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I'm looking to move from Mac to PC as the new 2016 Mac Book Pro is terribly under baked in terms of performance. In turn, I want to build a desktop PC for around $3000 USD, but my knowledge of PC components and how they interact with one another is stuck in 2006

My head is aching from reading through 1000's of posts for the past week about dual SLI GPU's and benchmark variations between different operating systems and I'm totally confused.

I know this sounds totally naive (and I hope I'm not asking too much) but I'd love for someone to just list a kick ass build which I can simply go out and buy.

Understandably people have done 3D PC builds in the past, which I have come across in my research, yet they all seem to be around a year old Here are some of my requirements that should help supply context to the build:

  • I'd like to run Windows 10
  • I mainly use Blender for medium detail animations in cycles
  • I'd like to jump on the Dual GPU bandwagon
  • My budget is around $3000 USD
  • No keyboard, mouse or monitor needed
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With that kind of budget, you can get just about anything you like. I've put together a build which should run everything you want to do and more just fine.

PCPartPicker part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/list/zCm66X
Price breakdown by merchant: http://pcpartpicker.com/list/zCm66X/by_merchant/

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-6700K 4.0GHz Quad-Core Processor ($328.99 @ SuperBiiz)
  • CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($24.88 @ OutletPC)
  • Motherboard: Asus Z170-A ATX LGA1151 Motherboard ($144.99 @ B&H)
  • Memory: Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4-2133 Memory ($77.99 @ Newegg)
  • Storage: Samsung 850 EVO-Series 500GB 2.5" Solid State Drive ($164.99 @ B&H)
  • Video Card: MSI GeForce GTX 1060 6GB 6GB GAMING X Video Card ($272.99 @ B&H)
  • Case: NZXT S340 (Black/Red) ATX Mid Tower Case ($66.99 @ SuperBiiz)
  • Power Supply: EVGA 500W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply ($42.39 @ OutletPC)
  • Operating System: Microsoft Windows 10 Home OEM 64-bit ($82.00 @ Amazon)
  • Wireless Network Adapter: Gigabyte GC-WB867D-I PCI-Express x1 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi Adapter ($29.79 @ OutletPC)

Total: $1236.00

Simplified to the important bits, that becomes:

  • i7-6700K 4.0GHz
  • 16 GB DDR4 RAM
  • 1x GTX 1060 6GB GPU
  • 500 GB SSD

Some notes:

  • I've included Windows 10 Home in the list, because I don't know if you already have it. If you do, you can remove it and get the build for $82 cheaper. As Adam says, you should also consider Ubuntu, especially given that it's free.
  • I've gone for just one GPU. With the kind of power you get out of the GTX 10-series GPU's, and with the kind of work you're doing, you really only need one - the only reason to get two is for bragging rights.
  • I've included a wireless adapter. That was important for me when I built my PC, because the nearest RJ45 connection was 20m away. If you can be sure you'll be wired all the time, you can exclude this.
  • There's room both in the build and in your budget to upgrade. You could up it to 32 GB RAM if you wanted (it's not necessary for your usage, but it's possible), or you could add another disk.
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Here's what I'd Do: This build is similar to the build I use personally however, it has been modified to fit your requirements... I've kept all the parts from one online store (amazon.com) to help simplify the ordering process. Also, Amazon tends to send orders in one package.


Build Notes:

  • i7 6700k has reasonable "overclockability" for additional performance when needed. e.g. when using CPU for rendering with cycles.
  • The Thermaltake NiC C5 is rated for 230W TDP, personally, I have been able to render with the i7 6700k @ 4.8GHz under load.
  • GTX 1080 (2 way SLI if you want to or separate): CUDA can also be used for rendering with cycles. They are overclockable with MSi Afterburner (again, for more performance while rendering). When using 2 GPUs, 2 tiles will be rendering simultaneously (1 tile per GPU). Having 2 GTX 1080s rather than one should come close to halving your rendering time. (the cards can't be in SLI when you want to utilize 2 rendering tiles)
  • Motherboard supports CPU and GPU overclocking (includes SLI bridge)
  • There's still a sizeable chunk of budget left for upgrades (more ram, additional disks etc...)

CPU: Intel Core i7-6700K 4.0GHz Quad-Core Processor ($337.00 @ Amazon)

CPU Cooler: Thermaltake NiC C5 99.1 CFM CPU Cooler ($58.34 @ Amazon)

Motherboard: MSI Z170A SLI PLUS ATX LGA1151 Motherboard ($132.90 @ Amazon)

Memory: Corsair Vengeance LPX 32GB (4 x 8GB) DDR4-2133 Memory ($181.77 @ Amazon)

Storage: Samsung 850 Pro Series 256GB 2.5" Solid State Drive ($128.14 @ Amazon)

Storage: Seagate Barracuda 2TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($72.99 @ Amazon)

Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 8GB Founders Edition Video Card (2-Way SLI)
($709.14 @ Amazon)

Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 8GB Founders Edition Video Card (2-Way SLI) ($709.14 @ Amazon) (Access to the dual GPU bandwagon)

Optical Drive: Asus DRW-24F1ST DVD/CD Writer ($17.75 @ Amazon)

Operating System: Microsoft Windows 10 Home OEM 64-bit ($87.81 @ Amazon)

Case Fan: Corsair CO-9050016-BLED 52.2 CFM 120mm Fans ($24.49 @ Amazon) (It's a 2 pack)

PSU: Sentey XPP725-HS Xplus Power Supply 725w Pc Computer ATX Desktop Power Supply ($42.99 @ Amazon)

Case: Thermaltake Versa H22 Window CA-1B3-00M1WN-00 Mid-tower Computer Chassis (Black) ($43.55 @ Amazon)

Total: $2603.01

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  • Don't you require a special physical SLI bridge for dual GPU? – SEJPM Nov 17 '16 at 8:37
  • @SEJPM For Blender, you don't need to run GPUs in SLI. – timuzhti Nov 17 '16 at 8:56
  • @SEJPM The motherboard I mentioned above includes a SLI bridge. – 0-60FPS Nov 17 '16 at 16:08
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    To extend on @Alpha3031 's comment, not only is SLI not required for Blender but it is completely normal to run two GPUs without SLI/Crossfire. They simply will not have additive performance to single applications. – JaredT Nov 17 '16 at 16:35
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    Some nitpicks (and possibly some ignorance on my part): the PSU isn't very efficient, so to me that seems like an odd choice for such a high-end build, especially given that this will be a relatively high-wattage machine running for longer periods of time, as workstations often do. Also, I'm curious what the 2Tb drive is for, why there needs to be a high-end DVD drive, whether that case has enough cooling or space for two 1080s, and why you stuck with a quad core, given Blender can scale beyond 8 threads well and you had money left over. – Adam Wykes Nov 17 '16 at 19:26
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A slightly more studied build, for a little bit more.

CPU: Intel Core i7-5930K 3.5GHz 6-Core Processor ($570.99 @ B&H)

CPU Cooler: Deepcool GAMMAXX 400 74.3 CFM CPU Cooler ($14.99 @ Newegg)

Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-X99P-SLI ATX LGA2011-3 Motherboard ($193.98 @ Newegg)

Memory: Avexir Core Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4-2400 Memory ($69.99 @ Newegg)

Memory: Avexir Core Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4-2400 Memory ($69.99 @ Newegg)

Storage: ADATA Premier Pro SP900 64GB 2.5" Solid State Drive ($38.99 @ Amazon)

Storage: Intel 600p Series 512GB M.2-2280 Solid State Drive ($168.50 @ Amazon)

Video Card: Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1070 8GB Windforce OC Video Card ($379.99 @ B&H)

Case: Thermaltake Commander G41 ATX Mid Tower Case ($34.99 @ Newegg)

Power Supply: EVGA 850W 80+ Gold Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply ($69.99 @ Newegg)

Case Fan: LEPA Vortex 12 PWM 63.9 CFM 120mm Fan ($3.99 @ Newegg)

Case Fan: LEPA Vortex 12 PWM 63.9 CFM 120mm Fan ($3.99 @ Newegg)

Case Fan: LEPA Vortex 12 PWM 63.9 CFM 120mm Fan ($3.99 @ Newegg)

Other: Ubuntu Studio 64 Bit ($0.00)

Total: $1624.37

A few points about this build I'd like to touch on:

  • Ubuntu over Windows: unless another part of your workflow requires windows, benchmarks show Blender performs much better in Linux, so that should be your first choice of OS. It will also be less of a leap to go from Mac to Linux, as you'll be sticking to UNIX-like environments.
  • This motherboard was specifically selected for the way it evenly spaces its four 16x PCI-E slots; this will make adding up to four full size GPUs easy in the future.
  • The large PSU was selected to allow easy GPU upgrades in the future - smaller PSUs may not properly power multiple fullsize GPUs, and worse - may not have the necessary cabling.
  • The hexacore CPU will outperform newer quadcore CPUs in programs like Blender. This one also has a few more PCI-E lanes for additional GPU installations down the road; while the motherboard PCH should eliminate that problem for most such configurations, it's always nice to know you're building to spec, to eliminate compatibility issues and minor drops in performance.
  • The M.2 PCI-E 3.0 drive offers double the I/O of SATA III SSDs; use this for storing and working with your projects. The regular 64gb SATA III SSD is for your OS and programs.
  • Adding more and faster RAM will yield dividends in Blender builds - not only will faster RAM complete your work faster for only a nominal price increase, but having more RAM than your program needs can free up your remaining memory to create the fastest storage medium of all, a RAMDisk. This can be used to cache your writes and reads on all your disks, hugely improving storage I/O performance across the board at the cost of increased system startup and shutdown times.
  • The fans aren't probably strictly necessary, though they might come in handy if you were to add a number of GPUs.
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  • As much as I like Linux, it's really hard for people to get started with it (at least that's how it was for me). Also the OP did ask for Windows 10. – 0-60FPS Nov 17 '16 at 7:02
  • Coming from a Unix background as the OP does makes the move a lot easier. Also, given the massive performance differential on display, I felt that someone had to tell OP that their choice of OS was probably wrong. – Adam Wykes Nov 17 '16 at 15:06
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I have a starter basic PC Build am working on that might help get you started. The idea is for performance, gaming, and game development, etc. If you upscale the power supply with a graphics card in SLI, that should be suitable to your rendering and baking needs.

First PC Build

I took the liberty of posting the hardware requirements for such a PC,

Here are the production hardware requirements from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blender_(software)

64-bit eight core CPU

16 GB RAM

Dual OpenGL 3.2 compatible cards with 4 GB video RAM

Dual 1920×1080 pixels, 24-bit color

Three-button mouse and graphics tablet

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  • As it stands, I am not sure this actually answers the question. I do not see a recommendation, just a link to an article. Can you post the specs of the PC that is in the article please? It also appears that you wrote the article in your answer; please disclose this if that is the case. – Cfinley Nov 18 '16 at 17:30

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