PC Hardware advice for modeling/rendering/animaion PC


Jun 3, 2015
Hi all, I hope this is the right place to post this, I have never posted on this forum before but while doing some research and following some Google results to this site, I noticed how helpful the community can be to others so I thought I would see if you may be able to assist me.
First of all, this is a long post, I apologize for the length but did not want to leave any details out in case they may be pertinent.
Ok, so I will be starting a few 3d modelling and animation courses soon and would like to ask some advice on what type of computer hardware I should get to support the necessary programs, I am a complete novice in this regard, I have never constructed a PC or it’s components before and much of the terminology sounds like another language to me lol so please be patient with me if my questions appear foolish to you.
I will be using the following programs as they are required by the courses:

Modeling/animation Programs:

Atodesk Maya
System Requirements:

Pixologic Zbrush
System Requirements: unknown

System Requirements: unknown

Video editing and compositing Programs:
• System Requiremens: too many to list
• http://www.thefoundry.co.uk/products/nuke/sys-reqs/

Adobe Premier
System requirements for Premiere: Uknown, only says:
Mac OS X 10.7 not supported for CC 2014 digital video applications
System requirements for Premiere Pro: too many to list

Image Editing Programs:

Photoshop (version unknown)
System Requirements: unknown
System requirements: Unknown
System requirements: Unknown

Render Engines:
Autodesk Mental Ray
System requirements: Unknown

Game Engines:

Unreal Engine


I will also be using the following two programs, though they are not course related:
Poser Po 2014 with Lux render

Blender 2.74
System Requirements:

I may also use NewTek Lightwave 3D 2015
At a later date.

After attempting some research online I seem to have narrowed down the required components to the following:

Operating System:
I am currently using Windows XP Professional 32-bit and have decided to get Windows 8 or 8.1 64-bit for the new computer. (After looking at the comparison between 8.1 and 8.1 professional I don’t believe the Professional edition would benefit me much, especially for that much of a price difference.)
Currently have 3.25GB of Ram and find it to b insufficient for my needs so I believe I need at least 8 GB of RAM on the new PC or maybe 32 GB as was suggested to another ….., not sure which is best in my case, any recommendations?

I currently have a 420 GB Hard drive on my Windows XP PC so I feel 1 TB or 2TB Hard drive would be best, or do feel more would be required?
USB Ports:
I have 6 ports on my current system, 2 front and 4 back but I often have to unplug the keyboard to add a video camera or memory stick as the other 4 ports are taken up by my 4 external Hard Drives so I feel 8 would be better on the new PC, as long their installation would not cause issues.

Graphics/ Video Card:
This is where I really come unstuck, there are so many variations I feel lost.
My current Card is an ATI Radeon 2400 Pro which I know is very outdated, but I
• In general, the above software says that an OpenGL enabled graphics card or chipset is required and that any recent NVIDIA GeForce and ATI Radeon cards should be sufficient but that GeForce® 8400 series or ATI® X1600 are the minimum requirements.
I don’t really understand what Open GL is very well, only that programs such as Poser make use of it. After trying to research it online a bit, I still don’t really know but from observations in poser it seems to aid in the real-time rendering of shadows and lighting in the preview window, I believe it is also more closely tied to the graphics/video card than relying on the CPU but I could be way off.
I also recently heard about Open CL which, someone advised me may be more important than open GL when it comes to renders, as far as I an understand, it seems to be a code that offers better utilization of multiple cores to enable multiple commands to run more smoothly in concert but again, I don’t know for sure.
I also hear other terms like APU, GPU, overclocking, 4K System and CUDA Which I tried researching but really know nothing about.
I have heard that something called a Quadro Card is supposed to be good for renders but according to this thread: http://www.polycount.com/forum/showthread.php?t=94364

That may not necessarily always be the case and may not be worth the high price tag unless you are an architect.
I had a look at the NVIDIA and ATI sites and it seems that there are 2 categories of Cards at ATI (I don’t understand what Chipset is) so based on category it looks like the best for a Workstation under Media and Entertainment would be AMD FirePro™ W9100 since it has the highest version number and Radeon™ R9 Series for Desktops but I don’t really understand the difference, would a desktop be primarily used for gaming and a Workstation used for Designing?
Although these are the top cards available atm, assuming I’m correct, it may be better to go for the next one down as latest builds are often more unstable than those that have been out for at least 1 year. I don’t know if theses are too high end though, I can’t find the X1600 anywhere on the site so I don’t know how different these cards are, only that they are more recent.
At he NVidia Site, the closest category to graphics/video cards I could find was Processors and I’m not sure if that is the right one but assuming it is, I guess the Titan series may be best for desktop builds, possibly the GeForce GTX TITAN X and the Quadro series would be best for workstations? (not a clue which one though and as previously stated, a Quadro may not be needed in this case.)
The Tesla, Tegra, NVIDIA GRID, NVS and Legacy categories don't appear to be applicable to me but I could be mistaken.
I don’t mind paying for a top of the range, $1000 or $2000 card if I need it but I would not want to spend unnecessarily and would happily get a $500 card if it would suit my needs better.


I currently have a monitor with a resolution of 1680 X 1050 32 Bit Colour and find it sufficient so don’t see the point in upgrading to a lager one for the new PC but I will if I have to. I will be keeping my current PC and was hoping to have both monitors side by side.
Generally the system requirements for the programs seem to be a 64-bit Intel® or AMD® multi-core processor. Pentium D or newer (or equivalent such as AMD Athlon 64 X2 or newer) with optional multithreading or hyperthreading capabilities. • Intel® Core™ 2 or AMD Athlon™ II Processor (or better) Intel Pentium 4
Athlon 64. •
I don’t really understand most of that but through research it seems the more cores one has at their disposal, the more operations or programs can be run or used simultaneously without much issue, I feel a quad core would be best as my current system is a Dual core and feels a bit slow but I have heard some people using 8 cores so I really don’t know what would be best in this case, I will quite possibly be running 1 or 2 modelling programs, internet, an image editing program and a video editor at the same time if possible so any advice you could offer would be appreciated. I prefer to multi-task to save time but my current system can’t always handle it.
Seems the recommendation is a min requirement of 1.3 GHz Pentium 4 or newer, Athlon 64 or newer (1.65 GHz or faster recommended), my current system is a Dell Inspiron Intel Cor Duo CPU 2.66 GHz so I guess anything better than my current build as this already seems to meet the requirements, despite it being 8 or 9 years old, possibly older as the version is listed as 2002.

I will be getting a Graphics Tablet but not sure which kind, only that a
Wacom seems to be the basic recommendation.

My current computer is also quite loud while rendering so anything to help reduce the noise without impacting performance would be a help, any recommendations or advice?
I think this covers everything, if I have left anything out please let me know.

Congratulations for reading all that, you should get a reward lol, I thank you all for your time and any advice you can offer to me.


Jun 3, 2015
I apologize for the misspelling of animation in the title, it is past midnight here and even though I noticed the error almost immediately after posting, I unfortunately do not know how to edit the text to correct it.