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Photoshop CS5 Graphics Card Recommendation

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July 5, 2010 8:06:49 PM

I am a seasoned builder. I am about to launch into a high-horsepower CS5 Photoshop workstation using Windows 7 Ultimate. I will be working with large files, stitching panoramas, HDR work, etc. I know CS5 needs and will use as many cores and memory as I have. I do not plan to overclock or use Xeon CPUs. The question is about the grahics card. There are a lot of opinions about this and I need some advice. Do I go with a gamer or workstation card? I have not found any documented information one way or another. Based on what I have read and the work I will be doing with large files the workstation card is the way to go.

For reference here is what I plan to use:

Case: COOLER MASTER Cosmos S (RC-1100-KKN1-GP)
Power Supply: ZALMAN ZM1000-HP
Motherboard: ASUS P6X58D Premium
CPU: INTEL Core™ i7-980X
Cooling Fan: NOCTUA NH-D14
Memory: KINGSTON 24GB (6 x 4GB) PC3-10600 DDR3 1333MHz CL9, Non-ECC
Graphics Card: PNY NVIDIA Quadro FX 3800
OS/Apps/Scratch - 2 each INTEL 80GB X25-M (RAID 0)
Storage - 2 each WESTERN DIGITAL 2TB RE4-GP (RAID 1)
DVD±R/RW: SONY AD-7241S (Don't need Blu-ray)
Card Reader: LIAN LI CR-25B
Wireless Adapter: LINKSYS WMP54G

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July 5, 2010 9:52:35 PM

Am answering this for the fourth time today.. A quadro is not essential for Adobe apps.. The only point in getting a quadro would be CUDA (mostly marketing) and low power usage compared to their desktop counterparts..

Few other pointers regarding your build..

01. I'd add a hardware RAID card since onboard RAID solutions should never be relied on while making a workstation build..

02. Considering that you'll be working with very large files, the scratch disk size is very less..

03. You don't require such a large cooler if you are not overclocking.. The stock cooler should be enough.. If at all you require a different cooler then i recommend to get the CoolerMaster Hyper 212+

04. The power supply is overkill for your build.. I'll recommend a Seasonic X-750 instead..

05. This is subjective but i'll mention it anyway.. You may look at the Lian -Li PC A70F which looks more like a professional workstation case..
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July 7, 2010 11:52:03 AM

Would you mind a fifth time... Thanks I do need advice.

I have used Adobe products for a long time. I just installed CS5. It runs, but painfully slow both in After Effects and Premiere, scrubbing and rendering, especially with several layers and effects.

I’m considering adding a Quatro 4800 card (which supports the mercury engine), taking the ram up to 16gigs(all I can do unless I go to ultimate) and an external raid 0 drive.

I would like to know if this will work and is it a good approach. I estimate this upgrade will costs:
graphics card $1500 to $1700, $300 for the ram, and not sure about the disk drive. Also what is a good external raid drive.

If possible would like to upgrade, but am willing to build a new if necessary.

Thanks for the help
Leroy Allen

My current configuration
Box: Micro-ATX (24.5cm x 24.5cm)
Motherboard: MSi X58M Model MS-7593
Processor: Intel i7, 8 cores
Memory: 12Gb (24Gb max)
SATA: 7, E-SATA: 1
Storage: C: 750gig, D & E: 350 gig WD 10000rpm raptor
Raid: 1-6, 0/ 1/ 5/ 10/ by ICH10R
Slots: 2PCI express 2.0 x 16 slots, 1PCI express 2.0 x4 slot, 1 PCI slot, 3.3v/5v PCI interface
Power supply: 600w
Graphics Card: N9600GSO with SLI, outputs DVI, VGA, HDMI
OS: Windows 7, running 64 bit

Thanks again, Leroy Allen
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July 7, 2010 1:23:38 PM

do you mean the card alone will cost $1500?
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July 7, 2010 1:39:19 PM

Emperus said:
Am answering this for the fourth time today.. A quadro is not essential for Adobe apps.. The only point in getting a quadro would be CUDA (mostly marketing) and low power usage compared to their desktop counterparts..


That's false. CUDA acceleration of aftereffects and premier is quite effective. If programs where the tasks are parallel and CUDA is properly implemented, you see anything from a 11x to a 100x speed increase over even hexacore xeon processors.

Now, if you're only concerned with the other adobe products, then yes, a quadro is useless.

Also leroyallen i7 is 4 cores, 8 threads, not 8 cores.

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July 7, 2010 2:20:45 PM

CUDA cores are available with desktop video cards also so in that sense, investing on a quadro is useless.. If OP requires low power usage and high color metrics along with CUDA then going for a quadro makes some sense.. Obviously budget is not a restriction here.. But for apps like adobe suits, faster RAM and SSD raid will give more of a benefit..
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July 7, 2010 8:34:57 PM

Emperus, thanks for your input. Correct me if I am wrong. The difference between a workstation and gaming card is rendering time versus high frame rates in games. Workstation cards are engineered to reduce rendering times from hours to minutes, not to pump out high frame rates in games. I don't care about frame rates. I am more interested in reducing my Photoshop workflow time. Based on what I know now I am considering using only an Nvidia card and specifically the Quadro FX 1800. Both ATI and Nvidia cards will work fine. However, Nvidia is "supposed" to work better for Photoshop.
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July 7, 2010 10:27:19 PM

robertbjr said:
Emperus, thanks for your input. Correct me if I am wrong. The difference between a workstation and gaming card is rendering time versus high frame rates in games. Workstation cards are engineered to reduce rendering times from hours to minutes, not to pump out high frame rates in games. I don't care about frame rates. I am more interested in reducing my Photoshop workflow time. Based on what I know now I am considering using only an Nvidia card and specifically the Quadro FX 1800. Both ATI and Nvidia cards will work fine. However, Nvidia is "supposed" to work better for Photoshop.


A workstation card be it a Quadro (Nvidia) or FireGL/FirePro (ATI) is not going to reduce your final render timings even by one second.. That work is strictly CPU based.. Workstation cards are meant to smoothen your application interface (supported apps only) and deliver true color metrics.. They also enable the use of specific features (app dependent) which are locked for their corresponding desktop variants.. They are also designed to run on lower clocks and thus consume less power and dissipate less heat..

As for photoshop, you'll benefit highly from high amount of RAM (depending on the kind of file and sizes you work with) and fast storage.. The Quadro FX 1800 is a good workstation class card..
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