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Houdini workstation build - looking for feedback


TL;DR: Is it a good idea to build this machine for houdini, cpu/gpu hybrid rendering and nuke?

Ryzen 7590x
1x RTX 4070 (upgrade to 2 later)
128 gb ddr5 Ram
2x m2 drives. 1 for boot (500gb) and 1for project files(2tb, ok maybe also games)
2x 4tb Sata for raid0 (simulation data)
arctic freezer II 360

Now to the full question for people who read, but first a little bit of context:

I'm in the process of quitting my job and working as a freelance artist.
At my current job I am working with a Threadripper 3970x, two 3080rtx cards, 1280gb and m2 drives.
Currently mainly using Houdini, Redshift, Nuke and Davinci Resolve.

For my own machine, I am on a tighter budget and am willing to compromise on GPU power but would rather not go slower on my CPU. I am planning to do a lot of simulations. Some of these need to be rendered on CPU (1. redshift sucks for fire. 2. Water geos can get so big that they dont really fit into the GPU ram). Alos eyeing on using Karma XPU for quick jobs (hybrid CPU/GPU renderer). Still in beta, but already quite strong and hopefully out of beta in next houdini version.

Looking at this needs it is kinda clear that CPU and Ram are the main priorities. But I definetely want to keep my options open to upgrade to multiple / stronger GPUs. This is why I picked the MSI MPG X670E CARBON, because it at pcie5 and can run gpus in a 8x8x configuration. This should cover for a dual gpu setup of the next hopefully 2 generations.
Upgradeability is also the reason I chose AMD over Intel. At the end of the day, except in gaming, the intel 13900k doesn't seem to be much suprior to the AMD choice. I'd rather replace the CPU in 2025 and be happy than invest into intel (hopefully this is the case as AMD promised). Also, the processors cost more or less the same and the equivalent motherboard as well (considering a dual gpu setup).

Now to the question if Ryzen 7950x will be enough for my purposes. I found this neat Houdini Simulation Benchmarks https://www.vfxarabia.co/post/houdini-benchmark-cores-vs-clockspeed-updated which I'm using as a reference together with Passmark https://www.cpubenchmark.net/compare/3623vs5031vs3630vs2785vs5022/AMD-Ryzen-Threadripper-3970X-vs-AMD-Ryzen-9-7950X-vs-Intel-i9-10980XE-vs-Intel-i7-6800K-vs-Intel-i9-13900K

Judging from this quick overview it seems that passmark is actually representing houdini simulation performance quite accurately. I was really suprised to see that the 16 cores of the AM5 chip can actually compete with the 32 cores of the 3970x. Obviously single core processes will even be much quicker.
I think for my purpose, it defeats the point in investing into threadripper machines, especially comparing the needed investment.

So now to my questions:
Does my reasoning make sense? What kind of power source should i buy in case I want to run two gpus (I know this is hard to say without the actual models in mind). Any case suggestions with all of this in mind? Is it a bad idea to run two satas internally as raid 0? Did I forget/overlooked anything?

Thank you for reading and I appreciate any insight you could offer!


  • poopipe
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    poopipe grand marshal polycounter

    I would get a good qualiity 1600w PSU - 1300W if I coudnt afford the big one.
    You'd probably get away with 1000w but for longevity and efficiency you want to be sub 80% usage at full load
    A 5950x and a 3080 alone can reach 600 watts at times - add some fast disks etc and you're close to the acceptable boundary on a 1kw PSU - before adding a second GPU.

    The threadripper vs ryzen question is the same as the choice between getting a 3090 or an a6000 - if you really need the a6000 you wouldnt be considering the 3090.

    There's a strong argument for taking the extra you'd spend on the threadripper system, buying a second machine to run large jobs on in the background and freeing up your main workstation - whether that applies or not depends greatly on the nature of the work you do of course.

  • thomasp
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    thomasp hero character

    I would not be surprised at all to hear that some Threadripper from several years ago can be beaten by a newer chip, even at half the cores. These 'pro' parts are regularly lagging a generation or two behind in my experience.

    However you are stuck with a measly 128 GB RAM limit on the Ryzen. Might not be enough for work in the years to come if simulations already can go as complex as you claim.

    Perhaps you could get an off-lease workstation in a configuration matching the one you have at work though? Sometimes they can be had a good prices. If that's the environment that is known to handle the job well it might be a better idea to do that and get right to doing the job instead of spending the time required to figure out and assemble the optimal system from consumer parts.

  • Oliver_Speiser

    Thanks for the answers!

    I actually I did not really consider the ram limit much and it is unfortunate. I think I'd be fine with 128gb for some years though. In the end a final highres sim just needs to cache two frames, and Houdini can cache simulations onto disk if it needs to be. The thing is, once we talk about these massive sims, the playback cache doesn't really matter much because you cannot preview it in the viewport anyways (at least not much fastern than 3fps). So for those sims I write every frame straight to disk and render the viewport (automated with pdg), so I can review it like that.
    It's also not really the case that all my sims are huge. It's just that I'm not willing to wait to long for reiterating a sim. That's why cpu speed is so important to me.

    Also thanks for the power estimation. I will look for a big boy of a PSU.

  • UtilitasArts
    Hey, Did you already build this computer? I have been looking for the same sort of configurations and have been going down a rabit-hole of comparisons and endless youtube reviews.

    Were you able to install the 128gb ram without any issues. I heard ddr5 and am5 mobo gave some issues with this?
    what setup did you end up going for? 

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