As I mentioned in a previous post, I have been busy putting together a new computer. My current computer is about four years old and still runs fine, but my backup computer recently died and that gave me an excuse to get some computing upgrades. (My “backup computer” is actually used to back up my files, along with any files my wife wants to back up from her laptop. Then the files on my backup computer are uploaded up to CrashPlan for even better data security.)
Inspired by the computer that Pi Visuals built, I decided to build my own computer. My last few computers have been Dell, but I have noticed that there are less customization options through the Dell website. Since the main goal of my computer is to perform well during 3D animation tasks, it will have similar characteristics to a gaming computer. But I do not need all of the features that come with a high-end gaming system, like RAID hard drives or overclocked processors. And that is the best advantage of building your own computer: you can pick and choose between any features you want, as long as it fits into your budget.
My computer is actually very similar to Pi Visuals’ computer, with a few upgrades because prices have fallen since he put his together. For 3D work, one of the most critical components is the video card; if you have a bad video card, programs like Lightwave 3D will have very limited performance. Using VideoCardBenchmark.net for performance and price details, I decided to use the GeForce GTX 970, which currently is the fourth best card on the list but sells for a very reasonable price (given the performance).
This is the first computer I have owned with a dedicated SSD drive for the OS and programs (or any SSD drive, actually). Windows boots up extremely quickly and programs launch nearly instantaneously.
I also decided it was time to upgrade my eight year old LCD monitor. I splurged on a Dell U2413, which is color-calibrated at the factory and can be further tweaked to make the display as accurate as possible (if you have the right color calibration hardware, which I have not purchased). I am still using my old monitor as second display, which is another first for me — I have never used more than one display at at ime. It is very convenient to have double the desktop space, and I am excited to see if/how it improves my actual workflow when I am using programs like LightWave. But with the two monitors side-by-side, I can definitely see a strong color difference between the two, especially given the age of my old monitor (I believe the color of LCDs change and fade over time).
Here are a couple quick photos of my new computer. Oh, and if you are curious about my computer’s name, I do not have any specific naming scheme like Pi Visuals. The backup computer that died was named Europa, my more recent computer is Fiorenza, and I named my new computer Scholomance.