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New autocad/photoshop workstation vs upgrading existing

We currently have HP xw8400 workstations with Quad Core x5355 CPU's, Quadro FX 1500 and 3GB of DDR2. The owner wants to get new systems or possibly upgrade what they have. Does anyone have any input on upgrading the RAM to 16GB, the Xeon E5450 and getting Quadro NVS 420's vs getting new i7 series systems with PCI Express 2.0 quadro GPUs?

I've also heard they've been making GPUs that now handle most of the render processing rather than the CPUs. Anyone have recommendations?

Thanks in advance
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bbrunning
Asked:
bbrunning
2 Solutions
 
richardcardinCommented:
Most important concerning the 3GB to 16GB is the OS. Must be 64bit OS before you can benefit from the memory. Your motherboard says it will take the Xeon cpu:
http://h18000.www1.hp.com/products/quickspecs/12522_na/12522_na.PDF

Can't say much about he video w/o doing more research. Others please post.

Thanks
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DracoDanCommented:
The high end Xeon x54xx CPUs and large DDR2 sticks are staying relatively expensive compared to the performance they provide.  If this system is being used for business work where render times can mean a bigger profit, upgrading to Core I7 or 3600/5600-series "Gulftown" based CPUs is probably your best bet.  The newer CPUs have on-die memory controllers that provide huge improvements for memory latency and throughput.  Additionally, DDR3 has gotten very affordable for large amounts.

If I were you, I would look at the cost of a system built around a Core I7 2600k (quad-core + hyperthreading = 8 threads).  This CPU will run circles around your Xeons and can be coupled with 16GB of ram for under $200 (quality brand memory).  You lose the error checking and some of the CPU cache, but will likely have a better system for much cheaper.  As long as you go with quality cooling, memory, and power, this system should be just as stable as a Xeon system with ECC memory.
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Rob KnightConsultantCommented:
Hi,

The NVS 420 only has 16 Cuda cores compared to the 100s of the 4000/5000 and 6000 cards. Where applications use these to offload CPU to GPU, the more cores, the better? In addition and depending on the versions used, both Adobe and Autodesk have optimised their products for workstation cards and using the GPU to increase rendering etc.They are really designed for multi-display setups for traders etc.

The E5450 doesn't support HyperThreading but you fo get 12 MB or cache and they appear to be available for around the $300.00 - $400.00 mark. 8GB kits of FB ECC memory is around the $185.00 mark at the moment (Kingston - check compatibility) so the potential to upgrade CPU and RAM for around $700.00?

Graphics wise - I'd look for a newer low to mid-range card, unless you have the budget to go higher - FX1800s are around $240.00, 3800s - $700.00, 4800s - $1200.00 etc,.

Overall - you can upgrade CPU, RAM and Graphics card for less than $1000.00 - a new Workstation is going to be around $3500.00 inc graphics and RAM.

Regards,


RobMobility.
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Rob KnightConsultantCommented:
Hi,

I don't think you need to upgrade your current processors as they are Quad core anyway?

Regards,


RobMobility.
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bbrunningAuthor Commented:
It's looking like we will be going the upgrade route. I was looking at the Quadro FX 3800 but then came across the Quadro 2000, same amount of CUDA cores but 256Bit GDDR5 vs the Quadro fx 3800 128bit GDDR3. Seems almost like the fact that it's more energy efficient is what drove the price up.
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Rob KnightConsultantCommented:
Hi,

Quadro 2000 looks a good card - looks like it's AutoCad and Adobe certified - PNY have certification for both applications:

http://www3.pny.com/MarketingPromotions/AutoCad.aspx

http://www3.pny.com/MarketingPromotions/BFP_CS5.aspx?Category_ID=445 

Regards,.


RobMobility.
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bbrunningAuthor Commented:
Thanks everyone for their input. We're testing out the upgrade of 8GB of RAM and the Quadro 2000's with 64bit Win7 on one system for starters. We'll see the difference in render times and general usability and hopefully make a full decision after that.
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