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How To Build A Creator PC

How to Build a Creator PC

Whether you are building a creator PC for video editing, 3D modelling or animation, audio production or graphic design, there are certain components that are essential, so you get the workstation specification you need.

Building a Creator PC

Regardless of your creative needs, a reliable, powerful PC is a must. We're going to look at the components you need for the various types PC build, covering audio, 3D and video creation. We'll also discuss the benefits of Mac or PC workstations, and why you need the specific components for each build.

Core components of a creator PC

Core components of a creator PC

Though there are differences between each creator PC, there are some core components that are the same. Each of the builds we've detailed in this guide will include: -

  • ATX mid tower or full tower case
  • Minimum 32GB RAM
  • Combination of SSD + HDD storage
  • High power PSU

ATX mid tower or full tower case

A large case means you have plenty of room for your hardware in the chassis, and the ability to add plenty of cooling options (liquid cooling, extra case fans etc.) to keep your hard working PC cool.

 

Minimum 32GB RAM

32GB RAM is the minimum you should expect to have in a workstation PC, taking some of the load from the processor and allowing you to work with large files without issue.

 

Combination of SSD + HDD storage

SSD is the fast storage that you will store your operating system and most-used applications, which means fast load times and ultra-reliability. HDD is your large capacity storage for the huge files you will no doubt be working with, or potentially used for long term, archival storage for previous work.

 

High power PSU

With the higher power draw from high-end components, a superior power supply unit (PSU) is invariably what you will need in a creator / workstation PC. A high wattage PSU will also mean you don't have to worry about future upgrades, knowing it will be able to power your new components, with plenty of room in the spec for the latest generation hardware.

What kind of creator are you?

Before you know what components you will need, and how you will build you workstation PC, you will need to decide which type of creator you are and the software you will be using. This will help determine the specification you need.

Generally, we see creators in four separate categories, and they often use the following software: -

3D design

  • 3ds Max
  • Adobe Substance 3D Designer
  • Autodesk Maya
  • Blender
  • Cinema 4D
  • Houdini
  • Modo
  • Unreal Engine
  • Vectary
  • ZBrush

Video editing

  • Adobe Premiere Elements
  • Adobe Premiere Pro
  • Corel VideoStudio Ultimate
  • CyberLink PowerDirector 365
  • DaVinci Resolve
  • Filmora
  • Final Cut Pro
  • Pinnacle Studio
  • Sony Vegas

Music / audio production

  • Ableton Live 11
  • Studio One 5
  • Bitwig Studio 4
  • Audacity
  • Pro Tools
  • Steinberg Cubase Pro 10
  • FL Studio 20
  • REAPER

Graphic design

  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Adobe InDesign
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Affinity Designer
  • Affinity Photo
  • CorelDRAW
  • GIMP
  • Gravit Designer
  • Inkscape
  • Krita
  • Xara Designer Pro X
What kind of creator are you?
Build a 3D design PC

Build a 3D design PC

A 3D design PC is probably the most powerful of all the creator PCs for one main reason: rendering. Rendering is the process of converting 2D and 3D models into final production images, animations and videos. To render even the most basic models with realistic lighting, shading, and other attributes in a short time takes a powerful specification which combines the efficiencies and performance of CPU, GPU and storage. Another vital consideration is the time it takes to preview animations in the software's viewport, ensuring you have a smooth workflow and don't have to wait too long for previews to load.


Processor (CPU)

Recommended: High core and thread counts, high clock speeds and Hyperthreading/SMT

Both AMD and Intel have processors that are suitable for 3D design, and though CPUs are not the only ingredient in the rendering process, they bear the brunt of the heavy workload. 3ds Max, Cinema 4D, Maya, and Blender all can take advantage of CPU rendering, so you will need a high number of cores and threads to juggle these processes, with Hyperthreading (Intel) and SMT (AMD) technologies to distribute the workload.


Graphics card (GPU)

Recommended: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 30-series graphics cards

GPU engines such as Redshift3D Octane, and VRAY-RT take advantage of the insanely fast rendering capabilities of a modern NVIDIA GeForce RTX GPU, with 5x - 20x the speed of CPU processing. NVIDIA's CUDA core technology and Ray Tracing engines are much better suited to GPU rendering.


Storage

Recommended: 1TB M.2-2280 PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe SSD + 7200RPM SATA III HDD

Having the fast NVMe SSD interface means you can access your software and working files quickly, and runtimes in your workflow are at the optimal speed. Paired with a fast hard drive to store and move around large files, you will ensure your rendering speeds are fast and any previewing is as fast as possible.


Motherboard Features

Recommended: ASUS/Gigabyte creator models with USB 3.1 or Thunderbolt

Fast transfer of files off your PC can be very important when working remotely or with clients who prefer a hard copy of finished work. While Thunderbolt offers the fastest transfer speeds at 40Gbps, USB 3.1 is no slouch at 20Gbps. With excellent cooling and efficiency for heavy workloads, ASUS and Gigabyte are the best choice for 3D professionals.


Build a video editing PC

Much like a 3D design PC, a video editing workstation needs power where it counts - CPU, GPU and storage. Video editing and rendering works differently from 3D rendering, however, and relies heavily on choosing the right hardware for your particular workflow.


Processor (CPU)

Recommended: Intel 12th-Gen Alder Lake

The reliable and impartial PugetBench scores for the Intel Core i7 and i9 12th-Gen and Ryzen 9 5900/5950X processors dominate the top of the charts for video editing performance with Adobe Premiere Pro - a demanding application that has been optimised for modern processors. Live playback is also handled by the CPU, and Intel processors are top of the benchmark charts yet again. AMD Ryzen CPUs, however, do not have built-in media encoders, so video editing is generally left to market-leaders Intel.


Graphics Card (GPU)

Recommended: RTX 30-series Required for complex & VFX-heavy workflows

It is absolutely possible to get by with a lower end graphics card if you plan n producing sub-4K videos that do not have video effects or complex attributes, but for future-proofing your video editing workflow, and for high end video production & playback, an RTX 30-series card is recommended.


Storage

Recommended: 1TB M.2-2280 PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe SSD + 7200RPM SATA III HDD


Motherboard Features

Recommended: ASUS/Gigabyte 'creator' models with USB 3.1 or Thunderbolt


Build a video editing PC
Build a music / audio production PC

Build a music / audio production PC

Although not as demanding as productions that require video or 3D elements, audio editing and music production can often be demanding in larger projects. Software such as Ableton Live and Audacity can be run on older machines, but export times and load times will suffer unless you are using modern equipment.


Processor (CPU)

Recommended: Older processors are fine - but mean slower workflows

Intel Core i5 11th-Gen processors are adequate for music production, though increasing your budget up to 12th-Gen Alder Lake will see performance and speed improvements. AMD Ryzen 5 3000-series are also sufficient for audio editing and production, though 5000-series CPUs are highly optimised for performance with DAW work.


Sound Card/Motherboard

Recommended: Choose ASUS and Gigabyte motherboards for audio I/O and sound quality

For music production, you will either need to spend the money you save on a GPU on the motherboard, a sound card - or both. You will require high quality audio inputs/outputs, and compatibility with any peripherals you intend on using (XLR mics, mixers etc.). ASUS and Gigabyte have excellent creator motherboards in their range, especially designed for professionals to get the best out of audio and video production.


Build a graphic design PC

Much like audio production PCs, graphic designers do not need high-end specifications to get the most out of Adobe software, and experience fast workflows and rendering of files. Whilst a powerful processor is recommended, a mid-tier graphics card will suffice.


Processor (CPU)

Recommended: Alder Lake 12th-Gen or AMD Ryzen 5000-series

Ideal for the type of workload Adobe products throw at them, Core i9 12th-Gen processors from Intel are capable of delivering both power and efficiency using the smart P-Core and E-Core technologies. Also perfect for workstations, the AMD Ryzen 9 5900 and 5950X, operating very close to Intel's Alder Lake CPUs. Intensive work in Photoshop and Illustrator can be dealt with predominantly in available RAM memory and processor resources, so choose both wisely.


Graphics Card (GPU)

Recommended: Not essential - a nice to have for effects

A mid-tier GTX card will suffice for graphic design work, though if you plan on using neural network effects or visual effects and lighting built-in to graphic design applications, an RTX 30-series card will be your best option.


Storage

Recommended: 1TB M.2-2280 PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe SSD + 7200RPM SATA III HDD


Build a graphic design PC
Compatibility Checker

Check compatibility of components

When you are shopping for PC components at CCL, you can ensure all hardware is compatible using our built-in system.

To enable: View your basket, and simply enable the "Compatibility Checker", and our system will guide you through the process of buying each individual component.

Compatibility Checker

Whenever you add components to your basket, you will notice a small notification appear to tell you if the hardware is compatible or not.

Incompatible Components

You can also choose to "hide" incompatible components in your search. Look out for the notification at the top of your search results.

Mac vs PC for creators

It used to be that only Apple Mac products were used by professionals in the creative industry. Since the early 2000's PCs have been contenders when it comes to Apple iMac workstation specifications, but with added benefits for the creative professional.

Benefits of PC vs Mac

  • Upgradeability - iMac products are largely single-spec machines, with little upgradeability other than memory and storage. A PC is completely upgradeable, with newer generation hardware released regularly.
  • Connectivity - Apple's connectivity problems are well documented, which makes versatile USB and Thunderbolt technology a clear winner for many creators. Many peripherals have an increased cost for Mac, where peripherals such as tablets, mice and other products are readily available and wholly Windows compatible for the PC user.
  • Choice - Whilst many people will agree that Mac products are stylish and compact, the wide variety of case types, keyboards, mice, and monitor sizes for PCs mean consumers can choose the perfect setup and aesthetic for their workspace.
  • Service & Warranty - PCs and components come with extendable warranties at a component level, which means should anything happen to your workstation, you can get support or a replacement quite easily from the manufacturer.
  • Software - Whilst some software for creators is made for Apple only, there is a huge range of options (some free or open source) for PC users. Developers who design software for Windows have access to a large community of developers and many free code libraries, where Apple's developer programs can be difficult and confusing.
  • Community Support - With the variety of software available, and proliferation of open source applications, the community support for PC creators is vast. Creators on YouTube provide free tutorials for those getting started, and communities on Reddit and vendor forums are always readily available.
  • Price - For those who do not have a budget for high end workstation PCs, there are compromises that can be made to reduce the cost of a creator build. For Mac users, however, there is little choice other than the second user market to save money.
Mac vs PC for creators
>Workstation or gaming PC - what is the difference?

Workstation or gaming PC - what is the difference?

In truth, there's very little difference between a high end gaming PC and a workstation PC for a creator. The specifications are very similar in that a powerful processor, graphics card and plenty of memory are included. The main differences are in storage capacity and motherboard features for the different types of creator. For instance, a music production PC will have a far superior sound card or audio capabilities built into the motherboard, where a 3D modelling PC will have specs leaning toward rendering speed.

FAQ

Is finance available on PC components?

Yes. We offer various finance options, with flexible payments depending on the price of the hardware.