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Thread: Civil 3D | High-Performance Workstations

  1. #31
    Administrator BlackBox's Avatar
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    Default Re: Civil 3D | High-Performance Workstations

    Well, I've done it now... I met with the owner and went over the good (Dell), the better (HP), and then best (Boxx) workstation configurations I was able to source this week.

    He agrees that Boxx while pricey, would be worthwhile for our dedicated C3D production users, but that the remaining (call them half-time?) users might not need quite so much power.

    He wanted to get new monitors as well, and while the 32" 4K monitors are wonderful, you can get dual 27" 4K monitors for the price of a single 32" 4K monitor, so I recommended the dual 27"... Also made the point that I'd rather have the best (Boxx) workstation and keep the 24" non-4K monitors we have now, and upgrade the monitors another time later this year to reduce cost now, because the workstation is where the productivity gains will mostly come from.

    He agreed, and liked that I thought to suggest we break all this up into logical segments to benefit multiple users by reallocation - by that I mean, if user A gets a new workstation, then reallocate their out-dated workstation to the Admin assistant, etc.


    Also, in speaking with my Boxx rep, what I thought were OEM NVMe SSD's (above) ended up being Samsung 951 drives (Samsung's OEM poorer performing equivalent of the 950 Pro), and not some generic Lite-On drives, or something else.

    However, the smallest Samsung 960 drives they'll sell are the 1 TB drives and cost prohibitive if you're seeking a RAID 0 configuration... So you may want to just source those 512 GB Samsung NVMe SSD's separately, and get a large capacity HDD for internal backups to keep the cost of the system down, etc. given that the Samsung 960 drives are so much better than the older 951 drives (just my $0.02).


    ... We'll see what happens in the next few weeks.

    Cheers
    Last edited by BlackBox; 2017-06-26 at 02:21 PM.
    "How we think determines what we do, and what we do determines what we get."

    Sincpac C3D ~ Autodesk Exchange Apps

    Computer Specs:
    Dell Precision 3620, Core i7-7700K 4.2GHz, 64GB RAM, Samsung 970 Pro M.2, 8GB NVIDIA Quadro P4000

  2. #32
    Administrator rkmcswain's Avatar
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    Default Re: Civil 3D | High-Performance Workstations

    Quote Originally Posted by BlackBox View Post

    HP Z240 - $2,528.81
    Intel i7 7700-K Quad-Core 4.2 Ghz (4.5 Ghz Turbo)
    16 GB DDR4-2400 (2 - 8 GB DIMMs)
    NVIDIA Quadro P4000 8 GB GPU (includes the 400W PSU OOTB)
    1TB 7200 RPM SATA 8 GB SSHD
    2x Samsung 960 PRO 512 GB M.2 SSD (RAID 0)
    (that's $1,868.81 for system unit after business discount and a 10% discount code, and $660 Samsung 960 PRO NVMe SSD sold separately, not factory installed)

    Are you saying that only the 2nd [960 Pro NVMe SSD] HDD is purchased/installed separately ?
    That is how the math works out. Just double checking.
    R.K. McSwain | CAD Panacea |

  3. #33
    Administrator BlackBox's Avatar
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    Default Re: Civil 3D | High-Performance Workstations

    Quote Originally Posted by rkmcswain View Post
    Are you saying that only the 2nd [960 Pro NVMe SSD] HDD is purchased/installed separately ?
    That is how the math works out. Just double checking.
    No, Samsung's 512 GB 960 Pro SSD are +/- $330 each.

    HP does not sell the EVO, or Pro drives; perhaps the SM951/SM961 Samsung's lesser performing OEM equivalent to respective Pro drives?

    Given that the Z240 only has one M.2 slot, HP confirmed that the PCIe Gen 3 x4 slot will perform at different bus speed than the M.2 slot (which the manual also lists as PCIe Gen 3 x4) - if that's true (that they each perform at different bus speeds despite the manual spec for same PCIe bus), then they would eventually fail in any RAID configuration.

    That said, the Z240 does have two PCIe Gen 3 x4 slots - one is x4 slot & connector, the other is x16 connector wired as x4 - placing a single NVMe SSD in each of those slots using a PCIe adapter (I got mine for +/- $30), or perhaps HP's Turbo Z drive (I'm trying to see if they can be purchased empty, with no drives from HP now), then running dual NVMe SSD in RAID shouldn't be a problem.


    Cheers
    "How we think determines what we do, and what we do determines what we get."

    Sincpac C3D ~ Autodesk Exchange Apps

    Computer Specs:
    Dell Precision 3620, Core i7-7700K 4.2GHz, 64GB RAM, Samsung 970 Pro M.2, 8GB NVIDIA Quadro P4000

  4. #34
    Administrator BlackBox's Avatar
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    Default Re: Civil 3D | High-Performance Workstations

    Just a follow up to share what we went with and why....

    Firstly, we didn't go with the Boxx workstations (not even for some users), primarily due to cost, but also as we are in the process of reinstating company-provided healthcare which is more important (for us) than a more expensive workstation. I do still feel there is merit to Boxx's performance claims, but this is simply not the right time (again, for us) to go down that path... Maybe next time?


    I couldn't justify the Dell Precision 3620 workstations, as I ended up being able to get the HP Z240 + the add-on NVMe SSDs for less than the Dell ($2,637.04/ea, before NVMe SSDs), and it (the HP) has a larger, 400W PSU OOTB, whereas the Dell had to be upgraded to 365W PSU. That said, I ended up buying HP Z240 workstations + Samsung 960 Pro NVMe SSDs (separately). For the latter reason above (i.e., Healthcare), we're holding off on 4K monitor upgrades until +/- January 2018.

    I'm a little bummed that both the Dell and HP motherboard bus speeds are relegated to 2133 Mhz (only listed in the spec sheets), despite their both providing 2400 Mhz DDR4 RAM, as that precludes us from upgrading to 3000-3600 Mhz if we wanted to... So be it, that's still faster than my current workstation (1333Mhz motherboard bus w/1600Mhz DDR3 RAM).



    Here's the breakdown of our new workstations, what things ended up costing, and/or where I got them:

    HP Z240 Tower Workstation - $1,908.04/ea (You can customize yours here)
    Intel i7 7700-K Quad-Core 4.2 Ghz (4.5 Ghz Turbo)
    16 GB DDR4-2400 (2 - 8 GB DIMMs)
    NVIDIA Quadro P4000 8 GB GPU (includes the 400W PSU OOTB)
    1TB 7200 RPM SATA 8 GB SSHD
    Windows 10 Pro x64
    HP 3/3/3 Tower Warranty
    + Free expedited shipping (they do not offer next business day)


    Separately, I purchased Samsung 960 PRO 512 GB NVMe SSDs for $299.99/ea here, and the StarTech NVMe to PCIe adapters for $24.99/ea from here, both from TigerDirect.com


    ... Total build price ends up being +/- $2,558 per workstation.



    Hope all of this helps some of you, as I didn't find much of anything out there when I started this task.


    Cheers
    Last edited by BlackBox; 2017-07-06 at 02:26 PM.
    "How we think determines what we do, and what we do determines what we get."

    Sincpac C3D ~ Autodesk Exchange Apps

    Computer Specs:
    Dell Precision 3620, Core i7-7700K 4.2GHz, 64GB RAM, Samsung 970 Pro M.2, 8GB NVIDIA Quadro P4000

  5. #35
    Administrator rkmcswain's Avatar
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    Default Re: Civil 3D | High-Performance Workstations

    Thanks for all the info @BlackBox.

    I think I might double the RAM and drop the display adapter to a P1000 - for what we do.
    It's probably close to a wash on $$$

    R.K. McSwain | CAD Panacea |

  6. #36
    Administrator BlackBox's Avatar
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    Default Re: Civil 3D | High-Performance Workstations

    Quote Originally Posted by rkmcswain View Post
    Thanks for all the info @BlackBox.
    You're welcome, RK

    Quote Originally Posted by rkmcswain View Post
    I think I might double the RAM and drop the display adapter to a P1000 - for what we do.
    It's probably close to a wash on $$$
    You don't say!? Haha


    You are correct that including the P4000 GPU with this workstation at time of order is a wash on $$$ as compared to 32 (4 x 8 ) GB RAM for same.

    Difference being, it is NOT a wash on $$$ when upgrading GPU after the fact... Another 16 (2 x 8 ) GB of RAM is +/- $300 retail (will cost less) & slides right into the 2 empty RAM slots, whereas the P4000 is +/- $750-850 retail & P1000 gets taken out to sit on a shelf (unless one has a custom build w/MOBO that has 2+ PCIe Gen3 x16 slots on separate PCIe buses, of course? Haha).


    Cheers
    "How we think determines what we do, and what we do determines what we get."

    Sincpac C3D ~ Autodesk Exchange Apps

    Computer Specs:
    Dell Precision 3620, Core i7-7700K 4.2GHz, 64GB RAM, Samsung 970 Pro M.2, 8GB NVIDIA Quadro P4000

  7. #37
    Administrator BlackBox's Avatar
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    Default Re: Civil 3D | High-Performance Workstations

    Quote Originally Posted by BlackBox View Post
    <snip>

    + Free expedited shipping (they do not offer next business day)

    <snip>
    Despite HP not offering next business day shipping, the new workstations will be delivered by end of day tomorrow (had originally quoted me July 22, 2017).
    "How we think determines what we do, and what we do determines what we get."

    Sincpac C3D ~ Autodesk Exchange Apps

    Computer Specs:
    Dell Precision 3620, Core i7-7700K 4.2GHz, 64GB RAM, Samsung 970 Pro M.2, 8GB NVIDIA Quadro P4000

  8. #38
    Administrator BlackBox's Avatar
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    Default Re: Civil 3D | High-Performance Workstations

    There have been some interesting developments, that I will share soon.


    For now, just wanted to say that the new workstation is able to open a 24x36/ARCH D sheet drawing with existing, proposed, and four (4) 5000x5000 county aerials in 2 seconds for visual display (all aerials shown), 4 seconds for cursor to be usable (after acaddoc.lsp, apps, etc.). My previous workstation takes 5 and 10 seconds respectively for same.

    Switching from Layout to Model tab is near instant using the new workstation (same drawing as above), whereas my previous workstation takes 4-6 seconds for same.


    An impressive boost in productivity IMO, considering that I'm using the same version of Windows, Civil 3D & Profile (.ARG), on the same network data set... This is purely a hardware upgrade.
    "How we think determines what we do, and what we do determines what we get."

    Sincpac C3D ~ Autodesk Exchange Apps

    Computer Specs:
    Dell Precision 3620, Core i7-7700K 4.2GHz, 64GB RAM, Samsung 970 Pro M.2, 8GB NVIDIA Quadro P4000

  9. #39
    Administrator rkmcswain's Avatar
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    Default Re: Civil 3D | High-Performance Workstations

    All other things equal I presume?

    Are these drawings on a local SSD, or on a network location?

    Quite frankly, the 5 and 10 second times sound pretty good. Maybe you can do a screencast and show us the 2 and 4 second time
    R.K. McSwain | CAD Panacea |

  10. #40
    Administrator BlackBox's Avatar
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    Default Re: Civil 3D | High-Performance Workstations

    Quote Originally Posted by rkmcswain View Post
    All other things equal I presume?

    Are these drawings on a local SSD, or on a network location?
    Everything equal, except for everything inside the workstation, yes. Haha

    I actually closed the drawing to reopen it a couple of times, I didn't believe it. To verify the difference, I literally RDP into my previous workstation to open the same drawing. Both workstations have single Ethernet connection, in the same office (each office has 3-RJ45 ports, so same distance to on-premise file server), using the same data set located on the server.


    Relevant settings:

    Windows Performance Settings = Select 'Adjust for best performance', then enable 'Smooth edges of screen fonts' and 'Show thumbnails instead of icons'
    Windows Page File = 65,536 MB (2x RAM per Autodesk here)
    XLOADCTL = 2
    XLOADPATH = C:\CAD\2016\temp
    MAPIOPTIONS Command, Memory tab, 'Temporary File Location' (same as XLOADPATH)
    MAPIOPTIONS Command, Memory tab, RAM Settings, 'Memory Limit' = 24,576 MB (75% of RAM) (still experimenting with what % of RAM to use per this, as 75% performs noticeably better than default of 25%)


    Quote Originally Posted by rkmcswain View Post
    Quite frankly, the 5 and 10 second times sound pretty good. Maybe you can do a screencast and show us the 2 and 4 second time
    I'll see if I can make time to setup some samples without client information; I wouldn't want you to think I'm telling stories.


    Cheers
    "How we think determines what we do, and what we do determines what we get."

    Sincpac C3D ~ Autodesk Exchange Apps

    Computer Specs:
    Dell Precision 3620, Core i7-7700K 4.2GHz, 64GB RAM, Samsung 970 Pro M.2, 8GB NVIDIA Quadro P4000

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