New PC Build & Performance


I recently did an article on GPU acceleration and ultimately mentioned that I’ve decided to build a new computer for fun to see how much better it preformed with a proper graphics card opposed to the current Mac lineups. After ordering parts, assembling them, and installing proper drivers, here are the results.

Before I get into the specs, note that this isn’t suppose to be a Mac Pro replacement, it’s simply a decent custom build (a bit over $1000) that most of you could probably afford. The goal is to get a sense of differences in performance gap between a fairly moderate PC compared to an equivalent Mac, whether it be a iMac or Mac Pro, you decide.

Specs

First, we have the Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UP5 motherboard which supports USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt, a pretty awesome feature to have when transferring a lot of large files. Next is the Intel Core i7-3770K Ivy Bridge (3.5GHz) processor, with quad core, over-clocking abilities, and turbo boost up to 3.9GHz, this fairly decent processor does a great job at handling demanding work. The main show is the GeForce GTX 670, with 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 and 1344 CUDA cores, this GPU is amazing at handling all those GPU plugins like Element 3D and ShapeShifter while maintaining a decent budget. Finally, we have 32GB of DDR3 1600 RAM, standard CD-ROM drive, and a Crucial M4 256GB SSD.

As mentioned earlier, I will most likely be using Windows 7 64-bit on this computer as GPU compatibility and drivers work much more efficiently. On the 2nd hard drive, I have a 100% functional Mac OSX Mountain Lion installed (Hackintosh) which supports my hardware quite well. (OSX is on there just for the heck of it. I wanted to have some fun!) In total, all the hardware came at roughly $1479.95. (This includes the PSU, case, fans, etc).

Benchmark Performance

CineBench: 

OpenGL: 43.88 fps

CPU: 7.49pts

GeekBench (32 bits): 12,767 (I’m a little sketchy on this, it should be a bit higher)

 

Compare those benchmarks to:

2011 iMac 27″ Core i7 3.4GHz (Quad Core) $3399:

OpenGL: 44fps

CPU: 6.8pts

Geekbench: 11,648

2012 MacBook Pro 15″ Retina Core i7 2.6GHz (Quad Core) $2799:

OpenGL: 39.4fps

CPU: 6.7pts

Geekbench: 11,675

If you guys would like to see other benchmarks, let me know!

Conclusion

Although this isn’t the most powerful PC on the block, it definitely performs very well, especially compared to mid-level Macs. Yes, the CPU isn’t the greatest (8 total cores with hyper-threading), it definitely does suffice. The main game changer isn’t the CPU though, it’s the GPU. By adding in a upgraded graphics card, the boost in performance definitely skyrockets compared to the standard GPUs included in upper iMacs/MacBook Pro Retina. (No, not the Intel ones, the ATI/NVIDIA ones). This simply demonstrates that adding a moderately priced GPU can definitely boost your workflow fairly easily, all it takes is an upgrade. If you’re stuck running an iMac/MacBook Pro which can’t be upgraded GPU wise, you may want to look into PCs if you’re running graphical intensive stuff. GPU acceleration is simply the future in this industry, jump ship now so you can get a head start.

Passmark is a great site to compare graphics cards/CPUs so you can get the best performance for your buck. Definitely check it out if you’re planning to upgrade anything in your build. If you guys have any further questions or comments, feel free to leave them down below, I’d love to hear them!

24 comments
  1. Nice review, although you didn’t really put much emphasis on how much more performance/dollar you can get on a custom PC compared to a mac.

  2. That’s pretty cool
    I need a little help though!
    My specs:
    nvidia Geforece 450
    4GB of ram
    Intel i5 processor
    Win 7 64bit
    Can you tell me or give me an idea on what kind of spec i should go from here to do all those professional stuff.I mostly work on 3ds max and after effects also Photoshop. So,for beginners,this was pretty good to deal with and got it off for like 800$ .
    I’m in India right now and moving to Singapore to learn Industrial design at “FZD school of design”.
    So planning to get a new comp there with new specs where PS can handle really high res pic’s and 3ds max can handle lot of polygons and render fast.

    1. $800 can you buy you a lot more these days. First of all, Photoshop can run smoothly on pretty much any modern computer now a days. For 3DS Max, invest in a processor with lots of cores (8-12 total cores recommended, so probably a Xeon). Also, upgrade your RAM to at least 16GB. Finally, invest in a good graphics card. In your case, the processor most likely will cost the most as you’ll be needing a pretty strong one.

  3. nice review. After 7 years I decided to go with a new machine too a month ago, it was pain to work with that old one. My specs are nearly same as yours, so with reading this review and having fun again working since a month, I haven’t done the wrong decission. your comparision of mac vs pc just shows to buy a mac is a stylish waste of money…

      1. here are the build I did:
        Processor: i7 3770
        Mainboard: asus p8z77
        Ram: 32GB Gskill DDR3 ram kit (1600),
        Grafic: GFX 460 (still the old one)
        Sound:Fatality X-fi Soundblaster
        Storage: Crucial M4 SSD, several 7200 – 10k rpm sata hdd of different brands
        Power: coolermaster 750W power supply
        Case: coolermaster 690 II Advanced (white/black edition)

        here is my MSI Kombuster test, haven’t run other yet:
        http://www.ozone3d.net/msi_kombustor/score_200.php?id=87789

        All parts (besides from the taken over Soundcard, HDDs and gCard) roundabout 750 Euro. Gcard is okay but that’s definetly next thing on the list – and replacing 1 of the 7200rpm HDD against 10k ones. for the ssd I wouldn’t go for a that small one again, 256gb should be minimum. I had a tight budget but I think the investment is worth since after the first 2-3 client projects the saved time pays back twice. Rendertime and ram-preview is really smooth even with the 4core and the bit weak 460gtx. the only thing i regret a bit was not buying the deluxe version of the board. The best of it all is really being able to put the previous wasted time into creative stuff instead of waiting, so i recomment everyone who can afford it somehow (and runs a FX/editing business), just upgrade your machine.

  4. Hi Vinhson

    I think that i gonna buy myself a new PC, and wonder if you have any advice for what I should look after. I gonna use the PC to the Adobe programs, Autodesk Maya and plug-ins like Element 3D, Trapcode Particular and etc.

    1. Hey Jes,

      If you’re planning on using Adobe programs and 3D applications, it’s clear you need an overall powerful computer that can handle many processes. GPU and RAM is very crucial with After Effects and other Adobe applications. For 3D applications like Maya, all those are important too, but the CPU is even more important as you want as many cores working hard. My tip is to buy the best GPU, CPU (with as many cores as possible), and as much RAM as you can afford. (32GB is recommended)

  5. Hello Vinson! Can you give me some advice on building my own computer? I want to build a computer that is really fast at running After Effects and 3DS Max, and can play games at ultra-settings (games like Battlefield 3). Can you tell me what processors, graphics card, and RAM I should get? I’m still saving money, and I can’t spend more than $1000 because that’s all I have. Help Appreciated 🙂

    1. For AE, try to get as much RAM as possible. With your budget, problem 16GB of RAM.

      For 3DS Max, processor cores are important so buy a processor (I’d recommend an Intel Core i7) with at least 4 cores.

      Next is the graphics card, pretty much buy the best graphics card you can afford in your budget. NVIDIA is the way to go with CUDA.

      Of course PSU/Case/Fans are not directly tied to apps, just make sure you can run your hardware.

  6. Vinhson your right omg, I have a iMac quad core i5 2.7 16gb ram 27″ I loved this machine, until I got into after affects,and cinema 4d, now looking to buy a pc, sell my iMac omg, I would never have said that 6 months ago, but it true my iMac is pretty, but has no balls, lol I was a mac fan but now its time for me to jump ship myself.

    1. Definitely! I love my Macs, they are great for everything I do except vfx/mograph work. If you do jump ship, let me know how it goes. If you’re interested, maybe you should try the Hackintosh route and see if you like it. I know some people who are satisfied with it since it’s a Mac environment with powerful PC parts. Obviously some of the components won’t work as efficiently on Mac drivers, but it’s been working great for my test build so far.

  7. Thanks for the reply vinhson, I will take a look at the hackintosh route, im a little worried about pc problems, I don’t have any problems with my iMac it’s just slow when it comes to A.A & C4D I will let you know how it goes

  8. I too have been wanting to upgrade my computer. I have a 2009 or 2010 macbook pro with 8gigs of ram and a nvidia 330m with 512mb. I have been thinking really really hard about jumping ship myself and going back to PC. I actually have the money to buy a new top of the line iMac. (It would be my first ever Mac ‘desktop’). I just need speed. Speed, speed, speed. I can’t take the motion Blur in after effects. I have rendered for almost 2 days before on short clips with a lot going on. I use Blender and have had the same results. It’s all driving me crazy. How do you think the brand new 27″ imacs with 32gigs ram and highest gpu available for it, and whatever else will fair with AE and Blender AND Element 3D and so forth..? Should I just go the PC route? I don’t even remember how to use a PC. I Just remember wanting to pull all my hair at back in the day when I used one..

    1. Hey Rob, I feel your pain man. If you have the budget for the top 27″ iMac, I’d say go for it! I’d wait until after the WWDC in a few days though, rumor has it they may reveal new Mac Pros. If Apple finally makes the Mac Pro up to professional standards again, I’d say you’re pretty safe with Apple. If they decide to drop out of the professional market and disappoint with the Mac Pro, I’d recommend jumping ship entirely.

      1. Hi VinhSon, looking at your last comment, now that the Mac Pro’s specs have been stated, does it meet your concerns, especially in the GPU area and would you consider one? Love your tutorials btw.

        1. Thanks Steve! The Mac Pro on paper looks okay, but it certainly still leaves me concerned. The computer is now even more less customizable, so upgrading anything will be a pain. The design of it is a joke, and it uses AMD for graphics, which won’t benefit much from CUDA technology and Adobe apps. I always find NVIDIA cards to preform much better. Although the Mac Pro is updated with better specs, I still don’t think it’s a good purchase in terms of how much money you’re spending. Upgradability and NVIDIA is what I would want, not a trash can design with tons of Thunderbolt I/O.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

Free Light Leaks Pack

Need some quick and easy light leaks for your projects? Here’s 15 light leaks I’m giving away for free in my latest Light Leaks Pack!…