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Homebuilt PC or an iMac for photo editing?

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August 23, 2010 3:59:29 PM

Hello!

The thing is, my friend is very interested in taking pictures with that fine camera of his, and sure enjoys editing them in ye olde PC which by now has a few years on it's neck. However, now he is ready for an upgrade, and he has set his mind on an iMac 27"! He's open for suggestions though, he hasn't the slightest idea of the technical stuff, he just wants it to be fast and furious.

Anyway the iMacs 27" are expensive piece of hardware, and I was thinking that he would get so much more value if he let me build a computer for him for the same amount of money (we're looking at around $2000 here) on a PC. I mean, then he could afford even more, an SSD, better graphics, better... everything, overclockable, upgradeable. Everything except the user friendly Mac OS X, of which I know nothing about.

You tell me people, is the iMac 27" really worth it, are shall I go save a friend?

All the best!
August 23, 2010 4:11:17 PM

Definitely a homebuilt PC. Macs are crazy expensive and built on something around 5 year old tech. That said, it's techincally illegal to install Apple's OS on non-Apple hardware, so we can't offer you any advice on that (Google can however. It's called a Hackintosh.)

I'm assuming that for $2,000, you need everything (monitor, OS) with the tower. Here's what I'd look at it (including Windows 7, which is awesome):

CPU/Mobo: i7-930 and Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R $484
RAM: 2x Corsair XMS3 3x2 GB 2000 mhz CAS Latency 9 $350
GPU: GTX 460 1 GB $220. Not sure how much GPU power you need.
SSD: 2x Intel X25-M 80 GB $400
HDD/PSU: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1 TB and Corsair 650W $135 after rebate
Case/Optical: Coolermaster 690 and cheap SATA DVD burner $73
Monitor: Asus 23.6" 1080p $180 after rebate
OS: Windows 7 Home 64-bit OEM $100

Total: $1,942
August 23, 2010 4:42:12 PM

MadAdmiral said:
Definitely a homebuilt PC. Macs are crazy expensive and built on something around 5 year old tech. That said, it's techincally illegal to install Apple's OS on non-Apple hardware, so we can't offer you any advice on that (Google can however. It's called a Hackintosh.)

I'm assuming that for $2,000, you need everything (monitor, OS) with the tower. Here's what I'd look at it (including Windows 7, which is awesome):

CPU/Mobo: i7-930 and Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R $484
RAM: 2x Corsair XMS3 3x2 GB 2000 mhz CAS Latency 9 $350
GPU: GTX 460 1 GB $220. Not sure how much GPU power you need.
SSD: 2x Intel X25-M 80 GB $400
HDD/PSU: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1 TB and Corsair 650W $135 after rebate
Case/Optical: Coolermaster 690 and cheap SATA DVD burner $73
Monitor: Asus 23.6" 1080p $180 after rebate
OS: Windows 7 Home 64-bit OEM $100

Total: $1,942


That was about was I'm thinking PC-wise ;)  Well, a good monitor is sort of a key object when photo editing. I'm not sure whether it's really worth it having two 80GB SSDs rather than one 160GB, I guess that there are advantages to that but it might be less convenient. Don't get me wrong, I'm all head over heels over Nvidia (I have two of them GTX 470 myself), however in this build I would rather go with an AMD card e.g. 5870, or are there any specific advantages in the photobusiness regarding the Fermi infrastructure?

He is not much of a gamer, but whether he will admit it or not, he would appreciate to run some of the fourthcoming Blizzard games (e.g. Diablo III, Cataclysm) and some other titles. A GTX 460 will perform this perfectly but a 5870 will do that even better. So I guess it's wort a little extra.

Anyway, now comes the hard part, the convincing :D 
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August 23, 2010 4:50:52 PM

You put them in RAID 0 to make a single 160 GB drive, but they'd be nearly twice as fast. They're also cheaper than larger capacity drives.

There isn't an advantage to Fermi, but there is an advantage to nVidia. nVidia GPUs far much better than ATI in workstation apps. Basically, if you're doing anything outside of gaming, you want nVidia's specialized functionality. If you're gaming only, you want ATI's raw power.

The mainstream games (i.e. WoW, Diablo 3, StarCraft 2, Call of Duty, etc.) run perfectly fine with lower end gaming hardware. If they didn't, they wouldn't sell that well. A 5870 is definitely overkill for all of that. A 5870 is enough to play every game out at max details at 1080p. It's not needed for mainstream games.

As for the monitor, that is true. You could easily drop out one of the 80 GB SSDs and pick up a larger/higher resolution monitor. I'm not the most knowledgeable person when dealing with monitors. That Asus 23.6" 1080p model is just my standard fairly cheap, good quality monitor that I throw into builds when I need to include one.
August 23, 2010 4:56:27 PM

Having 2 SSDs instead of oen gives you the chance to merge them together in a raid0 array. For intents and purposes you have one virtual drive(160gb obviously), but because you technically have 2 drives you get much more speed(theoretically double although practically it will be less). I'd takes a bit of time to set up(an hour at most probably less) but after that you just have 1 virtual drive. Sorry if you already knew this and I'm just ranting.

Seeing as you'll have to convince him to come from a mac I'd spend a bit more on the peripherals and case seeing as that is the main reason macs are so appealing.

Also Ati cards are in a pretty bad position right now almost every card exept the 5970 has direct competition which bests it IMO.



August 23, 2010 5:07:25 PM

http://accessories.us.dell.com/sna/productdetail.aspx?c... this screen is identical to the imac display in resolution and panel type. Probably a far better screen though I heard the imac screen isn't what it could be. But seeing the price maybe something like this is a better option http://accessories.us.dell.com/sna/products/Displays/pr...

As for the kb/mouse maybe this http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... and http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... (my bro has this mouse it's pretty good)
August 23, 2010 5:10:32 PM

I completely disagree with the statement about ATI being beaten by the direct competitors. The 5770 doesn't have any competition. The 5830 (a horrible choice) is roughly the same as the GTX 460 1 GB (which costs more, and is still in a bad position).

After that, you get the GTX 470 and 480. The 470 is slightly more powerful than the HD 5850, but it's more expensive and runs crazy hot. Factor in the fact that it needs a huge amount of power (you'll need an 850W to SLI it, versus a 650W for the 5850), and it's a poor choice. The 480 suffers the same problems as the 470, just magnified by competing with the 5870 and even higher power needs (1000W to be safe for SLI, versus 750W for the 5870).

Honestly, the only nVidia card I can seriously recommend (assuming no special needs) is the 460 1 GB, and that's only for an Intel build that will add a second one later, since AMD chipsets don't like SLI. Basically, if your current needs are more CPU based (which leads to an Intel build), but you want the option to expand into gaming, the 460 is perfect because it scales up so well in SLI. However, doing that to start a build will lose an upgrade path and cut off any chances of cheap future upgrades.

I completely fail to see what's appealing about the Fermi cards. You pay more for lower performance. You spend more upfront for cooling (bigger cases, more fans) and power (larger PSUs). All told, to get the same performance and future proofing as an ATI solution, you're going to spend a good $100 more, and that's not even counting the additional cost of the card.
August 23, 2010 6:10:37 PM

You're not wrong but you're blowing this way out of proportion. Yes they comsume a lot of power but they perform very very well for the price. The 470 is closer in performance to the 5870 than the 5850 yet it costs almost the same as the 5850. I mean really all the things nvidia brings to the table are worth far more than the extra 20-30% the 5850 is more efficient.

You get scaling that makes 470gtx sli perform similarly or even better than 5870 CF at a far far lower cost including electricity bills and larger psu you get CUDA which ins't a deal breaker but lot's and lot's of people make use of it once in a while including me. You get physX which isn't terribly good but it's better than nothing. And lastly you get 3D vision which appeals to many. Sure if NONE of the above mean anything to you an ati may be a slightly better choice but most wil make use of at least sli, physx, cuda or 3d. And then you are heat. Heat is a useless argument. Most fermi cards use an external exhaust system so case temps are only marginally(a few degrees if any) different and a fanless case would be good enough. And overclockibilty? You can get a good 10percent OC out of both the 470 and 480 on stock coolers and far far more from a 460 due to the good heat handling capabilities fermi or "thermi" offers.

And yes the 480 is by no means bang for buck but it's the best GPU on the market what do you expect? They can ask 700USD for it and it'll still be sold.

And yes the 5770 is in a competition but I meant in the price range of this build.

All in all our opinion differs greatly but lets quit the useless arguments and leave the deciding to the builder ;) 

Btw a great clean looking case for the price is this http://ncix.com/products/?sku=53537&vpn=DEFINE-R3-BLACK...

August 23, 2010 6:18:49 PM

HAHA, Thermi! I honestly havent heard that one yet! Thats good! In any event I agree with MadAdmiral. The only half decent card Nvidia has out right now is the gtx 460, and it gets way more hype than it deserves, but is still very much so an excellent card. However it is also competing against the worst card in the 5xxx lineup, and even still doesnt entirely blow it out of the water. It also costs $35 which most people forget. SLI, CUDA, Physx, 3D all dont matter much, AMD has an anwer for most. Xfire, STREAM, Physx is terrible, and 3D is barely doing anything yet. And the 480 is NOT the best gpu on the market. If you talk about performance, that goes to 5970. If you talk about best value, it goes to 5850 or maybe GTX 460.
August 23, 2010 6:35:08 PM

Somebody_007 said:
You're not wrong but you're blowing this way out of proportion. Yes they comsume a lot of power but they perform very very well for the price. The 470 is closer in performance to the 5870 than the 5850 yet it costs almost the same as the 5850. I mean really all the things nvidia brings to the table are worth far more than the extra 20-30% the 5850 is more efficient.

You get scaling that makes 470gtx sli perform similarly or even better than 5870 CF at a far far lower cost including electricity bills and larger psu you get CUDA which ins't a deal breaker but lot's and lot's of people make use of it once in a while including me. You get physX which isn't terribly good but it's better than nothing. And lastly you get 3D vision which appeals to many. Sure if NONE of the above mean anything to you an ati may be a slightly better choice but most wil make use of at least sli, physx, cuda or 3d. And then you are heat. Heat is a useless argument. Most fermi cards use an external exhaust system so case temps are only marginally(a few degrees if any) different and a fanless case would be good enough. And overclockibilty? You can get a good 10percent OC out of both the 470 and 480 on stock coolers and far far more from a 460 due to the good heat handling capabilities fermi or "thermi" offers.

And yes the 480 is by no means bang for buck but it's the best GPU on the market what do you expect? They can ask 700USD for it and it'll still be sold.


The 470 doesn't cost the same as the 5850, and it's performance is closer to the 5850 in most games that aren't specifically coded for nVidia cards. Most games included in benchmarks have a distinct preference for nVidia, making them already biased. As for price, the 470 is $290, and the 5850 is $270. That's not counting the massive combos you can find with quality parts for the 5850. I can think of six combos with the XFX 5850 off the top of my head that are a good $30+ off. That effectively makes the 5850 $240. I can think of only one build in the last two months I've put together that didn't use those combos, and that was only because at the moment the parts I was considering for the combo had better deals with other parts I was using.

As for SLI scaling, yes, it's a little better. Still, it doesn't out weigh the costs. The cost for CF 5870 (assuming 750W PSU) is $740. The 470 SLI is (counting the extra $30 for the 850W PSU and an extra $40 for the larger case or extra fans) is $650. That will certainly be made up by the lower power usage of the 5870 in the life of the build. I should also add that if you were to consider adding more than a second card (i.e. TriSLI or TriFire), ATI catches up. nVidia's scaling drops off quite a bit after the second card while ATI's stays roughly the same, at least when you're talking the really high end cards.

Besides, no one really cares about 5870 CF. Once you're spend that much, you're really looking at the HD 5970, which completely outclasses botht he 470 and 480 in terms of performance (counting the overclocking) and the price. The 5970 is currently $650, and outperforms dual 470 at stock. Once you overclock the 5970 (and it also OCs like a champ, being that the cores are throttled slightly already), it can beat the 480s at a good $350 less.

Overclocking the 470/480 is also very difficult. As hot as they run and with as much power they need, you're asking for a miracle to get a steady 10% overclock even with a single card. The 5870/5850 on the other hand OC like a champ. You can easily get 10% without breaking a sweat.

The heat problem isn't dealing with the actual heat contained in the case. It's mostly the problem with the actual heat the GPU create. You do know what happens when CPUs overheat right? Everything shuts down. Well, GPUs are just specialized CPUs. When they get too hot, they stop working. Also, all that thermal stress is going to cut down on the longevitiy of the card, meaning they'll wear out faster.

As for all the special features nVidia has, none of them are of any use to gamers. PhysX isn't (and really never has been) relevant to gamers. They tried to push it, and it failed. CUDA is useful for non-gaming builds, but not for anything related to gaming. 3D Vision (which REQUIRES 2 cards) is completely worthless. 3D has a good 5 years to be a viable technology, and that's only for movies. Games will take a good 2-3 years on top of that. Do you really think you'll want your crappy, power hungry, low performing Fermi in 7-8 years? I know that you won't.
August 23, 2010 6:36:41 PM

Yeah I found thermi a good pretty good nickname too :p .

Maybe the 460 does deserve all the hype and you're just not giving it what it deserves?

If none of the things I mentioned matter to you then yes go ati but honestly SLI/CF is an on almost everyone's mind. And face it when going SLI nvidia wins whether it's with a 460, 465, 470 or 480 SLI scaling is downright brilliant. Wich is the main reason I favor nvidia because as you guys mentioned as single cards they're exactly impressive. But when you're single cards get slow and you really need performance SLI will put you miles ahead of crossfire.

And the 480gtx is the most powerful GPU on the market. Don't forget a 5970 is a dual GPU card which will soon be beaten by the dual 480 Mars II.

Btw Ares I wasn't really expecting you of all people to agree with me lol.
August 23, 2010 6:43:51 PM

I'm giving the 460 what it deserves. It's a great card in a bad single card position. If I needed a powerful CPU (read: Intel CPU) and a decently powered GPU, with the option to drastically improve later, the 460 is a shoe in. I consider it the only Fermi card worth buying.

I didn't argue that the 480 is technically the most powerful GPU on the market. I'm saying it's not worth what you pay for it. I'm willing to bet the Mars two will lose to the Ares (the dual 5870 2 GB, 4 GB total) card. Of course, by then, ATI will have it's 6xxx series out, which will more thank likely destroy anything nVidia has again. They do have a good 9 month head start.
August 23, 2010 6:49:35 PM

MadAdmiral said:
The 470 doesn't cost the same as the 5850, and it's performance is closer to the 5850 in most games that aren't specifically coded for nVidia cards. Most games included in benchmarks have a distinct preference for nVidia, making them already biased. As for price, the 470 is $290, and the 5850 is $270. That's not counting the massive combos you can find with quality parts for the 5850. I can think of six combos with the XFX 5850 off the top of my head that are a good $30+ off. That effectively makes the 5850 $240. I can think of only one build in the last two months I've put together that didn't use those combos, and that was only because at the moment the parts I was considering for the combo had better deals with other parts I was using.

As for SLI scaling, yes, it's a little better. Still, it doesn't out weigh the costs. The cost for CF 5870 (assuming 750W PSU) is $740. The 470 SLI is (counting the extra $30 for the 850W PSU and an extra $40 for the larger case or extra fans) is $650. That will certainly be made up by the lower power usage of the 5870 in the life of the build. I should also add that if you were to consider adding more than a second card (i.e. TriSLI or TriFire), ATI catches up. nVidia's scaling drops off quite a bit after the second card while ATI's stays roughly the same, at least when you're talking the really high end cards.

Besides, no one really cares about 5870 CF. Once you're spend that much, you're really looking at the HD 5970, which completely outclasses botht he 470 and 480 in terms of performance (counting the overclocking) and the price. The 5970 is currently $650, and outperforms dual 470 at stock. Once you overclock the 5970 (and it also OCs like a champ, being that the cores are throttled slightly already), it can beat the 480s at a good $350 less.

Overclocking the 470/480 is also very difficult. As hot as they run and with as much power they need, you're asking for a miracle to get a steady 10% overclock even with a single card. The 5870/5850 on the other hand OC like a champ. You can easily get 10% without breaking a sweat.

The heat problem isn't dealing with the actual heat contained in the case. It's mostly the problem with the actual heat the GPU create. You do know what happens when CPUs overheat right? Everything shuts down. Well, GPUs are just specialized CPUs. When they get too hot, they stop working. Also, all that thermal stress is going to cut down on the longevitiy of the card, meaning they'll wear out faster.

As for all the special features nVidia has, none of them are of any use to gamers. PhysX isn't (and really never has been) relevant to gamers. They tried to push it, and it failed. CUDA is useful for non-gaming builds, but not for anything related to gaming. 3D Vision (which REQUIRES 2 cards) is completely worthless. 3D has a good 5 years to be a viable technology, and that's only for movies. Games will take a good 2-3 years on top of that. Do you really think you'll want your crappy, power hungry, low performing Fermi in 7-8 years? I know that you won't.


Wow you can get a 5850 for 270 well I didn't know that I though they were both pushing 300.

And extra fans needed for fermi? lol don't make me laugh. Fermi can handle the heat it won't shut down trust me. Nvidia says it and their unaggresive fan speeds proves they mean it.

And lol a 5970 beating 470 sli?? I'd like to see some benchmarks

And about more benchmark games favouring nvidia. Well nvidia just is a bigger company and more games are made towards nvidia instead of ati it's a fact you've got to accept.

3D vision is pretty good already many manygames support it already and it makes gaming overal quite a bit nicer.

And I didn't mean you argued the 480 was the most powerful GPU that message wasn't for ares really
August 23, 2010 7:31:18 PM

You actually are both making some pretty good points, while not getting into a flame war, i applaud that! :lol:  In any event, im skeptical a 480 will be made dual. It just isnt good for it. Nvidia is also working at the pace of a snail, makes me think they needed even more time than they were given! Point is the GTX 480 marginally beats the 5870, costs a lot more, and is terrible with heat and power. 470 is more of a vaible option, however the 5850 is an amazing overclocker, better than the 470 i believe. It also isnt cursed by fermi 100 like the 470, so same problems with the 480. 465 not only was terrible for the price, but got caught up in friendly fire when the 460 came out, so its dead. 460 is the only card left. The 768 version is more or less on par with the 5830. The 1 gig version does beat it, and beat it by a fair margin, but isnt worth the price IMO. I think the 768 MB version should be about $180-190, and the 1 gig version $200-210. Or just get rid of the 768MB version one all together. After all that, Nvidia is on bad terms with Intel, and AMD is their competition. It took them how long, like 4 or 5 months to get 3 real cards out (465 doesnt count :lol:  ). 1 is a very bad deal, the second isnt much better, and it took them 3, 4 months to get their first decent card. ATI took 5 months, maybe 6 to get 11 cards out. At this rate we will be waiting until the end of the year for NV to finish the series, by which time 6xxx will be out, and the 6870 will easily beat the 480. By the time NV even brings out 5xx, maybe even announces it, 7xxx will be coming, which is the arch change and suppost to be the big new card. I dont see NV doing well for a while. Lets not forget we are comparing new NV cards to 9 month only ATI cards :lol:  :lol:  :lol: 
August 23, 2010 7:41:16 PM

BTW, the cheapest 5850 is $270. It has a $15 MIR. Down to $255, easily with $25 combo (460 doesnt have many good combos) and you are down to $230. Now, granted that is a very bad way of looking at it, and for all comparisons the 5850 is $270, but point is the 5850 can cost even less than a gtx 460, which it handily beats. Anyway, I wouldnt recommend buying the cheapest cards, as they dont oc well, and have bad coolers. Id recommend these for 5850:

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

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

and these for 470:

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

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

Looking at it like that, the 5850 is $20-50. I suppose its also worth mentioning the 5850s have way better combos, but i guess that doesnt really count.
August 23, 2010 7:47:08 PM

yeah true the 465 is useless at best.

The thing is the 470 and 480 were rushed and thus inefficient. The 460 proves fermi has potential. And yes at their retail prices fermi was thrashed by ati. but the prices dropped. And however much they fail in efficiency and thermal performance in game performance they give you far more than ati cards. Which more or less balances things out. Also what people forget is the cards are far better than the reviews say they are. Because drivers made huge improvements.

as you can see here http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/geforce-gtx-480,258... vs http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/geforce-gtx-460-sli...

meaning fermi cards are actually 10% more powerful than most people think they are. You're probably one of them seeing as you thought the difference between a 5870 and 480 is marginal :p .

And yeah you're right 6xxx series due next year will probably beat the 4xx series and so on. But I find it hard to believe 460 level efficiency on a 480 level card will be easily beaten. Let's hope the 475/485 whatever it will be called does nvidia proud.
August 23, 2010 7:52:00 PM

The problem that makes these debates hard is that pricing is the centerpiece. Here in Belgium on all the different amazons. Pricing is different. Here nvidia ussually has better prices than ati compared to the US while the 5970 costs 500-550euros compared to the usual 260-280 of a 5850 making it the deal of a lifetime.
August 23, 2010 7:56:44 PM

You're forgetting that ATI has had a number of driver updates as well, which is why I largerly discard the driver updates. At any one time, one card might have a better driver, only to be beaten in a short time.

I'll agree that Fermi has potential. However, I don't think it'll ever live up to that potential. Giving ATI a 9 months head start is going to be a huge disadvantage. That 9 months effectively means ATI has a massive war chest of funds (check out the massive losses nVidia posted this quarter) and a huge jump on R&D. They've also got an excellent (and easy to hit) target for their 6xxx series.

As for pricing, the reason for basing the arguements on that is simple. You want to get the best performance for the price. I will say that the 550 Euro for the 5970 is not a bad price. That's what it was originally supposed to sell at ($700). It's even better that you can get them here for $650. As for the 5850, I'm amazed it's still that high (about $350). In fact, I think it might have been that high over here only the week it was first released. It's been a steady $300 until about a month ago. It's a steal at $255.
August 23, 2010 8:13:38 PM

Just thought I'd mention raiding SSDs is kinda pointless because the random accesses get slower, only the (almost entirely synthetic) sustained speeds change.

IMO, the ATI cards have an advantage with Displayport, but Nvidia has better GPGPU. ATI has lower heat, but Nvidia has better bang/buck.

What's the size of your photo editing projects? IMO an AMD 1055t build or an i7-930 based build would be best.

I'd grab the Dell u2711 (950$) and then build a system out of what's left. A good IPS monitor is much more important than multiple SSDs or a crazy vidcard/mobo, after all, this isn't really a gaming setup, and those components lose value VERY rapidly, while a large IPS monitor often sells for only 100$ less than it's purchase price 5 years later.

Roughly:

1055t 200$
870/880g motherboard (90-130$) (asrock 870 extreme 3, 880g extreme 3, Ga-870a-ud3, MSI-870-G55)
8GB DDR3 G.skill eco series 1600 speed 204$
XFX black edition silver 850w PSU (105 at newegg)
Haf 922 case (90 at Newegg)
Generic sata litescribe OD (20$)
Samsung F3 1TB 75$
Radeon GTX 470/Radeon 5850(260-270$)

A radeon 5770 could work assuming he didn't want to really game on that monitor. I think the GTX 470 is the best choice besides the lack of displayport.

1094+950 for the monitor assuming the most expensive expensive component.

Then I would buy an SSD later this year after the 25nm refresh ships.
August 23, 2010 8:25:23 PM

You can get away with a $500 monitor. SSD's are far better than you lead on though. Although ive been very impressed with the upcoming Samsung F4 series, very good speeds, even for an SSD. The 1055T would likely be the best bet for a video editing rig, however AMD doesnt do so well with CS4. I havent seen CS5, but most other video editing things the AMD 6 cores beat their intel equivalent. The 475 is suppose to be based off fully unlocked Fermi 104. So thats something to look forward too. The 485 was just suppose to be a unlocked 480, however NV said for every large amount of 480s, they could only get a very small amount to unlock into 485's. So 485 will likely be overpriced, in low supply, and horrid heat and power. 475 will be pretty nice though.
August 23, 2010 8:35:39 PM

I agree that you can easily drop out a SSD and go with one. However, if the choice was between two 80 GB SSDs in RAID 0 or one 160 GB SSD for roughly the same price, the two 80 GB is going to be drastically faster. That's both in practice and in real life usage. There's no arguement against that. I'm not saying SSDs are required right now. In fact, I rarely recommend them outside of the highest budget builds.

As for the high end board, the Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R is actually one of the lower end X58 boards. It's the cheapest, reliable USB 3/SATA III board out there right now. It just seems expensive because it's an X58 board. It's AMD equivalent is the Gigabyte GA-790XTA-UD4 (about $125).

I wouldn't go with ATI for this build. As much as ATI's cards rule the roost in terms of gaming performance, they are definitely lacking outside of that. The 460 would be just fine. I don't think there's anything that would really need the 470 or 480, and even if it did, dual 460s would be a better choice.

I really think $900 is obscene for a monitor. It might be an excellent one, but that's still crazy. $500 for a very good one is at least reasonable, which would be about what you'd have to spend for it if you dropped one or both of the SSDs.
August 23, 2010 8:46:56 PM

Agreed. I havent really seen many benefits of CUDA, but im sure there are some. Considering NV's only card out is the 460 (I shun the others :lol:  ) then that makes the 460 a pretty easy choice. Very good gaming performance and overclockability too. RAID 0 on ssds is fairly pointless to be honest. They are already so fast and expensive, it just isnt worth it if you ask me. However if you are going for 1 big ssd, 2 smaller ones of equivalent speed is definitely a good way to go, but ssds should really be much bigger than 128 gigs if ya ask me. Getting 2 of these:

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

Will give you both faster ssds, and a more reasonable price/capacity.
August 23, 2010 8:55:11 PM

The reason the monitor is so expensive is because it's not just a larger 1920*1080 screen -- it's 72% larger in terms of total usable space over a 1920 monitor. As an amateur photo editor I can tell you it's a much more significant upgrade in usability over an SSD (which I also have).

Primary reason I like the X6 is that it'll have more longevity over an i7 build. Future software will only continue to favor the X6 over an i7.

For a 2560*1440 monitor, a 470 is about right for casual gaming. Spending more doesn't make a lot of sense if it cuts into your editing performance, but spending less may make it difficult to enjoy gaming at that resolution.
August 23, 2010 8:56:26 PM

Yeah, so dont buy a monitor at that resolution :lol:  Both problems solved! :D 
August 23, 2010 9:00:44 PM

I do like the X6, but I'd definitely look for some benchmarks in the programs you use. It's a little strange. It's better than the i7 in some applications, in others it's worse.

I would never recommend the 470. Period. If the OP decides to go with the X6, that'd save a good deal of cash (something close to $200 I think). That extra $200 can then be put towards a second 460, while the removal of the SSDs (again, not really a necessity) will allow for the bigger/better monitor. That way it's a win-win.
August 23, 2010 9:07:54 PM

MadAdmiral said:
I do like the X6, but I'd definitely look for some benchmarks in the programs you use. It's a little strange. It's better than the i7 in some applications, in others it's worse.

I would never recommend the 470. Period. If the OP decides to go with the X6, that'd save a good deal of cash (something close to $200 I think). That extra $200 can then be put towards a second 460, while the removal of the SSDs (again, not really a necessity) will allow for the bigger/better monitor. That way it's a win-win.


Yeah, the X6 loses to the i7 in CS4, but blows it out of the water in handbrake. Still, the majority of video and picture editing software do better on X6, even though they may have been programmed more towards intel and the i7.
August 23, 2010 9:12:44 PM

IMO that 30in looks fine if OP can spare it. The Dell U series is a bit better, but a 30in is another good option for photo editing. That 24 in not so much in that for 200$ more you could have a 2560 display.

I would never recommend a 5870 over a 470. 470 often beats it and can be had for 130$ less. It's competitive with the 5850 depending on the price you can find on the respective card.
August 23, 2010 9:24:37 PM

I would go with a dell ultrasharp. Better quality than size for photo editing(although I suppose size is quality but nevermind that :p ). And yeah I wouldn't get a 24inch for that price.

I wouldn't reccomend a 5870 either. I never really liked it. IMO the best bang for buck are ATM 460, 5850, 470 and a 5970. Considering nvidia offers CUDA I'd get either a 460 or 470 depending on how much money is left.

August 23, 2010 9:27:08 PM

So basically we recommend a 470 because its $20 cheaper (yes, there are cheaper ones, but thats the cheapest one with voltage control, and decent cooling), and yet is out performed by a 5870, the 5870 uses less power (the $20 will be paid for in power savings) and the 470 runs 15-20 degrees hotter? That makes sense... :pfff: 
August 23, 2010 9:42:34 PM

I love anandtech, but they are always giving unusally large victories to Nvidia. Use toms instead,





Theres just a few showing the 5870 wins when it actually matters. And for Nvidia, i believe only MSI and Asus cards have overvoltage. So you wont be able to up the voltage on that, but you will be able to lower it if you call that voltage control :lol: 

August 23, 2010 9:43:11 PM

The 470 is pretty bad. The best bang for the buck (single) GPUs for straight up gaming are by far the 5770, 5850, 5870 and 5970. I left the 460 out because it's too weak to game at 1080p (with max details), yet more expensive than those that can game at lower resolutions. If you need CUDA or other applications, then nVidia gets the nod, at least at lower levels.
August 23, 2010 9:50:44 PM

http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/forum/hardware-canucks-r...

We can go posting benchmarks back and forth, but IMO anandtech is tied with Hard in terms of neutrality. Toms is always pushing CUDA/Physx in their reviews.

Frankly, when the 470 launched for 350 it sucked in terms of price/performance. Now that it's often had for 100$+ off release price and has gotten a 15% average performance boost for drivers it's great. Just check the Hardocp or anandtech general hardware forums -- they both slam the 5850/5870 at their current prices.
August 23, 2010 9:53:27 PM

LOL, so we criticize Toms for favoring the very cards you are trying to say are better! :lol:  :lol:  :lol:  :lol: 


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August 23, 2010 10:00:09 PM

And?
August 23, 2010 10:11:26 PM

And so if you say Toms favors Nvidia, and Nvidia lost in toms benchmarks, then theres a serious problem if you are saying the 470 is better :lol:  It really isnt better, a friend has a 5870 and said he gets better frame rates than most sites quote with the same settings. If you cant see that, oh well, dont feel like getting into another flame war, but it IS more powerful, it DOES take a lot less energy, and it DOES produce a LOT less heat.
August 23, 2010 10:17:08 PM

No I mean Tom's video card reviews are lame in that they always push Physx/Cuda, I don't think they're accurate in that they're typically off from the majority of reviews.


5870 is also more expensive, and faster by 2 FPS isn't really worth it IMO. Figure average performance difference at 2560 turns out to be like -3%, but the cost is over 120$ cheaper.

470 beats the 5850 handedly, and can be had for the same or cheaper if you wait.

I've had the 460, 470, 5850, and 5870 (and 5850+5870 CFX), so I think I'm decently qualified to speak about them, but this is no flame war.
August 23, 2010 10:29:26 PM

No offense, but your pricing is terrible. Minimum decent 470 is $350. 5850 can be had to $250. To be fair, $280. $70-100 cheaper is NOT the same price. And is "2" (more like 5-10%) fps, 60 watts less, 30 degrees less, and even quieter worth $20? To me it is!
August 23, 2010 10:40:54 PM

5870 is only 6 degrees cooler in Furmark, and only 32 watts lower at load. Noise is within 2 decibels as well. Idle usage is within 10 watts.

I don't think it needs custom cooling to be fine, especially if you're calculating the price of an overpriced custom board, but then continuing to factor in heat.

IMO a decent 470 can be had for 270. The one I listed is a blower style (heat outside the case, safe temperatures) with voltage control.

All benches 2560.

Crysis: 25.7 vs. 25.9
Crysis minimums: 17.6 vs. 11.6 470 win, but neither can play well, not super relevant.
BF: 40.9 vs. 42.2
BF SSAO: 32.1 vs 32.2
Hawx 75 vs 77
Left 4 Dead 2 (maxed AA/AF): 80.1 vs 104.5 Both provide minimums above 60 with the game fully maxed. Not super relevant.
BFBC2: 34.7 vs 42.9 --- significant 5870 win.
BFBC2: 17.7 vs 14.3 --- 470 win, but neither play it well.
Stalker maxed: 24.4 vs 24.6
Dirt2: 45 vs 52.1

Basically, the 470 and 5870 are the same in terms of performance. They trade wins, but for the most part match. Meanwhile, the cheapest 5870 is like 350 (for a custom without voltage), while the cheapest 470 was 230 last weekend, and 270 now.

August 23, 2010 11:27:27 PM

That's actually where I got the info I posted above....

Quote:
5870 is only 6 degrees cooler in Furmark, and only 32 watts lower at load. Noise is within 2 decibels as well. Idle usage is within 10 watts.
August 23, 2010 11:42:21 PM

Did you even look at the graphs???
August 23, 2010 11:45:21 PM

Did you?

Idle power consumption: 164 vs 173
Load power consumption: 375 vs 408
Load GPU temp: 86 vs 92
Noise: 42.5 vs 44
August 23, 2010 11:53:05 PM

:lol:  Just leave out the others. Lets see, 16 degrees lower in crysis. Real world is better than synthetics, so its 16 degrees cooler at load. 7 degrees lower at idle. 10 less watts at idle, and about 60 at load. I dont need to explain this, people can look for themselves.
August 23, 2010 11:59:37 PM

I'll admit that is impressive, and I don't know how I missed that, but load and idle noise levels are still 2 degrees, point being that the cards aren't far off (less than a fifth) in heat/noise/power.


IMO the bang/buck the 470 offers outweighs that sort of power savings. The blower design 470 I linked puts the heat outside of your case so I don't think that's too significant. Silicon is a metal and doesn't care about temps.

Can we at least agree on the rest of the system?

1055t 200$
870/880g motherboard (90-130$) (asrock 870 extreme 3, 880g extreme 3, Ga-870a-ud3, MSI-870-G55)
8GB DDR3 G.skill eco series 1600 speed 204$
XFX black edition silver 850w PSU (105 at newegg)
Haf 922 case (90 at Newegg)
Generic sata litescribe OD (20$)
Samsung F3 1TB 75$
Radeon GTX 470/Radeon 5850(260-270$)

Dell u2711 950$
August 24, 2010 12:09:10 AM

sp12 said:


All benches 2560.


Interesting, but not at all relevant. Nobody plays at 2560. The highest resolution anyone should be playing at (without the 5970) is 1080. Also, super high resolutions (i.e. when nothing can play at acceptable FPS) always favor nVidia. Same for super low resolutions.

At all REASONABLE resolutions (i.e. what you should be playing at with the card you've picked), the 5870 beats the 470 hands down. It even beats the 480 in some benchmarks, though not all of them.

I will also point out that by and large, the majority of games used for benchmarking (which aren't really popular games) tend to favor nVidia. I will also say that every benchmark I've seen from anandtech has also heavily favored nVidia and Intel. Not saying they're 100% wrong, just saying they aren't to be taken as God's Own Truth.

The reason Tom's "pushes" CUDA and PhysX in the reviews is that they're not just catering to gamers. They know many of their readers (such as me) use high end builds for activities that aren't just gaming. They need to bring those aspects into the reviews as well. I'd say Tom's does a fairly good job of being neutral, especially since they consider everything (heat, cost, power usage, etc.), not just raw FPS.

And prices can't be your opinion. They're fact. And I can honestly say that TODAY, the cheapest (not the best, or minimum that I'd buy, but the straight up cheapest) GTX 470 is $280 (with a $10 rebate). The cheapest (again, not the best, or the minimum, though it is an XFX with a double lifetime warranty) HD 5850 is $255. The cheapest GTX 480 is $450 (with $10 rebate). The cheapest HD 5870 is $370.

For those of you keeping score, that's a $15 win for the equivalent 5850 and a $70 win for the equivalent 5870, counting the rebates, which might be questionable. That's NOT COUNTING the numerous amazing combos that those ATI cards always have running. I know they both usually have a $30-35 or $40-45 combo with an XFX PSU (650W for the 5850 and 750W for the 5870). They don't today (I think), but there aren't many combos on a Monday. In addition, both almost always have a good $40 combo with a Lian Li case (the PC-K62 I think) and a decent $20-25 combo with AMD CPUs. All of that yields a "final" price difference for a new builder of around $50+ for the 5850 and $110+ for the 5870. That's some significant savings.

Factor in the energy costs: assuming the 32W is correct (it's not, but I don't have time to find some benchmarks), that's 40W additional draw from the wall (assuming 80% efficiency). Next, I'll assume that the user plays games for three hours a day. That's 21 hours a week, 1,092 hours a year. Let's then assume the build last a good four years. That's 4,368 hours over the life of the build. I'll round down to 4,400 for simplicity. All told, that's 176 kWHr. The current rate of electricity prices ($0.12 per kWHr, which is really low in the major population centers), that's about $22. If you live on the East or West coast, it's closer to $40.

While that's not that highest, it's not figuring a number of factors that cause a dramatic spike. Those factors would include the increasing cost of electricity, which is the highest single contributor to inflation, or the wearing out of the PSU, which decreases the efficiency, or the wearing out of the parts, which increases the need for power, or the cost once you add a second GPU.

EDIT: The increased wattage changed. Given 60W at load, the prices skyrocket to $40 on average and $66 in the population centers.

So after the energy costs, you're paying (assuming you're in the major population areas) $90+ ($106) more for the 470 and $150+ ($176) for the 480. Are those couple of FPS really worth that? I don't think so.
August 24, 2010 12:19:58 AM

MadAdmiral said:
Interesting, but not at all relevant. Nobody plays at 2560. The highest resolution anyone should be playing at (without the 5970) is 1080. Also, super high resolutions (i.e. when nothing can play at acceptable FPS) always favor nVidia. Same for super low resolutions.

If he gets a large monitor, then it's relevant. Most of those games ran well with a single 470 at that resolution. If you're willing to drop AA/SSAO then it's very playable.

Quote:
I will also point out that by and large, the majority of games used for benchmarking (which aren't really popular games) tend to favor nVidia. I will also say that every benchmark I've seen from anandtech has also heavily favored nVidia and Intel. Not saying they're 100% wrong, just saying they aren't to be taken as God's Own Truth.


L4D2 and Dirt 2 are both very much ATI games. I linked to another random site with results that were very close.

Quote:
And prices can't be your opinion. They're fact. And I can honestly say that TODAY, the cheapest (not the best, or minimum that I'd buy, but the straight up cheapest) GTX 470 is $280 (with a $10 rebate). The cheapest (again, not the best, or the minimum, though it is an XFX with a double lifetime warranty) HD 5850 is $255. The cheapest GTX 480 is $450 (with $10 rebate). The cheapest HD 5870 is $370.


http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... That's because the 470 I linked to earlier went out of stock just 20 minutes ago. There was a deal for 260 just last night. There was a deal for 230 on Friday.

Quote:
For those of you keeping score, that's a $15 win for the equivalent 5850 and a $70 win for the equivalent 5870, counting the rebates, which might be questionable.


Both of which give a GTX 470 @ 270 (which happens regurally) better price/performance.

Quote:
Factor in the energy costs: assuming the 32W is correct (it's not, but I don't have time to find some benchmarks), that's 40W additional draw from the wall (assuming 80% efficiency). Next, I'll assume that the user plays games for three hours a day. That's 21 hours a week, 1,092 hours a year. Let's then assume the build last a good four years. That's 4,368 hours over the life of the build. I'll round down to 4,400 for simplicity. All told, that's 176 kWHr. The current rate of electricity prices ($0.12 per kWHr, which is really low in the major population centers), that's about $22. If you live on the East or West coast, it's closer to $40.


But I have an 87% effiency PSU listed. Even with an 80% PSU that's 22$ over the course of 4 years. 5$ a year in energy savings with a worse PSU than what I have listed. I CBA to redo the energy savings with the PSU I have listed, but it will approximately 9% less.

I get .08$/KWH, so maybe I don't get it. I did list a silver PSU however.


Quote:
Assuming energy costs spike, or you get a second GPU, it's even higher. So after the energy costs, you're paying (assuming you're in the major population areas) $90+ ($106) more for the 470 and $150+ ($176) for the 480. Are those couple of FPS really worth that? I don't think so.
[/quote]
Quote:


That's a lot of assumptions, I don't think so.
August 24, 2010 12:45:56 AM

2560 isn't still relevant. You can always turn down the resolution. You can't always turn it up.

Again on the prices. That was last night. Last time I checked, it's today. So again, completely irrelevant. If it's not available, you can't buy it for that price. I guarantee that it won't come back at that price. Also, I've been looking at the prices all day (starting at 8 AM), and have not seen it under the $270 (with rebate).

How are you getting better performance? The 5850 and 470 are roughly the same performance. The 5850 is cheaper (by a LOT). That makes it better for price or performance. I'm 100% confident that any source will back me up on that, especially once you consider the additional costs associated with the total build (bigger PSUs needed, additional cooling needed, etc.). I didn't even count that in the "real" cost of Fermi. It's another good $75+ for those.

I was just using an example using the most current data available, from 100% reliable sources (government surveys, GE's electricity calculator, math). You're getting extremely low electricity rates, while I went with what most people would be getting, seeing as the majority of the population lives on the coasts. Could I redo it with exact numbers? Yes, but I think I've proven my point just fine. No matter what your actual rate is, it's definitely more than you'd pay with an ATI card simply based on the fact that you're using more power.

The efficiency is fine, I was just using an example. It's still a good amount of power extra though.

I didn't say anything about the costs quadrupling. I believe (no time to look it up right now) that energy costs are going up by about 10% every year. Of course, I didn't use that number at all, so it doesn't matter. If I included that, you'd see an increase of about $18 over the cost I quoted over the life of the build. I'll say again that I didn't use that at all.

Frankly, I've presented a very logical breakdown of the real costs of owning a nVidia Fermi card. If you're still going to contend that they're cheaper, then you can just go back and bury your head in the sand. I fail to see you posting anything that's as logical or attempting to be neutral. I used fair averages whenever I could and fair assumptions the entire time. You can live in your delusional world if you want, but the rest of us live in reality.
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