Recommended chipset/socket class for 3d modelling and rendering

bigcarbonfprint

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Jan 1, 2018
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I'd like to build a new HEDT/Workstation, and the most intensive apps I plan to use are 3d modelling and rendering (e.g. Daz3D). Even before trying to pick a motherboard and processor, I thought I should beginning by narrowing down the chipset and cpu socket. Last time I built one, the X99 was the newest, but it looks like a bunch have been released since then. Should I look at X299 boards, or Z270 or Z370, or what do you recommend?

A few other notes:

  • I usually stick to Intel boards.
    It will probably be a Core i7 cpu, but I would not rule out a Xeon uniprocessor (can't afford 2!)
    I'd like to connect 2 Nvidia GeForce cards with SLI.
    Hopefully enough PCIE lanes are available so both graphics cards could have 16 lanes each.
    I'd like something that will support 2 M.2 SSD's, one for the OS and one for project data.
    I'll probably overclock a bit.
I'd be very grateful for your thoughts.
 

bigcarbonfprint

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I had not set a firm budget yet, but probably need to keep the total parts cost under $4k. I hope to render at least HD (1080p), but would like to play with 4k res. Not sure yet how big the projects would be.

I hoped figuring out which chipset and cpu generation to target might narrow down the search for a MB. I haven't built a desktop or workstation PC in a few years, so I need to get up to speed on the latest chipsets, particularly for desktops or workstations. I did build a new system last year, but it was a SuperMicro X11SSH with a Xeon E3 for my home FreeNAS server, an entirely different kind of beast.
 
X399 is newer and better bang for the money, more PCIE lanes and cooler than X299. I will suggest something like this:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

CPU: AMD - Threadripper 1950X 3.4GHz 16-Core Processor ($905.00 @ Amazon)
CPU Cooler: Enermax - LiqTech TR4 360 102.2 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler ($154.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: ASRock - X399 Taichi ATX TR4 Motherboard ($333.98 @ Newegg)
Memory: G.Skill - Ripjaws V Series 32GB (4 x 8GB) DDR4-3200 Memory ($420.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung - 960 EVO 250GB M.2-2280 Solid State Drive ($127.89 @ OutletPC)
Storage: Samsung - 960 EVO 500GB M.2-2280 Solid State Drive ($238.89 @ OutletPC)
Storage: Toshiba - P300 3TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($74.17 @ Newegg)
Video Card: MSI - GeForce GTX 1080 Ti 11GB GAMING X TRIO Video Card ($804.98 @ Newegg)
Case: Fractal Design - Define R5 w/Window (Black) ATX Mid Tower Case ($129.98 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Corsair - RMx 1000W 80+ Gold Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply ($179.99 @ B&H)
Operating System: Microsoft - Windows 10 Home OEM 64-bit ($89.89 @ OutletPC)
Monitor: BenQ - BL2711U 27.0" 3840x2160 60Hz Monitor ($459.00 @ Amazon)
Total: $3919.75
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2018-01-01 22:24 EST-0500
 

bigcarbonfprint

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Thank you for the detailed recommendation, and the PCPartsPicker list. I've built a bunch of PC's and servers and have always used Intel CPUs. But I would certainly be open to an AMD system if it provides the best features for my needs. I do like all the PCIe lanes you get with Threadripper.

One concern about AMD. My 3d modelling software can use Nvidia GPU's, so I wanted to get a dual GeForce system with SLI. I would guess that AMD-based MB's would be more compatible with Radeon/Crossfire GPU's since that's their product. Is that an issue?

 

bigcarbonfprint

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That's good. To be specific, Daz3D uses Nvidia's Iray for rendering, and it will offload the work to one or multiple Nvidia graphic cards. Actually, I suspect they don't even need to be connected with SLI. (You would want SLI, say for high framerate video game output. But in this case the graphics cards are being used as computing resources.)

They do recommend you try to run the cards at PCIe x16 electrical. They estimate about 80% of the x16 performance with x8. Hence my concerns about lanes. It sounds like 32 lanes (x16 + x16) is no problem for Threadripper. I guess for Intel, you would need to get one of the higher end cpus that provide 44 lanes, for starters, then find a MB that will allocate 32 of them to the graphic cards.

So, while maybe by habit I've stuck to Intel builds, I'll sure give your AMD/X399 recommendation serious consideration. Thanks again!
 

bigcarbonfprint

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Jan 1, 2018
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Hi vapour, one more question about your recommended parts list. You recommended the ASRock x399 board. Have you tried this MB yourself? I can't find an x399 roundup on Tom's HW, and the MB Tier list is way out of date. They did review an MSI x399 MB in November.

AMD is looking even better considering the news about the Meltdown vulnerabilty and the performance-killing OS patch they are rushing out.

 

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