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Building productivity system

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December 2, 2011 3:54:26 AM

Hello all,

So as the name suggests, I'm looking to build a "productive" system for my wife. By "productive", I mean she runs a small business which requires her to use the CS5 suite (Photoshop, Indesign, Illustrator, Lightroom, and Dreamweaver) all extensively.

I'm not going to tell you what she's using right now because it is downright shameful, but she finally came to her senses and is allowing me to start looking for parts. My experience in building rigs has always been tailored more towards gaming and so now that I have to shift gears, I have more questions than answers at this point.

So, using the sticky here is what I'm looking for:

Approximate Purchase Date: within a month's time.

Budget Range: as low as feasible, preferably <$500 USD (with the understanding that this might not be the most effective range for performance/cost ratio)

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Primary programs she would use: Photoshop, Indesign, Illustrator, Lightroom, and Dreamweaver

Parts Not Required: keyboard, mouse, speakers, monitor, case, possibly hard disk (is currently using a Samsung HD642JJ 640GB 7200),

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg

Country: USA

Parts Preferences: Looking for a processor, RAM (both amount and speed), motherboard, PSU.

Overclocking: Yes/Maybe

SLI or Crossfire: No

Monitor Resolution: Single monitor @1920x1080

Additional Comments: As mentioned, looking for a "productive" setup. She is currently running a 8800GT but I have a spare 4890 I was planning on using for her. My question is would she benefit from the gfx upgrade for the programs she uses? I know that her photoshop projects get quite large and complex but not sure if the 4890 would be overkill since she's not doing a whole lot of 3D rendering? Though the extra VRAM and speeds would most likely help, if the benefit of the 4890 over the 8800GT wouldn't be quite necessary, I could sell it and use the money towards other parts.

So yeah, there is/are my question(s). To sum it all up, I'm looking for the cheapest recommendation for a processor, RAM, mobo, PSU, , if the current Samsung 7200rpm 640GB, is sufficient, and which of the two, the 4890 or 8800GT, would best serve her needs and our financial situation.

To give you an idea of what I found/was thinking, I looked at a Core i3-2120, a H61 full ATX mobo, 8GBs DDR-1333, and a rosewill 630w 50A-12v PSU all for <$300 w/shipping. Thank you all for taking the time to read this and for any suggestions/comments/criticisms!

Nik

Best solution

a c 78 B Homebuilt system
December 2, 2011 5:11:23 PM

There are only two good reasons to get a full ATX motherboard.

1) She needs more than 1 video card.
2) She needs more than 2 RAM sticks.

I don't see #1 happening. #2 is on the table, but I just don't think she will need more than 2 RAM sticks. 2x 4GBs is a lot of RAM. Heavily graphics intensive things DO tend to have high requirements, but if you are on a budget you can get by with 8. 1333 RAM is good enough for her and easier to configure than higher numbers. I wouldn't go higher or lower than this speed.

That means you should be looking at Micro ATX, which will save you tons of money.

As for video cards, productivity computers tend to have fanless video cards like the HD 5450 fanless card. She probably won't have speakers on blasting her with 3d sound while she is using the PC doing design work and video card fans have the potential to be extremely loud.

I have a 4870 card and my wife absolutely hates to even have me turn my computer on. A lot of times it is quiet, but at certain fan speeds it causes the entire card to vibrate and makes the loudness of the computer rise by a factor of 10 and making it extremely difficult to ignore. A 4890 is quite similar to my 4870 as I am sure you can attest.

For her to maximally concentrate on being productive, you should spend extra money to get a video card with no fan. Even a low end card is good enough like a 5450 or a 5770.

PSU - Rosewill is a brand tolerated when it is free with a case more than suggested for new builds. I would rather see you get a good Antec EarthWatts 430w than a Rosewill 630w. It is fine with a fanless low power video card like the ones I mentioned before.

The exact motherboard really doesn't matter, but I would make it a micro board as I mentioned before, preferably from Asus or Gigabyte. Those are the brands that get thrown around here most often in my experience because people trust them.

The hard drive is probably fine for her. 640 GBs is a lot. If it isn't later than you can watch for cheap "shell shocker" deals from websites after a year or so when she starts to fill up the 640 and when prices have come down a lot from their current high due to flood damage to factories levels.

Lastly, the processor.

Anandtech

http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/187?vs=288

has an application that allows you to suggest any processor out of most of the available ones and shows how they perform in comparison to each other for a number of different benchmark types.

One of those is for Photoshop CS4 Retouch Artists. This metric directly relates to what she is going to be doing so you will want to look at it when comparing. Try a bunch of different processors, AMD processors too.

AMD processors are priced to give more bang for your buck which is the market you are in. Intel processors give more bang in general, but generally less bang for your buck. Look at deals on various websites and see what you find available for cheap and then do some comparisons on Anandtech and figure out what is going to give you the best performance for the money on the metrics that most closely resemble what she will be doing (like the CS4 one).

I favor a simple calculation. Just take the values that Anandtech has things benchmarked at and divide by the price of the processor. This works for anything where higher is better. If it is a benchmark where lower is better then instead do benchmark x price and the lower the better.

That should all help you get her pretty well setup.
Share
December 2, 2011 10:15:21 PM

Man, that is quite a response, thank you very much! I enjoyed reading every word and now have a lot to think about, thats for sure!

So here is what I'm thinking:

Core i5 2400 - $189.99
G.SKill 8GB DDR3-1600 - $29.99
Gigabyte H61 GA-H61M-DS2 MicroATX - $54.99
Total with shipping: $281.74.

And after your advice and looking through anandtech's benchmark suites, I think that is going to be awesome. Thank you again for your response, I really appreciate it!


Raiddinn said:
There are only two good reasons to get a full ATX motherboard.

1) She needs more than 1 video card.
2) She needs more than 2 RAM sticks.

I don't see #1 happening. #2 is on the table, but I just don't think she will need more than 2 RAM sticks. 2x 4GBs is a lot of RAM. Heavily graphics intensive things DO tend to have high requirements, but if you are on a budget you can get by with 8. 1333 RAM is good enough for her and easier to configure than higher numbers. I wouldn't go higher or lower than this speed.

That means you should be looking at Micro ATX, which will save you tons of money.

As for video cards, productivity computers tend to have fanless video cards like the HD 5450 fanless card. She probably won't have speakers on blasting her with 3d sound while she is using the PC doing design work and video card fans have the potential to be extremely loud.

I have a 4870 card and my wife absolutely hates to even have me turn my computer on. A lot of times it is quiet, but at certain fan speeds it causes the entire card to vibrate and makes the loudness of the computer rise by a factor of 10 and making it extremely difficult to ignore. A 4890 is quite similar to my 4870 as I am sure you can attest.

For her to maximally concentrate on being productive, you should spend extra money to get a video card with no fan. Even a low end card is good enough like a 5450 or a 5770.

PSU - Rosewill is a brand tolerated when it is free with a case more than suggested for new builds. I would rather see you get a good Antec EarthWatts 430w than a Rosewill 630w. It is fine with a fanless low power video card like the ones I mentioned before.

The exact motherboard really doesn't matter, but I would make it a micro board as I mentioned before, preferably from Asus or Gigabyte. Those are the brands that get thrown around here most often in my experience because people trust them.

The hard drive is probably fine for her. 640 GBs is a lot. If it isn't later than you can watch for cheap "shell shocker" deals from websites after a year or so when she starts to fill up the 640 and when prices have come down a lot from their current high due to flood damage to factories levels.

Lastly, the processor.

Anandtech

http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/187?vs=288

has an application that allows you to suggest any processor out of most of the available ones and shows how they perform in comparison to each other for a number of different benchmark types.

One of those is for Photoshop CS4 Retouch Artists. This metric directly relates to what she is going to be doing so you will want to look at it when comparing. Try a bunch of different processors, AMD processors too.

AMD processors are priced to give more bang for your buck which is the market you are in. Intel processors give more bang in general, but generally less bang for your buck. Look at deals on various websites and see what you find available for cheap and then do some comparisons on Anandtech and figure out what is going to give you the best performance for the money on the metrics that most closely resemble what she will be doing (like the CS4 one).

I favor a simple calculation. Just take the values that Anandtech has things benchmarked at and divide by the price of the processor. This works for anything where higher is better. If it is a benchmark where lower is better then instead do benchmark x price and the lower the better.

That should all help you get her pretty well setup.

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a c 78 B Homebuilt system
December 3, 2011 2:38:06 AM

NP, glad to assist.

I just wanted to point out two things as final notes unless you have more questions:

1) You have 1600 RAM listed and I suggested 1333. In my experience, more people have configuration problems with 1600 than with 1333. It may cost YOU time trying to sort out a problem like this if one does occur, and your time is her money.

As an aside here, the RAM section of our boards does NOT see a lot of traffic. Many people's questions go completely unanswered for long periods of time. Many of the ones with responses are people trying to bump their own topics.

Just telling you now if you DO have a configuration problem with 1600, it make take quite some time to get us to help you fix it. Again, your time is her money.

My wife works from home on her computer and she won't agree to any upgrade if she thinks it will cause her to lose productive time. Your wife may or may not be the same way, depending on her workload. People that work from home tend to have pretty strict deadlines in my experience and they have a lot of stress in my experience when things break with deadlines looming.

Anyway, my advice is just to stick with 1333, so the chances are maximal that it works right the first time with no configuration issues.

#2 ) Feel free to mark me as best answer if you appreciate the assistance, I get quite a lot of status points for having a lot of best answers. I am not too far from the next level. It may be valueless in the overall scheme of things, but it is a small goal for me.
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December 3, 2011 4:55:33 AM

Hey, thank you again for all of your help. I did switch out the RAM for 1333 vs the previously selected 1600 because like you said, time is money for an at-home business. And I am definitely going to select your answer as the best, no worries there. Goals are good.

Also, I had one last quick question. Looking through PSUs, I realized I dont need necessarily strong one, and this caught my eye:

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

You think this should be sufficient to power the aforementioned parts as well as a 8800GT if we dont go with a fanless card?




Raiddinn said:
NP, glad to assist.

I just wanted to point out two things as final notes unless you have more questions:

1) You have 1600 RAM listed and I suggested 1333. In my experience, more people have configuration problems with 1600 than with 1333. It may cost YOU time trying to sort out a problem like this if one does occur, and your time is her money.

As an aside here, the RAM section of our boards does NOT see a lot of traffic. Many people's questions go completely unanswered for long periods of time. Many of the ones with responses are people trying to bump their own topics.

Just telling you now if you DO have a configuration problem with 1600, it make take quite some time to get us to help you fix it. Again, your time is her money.

My wife works from home on her computer and she won't agree to any upgrade if she thinks it will cause her to lose productive time. Your wife may or may not be the same way, depending on her workload. People that work from home tend to have pretty strict deadlines in my experience and they have a lot of stress in my experience when things break with deadlines looming.

Anyway, my advice is just to stick with 1333, so the chances are maximal that it works right the first time with no configuration issues.

#2 ) Feel free to mark me as best answer if you appreciate the assistance, I get quite a lot of status points for having a lot of best answers. I am not too far from the next level. It may be valueless in the overall scheme of things, but it is a small goal for me.

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a c 78 B Homebuilt system
December 3, 2011 1:32:52 PM

I would rather see you get this

http://www.amazon.com/Antec-EA-430D-Power-Supply/dp/B00...

It is slightly more expensive, but it is from a Tier 1 brand (Antec, Corsair, Seasonic, or anything made by Seasonic like XFX).

The minimum suggested by the manufacturer for a full system using an 8800 GT is 400w and the one I suggested is above that. The one I suggested has quality enough parts that it can deliver power beyond its stated wattage (all Tier 1 makers do) and it can actually deliver more than the CM GX 450 can.

Here is a review from the Cooler Master GX 450 when measured by load testing equipment

http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Cooler-Master-GX...

And here is one for the EarthWatts 430 with load testing equipment

http://www.anandtech.com/show/2371/3

If you scroll down in both of those and look at the graphs you will notice a difference between the two as well.

The ideal graph is a straight line horizontally down the center of the page, something sort of like the last graph in the Cooler Master page.

The +12v rails power the computer's major systems (Motherboard, Processor, Video Card) so you ideally want to see +12v charts that look like the +3.3v charts on the Cooler Master review page, or at least as close to it as possible.

The +12v graphs on the CM page have wide variance which is bad for your internals. The variance is within the maximum allowed by engineering standards, but it barely squeaks by. The Antec is much better than standards dictate as acceptable.

This greater the variance the greater the likelihood of the PSU destroying internal components.

I don't suggest anyone try to save $5 on a PSU and potentially destroy a $60 - $200 motherboard and a $30 - $700 video card. I suggest to pay the extra money for the gold standard even in the tightest budget situations.

Think of it like going to a car dealership and asking for a Dodge Viper except in order to save money off the sticker price you want them to put a Dodge Neon engine in it instead.
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December 5, 2011 10:41:03 PM

Best answer selected by sabre181.
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December 6, 2011 12:01:57 AM

So I actually purchased the CM PSU along with the 2400, 8GB DDR3-1333, and a H61 mobo, before I was able to read your post. After reading the link you posted though, I think the CM is a good choice. I understand that its no Antec or PC Power and Cooling, but from the reviews, the 5 year warrant, and the specs, I think its a good match.

Thank you very much for all of your help; you have been very thorough and knowledgeable and I am very grateful. I selected your first response as the Best Answer, but if there is anything else I can do to help you out like you did for me, please let me know. Thanks again-

Nik
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