe that the ATI Radeon RX600 or the RX300 or the Geoforce 6x00 series would serve your purposes.  I don't know aht your budget is but start below with 256Mb video memory.


Stephen CroftTechnical ArchitectCommented:
actually, pcie isnt much faster than agp 8x a the moment. In fact agp 8x wasnt that much faster than 4x. ok the bandwidth possibilities were tenfold better, but they were never used.


only advantage as fas as i can see is the sli-mode that pci express gives you.

but for what you use both that, and a stock 6800ultra will be overkill.

what you wanna aim for is a p4 3.2ghz or above, forget xeons they are server processors and will cost you more than the p4 equivelent.

couple that with a gig of ram and more or less any 128-bit 256mb vid card and you should be onto a winner.

if your not happy with video cards, look at nvidias professional range (http://www.nvidia.com/page/workstation.html , http://graphics.tomshardware.com/graphic/20030916/index.html) or ati's (im more of a nvidia fan)

dxpertjrAuthor Commented:
so would a P4 3.6ghz (http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=1261765&CatId=0) be better than a dual Xeon 3.06 system?

i was told dual CPUs is much better for graphics... but then i was also told that winXP pro doesnt make use of the dual CPUs and many applications dont either...

what should I choose?
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Don't be silly on the dual cpus. ;)

Well, honestly, dual cpus do help, but depending on how much graphics power you need, you should consider a high powered Graphics card.

Judging that you'd spend money on a dual Xeon, I would get,

Intel Pentium 4 6XX (the new 6 Series)
An ABIT 925 Chipset MB  (Fatal1ty AA8XE is fine)
Over 1GB worth or RAM (not necessary help your windows run faster, but your graphics rendering programs will need it)

And like djxtreme said, I think the 6800 Ultra will do you fine. Personally I don't see any point of going for OpenGL cards. (the workstation ones).
Or if you have money lying around doing nothing, get one of the motherboard that has SLI enabled + 2 PCIE card.

That'll rock for a couple years ;) (I do mean couple years ONLY)

If you are considering about something even more powerful, go for a dual Opteron machine using a Tyan's dual Opteron board(Check out at Tyans's site)
and 2GB of RAM. Raw power-wise, it's one of your best options.


Stephen CroftTechnical ArchitectCommented:
>>so would a P4 3.6ghz (http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=1261765&CatId=0) >>be better than a dual Xeon 3.06 system?

raw power wise, no. for what your using the machine for, yeah.

>>i was told dual CPUs is much better for graphics... but then i was also told that winXP pro doesnt make use of the dual >>CPUs and many applications dont either...

no it doesnt, only server os's support dual cpu's, ie 2kserver/2k3 server/linux.

At this point i think i may just try to make something clear. if you have 2 x 3.0ghz xeon cpu's, you dont actually get a total cpu power of 6ghz. why? because it doesnt work like that. basically its like having two seperate machines. its upto the OS to make good usage of the dual cpus and distribute the cpu load fairly. for instance if you had a network server running dual xeon and it was used purely as a PDC (primary domain controller) with no fancy services apart from domain logon, it would use cpu number 1 to process the first login done, then cpu 2 to process the next, and then 1, then 2. (Now I know thats not Technically Correct, but dont flame me for the basic comparison).
So the only advantage you would gain would be from running two applications at once that are both utilising the cpu heavily, ie two rendering programs. but since you gotta run a server os to start with, your taking a 20% hit on performance there (server os's aren't designed for performance, they're desinged not to fall over instead), so basically your no better off.

as for the dual pci express cards, again, its a bit overkill for what your doing. i use all those programs you specified bar 3d studio max and im on a 2.4amd xp, 1gb ram, geforce fx5700LE 256mb. and it runs more than fine. In fact, i betcha i could even throw 3d studio max at it and it would do fine.

Plump for lots of ram, 1gb min and 2gb preferably (1gig sticks are common enough now) and around a 3.2/3.4ghz cpu.

Video card, spend as much as you want to really, just make sure its a 256mb version.

>>Personally I don't see any point of going for OpenGL cards.

I was aiming for the 3d studio max useage, the opengl cards would make Very lite work of such applications. Also, it was a pointer as to the direction he/she should be taking rather than the 6800ultra route (its a gaming card, and they havnt said they want to game, but to work)

Good luck on your choice!!!

Oh and one last thing, where in the world you from bud?
I pretty much agree with djxtreme.

However one misconception does need to addressed.  XP home does not support multiple CPUs, but XP Pro does.  XP Pro should be your OS of choice regardless of CPU(s) selected.

I'm not familar with some of your apps, but Photoshop does support dual CPUs.

Also, don't overlook hard disk performance.  The larger and faster, the better.

dxpertjrAuthor Commented:
cool thanks for the input!

based on what you have been telling me i am gonna drop the Xeon idea.

i am still not sure on motherboards what to get... i was looking at these:



there is a big price difference between the two... so i was wondering if the Abit actually has a performance advantage over the other one or if its just a brand thing... also, I am deff open to recommendations on what motherboard to get.





ive seen some around with a 16MB buffer... should I go for one of those?

also, would having RAID benefit me? i was told that it can distribute the load between two drives instead of just one.


Video Card:
i am still not sure on what video card to get... i am not gonna be doing much gaming... i was looking at this one (http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=1192609&CatId=1560)

Something simple... with good cooling... no fancy lights... would prefer front USB, but not a must.
was looking at this one (http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=1160722&CatId=1528)

thanks again for the help!! oh and im from california, where are you from?
Steve McCarthy, MCSE, MCSA, MCP x8, Network+, i-Net+, A+, CIWA, CCNA, FDLE FCIC, HIPAA Security OfficerIT Consultant, Network Engineer, Windows Network Administrator, VMware AdministratorCommented:
Abit AV8 Motherboard, AMD Athlon 64 Processor and about 2gb of RAM.  Run a couple of SATA hard drives on it and you will be just fine.
Poor case selection.  Do not, repeat do not get a cheap case with a cheap power supply.  You need a quality power supply and a good case with adequate cooling.

Power supply should be at least 420 watts and by a quality manufacturer such as Antec, Enermax, or PC Power and Cooling.  Scrimping on the power supply with your components will result in more misery than you want.  This is not the place to pinch pennies.

As for cases, I really like the CoolerMaster Cavalier case for performance systems.  Quiet (120mm exhaust fan), roomy, easy to work with, reasonably priced, and well constructed.  Also Antec Sonata and SOHO server cases are good, reasonably priced cases.  You need a fairly large, roomy case, especially if you go with a RAID array.  There are many good choices, but they will all be >$50.00 w/o power supply.

Gigabyte mobos are reliable, high quality boards.  They are "name" brand boards.  The ABit mobo is a gamer board with all the bells and whistles.  Intel, Asus, MSI, Gigabyte, and A-Bit are all high quality mobos.  The most stable and reliable will be Intel, while Asus is usually the top performer with leading edge technology (although "bleeding" edge technology can sometimes cause problems).  Biostar is a good budget brand choice.

Hard disk is also a poor choice.  Select a SATA drive, especially if you desire a RAID array.  The WD Raptors are fastest IDE drives available.  Expensive, but fast.  Seagate NCQ SATA drives are also a good choice.

You selected an $800 CPU that will perform to it's potential only if the other components don't lag it down.  System performance depends more on RAM and hard drive performance than it does CPU performance when you get to 3GHz and above.

One more thing.

Do not use cheap RAM.  Kingston, Crucial (my preference), Mushkin, and Corsair are all good choices.

dxpertjrAuthor Commented:
here is my latest parts compilation...

Intel Pentium 4 650 3.4GHz Prescott Core, 800MHz FSB, 2MB Cache, 90nm, 64-Bit EM64T, XD, Socket 775 CPU Processor LGA775 w/ Hyper-Threading Technology
* Thermal Compound: 1x Artic Alumina 1.75gm /CLTCARCERA17/ (+4.49)  

Enermax CS-800TA-B Mid Tower Case with Front Audio Jacks, USB 2.0 Ports, Firewire
* Power Supply: 1x Jaguar 450W /CSPSXPJAG450/ (+64.99)

Intel D915PBLL 915P Chipset 800MHz FSB Dual Channel DDR2 533 LGA775 Socket 775/T ATX Motherboard with Gigabit LAN, SATA, PCI-Express X16, PCI-Express X1, 8-Channel Audio, USB 2.0: BOXD915PBLL (Retail)

Kingston KVR533D2N4K2/1G 1GB PC2-4200 DDR2-533 CAS 3, 4, 5 Dual Channel Kit PC Memory RAM (240-Pin, 533MHz, Lifetime Warranty!)

Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 160GB Serial ATA 7200RPM 8MB Buffer Hard Drive: 6Y160M0 (OEM, Factory Sealed)

Asus Extreme EAX700PRO/TVD Radeon X700 Pro 256MB DDR3 PCI Express Video Card with DVI, VGA, TV-Out, DirectX 9.0 (Retail, Powered by ATi)


Gigabyte TurboForce Series GV-NX66256DP GeForce 6600 256MB DDR3 PCI Express 16x Video Card with D-SUB, DVI, TV-Out

Im not sure what video card to go with… the 6800 runs for like $400… which is a bit out of my range right now.

also, if anyone can recommend an online store for good parts that would be great too!

thanks again to everyone for the help!!
dxpertjrAuthor Commented:
update... PSU changed to:

Enermax (by Coolergiant) EG465P-VE FM (24P) 460 Watt Dual Fan Quiet SATA Ready ATX Power Supply for Dual Xeon, AMD MP, Intel P4, AMD XP, K8 CPU (20/24 Pin)
Here are some reputable on-line vendors with good selections and competitive prices.  Tiger Direct is reputable, but you may find better selections and prices elsewhere.



>Well, honestly, dual cpus do help, but depending on how much graphics power you need, you should consider a high powered Graphics card.


He's rendering something! I could put a 6800ultra in a computer with a 2.0ghz p4 and its not gonna render any faster.

Photoshop DOES take advantage of dual CPU's and rendering 3D stuff definitely is CPU extensive. Graphics cards for rendering indeed.
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