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Advice for Photoshop Digital Darkroom Build

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February 12, 2011 4:40:20 AM

Approximate Purchase Date: 02/18/2011

Budget Range: $1500 - $1700

System Use: As a digital darkroom processing still photo images (RAW 14-bit) 4,256 x 2,832 pixels.
Batch processing images and multi-tasking in the darkroom applications. Software includes Photoshop CS5, Lightroom 3, Nikon Capture NX2, Photomatix (HDR photo processing). Additional software included DVD burning and Microsoft Office 2007. No video editing planned at this time and any future video editing would not be a significant use of the system. The only games would be solitaire or similar. At the present time I don’t watch video on the PC but that could be possible in the future on a very limited use.

Parts Not Required: LCD Monitor Dell U2410 @ 1920 x 1200 (already have)

Preferred Website for Parts: NewEgg, Amazon

Country of Origin: USA Texas

Parts Preferences: Intel CPU, open on others.

Overclocking: Possibly a bit as long as it doesn’t jeopardize system stability.

SLI or Crossfire: Not at the present

Monitor Resolution: 1920 x 1200 – Dell U2410 LCD

Additional Comments:

This is my first build (finally have time to do this) and I need to know if I have everything I need for a system with both stability and performance. Current system is an aging Dell Dimension 8250 P4.

One area I really need help with is selection of a video card. I think I have a good choice for my needs but not sure. I opted for a GTX 460 (listed below). However, at the end of the list I have included two other cards for consideration. Not sure which of these would be best for the system.

Looking for system stability, reliability, and performance. I am attempting to put together a system that will be usable for several years.

I use external drives (eSata/USB) for both storage and backing up photo images and data. So, an eSATA and USB port on the front of the case is beneficial.

Thanks in advance for any comments, suggestions, etc. you can provide. I would like to get a shopping list finalized within a week or two.

Parts I’m looking at for my build (items from NewEgg):

CPU: Intel Core i7-950 3.06GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor

MOBO: ASUS Sabertooth X58 ATX Intel Motherboard

RAM: Patriot Viper II Sector 7 Edition 12GB (3 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory PV7312G1600LLK

HDD1 (OS/Programs:
Western Digital Caviar Black 500GB 3.5" SATA 6.0Gb/s Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

HDD2 (Scratch/Cache):
Western Digital Caviar Black 500GB 3.5" SATA 6.0Gb/s Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

HDD3 (Data/Darkroom):
Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB 3.5" SATA 6.0Gb/s Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

Case: COOLER MASTER HAF 932 RC-932-KKN1-GP Black Computer Case With Side Panel Window

PSU: CORSAIR Professional Series AX750 750W Power Supply

OS: Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders

CPU Cooler: CORSAIR CWCH50-1 High Performance CPU Cooler

Video: EVGA GeForce GTX 460 (Fermi) FPB EE 01G-P3-1371-AR Video Card

DVD: ASUS 24X DVD Burner - Bulk Black SATA Model DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS

Video Card Alternatives:
EVGA 01G-P3-1373-AR GeForce GTX 460 (Fermi) Superclocked EE 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card

EVGA 01G-P3-1372-TR GeForce GTX 460 (Fermi) Superclocked 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card
February 12, 2011 6:15:50 AM

Not sure why you would need a 460 for your needs.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $98.99 - $68.99 after mail-in rebate
XFX P1-650X-CAH9 650W ATX12V v2.2 / ESP12V v2.91 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $129.99 - $109.99 after mail-in rebate card FREE SHIPPING
ASUS ENGTS450 DC OC/DI/1GD5 GeForce GTS 450 (Fermi) 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite... Combo Price: $474.99
Intel Core i7-950 Bloomfield 3.06GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor BX80601950
ASUS Sabertooth X58 LGA 1366 Intel X58 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

Best solution

February 12, 2011 3:29:35 PM
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Case / PSU - Based upon what you said, the DF-85 appears to be the case for you. Forget the provided e-SATA port, it provides a hot swappable 2.5" drive bay allowing you to pop the drive outta ya shirt pocket and into your PC w/o a thought. The 932 has been replaced by the HAF-X and while the X has many features comparable to the DF-85, it comes up short in this and a few other areas. The CP-850 PSu is well more than you need, but at $120 its at the same price level as equivalent quality 650 watters. The CP-850 scores a 10.0 rating at joinnyguru.com as wella s an Editor's Choice award from silentpcreview.com as one of the highest scoring and the quietest PSU's they have ever tested. The pair is also $20 cheaper than your selections. If ya must have the 932, I'd put an XFX Black Edition in there ... $100 for the 750 watter, and $110 for the 850, they are every bit the equal of the more expensive Corsair HX and AX series.

MoBO / CPU - get them in the combo and save $15

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

RAM - CAS 8 Memory for that price is a bit disappointing. The tall heatsinks are there for looks .... today's memory modules don't need these things but they have been retained because they "sell". THG has found instances where they actually make RAM run hotter. Unless ya thinking ya might wanna go to 24 GB at some point, I'd put in 2 sets of CAS 6 DDR3-1600 for the same $180

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

Storage - Your MoBo only has 2 SATA III ports but ya have 3 SATA III devices connecting to it . Many will tell you that without RAID, you will see no benefit from SATA III as the mechanical drive can't go that fast; but the fact is their caches can and much of what you are doing will take place in the cache. However I think you'd be much better served by an SSD for OS, programs and scratch....

60 GB SSD w/ OS and Programs
60 GB SSD w/ Scratch disk

or

120 GB with OS, programs and Scratch

Of the big 3 SATA II 1TB drives, they finish as follows in tyhe Windows Photo Gallery Import test

http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/2009-3.5-desktop-har...

Seagate 7200.12 - 57.40
WD Black 53 - 53.80
Spinpoint F3 - 35.30

Cooler - Normally I'd try to talk you out of th "faux water cooling thing" from Corsair. But a new arrival on the scene is softening my position. Until now, none of these things could compete w/ the better water coolers. Now that has changed with the arrival of the Antec Kuhler 620 which, though both are made by the same company (Asetek) for Corsair / Antec, the Kuhler toasts the H50 . The Antec beats it by 7.2 degrees using the stock fans and by 9.4 degrees when both using the same Delta fan. That's a whopping 10 and 11 % trouncing in an industry where tenths of a degree normally sepaarte the winners from the also rans. BMR writes:

Quote:
But what I do know are the performance figures I got in my testing, which place the Kühler solidly in the lead of all other all-in-one water coolers that I've tested. Frankly its performance is almost unbelievably good: its stock-fan performance is 7.2 degrees cooler than Corsair H50, whose radiator appears to be identical. With the high-speed Delta fan on both coolers, the performance gap widens to 9.4 degrees.

Priced to compete with high-end air coolers, the Kühler offers similar performance and a lower noise level. It's the first compact liquid cooler I've tested that can honestly be considered as competition for the likes of the Cooler Master V6 GT, Prolimatech Megahalems, and Thermalright Venomous X.
Antec Kühler Conclusion

Installing the Kühler is easier than most other compact liquid coolers due to the flexibility and length of its soft rubber hoses....
The performance of the Antec Kühler H20 620 was excellent, exceeding that of every other water cooler I've tested and encroaching on the performance range of the very best air coolers. .....The Antec Kühler H2O 620 is the best-performing water cooler I've tested, and that's why it gets a Golden Tachometer award.


GFX - Both ATI and nVidia offer compelling entries unless your into PhysX, 3D photos or CUDA, the last 2 of which *may* be of interest to you

http://www.nvidia.com/object/physx_new.html
http://www.nvidia.com/object/3d-vision-3d-pictures.html
http://www.nvidia.com/object/cuda_videos.html

I build a lot of CAD boxes for my office and my thinking is, what's the sense of having all this high end hardware around if I can't have fun w/ it now and then. The cases you and I chose can easily handle 3 cards, the MoBo does 2 at full x16 x 16 mode meaning even the new 590 or whatever nVidia calls it won't be limited in any way. The PSU can handle everything up to twin 570's. So at this point it's a budgetary decision.

@ $350 ya can get a 570, $20 more gets ya a 6970 - Summing up the two cards performance in a variety of games, Guru3D had then just 2 fps apart with single cards installed. In SLI / CF, the 570 won out by a score of 873 to 825.

@ $250 ya can get a 560 Ti or 6870 for $25-30 less - Here again the results are very close with a 444 to 434 fps win for the 560 as a single card and 792 to 701 in SLI / CF

@155 there's the 460 GTX and the 6850 for $5 more - Here ATI does quite a bit better scoring a 371 to 344 win w/ a single card but losing 650 to 634 in SLI/CF

Again, if it's me .... I wanna have some fun w/ all that hot hardware come "punch out" time, I'd go with the 560 Ti

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Related resources
February 13, 2011 3:05:35 PM

Why_Me said:
Not sure why you would need a 460 for your needs.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $98.99 - $68.99 after mail-in rebate
XFX P1-650X-CAH9 650W ATX12V v2.2 / ESP12V v2.91 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $129.99 - $109.99 after mail-in rebate card FREE SHIPPING
ASUS ENGTS450 DC OC/DI/1GD5 GeForce GTS 450 (Fermi) 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite... Combo Price: $474.99
Intel Core i7-950 Bloomfield 3.06GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor BX80601950
ASUS Sabertooth X58 LGA 1366 Intel X58 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

I hadn't considered the GTX 450 video card but after checking it out it looks like it would satisfy my immediate needs.

I will definitely consider the PSU you recommend. I just want to be sure that 650W will be sufficient for both current and future needs.
February 13, 2011 11:39:42 PM

Quote:
Case / PSU - Based upon what you said, the DF-85 appears to be the case for you. Forget the provided e-SATA port, it provides a hot swappable 2.5" drive bay allowing you to pop the drive outta ya shirt pocket and into your PC w/o a thought. The 932 has been replaced by the HAF-X and while the X has many features comparable to the DF-85, it comes up short in this and a few other areas. The CP-850 PSu is well more than you need, but at $120 its at the same price level as equivalent quality 650 watters. The CP-850 scores a 10.0 rating at joinnyguru.com as wella s an Editor's Choice award from silentpcreview.com as one of the highest scoring and the quietest PSU's they have ever tested. The pair is also $20 cheaper than your selections. If ya must have the 932, I'd put an XFX Black Edition in there ... $100 for the 750 watter, and $110 for the 850, they are every bit the equal of the more expensive Corsair HX and AX series.
I had considered the DF-85 but my existing external drives are 3.5" SATA in a eSATA/USB enclosure and a hard drive dock so I don't need the hot swappable for a 2.5" drive. I was also considering the Corsair 600T case but it lacks the front eSATA. Not that no front eSATA is a deal breaker, simply a matter of convenience.
On the PSU, I considered the CP-850 and while it is probably more than I currently need that could change. I definitely like the modular PSUs for cable management.

Quote:
MoBO / CPU - get them in the combo and save $15
Thanks for the info on this one I will check it out.

Quote:
RAM - CAS 8 Memory for that price is a bit disappointing. The tall heatsinks are there for looks .... today's memory modules don't need these things but they have been retained because they "sell". THG has found instances where they actually make RAM run hotter. Unless ya thinking ya might wanna go to 24 GB at some point, I'd put in 2 sets of CAS 6 DDR3-1600 for the same $180

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
or
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
I had looked at Mushkin memory and still think it would work for me. I was looking at 12GB (3 x 4GB) to leave room for adding more in the future.

Quote:
Storage - Your MoBo only has 2 SATA III ports but ya have 3 SATA III devices connecting to it . Many will tell you that without RAID, you will see no benefit from SATA III as the mechanical drive can't go that fast; but the fact is their caches can and much of what you are doing will take place in the cache. However I think you'd be much better served by an SSD for OS, programs and scratch.
Thanks for the SSD suggestion. I will take a look at those.

Quote:
Cooler - Normally I'd try to talk you out of th "faux water cooling thing" from Corsair. But a new arrival on the scene is softening my position. Until now, none of these things could compete w/ the better water coolers. Now that has changed with the arrival of the Antec Kuhler 620 which, though both are made by the same company (Asetek) for Corsair / Antec, the Kuhler toasts the H50 . The Antec beats it by 7.2 degrees using the stock fans and by 9.4 degrees when both using the same Delta fan. That's a whopping 10 and 11 % trouncing in an industry where tenths of a degree normally sepaarte the winners from the also rans. BMR writes:

But what I do know are the performance figures I got in my testing, which place the Kühler solidly in the lead of all other all-in-one water coolers that I've tested. Frankly its performance is almost unbelievably good: its stock-fan performance is 7.2 degrees cooler than Corsair H50, whose radiator appears to be identical. With the high-speed Delta fan on both coolers, the performance gap widens to 9.4 degrees.

Priced to compete with high-end air coolers, the Kühler offers similar performance and a lower noise level. It's the first compact liquid cooler I've tested that can honestly be considered as competition for the likes of the Cooler Master V6 GT, Prolimatech Megahalems, and Thermalright Venomous X.
Antec Kühler Conclusion

Installing the Kühler is easier than most other compact liquid coolers due to the flexibility and length of its soft rubber hoses....
The performance of the Antec Kühler H20 620 was excellent, exceeding that of every other water cooler I've tested and encroaching on the performance range of the very best air coolers. .....The Antec Kühler H2O 620 is the best-performing water cooler I've tested, and that's why it gets a Golden Tachometer award.
I appreciate your suggestion on the Kühler H2O 620. Sounds like a better solution.
I am debating between a GTX 460 and a GTS 450. I'm won't be doing any game playing but want to ensure I have plenty of graphics power for Photoshop. I work on numerous and large images.

Thanks for your suggestions.
February 24, 2011 1:22:04 AM

Best answer selected by tabbott43.
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