Advice...Dell Precision 390 specs?

I'm working up a quote for a new Dell Precision 390, and have a few general questions. I'm using SW 2007 and have recently (by default)
been appointed "SW expert" in my research lab. I'm still ramping up my learning curve but it's apparent my 5-year old 2.5GHz P4 with 1GB RAM just isn't going to cut it. Projects will likely be on the 500 part/assembly scale, and we'll be looking to do some simple Animator and COSMOS stuff down the line. I have the go ahead to price out a new system (within reason). That said, here's what I've selected thus far:
Intel® Core™ 2 Duo E6600 2.40GHz/1066MHz/4MB L2/Dual-core/VT 2GB, 667MHz, DDR2 SDRAM Memory, ECC 250GB SATA 3.0Gb/s with NCQ and 8MB DataBurst Cache 128MB PCIe x16 nVidia Quadro FX550 Dell 20 inch UltraSharp™ 2007FP Widescreen
As for a HD, 250 GB is plenty of room, but should I stick with SATA, or go with SAS? Graphics cards...The price jump to go up to a 256MB card is pretty steep (see below). How much improvement will that get me?
768MB PCIe x16 nVidia Quadro FX 4600, Dual DVI or Dual VGA or DVI + VGA [add $1,429] 256MB PCIe x16 nVidia Quadro FX3500, Dual Monitor DVI or VGA Capable [add $754] 256MB PCIe x16 ATI Fire GL V7200, Dual Monitor DVI or VGA Capable [add $429]
The above config is priced at $1749. Which seems like a good deal to me. If you had another $250 or so to put into the system, what would you upgrade? Processor, graphics, or HD? I do plan on upgrading to 4GB RAM through third-party (much cheaper, 2 x 1GB from crucial is under $100), so I've got that covered. Is there something else I'm missing?
Thanks.
-Dave
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Hi db,
Always go for the fastest dual core you can get for Animator and COSMOS, then ram, graphics, HD.
Store everything on a server and run raid0 on your local machine.
I upgraded from the NVIDIA 980 quadro to the NVIDIA 3400 pcie, and I have not noticed a difference at all, on projects of 1500 parts and countless sub-assemblies. the 256Mb cards will not give you any benefit at all on 500 parts.
There are still the graphic leaks, when viewing from a distance, with sheet metal parts, so don't believe your var, if they say you need a better graphic card.
The thing you seem to have missed is the power supply, Nvidia is hungry for power, so make sure you have at least a 650watts psu or higher is you are thinking of running more than 2 sata drives.
I would stick in 3Gb of ram, as xp, will nick at least half for it's self.
Pete
I'm working up a quote for a new Dell Precision 390, and have a few general questions. I'm using SW 2007 and have recently (by default) been appointed "SW expert" in my research lab. I'm still ramping up my learning curve but it's apparent my 5-year old 2.5GHz P4 with 1GB RAM just isn't going to cut it. Projects will likely be on the 500 part/assembly scale, and we'll be looking to do some simple Animator and COSMOS stuff down the line. I have the go ahead to price out a new system (within reason). That said, here's what I've selected thus far:
Intel CoreT 2 Duo E6600 2.40GHz/1066MHz/4MB L2/Dual-core/VT 2GB, 667MHz, DDR2 SDRAM Memory, ECC 250GB SATA 3.0Gb/s with NCQ and 8MB DataBurst Cache 128MB PCIe x16 nVidia Quadro FX550 Dell 20 inch UltraSharpT 2007FP Widescreen
As for a HD, 250 GB is plenty of room, but should I stick with SATA, or go with SAS? Graphics cards...The price jump to go up to a 256MB card is pretty steep (see below). How much improvement will that get me?
768MB PCIe x16 nVidia Quadro FX 4600, Dual DVI or Dual VGA or DVI + VGA [add $1,429] 256MB PCIe x16 nVidia Quadro FX3500, Dual Monitor DVI or VGA Capable [add $754] 256MB PCIe x16 ATI Fire GL V7200, Dual Monitor DVI or VGA Capable [add $429]
The above config is priced at $1749. Which seems like a good deal to me. If you had another $250 or so to put into the system, what would you upgrade? Processor, graphics, or HD? I do plan on upgrading to 4GB RAM through third-party (much cheaper, 2 x 1GB from crucial is under $100), so I've got that covered. Is there something else I'm missing?
Thanks.
-Dave
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I would also match the memory bus speed to the processor. No need for a bottleneck.
Dito on the Raid0
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DiscDawg, not sure if I understand you. The E6600 C2Duo has a 1066MHz Bus, and the RAM is 667MHz. I can't ramp up the RAM speed can I?

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Thanks, Pete. We're a small group, and I'm the only CAD person, so this will be a single station setup. Plus, I'm using this workstation as my "regular" desktop. Not ideal, but it's where we are right now.
Glad to hear that 128MB GPU should suffice. Any thoughts on ATI vs NVIDIA?
Dell specs say the Precision 390 comes with a 375 Watt power supply. I suspect there's no way to customize that through Dell. Maybe third- party once I get it, assuming their chassis config is standard.
-Dave

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I have only has one ATI card, I have seen many woes from users of ATI card, so the choice is yours. They may have improved since I last used one.
The psu will be easy to upgrade, but check with dell about the warranty, will they allow you to upgrade everything?
If you only have the one work station and no server, I would STRONGLY recommend that you get FOUR sata drives, raid 0 the first two and raid 1 for the second two. Backup, backup and backup, not a stutter, lol, but a BIG must do. Note CD's do not last forever, as we were lead to believe, I have some that are decaying and they are only 6 years old.
If you do not backup, YOU will get the blame when things go wrong and they will not listen to, "I told you so, six months ago!" (Hmmm... rings a bell :-s).
wrote:

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Hi db,
My $.03:
The 1066MHz bus is matched up with 533MHz RAM, 667MHz and 800MHz speeds may help slightly, but you will not currently be facing a bottleneck.
I agree with pete as far as his RAID recommendations and would add that spindle speed can make a significant difference also. SATA drives run at up to 10K rpm and SCSI/SAS drives run at up to 15K rpm. The difference between the two is not linear, that is you will not see the same jump in performance going from SATA 10K to SAS 15K drives as you will see going from SATA 7.2K rpm to SATA 10K rpm or from SAS 10K rpm to SAS 15K rpm. Don't know the reason, have just researched the results. Here's a good site if you want to do some more digging http://www.tomshardware.com/find_by_topic/hard_drives.html
As far as price/performance on the CPU you have hit the sweet spot, although SW will make use of every extra clock cycle that you can afford. The 2.4 GHz E6600 has the same architechture as the other two core2 CPU's with 4MB L2 cache, the 2.66GHz E6700 and the 2.93 GHz X6800.
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On Jun 26, 8:00 am, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

The single thing you can do which will keep the speed of your new workstation maxed out with Windows XP & SolidWorks is to keep your old machine for all Internet and local network activity. Use the new workstation only for SolidWorks and MS Office and KEEP IT OFF the local net and Internet.
This is illustrated when users put in a new hard drive and reinstall the OS & SolidWorks from scratch and everything works much faster.
Bo
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I'm almost certain that Dell uses non-standard chassis sizes with a non-standard power supply. I seem to remember duct taping a power supply to the side of a case at one point for this reason. You *might* want to ask them about their power supply sizes. 375 Watts seems kind of small but Core2Duo uses significantly less power than those P4s we were all used to using, right? If you end up smoking something Dell would be more than happy to replace your system... I think :)
You should be fine with PC2-6400 (DDR2-800). That Core2Duo E6600 is so cool. Did i mention I <3 mine?
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Oh oooh, a minor fly in the Core2Duo ointment!
http://marc.info/?l=openbsd-misc&m 8296441702631
What it does mean or will mean to users is left to the IT guys and programmers to figure out.
The discussion on the above document is carried on at Slashdot:
http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid /06/28/1124256
Bo
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Get the E6800. Otherwise get an AMD machine. It will be faster.
TOP
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Faster is better, but cost is a consideration. If it wasn't I'd go for the Core 2 Extreme. Any specific recommendations for an AMD processor?

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On Jun 26, 10:51 am, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

I personally see these discussions which mention cost of the "PC Workstation" routinely, but in fact when that box is compared against its useful life (say 2 years) versus the TOTAL cost of the time value of the designer/engineer who uses it, the proper analysis of return on investment MUST be compared using the employee cost.
We buy SolidWorks to save time, increase accuracy, autogenerate much content, and variations of content efficiently, but then worry about the cost of the PC it runs on, which costs somewhere from the yearly maintenance fee up to 3 times that much. The PC needs to be evaluated more like a machine tool. How much is it worth to buy a tool that can get work done faster, compared to the other costs (mostly personnel)?
If 2 years = 4000 hours of work, and 2000 is on the PC, and the burdened cost of the employee is $50/hr, then that is $100,000 worth of time spent on the PC in two years.
It is very easy to argue that buying a $4000 high end PC pays great value where Save, Open, and Rebuild times and then really flies with FEA analysis and Photorealistic imaging.
How many hours a year can be saved by a high end workstation at the $50/hr burdened pay rate? If you say 2 hours a week (not unrealistic in many cases), that is 100 hrs/yr x $50 = $5000. In other words payback for the extra $1000 cost is less than one quarter.
Bo
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We have both a three year old FX53 AMD64 and a Dell with the E6800. On SpecAPC the AMD was .09 seconds slower on the CPU score. Upgrade the graphics card in the AMD and it likely would have been in the running for overall score as well.
Most of the AMD machines you see do not get this kind of performance and neither do the Intel's. It is a matter of setup.
However, CPU is not the only consideration. It doesn't take much to kill even the fastest CPU with bad modeling habits. The nice thing about modeling habits is that they can be constantly upgraded and cost little if you are willing to do so. That being said it took me about 15 minutes to spec our Dell Precision 390 and now everyone wants one here. But seeing different users with them I come right back to what I just said. The guy who builds models that lock up a machine still does it. The guy who cranks out model after model still does it, old machine or new. The user is the number one performance factor with SW. Second is the type of modeling, and third is the software. Then comes hardware.
TOP
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TOP wrote:

Amen, brother. Spot on and well said. That is so true! It could be argued that the first two are really just the software as well.
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I'm working up a quote for a new Dell Precision 390, and have a few general questions. I'm using SW 2007 and have recently (by default) been appointed "SW expert" in my research lab. I'm still ramping up my learning curve but it's apparent my 5-year old 2.5GHz P4 with 1GB RAM just isn't going to cut it. Projects will likely be on the 500 part/assembly scale, and we'll be looking to do some simple Animator and COSMOS stuff down the line. I have the go ahead to price out a new system (within reason). That said, here's what I've selected thus far:
Intel CoreT 2 Duo E6600 2.40GHz/1066MHz/4MB L2/Dual-core/VT 2GB, 667MHz, DDR2 SDRAM Memory, ECC 250GB SATA 3.0Gb/s with NCQ and 8MB DataBurst Cache 128MB PCIe x16 nVidia Quadro FX550 Dell 20 inch UltraSharpT 2007FP Widescreen
As for a HD, 250 GB is plenty of room, but should I stick with SATA, or go with SAS? Graphics cards...The price jump to go up to a 256MB card is pretty steep (see below). How much improvement will that get me?
768MB PCIe x16 nVidia Quadro FX 4600, Dual DVI or Dual VGA or DVI + VGA [add $1,429] 256MB PCIe x16 nVidia Quadro FX3500, Dual Monitor DVI or VGA Capable [add $754] 256MB PCIe x16 ATI Fire GL V7200, Dual Monitor DVI or VGA Capable [add $429]
The above config is priced at $1749. Which seems like a good deal to me. If you had another $250 or so to put into the system, what would you upgrade? Processor, graphics, or HD? I do plan on upgrading to 4GB RAM through third-party (much cheaper, 2 x 1GB from crucial is under $100), so I've got that covered. Is there something else I'm missing?
Thanks.
-Dave
I have a Dell 390 with the 2.93Ghz CPU, 4GB memory and the NVIDIA 3450 256 card. It runs Pro/E great and still has power left over.
I would go for a 256 NVIDIA card. I haven't really liked the ATI's I have seen over the years.
Processor speed is critical. Go for the fastest. Next go for 4GB memory and use the /3GB/USERVA)00 switch in your boot.ini file. This will give your applications more memory to load parts into. All CAD systems are memory hogs and the more memory you have the better they perform. The third upgrade would be the graphics card. HD speed and interface aren't really critical, as they are all pretty fast now. Size is a matter of preference/need.
--
Ben



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at the moment I would consider waiting just a little while till the E6750 launches and do something like this:
2-3gb DDR2-800 E6750 o/c to 3.4ghz with upright air cooler - or water (CPU<$200) 150 gb raptor 520W power supply 24" LCD widescreen Quadro FX1500
this will give 3x the performance of your old 2.5 P4 for SW and somewhere about 5-6x for rendering etc
you might try looking at XI computers..
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should have said - i think this will give you a balance of things - adequate graphics card without $$ and capable of handling SW08 Realview - if a bit roughly in rotation - a power supply with some headroom - plenty of screen space - fast disk with no broken RAID worries etc - consider an external USB disk backup too - very fast processor for little money - ram sufficient for your purposes at reasonable cost
HTH
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I'd stick with the FX550. It's cheap and provides full support for Shader 3.0 (required for SW2008 shadows). If you really need to, you can upgrade to a new DirectX 10 compatible FX x600 series card in the fall. (It doesn't make sense to me to shell out $500+ for a graphics card that doesn't support what will the general computing standard a year from now.)
As for the CPU, the C2D E6400/6600 are both excellent values and as fast or faster than anything AMD has today, but SolidWorks performance is almost always CPU bound, so the extra $500 for the X6800 would be money well spent.
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Oops....
That should have read...the "E6600/6700 are"....(the E6400 is slow)
The E6750 will be great when it ships, but you can't buy it now. (Though the performance gain with the faster FSB is minimal, unless you overclock.)
For perormance comparisons, see
http://www.deskeng.com/Media/PublicationsArticle/polywell.pdf
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