System Hardware & OS Advice

Hi All,
Not too sure where to put this post! I’m hoping this is the place :smiley:
I’m in need of a little advice. I have an up an comming animation project using open source applications.
I’m interested to know what your collective advice is regarding OS and hardware.

I’m currently running (it’s dated I know, hence the upgrade;)): -
3200Mhz 64bit AMD
1GB Ram
Nvidia 6600GT Ultra
32bit Windows XP

I’m faily happy with the current results that I have achived, but this latest project will tax this quite heavily.

Ok now for the specific questions: -

  1. What OS is reccomended? Window$ or Linux?
    Is there an OS that Blender runs better on? (Ubuntu studio???)

  2. What is the reccomeded hardware setup
    This system will be a dedicated blender workstation.
    For example what GFX is better (E.G. Nvidia vs ATI etc) I would like to have a dual head rig if my budget can stretch.
    I hear that core 2 duo is kicking butt vs AMD’s offerings???
    Are there any items I should go for as a must, or anything I should stay 100 miles away from?

Any advice is welcomed

TIA
Tumbledown

Hi,

Looking at your current system specs it looks like your current system specs are adequate. But if you insist on upgrading, my advice would be to go with the following:

  • Intel Core 2 Duo CPU 3Ghz + (Intel Renders Fast Than AMD)**

  • At Least 2GB of RAM (Good for large scenes and big renders)

  • GeForce 7600 GS or Higher, stay away from ATI if using Linux***

  • Linux Ubuntu (Good for Blender file organization and will go along with “Open Source”)

**Intel Core 2 Duos are good for Rendering Performance. AMD should be adequate, but because AMD does not have a very sophisticated Math Co-Processor, floating point operations (rendering) are not very fast.

***For Dual-Head I recommend two graphics cards. The 3D viewport will slow down if set in “Multiple Display Performance Mode” on Nvidia’s drivers. This is a frustrating problem for me and will no doubt be one for you.

Hope this helps.

Cheers,
John

for oparating systems, blender runs better on linux, but you will find at least 1 windows only app that you need, so the best solution is dual boot, or a windows vm in linux

With “3200Mhz 64bit AMD” do you mean the Athlon64 3200+?
The only CPU that actually has 3200MHz would be the X2 6400+, the current top model of AMD, that hardly requires an upgrade :slight_smile:

I don’t think Core2Duo is really faster for blender in particular, at least if you consider that you get higher clockspeed for the same money at AMD. It’s mainly SIMD-heavy or cache-intensive software where AMD looks poor…but yea overall Core2Duo is the better choice right now, for the fastest models AMD simply has nothing to compete…

But since we’re probably mainly talking about rendering, more cores are better, you may consider a quad-core CPU. Note that AMDs new Phenom CPUs for AM2+ are coming soon, if the upgrade is not that urgent, maybe you should wait just a little longer for some very attractive quad-core offerings. Intel will refresh their line somewhere early next year too, with 45nm CPUs that need less power than the current Core2Quad CPUs.
However you can also get a Core2Quad Q6600 for a reasonable price right now…

For a video card, blender can’t really squeze out much extra performance beyond mainstream GPUs like a 7600GT or 8600GT (yet)…

As operating system i’d definitely pick 64bit Linux, i’m very happy with it (Ubuntu in my case)…at current RAM prices, i’d probably even go the “expensive” route and throw in 2x2GB modules instead of 4x1GB. More modules are more likely to cause stability problems (unless it’s “real” workstation/server hardware with registered or fully-buffered memory…)

Hi Lynx3d
Yeah the processor I’m currently using is a AMD Athlon™64 Processor 3200+
I’m seeing quite a bit of lag whne rendering some pre-vis shots.
I have been looking at the Elephants Dream Video, in particular the documentary. I saw that those guy’s were using the AMD X2 Processors and the Ubuntu OS. Not too sure what the rest of the hardware setup was?

Rendering seemed quick on the video. I’m not sure if their systems we just rapid, or the video was showing the output from the Node compositor, which rendered out quicker???

I just “Feel” like my system has some bottle-necks that I “Want” to sort out.

I’ll have around £600 - £800 in my budget for the upgrades, and wanted to get a dipcheck as
to where best to invest i.e. fast hard drive SATA II RAID, Fast RAM or Fast CPU.
As you can probbably tell, I’m still quite new to all this :o.
Can I sarifice a slower HDD storage for faster RAM/CPU, as the RAM and CPU are used more intensively ???

TIA
Tumbledown

For rendering you mainly want many fast cores, and enough memory to stuff in large scenes. Whatever “enough” means for your projects :slight_smile:

Speed of RAM does not really matter much, there’s little difference between DDR2-667 and DDR3-1333, like somewhere around 5% in real world applications. Reason is mainly that the FSB of a Core2Duo can’t transport more data than dual-channel DDR2-667 delivers, it’s only minor effects of overall reduced latency and difference between theoretical and practical bandwidth of DDR(2/3) memory controllers.

A RAID setup may be good for various video editing tasks, but not really for rendering itself. RAM and SATA drives can be added later if required, unless you populate all slots/ports right from the start.

Currently I’d start with a board with a solid “mainstream” chipset from a good brand (e.g. P35/ICH9R based board on the intel side) and if possible a quad-core CPU (right now the Q6600 still is the only “affordable” one), some DDR2-800 tested/recommended by the board manufacturer (ideally 2x2GB currently), and one (or maybe more for RAID) standard 7200rpm SATA II drives, any recent model from Seagate, Samsung, Hitachi etc., like Barracude 7200.10 (or 7200.11 if already available), Spinpoint T166 or Deskstar T7K500 should be fine…

That high-speed DDR3 RAM is pretty much an enthusiast thing for extreme overclocking and squeezing out the last few percent, similar with 10k RPM SATA drives…nothing that really pays off IMHO.

Ok,
I’ve been looking at the Quad core intel processors.
I’m looking to go down the linux route as this was the
OS used by the Orange project (as well as MAC :D),
and specifically Ubuntu Studio.

Does Linux support Quad core nativley? or will i have to apply a
kernel patch to make it Purrrrr on all 4 cylinders???

TIA
Tumbledown

linux has supported multiple cores scince about 2000, currently running fisty fawn on a q6600. works perfect

3200Mhz 64bit AMD
1GB Ram
Nvidia 6600GT Ultra
32bit Windows XP

i changed from 32bit Ubuntu to 64bit 64Studio (64studio.com) and the renderspeed almost doubled. From 5min to 2min40s for a testrendering. Probably it would be the same for windows…