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Thread: Anyone using a 3DBoxx workstation?

  1. #1
    Senior Member haknslash's Avatar
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    Anyone using a 3DBoxx workstation?

    Currently I have dual cards (see sig) but my machine still isn't as fast as I'd like it to render or handle files in Shot in real time. I am a design engineer in the manufacturing industry but I'm also the companies 'go-to guy' for all things rendering, specialty modeling, animations etc) so I use a slew of Autodesk Products (Inventor, 3DS Max, Alias, Mudbox, etc). My IT department isn't a fan of me using a "gaming card" on a machine that uses the ADSK products. I understand their initial concerns but I also know of people who use gaming cards on 'workstation' machines and have no issues.

    So last year I set aside an ear holder for buying another machine. After my experiences, I'm always skeptical about anyone that creates a computer, software, whatever that claims it can 'handle it all' or is a true all-in-one package. Rarely has this ever worked out quite right or 'as advertised'. There is always something that gets left off or has an issue. But I have seen some of the Boxx Technologies products in person, specifically the Render Farm (drool ) and the small RenderPro dedicated personal rendering solution. I have yet to play with or see in person how the 3DBoxx machine (fully spec'd out) performs.

    I've read all the white papers and published comparison reviews on the 3DBoxx workstation...but I would like to hear from real-world people who are doing both engineering/design work as well as creating renders and animations using Shot, 3DS Max, etc. So does such a person exist on this forum? If so I'd love to hear your thoughts on how the unit performs in real-world duty.
    Kenny Wilson
    900D ASUS Maximus VI Extreme 4770k 3x GTX 780 Ti's AX1200i 32GB RAM H100i a lot of SP120 fans
    Bunkspeed Shot Pro 2014

  2. #2
    Senior Member haknslash's Avatar
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    No replies so I take it I will be the first on here as the guinee pig?!

    Got the approval from upper management for my new system to replace my Z800 in my sig.

    With the help from Rich Petit (sales) the fine engineering team over at Boxx we spec'd a machine that we feel will suit my needs:
    3DBoxx 4920 Xtreme
    Intel i7 Six Core 3960X (overclocked and enchanced @ 4.5 Ghz)
    16GB DDR3 1600 (4 DIMMS)
    NVidia Quadro 4000
    NVidia Quadro 600 (to help w/ quad monitor support)
    NVidia Tesla C2075 (dedicated CUDA yum!)
    500GB 7,200rpm SATA
    40GB 2.5 SSD Cache HD
    20x DVD±RW

    I think it should haul major mail!!! I'm excited to see how it will perform with running Shot along with other 'heavy' apps. Shot alone should scream with up to 800 CUDA cores!! I will let you guys know once it gets here and set up.
    Last edited by haknslash; 03-13-2012 at 12:05 PM.
    Kenny Wilson
    900D ASUS Maximus VI Extreme 4770k 3x GTX 780 Ti's AX1200i 32GB RAM H100i a lot of SP120 fans
    Bunkspeed Shot Pro 2014

  3. #3
    Junior Member cubicart's Avatar
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    Looks like an awesome setup ... I'm interested in how it performs. I'm going to be looking at a new workstation in the very near future, and I'll definitely be looking at Boxx as a possible source. I'm still debating whether to try building a system also.

  4. #4
    Senior Member andy's Avatar
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    I see a couple potential problems with your setup that you may need to address.

    HD space is the concern. If you plan on installing more than Shot you may run into problems. Most applications we use have hefty page file sizes. First, your windows page file is equal to your amount of RAM for best performance. Ahhh, that's half your hard drive.

    I recommend at least 140GB for your main hard drive if you are running Shot + Adobe Creative Suite.

    Photoshop will want at least 4GB of pagefile, and it will run fastest on your SSD.

    Also, if you ever plan on doing animations, you might want to spend the extra 50 dollars it takes to upgrade to a larger secondary hard drive. Are you sure that's not SAS? If it's a standard SATA drive then you should be able to at least double the size of the drive for a minimal cost.

    With that much rendering power I'd hate to see your bottleneck be HD space and constantly fighting to free up space. I have a 148GB SSD PCI board as my main drive, save no files to the HD and the applications and page files take up 90GB, which is more than twice what you're planning. I have an extra 6GB of RAM, so that accounts for the extra 6gigs, but that's it. And I have my adobe cache/pagefiles on a second drive.

    You can do it but I feel strongly that you will be struggling with a 40GB drive.

    And lastly, I'd recommend against a quad monitor setup. Dual monitors already introduces some issues with stability. I've only known a few people that went past that and they all went back to 2 after some time. Consider 2 higher resolution monitors. If you are actually running that many apps at once, you'll probably run into even more space/memory problems. Minimizing an application causes it to be paged and saves RAM. Having them open all at once and active, you may run out of RAM pretty quick. I've had a few SHOT files that take up 16GB of memory all by themselves. Just look through the graphics card driver fixes. Often times you'll see more than 2 monitors having unresolved issues for months at a time. It's not that it doesnt work, but adding in more stabiliy issues is always painful. It's something to think about.

  5. #5
    Senior Member haknslash's Avatar
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    Thanks Andy for chiming in. You bring some things to definitely consider before submitting my PO. I definitely understand with the page file as I had to have IT install a secondary drive just to try and handle the page file Inventor was creating.

    The specs I posted are direct from Boxx so I'm assuming its what it is? It says SATA so I'm going by what they quoted me??

    The quad monitor setup is not what it sounds like. My current monitor total is 3. I run dual SyncMaster 24's as my "main monitors" that I work from each and every day. I have a Cintiq 21x that I use as well for Photoshop, Sketchbook Pro, Alias and to view a PDf or Word document from time to time without having it take up real estate on my main monitors. The 4th monitor will be used very sparingly but will be needed when it comes time to use my Geomagic or FARO software for reverse engineering and/or CMM probing. It will be mounted a few feet from my desk as the FARO CMM and scanner are mounted to a huge granite plate. Geomagic can be a very 'heavy' program as its dealing with millions of points from a point cloud. It gets really heavy when you actually start the nurb modeling process. I would never try and run Geomagic, Adobe Creative Suite, Inventor Product Design Suite, Shot, etc all at the same time. I don't think there is a machine out there capable of doing such .....well....that I can justify at least . Currently I use an HP EliteBook mobile workstation with Nvidia 3800m card that runs nothing but the CMM and Geomagic software. It works but I could use the extra horsepower of the new system, or so that is/was my plan. The 4th monitor is essentually going to replace or act as the LCD display of my ole laptop.

    I have forwarded some of your concerns along with a few from my IT department back to Boxx Tech so I'll report back with their solutions or comments. I just want a system that can handle the workload I'm dished out. Thanks for looking out Andy as I will admit I'm far from a super computer savy person when it comes to all the stuff going on behind the scenes in making a high performance computer be the most efficient and robust that it can (given a budget of course :8)!
    Last edited by haknslash; 03-14-2012 at 06:59 PM.
    Kenny Wilson
    900D ASUS Maximus VI Extreme 4770k 3x GTX 780 Ti's AX1200i 32GB RAM H100i a lot of SP120 fans
    Bunkspeed Shot Pro 2014

  6. #6
    Senior Member haknslash's Avatar
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    OK after speaking with Boxx folks again on your concerns here is basically what the told me in a nutshell:

    The 40GB drive is not accessable by users, seen by Windows, programs installed to, etc. It only acts as a cache drive to remember frequent programs you open and use so that next time they open and load much faster than reading from a HDD.
    500GB is what programs and files would install or save to. Currently I have a 300GB HD in my Z800 so having 200GB more to run the same programs I've been using and save files to doesn't seem like a negative issue to me. I suppose if page files do become an issue I could have my IT guys install the same hard drive on my Z800 that was/is dedicated to just page file.

    The monitor stuff he didn't see an issue with. Like I mentioned earlier I already run more than 2 monitors at all times and have never experienced any instability issues like you state. Not to say there aren't any possibilites, it's just that I've never experienced them in 3 years with this setup. The Quadro 600 is there to help facilitate the use of 4 monitors splitting some of the load from the 4000. One of the main IT guys at my work has like the great wall of monitors in his office. I think he has at minimum 6 running from one single machine. So I think I'll be OK but I'll report back if we find an issue. He went to his engineering team at Boxx specifically for this when I first was getting quotes and told them of my daily workflow and the need for quad monitors. That's when the Quadro 600 came into the mix.

    He did say they offer RevoDrive but after how he explained to me the computer handles itself plus the crazy cost of those, I just couldn't justify spending anywhere from $900-$4200. It would be nice but I'm not sure if its necessary for our needs.

    Thankfully they do a 30-day test drive or full refund if I'm not 100% satisfied. So I'll have a month to throw everything I do on a daily basis at it to see if I can find any significant faults or break it. He assured me they build these machines specifically for this type of heavy use and he feels I will like the results I get from it. If not they are more than happy to take it back with no loss on our end.
    Last edited by haknslash; 03-14-2012 at 09:28 PM.
    Kenny Wilson
    900D ASUS Maximus VI Extreme 4770k 3x GTX 780 Ti's AX1200i 32GB RAM H100i a lot of SP120 fans
    Bunkspeed Shot Pro 2014

  7. #7
    Senior Member andy's Avatar
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    I've got a Revo drive, and I have to say I was also skeptical of the cost vs. value. After using it a bit, It's definitely worth the time saved (depends on how much someone thinks your time is worth of course). Vs a SAS drive, it was saving me about 30 minutes a day for projects where I was working at 100%. Time saved is mostly due to having to open/close software to free up VRAM. For some reason my computer doesn't like it when I have Premiere, AfterEffects, Illustrator and Photoshop open all at the same time when working with HD files. You quickly turn off Peek and Aero. I assume Boxx turns that stuff off for you to get maximum performance (and less program crashing).
    Shot is a pretty VRAM hungry software as well, so when I'm using that, I close anything else. Bouncing between that and photoshop all day, you're constantly opening/closing the software.

    It sounds like Boxx has some special way of setting the cache files up for you on that SSD. I've had best results having my programs installed on the revo as Well as the cache files, where I store my files on a 1TB SAS drive. (I didn't choose all the hardware. I just got lucky the IT guy went a little overboard on a few of the specs)

    Anyway it sounds like Boxx has it pretty well covered. They do make some pretty beastly machines. As far as I know they support them quite well also.

    Oh, and one big downside to the RevoDrive - it takes up a slot that you Could be using another graphics card. I only have 2, and needed USB3 for a couple things, so that took up my last slot after the RevoDrive.....not that i have the power to run another graphics card. That would be an expensive upgrade. Going past 1000Watts gets expensive Real quick.

  8. #8
    Senior Member haknslash's Avatar
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    Yea the Revodrive sounds like an awesome setup to go but I just don't want to go back to my upper management with a revised quote...again. I work in corporate environment that loves them some red tape

    From what I gather the service and support at Boxx is great. So far I would agree with that statement. I have played with a similar spec'd Boxx machine at AU 2011 and it was hauling major butt in the same applications and similar workflow I use. They make a great product and I'm hoping I'll be happy with this machine for at least a few years (corporate typically allows us an upgrade for specific 'power users' every few years or so). If I can increase my productivity by even half I will be happy. Going by the specs of this machine and benchmarks relative to my current machine I should theorhetically see up to 3x improvement across the board in most scenarios. We'll see and fingers crossed . Thankully I have the 30 day full return to try her out and see what she's about

    Thanks for your input Andy and I'll give my initial impressions of the machine once it arrives.

    -Kenny
    Last edited by haknslash; 03-15-2012 at 02:09 PM.
    Kenny Wilson
    900D ASUS Maximus VI Extreme 4770k 3x GTX 780 Ti's AX1200i 32GB RAM H100i a lot of SP120 fans
    Bunkspeed Shot Pro 2014

  9. #9
    Senior Member haknslash's Avatar
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    "It's here"

    boxx13.jpgboxx.jpg
    Kenny Wilson
    900D ASUS Maximus VI Extreme 4770k 3x GTX 780 Ti's AX1200i 32GB RAM H100i a lot of SP120 fans
    Bunkspeed Shot Pro 2014

  10. #10
    Senior Member andy's Avatar
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    Oh nice. Liquid cooled.
    That should be a bit quieter. Mine sounds like a rocket ship every time I render.

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