Looking to Build Powerful PC for Graphics

A few weeks ago, I got some excellent advice for building a mATX PC for myself, which I'll be working on soon. Now, I need to build a PC for a family member, but I'm still not up to scratch with current hardware.

It'll be primarily for graphics. Much of the time, 3 or 4 graphics apps (Photoshop, etc) are open at once, with files that are often around 100MB.

I'm not too concerned about the monitor and other peripherals at this stage as this is something that can be decided on at a later stage, but the spec of the PC is what's important.

As for the budget, this isn't necessarily clear cut. What I'd like to do us spec something good and powerful, and something that'll last 3 years or so and perhaps even be upgradable, and see what figure we arrive at.

Many thanks. :)
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  1. By graphics, do you also mean gaming graphics?? That is FAR more demanding than multitasking Photoshop, AutoCAD, DVD encoding, etc on the graphics perspective.

    Sounds like you won't be overclocking your CPU?

    My quick suggestion:

    -Intel Core2Duo E6400 CPU
    -2 gigs RAM
    -any case you want that suits your style
    -965 chipset motherboard for the C2D CPU, but nothing spectacular or pricey
    -a decent power supply (specs depend on gaming or not), probably a good 500 watts by a reputable brand name company
    -SATA hard drive, size as per your budget or particular preferences (250 gigs is a good buy now)
    -graphics card.......entirely depends whether you plan on gaming or not. And if so, how hardcore?

    Those are "generic" recommendations (not specific models or makes) except for the CPU.

    Probably need a bit more info about the graphics/gaming, whether you plan on overclocking, and an indication of a budget. $1000 will get you a solid, fast system nowadays.......far better than anything you can get at Dell, etc for alot cheaper ;)
  2. Thanks for your reply.

    No gaming, no overclocking. :)
  3. check my specs...

    I bought all this for $1682 with shipping from newegg.com.

    I would recommend everything except my ram. It has a little voltage issue and even though it still works fine, you may not want to overvolt the ram a bit... (don't get OCZ for C2duo.)

    any questions I will gladly answer...
  4. Good specs! Doubt he'd need the sound card and speakers, but nonetheless......

    BTW, what's the matter with OCZ and C2D? Mine does fine! OC'd my 6300 to 3.0 without breaking a sweat :)


    Well then Sebby, you won't need a monster video card. Sink the money into a faster Core2Duo system (E6600 if you can afford it) or just save up the cash. But get a good power supply that will last awhile.

    So, get a fast C2D CPU, 2 gigs RAM, average motherboard, a 250 gig SATA hard drive, any case/tower, and an average graphics card for $100-$125 and you're off to the races ;)

    I'm sure if you provide a budget someone here can give you detailed product suggestions.
  5. Thanks for all the advice guys.

    I'm going to put a spec together and post back. :)
  6. What about hard drives guys? I started to price up the system today, but I'm wondering what to do about hard drives. Is it worth going for a WD Raptor, or is that an overkill for this system?
  7. Overkill. Get a Seagate Barricuda 7200.10 with 16 meg cache.......whatever size you want/afford. 250 or 320 gigs is the best buy.
  8. Out of interest, what kind of build would a Raptor be good for?
  9. Okay, here's what I've got so far guys...

    Coolermaster case (not sure which yet, but too not important)
    Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 Retail
    MSI P965 Neo-F Socket 775
    2Gb (2X1Gb) CorsairTwinX XMS2, DDR2 PC6400
    Seasonic 600w S12 Power Supply
    320GB Seagate 7200.10 SATA 2
    NEC ND-5170A-0AS 18x DVDRW DLSilver
    BenQ FP91G+ 19" TFT
    Microsoft XP Pro OEM

    What do you think?

    Also, I don't really know what to choose in the way of graphics card. Can anyone help me out?
  10. Looks good.

    For the record, if you want to overclock the snot out of that CPU, I'm not sure that's the best choice of mobo.......just so ya know.


    For vid card choice, check this out.....find whatever is in your budget:

    http://www.tomshardware.com/2006/10/31/the_best_video_cards_for_your_money/
  11. Raptors are a very fast, reliable hdd. They will give you faster transfers (both reads and writes) but are pricey, especially given their relatively small capacity. I do alot of audio, photoshop, and some video and gaming with my main machine, and I find a noticeable increase in general perkiness of my machine with 2 raptors (not in RAID), one for the OS, one for data, and a third large HDD for longterm data storage. Probably the more important spec is quantity and quality of RAM for overall speed of photo work, especially with multiple images and layers open, not to mention multiple apps. Get a decent dual core proc, lots of good RAM and relatively fast HDDs...preferably high quality ones...your data is priceless if you are doing actual artwork that may represent many hours of work and multiple layers that may be impossible to recreate due to its spontaneous / complex nature. A quiet case is also really nice if you are going to spend alot of time sitting next to the thing. And definitely budget in a Wacom graphics tablet...Photoshop / Coreldraw are much easier if you aren't trying to do art with a large rock gripped in your hand (the mouse). The pen is lightyears ahead in comfort.
  12. Ah yes, a Wacom......I want one. Even better, I'd love one of those full-size digital "drafting tables" that a CG firm developed for in-house use....I think it may have been Alias/Wavefront?

    In any case, I think the CPU will make far more difference in rendering times (between minutes and hours from what you now have) than a hard drive which will translate into milliseconds of time difference ;)
  13. Hi guys.

    I spoke with the guy who I'm building the PC for, and he thinks it's not powerful enough...

    He said that:

    - the CPU preferably needs to be faster than the E6400 C2D;

    - more than 2GB RAM is needed (at least 4GB) as he's constantly dragging and dropping files across the clipboard and the memory gets used up very quickly;

    - the 256Mb Leadtek 7600GT PCI-E graphics card is not nearly good enough.

    What do you guys think?
  14. It would be best if you told us how he wants/can spend for just the PC (not monitor, speakers etc). Then we and look around for the best stuff he could spend is money on.

    Also 2 gig is "enough" ram atleast until Vista since xp has "issues" with over 3gig (have to add some switch to the boot.ini and such). As far Video card unless he doing 3d or gaming the 7600gt is more than enought for 2nd art.
  15. If there not gaming a 7600gt is almost overkill, also look into a 7600gt with a passive cooler or plan on talking them into a Zalman gpu cooler due to the stock cooler makes to much noise.

    CPU, its there money let them spend it how they want, but the 6400 is a good processor for the price. Also could try talking them into a quite cpu cooler.

    4 gigs would be good for vista but XP home has issues with 4gigs of ram. I would buy a 2gigs now (2x 1gig sticks) and if they need more then buy another 2gigs of (hopefully) the same ram later.

    And that 600w Seasonic is total overkill for that computer save some money and buy the 430 or 500w version. Also on Coolermaster cases there 120mm fans are not bad, the there 80mm fans are loud and well suck, Im not sure about there 92mm fans tho.

    Also the 600w Seasonic uses a higher fan speed then the 330,430 or 500w models.
  16. Can't give help if no budget mentioned.

    And dragging and dropping files does NOT chew up more memory the way you're describing it. I have 2 gigs RAM, and multitask like no tomorrow....Photoshop, Radiant, Firefox, Teamspeak, etc plus background programs....and I never hit 2 gigs. Hard drive transfer speeds affect speed of file transfer, that's it.

    And as far as a C2D 6400 not having enough power, well then your friend can spend a small fortune and get a 6800, or a quad core. OR he can be wise with his money and overclock the snot out of a 6400 without breaking a sweat and perform to the 6800 level ;)

    More power, more power.....well, that COSTS. So the rig he's thinking of is probably twice as expensive.

    Like I said.....no budget, no help. Nothin but a pipe dream until it comes time to pay the $$ ;)
  17. Okay guys, I finally got around to ordering the parts to build this machine over Christmas. :)

    I made a few changes...

    1. using 4GB OCZ Gold DDR2-6400 RAM
    2. chose a Gainward Bliss 7900GS 512MB graphics card

    I also chose a decent CPU cooler, some Arctic Silver V paste, and a few other little bits.

    What do you think? I can't wait to get it built up!
  18. The build went extremely well; it booted first time! I've got a couple of bits to play with, otherwise it's virtually done.

    The MSI motherboard I've installed has a JMicro chip, which I believe is needed to supply an IDE socket, but it also supplies 1 x SATAII. However, there are then 4 x SATAII Intel sockets onboard. Which should I use for the hard drive, or doesn't it matter. At the moment, I've got it in one of the Intel sockets.

    Also, do I need to add the /pae switch to make the most of the 4GB RAM? I've read so many posts, and whilst I don't expect XP to actually display 4GB in the system properties (it currently displays 3.25GB) I'd like to know I'm making the most of it.
  19. According to your User Manual on page 2-13, use SATA4 slot for your 1st hard drive (I know, it sounds weird, but it makes sense when you read how they have the slots organized). It's this one:



    The outside purple slot closer to the top of the board is what you want. Not the blackish one.

    As for memory, I have no idea, I only run 2 gigs. Sorry.
  20. understand: Once you build a system with the software that you use and want. The only thing that outdates that system is a desire to use current programs or if some unseen leap in Internet speeds start changing the way we live our lives.

    As for a system:
    A lot of RAM if you are multitasking like you say. (2GB min)

    Some type of RAID system to increase your read times. or at the very least a Barracuda hard drive.

    Core 2 Duo processor which is phenominal at multitasking. Probably the E6400

    A Gigabyte P965 which you should be able to pick up for $140. These are great boards with some OC abilities to make use of that C2D processor. They are also very easy to get going.

    GPU wise:
    If you are not doing CAD work, then go with an ATI card 1950pro ($215) or XT if you have the bucks ($289). This will hold you over until DX10 gets going and provides plenty GPU power for games and Photoshop. If you are doing any type of 3D modeling go with a ATI fire GL card.
  21. Sorry I just realized I was a bit late on the comments!!! Good Luck!
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