Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

Need a fast, minimalist photographer's workstation - speed & stability

Last response: in Systems
Share
February 5, 2010 2:22:04 PM

I need a fast, minimalist photographer's workstation - primarily Adobe Photoshop CS4, Lightroom - no frills - just pure speed and stability. Will do everything else on my other machine which I built a long time ago and now is clogged up with all my junk.

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: 2 or 3 weeks - can start buying now, if need be.

BUDGET RANGE: prefer the $800 to $1200 range - will go higher if there's a great opportunity meet my goals.

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT:
(1) Photoshop CS3/4 and Lightroom - I will have to edit my way through 20,000+ pictures this summer & (hopefully) more in future.
(2) Simple album design SW (like Blurb's Booksmart) - pretty light weight stuff, I think.
(3) FTP SW to upload large files; fast networking (see my thinking on storage below)
(4) Currently I run an very old version of MS Frontpage (works fine); could switch to Dreamweaver and might add other Adobe "Creative Suite" components in distant future. However, if it made a huge difference, I'd run all this on my other machine.
(5) No video editing, no audio editing, no gaming, not surfing, no TV, no email, etc. . . . I'd like to keep it really simple.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: have keyboard, monitor (see below), mouse, speakers (I'm an audiophile, have separate computer for digitizing my record collection . . . sigh, yet another project) and may add a tablet (USB).

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Newegg.com preferred

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA

PARTS PREFERENCES: Lian Li case - please recommend which one - my last build was with Lian Li and it's just a thing of beauty, build and looks. The rest I'm open to your expert advice.

OVERCLOCKING: Don't think so. In fact, there will be no games allowed on this machine - if my "20-something" son gets near it, he's toast.

MONITOR RESOLUTION: will use my Dell 2009Wt 1680X1050 - upgrade in a year or 2 OR be able add a second monitor

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:

 OS: Microsoft Windows 7 (64 bit) seems like the right choice for me.

 I used AMD before but frankly don't care if it's Intel or AMD.

 Does not have to be super quiet but should run cool internally. Specific recommendations on Power Supply, fans, coolers, etc. are really welcome!

 HDs: I plan to move most of my bulk storage to a second machine & network to it - this new one will be for working current assignments. I think that means a very fast but not so big HD for the OS/Adobe SW and another (not so fast?) for the primary scratch disk. Could SSDs make a huge difference? Also, I understand that RAID 0 is faster but seems like it could double my failure rate…? Your recommendations would certainly help here!

 I've built two machines in the past, including my current one (4 years ago). However, I don't know anything about current technology - actually, I didn't on my last machine, for that matter. However, I am good with the mechanical side, reasonably knowledgeable about Windows and learning the Adobe products more every day.

 Future proofing - I think this means the ability to do 2 or 3 future builds, using the basic building blocks - "upgradable" as Adobe continues to bulk up it's software.

Thanks for your help!
February 11, 2010 3:52:16 AM

Ok so lets get this started...

first off i will build an AMD rig for a few reasons. The motherboards, Ram, and CPUs are simply cheaper leaving more room for other things that i think you would benefit more from.

AMD Phenom II 965X4 - $180

this is fast enough to keep up with any kind of serious photo work.

GIGABYTE GA-790XTA - $140

this board is really nice because it has usb3.0 and sata 3.0 which really helps in future proofing the rig

Corsair 750Watt HX PSU - $150

note the difference the TX is not as modularized which saves space since you don't want tons of GPU power. on that note

ATI XFX 5670 - $100

i will probably make a few people question here but i have a good reason for this one. first this is not the best gaming solution but you have stated you dont want it to be. second this card has some features you might want in the future like eyefinity. at the same time this card will not hold you back too much as to be a burden.

Corsair XMS3 2(2x2GB) 1600MHz - $220

ram is probably the most important thing as a photo editor so 8GB of ram is completely justified.

Windows 7 Premium of course - $110

HDD now here i will make a few suggestions. you SSD idea will work and SSDs are tremendously faster. but you will significantly increase cost and/or limit capacity. in a perfect world i would recommend a RAID 5 solution. this is a combination of 4 drives where each drive has overlapping pieces of every file. thus if a drive fails it can be restored. also RAID 5 gets close to SSD speeds and RAID 0 speeds. however, this will cost a bit depending of the size of each drive

with that said my recommendation is...

4 X 750GB Western Digital Black 7200RPM Drives in Raid 5 - $270
an SSD would be at least 100 and then another 100 for a 1TB this way you get a blend of reliability, speed, and storage capacity.

FINALLY the case. i want to leave this up to you. i personally dont that LAIN LI makes a bad case so... but if you are spending 200+ my personal recommendation in the Corsair D800 it has a simple but beauty style and packs more features than pretty much any other case out there.

Depending on the what you do with the HDD and Case the total cost should be between 1,000 and 1,400.

i didn't put the links in but everything is off of newegg so they shouldn't be hard to find.

I hope this really helps. or at least gives you a start.

Good luck and Happy Building!


m
0
l
February 11, 2010 2:39:09 PM

rammar16 - thanks for taking the time to propose something. As luck would have it, after a fair amount of research on the various Photoshop websites, I went ahead and ordered Intel system...even though my last build was an AMD.

I've taken the liberty of listing your recommendations and what I actually did. . . for your amusement. If you think I've made any serious mistakes (particularly with the video board), let meknow.

==========================================================

You recommended: AMD Phenom II 965X4 - $180 & GIGABYTE GA-790XTA - $140

I did:
Intel Core i5-750 Lynnfield (LGA 1156) = $200
ASUS P7P55D - cheapest ASUS for the i5 core with 1394a capability. Current investment = $150

Problem with my approach, besides the +$30 is no usb3.0 - that could be a mistake but I don't plan to hang much off this box so we'll see.

You recommended: Corsair 750Watt HX PSU - $150
Yep, this is what I picked, too. Big heavy honker...seems like a real class act!

You recommended: ATI XFX 5670 - $100
Based on what I've read, you are right about not needing much. I bought the simplest Sapphire (100292L Radon HD 5450) I could find - we'll see if it works at all. Photoshop CS4 purportedly uses the the board more heavily so this is a risk. Current investment = $55

You recommended: Corsair XMS3 2(2x2GB) 1600MHz - $220
This is what I got ... but with only 4GB. Didn't think I'd need quite so much memory - will install and see how she runs - add more if needed. Current investment = $105

You recommended: Windows 7 Premium - $110
Premium? OK - I will need to check out the various flavors of Win 7 to understand the differences before I get it.

You recommended: 4 X 750GB Western Digital Black 7200RPM Drives in Raid 5 - $270
This is really interesting - for a variety of reasons I bought 2 1TB WD Caviar Black but need to go back and look at RAID 5. BTW, a quick check of my present usage suggests I need over 100GB for the OS drive…that pretty much puts an SSD out of the picture. Current investment = $200

You recommended: Corsair D800
I repeated my last buy, a Lian Li P - to match my existing case (hardware sharing and consistent look - Newegg shipped a different one than what I ordered…gee whiz). Current investment = $119

I'm sitting at about $1040 total right now with probably another $200 for more HDs and maybe another $100 if the simplistic video card I got is trash.

So thanks again. Let me know if you think I've made any serious mistakes! DD
m
0
l
Related resources
February 11, 2010 2:58:07 PM

danderby said:

You recommended: 4 X 750GB Western Digital Black 7200RPM Drives in Raid 5 - $270
This is really interesting - for a variety of reasons I bought 2 1TB WD Caviar Black but need to go back and look at RAID 5. BTW, a quick check of my present usage suggests I need over 100GB for the OS drive…that pretty much puts an SSD out of the picture. Current investment = $200


Just a note, there is no way RAID 5 will approach SSD speeds. Not that I think you want to get an SSD on your budget, just trying to minimize the hyperbole. SSDs are an order of magnitude faster than traditional hard drives.

Furthermore, RAID 5 does not require 4 drives, any number from 3 on up will suffice.

Rather than the Western Digital drives, I would recommend either Samsung Spinpoint F3s or Seagate 7200.12s, as they use 500 GB platters, while all WD drives under 2 TB use smaller platters. The advantage of the 500 GB platters is that they pack more data on a single platter, making reads & writes faster. I suggest looking at the THG hard drive charts and checking for yourself.

In general, going with motherboard-based RAID can be a little risky, as you are unlikely to be able to move the RAID container intact to a new system, but if that's not a concern, it's certainly an option. Please be warned though, RAID is rarely foolproof. If you want to go with RAID, I think you might be better off with a solitary boot disk and use RAID for your scratch and/or storage space.

Brief overview of common RAID levels:
RAID 0 - fast, good for scratch space, increased risk of losing data -- not for extended storage
RAID 1 - slight speed improvement for reads, data is redundant, pricey
RAID 5 - fast reads, slow writes, data is protected from a single drive failure though the risk increases the more disks are used
RAID 10 - combines RAID 0 and RAID 1 - fast, data is redundant, most expensive option

That being said, for most home users, RAID is unnecessary, and you're better off just using multiple disks for scratch space and then back up to a different disk or different computer.
m
0
l
February 11, 2010 3:25:10 PM

Thanks - that's a great start on the tuitorial I need for RAID. Since I'd planned to use "good practice" for protection rather than RAID and was considering RAID for it's speed, seems like I'm consistent with your recommendations. I'd read somethings about platter size but vaguely remember more of a discussion on the location of data rather than small versus large capacities. I'll go back to THG for a refresher. BTW, a quick check on the Seagate you mentioned shows a 21% "very poor" rating on it...something I typically avoid. Thanks for your advice. DD
m
0
l
February 11, 2010 4:43:32 PM

danderby said:
I'd read somethings about platter size but vaguely remember more of a discussion on the location of data rather than small versus large capacities.


Location of the data can also be important but usually less critical for home use. Not that one couldn't consider it, but the gains may not be worth the effort invested. (Then again, they might, depending on your usage.) :) 

Where it is absolutely worth it is in large databases, and large RAIDed disk enclosures.

I'll go back to THG for a refresher. BTW, a quick check on the Seagate you mentioned shows a 21% "very poor" rating on it...something I typically avoid. Thanks for your advice. DD said:
I'll go back to THG for a refresher. BTW, a quick check on the Seagate you mentioned shows a 21% "very poor" rating on it...something I typically avoid. Thanks for your advice. DD


I don't have any of the new 500 GB drives, so I can't really comment myself, but THG forums conventional wisdom is that newegg reviews should be taken with a grain of salt, as there are a lot of non-technical users commenting on there.
m
0
l
January 1, 2012 7:05:40 AM

dear Sir

I m Amit Soni From Surat, Gujarat, India.

Basically i am wedding album designer we will do nice & elegant designs i am working in this design field from last 15 years

if you are doing album design job work outside than i am option for you
if you want to see my Design and sample pages of what we are design than
mail me on amitsonion@yahoo.com

thank you
m
0
l
!