Personal Opinion on Workstation Computer

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by FilipMil, Jun 13, 2010.

  1. FilipMil macrumors member

    Jul 29, 2008
    Hey everyone,

    I have been lurking this website for years now, and I really appreciate all the help I receive from it. I am stuck in a huge dilemma right now, and it revolves around a workstation computer.

    I have been eyeing the Mac Pro for quite some time now, and I really think it is a great computer. I personally own a macbook pro and it has done wonders for me, but because I am in architecture school and 3d modelling and intense VRAY & 3DS MAX renderings are not meant to be done on laptops, I am settling for a new workstation.

    I am hoping to spend no more than 3000 on this machine, and I was hoping the new Mac Pro's were going to come out, but now I am at the point where I don't want to dream anymore and I want a serious answer. I am going to be using programs such as Revit Architecture, AutoCAD, 3DS Max and such. I know that these programs don't come on OSX and that bootcamp can only get you so far. So here is what I have had in mind.

    Mac Pro (with whatever configuration it comes in once september comes along) or the following so to say. This is just one setup I found online and it looked decent, but then again I am no expert and this is why I need your opinions because I know some of you are professionals and deal with this kind of stuff.


    Intel Xeon E5529 2.26GHz 8MB Cache LGA1366 80W Quad-Core Server Processor
    ASUS Socket 1366 Inttel X58 Express Chipset Processors supported 7 PCI-E 2.0 x16 Expansion Slots ATX Motherboard
    PNY Quadro FX 4800 1.5GB 384-bit GDDR3 PCI Express
    Corsair Dominator 6GB (3X2GB) 1600 MhZ
    Seagate Barracuda 7200 1.5TB 7200RPM
    Thermaltake Black Widow 850W ATX12V 2.2 SLI/Crossfire Ready MOdular active PFC Power Supply
    Zalman Professional Black COmputer Case Steel Full Tower

    What do you think?
  2. gauchogolfer macrumors 603


    Jan 28, 2005
    American Riviera
    If you need lots of Windows-specific software like AutoCAD, why consider buying a Mac? Stick with a workstation from HP for example and you'll be happy.
  3. iamuurme macrumors newbie

    Jun 13, 2010
    i think you should get an imac insted. it does that too plus its cheaper:D
  4. PeterQVenkman macrumors 68020

    Mar 4, 2005
    Stick with a PC for Max and V-Ray. Also consider getting a Core i7 980x and overclocking that bad boy 20%. Nothing like six cores at 3.84 Ghz plus hyper threading.
  5. dimme macrumors 65816

    Feb 14, 2007
    SF, CA
  6. Umbongo macrumors 601


    Sep 14, 2006
    You shouldn't be getting that processor as it is meant for dual socket boards, and is more expensive than a single socket 2.8GHz quad core.

    If you don't want to build it yourself then go through Dell. Dell's outlet is an even cheaper source. A Precision T3500 will suit you fine. You can get one direct through their online store (better off going through a salesperson as they will give you a better price) for under $3,000 with a 3.2GHz quad core, 6GB of memory, ATI FirePro 7800 or Quadro FX 3800 and 3 year coverage. I'd skip the highest end of graphics cards, unless you are working on very very complicated models they won't offer you much more than a mid range card.

    If you are willing to wait and go through Dell precisions on their outlet store and are willing to make memory and storage upgrades yourself then you can find some ridiculous offers when it comes to high-end systems.
  7. FilipMil thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 29, 2008
    Thanks guys,

    so you wouldn't suggest I go to a company like digitalstormonline and make a powerful computer with a lower end graphics card or even do crossfire/sli?
  8. BobHail macrumors 6502a

    May 15, 2009
  9. FilipMil thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 29, 2008
    Till when? wait for what? I am waiting until september, maybe even december.
  10. Murray M macrumors regular

    Murray M

    Apr 19, 2010
    I wouldn't do either.

    1) Architecture school is about building relationships. Everyone is up at the school labs working and goofing off. Both are important. You're work will be better if you're fighting your friends for computer time and simultaneously around the "conversation" of what "good" is. The last thing an architecture student should do is hide away in their own apartment. Nice machines are nice but they are not worth what you're gonna miss.

    2) I'd stick with a laptop. If anything get a new one that's jazzed up. Then you can hang around the community and not have to worry about getting a computer. What you're winning in community is not worth what you'll win in faster processing power.

    Trust me on this.
  11. BobHail macrumors 6502a

    May 15, 2009
    Steve Jobs: "Just wait". ;)
  12. Asylum Design macrumors newbie

    Jun 9, 2010
    If you are gonna get PC hardware, at least get stuff that's on the OSx86 HCL, so if you wanna run the Mac OS as well on it, you can... :)
  13. FilipMil thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 29, 2008

    Thanks Murray,

    I'm currently the Chair of my student department and head of our curriculum year end show, I think my community and leadership skills are just fine. I have a jazzed up macbook pro which has taken me through the past 3 years just fine, but I am at the point where I cannot wait 12 hours while my laptop renders and sit around doing nothing. I need a computer to be able to do that, while I will have the laptop to do graphic design and presentation preparation during rendering. I appreciate your philosophy on what I need to do in architecture school to "learn" but it is the summer, and I want to know a professional opinion on computers, not lifestyle.

    Don't take this as an offensive, but what I am really here for are specs, not community involvement. If you are an architecture student, which from what I understand you are, you know that we all live in our studios, not our homes, and work together to get major projects done ;)
  14. 4JNA macrumors 68000


    Feb 8, 2006
    looking for trash files

    i build lots of systems, but at this level the individual piece prices make it really hard to compete with dell, hp, etc.

    pick a budget, get an OEM system with a decent warranty, problem solved!

    rendering anything on a laptop is a hot/noisy way to work...:eek:
  15. Vylen macrumors 65816

    Jun 3, 2010
    Sydney, Australia
    but a great way to keep warm in winter :p
  16. FilipMil thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 29, 2008
    exactly, it isn't always warm up in canada
  17. FilipMil thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 29, 2008
    if i were to go with a custom pc, what companies would you suggest? i don't want to go through the hassle of building it myself, even thought it might not be too hard. I was looking at digitalstormonline, and I have made a confirguation with them but still a lil over priced.

    I was also looking at bundle kits on newegg, but then again i can choose myself. What would you suggest?
  18. Murray M macrumors regular

    Murray M

    Apr 19, 2010

    1) Wow, you seem upset.

    2) I *really* didn't mean to suggest you were not a wonderful community member.

    3) My suggestion was that a workstation in a non-community location would be a ball and chain. Doing well in architecture school is not about killer renders, it's about honing your ideas. Your profs will be much more impressed with honed ideas than sexy models. This is much more easily done when you're working on stuff around people you can get feedback from, particularly when you're starting out.

    4) You're never going to be able to control the kind of feedback you get on a forum. You'll like some advise but not all of it, that's just how it goes. Being somewhat off topic is par for course. At best it gives a broader scope, at worst it means you waste your time. Sorry to be that person who wastes your time.
  19. FilipMil thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 29, 2008

    no worries, like i said don't take it as an offense. One thing i have done in the past, because of the situation an architect studen is in, is that I have had both my laptop and desktop at school (locking the desktop when I am not there)

    I have never had any issues with people touching or using it, so having both at school is not a problem and the ball and chain situation won't occur. Thanks again for your feedback, trust me i am not upset, just want a straight answer because I have been back and forth with this workstation idea and I don't have enough knowledge of my own to figure out the whole custom build, so any suggestions with sites or companies to assist me would be great.

    thanks again!
  20. vizfxman macrumors regular

    Mar 31, 2010
    Los Angeles
    I tend to agree with some of the others who mentioned an HP or a Dell.

    It seems you'll be using software within Windows, so why look at a Mac (as much as I love my Mac Pro)?

    It'll cost you far less as well. I quickly looked on HP's website and you can get yourself a powerful system for about $1000 less than what you have in your original post.
  21. 4JNA macrumors 68000


    Feb 8, 2006
    looking for trash files
    i know. i lived in VON 2PO for a couple years... i also use a mini in each bedroom during winter to heat the house. my wife calls them 'geek heaters'. it's called folding, and it matters.

    the OEM idea was only because the price difference is not much at the $3K budget per the original post, but the ease of use and quality/warranty support will be much better. if you like to pick your own case design, great, newegg away as it will meet your exact specs. if you just want it to work, cost about the same, and have someone come fix it on-sight when it goes bork, then OEM.

    i build custom systems, and i also get paid by OEM's to go on support calls. just FYI. if this will be rendering something that you feel is important, then have the warranty/backup. just my 2 cents. best of luck.
  22. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    If you are in Architecture school, then you are likely in a biggish community. Get some recommendations from your IT nerds, but I'd go to a local shop. You may end up paying a bit more initially, but if the shop is reputable they will find ways to save you money by not selling you something you don't need. There are two good reasons to go local.

    1) Repairs (if required) are done "in-house" instead of shipping the system out.
    2) Upgrades are also "in-house". A custom built system should last you 5 years or so. In that time you are going to want to upgrade bits and bobs. Unless you want to research and install them yourself, you will want to have someone else do it. Better to let the shop that built it in the first place do it, eh?

    A number of years ago I bought a system for my photographic work from a pro photography store. It ran for years and years, and whenever I needed to upgrade it they had the right parts, and the advice I needed.
  23. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    I'm not familiar with this company, and did a quick search on reliability/customer satisfaction.

    The Better Business Bureau has an A+ rating, and has a 9.53 out of 10.

    The internals look clean from what the pics show, and such details are likely why the prices are a tad higher than you'd like.
  24. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    Are the renderings down with interactive activity or primarily batch job (set some parameters and come back in 20 mins or 3 hours? ) ? Similarly are the renderings leveraging the GPU or CPUs ?

    In the latter case you might be able to get by with more of a computation server (perhaps a 1U server box) for batch jobs while keeping the interactive stuff on the MacBookPro. However, if composing the 3D models swamps the GPU on the MBP then need nonmobile option with fancy graphics and computational horsepower.

    As far as the config goes. A single 5500 processor only makes sense if highly anticipate that later during the lifetime of the machine will be going dual package to tackle larger jobs. If think going to buy whole new box in the future to tackle larger jobs then it isn't a good move. Going single package only alternative will provide more GHz for same amount of money.
    In a sense you pay some GHz for the "option to buy later".

    Two 750GB drives are often better than on 1.5TB one. Selecting the largest possible option is many times not best if have high value data to store. You can mirror them for instance in a RAID-1 set up. You are working on some class assignment, the deadline is in 4 hours and a hard drive crashes. You are not going to want to devote lots of time to doing a backup restore. You'll want the option to pull/deactivate the dead drive and keep going single disk.
  25. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    Just to start a new line of thinking....

    If you can start a process, and then leave it for a period of time - then why not a cheap desktop and keep the MBP? You could start up project, and then just leave it overnight, or the afternoon, and carry on with the things you need to do with the MBP? Just trying to think outside of the box.

Share This Page