My first build - can you help trim the fat (if any?)

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

My build is as follows:



Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD6400AAKS 640GB 7200 RPM 16MB

SAPPHIRE 100259-1GL Radeon HD 4870 1GB 256-bit

Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound - OEM

G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800

GIGABYTE GA-EP45-UD3P LGA 775 Intel P45 ATX Intel Motherboard

Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium SP1

ARCTIC COOLING Freezer 7 Pro 92mm CPU Cooler

Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550 Yorkfield 2.83GHz 12MB L2 Cache LGA

CORSAIR CMPSU-650TX 650W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready

I do not plan on overclocking - trying to put this together is a big enough step for me

Also Im not sure if everything is even compatible. I think it is but this is why im asking.

And last: Since im doing photo editing and general multitasking, is it true im better off going quad core instead of a less expensive duo core?

Thanks in advance for all of your help!!
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More about build trim
  1. That looks like a solid build.

    Nice job doing your homework.

    If you are doing mostly photo editing and mutli-tasking, then the build is more than likely overkill, but it's a nice build. Your build would play most games well, not just general e-mail, etc.
  2. 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.
  3. You might want to go with a 64-bit version on windows, just for the sake of more ram in the future.

    Also, you might save some money going with the 512 MB 4870, after all you said light gaming
  4. ^+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).
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

    Good luck!
  7. Good Case, but buy it at for $20 less!!!
    Cooler Master 690 without Power Supply

    Consider a bit faster RAM and it still runs at stock voltages (5-4-4-12 speeds). It's also cheaper after MIR's = $58 - $20 MIR = $38!!
    mushkin 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory - Retail

    Consider the q8200 instead of the q9550, it should be just fine with what you want to do. Also there is a combo deal with your mobo that you selected for $300!!
    3rd combo from the bottom of the page!!
    Even the q6600 is a good buy too. There's a combo with an Asus p5q-e that is going for $322 shipped!!
    4th combo from the bottom of the page!

    Save a few $ and get needed software to read/burn DVD's with a RETAIL version of a DVD burner! $28 shipped!!
    LITE-ON Black 20X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 8X DVD+R DL 20X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA 20X DVD±R DVD Burner with LightScribe - Retail

    Also consider going with the 4870 512mb, since your doing light gaming. It'll do plenty for light gaming!! It's going to save you about $40-60 off of the 1 gb versions, so you can decide if that is worth it to you or not.
    SAPPHIRE 100257L Radeon HD 4870 512MB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail
    And if you wanted to bundle the above GPU with some decent CAS5 memory you'll get an additional $25 off, which basically means you get the memory for FREE!!! after $20 MIR on the memory!!
    1st combo at the top of the page!!
    Even the 4850 1gb GPU would be plenty for your gaming needs. It's going for about $180-190 after MIR's at Newegg.
    SAPPHIRE 100242-1GL Radeon HD 4850 1GB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail

    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.
  8. 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?
  9. You can even get a better deal with the q9550, if you sticking with that choice and get an Asus p5q pro mobo in a combo deal. It's $410 - $15 MIR = $395!!
    2nd combo from the bottom of the page!
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