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Advice needed for pro-level Photoshop build

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April 6, 2010 3:15:46 AM

I am about to launch into my first ever full-blown build. My needs are high-horsepower Photoshop work along with HD video editing. I also do a lot of ripping, Handbrake transcoding, etc.

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: 4-6 weeks from now

BUDGET RANGE: $3500 or so, not a constraint

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Photoshop CS5 - I will be stitching panoramas and then editing them in multi-layered TIFFs, doing HDR work, etc. Heavy duty stuff.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Won't need keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Newegg. I have a local Fry's and Microcenter if need be.

PARTS PREFERENCES: Prefer Corsair, Asus, EVGA, the major brands.

OVERCLOCKING: No - I have a flexible budget, so there's no need to learn overclocking and waste time troubleshooting BSODs.

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1200

ADDITIONAL INFO: As mentioned, I am choosing the 980x over an overclocked 930 because of my aversion to overclocking and because benchmarks show Photoshop and Handbrake benefiting from the horsepower. I want 12 GB of memory because I believe it's been demonstrated that Photoshop benefits more from sheer quantity of available memory, not from lower latency or higher RAM speed.

I am also wondering whether 750W is enough power, whether my memory choice makes sense and is compatible with the board, whether I have enough cooling with the onboard 980x cooler and the case fans, whether I am missing anything or making any bad choices, etc. By the way, I will only buy the Crucial SSD when they resolve the issue that Anand wrote about recently at Anandtech. I do love the specs and early test results on it though, so hopefully it gets resolved soon.

Thanks for any thoughts...

Case:
COOLER MASTER HAF 932 RC-932-KKN1-GP Black Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case - Retail

Motherboard:
ASUS P6X58D Premium LGA 1366 Intel X58 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail

CPU:
Intel Core i7-980X Extreme Edition Gulftown 3.33GHz 12MB L3 Cache LGA 1366 130W Six-Core Desktop Processor - Retail

Video card:
ASUS ENGTX470/2DI/1280MD5 GeForce GTX 470 (Fermi) 1280MB 320-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card - Retail

Memory will be 12 GB worth of this:
CORSAIR XMS3 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Triple Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model TR3X6G1333C9 - Retail

Operating/System Drive:
Crucial RealSSD C300 CTFDDAC128MAG-1G1 2.5" 128GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) - Retail

Power Supply:
CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX 750W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply - Retail

Internal Data Drive:
Western Digital Caviar Black WD1002FAEX 1TB 7200 RPM 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

Optical:
LG WH10LS30K 10X Blu-ray Burner - LightScribe Support - Bulk - OEM
April 6, 2010 3:33:29 AM

SSD
You're better off with 2 Intel X25-M 80 GB in Raid 0. Intel now has TRIM support for Raid 0 in Win 7.

$215 each
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Check out anand's article on 2 X25-V 40gb in Raid 0. Price/Performance ratio blows anything else out of the water. X25-M performance blows those out of the water= P

Storage drive
Go with the 500GB 7200.12 or Spinpoint F3 or 1TB spinpoint F3.
Both of these offer superior performance for a lower price.
This gigabyte MOBO is same features for $100 less
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Rest looks fine.
April 6, 2010 3:43:04 AM

If not overclcoking DDR3 - 1333 has no real value....however given the pricing and THG's recommendation, I'd go w/ these

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/performance-pc-ssd,...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?cm_mmc=Tomsh...

I'd qualify the "been shown" statements that 12 GB of slower RAM might be better than 6 GB of fast RAM but x GB of fast RAM will just about always outperform x GB of slower RAM in anything involving significant memory usage except where filling all banks requires one to relax timings. Let's not forget it's the actual speed that the RAM runs at which doesn't necessarily match what the labels say.

Only other comment I'd make is consider this combo to save some money and step up the size, quality and acoustical performance of the PSU. The cases are comparable w/ each having pluses and minuses but the CP-850 compares with Corsair's much more expensive HX series electrically but the CP is "record setting" in its acoustical performance (read quieteness) which may be important to you.

Antec 1200 w/ CP-850 PSU $229 (And yes, you can turn the LED's off which just about everyone who isn't a teenager does)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

Corsair TX750 (8.5 Performance Rating)
http://www.jonnyguru.com/modules.php?name=NDReviews&op=...

Antec CP-850 (10.0 Performance Rating)
http://www.jonnyguru.com/modules.php?name=NDReviews&op=...

Tho you have to look at it all day .... and that's an important factor too..... personally, I prefer the understated look of the 1200 (well understated when LED's turned off :) 
Related resources
April 8, 2010 3:36:24 AM

Thanks for the replies.

Jack, doesn't the x58 chipset limit practical RAM speed to 1333 MHz? My understanding is that anything 1600 or higher will get automatically downclocked to 1333 anyway. I really don't want to manually overclock my RAM in the BIOS.... and of course I don't want to pay up for 1600 or 2000 MHz RAM that's going to run at 1333.
April 9, 2010 12:58:02 AM

Stock 920:
BCLK 133 x 20 CPU multiplier = 2.66 GHz
BCLK 133 x 8 mem multiplier = 1066 MHz

So yes, unless you change somethin' or machine picks up the XMP profile .....1333, 1600, 1866, 2000 will all run at 1066.....so ya change somethin :)  ..... OC the CPU, bus and memory by upping BCLK

BCLK 167 x 20 CPU multiplier = 3.33 GHz
BCLK 167 x 8 mem multiplier = 1333 MHz

BCLK 200 x 20 CPU multiplier = 4.00 GHz
BCLK 200 x 8 mem multiplier = 1600 MHz

So....most peeps going for that magical 4.0 Ghz OC, will buy DDR3-1600 memory sticks to make the math work at the memory multiplier of 8......choices in my BIOS range are 6, 8, 10, 12 and 14
...
So I could chose to use 1333 memory and not OC my CPU by using 133 BCLK and mem multiplier of 10 .....or 160 BCLK to get 1600
April 9, 2010 5:47:22 AM

For large pano's, having Photoshop's scratch drive on an SSD will DRAMATICALLY improve rendering speed. I went from 4 Raptors in Raid 10 to an Intel X25 80GB for OS/Apps/Scratch and stitching together just 12 (12mp raw) images was cut in half.

Furthermore, MO RAM, MO RAM, MO RAM! Photoshop 64bit can really take advantage of ram. I would go for 24GB of 1333 ram (the 980x runs at 1333), mainly for the pano's. (You could always get 3 4GB sticks to start off with and add more later)

You can't go wrong with that ASUS board.

For quiet PC people, the Antec P193 is superior. And add in a Noctua SE12 heatsink, and you are good to go.

For pano's and HDRs, how can 1TB be enough? For single image (24mp) PSDs, I easily get them up to 800-900MB. And 5 10mp HDRs are 250+MB each. If you can afford it now, I'd get 4 drives and run in Raid 10 using the onboard Intel raid, and AVOID WD drives for raid since WD crippled them. WD changed the firmware to spin them down too long and too often causing raid controllers to think they are bad and dropping them from the array. I personally use 8 1TB 7200.12s (w/ 8 more on order) but the Samsung F3's look good. Or for shear size, the Hitachi 2TB are great (I almost bought 8 of these but I'd rather have all 7200.12s for ease of swapping out dead drives later on, should I need to)

On a side note: if your budget grows at all, you can get great deals on the HP Z800 with dual 6 core xeons. I just ordered one and was given $1500 off of $6000. I am adding 24GB ram myself since its only $1000 but I added a Quadro FX3800 to the order which is $1000.

Also, have you used a Wacom Intuos? They greatly help in Photoshop.
April 9, 2010 1:46:32 PM

24 GB, yikes... well I can always see how the 12 GB works for me! I agree with what you're saying about 1 TB not being enough in most cases. In my case, although I have pro-level gear and do heavy-duty stuff, I lack the pro volume since I only do half a dozen trips per year to places like Alaska, California, Yellowstone, etc. Usually I'm more wildlife focused but I often come back with landscapes and a few panos. And I'm pretty selective in terms of what I save. So, it's not like I shoot panos every weekend by any stretch.

Never tried a Wacom but one of these days I might.
April 15, 2010 4:11:35 PM

JackNaylorPE said:
Stock 920:
BCLK 133 x 20 CPU multiplier = 2.66 GHz
BCLK 133 x 8 mem multiplier = 1066 MHz

So yes, unless you change somethin' or machine picks up the XMP profile .....1333, 1600, 1866, 2000 will all run at 1066.....so ya change somethin :)  ..... OC the CPU, bus and memory by upping BCLK

BCLK 167 x 20 CPU multiplier = 3.33 GHz
BCLK 167 x 8 mem multiplier = 1333 MHz

BCLK 200 x 20 CPU multiplier = 4.00 GHz
BCLK 200 x 8 mem multiplier = 1600 MHz

So....most peeps going for that magical 4.0 Ghz OC, will buy DDR3-1600 memory sticks to make the math work at the memory multiplier of 8......choices in my BIOS range are 6, 8, 10, 12 and 14
...
So I could chose to use 1333 memory and not OC my CPU by using 133 BCLK and mem multiplier of 10 .....or 160 BCLK to get 1600


Jack, could you explain this last sentence? How do you use 133 BLK? What are the steps involved?
!