Advice on upgrade $400 Budget for Graphic Designer

My current problem is that I am doing design work with large files and my PC can't handle processing my requests.

I would like to get:

I am interested in longevity. Would like to be able to take advantage of USB 3.0 (if this can be solved by buying a PCI card at a later time, that is fine) in the future. Would be nice to get a board that will be compatible with the next generation of stuff that is coming up.

I know it isn't a huge budget, but hopefully you guys can give some advice.



SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Design Programs (Illustrator, Photoshop, etc.), some gaming, but mostly just need to process the Adobe stuff.

keyboard, mouse, speakers, OS, DVD/CD Drive, Case
Monitor: ASUS VE246H Black 24"
PSU: HIPRO TOP-500P5 500W ATX V2.01 Power Supply
GPU: NVidia 9600GT

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Cheap and ships to Florida.

PARTS PREFERENCES: Would like to stick with Intel.


SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe in the future.


ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Need a work horse since this is what I use everyday for 8+ hours a day to make money to feed my family.
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  1. On a budget like that you aren't going to get what you're after from intel. You'd need to up the budget quite a bit. (then quite a bit more to get some upgradeablility like you were suggesting.)

    There are AMD motherboards with USB3 and SATAIII for about $90, DDR3 4 gigs would be about $100, and then you could go with anything from an athlon II x4 to a phenom II 955.
  2. Are they decent quality? Would I be going towards the crappy side?

    How much more would I need to spend?
  3. First ... we need to know exactly ALL of what you already have ... so we can know if we are doing you any good ...

    ... SECOND ... Strongly recommending SSDs plus (prolly) MORE RAM and a better GPU ... But all of this is out of context until we know exactly what your current config is ... would also help to know what tools you use and which you use MOST ...

    ... Were exactly are you "feeling drag" ? ? . . . During renders ?? .. what kind of renders ?? .. We need to know "all that" ...

    ... Proc, RAM (speed and amount and mode), GPU, Drives ... all can be bottlenecks ...
    ... I am including a dedicated "render to" drive, for instance. ... Having dedicated system/apps/read/write drives can keep all your buffers/caches/pipelines all primed and reduce flushing and latency ... more RAM reduces paging/swapping/temp-ing.

    ... Better GPU helps most with motion, particle, 3D and CPU+cores/RAM-speed help with codec transcoding and final render output.

    ... Tuning a "render-engine" requires specific knowledge of how your tools address hardware specific features and hardware and OS "calls" and graphics language protocols (open GL ... DX-9,10,11 ... etc.).

    = Al =
  4. tumello said:
    Are they decent quality? Would I be going towards the crappy side?

    How much more would I need to spend?

    There's nothing "crappy" about AMD chips. They're built just as well as Intel chips. They just offer more performance for the money in the low to mid end. There's no doubt that Intel owns the high-end right now, but that doesn't apply to your budget.
  5. This is a likely addition to any solution but ... we still need to know about your current platform and toolsets and workflow.

    = Al =
  6. Alvin, aren't you going a little out of the bounds of the request there? The OP is asking about CPU/mobo/RAM.

    I agree though, it would be useful to know what the OP is thinking about replacing.

    At a $400 ballpark, you could probably get a Phenom II X4, 4 GB of RAM and a good AM3 motherboard. 8 GB would be nice, but not 100% sure it's going to fit in that budget without pricing it out...and I'm out of time for the moment.
  7. Best answer
    Here's some very nice components in your price range if you can get over your Intel bias. $279.98 (AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz + Gigabyte GA-890GPA-UD3H combo)

    G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL7D-4GBRM - Retail $114.99

    Total - $394.97
  8. Alvin, sorry I didn't include the whole platform. Did not think it was relevant if I was replacing those components.

    Current -
    CPU: Intel Pentium Dual CPU E2200 @ 2.2 GHz
    RAM: 3 GB DDR2 of some Crucial model...
    MoBo: MSI P6NGM2

    I don't have an Intel bias necessarily. From reading through the MoBo suggestion thread it seemed like Intel was the right choice. I had also thought about making a Hacintosch build which I think needs to be Intel based, but that was more of a fun thing than a NEED thing.
  9. No, Frosty, I do not think that I am AT ALL out of bounds ... The OP is looking for the "correct" solution ... I should think that, in your sharp mind, a GPU would be seen as a very relevent component in any "Graphics Compute Engine" ... Triple so if 3D and motion is the goal.
    Definately cannot make an accurate determination without very specific operational data ...

    ... His current GPU is, well, a pretty decent one, but I think you might well agree that a 250 will run "cycles" around it.

    = ?? no ?? =
  10. You don't necessarily need an intel to try hackintoshing. It would probably be more of a challenge with AMD though.

    Well I'd probably go with the 955, upgrade the GPU later at some point (we still don't know how relevant the GPU is to your workload.)
  11. And .. just because he was asking for a mobo/ram/cou didn't, at that point, mean that it was what he "needed" ... necissarily.

    = Al =
  12. Hackintosh ??? >>> = 1366
  13. Alvin Smith said:
    ... His current GPU is, well, a pretty decent one, but I think you might well agree that a 250 will run "cycles" around it.

    = ?? no ?? =

    I mean that suggesting that specific graphics card, in a vacuum, isn't all that productive. Yes, it's better than what he's currently got, but without other info, and without knowing if he's actually GPU-limited (somewhat unlikely), it's not very useful.

    For $400, I really like shortstuff's suggestion. Quad-core, 4 GB RAM, mobo, full stop. You're not going to get much more than that at that price point. An AMD quad-core on an 890 mobo is about the most future-proof choice you can make right now. Pretty much Intel quad-core solutions are going to be more expensive, once you factor in mobo & RAM.

    Of course, you have to take into consideration that you might need a new OS as well, with replacing the mobo. Hopefully that isn't an issue, or it can be considered a separate issue.
  14. im running a phenom x3 oc'd at 2.5 ghz, 4 gigs of ddr2 ram OCZ, and 2x 8800 GT in sli and when i render blender stuff, and it works pretty well...then again im not a pro blender user so i dont put in all kinds of crazy effects

    these items are at about $400 and they serve me well, so dont hesitate on AMD, and i agree with Alvin about a 250 or 260, fairly priced and decently performant
  15. Well ... depends how tight the budget is ... surely worth mentionning, as a potential adjunct but, yes ... Of course ... first things first.

    = Al =
  16. I am not constrained by the GPU for my everyday activities. Mostly working with Vector based artwork and it is very RAM/CPU intensive when you start working with LARGE files. Also importing/exporting files between programs and how long it takes to save said info.

    Most graphic designers don't work in programs like 3D Max/Maya, which would be heavily dependent on the GPU. I'm using Illustrator, Photoshop, Indesign, and sometimes need them all open at the same time. It's a big multitasking thing.

    I am doing things like designing logos for companies, creating signage for conferences (the task that pushed me over the edge today, in which I had five art boards @ 22"-28")... I ended up finding a way to make it work, but I don't want to make things work--I want them to work.

    Shortstuff's solution seems nice. Any objections?
  17. You could go with a similar Intel i5-750 solution for $50-100 more, for little additional benefit. For another $80-90 on top of that, you could go with an i7-860 and get hyperthreading, which might be useful, but probably isn't worth the premium over the AMD solution.

    If you had even more money to drop (another $100-200), you could go with an i7-930 & 6 GB RAM, which might be worth it, but completely blows your budget.

    I say go for shortstuff's parts list.
  18. ... and a full 8GB of main system RAM (to reduce disk swapping and paging) ...

    ... regardless of RAM speed ... mobo ... cpu ... drives ... GPU

    = Al =

    These other techs, here, I consider to be my seniors (so do they!) ... but I don't think I'm wrong, here.
  19. SSD's and 8GB of RAM on a stated $400 budget? Those are nice to have items, but they have no place anywhere near this budget.
  20. Yes, Boss! ... I do, indeed concur ...

    ... But must ask: How far will spending (ONLY) $400 (on cpu/mobo) go toward SOLVING his drag issues ?? Especially if said issues are file-size/xfer related ??

    Not to be a pest OR to cloud the issue ... bud just to turn over these other stones and to verify their potential "contribution" to an effective solution ...

    ... I understand the "stated limits" ... just making sure those limits are firm and that expectations are not overblown.

    = Pesky =
  21. The issue isn't in transferring files from one location to another, it's more in processing the information quickly enough to run the program smoothly. I might be explaining that incorrectly...
  22. The processing power of the Phenom II X4 955 will blow your current E2200 out of the water. If you have $400 to spend on upgrades right now, I don't see how you're going to do much better than what I suggested above.
  23. And, should you win the lotto, any time soon ... more ram. I'm not convinced a better GPU won't help, alot, either ... but I'm just a hapless noob.

    = Al = (clearly)
  24. I also agree with shortstuff's list. Especially since I said that first, though without specific parts in mind till I knew if it was a waste of time to look at them and get links.
  25. Is there something in the near future that I should wait for?

    I always feel like I'm buying old news whenever I upgrade cause nicer stuff is released the next week.... :pt1cable:
  26. That will always be the case but, NO ... unless you want to wait a whole year, for PCIe 3.0 ... Or wait till September, for SSDs to drop in price ...

    ... Forward vision is very good, right now ... prices aren't likely to drop any before August.

    RipJaws Dual kit just went up $5

    = Al =
  27. yeah. You wait and maybe another RAM producer will have some scandal or go bust and raise RAM prices another $50.

    Play the waiting game and you'll be playing forever.
  28. That RAM went up DURING THIS conversation.
  29. Best answer selected by Tumello.
  30. I waited on buying the parts and now that combo isn't available!... :??:
  31. The CPU and motherboard are still a good deal even without the combo. Here's a combo for a 790GX board, but I'd spend the extra $20 for the 890GX if you can. $279.98 - $15 MIR (AMD Phenom II X4 955 + GA-MA790GPT-UD3H + free Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 Coupon)

    I know the game coupon won't do you any good, since you're not a gamer. Maybe you can sell it. :)

    Here's the 890GX motherboard and CPU by themselves.

    GIGABYTE GA-890GPA-UD3H $139.99

    AMD Phenom II X4 955 $159.99
  32. With the 790 I would be losing the USB 3.0 capabilities? Anything else I would be sacrificing?

    That combo deal has a $15 rebate and looks like MW2 is going for $25 on ebay. So my price for the 790 would be about $250.

    Sorry I am dragging this out...
  33. Yes, you do lose SATA 6Gb/s and USB 3.0 with that particular 790GX board. The 890GX is also guaranteed to work with future 6-core chips. The 790GX may work, but will likely require a BIOS update. There are a few other minor tweaks that differentiate the 890GX from the 790GX, but those are the main ones.
  34. I'd guess that any AM3 mobo will work with the six-core CPU's and just need a BIOS update. But that's the same as even updating the BIOS to use, say, athlon II x3's (which were definately not around at the beginning).

    So I'm not sure why all the news when like asus already did that BIOS update for the six cores.

    But that's just my $.02
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