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Building New Media type workstation, guidance appreciated.

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Stephen ChristieBuilding New Media type workstation, guidance appreciated.
by on Oct 30, 2014 at 4:36:54 am
Last Edited By Stephen Christie on Nov 3, 2014 at 3:04:36 am

I'm building a New Media system for our studio. I have been researching this for weeks, including using this forum, and this is what I've got so far:

Digital Storm Aventum II case with custom watercooling.
Asus X99 Rampage V Motherboard
1050W Corsair HX1050
5960X i7 CPU (Octa-core) overclocked to 4.5-4.8 GHz
1 TB SSD Samsung Evo (for Windows 8.1 Pro and apps)
512 GB SSD Samsung Evo (Cache drive)
4 TB Western Digital Black (Storage)
64 GB 2666 MHz Corsair Dominator Platinum DHX RAM

This is set up to run the following in order of priority:

1. After Effects
a. Element 3D
b. Plexus
c. Nodes 2
d. Particular
e. Form

2. 3DS Max
a. Mental Ray
b. Iray
c. Perhaps Octane or Furry Ball for GPU Rendering (Evaluating)

3. Cinema 4D
a. Perhaps X-Particles (Evaluating)

I'm a bit stumped on graphics cards. These are my top choices:

1. Single Titan Black
2. Dual 980 GTXs.
3. Dual Titan Blacks*

*Option 3 puts me over budget, I might be able to get it approved, but if it's not a significant benefit, it would be better not to do it since it might pull money from other upgrades we are doing.

I've looked at Quadros including the Maximus solution and haven't seen where it's cost-efficient, or the best performance for my type of work, but I'm open to suggestions.

Any advice would be appreciated. I've spent the last few weeks and many late nights frying my brain over this.


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Chris WrightRe: Building New Media type workstation, guidance appreciated.
by on Oct 30, 2014 at 5:40:23 pm

i don't see a raid anywhere. copying and pasting files is gonna hurt, and you'll end up relying upon your SSD's to get you out of hot water. Are you going for CUDA compatibility or brute 3d fx? Also, check your bus speed; all that ram won't mean hella beans if data can't get bussed from your cpu to your ram.


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Stephen ChristieRe: Building New Media type workstation, guidance appreciated.
by on Oct 31, 2014 at 2:18:58 am

Raids are a bit tricky in our studio environment, but not out of the question. Were you thinking the raid was for the OS, the cache, or the data drive?

I believe Brute Force is a Vray thing? We would like to have Vray, but haven't gotten there yet. For this machine, the primary goal is to make AE and it's plugins as fast as possible. So the focus is on CPU, but set up also for GPU for when it can be used.

I think you're saying I need to make sure the bus speed of the motherboard is a good match for the speed of the ram?

Digital Storm had recommended 32 GB of 2800 MHz ram, 64 only comes in 2666 MHz, but from everything that I've read, more ram is better for AE.


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Chris WrightRe: Building New Media type workstation, guidance appreciated.
by on Oct 31, 2014 at 4:34:41 pm
Last Edited By Chris Wright on Oct 31, 2014 at 4:38:59 pm

first off, the motherboard doesn't like oc voltage very much or pci-e sound cards so get ready for crashes. So instead, get a ASRock X99 and go to 6.2GHZ without a hickup. You need 128 GB ram which ASrock supports and Xeon 18-core processors Family not a octo i-7...which does not support ECC ram(extremely useful for 24/7 rendering). Plus, the added benefit of I don't know, 10 more cores perhaps! The i7 is for gaming and Xeon for server/heavy CPU work like rendering 4k, not playing call of duty. Sorry gamers!

Your bus speed will need to be about 103.45 Mhz and your core oc'd to 1.847V. Also, ASrock's mobo supports way faster M.2 than asus so your SSD's will be faster. Samsung XP941 PCIe x4 M.2 SSD 1.16 GB/s instead of a evo at 540mb/s...
you have a 4 way SLI/Crossfire support which is good for 3-d, so you'll definitely need more video cards, I only see one in your post...

You'll need extra TB from your SSD's and the single old iron non-raid hard drive must go(MAJOR, major! bottleneck). I really hope you reconsider raid(at least raid 5) because all that data has ZERO backup protection, and you'll be waiting 40x longer to get data back and forth from it. Hope this was helpful and you didn't click buy already! Laters...


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Stephen ChristieRe: Building New Media type workstation, guidance appreciated.
by on Oct 31, 2014 at 5:52:52 pm
Last Edited By Stephen Christie on Nov 3, 2014 at 3:04:09 am

Thanks for your continued input Chris. This last bit is quite a jump, I'll try to figure out what this all entails.

I'm surprised you feel that way about the 5960X, I've understood the hex and octa cores to be professional grade, since games don't address past quad. But if you're comparing to a Xeon set up I can see why.

I've read that it's better to get a hex or octa core because most of the time you're working with a single core and you want it as fast as possible. I've also read that Adobe doesn't optimize past quad or hex core (I assume they would start for octa now). Many Mac Pro users complain that they don't see the optimization of their cores past 4 or so. Do you feel that's inaccurate? Or different on a PC platform?

I'm not concerned about sound via PCI-e, and will be outputting to a Novation Scarlett 2i4 via USB.

One point of confusion, you mention, "Samsung XP941 PCIe x4 M.2 SSD 1.16 GB/s instead of a evo at 540mb/s...", but when I look that up it's RAM, right? So I don't quite understand why you're comparing it to the Evo SSD.
*Edit - I see now that it's actually an SSD, I've never seen this type before.

For video cards I mention 1 Titan Black vs. 2 980 GTXs, or possibly 2 Titan Blacks if there is enough justification for it.

Get rid of the iron drive means all SSD? So would that be like 4 of 1 TB drives in a RAID 5?
*Edit - Now that I know that the M.2 is, did you mean a RAID of these? Would that in an external chassis, or plugged right into the motherboard? We chassis all of our drives to swap them out for projects and customers, so if it's not easy to swap, I might hit a wall here.

Haven't clicked buy yet, trying to gather info to submit for approval early next week. We are also spec'ing a 3D render server, which sounds closer to what you've listed, but you're definitely opening my eyes to some new ways of thinking.


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Chris WrightRe: Building New Media type workstation, guidance appreciated.
by on Oct 31, 2014 at 9:57:44 pm

yes, my previous post was for a high end 3-d rendering system.

raid 5 ssd's with M.2 would be the fastest, but also consider an external thunderbolt 2 system like a LaCie which can handle 4k video. Both can be configured hot swappable, but ssd's storage unfortunately comes at a premium.


from a mismanaged after effects code point of view, you have many valid points.


if you only want to play in adobe after effects land, price/performance teaters out around 4-6 cores, 64GB ram. of course, the GHz speed can always be higher.

ocassionly 8 cores and 128 GB ram is used for some comps, although very rare.


then what should you buy?
there's also some small text extruding in ray tracing land in exchange for an expensive 3d card.
you want at least 3gb per cpu and 1/4 of your total ram for background apps.



but.. hold on a minute...

a big chunk of adobe's team is running full steam to revamp the render frames simultanesouly function.

so...what are you buying? the future? the now? will you wait for the new features?

do you want crazy awesome mental ray capability and make toy story 5? do you even use ray tracing at all?

for now, if you're on a really tight budget, try to oc's that processor as much as possible and hope for the best, or plunk the change and play the waiting game.


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Stephen ChristieRe: Building New Media type workstation, guidance appreciated.
by on Nov 3, 2014 at 1:01:08 am
Last Edited By Stephen Christie on Nov 3, 2014 at 3:03:18 am

The Thunderbolt 2 setup might work for us, I'll talk it over with our studio manager.

That's interesting news about the Adobe team working on the Render Simultaneously. I wish we could hold out and wait to see what develops, but we need to order because the funds are here now.

I'm going to apply your advice more towards our 3D servers that will be Xeon based. Those are CPU-based because it is a lot of Max scanline/Mental Ray rendering. We are looking at dual Titans on it in case we pick up a GPU renderer like Octane or Furry Ball, and also for it's iRay renderer.

Then if someday AE does address all cores, I could always pass over my AE file to the server to render out.

I'm leaning to a single Titan on the AE box, since most of what I need is driven by CPU. That way I'll still have a GPU that plugins like Element 3D can utilize, and will give me good viewports in Max, but it's not overkill.

I'm not sure 980's are ready for prime time, I just got my MSI 980 GTX at home, and I'm suddenly dealing with blue screens in After Effects, especially if I try to load Raytraced scenes. Someone else reported the same with a 970. It's too new of a card; they just fixed a problem where it would crash if you had 32 GB of ram or greater.


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