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Stub Mandrel

Computer Suggestions

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I'm thinking of a new computer for my business, as  the current one is about 4 years old and I need to be sure of its reliability.

I've got an i3 3.4GHz with 8GB ram and 1TB HDD.

I would like something that will run packages like DTP, CAD and GIS better, naturally this will also help when I process my AP in the evenings too which will be nice. The main thing I would like is faster refresh in the GIS which is both processor and HDD intensive.

How much would I gain by going to an i5 processor (will I notice much change?)

I'm not sure I can afford an SSD, as I need either a bigger HDD (2 or 4 TB) or additional internal HDDs. I use three external drives for backup.

I'd be interested in suggestions as I imagine a computer that works well for AP processing will also be suited to my work needs.

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Ryzen, its the only way to go mate, i run a 2700x 8 core 16 threads and threadripper 16 core 32 threads in my two rigs, the 2700x is the best bang for ye buck nower days the threadripper is just over kill and its my overclocking rig. and heres a page with all the new models on if it helps but some arnt out untill later this year https://wccftech.com/amd-ryzen-3000-specs-prices-leaked-upto-16-cores-5-1ghz-on-am4/ and what my the 2700x looks like.

 

DSC02509.th.JPG

and heres my cinibench score for said 2700x oc @4.25 from a few days ago when we was stretching its its legs theres more in the tank. 😀

662207528_1926cb4.257-2-19.thumb.PNG.eb134daea7d8fa724b454b7ef53d49ce.PNG

yes its a gaming rig but whats good for gaming is whats good for CAD, processing, imaging, ect ect. this runs staxing softwear which completes in seconds.

Edited by xtreemchaos
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There are a number of different i5 processors and the best site to compare on is www.cpubenchmark.net.  Go for the fastest you can afford, it will last the longest.

I would still get an SSD for the operating system and short term storage, whilst you work on files and then have another disk for larger storage or things you don't use all that often.  An SSD will give you an instant speed increase, probably more than moving up on processor spec a bit.  A 256GB is big enough for Windows, most programs and a few files, say a months worth.  Get a 512GB if your budget stretches.

Get a reasonable amount of memory for the operating system you are going to use, 8GB for Win 10 is enough.

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I run a Dell Precision T7810 mini-tower workstation in our business for compute and graphics intensive work e.g. CFD/FEA structural engineering sims which we manage remotely via Teamviewer. We bought this new 3 years ago and its been very reliable and as a desktop easy to alter the configuration as needs change. We have mixed feelings about Dell Support (apart from the premium business support service the only other support is a call centre in India operating off defensively-engineered conversational scripts and of little practical help). The products themselves are fine. Pricing is less of an issue by buying Dell Refurbished kit which is often actually unused while UK/Ireland zone deliveries are fast. We configured this 8-core workstation with a reasonable 48Gb RAM and a mix of SSD and spinning storage and a fast CAD vendor-certified Nvidia graphics card. I believe at the time we paid 5-6k euros for that.

 

Tony

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\IT SysAdmin Mode == On

While Ryzen is undoubtedly the best bang for your buck right now, think of the bigger picture.  If this is for your business, supporting heavy lifting such as Desk Top Publishing, CAD and GIS work, you need a lot more than low cost grunt, good though that stating point is.

Anything in the enterprise class CPU will be fine, an 8th gen i7, Xeon, Ryzen - the choice is yours.  But don't loose sight of the bottlenecks.  The disk subsystem is critical and as a minimum you need an SSD or RAID 1 spinners in a machine that's going to adequately run those applications over the long term.

If you go single ended, 2TB SSD are pretty cheap these days, or go for a hardware RAID controller and a couple of fast SAS drives.  If you want reliability (which you normally would for business use) go RAID 1 for OS and RAID10 for data.  Consider off-board storage connected via iSCSI or similar.

32GB Ram would be the minimum I would look at for those applications, ideally 64GB and above.

Graphics cards are essential to lighten the load on GIS and CAD, especially over the long term and in business use.

Perhaps look at mid range tower server chassis and drop Windows 10 or Server 2012R2 or above.  Server 2012R2 or above gives you two free Hyper-v installations, so you can completely isolate your business stuff from your AP.

Protect it with a UPS and suitable backup software.

Remember to not loose sight of what pays the mortgage: AP processing is a nice sideline, but it's a business tool first and foremost, so don't treat it like a gaming rig, or shiny new toy in the corner: invest in it like any other business tool. 

\IT SysAdmin  Mode == Off

Richard

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It's been long time since I last checked current specs on computer power although I use computer in everyday work, so I can't recommend any particular processor (I got different cpu-s in different machines - i3 in my work station, i5 in my virtualization server, old q6600 in storage server, i5 in astro laptop, ....). For my workloads all of them are sufficient.

What I can recommend as single most important upgrade (the largest impact on computer usability over last decade) - is SSD. To me it's unimaginable to put together machine without SSD being primary drive in the system nowadays.

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I agree with Richard.

But I'd also go further, in that for any business system, I'd personally recommend splitting your requirements into two.

For the Business data, a "server" based solution based around XEON processors e.g. an HP ProLiant DL360 (https://www.hpe.com/uk/en/product-catalog/servers/proliant-servers/pip.hpe-proliant-dl360-gen9-server.7252836.html). Yes it's going to be more expensive, and more awkward to install etc. but reliability and data security comes at a cost, and you have to judge whether the cost is valid....

I'd then get a second AMD\Intel PC, for your workstation\data manipulation tools etc...

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Wrong way of looking at it - hardware last.

What do I mean - well if you already use specialist DTP,GIS,CAD software you really need to find out there capabilities/ requirements. Even today a lot of this software if optimised and, I regret to say ,Apple MAC are (and have been for yrs) used for your  specialist applications - credit where its due :-(.

You didn't say what software you use but if you intend to keep using the same software go back to the makers and get a idea from them what is the ideal set up - dual 4K monitors,high speed graphics ,specialist mouse/roller balls etc. At least today you wont have to carry or move 26inch CRT graphics screens - god they were heavy LOL.

Perhaps looking here may help - https://www.creativebloq.com/features/best-computers-for-graphic-design

IMHO depending on how sophisticated your use of DTP etc then I would stick to solving that first - as Richard said that brings in the "bread and butter" and maybe the old kit could be released to use for Astro work. On risk assessment alone , IMO, I would not use your "business" kit for astro work especially if you take the kit away from home - not being able to do Astro work is one thing loosing your livelihood is something else.

P.S. SSD is mandatory budget for it. 🙂

Good luck in you quest 🙂

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When I say 'business' it's just me sat at a desk 🙂

I'm W10 and all my software is Windows based.

I should say my existing machine is almost fast enough. Having multiple desktop machines isn't an option, but my laptop is used for all 'off site' stuff and when imaging. If my desktop went down, worst case I would just haul to Currys and get a  decent spec W10 machine and restore it all from backup and be running again in a few hours. Worst case I could get by with my laptop.

I just want more storage space and faster handing of complex files.

I've considered RAID, but put my eggs in the multiple backup basket instead, especially having had the corporate server's RAID destroy itself without warning in a previous job... luckily we had backup as well.

What I need is something reasonably affordable and preferably off the shelf (the most I want to do is fit an extra HDD) that is a step up without being a huge investment.

I do  like the idea of putting the OS on an SSD - how reliable are they compared to (quality) HDDs these days?

It seems a 480GB SSD affordable enough and will be plenty big enough for the OS & program files - I could also create a partition for 'working files' on it.

3 hours ago, tonyowens_uk said:

time we paid 5-6k euros for that.

Hmm, about ten times my budget 🙂

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19 minutes ago, Stub Mandrel said:

I do  like the idea of putting the OS on an SSD - how reliable are they compared to (quality) HDDs these days?

I would say equally reliable of even more due to not having any mechanical parts (mechanical wear and tear excluded). Get one from reliable manufacturer (like Samsung) and look at total declared write.

In my workstation machine I've still got my Samsung 830, and I believe I have not gone thru half of declared durability in terms of write. I think it should make something like 230TB of writes, mine is at 18TB. I had it for, what's it now, 6 years or so?

Generally, I don't think you should worry about that aspect of NAND in modern drives - with regular usage it is very unlikely that you will wear out cells in any reasonable amount of time.

I had multiple HDDs fail on me (last time it happened, luckily it was in raid-z in my storage server, so I did not have downtime nor lost data) but none of 5-6 SSDs that I've used so far has not failed yet (years of regular use, although at different intensities).

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In your situation I would move over to an SSD, fresh install of windows and your important software on it, then use another HD for file storage. 1Tb SSD are just going <£100 now, there have been a couple as low as £80. Then use the windows resource monitor to see where your bottlenecks are, another cheapish upgrade would be more RAM, but check if you have any spare slots before buying.

On the reliability front I wouldn't be that worried, I work on industrial kit and we have PCs running 24/7/365, some for 10 years. Maybe get a good quality power supply and fit that? The only stuff I have had die have been overclocked components and PSUs. 

I do incremental upgrades on my PC, so my CPU has been in for 4 years, MOBO 6ish, case and PSU are pretty old, GPU 2 years, RAM has been upped when its been on offer. For the first time in 18 years I am buying a mostly pre built system, although  will be sorting the OS install out, along with 2nd HD. 

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5 hours ago, Stub Mandrel said:

When I say 'business' it's just me sat at a desk 🙂

I'm W10 and all my software is Windows based.

I should say my existing machine is almost fast enough. Having multiple desktop machines isn't an option, but my laptop is used for all 'off site' stuff and when imaging. If my desktop went down, worst case I would just haul to Currys and get a  decent spec W10 machine and restore it all from backup and be running again in a few hours. Worst case I could get by with my laptop.

I just want more storage space and faster handing of complex files.

I've considered RAID, but put my eggs in the multiple backup basket instead, especially having had the corporate server's RAID destroy itself without warning in a previous job... luckily we had backup as well.

What I need is something reasonably affordable and preferably off the shelf (the most I want to do is fit an extra HDD) that is a step up without being a huge investment.

I do  like the idea of putting the OS on an SSD - how reliable are they compared to (quality) HDDs these days?

It seems a 480GB SSD affordable enough and will be plenty big enough for the OS & program files - I could also create a partition for 'working files' on it.

Hmm, about ten times my budget 🙂

Bear in mind we specced a 4K display and pretty powerful graphics card in that configuration which was targeted at large assembly solid modelling and mid-sized CFD models. Not everybody is h/w constrained as we sometimes are. We originally specced a 500 Gb SATA HDD for all local storage and used a mixture of Business Dropbox and a decent Synology NAS with RAID 5 to look after data. When we ran out of local storage we added a 2Tb SSD for a mixture of OS files and temp files generated during larger CFD and FEA sims. This made a noticeable difference to the performance of the machine. When we replace this system we will look at refurbished systems too, as Moore's Law has crashed and we will be looking for a faster memory bus and even  more premium processors. 

 

8 hours ago, stash_old said:

Wrong way of looking at it - hardware last.

What do I mean - well if you already use specialist DTP,GIS,CAD software you really need to find out there capabilities/ requirements. Even today a lot of this software if optimised and, I regret to say ,Apple MAC are (and have been for yrs) used for your  specialist applications - credit where its due :-(.

You didn't say what software you use but if you intend to keep using the same software go back to the makers and get a idea from them what is the ideal set up - dual 4K monitors,high speed graphics ,specialist mouse/roller balls etc. At least today you wont have to carry or move 26inch CRT graphics screens - god they were heavy LOL.

Perhaps looking here may help - https://www.creativebloq.com/features/best-computers-for-graphic-design

IMHO depending on how sophisticated your use of DTP etc then I would stick to solving that first - as Richard said that brings in the "bread and butter" and maybe the old kit could be released to use for Astro work. On risk assessment alone , IMO, I would not use your "business" kit for astro work especially if you take the kit away from home - not being able to do Astro work is one thing loosing your livelihood is something else.

P.S. SSD is mandatory budget for it. 🙂

Good luck in you quest 🙂

This is also fair comment. This was my point about 'certified hardware'.

For work onsite with clients we use Dell Precision M3800 machines with 15" 4k displays and a low end Nvidia graphics card. They cost around 2k new 4 years ago and have been very reliable for us and with i7 processor and 16Gb RAM and 1Gb SSD's surprisingly capable when asked to run medium sized models in our usual CFD code.  The only thing I would change is the 4K display which proved to be too small to support a 4K display for many technical/scientiific programs. The M3800's replaced an indestructable Dell Precision M6400 'laptop' dating from 2008 which ran CAD applications offsite for us for many years without complaint. But the 5 kg weight became unacceptable eventually.

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