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Building a PC - Best hardware for slicing/3D modeling?

Posted by dan11 
Building a PC - Best hardware for slicing/3D modeling?
January 06, 2014 10:33AM
So I've recently decided to build a new PC . My budget maximum is ~$900 for everything, but I'd obviously like to save as much as I can. I would like to maximize my slicing performance for 3D printing. I play some games, but not often. I'm going to start with one monitor and eventually scale that up to 2 or 3 monitors,but this is several months away.

Right now I'm using Slic3r that's built into Repetier-Host and AutoCAD Inventor Fusion for 3D modeling.

I've been doing a lot of background investigation into what sort of core components would be good for me. The problem is, most of the benchmarks focus on gaming. Tom's Hardware has done some benchmarking in other areas as well, but I'm not sure how to match this to slicing performance. i.e: 'Productivity Benchmarks?'

I've fired up the Windows 7 resource monitor and it seems like slicing performance is very memory intensive. Does anybody know if there are slicers out there that are OpenGL enabled? If not, I can definitely save some money on graphics and dump it into SSD/processor/memory.

So far I've narrowed it down to some flavor of multi-core processor with at least 8 GB of RAM. My current setup is quad-core Intel with 4GB of RAM and I've noticed it goes to the page file quite a bit when slicing larger objects, so I think that's my main bottleneck. I should also mention that my current setup is 5 years old as of this year.

Right now I'm torn between AMD/Intel systems. Here's a good picture of an AMD System that looks interesting. But for and extra $150, I could get something like this Intel system.

My question is: is spending the extra money on an Intel processor worth it? I'd love to hear some of your opinions/recommendations. Ideally, I'd be great if we could get a couple of people to do some benchmarks....
Re: Building a PC - Best hardware for slicing/3D modeling?
January 06, 2014 12:17PM
AFAIK, the fastest slicing is done by the fastest clock speed CPU. I could be wrong, I'm not sure of any slicers that are writted to run on multiple cores... and I don't think opengl is available at this point either. As long as you have ~4gb ram, pretty much any modern computer will be able to slice at fairly comparable speeds. If you computer starts having to pagefile, then you'll be in for a long wait.

I have noticed that some slicers seem to be better at memory management. I've used slic3r, cura and KISS and slic3r seems to be the biggest hog of resources -- but I haven't really done an apples to apples comparison.
Re: Building a PC - Best hardware for slicing/3D modeling?
January 06, 2014 02:05PM
Ok,.. it's really not that intensive.

I am using a laptop,

A Lenovo G505 with an AMD A6 Quad Core. I had a limited budget of £400, when my last laptop melted a couple of months ago, and after quite a bit of research I decided on this one.
It was this or a low end touch screen PC, but then I would swap processor and RAM for a touch screen, and I didn't really need a touch screen.
Big plus was having somewhere to put a microSD. It makes SD card printing very fast when you don't have to wait for the upload, and very easy if there's a slot to pop it in.

I use photoshop, sketchup, pronterface, slic3r, sometimes all at once while I'm also surfing the net.

Anyway.. what I'm trying to say is that this is no "ultimate" gaming machine, but it has more power than I'll ever need.

We spent £100 on a second hand PC (including a screen!) to run our laser cutter. I have an old laptop (2 years old) in the cupboard, and if I needed a machine just for the 3D printing, I'd have just fired that up.

Laptops are so powerful these days that the large retailer I work for in the UK has just decided to do away with desktop machines totally.
We ALL have laptops.
Thats 500 people in an IT directorate, that are all going to laptops. I'm an Analyst Programmer, and my work laptop has less power than my home laptop, and I run some pretty beefy software on it, (just not games).

Anyway.. my point? why desktop? £400 gets you a very capable laptop, and the battery lasts about 6 hours on my laptop now ! It's insane!

(btw, an entire plate takes about 2 minutes to slice, but usually parts and groups of parts slice in under a minute).

If you want me to slice something for you to give you an indication of time it takes me, just let me know.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/06/2014 02:10PM by DaveS.
Re: Building a PC - Best hardware for slicing/3D modeling?
January 06, 2014 04:41PM
I think this is mostly CPU work, unless you have an incredibly low amount of rams, but it's mostly CPU. I've been checking the power usage while slicing and I can see the only thing really thoroughly used is the CPU.
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