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Best CPU for Adobe CS3 Collection

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July 9, 2008 11:49:14 PM

Need some advise on upgrading my CPU and Motherboard. I will be using:

Vista Business x64
Flash
Photoshop
Illustrator
Acrobat
Dreamweaver
MS Office 2007
Some gaming (latest titles)

I'm willing to spend $200-250 on the CPU and another $100-150 on the motherboard. I already have the other components. My goal is to decrease rendering and wait times so I can get my work done faster. I may overclock, but don't want to push too far past stock voltages. Stability and reliability are a priority.

Any suggestions?

Here are my other components for reference: Antec 550W/P180b Case/4GB DDR2-800/HD4850
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July 9, 2008 11:52:55 PM

Q6600 or Q9450 with any Intel chipset based motherboard and a decent cooler...
Related resources
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July 10, 2008 12:10:56 AM

^ I think more RAM and a 64 bit OS would do him well... what do you think?

Oh and remember to buy a fast scratch disk =)
July 10, 2008 1:51:08 AM

Thanks for the tips. I was thinking along the same lines. Quad core seems to be the way to go for the apps I'm using.
Quick overclocking question. If I go for the Q6600, is it better run the RAM at 1:1 and lower the cpu multiplier? For example:
400x7.5 = 3.0 GHz vs. 333x9 = 3.0 GHz

I'm guessing most people use 400x9 to get 3.6 GHz. Is that common, or would I need to invest in some higher-end components to hit that clock?

I'm interested in the Q9300 and Q9450 as well, or maybe the Q9550 if the price cuts come as expected.
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July 10, 2008 2:03:31 AM

+1 for the e8400 and 6-8Gb of ram

Clockspeed, ram and disk I/O is more important than quad cores in Adobe (excepting Premiere, of course)
July 10, 2008 2:10:48 AM

ayrix said:
Thanks for the tips. I was thinking along the same lines. Quad core seems to be the way to go for the apps I'm using.
Quick overclocking question. If I go for the Q6600, is it better run the RAM at 1:1 and lower the cpu multiplier? For example:
400x7.5 = 3.0 GHz vs. 333x9 = 3.0 GHz

I'm guessing most people use 400x9 to get 3.6 GHz. Is that common, or would I need to invest in some higher-end components to hit that clock?

I'm interested in the Q9300 and Q9450 as well, or maybe the Q9550 if the price cuts come as expected.

It's better to keep ratio at 1:1. Yes, 400x9 is most common, that also comes out to 400x2=800mhz ddr2 for ram. It's the typical setup.

You would need a good cpu cooler. Here's top 5 performing ones:
http://www.frostytech.com/top5heatsinks.cfm
For reference, this is what I use for q6600:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
At prime95 small ffts full load, 58C at 3.6ghz, and 69C at 4ghz. Temperature threshold for q6600 is 71C.
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July 10, 2008 2:15:00 AM

Wisecracker said:
+1 for the e8400 and 6-8Gb of ram

Clockspeed, ram and disk I/O is more important than quad cores in Adobe (excepting Premiere, of course)


Which is why I recommend a 750GB 7200RPM disk for storage and a fast as possible one for cache... (scratch disk)
July 10, 2008 2:16:57 AM

As long as you aren't using premiere pro, you should be golden with overclocking. I have heard overclocking cause major problems with video editing, stability is the most important thing.
July 10, 2008 2:27:03 AM

I have a Q9450 @ 3.4, i couldent ask for anything more.
Im a graphic designer myself, so i have InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop all open at once, with multiple documents open within each program and i absolutely never have a lockup.
Mines paired with 4gb of ddr2 & 1066 for measure

I had a dual core for a while, it was good but the quad really shines through for design.
Hope it all works out for you.
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July 10, 2008 2:49:24 AM

I'm a hobbyist animator/artist and I normally have Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash and Painter all up at once... trust me, a good scratch disk does alot of difference (even when I only have a dual-core Athlon...)
July 10, 2008 2:51:33 AM

The e8400 was my top pick for a while due to the clockspeed, but you guys bring up some great points. I typically work with 4-5 apps at a time and I think I'd really benefit from a quad. Its mostly graphics work and web design, but I'd like to get into 3D animation and video composition in the future.

I've been using a partition on my primary drive as a scratch disk. For about the same price, I could add another 4GB of ram (total of 8 GB) or another hard drive. I'm leaning towards the hard drive. Any thoughts?

@warcry: Thanks for the input. What motherboard are you using with your Q9450?
July 10, 2008 2:55:21 AM

ayrix said:
The e8400 was my top pick for a while due to the clockspeed, but you guys bring up some great points. I typically work with 4-5 apps at a time and I think I'd really benefit from a quad. Its mostly graphics work and web design, but I'd like to get into 3D animation and video composition in the future.

I've been using a partition on my primary drive as a scratch disk. For about the same price, I could add another 4GB of ram (total of 8 GB) or another hard drive. I'm leaning towards the hard drive. Any thoughts?

@warcry: Thanks for the input. What motherboard are you using with your Q9450?

It depends. Some 3d animation programs are ram hogs. If it overshoots the 4gb limit and start using page file off hdd, it'll really drag down performance. Aviod it however possible. Try looking up typical ram usage for the programs you use before deciding between ram or hdd.
July 10, 2008 2:55:55 AM

I have a very cheap motherboard, the only part i skimped on in my setup.
Its an Asus P5K-SE, it only cost me roughly $70 AU, and it can handle up to 3.5ghz from that cpu, although with a more expensive board the q9450 can hit 3.7+
July 10, 2008 3:16:10 AM

amdfangirl said:
Which is why I recommend a 750GB 7200RPM disk for storage and a fast as possible one for cache... (scratch disk)


Listen. This IS what you want to do.

1) You need a quad core. Don't go duel core. You want a 9000 series quad core. Don't go q6600 it's old and its 65nm. Go 9550 if you got the cash. You'll never regret it. I got the equivalent Xeon x3360 and it's awesome. I can encode 3gb video files in seconds. It's crazy.

2) You should go raid 5 - Get 3 750GB 32mb seagate drives and raid 5 them. If a drive fails your data is safe. You'll have 1.5TB's to split up. It uses the other drive for stripping.

3) Do not ever skimp on motherboard and power supply. Spend the most on those two.


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July 10, 2008 3:59:14 AM

xxsk8er101xx said:
Listen. This IS what you want to do.

1) You need a quad core. Don't go duel core. You want a 9000 series quad core. Don't go q6600 it's old and its 65nm. Go 9550 if you got the cash. You'll never regret it. I got the equivalent Xeon x3360 and it's awesome. I can encode 3gb video files in seconds. It's crazy.


Given the stated budget, it's either a Q9300 or a Q6600 - both the 9450 and the 9550 are above the budget. Between the 9300 and the 6600, I would get the 6600 - despite the larger process, it has more cache, and is cheaper. Plus, it is certainly plenty fast.

xxsk8er101xx said:

2) You should go raid 5 - Get 3 750GB 32mb seagate drives and raid 5 them. If a drive fails your data is safe. You'll have 1.5TB's to split up. It uses the other drive for stripping.

Oh heck no. For something like this, that could easily hit the pagefile often, RAID 5 is the LAST thing you want. RAID 5 is quite slow on small random writes, which is what happens all the time when you overflow the RAM. Instead, go for the dual volume setup as mentioned before - get a 750 or TB drive as your main volume, and a fast scratch disk (WD raptor if possible, or something similar).


xxsk8er101xx said:
3) Do not ever skimp on motherboard and power supply. Spend the most on those two.


Disagreed. There is no need to spend more on the PSU or motherboard than the CPU. Definitely don't go cheap, but $100-$150 is a perfectly reasonable budget for the motherboard, and anything over a good quality 600W or so for this build would really be overkill anyways.
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July 10, 2008 4:42:15 AM

ayrix said:
The e8400 was my top pick for a while due to the clockspeed, but you guys bring up some great points. I typically work with 4-5 apps at a time and I think I'd really benefit from a quad. Its mostly graphics work and web design, but I'd like to get into 3D animation and video composition in the future.

I've been using a partition on my primary drive as a scratch disk. For about the same price, I could add another 4GB of ram (total of 8 GB) or another hard drive. I'm leaning towards the hard drive. Any thoughts?

@warcry: Thanks for the input. What motherboard are you using with your Q9450?


Using a drive partition as a scratch impedes performance.

Photoshop is RAM and disk I/O intensive. It works in a linear fashion on blocks of data. It cannot process data block two until it is finished with data block one (and so on and so on). A faster dual core cpu like the e8400 will top a q6600 by a good 20% at stock clocks. An AMD X2 6000+ is roughly similar to a q6600 in performance at stock clocks. You generally will not see cpu utilization above 70% on a dual core with Photoshop and will most likely average around 50-60% cpu utilization across 2 cores. To boost cpu use in intensive operations ... repeat after me :)  improve your ram and disk I/O.

Photoshop the application is not multithreaded; there are, however, certain filters used in Photoshop which will run parallel threads across 2 cores. This is the exception rather than the rule. The 'enhancement' in multicores is more a product of load balancing across cores as opposed to actual thread parallelism. Vista it seems does a marginally better job at load balancing than XP.

(Premiere is a whole different ballgame. Encoder selection in Premiere - such as MainConcept - will run parallel threads across four cores. You will not see 100% scaling per core but the improvements in performance will be impressive)

In order to speed processing in Photoshop (and get that microprocessor pumpin') you need to segregate your hard drives into specific functions and optimize your paging file. (1) Your OS/Apps need to be on an independent drive; (2) You need a capture/scratch drive for your content; and (3) You need a data drive for your finished product. (And a backup drive is always recommended)

For drives 1, 2 & 3 the best $475 you can spend: Western Digital Raptor 74GB 10000 RPM 16MB Cache SATA hard drives.

For your backup drive: Seagate Barracuda 750GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA for $120.

The linear Photoshop cycle goes ""Read --> Process --> Write"" until completion. The read/write of the Raptors is roughly twice as fast as the larger Seagate drive with 25-30% lower latency. And that's what your applications want: fast disk I/O

Vista64 is the way to go. 64-bit Photoshop is on the horizon. Your total system will suck up 6-8Gb of ram even with 32-bit Photoshop. You typically may allocate 50%+ of your system ram to Photoshop on Win-based systems.

Excess RAM beyond what Photoshop can directly use (which in some cases is 3Gb+) will reduce system paging and boost running background applications/processes. Some folks see 30%+ increases in some Photoshop processes going from 4 to 6Gb of ram. Additional ram will also improve your multitasking much more than 2 more cores. The Vista superfetch seems to make a big difference to me. Lotsa Fast RAM = Mucho Happy Processing & Multitasking.

For the applications you listed a q9550 is just not worth the money. The difference in price between the q9550 and the e8400 is 2 Raptor hard drives :sol: 

Now when you roll Premiere into this equation it gets a lot more difficult. If you are using the MainConcept encoders they seem to favor AMD (by a margin of almost 10% clock to clock). This is where the quads from both Intel and AMD actually earn their money.

July 10, 2008 4:47:52 AM

wisecracker: your wiseness helps a lot, thanks for that. Ill be going for more than 4gb of ram myself now!
July 10, 2008 5:20:38 AM

Wow, tons of feedback on this one. Looks like I found a good forum. Thanks to all.

I'll have to look at the numbers and see what I can afford. If I end up doing video, it will be purely hobbyist, so encoding time wouldn't be a big issue. I'd really like to speed up photoshop/illustrator/flash as thats where the bulk of my work will be. Sounds like the consensus is to focus on disk I/O and RAM, then CPU.

As for the RAM, I currently have 4x1GB DDR2-800. Would I run into issues if I did 2x2GB and 2x1GB for a total of 6GB? It would save some money if I could incorporate some of my current ram.

And for the hard drive... This is my current drive. I use a USB drive for backup.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I've always wanted raptors, but could never justify the cost. If I can't pull together the cash for the raptors, are there any other drive setups you recommend?
July 10, 2008 5:26:30 AM

I only use one 650gb drive partitioned, 150gb for windows, 500gb for storage. It sounds like your not after a top dollar crazy rig, so something like this is fine. Whilst there are faster bigger options out there, simply another drive with enough storage will keep you happy. After all your not re-creating shrek or anything :) 
Id just pick the parts you feel fit, and a harddrive with enough storage for the work your doing.
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July 10, 2008 5:32:25 AM

ayrix said:
Wow, tons of feedback on this one. Looks like I found a good forum. Thanks to all.

I'll have to look at the numbers and see what I can afford. If I end up doing video, it will be purely hobbyist, so encoding time wouldn't be a big issue. I'd really like to speed up photoshop/illustrator/flash as thats where the bulk of my work will be. Sounds like the consensus is to focus on disk I/O and RAM, then CPU.

As for the RAM, I currently have 4x1GB DDR2-800. Would I run into issues if I did 2x2GB and 2x1GB for a total of 6GB? It would save some money if I could incorporate some of my current ram.

And for the hard drive... This is my current drive. I use a USB drive for backup.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I've always wanted raptors, but could never justify the cost. If I can't pull together the cash for the raptors, are there any other drive setups you recommend?


There should be no problem with the RAM configuration. 750GB seems to be the sweet spot these days... you can grab a 750GB Seagate for $99 at Newegg... For performance drives anything over 7200 RPM would be an improvement...
July 11, 2008 6:52:04 PM

Thanks everyone for your input. Think I will go with the WD 640GB drive. I can run my OS on the 250 GB and my data on 640 GB. Out of the two drives, which do you think would be better for the scratch disk?

I'll have to wait for my August 1 paycheck, but when all is said and done I should have a nice set up. I decided on the p45 chipset and will stick with my 4x1GB of ram for now. ( May go 2x2GB + 2x1GB in the future) As for the cpu, I think I'll wait until I see what kind of price drops we get from intel before making a decision. Can't get anything until August anyway. Might as well wait and see what kind of deal I can get :) 

!