Fast Photoshop / Web Development under $4k

Hi everybody,
This is my first post here and I need some help. I read the stickys and am doing my best to follow the rules. I am a web developer who mainly does graphics (Photoshop + Flash + text editor coding, but obviously that last one wont take much ;) ). Right now I my Dell is dying on me (don't ever buy one, mine began to turn useless after a year and a half and it was the top of the line workstation they sold with every best option) and I have permission to build a top-notch system ASAP that I can use for roughly the next 3- 4 years. I would like to keep the budget under $4k to allow money to buy new monitors, but if it takes a little bit more to go that extra mile thats ok. I need something that is FAST in terms of both operations and opening large files. I figured I would go a step down from the i7-975 Extreme 3.33ghz to the i7-950 3.06ghz just because I am not looking to simply blow money. I know the motherboard and graphics card is a bit much since I won't be gaming or running 3d apps on it but I would like the ability to have NO LESS than 12gb of RAM and run hi-res dual display and these seem to be the only types capable of handling that amount of memory. I have never started from scratch and don't know much about voltage and things like that so I'm a little reluctant to OC unless its worth it. I just want something VERY FAST that won't blow up or be irrelevant in 2 years and be able to run a lot of RAM. I am not sure how much faster solid state is than traditional hard drives but I picked a SSD just to run the scratch disk in Photoshop. Any tips anyone could give would be useful. I don't want to buy all this stuff and then have it not work together and look like a fool instead of buying a premade piece of junk Dell or HP that I know will be useless in a year. If spending extra $$$ on another solid state to run OS & programs will make a difference then I'll do it. Thanks in advance everyone! PS: Forgot to mention will be running Windows 7 x 64 Professional.

So far I'm only up to ~$2,700 in components:
SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Photoshop, Flash, light After Effects, office stuff(Sql Server, Outlook, Excel, text editor, etc.)
PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Mouse, keyboard, speakers, etc.
PARTS PREFERENCES: New Intel i7 processors with tons of RAM that can handle anything
OVERCLOCKING: Only if its safe...
MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1200 primary for graphics work w/ 1280x1024 secondary for coding
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I need something that will last about 4 years and still be relevant


Here is the equipment I've picked out so far on newegg:
PCU:Intel Core i7-950 Bloomfield 3.06GHz 4 x 256KB L2 Cache 8MB L3 Cache LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor - Retail (is stock cooler enough?)
Motherboard:EVGA E760 CLASSIFIED "Overclocker's Pick" 3-Way SLI + PhysX 1366 Intel X58 EATX Intel Motherboard
Power Supply:ABS SL series SL1050 1050W Continuous @50°C ,80 PLUS SILVER Certified,Modular Cable Design,Single 12V Rail,ATX12V v2.3/ EPS12V v2.92,SLI Ready,CrossFire Ready,Active PFC"Compatible with Core i7, i5" Power Supply - Retail
Graphics Card:EVGA 896-P3-1255-AR GeForce GTX 260 Core 216 896MB 448-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card (the Dell laptops my buddies are buying come with EVGA 275s so I figured I'd get something decent in case I want to run some type of game)
RAM:12G - 2 sets of CORSAIR DOMINATOR 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Triple Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model TR3X6G1600C8D - Retail
Primary Storage Drive:Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 ST31500341AS 1.5TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
Photoshop Scratch Disk SSDWestern Digital VelociRaptor WD3000HLFS 300GB 10000 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Driv
Case: Thermaltake SwordM VD5000BNA Black/ Silver Aluminum Extrusion ATX Full Tower Computer Case - Retail
10 answers Last reply
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  1. Welcome to the forum. I'd recommend changing most of the above parts.

    Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz 4 x 256KB L2 Cache 8MB L3 Cache LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core

    ASUS P6T SE LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel

    2 x G.SKILL 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Triple Channel Kit Desktop

    XFX HD-585A-ZNFC Radeon HD 5850 (Cypress Pro) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported

    SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal

    Intel X25-M Mainstream SSDSA2MH080G2C1 2.5" 80GB SATA II MLC Internal

    Antec TruePower New TP-750 750W Continuous Power

    LIAN LI Lancool PC-K62 Black 0.8 mm SECC, Plastic + Mesh ATX Mid Tower

    Sony Optiarc Black 24X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 12X DVD+R DL 24X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA

    XIGMATEK Intel Core i7 compatible Dark Knight-S1283V 120mm

    If you have any questions about the parts I chose, just ask.
  2. Thanks for your input jbakerlent, I will look up your suggestions. I know I am probably overkilling it, but I just want to make sure it will last. As I said, I am not worried about budget as much as reliability.
  3. I think I'll jump onto this one, see if we can't speed this up a bit.

    i7 950
    At twice the cost of a 920, this is best replaced. By getting the 920 and doing a MODERATE overclock you come out ahead. Save money now and perhaps when the 6-core CPUs come out next year you'll be able to upgrade.

    E760 Classified
    Way overkill. This is a hard core overclockers board and you are paying for it. Asus P6TD Deluxe will do all you need, including OC, run a second video card, etc.

    Corsair Dominators
    Sorry, no. You are paying a huge premium for perhaps a few seconds of rendering time. We can get you performance elsewhere. It's not even really fast memory, just overpriced.
    Faster RAM, better price:
    You may need to loosen the timings to get all 12GB... but then again you may not. Either way you are ahead.

    The ABS PSU is probably a rebranded Enermax or some such. Anyway you do not need that much power. You need a quality PSU instead. Here's a Corsair 850HX... it's still overkill by a big margin but it's very high quality...

    ... and actually just get the highest quality 650W available in the US, the Seasonic X650
    That would be all you are going to need.

    Now that I have saved you a bunch, let's spend it where it counts.

    First, a fast SSD capable of holding your OS and programs:
    Intel X25-M 160GB

    Next, a faster storage HD
    Caviar Black 2TB

    Your scratch disk is probably OK. I don't think burning through a SSD scratch disk would be economical... unless you want to use an inexpensive one that would still be faster than your velociraptor... maybe
    That's not bad at all. 3 year warranty and rated for 1,000,000 hours. I'm not really sure about performance though. Scratch disk usage is odd.

    If you like the SwordM I'm good with that. I recently heard that Thermaltake was selling them off on their website with a code... lemme see...


    And the code, posted a week ago: HWVD5000BNAS09

    See if it still works, because it makes it $150.00 :)
  4. ^Wow Proximon nice suggestions, I totally agree with you.

    To OP: there's no point in buying an expensive CPU, that an i7 920 will do the job. You can overclock it to the i7 975 speed, or higher if you want. This option is much more cheaper. Save the money now, and if you really want to gain performance, next year go buy the 6core i9...I doubt you gain much benefit from it, since you are only doing photoshop..etc

    Get the Prolimatech Megahalems heatsink to overclock, it's one of the best

    There's not really anything I could add because Proximon's build is remarkable.. so..
    I recommend Proximon's build.
  5. Wow! You guys are amazing! Such tremendous feedback for someone looking for help, and with coupon codes to boot! I have to say thanks for all this free help, you guys are truly good people. I only wish there was some way I could pass it on.
  6. ^Post an update of your build, if you are considering any of our suggested parts..i updated my above post too.
  7. Yes we do like pics, especially with unusual cases... interior pics with all hardware installed.
  8. Will do guys. The only question I have now is, if I do buy 950, will I be able to OC that to outrageous speeds in the future? I don't want to start out overdoing it but I will consider expanding in the future. That was one of my initial thoughts I should have mentioned (sorry I'm a newb). I have to go to bed but I will study all your recommendations thoroughly throughout the week. I'm mainly worried about becoming outdated and if in 2 years I waste x amount of hours working on files that directly correlates to lost $ hourly billing so I have been encouraged to just "get it right". Again, thanks for all the input. You guys are awesome! I hope if I learn anything by putting this system together I can provide some type of help for others. I think this is a pretty wide market segment for people that don't want to use Macs.
  9. "Will do guys. The only question I have now is, if I do buy 950, will I be able to OC that to outrageous speeds in the future?"

    what do you mean by outrageous? on AIR cooling you're looking at about 4.2GHZ could push it a little more say 4.4-4.5GHZ, but it's not that stable i guess. this is done by enthusiast overclocks i would say. i7 950 is not worth the money..just get i7 920 and overclock it 4.0-4.2ghz

    again, like i said before get the i7 920 now. and next year if you feel the performance isn't good enough, get a 6 core. i strongly recommend you not to get anything beyond i7 920 right now beacuse it is a waste of money. just overclock the 920 and you're set with your photoshop stuff.
  10. The X58 board and quality CPU will ensure you don't become outdated. CPUs are simple to upgrade.

    It's much easier to push a less expensive CPU harder, because if you do screw up you aren't out so much money.
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