New personal workstation advice: Intel 3930k or Intel DP E5-2620/2630?

Started by DriesV, April 28, 2012, 04:48:23 AM

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I'm looking into replacing my current 5 year old notebook (Intel T7500 CPU) with something new.
I'm finding myself increasingly frustrated with the KeyShot performance of this machine. So it's about time for a BIG power-up  ;D!

It basically boils down to this: I'll be going for a workstation based on either an Intel i7-3930k or a dual Intel Xeon E5-2620/2630.
I know there is quite a big price premium going from 3930k to any dual Xeon. I'm willing to spend the dough on a DP Xeon if it performs much better in KeyShot.
Note: I'm not considering E5-2640 and up, because probably way over budget.

* Have any of you guys got experience with a 3930k and/or DP e5-2620/2630 based system, running KeyShot?
* Will the Xeons give me much better KeyShot performance?
(I'm not that interested in single-core performance because my notebook can still handle most of my modelling tasks.)

I can get a discount (don't know how big though) through my employer for HP or Dell workstations.

I used to build PCs myself, but I have 0 experience with DP setups. I'm not afraid of going nitty-gritty with hardware, but cooling and noise might become problematic. Going with either HP or Dell seems safe to me in that respect. It will probably cost more than DIY, I suspect...

* What do you guys think? Go for branded system or DIY?

P.S.: I'm living in Belgium. Might be useful info for availability/delivery...



Not the same specs as you are looking at, but for some reference...

I recently bought a BOXX desktop (i7-3960X overclocked to 4.5Ghz) and my renderings seem to be on average twice as fast as my old system an Alienware Aurora (i7-920 overclocked to 3.3Ghz)
When I ran the camera test in KS-2 I got 106fps on my BOXX, and 49.7fps on my Alienware (Dell)

For both system I went with prebuilt machines even though I have DIY'd it myself in the past, simply because now I do consulting work so anytime I spend troubleshooting a computer is time I can't spend earning a living. When I purchased the BOXX I went into it knowing I was going to spend a bit more, but would get a system that had been thoroughly tested before it shipped.
My Alienware has run flawlessly for 2.5 years (still running as my network render slave) almost never switched off in that time. I just had a big project that needed some faster renderings so I could justify the upgrade.
At my previous employer where I discovered Keyshot, we used nothing but overclocked Dells for 3D work and renders and I never once had an issue with either machine I ran there in 6 years (and both systems ran 24hrs a day for 6 years).

I hope that helps!


Dries - I have an overclocked i3930k and chose it over the i3960 and dual Xeons as a cost/performance trade off.

You can see my KS ver3 performance benchmarks in the =How fast is KeyShot running on your machine= forum, but it's not listed in the Excel chart yet.

I had considered DIY, but looking at the component reviews on sites like NewEgg where guys often RMA motherboards and other components to get one that works, I decided the potential savings were not worth the time and risk of building a system and playing with overclock settings. I went with a local builder that gives a good warrantee, excellent phone support, and free labor on hardware upgrades for life. After dealing with slow, incompetent support staff in the past with the large PC companies, I'm sticking with smaller, local companies.

One thing you don't want to overlook is the tower case and the CPU cooling system.  Any of the systems in this class will have multiple fans running at higher RPMs when all cores are running KS.  That can create a lot of vibration and noise if the components are not chosen well.  I have an Antec triple-wall case that is very solid and quiet.



I purchased a dual Xeon Workstation from Dell in January.  I then attended SolidWorks World in Feb. and if I had to do it all over again, I would buy a BOXX. All they do is try to be the best for those of us that need speed.




I'm still awaiting offerings on HP Z620 configurations from our IT supplier...


* Why did you choose 3960x over 3930k. Does it offer that much more performance in KeyShot?
* "...When I purchased the BOXX I went into it knowing I was going to spend a bit more, but would get a system that had been thoroughly tested before it shipped..." Yeah, especially with the HP Z620, when going DP, you get a very tightly built machine with custom cooling designed particularly for the Z620 case. I think with DP you can't get a much lower desk footprint than Z620. DIY builds with off-the-shelf parts will never get even close to that small size, without compromising cooling.


* "...I went with a local builder that gives a good warrantee, excellent phone support, and free labor on hardware upgrades for life..." Here in Belgium I'm having trouble finding a CAD/render-centric builder.
* "...One thing you don't want to overlook is the tower case and the CPU cooling system..." This is indeed what's holding me back the most from going DIY.



@Dries V,
I actually got a quote on the BOXX system one week before the new Sandy Bridge-E chips were coming out and my original quote was for the older chip. The guy from BOXX emailed me to tell me the new chips were going to be in the following week, and if I would want to wait an extra week so they could run tests on their cooling system and get the faster chipset.
As the Sandy Bridge-E chips were just released the 3960 was all that was available, and I had a big render job I was waiting to run a new system on.


Dual Xeon E5-2630 is about 200 euros more than single i7-3960X (talking solely about CPU parts).
But I don't know how much faster (if at all) the Xeons will be with KeyShot.

Are the popular multi-threaded rendering benchmarks, like cinebench, a good indicator for what can be expected in KeyShot?




Have you considered the network rendering option?  If you are on a network, you could spread the calcs to other boxes in your office.  Contact sales for pricing info.



I will be using KeyShot on a borrowed/transferred license at home while my machine at work is not running.
So I really want a one-system solution. Thus network rendering is not an option.



You can access network rendering through a static IP address ... if IT allows it.


Okay guys, time for an update on this upgrade story.

The order for my machine is out! I went for a local builder who has extensive experience ith building CAD/render-centric workstations.

I decided to go for this configuration:

  • Intel 3930k overclocked to 4.2GHz
  • Corsair Hydro H100 CPU cooler
  • 16GB RAM
  • Quadro 2000 & GeForce GTX670 (still have to see how nice they will play together...need the GTX for those moments of complete distraction  ;D)
  • 256GB Intel 520 SSD
  • 2TB WD Caviar Black
  • Corsair AX850 850W PSU
  • Corsair 600T Graphite case

Should be a huge step forward compared to my 5yo notebook.
I will post results in the benchmark section as soon as I get this machine.



Yep - I purchased a custom-built 3 months ago with the same 6 core cpu, same overclock speed, same cooler, 16 GB ram.

Actually my builder overclocked to 4.4 GHz, but I cranked it down to 4.2.  The cpu voltage and temperatures fell to what I consider a safer range for longevity, and it made very little impact on KeyShot frame rates.

You'll love it.   I'd like to see your frame rate on the KS benchmark camera, as well as your core temperature on the same render.



DriesV, Ed:

Which motherboard was used for your new machine?


An P9X79 DELUXE is going to be used in mine.

I chose it because it was well-received on reputable tech sites and because it is very feature-rich. Not the cheapest though.



voxelman - I'm using a Azus P9X79 DELUXE motherboard with i3930k cpu as well.  After 3 months of use I have no complaints.

Attached is a photo of my PC and a thermal image of it made during burn-in testing under full load stress.  This test ran the cpu up to 80deg C, and under KeyShot it gets no hotter than 71 deg C.