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Budget graphic design build ~$500

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October 31, 2010 10:28:33 PM

Hi all. It's been a while since my last build, and I'm only somewhat familiar with building in terms of gaming requirements. This new build is geared towards graphic design (utilizing Adobe CS5) with no intent for serious gaming, so I need some help in prioritizing parts and trimming unneeded fat.

Here are the pertinent details:
Budget: ~$500
Uses: Graphic design (Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign), watching HD video, no gaming
Misc requirements: Smaller form factor, low power consumption, quiet

Here are the parts currently up for consideration:
CPU: AMD Athlon II X4 640 Propus 3.0GHz AM3 95W Quad-Core - $137.98 (combo w/ mobo)
Mobo: BIOSTAR A880G+ AM3 AMD 880G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
Memory: Mushkin Enhanced Silverline 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) - $124.99 (after rebate)
GPU: MSI R5570-MD1G Radeon HD 5570 1GB 128-bit GDDR3 - $69.99 (after rebate)
Case/PSU: HEC 6K28BBX585 Black 0.8mm SECC Steel MicroATX Mini Tower w/ 585W Power Supply - $56.99
HDD: SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s - $54.99 (after instant rebate)
Optical: LITE-ON Black Cache SATA CD/DVD Burner - $15.29 (after instant rebate)
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Total = $511.94 after tax/shipping/rebates

I think the biggest question I have is whether the Athlon II will work sufficiently, or if it's more worthwhile to step up to a Phenom II? The cheapest 95W Phenom II Quad is more expensive ($116) than the Athlon ($99.99 - $17 further from mobo combo) but rated at 2.6GHz. I know a Phenom will be faster than an Athlon at the same frequency, but how would they compare at these two different speeds and would that coupled with the L3 cache of the Phenom make a significant, practical difference that would warrant the increased price?

Also, the video card was added for OpenGL support in Adobe CS apps and to relieve additional stress on the cpu vs onboard graphics. However, since video editing is of no concern, I'm not sure when it becomes overkill for graphic design. Would there be a bigger benefit from opting for a lower card and beefing up another component?

All thoughts and comments are appreciated. Thanks! :) 
November 1, 2010 6:54:01 AM

I think the Athlon II will definitely be sufficient.
I don't think the 5570 is overkill for graphic design, but I suggest you get a GT 240 instead. They cost roughly the same (a few GT 240s can be found for ~$60 after rebates), and some CS5 plugins seem to benefit quite a bit from CUDA.
Keep an eye out for more combos, and good luck with the build.
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November 1, 2010 8:53:45 AM

Can you wait for a couple of days, they're resetting the combos at the start of each month and not many of them right now. You can go with the onboard video IMO.
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November 1, 2010 9:23:19 AM

Actually CS5 is far more multi core frenly than any other PS version and i am gonna suggest X6 + IGP
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