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Building a Photoshop PC (64 bit, USB3) need advice

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October 27, 2009 5:16:23 PM

Hi all, I'm looking to build a new mid/high-end PC in the near future (6 months or sooner) designed specifically to crunch images (and video), something that can process hundreds of RAW camera images on Adobe Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS4 like it's nothing.

I have 3 basic requirements
1. Mini-tower form factor (needs to fit in 14" cube)
2. Runs 64 bit Windows 7 smoothly
3. Built-in USB3.0 support in the Mobo and Case

I need it to be a mini-tower because the only place I can put it is inside one of those 14"x14"x14" cubes (DYI shelves built by 14" wire panels).

As for USB3.0, it's not an absolute requirement, but it would be very nice to have it right out of the gates. I need to be able to transfer thousands of photos to and from external HDs. I know the mass adoption of USB3.0 has been slow, but I'm really hoping it takes off during the holidays this year. But if for some reason USB3.0 doesn't become an industry standard as USB2.0 has, what options are there for fast data transfers between external drives?

Here are some other specs that I'm considering:
- SSD drive for the main HD for OS and programs (at least 64 GB)
- Massive conventional hard drive for data (2 TB)
- Good graphics card for Adobe Lightroom 3, PS CS4, and possibly Premier Pro (need a lot of help here, I have no idea what cards are good)
- 8 gigs of RAM

Can you guys chime in on advice, and maybe point to specific products links out now or near future so I can start keeping a shopping list? I'm gonna need advice on specific hardware I should get to build a lean-mean-photoshopping machine that meets my requirements.
- Case
- Mobo
- Power supply
- CPU
- Graphics card
- RAM
- SSD (performance is important)
- Conventional HD (size is important, but I'd also like this to be fairly fast)
- Misc (anything you think might help my cause)
- Bang for the buck (even though I'm opening up my wallet quite a bit, I'd still like to get good value for my money, and not simply the highest end stuff that's available)

Thanks in advance!
October 27, 2009 5:24:08 PM

Motherboards with USB 3.0 won't be out until Gigabyte releases its P55A boards in the US next month. If it's 6 months until you want this machine, I would repost this then, because by then all new motherboards would have been out. New X58 boards are coming, Intel Core i9 is coming, SATA 3 would be out along with some sata 3 hard drives, and nVidia's next gen cards will be out. SSD and RAM prices would have dropped. But until then you should read up on which video card would be better for CS4. nVidia's FX and CX cards are optimized for CS4. I don't know much about ATI FirePro, but I hear it competes well with nVidia at half the cost.
October 27, 2009 5:29:06 PM

eSATA is available now and faster than USB 2.0. I'm not sure how it will compare in the real world to USB 3.0 when transferring files from a traditional hard drive (non-SSD).
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October 27, 2009 5:37:38 PM

Photoshop has nothing that is graphically demanding for modern cards...you can easily get by with a $50 card like a 4670. Unless you are doing medical imaging or sending your graphics output to machining equipment, you don't really need a workstation graphics card. The main reason some companies choose workstation cards for image editing is for customer support that comes with them, but if you know your apps you are better off with a desktop card for your uses.
October 27, 2009 5:42:20 PM

oh....I forgot to mention, the reason that usb 3 and all the other high speed options have not caught on yet is because they are actually "too fast". Usb2 is actually faster than most drives can transfer data, so there is no need for a faster solution at this time.
October 27, 2009 5:50:53 PM

masterasia said:
Motherboards with USB 3.0 won't be out until Gigabyte releases its P55A boards in the US next month. If it's 6 months until you want this machine, I would repost this then, because by then all new motherboards would have been out. New X58 boards are coming, Intel Core i9 is coming, SATA 3 would be out along with some sata 3 hard drives, and nVidia's next gen cards will be out. SSD and RAM prices would have dropped. But until then you should read up on which video card would be better for CS4. nVidia's FX and CX cards are optimized for CS4. I don't know much about ATI FirePro, but I hear it competes well with nVidia at half the cost.


After reading up on eSata, it seems built-in USB3.0 might not be such a big deal anymore.

I'm also not keen on getting the latest and greatest (Sata 3 SSD, core i9) since that would not be good value for money. So buying stuff that's one-generation back (that's still good performance) is probably what I'm aiming for.
!