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New workstation

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Hey guys
so, after some time using mostly stations from the studios where I've worked, I've decided to invest in a personal machine.
I did some research, but since I'm no expert, thought I would ask for some advice.

My most demanding work is rendering (3ds+corona), the rest being mostly autocad, photoshop and indesign.

Here is the setup I'm considering (with a slightly stretched budget already):

CPU: Intel Core i7-5960X
cooler: Noctua NH-D15
motherboard: Asus X99-DELUXE
graphics card: Asus STRIX-GTX970
RAM: Gskill Ripjaws4 Black DDR4-2400Mhz 4x8Gb
1st Disk: SSD Samsung 2.5" 850 Pro 256Gb
2nd Disk: WD Black 1TB SATA III 64Mb
case: Fractal Define R5

a couple of question/doubts:

is the cpu investment (1k+€) worth it? or should I settle for the 6core version? should I  consider xeon?
which PSU would you recommend? (I'm a bit lost on this one)
regarding RAM, should I go for DDR4 2133 instead of the 2400, since the cpu is supposedly designed for it?

thanks in advance

Hi Fabio,

whether 5960X is worth the price depends on your budgetary means and how many other machines you have. Unless you already have formidable render farm, I think of powerful workstation as good investment as well.

I don't think the same of Asus X99-Deluxe board, which unless you know exactly why you would need it ( dual lan NICs, extreme amount of inputs,etc..) you can either go for Asus X99-S which is the same Deluxe board without dual nics and few less contact,
or even "vanilla" Asus XX9-A. They all provide equal overclocking capacity mostly.

Not much to say about Strix 970, it's considered decently silent compared to reference cooling, which is imho important.

2400 vs 2133. It's worth considering also latency timings, i.e CL15 in case of yours. Lesser timing, the better. Sometimes lesser frequency with lesser timings provides same performance as higher frequency but higher timings.
Nonetheless, the actually memory performance matters very little for most tasks today, esp. CGI/Rendering, where it makes about less than <1perc. difference. Rather saver money here and look for good deal.

NH-D15 and Fractal Define is my favourite combination, although lately, Fractal introduced excellent water cooling, called Kelvin S36, which is litterally the best (most powerful while very silent) close-looped system available.
Since it's 360mm (3x120mm fans) big, it fits only Fractal Arc, not Fractal Define and would also add some price, while enable keeping 5960X in 4.5+ GHz territory in better temperate and noise level than NH-D15 would.
Just something to ponder upon.

850 Pro 256GB - Very pricey, but imho worth it. Due to 3DNand, will also last you forever.

1TB HDD - Unless you have NAS storage or file server, 1TB is perhaps far too conservative. Go for at least 2-3.

PSU- What matters is, reputable brand (Seasonic, Corsair (which is also Seasonic mostly), BeQuite!, Goldflower,..) , wattage (overclocked 5960X goes into 300W territory, 970 goes slightly above 200W I think in full performance, STRIX is also clocked higher by factory), you're looking at 650+ W to be on the safe side but not going overkill, efficiency 80+ Gold+ (for a workstation at this price level 2k+ euro, only Gold and Platinum quality makes sense).
If you can't decide, just buy Seasonic.

Hi Juraj,
was looking forward to your feedback, and it is much appreciated.

For years I've been a Macbook Pro user at home, so it's my first personal machine for rendering purposes and I'll take your advice on investing in a powerful one to start with.
Since you haven't commented on the Xeon possibility, I'll assume core i7 is the way to go here.

Other than that,
my preferred seller doesn't seem to have the X99-S, but has good deals on the X99-PRO and X99-A... how does the PRO compare to the S?;

will check the Fractal KelvinS36 + Arc solution out, but I'll probably go for the Define + NH-D15 if you say it's good enough cooling (what do you gather would be a safe clocking for the 5960X with the NH-D15?);

4x Crucial DDR4 2133 8Gb to save quite a bit and invest on a bigger HDD as suggested;

PSU - again, I have a good deal on a Corsair RM750w, which seems to fit the criteria.

I didn't comment about Xeon possibility since Xeons are mostly worth only in dual configurations, which are rather specific and pricey solutions. 5960X in overlocked state is almost 70perc. of performance of average-higher 2p Xeon system, but still far cheaper.
Single 5960X in overclocked state also outperforms the highest 3000 euro single Xeon due to frequency advantage. So there's that.

X99-S and X99-Pro are extremely similar, almost at same price level. They are both Deluxe derivated, but each lacks single feature. S has no Wi-fi, and Pro "only" has 4 PCI-E slots (Deluxe and S have 5).
X99-A has neither Wi-fi, nor 5th PCI-Express Slot.
There are almost no other mentionable differences, the Deluxe has 3 additional USB3.0 slots, but even vanilla A has 10 of them already.

DH-15 is fine, it can keep up the 5960X up to 4.5 GHz at "good" temperature if you are decently lucky with chip and don't need to run high V-Core voltages.
The thing with overclocking is, it depends mostly on silicon lottery or other words, pure luck. You can get "good" chip that overclocks without issue to 4.7GHz (on water cooling), and you can get mediocre chip that will not let you go past 4.1 without it getting unstable and requiring massive voltage. But most chips fall into middle.

I don't like the RM series. Corsair, has various OEM manufactures to create his PSUs, and 750W RM is by quite unknown company Chicony. I've also read it has thermal issues.
The series to choose from Corsair are AX (platinum made by Seasonic) and HX (Gold, also made by Seasonic OEM). They are 100perc. and 50perc. more expensive, but this is absolutely worth for machine like this.
People undervalue PSU because it's not performance part, but it's easily the most important part in PC as it can decide between life and death of your machine eventually. Stability, heat and noise levels also depend on it. Never save or compromise here.
Good PSU for rendering, is much more important than GPU.

Case closed then.

I figured xeons would be pricier to get identical performance, but those numbers really make the choice easy!   

X99-Pro it is then.

I can get the AX760 for an additional 40€, so it's no problem at all. Wasn't trying to save really, just being ignorant ;)

Will let you know how it goes when it's ready.
Thanks again Juraj. I'll buy you a beer if you'r ever in Portugal!


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