Photoshop RAM vs CPU

Hey Guys,
sorry for the long first post, but I'm confused.
I'm the first to admit that I'm not the most familiar with photoshop or its requirements, but I learn fast. I need to learn fast for my next project...

My friend runs a small bi-monthly magazine and is need of new computers for the office and has enlisted my help. Their old computers are circa 1994 macs and run Quarkxpress 3, so yeah...

Pretty sure we're going with Windows computers unless someone can convince me a new set of iMacs would work better.

Here is the plan right now...
Vista or 7 64 bit
2 7200rpm HDDs (1 for OS, 1 for scratch disk)
2 DVD burners (they want 2)
1 GB ram video card (something not crazy fast)
Gigabit network to file server

Here is where I'm confused about what to spend money on...
I've got 4 options
1) Core i5 and 4 gigs ram
2) Core2Quad Q9550 and 8 gigs ram
3) PhenomII 955 x4 black edition and 6+ gigs ram
4) Cheaper CPU (dual core or athlonII x4) and a ton of ram

My friend has a target goal of 1000-1200 per computer setup (including an LCD monitor), but will spend more if he can get computers that'll last another 5-6 years without needing much attention. These computers won't ever see the internet after final assembly. The only thing these will get used for is work.

I'll take suggestions to change this parts list. I'm not sure if CPU speed/cores/threads are more important basic photoshop functions than amount of ram. They don't do a lot of actual photo editing, but more of a layout kind of thing.
Am I going overkill for this?

Thanks for the help in advance!

1 more question...
Does photoshop use hyperthreading? I suppose that would make an i7 worth it over the i5
8 answers Last reply
More about photoshop
  1. Which version of Photoshop are we talking about here?
  2. Sorry,
    Photoshop CS4 64 bit.
    From what I gather it will use as much RAM as you give it, but there is a point of diminishing returns, I just don't know what the point is.
  3. The major parts of CS4 are multi-threaded but not all the tools are.
    And like you mention it can put extra RAM to good use.
    But it also likes fast CPU and a fast scratch disk too.
    That 'point of diminishing returns' is usually budget related.

    I'd say 3 is your sweet spot. But I'd go with 4GB or RAM initially and try and get a fast scratch disk separate for the OS disk. Finish the RAM upgrade to 8GB as you can afford that move.
  4. Well, I'm thinking that a good balance of processor speed and ram would be a good thing. I can get 8 gigs of fast ram into my budget if I go for a socket 775 C2Q or a Phenom. I was looking around a few minutes today at it appears with smart shopping I can get 6 gigs into the core i5 setup. I also looked around and I could load the motherboard with ram (16GB) if I go for a C2D or an AthlonII x4 processor.
    I suspect 16GB ram is too much for those "slow" processors.
    I also suspect the i5 is the fastest, but with the least ram would need to be accessing the slow disks the most.

    I found batch of "clearance" Dell desktops with core i7's (920), 6 gig's ram, ATI 4670 graphics, and Vista Business for an absolute steal ($800)! If I can get my friend to jump on these I think they'd be the best deal after I stick another HDD in them for the scratch disk.

    Am I just rambling? Sorry if I am :sarcastic:
  5. If I can get by cheaper we'd all be happier though... I'd like to target $600-700 for each tower instead of $900+
  6. $700 will get you system that will run faster than your current 1994 Macs.
    Is the workload spread evenly between the two PCs?
    It might be better going with 1 $500 system and 1 $900 system.
    Use 1 system for the lighter workloads and use the $900 system for the heave photoshop workload.
  7. I figure that 3 computers are necessary... 1 as a spare computer and general office use, 2 for photoshop use. I'm not sure how their work load is split up, but I imagine close to 50/50 on the main computers.

    I think I'm going to try to set them up with my test box and see how it works. It's nothing special but it'll get me a good approximation for what kind of speed they really need/want.

    Any clue if an atom 330 computer would be faster than 15 year old macs? I would assume so.
  8. Probably quite a bit.
    But the Atom330 doesn't do well in a multi-tasking environment.
    The new Celeron E3200/E3300 would be a better match for an office PC.
    And so would the new Athlon II 240/245/250.
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