Photography Build - Trying not to be High-End

First, I'm new and technically challenged. That's why I decided to post.
I'm not building myself but configuring a custom build y various companies. I know this is long but was hoping someone could help me sort out the choices of hardware I've narrowed down to.

I'm sorting through multiple desktop configurations by custom builders and comparing to the mainstream pc's. I'm trying to get the best performance without spending $3000. I'm comfortable in a budget of $$2000 since I plan to purchase an IPS 24" Monitor which adds $500 to the cost. I could go higher a bit if it means a noticeable increase in performance. I don't want to go over $3000.

I would like to know if someone could review the key hardware and steer me in the right direction.
The system will be on the Windows 7 Home Premium OS/64bit.

Processor: i7-875K vs. i7-930 vs. i7-960

Chipset: P55 vs. X58

Motherboard: Intel DP55
Asus P7P55D-E Pro
Intel DX58SO

Power: 500w, 525w, 600w,750w

Video Card: Geforce GTS-250
Radeon HD5870
Radeon HD5770

I'm staying clear of SSD Hard Drives to keep cost down but have various dual options with 500GB each at 7200rpm, and 1TB/750GB, and 640GB/640GB. I hope that makes sense.
I think that is sufficient storage for image editing. I will not be doing video editing.

The only other main component is the memory.
One system gives me 12GB (3x4) and all the others 8GB (2x4)

I've selected the Dell Ultra Sharp 24" monitor at around $500. This is an ISP for wide angle and color accuracy. Not the best but all I can swing right now.

I'm not sure I can do this...but the best price offered are two companies and I don't know if I'm allowed to mention the names.
Company 1 has a low wattage of 500w for P55 motherboard.
Company 2 has 600w for X58.

How do I know if the power supply is sufficient for the components?

Another problem I'm finding difficult to discern. How do I avoid a noisy pc.
I have one now and it is driving me crazy.

If this is overkill for photo editing please let me know. I plan to do more with photo imaging than crop and auto correct.

One final word. I'm very cautious about buying from a boutique builder for fear that they will go out of business and I will lose warranty and support.
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  1. TiaMaria said:
    Processor: i7-875K vs. i7-930 vs. i7-960

    Chipset: P55 vs. X58


    Performance should be fairly similar across the board. They are very similar processors. The i7-960 is the best, but likely costs far more than the other two. You can look at this benchmark of Adobe Photoshop performance:

    http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/desktop-cpu-charts-2010/Image-Processing-Adobe-Photoshop-CS-5,Marque_fbrandx14,2426.html

    http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/desktop-cpu-charts-2010/Image-Rendering-3DS-Max-2010,Marque_fbrandx14,2420.html

    TiaMaria said:
    Motherboard: Intel DP55
    Asus P7P55D-E Pro
    Intel DX58SO

    I would choose the Asus P7P55D-E Pro build over the other two because it has onboard USB 3.0 and SATA III. In the future having USB 3.0 could really speed up file transfers. SATA III would improve performance if you added a SSD later. Honestly, they should be selling you a more recent, better featured motherboards than the DP55, DX58SO.

    TiaMaria said:
    Power: 500w, 525w, 600w,750w

    The power output won't really make a difference. I would definitely look for a higher efficiency 80 Plus certified power supply (preferably bronze or silver). Higher efficiency is also a sign of a higher quality power supply.

    TiaMaria said:
    Video Card: Geforce GTS-250
    Radeon HD5870
    Radeon HD5770

    Again, this won't make much of a difference for image editing. The HD5770 and HD5870 are more recent graphics cards. The GTS-250 is old and inefficient. The HD5770 is the most practical choice; it is powerful enough and much more economical than the other two cards. The HD 5870 would simply be overkill.

    If you want to connect more than two monitors, you will have to use one of the Radeon Hd 5000 series cards like the HD5770, HD 5870. There are some special requirements for doing this even on these cards.

    TiaMaria said:
    The only other main component is the memory.
    One system gives me 12GB (3x4) and all the others 8GB (2x4)

    The i7-930 and i7-960 builds should both give you ram sticks and capacities in multiples of 3. If they don't, the builder doesn't know what he's doing. You may see some benefit from the extra ram, but weigh the extra cost just like for everything else.

    TiaMaria said:
    I'm not sure I can do this...but the best price offered are two companies and I don't know if I'm allowed to mention the names.
    Company 1 has a low wattage of 500w for P55 motherboard.
    Company 2 has 600w for X58.

    How do I know if the power supply is sufficient for the components?

    The power supply you need is mostly dependent upon the graphics card you have. You can use this chart to determine the power draw of a graphics card (note that these numbers are for the power consumption of the complete system):

    http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/2010-gaming-graphics-charts-high-quality/3D-Power-Draw,2403.html

    TiaMaria said:
    Another problem I'm finding difficult to discern. How do I avoid a noisy pc.
    I have one now and it is driving me crazy.

    A well built case will help isolate computer noise. An aftermarket CPU cooler helps. Graphics cards are often the noisiest component of a computer. Look for a graphics card with a custom/non-reference cooling system. You can also compare the noise emitted by graphics cards with reference designs using this chart:

    http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/2010-gaming-graphics-charts-high-quality/2D-Noise,2404.html

    TiaMaria said:
    If this is overkill for photo editing please let me know. I plan to do more with photo imaging than crop and auto correct.

    I certainly think some of the graphics cards are overkill. 12GB of ram is probably overkill. The i7-960 is overpriced, and not that much better than the other two processors.

    TiaMaria said:
    One final word. I'm very cautious about buying from a boutique builder for fear that they will go out of business and I will lose warranty and support.

    Most of the components of your computer will come with individual manufacturer's warranties (as long as they are brand name). Worry about the loss of support maybe more than the loss of the warranty.
  2. How nice of you to reply with such detail!

    Your comments are remarkable to me. I guess because all this tech stuff is so new to me.

    I really didn't understand the Adobe Photoshop chart. What do they mean by minutes and are lower scores better?

    I'm also surprised to hear that the motherboards aren't recent. I'll have to learn what a "better featured" board is.

    Again thank you. I really didn't expect anyone to bother with my questions.

    TM
  3. TiaMaria said:
    I really didn't understand the Adobe Photoshop chart. What do they mean by minutes and are lower scores better?

    It's a standardized benchmark. It cycles through a number of common operations in photoshop automatically. A lower score is better because it means there is less delay in and between the operations as they are performed.

    TiaMaria said:
    I'm also surprised to hear that the motherboards aren't recent. I'll have to learn what a "better featured" board is.

    There were two big new features introduced this year: USB 3.0 and SATA III.

    USB 3.0 is the new standard for USB; it has a transfer rate 10x higher than its predecessor. It is still working its way into external hard drives, flash memory sticks, and other devices, but it should eventually be just as ubiquitous as USB 2.0 is today in everything from Wifi adapters to Cell phones to Digital Cameras and flash card readers.

    SATA III or SATA 6Gb/s is the natural replacement for SATA II, 3Gb/s. SATA is the modern interface used to connect hard drives and optical disc drives (CD, DVD, Blu-Ray). Standard hard drives and optical drives cannot read data quickly enough to benefit from the increased throughput of SATA III, but SSDs can. There are only a couple SATA III SSDs on the market now but in the future the standard will be ubiquitous.

    Technology moves very fast. Just a few months ago these features were unique. Now they are standard on just about every new motherboard. With the amount of money you are spending I wouldn't settle for a motherboard without them.

    TiaMaria said:
    Again thank you. I really didn't expect anyone to bother with my questions.

    TM

    It's really no problem.
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