Hello, I'm a second year student studying 3D animation and have finally came to the conclusion that my old laptop just cannot hack the work load. I have a budget of £1000 and I am now looking to buy the best possible desktop computer to work with and render with the program auto desk 3DS max, also being able to game would be nice as well.
As I am pretty useless when It comes to computers I need some advice on 1) what specs I need/could afford and 2) The best possible place to buy from online or otherwise (I live in the UK btw), Im not sure If I have to build one myself or could buy pre-built, but I have gotten some general information that purchasing a Quadcore I7 with 8GB of RAM is good, but that's all I know. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
I am currently running Max 2011 on an Intel Core2 Quad system with 8GB of RAM, Vista Business 64 bit, and a medium grade NVidia card (GeForce GTX 260). I think that it was the cheapest card at the time which implemented CUDA technology. While modeling and everything in the interface works pretty much in realtime, rendering in Mental Ray can be slow. That said, if you're going to be doing lots of high end projects, you may want to look at an on-line render farm. There are lots of them out there.
As far as configuring your own system - I don't think you need to go beyond listing the specs you need (from the Autodesk site), and then searching for a company which will configure for you, or buying an off the shelf solution (HP workstations come to mind) that will get the job done.
I'm also all for purchasing a slightly used system for way less than a new one, as long as the warranty is existing, or able to be extended. I recently purchased a Thinkpad W510 on Eb**, with an i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, the fastest NVidia card you can have in a laptop, a dock, extra battery, and Windows 7, for $1000. It was a steal! I upgraded the warranty to give me four years, and this thing flies. I haven't put Max on it yet, since I'm not bogged down on my desktop system, but at some point I may. Good luck!