A computer for 3d

As I have just invested in a new machine, I wanted to share hints about choosing a PC for amateur 3d graphics.

Ready made vs custom

I have always preferred custom built computers for various reasons:

  • It is always a pleasure for me to search for information, browse catalogs and then select THE part I want, from CPU to case fans.
  • I never find enough info on certain parts present in brand computers: motherboard, memory, etc...
  • I feel (but may be wrong) that DELL and other makes do not have computers adapted to graphics work. 

For these reasons, I have once more opted for a custom made machine and assembled it myself.

Hardware configuration 

Below is a detail of what I have chosen for my machine and of the reasons that made me choose these parts. 

Part  Brand and model
Reasons for that choice 
Antec P182
Antec is a very reputable computer case make. I chose the P182 as it has padded sides, uses large fans and is therefore very silent. This was important for me as I do not have a separate room to work.
Power Supply
Seasonic S12 550 Energy plus
This power supply has good energy saving ratings and is very quiet.
Motherboard Asus P5E
Classic and well proven motherboard with X38 chipset
CPU Intel Q9450
This CPU was quite difficult to get when I bought my machine. I chose it over the previous series (Q6600 and Q6700) as it releases less heat when working
CPU fan
Scythe Katana 2
I purchased an OEM CPU and so had to buy the fan separately. This one is very efficient and very silent (with a stock 100mm fan)
Memory  4x2 Gb PC 6400 I chose PC 6400 RAM as I had read that this motherboard series had trouble with PC 8500 RAM. I recently upgraded the machine to 8 Gb as I reached the limit on some Vue scenes. This machine was intended for a 64 bits OS, so all 8Gb are used.
Graphic card  Geforce 8800 GTS
A gaming card, but display seems faster than on my previous machines (that had a Geforce 6600 GT)
 Hard disk 1
Western Digital Velociraptor 320 Gb
This very fast hard disk (10000 rpm) is used for he system, swap and program data. With it my machine is noticeably faster than it used to, especially when launching programs.
Hard disk 2 Seagate 7200.11 500 Gb
This hard disk series has 32Mb of memory instead of the normal 16Mb. It is almost as fast as the famed Raptor series hard disk from Western Digital and far less expensive. I will add another one when I need so. 
Hard disk 3
 Samsung 500 Gb
 This third hard disk is used mainly for backups.
Blue Ray writer  LG GGW-H20L  A Blue-Ray writer/HDVD player combo. I wanted to be able to backup files on this media. This writer is one of the only ones to be affordable at the moment.

Operating system

I have installed Windows Vista 64 on this machine. A 64 bit OS was needed in order to manage the 8 Gb of RAM. I was a bit anxious as I feared many of my current programs would not work under Vista 64, but fortunately it was not the case. Everything works like a charm.


The case I chose was fitted with 3 large fans, which did not work properly. Two of them did not always start when they were at their lowest speed setting. So I later purchased two additional fans (Noctua NF-P12) and a rheobus (Zalman ZM-MFC2). The latter enables me to control the speed of the fans and monitor the temperature from outside. This was essential to keep heat in check as this machine makes renders lasting several hours. This machine is thus powerful, very silent and well cooled at the same time.