System Build for Photo Editing - Suggestions Pls!!


I'm basically a hobbyist photographer and till now have been using my 3 year old MSI S270 Notebook (Mobile Athlon 64 3000+, 2GB DDR 400, ATI X300 chipset, 120GB 5400rpm, 12.1" Wide Screen)for editing my photos...

I primarily shoot 12mp images in RAW and then edit/convert them into JPG/TIFF using Adobe Photoshop CS3 and Corel Paint Shop Pro.

Off late, as my workload has increased, I'm finding that the poor MSI is really struggling and takes ages for the processing and conversions, so I've finally decided to get myself a new desktop.

This is what i basically have in mind:

For Processor, Its either the Q6600 Quad (2.40Ghz) Overclocked to 3.00Ghz (333x9.0)or the newer 45nm E7200 C2D (2.53Ghz) overclocked to 3.16Ghz (333x9.5). Which of these would be a wiser choice? Will four cores make a difference for my target applications? Also, I would like to be able to achieve these overclocks with stock coolers. Is this even possible?

Now, for Motherboards, many have suggested the MSI P6NGM-L (nvidia 610i), but I've also heard great things about the MSI P35 Neo - F (Intel P35 Express).

Both can support 1333fsb and quad cores, so CPU choice should not make a difference here. Now, keeping in mind that I would be overclocking, which of these would you suggest? Also, the former has nVidia Geforce 6100 Graphics on board, so I wouldn't have to spend on a separate video card.

However, In case I go for the P35, I have thought of the ATI Radeon 2400Pro 256MB as the video card. Is this good enough or should I get one with more grunt like a 3650Pro or something? Do video cards even make a difference in my kind of work which is solely based on still photo editing? I heard they are a must for video editing though. I'll be using a 22" LCD 1680x1080, however, I won't be playing any games at all.

As for Ram, I'm thinking for either Corsair Value Select or Kingston Value Ram DDR2 800 2GB x2 for a total of 4GB. I would be working on my Windows XP Professional 32bit, so will the OS support 4Gb even?

As for the Hard Drives, I'm thinking of getting the following:

One WD160GB Sata for the OS
One WD80GB Sata for the Photoshop Scratch Disk, and
One WD 640GB Sata for the Storage

I have budget around USD 700 for all this.

Thanks for taking the time to read this

Best regards,


P.S. I already have a brand new Coolermaster Extreme Power 500W. Will this be enough for the above config? Do i really need a high capacity PSU for the above config or will a be enough?
11 answers Last reply
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  1. Hi and welcome.

    You are going to want to find a separate video solution, but perhaps we can save a little elsewhere. Your graphics card will determine your overall performance to some degree.... to clarify, screen refresh, smooth scrolling, switching quickly between windows will all depend partly on your video card.

    I think we can stick with the PSU you have.

    Here's what I think:

    This is a shared wish list but may require you to log in to newegg.

    That puts you right at your limit ($702.00), but includes a case and CPU cooler, a must if you want to OC. In fact, it includes all you should need.

    Other thoughts:

    You will not use all the RAM. Your system will recognize something like 3.4gigs. Still better than 2, given your usage.

    I doubt you need a separate scratch disk. You could just partition the first 80 gigs on your 640 and use that. Save a few dollars there.

    If Adobe allows you to easily upgrade to a version of Photoshop that uses Vista 64 bit, it's worth considering as well. OEM Vista 64 was about 110.00 last I looked.
  2. You'll likely want an internal optical drive as well. Add $30 for that.
  3. next adobe cs4 will be available in 64bit version
    and i believe it will be great suitable with quad cpu
    to make the full potential of the 2 x 2 Ram
    go with 64 bit OS
    for the board i know its a little expensive than what you are thinking about but i like this if you wish to overclock

    the msi one that you suggest is only limited to 4 gig
  4. Thanks for the detailed reply Proximon! :)

    However, I forgot to mention that I'm based in India and cannot buy online from newegg :( , However, this wish list gave a good idea of the direction I should be headed.

    Also, decent after market coolers, etc are not easily available here, hence I'm concerned if I would be able to overclock the Q6600 from 2.4 to 3.0ghz on the stock intel cooler :??:

    Thanks for the help... really appreciate it :wahoo:

    P.S. Service on ASUS mobos in really crappy here, so I wouldn't really want to go with them, so it'd be great if you could suggest some other model from MSI if not the P35 Neo...
  5. 4gig+ RAM...make sure you have XP64 or Vista will be happy you did.

    Quad core...good choice. Either one is good, Q6600 is cheaper. What are your ambient room temps?

    MSI...never really liked their hardware probably stems from someone I did a build for 2-3 years ago and they insisted that I use MSI...I went through 3 different boards before they had one that lasted more than 2 weeks. It wasn't power, PSU was good, they ran through a UPS, etc...

    But, in reference to your question, P35 or P45 boards are very good mid-range boards. Find one with all the options you want and you should be set. You shouldn't need a real powerful graphics card for video/photo editing...most of the work is CPU...the graphics card just should enable you to see better colors and keep you from lagging in browsers, etc. Any mid range nVidia or ATI would work fine.

    P.S. Service on ASUS mobos in really crappy here, so I wouldn't really want to go with them

    My understanding that service on ASUS boards is crappy everywhere. They do make good stuff, though...I have never had a board die from them...even a buddy that had his house hit by lightning.
  6. umm, just letting you know that vista 32 also detects 4 gigs of ram...thats with SP1 of course...
  7. Quote:
    umm, just letting you know that vista 32 also detects 4 gigs of ram...thats with SP1 of course...

    Very true, however, if he is going to be running Vista, I would suggest 4gb as a minimum and would need 64 to take advantage of in 4gb+. I'm not real sure why M$ didn't just make Vista 64 bit all around...there isn't a need to really stay with a 32 bit would think that developing different versions of the OS would be more costly in the long run.
  8. Current versions of Photoshop really don't care that much about the video card, however, the new versions coming will utilize the hardware acceleration capabilities of the video card more. The 3650 w 512MB DDR3 will be more than adequate for your requirements, and has the benefit of being a quiet and efficient card. The system component that has the largest influence on speed in Photoshop is memory, as you have no doubt already discovered.
    If Gigabyte motherboards are readily available in your location then I would suggest that perhaps the GA-EP35-DS3R rev 2.1 would be a cost efficient and reliable solution. It easily overclocks the quad core processors, it has excellent i/o, and comes well equipped with the required accessories.
    I use my system for converting, and working with RAW images, and find that my current configuration works very well with my Nikon software as well as Photoshop.

    EP35-DS3R ver 2.1, Q66000@3.2GHz, 8GB PC6400, OCZ Vendetta 2, HD 3870 Toxic 512MB DDR4, 275T, W2207h, DW1655, GSA-H55N, 2.5TB storage. Antec P182 w4 Scythe Slipstreams, Vista 64 etc
  9. ahslan said:
    umm, just letting you know that vista 32 also detects 4 gigs of ram...thats with SP1 of course...

    You do realize that it is only a cosmetic change? It still uses 3+ GB depending on resources that are allocated?

    I think people are getting confused with SP1 and think that it now uses the full 4GB of memory.
  10. In a way, 32 bit XP and Vista have always used 4 gigs. It's just that some of the physical addresses are reserved and/or used by things like the video card.

    The operating systems will use whatever addresses are not being used already by hardware, or reserved for hardware, which usually works out to be from 3.2-3.6 gigs in a 4 gig system.

    Vista 32 may now recognize that the full 4 gigs are there, but it is still limited to what it can address for itself and use.

    Vista 64 has a lot more addresses to use: up to 128 Gigs worth. I do not know for a fact, but I suspect that usable memory still caps around 127.5 in Vista 64bit Ultimate.
  11. lafontma said:
    You do realize that it is only a cosmetic change? It still uses 3+ GB depending on resources that are allocated?

    I think people are getting confused with SP1 and think that it now uses the full 4GB of memory.

    oh really?!?!? I seriously did not know friend installed SP1 and saw that vista detected all four we both assumed it uses all four gigs...that's sort of disappointing...I installed my 32 bit ultimate on my machine thinking that it would be able to use all four gigs once I get my second 2gb stick...ugh...I guess imma have to live with it...there's no way I'm reformatting (the new windows update is sooooo slow)...
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