HaoleBoy

Selecting new computer hardware for CA performance

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Aloha everyone.  I'm a professional computer geek who has been requested to configure a new computer to run CA by one of my clients. He wants an All-In-One, so I'm looking at a Dell Optiplex 7780. There are a LOT of options, and I'm not sure which are better in regards to CA performance. I have read the web page that has some recommendations, but I still have questions. I realize that some / all of these can only be answered by "it depends on how your client is using CA". If this is the case, I would appreciate it if you could supply the appropriate question to ask my client. 

 

GPU Card: this machine has a nVidia GeForce GTX 1650 Graphics with 4 GB of RAM.  This meets the suggestion on the web page. My question is: how much is performance improved if I am able to get more RAM on this card?  e.g.: if I upgrade to 8 GB of RAM, will it be extremely noticeable? Or a little bit of improvement?

 

CPU: Currently configured with Intel® Core™ i7-10700 (8 Cores/16MB/16T/2.9GHz to 4.8GHz/65W). There is also an option for Intel® Core™ i9-10900 (10 Cores/20MB/20T/2.8GHz to 5.2GHz/65W). I've read the the more cores, the better, but again is this just a small improvement, or extremely noticeable?

 

Motherboard RAM: Currently 16GB 2x8GB  2933MHz DDR4 Memory. Also options for 32GB and 64 GB. Worth it to upgrade? Also, each RAM level has either 1 or 2 cards (i.e.: 1 x 16GB card, or 2 x 8GB card) any preference for 1 or 2 cards?

 

Hard drive: Currently configured with a 1TB SSD, but would lower the cost of the machine to use a spinner drive.  How much does HD performance effect CA?

 

Mahalo for your assistance!

 

Harry Z

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Get an RTX card no matter what. I just got a new (possibly interim) machine with RTX 2070 Super in anticipation of next release.If the never use physically based render it might matter less. 

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There are a number of shortcomings in this all in one system.

 

- For a 27" screen the resolution should be higher, at least QHD 2560 X 1440.

- The GTX 1650 graphics card is on the weak side, as Mark recommends above, an RTX 2070 8GB would be a great fit.

- The primary storage drive needs to be an NVMe type, recommend minimum 512GB,

- 16GB of memory should be more than enough but 32GB will do no harm. Dual Channel would be better 2X16GB.

- For the CPU get the fastest base and boost frequency you can. 8 or 10 cores will be more than enough unless there is a high need to Raytrace.

 

The big consideration with these all in ones is the ability to upgrade in the future, they are often very limited. Their potential performance can also be limited as cooling can become a problem, if things get too hot then the CPU and the GPU will throttle down and performance will suffer.

 

The better all in ones are the iMacs or Microsoft's Surface Studio but they cost a ton of money.

 

Should really consider a gamming desktop or gamming laptop.

 

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1 hour ago, HaoleBoy said:

Hard drive: Currently configured with a 1TB SSD, but would lower the cost of the machine to use a spinner drive.  How much does HD performance effect CA?

 

Some may argue, but hard drive performance is top priority when I think of upgrades in chief. The overall speed in the software that I have noticed in multiple machines when upgrading to an NVME drive has been paramount

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Software runs exceptionally fast if you setup a RAM drive like (ImDisk) , and redirect undo / temp files to it. And it will extend the life of your  NVMe drive.

13x read and 31x write speed. Just 8G is a great help. Video card does little work in X12, imho

 

 

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5 hours ago, MarkMc said:

Get an RTX card no matter what. I just got a new (possibly interim) machine with RTX 2070 Super in anticipation of next release.If the never use physically based render it might matter less. 

 

Unfortunately, this is an AIO (All-In-One) so I doubt I can upgrade the video card.  On the Dell configuration page, there are multiple options available for many items, but not the video card.

 

5 hours ago, TheKitchenAbode said:

There are a number of shortcomings in this all in one system.

 

- For a 27" screen the resolution should be higher, at least QHD 2560 X 1440.

- The GTX 1650 graphics card is on the weak side, as Mark recommends above, an RTX 2070 8GB would be a great fit.

- The primary storage drive needs to be an NVMe type, recommend minimum 512GB,

- 16GB of memory should be more than enough but 32GB will do no harm. Dual Channel would be better 2X16GB.

- For the CPU get the fastest base and boost frequency you can. 8 or 10 cores will be more than enough unless there is a high need to Raytrace.

 

The big consideration with these all in ones is the ability to upgrade in the future, they are often very limited. Their potential performance can also be limited as cooling can become a problem, if things get too hot then the CPU and the GPU will throttle down and performance will suffer.

 

The better all in ones are the iMacs or Microsoft's Surface Studio but they cost a ton of money.

 

Should really consider a gamming desktop or gamming laptop.

 

 

Yeah, I'm familiar with the limitations of the AIO machines, but that is what this client wants. Maybe I'll put together a quote on a tower plus monitor and see how they compare.

 

Mahalo for the responses.

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8 hours ago, HaoleBoy said:

Yeah, I'm familiar with the limitations of the AIO machines, but that is what this client wants. Maybe I'll put together a quote on a tower plus monitor and see how they compare.

 

Given that your client is relying on you to configure a system that will provide a good CA working experience I believe it put's the onus on you to advise the client on the potential limitations of this particular all in one. The big issue with this all in one is that you can't upgrade the video card or the low resolution monitor. These are critical components that have the potential to limit a users CA experience. Seems like an unacceptable trade off for the look/style of an all in one. These days there really is no need to have constant access to a desktop, it can just be placed on the floor out of the way. Also, there are great performing gamming desktops such as the Alienware Aurora line that are very slim, they can be configured to cover just about every situation and they are upgradable, a much better investment for the future.

 

Another consideration is, that though we are discussing a CA system, we all use other software often in support of CA. This may be a third party rendering program, SketchUp for creating or adjusting models, Photoshop to create textures or adjust renderings plus standard programs like your browser, email and maybe Word or Excel. All of these will place additional demand on resources.

 

Finally, one thing I have experienced with CA over the years is that as you learn CA you will most likely produce plans more complex than you may have originally anticipated. It's just so easy to add symbols and objects to make a basic plan/layout that will really impress a client. A rendering or walkthrough of an empty room is not very exciting nor is an exterior rendering without some landscaping. You need a system that can grow as you grow.

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Mark - That would be a great alternative, higher resolution screen and all the upgrade options one would need, plus the pricing is very competitive.

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6 hours ago, MarkMc said:

 

Interesting machine.  Do you have any personal experience with it?  I've never heard of XoticPC before

 

19 hours ago, BrownTiger said:

Software runs exceptionally fast if you setup a RAM drive like (ImDisk) , and redirect undo / temp files to it. And it will extend the life of your  NVMe drive.

13x read and 31x write speed. Just 8G is a great help. Video card does little work in X12, imho

 

 

 

I'm not sure what you mean by "Just 8G is a great help. Video card does little work in X12, imho"  Are you talking about 8 GB and 12 GB on the video card?

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1 hour ago, HaoleBoy said:

.  Do you have any personal experience with it?  I've never heard of XoticPC before 

None with the machine, no. I'd thought I remembered seeing AIOs during recent shopping so checked. I bought the Sager in my signature from XoticPC. Ended up getting my new laptop from anothe BTO dealer and found myself wishing I'd stuck with Xotic, comminication during build was better with them.

 

BT is suggesting 8GB Ram drive. That X12 doesnt maximize the video card is also true BUT video memory of 6 or greater does make a differance. 

I still say to get an RTX card- I did in new machine 

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4 hours ago, HaoleBoy said:

 

I'm not sure what you mean by "Just 8G is a great help. Video card does little work in X12, imho"  Are you talking about 8 GB and 12 GB on the video card?

 

ChiefArchitect heavily uses undo/temp files, stores partial rendering information etc. While NVMe drive are fast, they are not as fast as RAM drives.

If you have a 32Gb of Ram dedicating some ram for ram drive will speed up CA a bit.

 

See https://www.geckoandfly.com/21507/ramdisk-virtual-disk-memory/

 

 

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I am looking at the Dell Alienware. Anyone see a problem with this one?

ALIENWARE M17 R3 GAMING LAPTOP

$4,169.99 

$4,086.59

  • 10th Generation Intel® Core™ i9-10980HK
  • Windows 10 Home
  • NVIDIA® GeForce® RTX 2080 SUPER™ 8GB GDDR6 - Max Performance
  • 32GB DDR4 2666MHz
  • 4TB (2x 2TB PCIe M.2 SSD) RAID0 [Boot] + 512GB PCIe M.2 SSD [Storage]
17.3-in. display
Starting at 5.51 lbs i

This maxed out configuration delivers superior performance with a 10th Gen Intel® Core™ i9K processor, NVIDIA® GeForce® RTX 2080 SUPER™ graphics, and 4TB RAID + 512SSD. Also experience vibrant colors and high resolution with a UHD 4K display.

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3 hours ago, Thad58 said:

Anyone see a problem with this one?

 

Technically speaking No.

 

However, you are now looking at a system that is almost double the price, is this within your clients budget? Much of the discussion in this forum concerning hardware revolves around the issue as to how much benefit does CA derive when one configures a system using the highest end components over one that is configured using more mid level components. For example, that RTX 2080 super is a fantastic graphics card, but can CA take advantage of it's full potential. Personally, unless a user's workflow involves extensive use of CA's PBR(Physical Based Rendering) then there is likely little to gain over say an RTX 2070 which is considerable less costly. Do you really need that level of storage capability. CA's files are not very large, complex plan files are rarely more than 80 - 100MB, if you where to generate 1 plan a day for an entire year that would equate to about 40GB of storage. Get the fastest 512GB or 1TB MVNe drive as your primary boot and then if necessary use a less expensive SSD for archiving. System backing up should not really be done on the same system, use a cloud based service or a separate remote storage device.

 

4K displays are beautiful but it really is overkill on a 17" display. You will likely need to use scaling so menu's and icons are not too small, somewhat defeats the 4K resolution. Also generating 4K graphics is more demanding on the graphics card than say a 2K resolution display. 4K really only starts to shine on much larger sized monitors.

 

Concerning dedicated video card memory. The only time CA uses significant amounts of this type of memory is when PBR'ing, all other window/camera view types consume relatively low dedicated graphics memory. Unused memory here is of no benefit so consider carefully as to whether there is a justifiable need to have more than 6GB.

 

Getting the optimum CPU is a bit more complex as the right one is highly dependent upon how the software you are using is coded. Is it primarily single threaded, lightly threaded or fully multi-threaded. Highly multi-threaded software derives the most benefit with high core count CPU's, however single and lightly threaded software cannot take advantage of all of those cores, this type of coding benefits the most from a few very fast cores, maybe 4 - 6. In my assessments CA uses all of these types of coding however, the majority of operations fall into the single or lightly threaded arena. The only significant fully threaded function in CA is the RayTrace renderer, if this is not a desired part of your CA workflow then huge core count is not overly beneficial.

 

How much system RAM do you really need. From my experience CA is not a Ram Hog, I have 16GB and have never come close to using this up no matter how complex of a plan. The only exception is if I have several complex PBR camera's open and my dedicated GPU memory is exceeded at which time the GPU will start swapping with system memory. As a PBR can consume 3-5 GB depending upon complexity it can eat into the available system memory fairly quickly so if this is important then maybe 32GB would needed.

 

The other RAM size consideration is whether or not you desire, as others have suggested, using a RAM Disk. If that is the case then bump up from 16GB to 32GB to provide the additional space for this as a RAM Disk will reduce the availability of system memory from all other programs being used. Just keep in mind that anything held within a RAM Disk will be permanently lost if your system crashes or you inadvertently shut it down. Best to only have items in there that have no impact if you loose them. The potential benefit is highly dependent upon how you use and work in CA. For the vast majority of user's I'm not certain there is much to be derived. For example, a fairly large plan might be 82MB, a high performance MNVe drive can load this in about 1/10 of a second, though this might be 10 times faster if it was residing in a RAM Drive, would you really notice the difference. I have no desire to dispute the benefits some users claim to experience, just that in my use of CA I have not been able to as of yet quantify this.

 

Please keep in mind that my comments relate to CA, you must also take into account the requirements of other software that is regularly used and try to find the best overall performance fit.

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16 minutes ago, TheKitchenAbode said:

Do you really need that level of storage capability.

Depends on the user. My method for collaborative work and remote work duplicates the containing folder for the plan file for every new working session, Can easily get 6gb per project, not to mention 100's of gigs in material files.

 

 

16 minutes ago, TheKitchenAbode said:

RTX 2070 which is considerable less costly

If Chief switches to RT tracing we will likely have a large culture shift that will make that 2080 seem really appealing...especially if Dustin Cruz keeps pumping out better core an bonus materials as well as new light fixtures.

 

16 minutes ago, TheKitchenAbode said:

 4K displays are beautiful but it really is overkill on a 17" display

I might've agreed with you before I had put a couple hundred hours on my 4K 15"....Now I couldn't disagree more...I would HIGHLY recommend it. I couldn't imagine going back to my 1080 17" even though it performs just as well for drafting.

 

 

16 minutes ago, TheKitchenAbode said:

justifiable need to have more than 6GB.

Reiterating that GFX mem will be a big player if we get to realtime rt. I will def be switching to 2K+ textures

 

 

16 minutes ago, TheKitchenAbode said:

this type of coding benefits the most from a few very fast cores, maybe 4 - 6.

Agreed

 

16 minutes ago, TheKitchenAbode said:

RAM Disk will be permanently lost if your system crashes or you inadvertently shut it down.

Some RAM disks have periodic backup as well as a backup prior to planned shut down. Most work I've ever lost not being on a UPS was a few library items.

Graham always appreciate the debate, just offering a different perspective.

 

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8 minutes ago, TheKitchenAbode said:

However, you are now looking at a system that is almost double the price, is this within your clients budget

Graham I think this is a new person not the OP.

51 minutes ago, BigKahuna said:

The new rtx 3080 is supposed to be out Sept 17 

Only for desktops-laptop 3000's won't show for a while, likely Q1 of 2021 (or I would have not gotten a new laptop now and curious just how much we will benefit in CA?)

5 hours ago, Thad58 said:

I am looking at the Dell Alienware. Anyone see a problem with this one

Really ought to start your own thread, particularly since it's a laptop and not an AIO as the original poster asked. Aside from KitchenAdobe's useful comments (though he and I don't exactly agree on mult-threading) I'd do two things.

1-check  owners in forums about heat-maybe that vapor chamber is magic but putting that much juice in a 1" chassis is asking a lot. I'd at the very least do ..

#2-spending that kind of money go to a BTO (build to order) dealer where you can get real world advice about the machines thermals, get pasting and pads added, select the actual drive brand instead of whatever they decide to stick in there, lok into minimize backlight bleed..... Might look into other brands while there.

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1 minute ago, Renerabbitt said:

Graham always appreciate the debate, just offering a different perspective.

 

Hi Rene, the feeling is mutual.

 

My comments are directed primarily towards the average CA user. Your workflow is highly involved and definitely places an extreme demand on your hardware components. Your approach to squeezing out every bit of performance makes sense. You also use in your workflow other highly demanding software packages which place special demands on system resources and must also be taken into account. Your CA plans often include very complex custom symbols and very high resolution textures which as we know will really stress out CA compared to just using CA's standard library catalog symbols and textures. Special circumstance demand special treatment.

 

Cheers

 

 

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Aloha everyone. Mahalo nui loa (thank you very much) for your assistance in this discussion.  Unfortunately, the current economic climate has forced my customer to reconsider purchasing a new machine. Hopefully the discussion here will benefit someone else down the road.

 

Harry Z

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