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New system for graphic rendering

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April 2, 2008 7:02:43 PM

Hi All,
This will be my first system. My concern is components compatibility. I will use this system for advance image editing in Adobe creative suite CS3 (Photoshop, etc.). I will install windows XP 64 and in future Vista. In addition, I would like to have RAID 5 option. I have spent lots of time finding the best match with the best ratio between performance and price. The following is the list:

1) Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-EP35C-DS3R. Is it OK to go with p35? I am concerned about technical support from Gigabyte (tried to contact for RAM compatibility issue, no answer). I love technical support from EVGA (I inquired for the 780i and had answer strait forward). Any alternative?

2) Graphic card: EVGA 512-P3-N801-AR GeForce 8800GT 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card

3) CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 Kentsfield 2.4GHz
Alternative: Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300 Yorkfield 2.5GHz LGA 775 95W with ARCTIC COOLING Freezer 7 Pro 92mm CPU Cooler and thermal paste (ARCTIC COOLING MX-2 Thermal Compound) in the CPU. How difficult is it to assemble CPU?

4) Power supply: PC Power & Cooling S610EPS EPS12V 610W Continuous @ 40°C

5) Main HD for operative system and software: Western Digital Raptor X WD1500AHFD 150GB 10,000 RPM SATA 1.5Gb/s Hard Drive

6) DVD/CD ASUS 20X DVD±R DVD Burner with LightScribe Black SATA Model DRW-2014L1T

7) Memory: I need 2x2GB DDR2 in order to increase to 8 tot GB in future. I still do not know which RAM 2x2GB is compatible with the mobo and I read that there are issues with memory compatibility and Gigabyte mobo. OCZ suggested OCZ Reaper HPC 4GB(2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500). But the mobo has a different voltage (1.8V). I read the instruction manual of the mobo and seem a bit complicated to me to assign a higher voltage to the memory. Any suggestion?

8) Computer case: I like full aluminum and I am thinking of LIAN LI PC-60BPLUSII Mid Tower or GIGABYTE 3D AURORA GZ-FSCA1-ATS Aluminum ATX Full Tower (although it may be too big for my needs).

In summary I need a fast system (I do not want the best of the best tough) for graphic rendering in Photoshop CS3, Lightroom, etc and a trouble free (as much as possible) system to build. My budget is below 1500$.

Many thanks in advance for your suggestions.
April 2, 2008 8:56:26 PM

It would appear on the surface that you want to construct a photo editing workstation, however your component listing seems to be more oriented to gaming, Which are you doing? Photoshop, Lightroom etc do not require a fast gaming oriented graphics card, even if you are doing 3D renders in CS3 you should be looking for image quality in a card, not FPS speed.

Before commenting specifically on the rest of your components it would help to have an honest declaration of your intended usage on this system. Primary usage dictates component selection.
April 2, 2008 9:16:13 PM

dont u usually use a workstation card for those tasks?
Related resources
April 2, 2008 9:25:24 PM

Invisik
Workstation cards are only required for high end specialty software used for 3D rendering, CS3 and Lightroom definitely do not fall into this category. If you were using Solidworks, AutoCad 3D or something of that nature then a workstation graphics card would be appropriate.
April 2, 2008 9:36:57 PM

^ Agreed. If you don't game go with a lower card like the 9600.

Go with DDR2 800. The P35-DS3x boards seems to have problems with RAM natively higher than DDR2 800 But, not with DDR2 800 OCed to the same level. DDDR2 800 vs DDR2 1060 difference is not noticable in real life any way. If OCing go with a Xigmatek HDT-S1283 #1 at Frostytech http://www.frostytech.com/top5heatsinks.cfm
April 2, 2008 10:13:57 PM

Hi All,

I will be doing 90% of professional photo editing such as image post-processing (I work in RAW format = larger file size). Then server-computer file transfer and website preparation and design. I work with a huge number of images in a batch processing following a specific workflow (i.e. RAW then TIFF then JPG), filtering, retouching, etc. are applyed. Each image image easily become 120MB in file size. As far as I know Photoshop asks for a lot a memory RAM. This is why I would start with 4GB and then I would add 4GB more working with window XP64 (which I read is more stable) or later when I may go with Vista). For the CPU I decided for Intel according to the Tom's CPU chart (correct me please if I am wrong). Then I have read that the graphic card may not be so important for Photoshop but I need to work with two high resolution monitors and I think that a good graphic card may be beneficial for this (again I am opened to suggestion). For the motherboard I am totally on your hands.

The overall aim is a system that is reliable, fast and as much as possible trouble free for assembling.

Thank you for helping
April 2, 2008 11:37:58 PM

For motherboard go with P35-DS3R. (the plain vanilla version of the DS3R) A 9600 for the GPU is still fine to run 2 22+" monitors. CS3 should work fine with XP x64 (since I am using CS3 now ;)  with XP x64 ), but could change depending on what plug-ins you have,etc.

For the HDD consider a 7200.11 HDD which are about 1-2ms slower than the Raptor in most benchmarks, but with better capacity. CPU, PSU, Case, DVD looks good :) .
April 2, 2008 11:53:25 PM

sdegan said:
Hi All,

I will be doing 90% of professional photo editing such as image post-processing (I work in RAW format = larger file size). Then server-computer file transfer and website preparation and design. I work with a huge number of images in a batch processing following a specific workflow (i.e. RAW then TIFF then JPG), filtering, retouching, etc. are applyed. Each image image easily become 120MB in file size. As far as I know Photoshop asks for a lot a memory RAM. This is why I would start with 4GB and then I would add 4GB more working with window XP64 (which I read is more stable) or later when I may go with Vista). For the CPU I decided for Intel according to the Tom's CPU chart (correct me please if I am wrong). Then I have read that the graphic card may not be so important for Photoshop but I need to work with two high resolution monitors and I think that a good graphic card may be beneficial for this (again I am opened to suggestion). For the motherboard I am totally on your hands.

The overall aim is a system that is reliable, fast and as much as possible trouble free for assembling.

Thank you for helping


I will try to address your requirements in general recommendations based on systems I have previously built for other photographers. You want a system that is very stable, overclocking has its place but not in a system of this type, so component selection should be based for stability and capacity, not raw speed. I just finished specing out a system for my son, who is a professional photographer, so I will give you his basic build spec and make recommendatons for additions;
1. Motherboard - Asus or Gigabyte - recommended Asus P5E WS excellent I/O selection including 1 PCI-X slot which can be used for a professional raid solution if desired.
2. CPU - currently best bang for your buck for CS3 is prob Q6600
3. 4 GB DDR2 800 if you are using Vista 32 or 8 GB if you are going with Vista 64. (recommend Vista 32)
4. 3X 750 SATA II drives, 1 x 150GB Raptor SATA II. (use the Raptor as the scratch disk drive for CS3)
5. Video Card - personal recommendation - ATI 3850 512MB DDR3 - more than than you need for CS3 with dual monitors, but it gives you performance headroom to spare, and it is reasonably priced. I use less graphics horsepower than that for photowork with 2X 1600x1200 displays.
6. CPU cooler - personally I would go with the Zalman 9700 - its pricy compared to some other solutions however it gives excellent performance, stays cleaner in dusty enviroments than many other solutions. The Arctic Cooler in my experience will annoy the hell out of you with its fluctuating whine.
7. Due to the large volume of files you deal with in this kind of work, I would recommend that, budget permitting, you go with a pair of NAS, my son uses the D-link DNS-323 in RAID 1. Two of these connected via gigabit lan will provide you with the security and storage you require for the RAW files.
Note** the raptor I mentioned at point 4 - CS3 works best when the scratch disk is located on a disk other than the boot drive. A separate fast drive dedicated to the CS3 sratch file is optimal. Personal preference will govern your drive selection, I normally go with Seagate for their 5 year warranty and good performance, although many people also like the newer AAKS series of Western Digital drives. Regardless of selection, storage redundancy is critical in a photo workstation.

Feel free to contact me at rgs@kos.net if you have any questions.


April 2, 2008 11:57:07 PM

Didn't address issues of case or power supply.
The power supply you mentioned is a good choice.
Go with a large case that gives good cooling and is quiet, something like the Antec P182 is one that meets those criteria.

The burner selected works fine, just used one in a build last week. I would go with a large drive for you boot drive, save the raptor for CS3 scratch drive.
April 3, 2008 11:10:40 AM

^ Agreed on the Raptor
April 6, 2008 2:59:42 AM

Hi All,
Thank you very much for the information given. I am taking into account what suggested, expecially from rgsaunders. I am thinking of going with ASUS mobo and making a list of components which I will post.
Many thanks for helping
!