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Need help deciding between Phenom II X6 or i7-930 for Photo/Video edit

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April 29, 2010 11:14:08 AM

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APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Next few days

BUDGET RANGE: as close to $1500 as possible (total)

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: HD Video editing, photo editing, video & image storage

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Purchasing everything

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg.com

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA

PARTS PREFERENCES: Up for debate (see message below). But fixed on mid-atx case, and IPS monitor. Would also prefer a small SSD for Win 7 64 boot drive, and primary apps (Photoshop, Sony Vegas, etc), and large secondary SATA II data storage drive.

OVERCLOCKING: Yes, but not extreme.

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No, single card

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1080

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Hi all. With a budget of as close to $1500 as possible, I have spent the last few weeks researching a lot, and slowly putting together my new system in my Newegg wishlist. The primary purpose for this system is photo editing with Photoshop, Photomatix, etc, and HD video editing with software such as Sony Vegas and Adobe Premier. It will also be used as a storage center for some video and many high-res (22mp+) raw image files. I should mention that gaming is not a high priority, but I do own a few games such as Red Alert 3, BF2142, etc, and would like to be able to play these from time to time with decent quality settings.

Now, until a couple of days ago, I had firmly decided on an Intel i7-930 over an AMD Phenom II X4 965. This is the rig that I had put together in the wishlist:


CPU: Intel Core i7-930 Bloomfield 2.8GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Desktop Processor Model BX80601930
Model #:BX80601930

Mobo: GIGABYTE GA-X58A-UD3R LGA 1366 Intel X58 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
Model #:GA-X58A-UD3R

GFX: PNY VCGGT2405G5XEB GeForce GT 240 512MB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready Video Card
Model #:VCGGT2405G5XEB

Rosewill Green Series RG530-S12 530W Continuous @40°C, 80 PLUS Certified, Single 12V Rail, Active PFC "Compatible with Core ...
Model #:RG530-S12

Win 7 64 boot drive and primary apps drive (Photoshop, etc):Kingston SSDNow V Series SNV425-S2BD/64GB 2.5" Desktop Bundle 64GB SATA II Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)
Model #:SNV425-S2BD/64GB

Crucial Ballistix 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model BL3KIT25664BN1608 - OEM

Data storage and secondary apps/games drive: Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
Model #:WD1001FALS

NEC Display Solutions EA231WMI-BK Black 23" 14ms(WTB) IPS Panel Height/Pivot/Swivel adjustable stand Widescreen LCD Monitor
Model #:EA231WMI-BK

Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound - OEM

COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus Intel Core i5 & Intel Core i7 compatible RR-B10-212P-G1 120mm "heatpipe direct contact" Long ...
Model #:RR-B10-212P-G1

Subtotal: $1,531.85 (including a few extras such as dvd-writer, keyboard, mouse, etc)


So I was pretty much all set, and ready to order. Then it got a little more complicated, as the Phenom II X6, six-core CPU was released recently. I promptly started reading reviews and comparing it with the i7-930, and the general consensus seemed to be that it matched or beat the 930 in almost every test. So I went back to Newegg to see how much it would cost me for a good X6 build, and here's what I came up with:


CPU: AMD Phenom II X6 1090T Black Edition Thuban 3.2GHz Socket AM3 125W Six-Core Desktop Processor Model HDT90ZFBGRBOX

Mobo: ASUS M4A89GTD PRO/USB3 AM3 AMD 890GX SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard
Model #:M4A89GTD PRO/USB3

GFX: SAPPHIRE 100287VGAL Radeon HD 5670 (Redwood) 512MB 128-bit DDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card
Model #:100287VGAL

Rosewill Green Series RG630-S12 630W Continuous @40°C,80 PLUS Certified, Single 12V Rail, Active PFC "Compatible with Core ...
Model #:RG630-S12

CORSAIR XMS3 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model CMX4GX3M2A1600C9
Model #:CMX4GX3M2A1600C9

Intel X25-M Mainstream SSDSA2MH080G2R5 2.5" 80GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)
Model #:SSDSA2MH080G2R5

Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
Model #:WD1001FALS

NEC Display Solutions EA231WMI-BK Black 23" 14ms(WTB) IPS Panel Height/Pivot/Swivel adjustable stand Widescreen LCD Monitor
Model #:EA231WMI-BK

Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound - OEM

COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus Intel Core i5 & Intel Core i7 compatible RR-B10-212P-G1 120mm "heatpipe direct contact" Long ...
Model #:RR-B10-212P-G1

Subtotal: $1,528.85 (including some unlisted extras - case, keyboard, mouse, etc).


So I was left wondering which setup to go for. I imagine the processors will perform similarly, with the AMD probably taking the lead a little. I am planning on overclocking the CPU within easily obtainable and completely stable limits. Of course the Intel setup has 6gb ram, vs the AMD setup's 4gb. But the AMD setup has a much better and faster SSD than what I could afford to put in the Intel rig. I therefore decided to post this message, to maybe get a little assistance with making my decision; what would you guys go for? Of course I am also open to modifying the setups if anyone has any suggestions which they think might work better for the intended use?

Thanks for reading ;) 

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April 29, 2010 1:17:15 PM
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I've got changes to both builds, but I'll get to that in a second. The first thing to point out is that the i7-930 is slightly better in several benchmarks for productivity apps, so it may depend on what you're using. I know that it's better in Photoshop apps, but that may not matter if that's not what you're using. I'd personally go with the i7 though.

So here's my changes:

First, drop the SSDs. They're too expensive right now and just not that useful. You'll get a better performing build if you do. You can also very easily stick one in later when the prices have reached a reasonable level.

Second, ditch WD. Their drives are more expensive and slower than the Samsung Spinpoint F3 1 TB and Seagate 7200.12 1 TB.

Third, do NOT get a Rosewill PSU. They're POS units. You don't want to skimp on quality with this component. Stick to Corsair, Antec, SeaSonic or Silverstone to make sure you get a quality part.

So here's my build (with links):

CPU/Mobo: i7-930 and Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R $470
RAM: 2x G.Skill Pi 3x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 $380
GPU: GT 240 1 GB $70 after rebate. nVidia is typically better in productivity builds, but I'd check the programs you use.
HDD: Seagate 7200.12 1 TB $80
PSU: Antec Earthwatts 650W $75
Case/Optical: Coolermaster 690 and cheap SATA DVD burner $72
HSF: Coolermaster Hyper 212 Plus $35 (with free card reader). Thermal paste is unneeded unless you're trying to break an overclocking record.

Total: $1,182 w/o monitor and extras.
April 29, 2010 1:55:48 PM

Thanks very much for the advice MadAdmiral. I will primarily be using Photoshop, and Sony Vegas 9. I have a couple of questions based upon what you said.

First, I completely understand what you're saying about the SSD, and yes, they are rather over-priced at the moment - so maybe I'll wait on that one. Do you think the system would run any better with a dual HDD setup, by keeping the OS and apps on a seperate drive from all of my images/video etc? Such as maybe something like this Seagate Barracuda 160GB 7200 RPM ($38) for the OS & Apps, and then maybe this SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 1TB 7200 RPM for my data?

Finally, the memory. I see those G.Skill sticks that you listed do have very good reviews, but I can't help but feeling a little wary of what the quality might be like. Do you think there would be any benifit or reliability improvement by spending $20 more on two sets of these corsair sticks? CORSAIR XMS3 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600. Although they are Cas 8, whereas the G.Skills are 7 :/ 

Thanks again, Adrian :D 
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April 29, 2010 2:17:58 PM

The F3 would be faster by itself than the 160 GB drive. If you really wanted a separate boot/app dirve, I'd get the 500 GB version of either the 7200.12 or F3. I wouldn't get any drive with platters smaller than 500 GB. The only drives with 500 GB platters right now are the Seagate 7200.12 (500 GB and 1 TB), Samsung Spinpoint F3 (500 GB or 1 TB), and WD Caviar Black (1 TB SATA III model only and 2 TB). I personally don't see the value of having a separate boot drive, especially if you're planning on adding a SSD later.

G.Skill's sticks are the highest quality. The company wins numerous awards at overclocking competitions. They won 1st place and three others (I think it was 2nd, 5th and 7th, but I'm not positive) out of ten places at a recent one. Corsair is simply overpriced because they have name recognition. I wouldn't pay more for slower sticks.
April 29, 2010 5:04:35 PM

Ok, well I will think about the dual drive option, but maybe it's not necessary at the moment. I think I will definitely be going with those G.Skill sticks then, I didn't realize they were such a good brand!

Thanks for your advice, I appreciate it! I think I am pretty much ready to go ahead and order the parts :D 
May 5, 2010 11:58:46 PM

Best answer selected by adjam.
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