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smallsoft

New Desktop - jr. level designer

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smallsoft    122
Hi Everyone, Interested in buying a desktop to create a solid portfolio of levels & environments. Looking at a couple options - would love some feedback from anyone with a little design experience. All in all my budget is at max $2k, so I am looking for a good value - also something that will last me at least 2 years! Initial thoughts are the aurora offers the best bang for my buck, but the low cache memory worries me. 1) Alienware Aurora -AMD® Phenom™ X4 9550 Quad Core 2.2GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache -Dual 512MB ATI Radeon HD3850 = $1649 (excluding monitor) http://www.alienware.com/product_detail_pages/aurora/aurora_overview.aspx?SysCode=PC-AURORA-R5&SubCode=SKU-DEFAULT 2) Alienware Area 51 -Intel® Core™ 2 Quad Q9450 2.66GHz 12MB Cache 1333MHz FSB -Dual 512MB NVIDIA® GeForce® 9600 GT – Superclocked! = $2200 (excluding monitor) http://www.alienware.com/product_detail_pages/Area-51/area-51_overview.aspx?SysCode=PC-AREA51-R6&SubCode=SKU-DEFAULT 3) Dell XPS 720 -Intel® Core™2 Q6600 Quad-Core (8MB L2 cache,2.4GHz,1066FSB) -Single nVidia GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB =$1899 (excluding monitor) http://www.dell.com/content/products/productdetails.aspx/xpsdt_720?c=us&cs=19&l=en&s=dhs Thanks for the help! -Danny [Edited by - smallsoft on May 14, 2008 1:11:28 PM]

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Hodgman    51224
I think the Phenom tries to make up for it's small level 2 cache by having 2MB of level 3 cache and much faster access to the main RAM.

Some other things to consider:

RAM:
The alienware ones have DDR3 RAM, but don't mention the clock speed (could be anything!).
The dell has DDR2, at 800MHz (which is about the minimum speed you'd want out of a high-spec rig...)

HDD:
The dell only has 160GB of storage, but at a fast 10,000RPM.
The alienware ones have 4000GB(!!!) of storage at 7,000RPM. However, if you set these up on a striped raid (RAID0, i think?) then it's basically 14,000RPM!

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px    593
They're all good systems. I think it's worth noting, however, that you could probably buy the parts seperately and put it all together yourself and save some money.

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superpig    1825
I generally don't have a high opinion of Alienware machines; these days it feels like you're paying quite a lot for the name alone. I'd be more inclined to build one myself.

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zer0wolf    1022
Quote:
Original post by superpig
I generally don't have a high opinion of Alienware machines; these days it feels like you're paying quite a lot for the name alone. I'd be more inclined to build one myself.

Ditto. I'd recommend piecing together a system yourself off of newegg.com. You'll find that you'll be able to build a more capable machine for a lower price.

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smallsoft    122
Hi Guys,

Thanks for the advice,

Hodgman - good call on the phenom, will have to call them about the clockspeed.

I have no doubt that i could probably build a more capable machine for about $500 less than what Dell & Alienware are offering but unfortunately I don't have much experience in putting these together.

Eager to buy something off the shelf so I can focus on my portfolio.

Thanks!

Dan

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Ravyne    14300
I think a bigger point here is that you don't really need such a power-house system in order to develop your portfolio. You can stick to a more basic system and still have everything you need, and save yourself a lot of money in the process.

Build yourself to save the most, its not that much more difficult than Legos, and surely you have a friend who's put together a PC once or twice? Failing that, a quality workstation from Dell with a decent graphics card and a pair of raid drives will be more than adequate. I've seen plenty of Dell (or some other manufacturer) systems under the desks of game developers at (I daresay) most of the studios I've been inside. You don't think they have an overpriced alienware under every desk, do you?

Unless you're developing 3D technology for a future engine, there's no need to be out on the bleeding edge.

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Antheus    2409
I fail to see the relation between building a portfolio and the computer you use.

And, more importantly, you haven't listed your requirements. What is your portfolio in? What tools will you be using?

Nobody can even guess at which computer is best without knowing what you'll be using it for. If I had to guess I'd say 3D modelling?

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Hodgman    51224
If you want a PC *soon*, it may be better to buy one whole rather than build it...

I've always been an advocate of building your own PC's (coz it's so damn cheap and easy!), but to get the best performance and reliability it takes a lot more than just being able to put the Lego blocks together.
Hobby builders (such as myself) usually can't answer the hard questions like: Which CPU / MB chipset / GPU chipset combination are going to get along the best, what brand of RAM has the least failures with that MB, exactly how much wattage does the system need, how much should be spent on a PSU, one 2GB RAM stick or two 1GB sticks, is extra cooling required?
So the last time I got a PC I paid the local IT shop to build it. I still got the parts just as cheap, and he threw in a bunch of OEM software to the value of the labour costs. Plus it has an overall warranty, which means I don't have to try and "debug" my PC if the PSU blows up...

Quote:
Original post by Antheus
And, more importantly, you haven't listed your requirements. What is your portfolio in? What tools will you be using?

Junior level designer. Level editors, I guess (Unreal Ed? Valve-Hammer? XSI? 3DS Max?)

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