Photo editing/some video/web browsing machine

I have some questions we'll get to later, but here's what I'm thinking now.


BUDGET RANGE: trying to keep it around $500 - 750 range

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: keyboard, mouse, monitor, case, will be using a copy of XP for now

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg for the most part


SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Not today. Maybe in the future

GIGABYTE GA-EP45-UD3P LGA 775 Intel P45 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail $114.99 with $20 MIR

Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550 Yorkfield 2.83GHz 12MB L2 Cache LGA 775 95W Quad-Core Processor - Retail $219.99

G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F2-8500CL5D-4GBPK - Retail $54.99

Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drives - OEM $94.99

MSI R4670-2D512/D3 Radeon HD 4670 512MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail $54.99 with $20 MIR

SILVERSTONE ST60F 600W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Certified 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply - Retail $99.99 with $20 MIR

Anything I'm missing? I think I have the essentials. Now onto my questions.

First; where can I save money?

I know I don't need a 1TB hard drive right now, so I will probably down size that to like a 640mb or so. That should save a couple dollars. I suppose I can go even cheaper on the GFX card since I don't do gaming, but that's reallly not expensive so I may just stay in that ballpark. I'm not too sure about the PSU. I know that's one place you don't what to go cheap, but I'd like to spend less than $100 on a power supply. I do want a modular unit though. I think it's a great idea, and I want to jump on that bandwagon.

As for the RAM, I figure 4 gb is a good starting point. I know XP won't use it all, so I'm considering just using 1 stick until I upgrade to windows 7 sometime down the road.

Motherboard: Again, don't know much about it, but people seem to suggest it a lot and it gets good reviews. Seems like a good price too. Any others I should consider?

CPU: Here's a major issue. I can get the i7 920 for $199.99 at micro center, but after taxes it comes to $223.99. Basically the same price as this Q9550. On all these various charts I've been looking at they seem to be around the same, performance wise, with applications I plan on using. If I go the i7 route, wouldn't I need one of those x58 boards and ddr3 ram? That's a lot more money. Doesn't seem worth it for minimal performance increase. So I think I should stay with the Q9550, right?

Thanks for taking the time to read this and hopefully respond with some insight.
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  1. 14 views and no one has any suggestions?
  2. Seems like you have a good handle on everything - maybe that is why no one commented.

    On memory - remember that it is dual channel so 2 sticks work better than one. Get a pair now and add a pair latter. 2x2GB now would be good - some of the editing software will take advantage of a good part of it - and add a pair later if needed. Or you could add 2x1 GB, and add more later - but it will cut into the total available later. Up to you - a budget choice. I suggest getting Windows 64bit so it will take advantage of more than about 3.2GB memory should you need it later.

    For the PSU - you want 500w quality PSU. A good buy right now that would save you a little money is the OCZ Modsteam @ $40AR.

    You are correct about your choices on the HD and Video card - and I think the 4670 would be a good but very basic card if you can afford it.

    On any of the other components you can always find cheaper alternatives but I think you have the best value choices.

    Yes i7 costs more because you need the more expensive mobo and RAM.

    However, you also might want to consider going with an AMD based system right now for better future upgradibility. My current system is Intel and when I upgrade it will be to an i7 system. But were I to purchase a system in your budget range today I would go with an AMD system for the better upgrade options. With the above options you will have little headroom to upgrade since Intel has gone to the new socket for the i7. You won't be able to upgrade much without replacing mobo and memory as well as CPU. With an AMD AM3 socket - their current offering - you should have at least another year of new CPUs build for that socket.

    You might look at this link to see an example of an AMD build (although I am a little reluctant to link anyone to this site - you will see my embarrasment if you read it - also note that the final build is near the end of the thread):

    Note that it was $528 and has a video card that is a little faster than you are looking at. Note that he went with the tricore instead of quadcore to have more for the game card, a good choice I beleive. If you want to use the same system for 3 or 4 years without upgrades, you might want to change it to quadcore AMD CPU now. However, very few even multi-threaded apps effectively take advantage of all 4 cores today. You might consider saving the difference to upgrade to an even faster CPU at its then lower price in a year or two or three. With this sysem, you have a lot of room to upgrade CPU, video card, and RAM to improve performance without throwing away anything already spent.
  3. Suggested Changes:

    CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 - While the Q9550 is definitely a nice chip (I have them in 2 of my other machines) it's not really necessary for photo and video editing, which right now will utilize 2, maybe 3 cores. If you really want to go with the 9550, do so, but if you're looking to save a bit of cash, drop to the E8400.

    HDD: Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB - Not much difference between this and the WD drive you picked, but this one is $5 cheaper.

    Motherboard: ASUS P5Q Turbo - Feature sets are nearly identical between the P5Q Turbo and the Gigabyte you picked. The Asus is $10 cheaper.
  4. CPU - For the very reasons mentioned - that photo and video editing using multiple cores - I suggest the three or four core CPU instead of the E8400. The chart below shows that the Q9550 cleans up on the E8400 in some video apps. I would not switch to the E8400 for the small savings. The chart also shows AMD tri and quad cores. Note that the 3 core is a fair amount slower. As I said before - ther reason for going with it is to save money for a later upgrade. If you can afford the X4 955 now ($200 but sold out right now at newegg) go for it.,1396.html?prod%5B2607%5D=on&prod%5B2620%5D=on&prod%5B2634%5D=on&prod%5B2608%5D=on&prod%5B2610%5D=on

    Mobo - If you stick with the Intel system. I prefer the Gigabyte mobo because of the special copper core - but both boards are good.
  5. obsidian86 said:

    Good article. Note that the X3 955 720 discussed in that article is the processor in the $528 build linked above.
  6. Good information so far. Thanks.

    I've been reading more about the fact that the 775 is on it's way out. So, I'm considering going the AMD route for a cheaper upgrade path in the future.
  7. Perhaps you might want to repost a revised build with AMD for consideration. I would suggest using the AMD system linked above as a starting point then maybe:

    1. Upgrade HD to the 1 TB WD Black you listed above
    2. Decide on the right graphics card - whether to stick with the 4670 which is fine for non-gaming or increase since you have room in budget.
    3. Also consider increasing CPU if you can afford the extra money - either a faster X3 or moving up to X4 which will help a little now in video editing - more later as more apps improve multithreading - if not considering gaming this is where you will get the biggest increase in performance for the money.
  8. Ok, here is an AMD build I am considering.

    GIGABYTE GA-MA790GPT-UD3H AM3 AMD 790GX HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail $124.99

    AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor - Retail $199.99

    G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL8D-4GBHK - Retail $79.99

    Western Digital Caviar Black WD7501AALS 750GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Hard Drive - OEM $79.99

    MSI R4670-2D512/D3 Radeon HD 4670 512MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail $54.99 with $20 MIR

    OCZ ModXStream Pro OCZ600MXSP 600W ATX12V V2.2 / EPS12V SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply compatible with core i7 - Retail $49.99 with $25 MIR

    $534.95 w/o GFX card OR $589.94 w/4670 GFX card.

    So what do you guys think? I changed the PSU, mostly because I had forgotten which one I had in my Intel build. But this new OCZ I've picked is a great price. But is it a good PSU?

    I downsized the HD to the 750 gb version. Which is all I really need for now.

    Also, I left the GFX card unchanged. This new Gigabyte mobo I picked comes with on board GFX. Should I just skip the GFX card, use the on board and save some more money? Or, just buy the 4670 to have the better graphics?
  9. Looks like an excellent build. Do you need a DVD writer or already have one to use?

    PSU is a good one - upper middle class at a great price. It is enough to do a lite OC with 2 small graphics cards or one larger one - so it should meet your future needs as well.

    The onboard graphics should do fine with 2D - so certainly no harm in going with it for now and waiting to buy card when ready for or need it. Perhaps by then there will be newer, better cards at lower prices.

    You are well positioned for later expansion with the AM3 socket on the mobo - since AMD is still desiging for it - with 2 slots for video cards - and an extra pair of memory slots to add more memory if and when you need it.
  10. Oh yes, I forgot the DVD burner. I've had great success with Lite-On burners in the past so I'll probably just pick up one of their SATA burners.
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