15 Replies Latest reply on Jan 30, 2013 8:06 AM by Joel Rapoport

    need help building my new workstation

    Joel Rapoport

      hello all,



      after reading all that I found in the last two weeks here on the forum, at Swtuts and other hardware forums I think I might be ready to buy my new system.

      I discovered in the last week that even though I have been building my own systems for about 15 years for me and my friends, there is a lot to know specific things about building a system for Solidworks.

      as a new system that should keep me going for about 3 years, I need it to be strong, reliable and not too loud. I don't want to spend a fortune on it, but I don't mind adding 300-500$ if there is a good reason for it.

      im an industrial designer, so I guess I spend the fast most of my time on Solidworks (80-90%) and besides that I do the occasional 3dsmax render via V-Ray, some Photoshop etc'.


      here are the parts that i selected so far:


      Intel Core i7 3770K

      ASUS P8Z77-V PRO

      Intel 120GB SSD 520 Series SATA III 2.5'

      Kingston HyperX Beast 2x8GB DDR3 1600MHz

      Corsair CC600TWM-WHT Graphite Special Edition White Mid-Tower Case No PSU

      Antec EarthWatts 650W Platinum 12cm PSU EA-650 Platinum (Retail)

      Corsair Hydro H80i


      this all comes down to about 1500$ here in Israel.

      what do you think?


      I have a few questions regarding the items I picked:

      1. I want to OC the CPU to about 4.5, as Charles recommended. will the watercooling I selected (the corsair hydro h80i) be too much noisy compared to a air cooler? will a air cooler be able to get me to that kind of OC and keep me stable?

      2. does the low latency and XMP matter much if im going to OC everything (granted, im no OC expert, but im willing to learn). for some reason its pretty hard to get low latency memory here. and if im looking into faster memory (i.e. 2400 etc) I have seen the latency go up to 12 or so.

      3. I have in my current system a raid 1 setup of wd 2tb sata1 drives. I use them to backup my photographs. is it possible to move the raid to the new computer? or will the new raid setup format my drives?

      4. if I choose not to move my current raid setup, and I want do buy a new raid1 setup, does it matter if its sata1 or sata2/3? is the bottleneck at the sata port or the speed of the drive? im asking because this might make me change to another MB with a different sata setup.


      im sorry for all the questions- I know its not a hardware forum per say, but im asking these questions in a few places and didn't get any answers, and im looking for answers that relate to a Solidworks workstation situation.


      with thanks in advance,


        • Re: need help building my new workstation
          Jerry Steiger



          Actually, this is the exact right forum to ask these questions. You should get some good answers from the folks who know best.


          Jerry S.

          • Re: need help building my new workstation
            Peter Farnham

            Found this that will help (or not) on the raid issue:-


            RAID migration works best, if the chip used on both motherboards,

            is made by the same manufacturer. And preferably, not too many years

            apart. Perhaps drives connected to Intel ICH7R, ICH8R, ICH9R, ICH10R

            would be interchangeable. Or moving the drive from an old Nvidia

            Mediashield motherboard, to a new Nvidia one (Mediashield is Nvidia RAID).

            But moving a Mediashield RAID0 over to Intel, probably won't work.


            As far as I know, there are no standards for RAID metadata. Each

            company defines their own internal standard. There have been

            a couple cases, of chipsets where a deal was made with Promise,

            for a FastTrak BIOS module, and then the metadata type would

            be Promise.


            Tomshardware did a test years ago, and tried to move a RAID

            array between companies, and got the results as described.

            Basically, only RAID arrays moved between "same company"

            chipsets, would work.

              • Re: need help building my new workstation
                Joel Rapoport

                thanks peter, i looked it up and my current system has a gigabyte raid chip, while the new motherboard that i want has an intel one.

                so i guess there will be no other option than to backup the photographs somewhere and then transferre the raid and format it.

                by the way, is it possible to install 2 raid setups one one chip? i mean- i have this current raid1 setup for my photographs, and i might want to add another raid1 with different drives for my work files. does it need to be on a seperet chip? or one chip can handle 2 or more raid setups?


                jerry- well i wasent sure if i was wasting some peoples time here so its good to know that i can hammer my hardware questions here.

                i guess if no one will answer then no harm done...



                  • Re: need help building my new workstation
                    Peter Farnham

                    All the pro's say no to two raids on a motherboard chipset, even it it does allow it.

                    They say if you are thinking of using two raids, get a proper raid card for it as it is better and has it's own processer, memory ect..

                    Also you will not be using the system's cpu.


                    You should really be backing up on to a seperate drive anyway as even a raid1 can go bad.


                    Raid1 will also be slow compared to a SSD for your working files as it has to write the data twice.

                    So you gain the security as the expense of a slower system.


                    I would use a SSD for your work and a raid1 together with a sheduled external backup for backup purposes if you don't have a server.

                    That's how I used to do it before we got Pdmworks.

                • Re: need help building my new workstation
                  Kelvin Lamport

                  What graphics card do you intend to use?


                  Regarding overclocking, this review may be helpful.


                    • Re: need help building my new workstation
                      Joel Rapoport

                      @peter- i didn't even know that there were RAID cards out there...

                      i didn't fully understand how you had your drives set up- 1 SSD for system, 1 SSD for work in raid1, and an external backup?

                      i thought to do 1 SSD for my system, and a SATA raid1 for my work files, with external backups.

                      i guess i can temporarily move my working files to the SSD and work through there, and when im done to move them back to the HDD- is that the best way to get it done? (my idea was to buy a 120GB SSD, which should be big enough for system and stuff, but maybe buying a second SSD for work will be the best option? what do you think?)


                      @Kelvin- im sorry i forgot to mention that im currently working on a ati firepro 5800, and im moving it to the new system when i get it. Charles said that it should be good enough.

                      that link is great!!!! and they use the software from Asus to OC the CPU, so ill follow what they did and hopefully get a decent OC'd system which is stable enough



                        • Re: need help building my new workstation
                          Peter Farnham

                          Ok some misunderstanding going on here I see.


                          So to be clear.

                          1 SSD for operating and program files

                          2 SATA in raid 1 for your work files, "not backup" , but to use with some security.

                          An external drive for scheduled backup of your work files. (get a nat external drive like synology, these have the syncronise software built in, I have one! :-)


                          Here is a more detailed info on raid 1


                          RAID 1 (Mirroring) - RAID 1 is generally used with a pair of disks, though could be done with more, and would identically mirror/copy the data equally across all the drives in the array. The point of RAID 1 is primarily for redundancy, as you can completely lose a drive, but still stay up and running off the additional drive(s). You can then rebuild the array to a new drive off of the other drive with little to no downtime. RAID 1 also gives you the additional benefit of increased read performance as data can be read off any of the drives in the array. The downsides are that you will have slightly higher write latency, since the data needs to be written to all the drives in the array, and you'll only have the available capacity of a single drive.




                          The reason I say raid1 is that a SSD will fill up very quickly if you intend to keep your operating, programs and your work on it.


                          If the SSD drive fails you will lose everything, even the work you haven't backed up yet,  if a raid1 drive fails you just need to replace the broken drive and it will rebuild, thereby you do not lose the work you have done up to the time of the drive fail, if you had pressed the save button. That's why I say use raid 1 for your work files.


                          I worked this configuration for many years before we got our first server of many and the raid 1 saved us a few times.


                          The only thing I will say about Dell or even HP pc's is that they are filled with a load of "inhancement" bloatware that slows them down a lot. We always wipe all that rubbish off and make a "lean" install.

                      • Re: need help building my new workstation
                        Charles Culp

                        1. Water vs air cooling

                        Water cooling will be more quiet, so that is a good pick. Then, make sure you pick the quietest fans for the water cooling.


                        That being said, overclocked computers are typically loud. Sorry. Boxx has managed to make theirs very quiet, I am not sure how they do it. Kudos to them.


                        2. RAM latency:


                        Latency is based on clock cycles, not speed. It is a matter of response/cycles instead of response/seconds. Higher speed RAM means is processes more cycles/second, so higher latency numbers in faster RAM is expected. http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/ddr3-1333-speed-latency-shootout,1754-3.html


                        3 & 4. RAID


                        RAID is not a backup policy. RAID 1 is useful for servers to correct read/write errors. I only suggest RAID 1 for people running FEA, and then only if you are serious about data corruption. If you were previously using RAID for backups, stop. My suggestion is to use a single SSD to store data, then use Windows backup to backup the data onto a seperate drive (HDD) once a week/day/whatever. This is a much safer backup policy.


                        The best way to test a backup policy is to test it out once. Try and recover corrupt data. If you can't, then you don't have a good backup policy.


                        Note that you can run RAID 0 to increase drive performance. Even SSDs will not max out a SATA 3.0 databus, so feel free to run dual SSDs in RAID 0 for maximum performance.


                        Also, Joel, I will be posing my suggested system specs in the next couple days, but you are right on track. I would look at Corsair M4 SSD's as an alternate to the Intels, but otherwise your system looks great.

                          • Re: need help building my new workstation
                            Joel Rapoport

                            thanks for your input Charles. im waiting for your new post regarding system specs.

                            did you mean crucial M4 SSD as a suggestion? i thought about the Intel 520 or the samsung 840 pro but haven't decided yet.

                            one last question regarding drives:

                            i have read that it will have better performance if you have one SSD for system etc, and another SSD for your working files. this way both drives can work on the same time without performance lost.

                            im essentially asking that with a given amount of money- is it better to get one SSD for system, and another SSD for working files, or is it better as you suggested to buy 2 similar SSDs as RAID0 for both system and working files (it will have to be more expensive because the drives need to be bigger then option1)?


                            thank you again for all your time and efforts.


                              • Re: need help building my new workstation
                                Charles Culp

                                Good question. I'm hesitant to stick my neck out too far on that one, but the basic principles say that RAID 0 would be faster than separate drives. There is little "seek time" which is one of the big benefits of separate data disks with HDD. Because you can read/write twice as fast with RAID, and seek time isn't as much of an issue, it seems that would be the better method. I look forward to someone with experience to prove otherwise.

                                  • Re: need help building my new workstation
                                    Peter Farnham

                                    Yes it is much faster, BUT


                                    With Raid0, you risk your data!: If even one of your Disks fails, All Data on the Raid 0 devices is lost!


                                    Say 1 in 100 drives fail, you now have a 2 in 100 chance of failure, that's a 50% increase!





                                      • Re: need help building my new workstation
                                        Joel Rapoport

                                        yes peter, i think you are right about the risks regarding raid0. i think i wont be using it. im sure the new system and using a ssd will be a great improvement for me anyway. and my needs are pretty small- im just a freelance designer, and i work from a single system, and all my work files are about 500gigs big.

                                        what i was saying is that currently im using raid1 sata HDD for my photographs. since today photographs files are so big, the drive to store my photographs is reletively big-2TB. and becouse i currently dont have an external backup this size i thought the best and cheapest way to somehow protect my photographs from the last 6 years (including my daughters birth and growth) is through raid1. if i lose my photographs all together it will be a disaster for me.

                                        as for my work files- i havent decided what to do with the new system im building. i guess ill do what you suggested. ie to get a 120gigs SSD for system and programs, and a raid1 for my work, and keep backups to an external drive.

                                        i guess ill need to buy this raid pci card you suggested if i want to have my photographs also in the new computer. im not sure.


                                        but anyway, thanks you for all your help.


                                        • Re: need help building my new workstation
                                          Markku Lehtola

                                          My choice for new workstation:


                                          2x SSD with Raid0 + NAS with 2x SATA HDD with Raid1

                                          and something like Syncback to backup important stuff every hour for example.

                                      • Re: need help building my new workstation
                                        Mark Hillman

                                        Joel, I suspect he means the Crucial M4, this uses a marvell controller which is better than the sandforce used by the 520. Of those three you are looking at I would recommend the 840 pro. This uses a samsung MLC controller which is better again, as well as toggle NAND which is a slight improvment over the sync NAND used by the other two.


                                        From my experience with a 1st gen H100, the Corsair H series closed loop coolers do tend to be noisier than most heatsink coolers. They use higher RPM fans than most and can suffer from pump noise (tho I understand that this has been somewhat improved with the i series).  Unless you use high profile RAM or move your PC around alot and so are concerned about the 1kg of aluminium hanging of your mobo, something like a Noctua NH-D14 of Phanteks TC14PE will perform better for less. If you really like the idea of watercooling without the large cost and maintainance of a proper system, take a look at the Swiftech H220 becoming available at the end of February.


                                        As far as RAM goes, 1600MHz C9 (9-9-9-24) seems to be the sweet spot right now, above this prices begin to increase greatly while benefits decrease to the point where you will see no real world difference. As Charles touched on, latency is measured in clock cycles, so when measured in ms the access time for 1600 C9 is the about same as 1333 C8. Hope that makes sense.


                                        Good luck.


                                        Edit: one more note, if you're goning to use a pair of SSDs in Raid0 for your OS drive, make sure you use the Intel SATA3 ports (gray) and not the Asmedia SATA3 ports (dark blue). I figured that one out when setting up 2 HDDs in RAID0 on the same board.

                                          • Re: need help building my new workstation
                                            Joel Rapoport

                                            thanks mark- just came back from the computer store and i ordered the parts.

                                            i took your advice and ordered the samsung 840 pro.

                                            as for the watercooling- im sticking to my choice becouse i have seen some review that compared it to different products and they highly recomend it. as to the noise level- the 80i has a speed control unit so you can adjust the speed down if you want to. i also hope that my case (the corsair 600 graphite) will help out reducing noise as its supposed to be very good at that.

                                            regarding the memory- i asked at the shop and the same memory at different speeds (ie 1600 and 2133) were the same cost. so i finally took the Corsair Vengeance 2x8GB DDR3 2133MHz CL10 Kit.

                                            as for SSDs in RAID- i putting it on hold for now. im gonna use a single SSD for system, and a SATA HDD for my work. i think its good enough for me at this point of time.


                                            thank you all for your help choosing the right parts for my system.