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Advice on a Professional Photo Editing PC

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February 23, 2006 2:14:33 PM

Hi all I am charged with upgrading my Wife's PC. She is a photographer and uses Photoshop a lot and the Nikon D200. So files are roughly 16 mb each.

Question I have is money is an object but we need to get her some production lift.

What's the best value for money? We have about $800 to upgrade. I am lost in all the options.

We currently ahve and will re-use:
Her Lacie Monitor
Antec Sonota II w/Antec True Power 450w PSU
Video Card - ATI but still good and she doesn't game

I would like:

Dual Core Processor (no overclocking to minimal overclocking)
2 GB of Memory
400 GB SATA II HD as the main drive and then I will attach her others in as well. (2 250 GB PATA Drives). SHe doesn't want to deal with a Raptor boot drive adn moving files.

So any advice? I am not partial to Intel or AMD in this instance. Normally I am AMD all the way but I want the best bang for the buck.


Thanks for all the help and replies!
-Chris
February 23, 2006 2:55:34 PM

I would advise you to get:

An Opteron 165 or 170

2GB of Corsair XMS PC3200 or OCZ (2x1GB)

2x250GB WD2500KS SATA HDDs

An ASUS A8N series board.

The 400s are not a very good deal. The sweet spot is in the 250GB range.

Good Luck :D 
February 23, 2006 2:59:45 PM

Well, the AMD Opty 165 comes to mind. Best bang for the buck.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

I got this Corsair Memory

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...

As far as hard drives go, I use Seagates. Here's one I currently have

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...

I know that drive isn't the size you want but they are very zippy drives and hold up well.

I hope that helps. Good luck with it
Related resources
February 23, 2006 3:31:28 PM

First the people on this forum are the best.

Now to another question:

How many hard drives can realisticly go in box? i.e if I get 1 or 2 250 GB SATA II and my two current drives am I risking over heating? or something worse?

-Chris
February 23, 2006 3:41:03 PM

Ive been researching the same exact thing. My camera is an EOS 1Ds 11 megapixel.

Photoshop CS2 is awsome, but with the file sizes you and I end up with in CS2's native format, it does need some horsepower.

Some conclusions I have come to.

1. PS CS2 definately does benefit from Dual or Dual Core Processors. However, in the tests that I read, the lowest speed Dual Core, gave about 85% of the performance of the fastest Dual Core, at around 50% of the price.

Adobe Bridge can be assigned 1 Core, while the PS can run on the other. Running them simultaneous on a single core is VERY slow, unless its a super, ultra, mega (read expensive) fast single core.

2. 2Gigs of ram is a must. Buy quality value ram. Corsair is reputable. You 'could' get by with 1 Gig...but only if you are working one photo at a time, and then only if you dont have lots of layers.

3. You NEED multi Harddrives. 1 For you OS and Progs. 1 Empty one for a dedicated PS CS2 'scratch disk', and at least 1 for your actual photos.

That being said, you have to make sure you set up PS to use the empty HDD first for a scratch disk, and then make sure that XP will not under any circumstances use the scratch disk as a virtual memory page file location. If PS and XP are fighting for the same disk....its going to go very slow.

4. Video Cards. Make sure you get one that has enough oomph to push to monitors simultaneously. 3d performance means nothing if its a dedicated PS computer. But dual monitors will make your PS productivity go thru the roof. Once you dual, you will never go back.

5. Buy a WACOM Intuos series tablet. Once you do this, using a mouse in PS will feel like trying to paint the Mona Lisa with Krylon paint. I got mine for about $300, and in my opinion, its work about $3000 in productivity and overall fun in editing. I cannot stress my opinion on this enough.
February 23, 2006 3:52:59 PM

oh, and i almost forgot.

i dont remember the exact location, but on the Microsoft Website, Under XP, there is a section about Pro Photos, and getting the most out of your hardware and software.

I was shocked at how well the article was written.

Dig around and see if you can find it.
February 23, 2006 4:02:37 PM

>>Photoshop CS2 is awsome, but with the file sizes you and I end up >>with in CS2's native format, it does need some horsepower.

Yeah my wife loves her new Nikon but was almost shocked at the file sizes.


Thanks for the tips I have a few questions for you though:

>>2. 2Gigs of ram is a must. Buy quality value ram. Corsair is >>reputable. You 'could' get by with 1 Gig...but only if you are working >>one photo at a time, and then only if you dont have lots of layers.

Yeah she has 1 GB of Value RAM right now. I think just the memory upgrade will help.


>>3. You NEED multi Harddrives. 1 For you OS and Progs. 1 Empty one >>for a dedicated PS CS2 'scratch disk', and at least 1 for your actual >>photos.

What sizes do you recommend? Currently we have one 250 GB and 1 300 GB Drive. Both PATA.

I think SATA II will definately help in terms of transfer rates.

But I don't want to shove to many drives in there and have heat issues.

>>4. Video Cards. Make sure you get one that has enough oomph to >>push to monitors simultaneously. 3d performance means nothing if its >>a dedicated PS computer. But dual monitors will make your PS >>productivity go thru the roof. Once you dual, you will never go back.

My Wife doesn't want to go Dual Monitor. She loves her Lacie Electron Blue 22 (sp) and doesn't want the hassle.

>>5. Buy a WACOM Intuos series tablet. Once you do this, using a >>mouse in PS will feel like trying to paint the Mona Lisa with Krylon >>paint. I got mine for about $300, and in my opinion, its work about >>$3000 in productivity and overall fun in editing. I cannot stress my >>opinion on this enough

Yes I got her one of those last year. The Intuos 6x8. She LOVES it. I still get credit for buying that for her. :) 

Thanks for the help!
-Chris
February 23, 2006 4:15:29 PM

I have an AMD64 with 4 HDDs installed with an ANTEC 480W TruePower PSU and it's working fine.

You can put a lot of drives into a case however I would recommend 120mm fans in the front and back.

If you are brave, you could dremel your existing case or get one of these cases:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

Good luck! :D 
February 23, 2006 4:28:00 PM

well i would do what linux said except get more ram and the opty 165 with some of these hd's there only 100$ for 250 gigs get em while they are cheap :D 
February 24, 2006 4:29:21 PM

OK one last bit of advice on this one.

My Wife's Video Card is AGP.

Is there a) A good motherboard that has AGP and will support an Opty 165 or B) a good PCI Video Card that's not to expensive?

-Chris
February 24, 2006 8:08:42 PM

Quote:
OK one last bit of advice on this one.

My Wife's Video Card is AGP.

Is there a) A good motherboard that has AGP and will support an Opty 165 or B) a good PCI Video Card that's not to expensive?

-Chris


Yes there are but none I would really recommend.

This board http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

supports both PCI-Express and AGP and is upgradeable to socket AM2

However an nForce4 + socket 939 is a better choice
February 25, 2006 12:21:14 AM

Sigh.. Thanks Linux. I was afraid of that. :) 

Now how about the X1300? Is that a good card?

Will have to get her a PCI-E vid card now.

Thanks for the advice everyone.

-Chris
February 25, 2006 12:44:47 AM

if you plan on doing NO GAMING, then build a 940 system. get yourself 4 gigs of ram, windows 2000, and eather 1 or 2 socket board, think upgradability! in 2 years when a sane self emploied person can afford a dual core 2XX you can upgrade. you can also use a single 940 chip in the board and add another one later.
you can also use windows pro 64
February 25, 2006 12:46:22 AM

Quote:
OK one last bit of advice on this one.

My Wife's Video Card is AGP.

Is there a) A good motherboard that has AGP and will support an Opty 165 or B) a good PCI Video Card that's not to expensive?

-Chris


Yes there are but none I would really recommend.

This board http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

supports both PCI-Express and AGP and is upgradeable to socket AM2

However an nForce4 + socket 939 is a better choice

WOAH did you just say a $70 mobo is upgradable to socket am2? or did you maen you can use the vid cards? lol
February 25, 2006 12:52:52 AM

Quote:
if you plan on doing NO GAMING, then build a 940 system. get yourself 4 gigs of ram, windows 2000, and eather 1 or 2 socket board, think upgradability! in 2 years when a sane self emploied person can afford a dual core 2XX you can upgrade. you can also use a single 940 chip in the board and add another one later.
you can also use windows pro 64


Do you mean Windows 2000 Server? I didn't think Windows 2000 would run 4 gigs.

-Chris
February 25, 2006 12:55:29 AM

Quote:
if you plan on doing NO GAMING, then build a 940 system. get yourself 4 gigs of ram, windows 2000, and eather 1 or 2 socket board, think upgradability! in 2 years when a sane self emploied person can afford a dual core 2XX you can upgrade. you can also use a single 940 chip in the board and add another one later.
you can also use windows pro 64


Do you mean Windows 2000 Server? I didn't think Windows 2000 would run 4 gigs.

-Chris

i havent played with windows 2K. i though i heard someone using it on a quad system, might be wrong, but winXP64 pro will do over 4 gigs and 4 cores.
February 25, 2006 2:03:09 AM

My dedicated photo editing machine regularly crunches 800MB still 35mm negatives, scanned at very high resolution. On my wish list would be first of all 2Mgs memory and a lower end dual processor, exactly as you outlined originally.
Your video card is perfectly adequate, in fact a high end video card might even not be as good since it is optimized for gaming. I happen to like nVidia dual channel boards which seem to be fast and stable for stills.
While watching the Windows performance chart and running Photoshop I see both processor and memory are hit hard, but with 2 Gigs and *only* 16MB sized files you will seldom go to HD cache. This applies to still only, video editing you just can't get enuf processor/memory like the new games.
February 25, 2006 6:23:24 AM

i use to be into photography, just sold my 20D when i ran out of time to use it.

i would say from experance to get a vid card with 512MB of ram. and 4 gigs of memory if you can afford it. that would work best.
February 25, 2006 10:53:20 AM

Quote:
i use to be into photography, just sold my 20D when i ran out of time to use it.

i would say from experance to get a vid card with 512MB of ram. and 4 gigs of memory if you can afford it. that would work best.


Affording 4 Gigs is possible but we don't have Windows 2000/2003 Server to be able to handle it or Windows XP 64 bit.

From what I Understand Windows XP maxes at 2 GB rigt now in terms of using it.

Is that wrong?

If I have a dual core processor can I allocate say Photoshop and and 3 Gigs of Ram to one processor and the rest to the other?

Or better yet is 4 Gigs a Waste in Windows XP Pro?

-Chris
February 25, 2006 1:22:18 PM

windows pro 32bit maxes at 4 gigs i believe, where xp 64bit maxes at 128gigs.

mobo
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

2 of this cpu
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

and 4gigs of this:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.asp?Submit=EN...

and a vid card
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.asp?Submit=EN...

just remember if you build a system like this its not really great for gaming. it can play them but it will be slower then a computer half its price.

upgrading to xp pro64 is a good idea too. its only $119 in oem, and isent there a adobie 64bit program out or coming out?
February 25, 2006 3:36:16 PM

I can only repeat because I do this every day, you don't need a special video card to get the maximum out of Photoshop. I had a Tseng Labs 8Mg memory VGA card that rendered still video just fine. Video card memory is for frame rates which is not applicable here at all. It just doesn't take much to render a good still at high resolution. If you check Tom's review of integrated video motherboards you will find the still rendering rate to be exactly the same when compared to AGP/PCI Express MB/video card combos. That board falls on it's face in gaming, so what? Still rendering is totally dependant on what chipset/memory you use since you are not crunching frame rates, just a lot of numbers.

Adding more than 2 Gigs of RAM might help in some huge files but it will reduce the FSB you can run since we don't have any really lo latency 1 Gig sticks. It's a tradeoff between speed and bandwidth, and you lose the dual channel capability in most MB's with more than 2, and you can always add another stick if you really find you need it.
February 25, 2006 5:39:32 PM

that doesent really matter with dual processors, each and run its own 2gigs.

HEY

you ever have a 50meg file on screen and try to scroll it at full rez? on a low end card it will not scroll in a timely fashion.

the vid card memory is for patterns and other tasks, it will store alot of the photo in the vid card memory too. colors and patterns will be stored so scrolling is easyer, and more fluid.

if you dont believce me, uninstall your vid card drivers and see how smothe the scroll is even surfing the web. it does matter what vid card you have, you dont need a $1200 one but a 100-200 card will be fine.

as for scrolling with an 8meg card.... comeon, what size file? 32K?
February 25, 2006 6:15:29 PM

I do appreciate what you're saying and agree abt slower scrolling, I was referring more to rendering times. Actually that Tseng Labs card ran a 21 Sony/Pentium200 but it was fast for it's day!
My point maybe was the requirement for a higher end home machine as he outlined made it unncecessary to spend big $$ in the video card area. This machine which might get upgraded soon, but works great scrolling and everything else:
XP2500/NF7 v.2 @10x200
2 Mgs. Value RAM
ATI Radeon 9800Pro stock clock
and I would consider this the bare minimum. GeForce 6150 onboard and supporting dual channel is the modern equivelent but with the faster bus xfer of course, no comparison intended here. Just wanted to reiterate, with still graphics the punch shd be in the processor/memory. Do you really think 4 Gigs of RAM is cost effective for this app? :) 
February 25, 2006 6:21:11 PM

it depends if you want to mulittask, mine will barely mulittask with 2gigs, and a dual core processor, in fact when i game i get lag alt-tabbing.

believe it or not my processor runs at 75% on both cores when i game, and up to 100% on both cores.
February 25, 2006 7:08:17 PM

Just keep it up, you make me want to upgrade more now; I've seen the power of the dual processor and I'm convinced. Much better than trying to get an extra 2 or 5 percent out of an older system.
Going from 512 to 1 Mg, huge difference. 1 to 2, more but only some; the limitations were xfer speeds from both Firewire and USB 2 from the scanner@3200dpi.
Perhaps if he goes with a kickass dual he can use the extra RAM. Mine went from 400 to 333 on the third stick right away, with neglible increases, prob more due to the nForce 2 limitations. Bench went down in some multimedia areas too. But with 4 slots supporting dual channel :!:
February 25, 2006 7:31:05 PM

939's can take 4gigs, but only at DDR333. 940's can do ddr400 up too 12 gigs
!