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Custom Desktop Build - Need Guidance

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  • Desktops
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Last response: in Systems
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June 6, 2011 12:44:52 AM

Okay, so please forgive me for the general nature of this query.

I want to build a new desktop since my laptop is leaving something to be desired, and with the advent of Dropbox, I think I could have more than one computer, so it's desktop time. Cheaper and faster, right?

My needs:
Windows 7
Run Photoshop (CS3, may upgrade someday)
Ability to multitask well (Turbolister, browser, Office stuff, other random stuff, nothing really complex)
I watch videos pretty constantly, and want to be able to do that without event
I do not have any intention to play any video games, so I don't need to spend any money to make my computer capable for that sort of thing.

I can build a computer myself from components, I just don't know which components to pick, and I know you all are going to have some wonderful guidance on what'd be best for me.

So as I figure it, I'll need a MoBo, RAM, CPU, Power, Video Card, Case, HD, and some sort of DVD drive. I would also like to be able to plug my CF card into my computer and have it upload photos as fast as possible. I have a 1394 external card reader, but is there a way to make an internal card reader faster?

I am totally open to RAID, but I don't know if it's necessary in my application since I'll be backing up this computer regularly, and I don't know how much I'll gain by having RAID for photoshop. I store photos on an external after I'm done working on them. At the least though I would like a fast HD with some better-than-average connectivity, though I don't know what's the best balance between speed and price for connecting a HD.

I won't be using the DVD drive much at all, so its connectivity doesn't need to be above average.

I am pretty sure that my RAM needs to be excellent for using Photoshop since I freaking hate waiting for that program, and that's an area that doesn't seem clear to me these days. Do I want it matched, how much do I want, etc.? Also worth nothing is the limited support of RAM with Win7 - should I go 64 bit? What kind of software limitations might I run into with a 64 bit OS?

The video card can be digital or analog - whatever will be better, if there is a "better" between the two. My monitor does both.

Sound does not need to be fancy, but I do have some decent speakers hooked up, so basically not high end, but not crap.

I really cant' think of anything else, but I'm sure I'm missing stuff, so let me know what it is, and what you think.

The ultimate directive is that I'd like to balance cost with performance. I have little idea how much this'll cost, but I was going to spend ~$2500-3000 on a laptop, so extrapolate that into desktop prices (hopefully not more than half since desktops are cheaper, and I don't need all the peripherals that are necessarily built into a laptop). And if it's possible, it'd be nice to have the option to upgrade in a year and get significantly improved performance (like maybe just a CPU?).

Thanks in advance!!

Oh, and if you impress me, I might even give you some money for a really well-drafted proposal :) 

More about : custom desktop build guidance

June 6, 2011 3:18:28 AM

This topic has been moved from the section Opinions and Experiences to section Systems by Buwish
June 6, 2011 4:56:31 AM

This was really all you needed to fill out but I think you covered most of it. http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/261222-31-build-advic... Except, will you overclock? And I think it would be helpful if I knew what stuff you did in photoshop because this build uses the intregrated hd 3000 which is enough for photoshop but might not handle huge 11x17 300dpi print stuff. However I did put a psu powerful enough to handle some good cards just in case. The mobo didn't have 1394 so I inlcuded an internal card reader, I don't know if it'll be faster than an external.

You should have no problems running 32 bit programs on a 64 bit os.

  • LITE-ON CD/DVD Burner - Bulk Black SATA Model iHAS124-04 - OEM
  • Rosewill CHALLENGER Black Gaming ATX Mid Tower Computer Case, comes with Three Fans-1x Front Blue LED 120mm Fan, 1x Top 140mm ...
  • SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
  • Antec BP550 Plus 550W Continuous Power ATX12V V2.2 80 PLUS Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply
  • Rosewill RCR-IC002 74-in-1 USB 2.0 3.5" Internal Card Reader w/ USB port / Extra silver face plate
  • G.SKILL Sniper 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-8GBSR
  • ASRock Z68 PRO3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
  • Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit English 1-Pack - OEM
  • Intel 510 Series (Elm Crest) SSDSC2MH120A2K5 2.5" 120GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)
  • Intel Core i7-2600K Sandy Bridge 3.4GHz (3.8GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor BX80623I72600K
  • XIGMATEK Gaia SD1283 120mm Long Life Bearing CPU Cooler bracket included I7 i5 775 1155 AMD and dual fan push pull compatible
    TOTAL: $1,120.62 Shipping Included. Before MIR.
    Related resources
    June 6, 2011 6:26:16 AM

    k1114 said:
    This was really all you needed to fill out but I think you covered most of it. http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/261222-31-build-advic... Except, will you overclock? And I think it would be helpful if I knew what stuff you did in photoshop because this build uses the intregrated hd 3000 which is enough for photoshop but might not handle huge 11x17 300dpi print stuff. However I did put a psu powerful enough to handle some good cards just in case. The mobo didn't have 1394 so I inlcuded an internal card reader, I don't know if it'll be faster than an external.

    You should have no problems running 32 bit programs on a 64 bit os.

  • LITE-ON CD/DVD Burner - Bulk Black SATA Model iHAS124-04 - OEM
  • Rosewill CHALLENGER Black Gaming ATX Mid Tower Computer Case, comes with Three Fans-1x Front Blue LED 120mm Fan, 1x Top 140mm ...
  • SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
  • Antec BP550 Plus 550W Continuous Power ATX12V V2.2 80 PLUS Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply
  • Rosewill RCR-IC002 74-in-1 USB 2.0 3.5" Internal Card Reader w/ USB port / Extra silver face plate
  • G.SKILL Sniper 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-8GBSR
  • ASRock Z68 PRO3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
  • Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit English 1-Pack - OEM
  • Intel 510 Series (Elm Crest) SSDSC2MH120A2K5 2.5" 120GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)
  • Intel Core i7-2600K Sandy Bridge 3.4GHz (3.8GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor BX80623I72600K
  • XIGMATEK Gaia SD1283 120mm Long Life Bearing CPU Cooler bracket included I7 i5 775 1155 AMD and dual fan push pull compatible
    TOTAL: $1,120.62 Shipping Included. Before MIR.


  • I am not really printing anything, but I want this computer to last me a while (2 years of fast processing, hopefully). What would you do to improve the performance of the computer in that aspect? Is this a processor thing, or a RAM thing? Generally I turn raw photos into jpegs for online viewing, but I will also work in great detail on certain raw shots for my own benefit (many layers). And I hate to admit it, but I don't know what HD3000 is - is that the name for the built in video card?
    Also, I'm assuming that the SSD is where I'm supposed to keep my photos while editing, and them move them after I'm done?
    Should I be running more RAM since I can? Would it be better to get it now, or in a year when I'm slightly frustrated?
    I am not planning on overclocking due to the inherent risk of overclocking. While I will have 2 machines, I REALLY like reliability. I don't have time to deal with a computer that's down.
    Oh, and is this SSD setup faster than a RAID setup? Equal reliability? Price? I've never done RAID - is setting it up difficult?
    June 6, 2011 5:39:18 PM

    The mobo has 4 ram slots and I included 2 sticks, 4gb each. This should be plenty for now but in the future, you can add 2 more sticks. The cpu is the newest socket and the new cpus that come out next year are supposed to be compatible with them if you want to upgrade that. The hd 3000 is the name of the integrated graphics and photos do count as print and are very large res. I'll test it on my rig to see if the hd 3000 can handle photos (although I have cs5 which shouldn't make much difference).

    The ssd will make reading/writing files much faster which really means everything you do will feel much more responsive. Photos don't take long to load but you could see if it loads faster on ssd or hdd. Photoshop will start up much faster with it installed on the ssd. The ssd is faster and would probably be more reliable than a raid since if 1 hdd in the raid dies, it's all gone. I picked an intel ssd because they are known for reliability.

    Overclocking really doesn't have any risks when done right and is really easy to do with this cpu. The cpu actually overclocks itself which is what the turbo boost is. But I think the stock speed would be fine for your uses. However, if you wanted to, all you would have to do is change the mulitplier to the speed you wanted; change it to 42 to get 4.2ghz which would be a pretty good speed without affecting stability at all.

    As for later upgrades, I'm sure this will handle everything you do for more than 2 years. But this work seems to be more of ssd speed to read the many files you load, and cpu and ram for working and having many layers. The gpu would only be for redrawing the image (any change you make would need to refresh the image on screen which is what redrawing is).
    June 6, 2011 6:17:30 PM

    I just went to buy the whole kit, and they're out of the MoBo. Ideas?
    Also, what's MIR?
    And is there anything special I need to do in the BIOS to enable the dual channel memory?
    Oh, and do I need cables, or do the internal drives all come with appropriate cables?
    June 6, 2011 8:42:10 PM

    The micro atx version is still available if you don't mind a smaller mobo. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    MIR = mail in rebate

    As long as you put the ram in the right slots it'll be in dual channel and the bios will even say it's in dual channel.

    It should have all the cables you need.

    By the way, I tested the hd 3000 on a 11x17 300dpi and didn't have any troubles.
    June 7, 2011 6:23:25 AM

    I just ordered everything you suggested, but I got a Gigabyte MoBo instead:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
    Unfortunately it was more, but I wanted a standard FF MoBo, and that board looks good.
    I can't wait to get it working. I'll post up when I have it built since I'll probably have questions ;) 
    !