Building a performance desktop... Xeon, i7 (one or two?), video cards?
Posted on 2011-09-06
This is possibly a terrible question, or absolute madness, but hear me out. :)
So I'm looking to build an beast of a system to serve two main roles:
1. 3D modeling and rendering
2. Gaming -- nothing fancy honestly, pretty much WoW/Rift/EVE/StarCraft. Anything else that I have interest in is played on my 360 or PS3.
Originally I was looking at an i7-2600K processor, 16 GB PC3-10666 RAM, a 2GB GTX560 video card, and a 64GB SSD as my boot/OS drive with a pair of 2TB 7200RPM HDDs in a RAID-1 for everything else. The OS that I have in mind is Windows 7 Ultimate (which as I understand supports two physical processors with a total of 256 logical processors), and maybe a dual boot with Ubuntu for the hell of it. The point of the SSD is to make for faster boot/startup time. I figured I'd use the SSD for only the OS and for any other programs that would really benefit from being on it. I'd redirect the Users and Program Files folders through group policy to the RAID-1.
Now that ought to be adequate. But then I got thinking, how much of an improvement in performance would I get by going up to two physical CPUs? Two Xeons? Or is there a motherboard out there that allows me to use two of the i7's? If not, would two Xeons give a notable improvement in performance over a single i7-2600K?
On top of this, the question of video cards: Should I use one or two? The ideal goal is to reasonably improve render times, but also to be able to play my games with all settings maxed. :)
I know the games I listed really aren't demanding games at all (and on the machine that I have now, I can already play them maxed), but I suppose it's worth clarifying what my intentions are in case one goal conflicts with the other somehow. I've never sat down and really thought about the detailed hardware specifics when building a performance machine, so I don't really know the exact pros and cons of the various CPUs and motherboards out there. Some examples of the software that I use are Blender, Maya, MudBox, and LuxRender.
Lastly, is cooling. I'm always really wary with cooling but with a machine like this, I imagine it is going to build up some serious heat so any advice on heatsinks, cases, or fan configurations to maximize cooling would be helpful.
I feel like a n00b asking these questions, but hardware tends to be my weak area so any advice would be greatly appreciated!