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Build a machine to use as a render slave only

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I want to build my first box. I need a processing slave for 3D rendering.


Can anyone suggest the most pared back system with the most processing power and the least cost - easy ask eh?


1. Do I even need a video card?

The software I use for networked rendering doesn't use open GL to render - only processors, the machine will be accessed with remote desktop so do I even need a video card? Could I set up the machine using the GTX 285 out of my mac pro then pull it out when it's all up and running?

I have no idea what happens to a machine with no video card - can it even render a desktop for VNC?


2. Don't need a DVD/CD rom


3. What kind of processor vs price?

Am happy to balance processor performance/price. Although I have noticed my macbook pro's i7 is only a little bit slower than my Mac Pro's 8 core Xenon which is awesome but I understand that will come at a price.


4. How many processors can I fit into one box?

More cores the better. Am I better off setting up two boxes with cheaper pars?


5. Networking

Would prefer wifi so I can put the box anywhere in the studio, do I need ethernet for set up?


6. Sleep

I would like it to seep and wake via WOL is this possible?


7. Hard Drive

I have a spare 250gb HD lying around, I believe its 3GBs SATA

Or, can you run the system off a USB stick? - small quiet, cheap to run


8. RAM

I only need 2 or 4gb to start with - the render software is 32bit so It'll only access 2gb anyway


9. Audio



10. Software

10.8 ideally


Thanks for looking!

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1. You could get a MB with a build-in VGA (some Intel buiild-in cards do work in OS X).


3. Ideally Xeons, or i7 with 4-6 cores, if on tight budget when i5 (it all depends on how often you would use it and how complicated render scenes are). More info here.


4. AFAIK you can only use Xeon CPUs for multi CPU system (one MB with multiple CPUs on it). i7, i5, i3 are not designed (intentionally I guess) to be used side by side on a single MB. IMO it is better to have one PC with 4 cores CPU, then two PCs with 2 core CPU each. And it would be cheaper (consider the price to pay for a double quantity of parts needed for two separate PCs).


5. AFAIK LAN is better (speed wise) over WiFi when transferring big single files (like 4Gb DVD ISO image or some backup image). Most likely WiFi would do. Sure if you are concerned about security, then LAN is a way to go. On the other hand most MBs come with a buil-in LAN. Some may have WiFi as well.


6. HDD would be better then USB. Not sure if SSD would make any sense in here.


Just my 5cnt.

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Okay I've done some more research, does anyone think I'll have any problems with the below components? Or suggestions if there's a faster, cheaper, more compatible option...


MotherBoard $120




Processor $289

Core i7-3770


I decided on this processor - great bang for buck, should be as fast as my 8 core xeon mac pro by the look of CPU bench marks


Case $30

Rosewill FBM-01



PS $18



Is this going to be loud and horrible? it's pretty cheap. I figure if I buy a larger PS I can put a video card in the box later If I want to.


RAM $89

CORSAIR Vengeance 16GB DDR3 1600


Decided to use more ram incase I decide to render frames with the 64 bit camera, and this way I can add another 16 in the future.

I don't really know about what brand is good or {censored}, any suggestions? I want to keep it cheapish though.



I have a few 250gb SATA drives sitting around



There is no GPU but do I need any extra cooling?? The case has 1 x Rear 80mm Fan 1 x Front 120mm Fan, is this enough? Do I also need CPU Heatsinks?


Total price so far. $546

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The PSU doesn't seem quite good to me (I'm tad paranoid about power supplies as too many had failed on me) . How about this one?


It has 3 years warranty. And it has a big fan (should be quite).


There is no GPU but do I need any extra cooling?? The case has 1 x Rear 80mm Fan 1 x Front 120mm Fan, is this enough? Do I also need CPU Heatsinks?
I guess these stock fans should be enough (though I bet they will be quite noisy). CPU usually come bundled with heatsink/fan, so no need to buy any additional unless you plan do overclocking or need a silent cooling.

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