Hi all - Im prepping for my first build. Im building a new comp to use primarily for photoshop / lightroom as well as every day use (itunes, internet, etc...) I am a light gamer, but that may increase a bit due to cold wisconsin winters and a more capable system. I currently am using a 5 year old HP laptop.
I'd like to keep my budget around for the tower about 1000, and right now I'm about 1250. I dont mind spending that additonal 250, but only if it is really worth it. If that extra 250 is not going to be noticed in performance then I'd rather save.
For my monitor I may go for either a 24" and 30" Dell ultrasharp. The extra resolution would be great for photo editing, but of course that comes at a $800 premium.
Also I'd love this computer to be quiet - right now my laptop is loud
About the only thing I would change is dropping down to a lower quad core CPU. The 9550 is fast, but I'm not sure you'd notice if you had a 6600, or a different 9xxx chip. If you don't do a lot of gaming, you could drop down to the 4850 as well. PS and other programs won't stress the 4870 as much. You'll need it for any games you'll run on that huge monitor, but if you don't game that much you won't need to worry about it.
^+1. Also consider swapping out the cooler to a XIGMATEK S1283 + bolt in kit. If you are willing to game at a lower res than the native 1900*1200 then you could drop down to a 4850. You could also save abit by swapping out case for a Antec 300 ($55 @ newegg).
Instead of getting the Dell 30" monitor, you could just get two Dell 24" monitors, which will give you a 3840x1200 resolution (the 30" resolution is 2560 x 1600). You'll probably save a little bit of money, too.
If you aren`t overclocking, you can just get away with using the stock intel heatsink. OCing is pretty easy though so I would recommend you look into after you`ve built it; there`s a lot of extra performance waiting to be unlocked there
As for photo editing vs performance and $, if you are ONLY doing the editing (as opposed to full rendering) then yes a quad is good, but as others mentioned a Q9450 or Q6600 (a MUST to OC to 3.0ghz, it`s `free` to do - look that up!) then put that extra money into 8gb of system memory. You`ll need more memory than processing power for straight up editing. If you`re rendering though you`ll notice bigger differences with a faster quad.
If you aren`t playing games check out the 4850 as mentioned, and also as mentioned make sure you get the 64-bit version of Vista.
The ACF7 Pro CPU HSF is a good upgrade from the stock CPU HSF. It is probably a little quieter than the stock one and should allow you some decent OC's with it too. The OC's can be done later, if you feel you need more CPU power and when you get more familiar with your system.
Thanks for all the input so far - I'll be sure to use Luny's recommendations for the RAM. As for the videocard, I dont forsee upgrading too much in the future, so I'll spend the extra little bit now for the horsepower.
Thanks for all the help. Any last minute advice for a first time builder?