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Help with Professional Photo-Editing Computer Build

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February 18, 2010 2:28:20 PM

Hi,

I am about to finalize a new build for a pro photo-editing computer (no video editing; no gaming). Other uses include e-mail, Word, internet surfing, music (i-tunes). Photo work is in CS4 and Lightroom. Deal with large number of large RAW files (ex. large wedding shoot with 2 shooters can produce 20GB of RAW files to be processed. Computer is used in home office set-up with clients (displaying photos in slideshow to music, for ex.). Computer must be fast for these purposes, reliable, quiet and last 5+ years with upgrade if necessary . Overclocking? Possibly. Want capability but unlikely to overclock heavily.

BUDGET: $1,800 - $1900. PURCHASE DATE: Soon

EXISTING PARTS: Mouse, keyboard, LaCie 321 LCD (max. resolution 1600 x 1200), Klipsch ProMedia 5.1 (specs at http://www.3dss.com/reviews/PM51/ ); External SanDisk CF Card Reader, USB 2.0.

PLANNED NEW BUILD:

1. CPU: INTEL, Core™ i7-860 Quad-Core 2.8GHz, LGA1156. Newegg price: $279.99 (free shipping).

2. MOTHERBOARD: ASUS, P7P55D-E PRO, LGA1156, Intel® P55, DDR3-2220 (O.C.) 16GB /4, PCIe x16 SLI CF /2, SATA 3 Gb/s RAID 5 /7, 6 Gb/s /2, USB 3.0/2, HDA, GbLAN, FW /2, ATX. Newegg price: $189.99 + $7.87 std. shipping = $197.86. Note: Went with Asus for reputation for reliability plus true support for USB 3.0 and SATA III.

3. MEMORY: CORSAIR, 8GB (4 x 2GB) XMS3 PC3-12800 DDR3 1600MHz CL8 (8-8-8-24) 1.65V SDRAM DIMM, Non-ECC
(Note: Did not go with Dominator b/c of large heat sink and concern that it would interfere with CPU cooler. Considered Kingston HyperX, but this Corsair model had better combination of high clock speed, low latencies and low voltage in dual channel. Considered OCZ Gold/Platinum but rejected based on reviews suggesting they may have higher recent failure rate. Considered G.Skill Ripjaws seriously, but concerned with the number of people reporting bad sticks.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168.... 2 x $114.99 = $229.98.


4. CPU COOLER: NOCTUA, NH-U12P SE2 CPU Cooling Fan, 2x 120mm Fans, Copper/Aluminum.
Newegg price: $74.99 + $7.87 std. shipping + $82.86.

5. VIDEO CARD: EVGA, GeForce® GTS 250 738MHz, 1GB GDDR3 2200MHz, PCIe x16 SLI, DVI /2, HDTV-Out
Newegg Price: $139.99 (after $15 rebate) + $6.98 std. shipping = $146.97.
(Note: Considered EVGA, GeForce GTX 260 Core 216, GTX 260 576MHz, 896MB GDDR3 1998MHz, but
at $214.99, didn't know if was worth it or needed for primarily photo-editing work.)


6. POWER SUPPLY: CORSAIR, CMPSU-650TX TX Series Power Supply, 650W, 80 PLUS®, 24-pin ATX12V EPS12V, SLI Ready
Newegg Price: $89.99 (after rebate; free shipping). Note: Considered ANTEC, EarthWatts EA650, 80
PLUS®, 650W, but went with Corsair b/c of reputation of having the best power supplies and low
failure rate.

7. STORAGE #1: CRUCIAL, 128GB M225 SSD, MLC, 250/190 MB/s, 2.5-Inch, SATA 3 Gb/s
Note: Storage #1 for system start-up, programs and to process photoshoots. Will use Storage #2 as
CS4 scratch disc and for general storage. No Raid. Plan to partition Storage #2 as follows: 100GB fast
scratch; the balance for general storage. All photoshoots backed up on DVD's and external HDDs.
Newegg Price: $365.00 (free shipping).

8. STORAGE #2: WESTERN DIGITAL, 1TB WD Caviar® Black™ (WD1001FALS), SATA 3 Gb/s, 7200 RPM, 32MB Cache
Newegg Price: $99.99 (free shipping).

9. DVD BURNER DRIVE: PLEXTOR, PX-880SA Black 24x DVD±R/RW Dual-Layer Burner w/ Lightscribe, Retail.
Newegg Price: $36.99 + $1.99 std. shipping = $38.98.

10. OS: MICROSOFT, Windows 7 Professional 64-bit Edition, OEM. Newegg Price: $139.99 (free shipping).

11. CASE: LIAN LI, Lancool PC-K7B Black Mid-Tower Case, ATX, No PSU, Aluminum/SECC.
Newegg Price: $99.99 + $18.99 std. shipping = $118.98. Note: Case aesthetics are important given office
setting. Also, do not want any significant light emitting from case since it will be set next to LCD and don't
want that to interfere either with photo-editing (color correction etc.) or displaying photos to clients.

Note: Opted to hold off on internal card reader for now since expect new USB 3.0 card readers to be coming out in the
next year.

Total Cost through Newegg: $1,790.59.

Thanks for your help!
February 18, 2010 3:40:14 PM

Some problems with the build. Here's what I'd build (explaination below it).

CPU: i7-920 $289
Mobo: Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD3R $174 after rebate. Doesn't have USB 3/SATA III, but you can add a card later for much less than $100.
RAM: 2x G.SKILL PI Series 3 x 2GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 $360
HSF (only if overclocking): Coolermaster Hyper 212 Plus $30
Case: Antec 300 $60. Much much cheaper, but still high quality.
HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1 TB $90. Faster and cheaper. If you can find it in stock. If not, get the Seagate 7200.12 1 TB.
SSD: You don't need one that big. A SSD is only for the OS and frequently used programs. You don't store any data on it. A 64 GB one should do fine for you. $180.
Optical: Cheapest SATA DVD burner $23
OS: $140
PSU: Earthwatts 650W $75. Antec is just as reliable and reputable.
GPU: nVidia's Quadro line. Whichever one is in budget.

Total: $1,421 w/o GPU. Could be less. I didn't look for any combos.

The reason I suggest the workstation line is that they operate differently than gaming cards. A gaming card is made to produce frames as fast as possible, so it sacrifices quality for speed. A workstation card is made to produce very high quality frames at a slower speed. Since your work will be very detail oriented, look into the Quadro or ATI's Fire line. In addition, the workstation cards are much more reliable and won't have any problems out of the box. You also get better customer support.
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February 18, 2010 6:18:32 PM

MadAdmiral said:
Some problems with the build. Here's what I'd build (explaination below it).

CPU: i7-920 $289
Mobo: Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD3R $174 after rebate. Doesn't have USB 3/SATA III, but you can add a card later for much less than $100.
RAM: 2x G.SKILL PI Series 3 x 2GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 $360
HSF (only if overclocking): Coolermaster Hyper 212 Plus $30
Case: Antec 300 $60. Much much cheaper, but still high quality.
HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1 TB $90. Faster and cheaper. If you can find it in stock. If not, get the Seagate 7200.12 1 TB.
SSD: You don't need one that big. A SSD is only for the OS and frequently used programs. You don't store any data on it. A 64 GB one should do fine for you. $180.
Optical: Cheapest SATA DVD burner $23
OS: $140
PSU: Earthwatts 650W $75. Antec is just as reliable and reputable.
GPU: nVidia's Quadro line. Whichever one is in budget.

Total: $1,421 w/o GPU. Could be less. I didn't look for any combos.

The reason I suggest the workstation line is that they operate differently than gaming cards. A gaming card is made to produce frames as fast as possible, so it sacrifices quality for speed. A workstation card is made to produce very high quality frames at a slower speed. Since your work will be very detail oriented, look into the Quadro or ATI's Fire line. In addition, the workstation cards are much more reliable and won't have any problems out of the box. You also get better customer support.



Thanks for the info MadAdmiral! Couple more questions:

1. Quadro FX 580: How would that work for me? Want high quality but due to volume of images worked on (avg of 1300 per wedding), processing needs to be fast as well. $190 at newegg. See http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

2. Storage set up: Had planned on using SSD for both OS/Programs plus processing any active projects thus looking for SSD with fast read AND write speeds and capacity of at least 120GB. My thought was that no 7200RPM HDD could have read/write speeds near what could be obtained using the ssd for that purpose, and I would thereby get the fastest performance in post-production that way. Am I wrong about that?

3. i7 920 vs i7 860 (X58 vs P55): Is this mainly about expandability or will the increased bandwidth afforded by the X58 platform actually result in faster performance now? Secondly, for optimization of the "workstation" video cards you recommend, does it matter which CPU/platform is used?

Hope my questions are sensible as I would consider myself lower to moderate tech. Thanks again.



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February 18, 2010 6:27:41 PM

1. To be honest, I don't know much past the basics for the workstation GPUs. I would ask down in the Graphics Card section, as most people up here focus on gaming builds. Or call nVidia's customer support and ask them.

2. That's correct, but SSDs hate rewritting data. It's the fastest way to wear it out. I highly recommend getting the cheaper smaller one and not putting the data on it.

3. The performance is about the same, but the i7-920 can be overclocked to be much higher. The reason for suggesting the 920 is the amount of RAM you can use with it. In addition, the 1156 socket will not see anything else more powerful than what's already out. So it will be cheaper in the long run to use the X58. GPUs don't really care what platform they're on.
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February 18, 2010 6:34:23 PM

MadAdmiral said:
1. To be honest, I don't know much past the basics for the workstation GPUs. I would ask down in the Graphics Card section, as most people up here focus on gaming builds. Or call nVidia's customer support and ask them.

2. That's correct, but SSDs hate rewritting data. It's the fastest way to wear it out. I highly recommend getting the cheaper smaller one and not putting the data on it.

3. The performance is about the same, but the i7-920 can be overclocked to be much higher. The reason for suggesting the 920 is the amount of RAM you can use with it. In addition, the 1156 socket will not see anything else more powerful than what's already out. So it will be cheaper in the long run to use the X58. GPUs don't really care what platform they're on.


Ok, thanks very much! You've been a lot of help (just when I thought I had it figured out, lol).
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