Off the Shelf Systems - Lots of Modeling/Sheet Layouts, Very Little Rendering

I’m setting up a new design department. The company wants to buy an off-the-shelf rig (I floated the idea of building a system but they were pretty adamantly opposed). The work is 95% modeling/drafting (using Pen mode and many viewports, mostly). Maybe the occasional render here and there but VERY rarely.

Models can get quite large and complex with lots of parts, hardware blocks, etc, so I know I’m going to want a decent bit of memory. Fair amount of Grasshopper work as well.

The company has indicated that they normally go with Lenovo, but I’m open to options, since I’m the one setting up the department!

As an example, I just picked out one of the Lenovo workstations, and wondered how it stacks up:
Lenovo P520c (Customized)
Processor: Intel Xeon W-2123 with vPro (4 cores, 3.60GHz, 8.25MB cache)
OS: Win10 for Workstations 64
Mobo: P520C MB Intel Basin Falls
Memory: 16GB DDR4 2666MHz ECC RDIMM x 1
Video: NVIDIA Quadro P1000 4GB
256GB SSD, M.2, PCIe
256GB SSD, Sata3
$2744CAD before rebates…which are sizable at the moment.

I’m wondering if 16GB will be sufficient, or if I should try to make the case for 32GB. Adding another 16GB stick bumps it up to $2944CAD but if I can get them to move quickly, there’s a huge discount bringing the total down to just shy of $1500.

Any points, things that I’m missing? Last time I seriously looked into specs was early in Rhino 5’s lifespan, so I’m assuming the majority of the pointers still hold - single core speed matters more than number of cores for non-rendering tasks, get as much memory as you can, SSDs are wonderful things (PCIe even moreso).

so I know I’m going to want a decent bit of memory.

So go 32gb, it is worth it. 16 is more and more become not enough.

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That’s kind of how I’m leaning if I can get them to pay for it. They haven’t given me a budget but I know ballpark what they’re looking to spend.

Other than that, does that look like a good system for a shiny new R6 setup?

That frankly doesn’t sound like a great deal. It’s 2+ year-old hardware, that was entry-level when it was new. I would stay away from anything calling itself a ‘workstation’ unless you’re going for the absolute top-of-the-line.


If that’s the case, is there anything available on the Canadian market that you’d recommend? I need to provide an off-the-shelf system to the company in the next couple days to get them to purchase it.

Oh sure make me actually back up my claim… Well for complete systems you can buy, something like this i7 9700k with 32GB and an RTX 2060 would run circles around the Lenovo.

The AMD Ryzens are better than Intel at every price point these days, but the integrators don’t have a lot of them available yet.

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Ha! Sorry about that.

Yeah, if I was building my own machine from scratch, I’d definitely be considering a Ryzen. That’s part of the problem - I’m waaaaay more used to building my own machines (or upgrading gently used ones) than I am just buying a package deal.

I just checked out that Dell you posted - wow, that’s a pretty solid machine. I think that, plus two decent monitors (not sure I need 4K, but something in the 23ish-inch range) should hit right about where I want to be.

Only possible downside that I can see with that Dell is that it comes with a free trial of this, that, and the other thing. I don’t need a free trial of Office, whatever antivirus software is in these days, etc. Having not owned a stock Dell since… um… too long ago, is it a major hassle to remove all the bloatware?

Well any assembled system will have some of that nonsense.

Just reinstall windows after windows is activated if you want a clean system.
So activate first and make an install usb.
But test it out first, DELL is good stuff.

Well, darn - the Dell won’t be able to get there by the date I need it. If I were to shift to an upgraded Lenovo with 32GB of RAM but the same Quadro P1000, would that be suitable?

you will soon regret this card

Yeah that’s kind of what I’m thinking too, what with it being an older card but the next step up with the Lenovo is either a Quadro P4000 8GB (+$525) or a Quadro RTX 4000 8GB (+$720) and I don’t know that I can convince the company to drop nearly another grand vs the Dell that they can’t get in time.

Do you think it’ll make that much of a difference, even if I’m not doing fancy renderings? 99% of the time I’m either working in Wireframe, Shaded or Rendered mode, with page layouts all in Pen mode or Technical.

This is what you say. I have a M4000 which is older but faster than the P1000 and has 8gb and that one works ok for the most part. IMHO the Lenovo with those specs is highly overpriced. You don’t need a Xeon either. Just a fast processor, a good amount of ram and good graphics card. The P1000 is cheap but a waste of money

Ps: just browse the Holomark threads and pick your specs :wink:

If you are doing this for a company and you want to maximize ROÍ I would go with a minimum of 64GB of ram. Especially if you want people to also be using multiple applications and or multiple instances of Rhino. Given the cost of labor (anywhere in the world) compared to the cost of RAM it makes no sense to go cheap on ram.

Also give as much importance or more to a decent high resolution monitor per PC. Dell makes great 4K monitors that are about $600 here in the US. Samsung also makes similarly low price ones but they suck (terrible contrast). After you have one of a couple of good years, get second monitors for everyone. One single awesome monitor is way better that two bad ones.

I hope this helps.

Quadros are great for wireframe, shaded and rendered. Don’t go RTX if you won’t render.
64 GB ram is a lot, 32 is enough if you need to cut prices, but go for two units so you have two available slots for later uprades if needed IMO.
(The rtx 4000 is about 70% faster than the m4000 though, if that matters on your files depends on complexity and how well Rhino utilises the extra speed. I frankly don’t know. My systems uses a Geforce RTX 2070 on one and a GTX 1070 on an other and even though the 2070 is about twice as fast I don’t really notice a huge real life difference)

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Ended up going with a system very, very close to the one @JimCarruthers suggested. Initially the shipping time was going to put the arrival well after the date I need the machine (like almost a week and a half later than I need), but I managed to work around this by calling Dell’s sales support. Lesson learned - call the support team and politely explain the situation, and see if there’s “ways we can work together” to solve the issues! Arrival date is now only a day or two after I need it. Bonus points - the sales guy got a better power supply (in case I decide to upgrade the GPU in the future) and better monitors, for no extra money, at the same time as putting an expedite flag on the order. Score!

I’ll run it through Holomark once it gets here, see how it stacks up.

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