Laptop/Desktop for 3D Modeling/Rendering/Visualising, maybe gaming :P


Just creating this thread as I'm currently in need of a new laptop or desktop to continue my studies in Architectural Technology.
I'm in my 2nd year at university and well, this current laptop can't handle having revit/photoshop/browser up for long periods of time and rendering takes ages for somewhat ok quality renders.
I'm in search for a new laptop or desktop but I'm not the greatest with all the new technology out there that's available. I'm aware that 3D modeling/rendering rely on processor and graphics.

My question is;
What processors and graphics cards should I be aiming for as I don't know the benchmark technology today.
What do you guys recommend, I'll give an estimated budget to help with providing information, my budget would be roughly £1000.
If you require any more information to help point me in the right direction, just ask :)
A Scotsman.

Quadcore processors.. I got a duo core around 2.8 three years ago with an Nvidia Quadro graphics card and thought that was pretty fast then.
From what I researched back then, its either/or. Graphics card for 3d modeling/rendering etc is different from gaming graphics card. Buying a top of the line gaming graphics card would probably not work well for your 3D needs compared to a cheaper card geard for our industry.

Are you willing to build your own desktop?
The first thing you need to be aware of are what components determine the performance of certain programs...
Revit requires as much RAM as possible
Rendering is largely based on CPU performance
Photoshop generally benefits from a good CPU and a large amount of RAM when creating your boards.
Rhino pulls most of its weight from your CPU and a lot of RAM is utilized by Grasshopper.
Notice I haven't even mentioned a video card yet...sure PS, Rhino, 3dsmax ,etc take advantage of a video card and really the only benefit of an expensive card will be your viewport refresh rate in those programs. If you plan to game you are going to be relying on your CPU and that's where your video card will determine your frame rate.
It's a balancing act and when you are on a budget you have to pick and choose where you want to spend your money. Do yourself a favor though and invest in the knowledge required to build your own pc, it will benefit you throughout school and even into your career.

16GB of RAM should be more than adequate for 3D needs.
I'm guessing you'll be doing a lot of 3D modelling and other graphic work on various software. So I'd think you'd need a fairly good graphics card because you don't want to be modelling a building while waiting for your viewport to refresh or freeze with each mouse click, scroll or pan of your view. You don't need the top of the line or an expensive one infact. Just don't settle with whatever card your laptop comes with because you'll most likely be disappointed.

Thanks for the heads up guys, and yes I am willing to build my own PC if required.
Gaming would just be a bonus and if it isn't achievable it won't matter.
Would it be safe to assume, the majority of the money will be going into processor and RAM and a somewhat decent GPU.
Definitely be doing my research due to the budget.
Would £1000 go a long way today? I know I can't get a lot of amazing equipment but something that will suffice in fast rendering and modeling.
I would prefer to luck out and find a laptop good specs as it would mean I can do my work anywhere but I know I can get a lot more bang for my buck with a desktop.
Anyone recommend any sites/shops/places etc to begin my search?

yes, 1000 pounds would go a long way i think, especially if you built your own. I paid about 1,200 US with coupons and got myself a top of the line, business edition EliteBook 8530w, 8GB RAM, intel duo core 2.8, Nvidia Quadro GPU which was a great deal and computer about 3 years ago. It would've cost me about $3000 to get an Apple with those specs. Most laptop companies have their home consumer and business consumer lines. The latter are usually designed by an entirely different team in the company with a different budget and are usually made more robust and built like tanks but more expensive.. just another thing for you to consider.
In terms of importance, I'd say first is your processor, then RAM (which can be increased when you have more money), followed by GPU. I suggest searching online for reviews regarding the GPU you want, more specifically from people who have used it with the particular software you plan to use. I know certain GPU work very well with say Maya don't necessarily work very well with Rhino etc. Try going on CG, 3d, digital art forums and ask

A computer is more than CPU, Ram and GPU....Don't skimp on your motherboard, you wouldn't want a shitty foundation on your house would you?
1. MOBO - read reviews
2. CPU - 2nd gen i5/i7's are more than adequate. If you do, go for the K version of the processors..assuming you choose intel
3. Case/CPU Cooling - Keeping your components cool is VERY important for rendering and overall longevity. A bad case can stress your components and really bog down during finals week. You don't need to go extreme but do not overlook this.
4. Ram - it's cheap, even for 16gb or more. Don't get caught up in clock speed...1600mhz is more than enough
5.GPU - Go a couple generations back from the brand new stuff, you really don't need it.
6. hard drive(s) - basically SSD vs old age tech. SSD is probably out of your budget right now.
7. PSU - Use thermaltake's power simulator to see what capacity you need
8. DVD drive - you will need one, at least for your install.
Put it all together with an OS, keyboard, mouse and monitor...and you're done. Simple as that ;) is the best online resource for system building, find a similar budget and copy their system. You will not be misled on there. Newegg and tigerdirect are the way to go for components in the US, not sure about UK though. OC Forum will have some recommendations.

I built my own machine recently. Asus Sabertooth Motherboard, Intell i7 3960x Hex Core processor(3.8Ghz overclocked), 32 GB of RAM, Corsaire Liquid Cooling, (2) 500 GB Western Digital Hard Drives, (1) 120 Gb western digital OS drive, an NVIDIA Ge-Force 680x (2gb virtual memory) graphics card with SLI capability, a Sony CD drive, and Windows 7 ultimate with Kaspersky anti virus. Price tag: +-$2,700. I have every design program available that arch firms use. I don't play games, only do work. I built this machine myself with let's from NewEgg and eBay. Imagine how much something like this would cost if you were to buy it from a computer manufacturer like dell or hp... And those are name brands... Falcon Northwest does custom machines and a pc like this can cost up to $15,000... If you are serious about rendering and graphics... Don't get a laptop... Parts become obsolete much faster and there isnt that much variety. I would also advise against Macs... Look at why I built for the same price as a Mac.... You also don't have to worry about running things through boot camp....

@LITS thanks for that.
Ok thanks guys, I will begin my search and hopefully get back to see your opinions on my results in a few weeks, I know I'll screw up somewhere :P.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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