Monday, April 30, 2012

New Workstation Build for Digital Artists


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Sorry for no post last week but I have been working on building a new workstation. I had an issue with the motherboard that was DOA but it was resolved. I tried to save some money on the board going with a less expensive model but ended up with a "cheaper" one instead. But with that behind me I am quite happy with this workstation. 8 Cores; 32 Gig of DDR3 1600 Mhz running at 4.15 ...COOL!


Another addition to this is a good nVidia GPU with CUDA for 3D rendering (Blender) and video editing (DVD Fab) and there won't be much one can't do.
The previous workstation was a quad core (AMD 940), GeForce 260 GPU, 8Gig DDR2 800mhz running at 3.3ghz (over clocked only 300mhz). That system has been in use for almost 4 years and had been very dependable. But with running various applications simultaneously such as Photoshop CS5, Blender( with it's new Cycle rendering), CamStudio or Camtasia and multiple tabs in Firefox ...it was time for a new system. I was running out of memory or simply locking the system.
I could have gone with Intel since their processors are great but I am a AMD since they don't change out their sockets every other year and that their CPUs don't usually cost $1000. Still this was a big upgrade for me since I did have to do the CPU, MoBo and RAM all in one shot. Thankfully the RAM was the cheapest. The CPU is one of AMD's new processors, the FX 8150 which stock runs at 3.6. I went worth an Asus Sabertooth 990FX board that is solid with a whole lot of great features and very sturdy. The great thing of overclocking on this board is the ease of use. I did it through the EZ bios GUI and set it to "performance." That took the stock 3.6 to 4.15 ...I did nothing else other than disable the full logo on boot. It has never been that easy.

So after spending a weekend of loading windows 7, a slew of apps and refining settings and configurations, I am up and running and very eager to get back to doing projects and seeing how far I can take it before I lock it up ...and I will. One point of setting up any system that has saved me a lot of time is having only the OS and apps on the main drive. I have a drive for Production (2D and 3D), one for Video Editing, Other for Storage and then I have two sets of backups. When I do backups (every night) I backup not just those drives but also my profiles for Firefox GIMP, PS, etc. This allows me to just copy the files over or to link to them (such as with Firefox Profile Manager) and if the C drive goes down or gets corrupted I don't loose any data that I can't reload quickly. It also enables me to use the project files off line and synch my laptop when I'm on the road.

Now my old PC will not go to waste. I make a habit of recycling my systems by giving them to my wife or my son. This time around my wife gets my old system were my son currently is using my PC from the time before last. Both are good systems for the average user and in this case they are both quad cores with 4Gig of DDR2 or more.

UPCOMING: I am looking on doing a series on Photoshop's Brush Engine involving custom brushes for Matte Paintings and another one on Blender and the use of Virtual Models, which will cover modeling and lighting within Blender's new render engine "Cycles".
Steve

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