Please Crit My Computer Build

Hey guys,

I'm building a desktop for Grad school. Here's my current build. I'd love any input

Intel i7 4820k

Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO CPU Cooler

Asus P9X79 LE

MSI GeForce GT 640  1GB or should I shell out an extra $60 for an MSI GeForce GTX 750 1GB

16 GB Ram

Intel 240 GB SSD

Seagate 7200rpm 1TB HDD

Corsair 750W PSU


Thanks a bunch!

Apr 30, 14 10:35 pm

Assuming you will be running Revit, Rhino(GH), Adobe CS, etc...

It's a solid build with room to grow, which is really the way to go for PC building.  Watch for sales later this year(black friday/cyber monday) and grab an SSD and 32gb of ram to finish it off. I routinely maxed out my 16gb of ram with grasshopper, after I made the switch to 32gb I haven't had an issue. 

The case appears to have enough ventilation to stay cool during rendering. Of course watch your temps and another upgrade would be to a closed-loop liquid cooling set up.  

Video card has a more than adequate GPU clock speed, 1gb memory clock is a little on the low side but fine for most 3d modeling applications. If you get into any real-time rendering or gaming engines you will want a card with more capacity. 

May 1, 14 12:03 am

^I don't think I've seen many people who did significant amounts of work with both Revit and GH...

May 1, 14 12:14 am

Looks good, I will agree with LITS, you should provide for 32GB Ram. possibly put 8GBx2 for now, then you can get 2 more sticks of 8GB later...

As for the  video card, why not get the Geforce 750Ti with 2GB DDR5? for just a little more money. I do think Geforce is the way to go, the Quadros are a big rip-off.

May 1, 14 12:51 am

desktop? who uses those things anymore?

May 1, 14 6:29 am

you can cut several hundred off by getting a desktop-class xeon and cheaper motherboard. the other components don't warrant such an expensive board. why spend over a grand on core parts only to cheap out on a low-end gpu? at least get the rev.2 gt640 with 384 cuda cores.

you might need 32gb ram in the future but you might realize this is an excessive waste of computational power and do work on a portable machine instead. 

May 1, 14 6:40 am

Get a professional quality graphics card.

Fire Pro or Quadro. I prefer the Fire Pro over NVIDIA's professional -level offerings. In fact, AMD is so much better at working an OpenCL/ OpenGL, even if you don't go pro-class, you should get a Radeon R9 or 7900+

I would also recommend more ram. 

You should be looking for a Motherboard with at least 6 slots for RAM for future upgrades.

Also, mounting the SSD to one of your PCIe x1 or x2 slots will really speed it up. (No current CPU's support SATA III, so the SSD will run way faster using a PCIe x1 to SATA III connector rather than hooking up the SSD with the included SATA II hard drive ribbon cables.) The connector module is only like $30 and you can find one that your SSD plugs right into. 


Also, get a nice case with lots of ports and a card reader. Card reader is only like $10, but it is an essential feature for people working with digital media. 

May 1, 14 10:50 am

A cheaper motherboard is a great way to go, only if you want the computer to overheat every few months and die in 2 years.

I beg to differ, Quadros and Fire Pros are a complete waste of money and more of a marketing ploy. If you really want a quadro, get a geforce and flash the firmware with a custom one that will make it quadro-esque. I know all software manufacturers have quadros in the recommended specs, but its a waste of money.

May 1, 14 2:40 pm

^^sameolddoctor is exactly right. 

The motherboard is the last place you want to skimp. A motherboard is the foundation of any build. 

Quadros and their AMD equivalents are A COMPLETE WASTE for anything you will do in grad school. I don't know when/why they got so trendy on archinect. Seems like everyone has been blindly recommending them for the past couple years. 

May 1, 14 3:02 pm

I suppose I was thinking grad school, then 2-4 years of use afterward, possibly in professional environments where the FirePro would pay off.

I use two custom built computers, one at home, one at the office. Both are Intel i7 4770K processors on identical MBs. One has 2x Radeon Graphics with Crossfire, the other has 2 x Fire Pros with Crossfire, built at the same time. Same RAM, (different SSD setups). The FirePro cards are a significantly slower clock speed. They perform way better in Revit and AutoCad, though, due to the specialized drivers. 

That said, my Radeon cards at home are much snappier in Rhino, and as GPU render engines. 

Whatever you do, go with AMD graphics. In my experience, ESPECIALLY on high-vertex models like Grasshopper meshes or Maya use, they are much better. 

Don't skimp on the Motherboard. A quality one will have more ports, more RAM slots, higher forward - PCIe compatibility, and should definitely be socketed so you can upgrade your CPU. 

May 1, 14 4:23 pm

One additional note on "Pro" graphics vs. "Enthusiast" graphics is that the professional quality card usually come with ECC memory (Error Checking and Correction) which significantly reduces artifacts on your displays, artifacts when viewing models (as in Rhino, Maya, or Revit), and is 100% necessary if you ever intend to run engineering simulations, CFD simulations for facade design, or other more technical applications. For the average arch-school grad, though, this may be overkill. 

May 1, 14 6:07 pm

Wow, thanks for the quick support guys! I'm trying to build by then end of next week so this is excellenet.

archanonymous - Thanks for the input, always nice to see the loyal opposition haha. I'll have to look further into this GPU situation. For the motherboard, are you saying the Asus P9X79 LE is good or poor quality?

sameolddoctor - I'm gonna show my ignorance here. For ram, I'm able to fill two of the four slots? I don't have to get a setup that fills all four? For whatever reason I was under the impression they had to be filled. If thats the case, I'll definitely go the 2 x 8gb cards.

I realize this is a quite open-ended, but why is their such dispute between NVidia and AMD?

Thanks again, you guys are awesome.

May 1, 14 6:27 pm

That Asus MB looks pretty good to me.

Good PCI options, and it includes some SATA III (the 6Gb/s) HDD connectors.

You only need to populate 2 of the 4 RAM slots if you only want 16gb. Most MBs are set up where you would need to put the RAM in the 1st and 3rd slots for them to run as a matched pair. 

It supports fast RAM - up to 1866 MHz without overclocking. It would be worth it to get RAM that matches that spec - the speed of your memory is an often overlooked factor in the speed of your system, especially on the kind of work we do. 


It sound like you are just doing drawings/ renderings/ etc, not physics simulations/ analysis/ animation. If you are heavily into parametric design, you should consider a MB which supports more than 64 GB of RAM. 



Most of the animosity revolves around their different programming languages and the compatibility of these with other programs. NVIDIA uses DirectX (which is actually a standard introduced by Microsoft) while AMD is part of the OpenCL/OpenGL alliance, which develops common industry standards and is usually referenced by the CADD software industry when creating new programs.

AMD supports DirectX and NVIDIA supports OpenCL, but the cards are not usually as good as equivalent cards from the other company - kind of a "playing on home turf" kind of situation.


NVIDIA also uses the CUDA programming language which is how the new Adobe programs interface with NVIDIA GPUs. We have a machine at my work with an NVIDIA EVGA GT750 Ti 2GB GPU and it FLIES when compressing video in Premier, but is absolute rubbish in Revit. CUDA is useful for other things.... GPGPU computing and some other innovations, but I generally think it is really overrated. 

If you have the chops to code for GP GPU computing in CUDA, you can probably do it in other formats as well.

May 1, 14 7:21 pm

I'm planning on building a computer firstly for rhino/GH, 3DS vray rendering, and Adobe CC with BIMs secondary but I don't have a time constraint.  Would you wait until Broadwell? Also, it would be great to see a pcpartpicker, of what you would get for a build around the OP's budget. 

May 2, 14 8:23 am

SpatialSojourner - What's Broadwell, and should I consider waiting for it too?

May 2, 14 12:30 pm

It's Intel's next tick processor. They were supposed to release it Q1 2014 but it's been delayed quite a bit.

May 2, 14 4:03 pm

Thanks. I wont be able to wait that long unfortunately.

Also, Windows 7 vs Windows 8? Thoughts?

May 2, 14 6:28 pm

Yeah, I'm debating it.  Kind of would like a computer to render things for my grad portfolio.  

I dual boot both of them and find either is fine.  Win7 is always the solid choice and W8.1 is very polarizing.  I dual boot them and a Linux distro and find myself staying in W8 more and more.  I have a Surface so the OS nicely syncs with it but the UI formally known as Metro is a tad annoying although the OS feels snappier.  W8 feels like an unbaked cookie for me but I've grown not to mind it.      

May 2, 14 9:14 pm

Thanks you great people! My new pewter's up and running and she is a BEAUT!

May 8, 14 12:44 am

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