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Old 09-06-2008, 10:20 PM   #1
flatpacmac
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Default I want to build a linux PC, any suggestions?

I currently use macs and I was looking at the MacPro, but I don't like the graphic card options.

I don't like Windows due to past experiences.

I have used unix before and get on ok with it.(probably why I like Mac OSX)

So with the above points in mind I have decided to build a Linux box.

But I have to get it right first time, so I would like to put it to the members of the forum to put your suggestions forward.

The areas I would like your views on are the following:

CPU, AMD/Intel, dual or single processor, single core or multicore?
Motherboards, features, chipsets etc
Hard drives, SATA or SAS
Graphic Cards, ATi or nVidia, pro level or consumer level etc

Any & all views, opinions, comments will be very gratefully received.

Cheers

Chris
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Old 09-06-2008, 10:35 PM   #2
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On your post in the other thread

You went to mac because of a virus?

Better Virus protection on a mac? As in none, just hope that its not going to get one......

If your going linux, make sure that you can get the drivers for the hardware that your going to get.
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Old 09-06-2008, 10:54 PM   #3
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1. How much are you willing to spend?
2. Are you a hobbyist, or a working professional?
3. Do you just work in 3d, or do you do work with other software/hardware requirements?
4. Are you competent enough or do you have a competent friend or someone you can pay to maintain/support/upgrade/troubleshoot your hardware/software configs?

That last question is the most important with any new hardware/OS choice because simply buying any prefabbed box that is not specifically designed for what you want to do now, and in the future will only cause you expensive headaches and ultimately wrongfully placed anger or even hatred for a given manufacture of hardware/software or OS.

Also keep in mind that by limiting yourself to a given OS can have dire consequences in the event you want to upgrade or play with drivers as all OS's have varying levels of driver support and issues.

Also, as this is a technical question, I moved this thread to the correct place
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Old 09-06-2008, 10:57 PM   #4
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Oh, the Mac Pro's are vastly vastly, vastly over priced for what you get.

As I say make sure you can get the dirvers for the hardware for the version of linux your after.

One the other hand..... choose components well aned windows will run perfectly, and you get more software, more up-to-date hardware, ease of upgrade etc.

I keep toying with giving linux a go on my old box, but its fine so I cant really.

Tis up to you.
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Old 10-06-2008, 07:30 AM   #5
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CPUs - Multiple multicore processors are best. You will find that most mid-range workstations are configured like this. If that costs too much, go for a multicore processor. Single-core processors these days are placed under the budget category and they are basically all old architectures designed three or so years ago.

Hard drives - For performance a couple of 10 or 15K rpm SAS drives in a RAID array is best, but it would be very expensive and maybe even impractical to have such an array. SAS drives cost more, run hotter and have much less capacity than SATA drives as they are targeted for performance. A fast and smaller SAS system/currently-work drive/array and a slower and bigger SATA storage/array may be a good idea.

Graphics - Even though I like ATI (actually, just Ruby), NVIDIA is generally faster, although I've seen ATI win in a few benchmarks that probaly doesn't even apply to Maya (they are for games). Pro cards like the Quadro and FireGL have different firmware for better OpenGL performance and image quality and are much more expensive. Unless you need certified hardware support, as businesses do, GeForce or Radeon would do, although there is a tiny chance that the drivers might not work 100% correctly with Maya. A note on ATI cards at the moment, it seems that recently all of them have driver problems with Maya. The current drivers should have resolve this.

Since you are going with Linux, do some research into what the drivers support. Linux is known to be very picky with wireless Ethernet. Support for graphics is also a bit messy - gamer cards are not so well supported, but the professional ones are. Also, get a distro that doesn't change every six months into something unrecognisable and has lots of frequent updates, eg. Fedora - as changes to the kernel may render the drivers for the graphics card incompatible since NVIDIA and ATI take ages to update them.

If you are using the system for work, it might make sense to check out the more stable distros (CentOS, a RHEL clone or Debian) or fork out some money (don't know how much) for the supported workstation versions of Red Hat or SUSE.

One more thing I found out about Linux - some of the more exotic motherboard features may not be supported, and depending on what components the motherboard uses, some standard features might not be supported as well, like temp and fan speed monitoring on my Fedora box.

Hope this is of help (if you got through all my ramblings that is)
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Old 10-06-2008, 08:26 AM   #6
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OK,

I had Umbutu 8.4 (I recommend getting Umbutu, best Linux version I hav used) installed onto my laptop (HP NC6220) which is:

Intel based 1.6Ghz Mobile Processor
1Gb RAM
64Mb intigrated GFX Card (Some intel peice of toilet)

And Linux ran quite happily, except for the vga side as the card is pants. Now with this laptop Windows XP and Vista is unable to plug n play all the drivers for the Hardware on the laptop, but Umbutu did, had all of them and everything worked superb.

Now as Linux is not so heavy on the services and all the other gubbins that Windows (or as it appears macs) have installed, your system will run quite well at low specs.

My current main PC is:

AMD x64 6400+ Black Ediition Processor (3.2Ghz)
4Gb RAM 555Mhz (System Board supports upto 1000Mhz)
256 nVidia Graphics Card

So linux really flies on this (but I dont use it, Im to used to windows and to busy to learn a new OS), the system cost me around £580 ($1160) to build by hand. The most exppensive part of the whole system was the Processor £110 ($220) and then the RAM £77 ($154). Everything else was £50 ($100) or lower. I can give you the whole spec, but I aint got all day to type it out :p.

Anyway I think the most important thing to remember when building your system by hand is to understand where the technology market sits so I recommend:

An x64 AMD Processor 2.8Ghz or above with either dual or quad core
4Gb RAM at 800Mhz or Over
A system board to support your RAM
A nice stable quite PSU
A good nVidia Chipset based System Board
An nVidia Graphics Card 256 or better (try the 8800GTS, that should be dropping in price soon and it will still be a good card in 1 yrs time), you dont need a workstation card (Quatro or simillar), get a GForce.
A nice chuck of HDD Space (I use 1Tb split into 1/2 Tb internal and 1/2Tb external), with the Internal drive partitioned out into 4 sections for better data management.
A get a good, cheap aftermarket fan for the processor, you wont regret that move.

And always remember you are building an investment that WILL need to be upgradable for the advances in technnology.

The system I describe above is quite close to mine and should cost roughly the same. Always remember our buget and always always always shop around. Oh and stay away from bunle deals for the processor and board. you might find one of them isnt quite up tp spec or will be a cheaper cutdown version of the processor.

Hope this helps.
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Old 10-06-2008, 08:36 AM   #7
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Umm... are you referring to Ubuntu?
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Old 10-06-2008, 11:05 AM   #8
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Whoa Cheers guys

Thanks for this!

OK I am a hobbyist at the moment, but looking to a career change at some point don't know when, maybe when I can show that I am good enough.

As far as money goes I don't have a bottomless pit but can spread to mid range maybe the bottom half of the top range.
I was looking at getting components each month with what spare cash I have let over, this amount varies so I'll get what I can with what I've got.

I started looking at Maya and other 3D packages when I was looking for something to spice up my photography, blending CG & real in the same shot.
But as I looked more in to it I found things I didn't know, so wanting to find the answer, I started looking deeper and found myself getting immersed in the whole CG world...
And I like it!
I know I have a very long way to go with CG but I am looking forward to the experience.

As regard to my competence in the technical side of Linux I should be able to hold my own, as I have done system admin on Sun Microsytems network, in a old job. So as a result I know a few people who could help out if needed.

I actually haven't ruled out windows completely, just with past experiences, I am a bit dubious. So if windows proves to be the better choice of OS I would go with it.

I also like building PC's just like playing with them.
Maybe I should buy a ready built workstation and get a rattle to play with

Oh and just to point out Mac have some very good anti virus software available and with fewer virii written specifically for the mac, it's quite good protection. Sorry should have made that clearer.

Oh and on hard drives what are the new WD SATA300 velociraptors like?

Again thanks for all the posts, I think its great that you are taking the time to help me out.

Cheers

Chris
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Old 10-06-2008, 12:24 PM   #9
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The new VelociRaptors? Well WD claimed that it was the world's fastest SATA drive, which I think is true as Seagate doesn't have a product in the same class - there's the Seagate Barracuda at 7.2k rpm and then the Cheetah at 15k rpm. No 10k rpm SATA drives from Seagate, only UltraSCSI.

Here's the spec for the Raptor: Link
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Old 10-06-2008, 03:42 PM   #10
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Thanks for the hard drive suggestion, will have a good look at the seagate cheetah.

OK here's another 1 for you all, views on the following:

AMD Athlon 64 FX Vs Opteron (2nd gen)

Anyone got any experience with them?

Oh by the way I think I will give Windows another go, but which XP pro or Vista?

Cheers

Chris
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Old 10-06-2008, 03:53 PM   #11
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I'm glad you are asking the magic question

Read this recent thread on that topic: HERE

..and MORE importantly, check out my reply including my current brand new rig running Vista 64bit Ult, AND PLEASE read the .txt file attachment at the bottom of my post there for an explanation on why I've NEVER had any issues in the last 11 yrs. at all
VIEW MY REPLY AND MY RIG HERE

Any questions regarding my setup, please feel free to ask
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Old 10-06-2008, 06:13 PM   #12
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Yeah I think I will have to agree with you there, looking back on it, my XP machine was running nicely till I started to upgrade parts.

In hind sight should have done a rebuild each time, just back up my data and reinstall XP followed by my data.

It wouldn't have stopped me from getting that virus, but it might have prevented such a catastrophic failure.

Just leaves more to think about now.

But I am very interested in the nVidia GeForce 8800 GTS softmodded to a Quadro 4600, any chance you could point me in the right direction on how to do that?

Cheers

Chris
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Old 10-06-2008, 07:32 PM   #13
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Originally posted by flatpacmac
But I am very interested in the nVidia GeForce 8800 GTS softmodded to a Quadro 4600, any chance you could point me in the right direction on how to do that?
Cheers Chris
No problem.
Back in November of 2006 when the GF 8800 GTS was released, my hardware guy found a simple few bits of software to easily, and reliably softmod the 8800 gts to the Quadro 4600.

He explained that the 8800 gts is the exact same hardware as the Quadro 4600, just told not to reach it's full potential via firmware so as to compete better in the lower-cost gaming market.
Most videocard companies do this sort of thing, it's old news

Since then, this easy technique has been circulating the web like mad, hehe.

For example, below is a recent post here at SM about a newer variation of it:
HERE.

Same deal, just different software.

Good luck

PS, Keep in mind, you are NOT changing the physical harware of your card, so unless you SEVERELY overclock or somehow bugger-up the chipset firmware, you won't be hurting it as it is already a Quadro 4600.

That being said, you don't want to use the 8800 gts model that only has 256 megs of ram.
Use the 8800 gts model with 512 or more

I've had mine that way since 2006, no problems
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Old 10-06-2008, 08:36 PM   #14
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So I take it this mod can only be done on windows?

Well if that is the case Windows WINS!!!

Ooops did I say that out load

Having said that There's a lot of software on the Mac that I like and use all the time.
With that in mind the idea of a Linux box was only to run stuff like Maya and the likes.
Lightwave, Shake, Photoshop & Final cut I will stick with Mac and all the rest go with Windows.

OK so thats my OS sorted, Hard drives, and graphic card dealt with, all I need now is which CPU and Which Motherboard?

I can't say enough how much I appreciate this help, I hope someday I'll be able to repay you all

Cheers

Chris
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Old 10-06-2008, 09:58 PM   #15
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On a windows box you also open up the options for Houdini, max, mudbox, and Z3 (although the mac versions in the pipeline..... but think its had a massive blockage though) as well as many plug ins for maya.

I would also have PS on the windows box, just then you dont have to bother going between one system and the other when texturing.

As for motherobard etc, you need to figure out what processor you want.
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