My wife is a freelance designer and photographer and I'm her under-qualified IT support. I've been planning to leap into Core i7 with the 940, but looking at the benchmarks I'm getting cost/benefit cold feet. Basically I need a stable system to run Photoshop CS3.
Cooler Master Cosmos
Asus 4850 TOP
3 drives (scratch a 75GB raptor, 500GB Samsung for storage and 320 for apps)
I need advice on CPU:
Core i7 940
Quad 9xxx or 6600
And memory match
Basically I buy a new computer ~ every 3 years and want something that can keep up with CS4 whatever that ends up being (likely multithread support).
I think a Q6600/P5Q Pro/2x2GB DDR2-800 combination is already overkill, and it's under $400 total. With the i7/X58/DDR3 combo I believe you'll end up paying about $1000 instead without actually seeing any advantages.
Maybe a Q9550, if you don't mind paying more. Still, I doubt that it's worth it.
I would go with the q6600. And a q6600 is not overkill for a photo editing rig. Then there is entire photoshop usage of GPU's. I believe its called cuda. I havent payed much attention to it since I dont use the app/do that type of work.
a single e8400 is 20%+ faster than a q6600 - an e8500 a bit more (don't think the e8600 would be worth it). It's all about clock speed, RAMs and disk I/O - extra cores don't offer much (except in Premiere).
IIRC PS will eat about 55% of RAMs with a Win OS. Extra 'capacity' will handle background services and your multitasking just 'dandy'.
And I'm not certain where PS stands with 'GPU' processing ATM ...
edit: I fergit ... the HD4850 is very much overkill unless you will be doing a little gaming on the side.
I used to work as a professional digital imaging editor. I edited images that appeared in high end fashion magazines. Photoshop was one of many digital imaging programs we used. I have to agree with aevm and gagaga, you are entering the realm of expensive overkill. For Photoshop a dual core processor is sufficient.
If you want to upgrade the hard drives check out the 640GB versions from WD and Seagate. That's where the sweet spot for price/size/speed is these days. Those drives will even beat your Raptor when working with large files.