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I7 960, 920, or ??

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April 7, 2010 6:58:54 PM


It's time for me to build a new system. The main purpose of this system will be to run the Adobe Design Premium CS4 software - Bridge, Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Illustrator, Fireworks, Flash Professional - all loaded and ready to process the graphic demands these programs place on a system without slowing everything down to a crawl. I'll use Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit for my OS.

My thought is to build a system like this:

ASUS P6X58D Premium Motherboard
Intel Core i7-960
12GB (or 24GB if possible) of DDR3 1600MHz Memory Modules
Western Digital WD1001FALS Caviar Black Hard Drive - 1TB, 7200 RPM, 32MB, SATA-3.0GB/s
Lite-On iHOS104-08 Blue-Ray/DVD/CD
Antec EarthWatts EA750 750W

I'm cheap so I'm going to reuse some components that are not that old:

nVidia GeForce 250GS with 1GB DDR3
Zalman CNPS9700 CPU Cooler
Antec Sonata II case

There are some little things I've left out but they won't have much to do with performance. (BTW, I'm not running games so I think the GeForce 250GS will work just fine for my needs. Still, I'm open to suggestions.)

Anyway, my question is about the CPU. I know the mobo I've chosen will allow me to upgrade to the new 6-Core Intel CPUs whenever I want. However, for now I need a CPU that won't slow down with, say, Photoshop and Illustrator refreshing multilayer graphics and photos while I'm working in Flash. If I can do this with an i7-920 (I'm not at all comfortable with overclocking so I run everything at stock speeds) rather than an i7-960, I'd be happy to save the money and put it elsewhere in the system.

I'd really appreciate some guidance and suggestions. It would be nice to have a system that could last for the next 3-years or more.

More about : 960 920

a b à CPUs
April 7, 2010 8:18:28 PM

I wouldn't get the i7 960 or 920. The new i7 930 offers the best bang/buck value out of all the LGA 1366 chips IMO. I don't know if you're in the US, but here's a combo deal for the motherboard you picked and the i7 930:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

Here's some excellent RAM to consider. It doesn't get much better than DDR3 1600 RAM with CAS 7 timings at 1.5v.

G.SKILL PI Series 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL7T-6GBPI - Retail $184.99

You won't be able to re-use your cooler unless you get a new mounting kit that fits the LGA 1366 socket.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

There are 500GB/platter drives that outperform that WD drive.

SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive $89.99

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a c 81 à CPUs
April 7, 2010 9:04:46 PM

1. If all that's asking you to go for that asus mobo is USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gbps then i'd ask you to reconsider your decision and go for gigabyte X58A-UD3R.. It has a better value attached to it (about 120$ less compared to the asus solution)..

2. No advantage in going for the i7 960.. Better get the i7 930.. Better value and the clock speed difference ain't that much for you to notice any difference in any of the apps you've mentioned..

3. shortstuff_nt makes a good point on both the cooler mounting and the hard drive.. Even the mentioned RAM is great unless you are really sure about getting 12 GB or more..

Rest looks fine.. I might have pointed out about the PSU being too much but i guess power at hand is always welcome.. Just to add a point, a corsair VX 550 W would be enough..
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a b à CPUs
April 7, 2010 9:22:50 PM

Fyi you can have the same clock speed as a 960 with a single change in your bios. Not to mention the power/heat added would be next to nothing with that little of an overclock. Just a $300 saving tip is all. :) 
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a b à CPUs
April 7, 2010 9:50:24 PM

Pretty much what they said:

go i7 930 and give it a minor overclock, but unless you're going with the linked bundle I'd get a new cooler - those Zalmans don't do well past stock as they weren't really intended for i7s and you'd need a 1366 bracket anyway as also stated

12GB is more than enough because 4GB sticks are expensive.
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April 7, 2010 10:08:21 PM

This is a great forum. Thank you all for responding to my post.

As I was reading through other posts, I saw the i7-930 mentioned but I wasn't certain that it was available. Thanks, shortstuff_mt for pointing out that option, as well as the bundle on NewEgg. That's what I'll get.

I was aware of the need for a new mounting kit for my Zalman CPU cooler, but thanks for mentioning it and the difference in the HDDs. I'll check out the specs a little more closely.

emperus, I know that the ASUS mobo I choose is too much for what I intend to do with the board now. I will look at the Gigabyte board you recommended. I'm really looking at the ASUS for other faster i7 series-like Intel CPUs. Maybe the prices of the six core units will drop in a year and all I'd need do would be to put in a new CPU.

My other concern is the software I'm using. I've an old E8500 with 4GB of RAM on a Win Vista Ultimate 32 bit system. The entire system slows to -System Not Responding - sometimes if I'm refreshing multilayer Illustrator and Photoshop graphics while working in Flash or Dreamweaver. I'm to the point at which I'm working in one program at a time and that really takes something away from whatever creative ideas I might get. My hope is to have a powerful enough CPU, 12GB of RAM, a fast HDD, and a pretty good GPU so that I can work pretty much as I think (If that's at all possible.)

I hear you loud and clear about the 960, raidur. I'll go with the 930 and take a close look at BIOS overclocking if I need the extra speed.

LePhuronn, maybe the 12GB of RAM will be enough, I don't know. It may be best for me to save some money and see how it works.

Thanks again for all of your suggestions and links.
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a c 311 à CPUs
April 7, 2010 10:57:10 PM

The 930 is sold at 920 prices. If you are near a microcenter, they will sell you one for $199(walk in only) The nice thing about the 930(or 920) is that a simple BCLK change makes it perform like a 975.

You can install 24gb on most X58 motherboards, but you will have to use 6 4gb modules which is pricey. Expect to pay $1200 for 24gb. I hope you can make do with 12gb, which should cost about $350 or so.

For fast hard drives, look into the new 450gb and 600gb velociraptors.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Do you really need ultimate? There are very few features that a single user desktop needs. You could always do an inplace upgrade later if necessary. Check out the windows-7 website for a list of differences.
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a c 311 à CPUs
April 7, 2010 11:09:51 PM

Agreed; Both velociraptors and SSD's are not very price/capacity efficient.

But, the price of SSD's probably is too high, to hold all the data this application demands.

If you want maximum performance, I think the velociraptor 600gb drives are not unreasonable for this high end performance build.
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April 8, 2010 2:45:04 AM


Wow, those Velociraptors are nice! They're also expensive. However, the mobo I'm looking at has SATA 6GB on board but being an early adapter might cost a bit too much. I considered SSDs but I want to wait for the costs to go down and the storage to go up.

Thanks for the information about the RAM costs and how much can be put on the mobo. I think I'll stay at 12GB to keep my costs down a bit. We don't have a Micro Center around - Best Buy is the best I can do. Maybe they'll make a similar deal on the 930.

I want Windows 7 Ultimate because of networking issues in our home. We've got several systems floating around so we can use some of the other features.

Thanks again for all of your suggestions. I appreciate them.
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April 8, 2010 3:54:11 AM

CS5 will support CUDA. If you will upgrade to CS5, plan on getting a good Nvidia card later on.
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a b à CPUs
April 8, 2010 9:49:09 AM

paranoidmage said:
CS5 will support CUDA. If you will upgrade to CS5, plan on getting a good Nvidia card later on.


With OpenCL/ATI Stream support coming later this year, and AMD have released a beta Stream encoder plug-in for Premiere CS4, so the Radeons are equally valid as a GPU choice for CS5, just not quite yet.

Then again, if CS3 and CS4 are anything to go by, CS5 won't be worth using until it's been patched up around October anyway.
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April 8, 2010 6:12:47 PM

Thanks for the information about Adobe CS5 CUDA support. I don't think that I'm going to purchase that software package for a while - maybe next year this time.

I also don't mind to change video cards to a Radeon if the plug-in LePhuronn mentioned will work with Adobe CS4 products. I'm open to most anything to help speed up the process of seeing on screen what I've seen in my mind.

I downloaded the ASUS QVL for memory for the P6X58D Premium mobo. I can't afford to go to 24GB. The best cost I saw for the modules I wanted places them at about $1700.00. Yikes! I'm an individual not a major production corporation.

Also, I stumbled upon OCZ Vertex 30GB SATA II 2.5" SSD drives. Microsoft states that Win 7 Ultimate needs only 20GB of disk space. NewEgg has them on sale for ~$80.00 so if I can get away with the 30GB level, I'm going to get one for my OS drive. This thing begins to load the OS before mechanical HDDs have finished seeking for what to load. Great stuff.

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a c 311 à CPUs
April 8, 2010 7:37:46 PM

phroneo said:
Thanks for the information about Adobe CS5 CUDA support. I don't think that I'm going to purchase that software package for a while - maybe next year this time.

I also don't mind to change video cards to a Radeon if the plug-in LePhuronn mentioned will work with Adobe CS4 products. I'm open to most anything to help speed up the process of seeing on screen what I've seen in my mind.

I downloaded the ASUS QVL for memory for the P6X58D Premium mobo. I can't afford to go to 24GB. The best cost I saw for the modules I wanted places them at about $1700.00. Yikes! I'm an individual not a major production corporation.

Also, I stumbled upon OCZ Vertex 30GB SATA II 2.5" SSD drives. Microsoft states that Win 7 Ultimate needs only 20GB of disk space. NewEgg has them on sale for ~$80.00 so if I can get away with the 30GB level, I'm going to get one for my OS drive. This thing begins to load the OS before mechanical HDDs have finished seeking for what to load. Great stuff.


For what it's worth, I recently installed windows-7 home premium on a ssd, and it took 13gb, including microsofr security essentials.
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April 8, 2010 10:12:46 PM

Thanks, Zirbmonkey.

I intend on using 64-bit OS and I agree with you about waiting for a drop on the 64gb SSDs for the reasons you gave. Who knows how much Win 7 Ultimate 64-bit will bloat with a few years of MS updates being pushed to it. I'm happy to know that it's working well for you. That's good news.
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