$800-$1200 Photoshop/video editing PC

Ok so I've built a couple PCs before but nothing fancy whatsoever. I'm now looking to upgrade a bit and put together a machine that will be fast and responsive in everyday tasks and also allow me to do a good amount of Photoshop work and potentially editing HD footage from my DSLR. I'm running into really sluggish performance on my machine now in Photoshop (starts out ok but the longer I edit the slower it gets), and I know that video editing will just be a nightmare (my onboard graphics can't even play 1080p footage without choppiness).

So how much computer do you think I need? I have funds, but like to be smart with my money. And there's lots of other things I want to spend it on too :).

Approximate Purchase Date: Soonish? But flexible.

Budget Range: $800-$1200 USD after rebates. This is somewhat flexible, I haven't decided how much I want to spend mostly because I don't know how much muscle I really need.

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Photoshop, video editing (probably in Premiere Pro), internet and multitasking. I will of course be doing the latter most often, so I guess my top concern is something that will be stable and snappy with lots of websites up, Photoshop, watching video, who knows what else. I would like to be able to edit HDSLR footage easily, but I'm not looking to break the bank for a state of the art video editing workstation.

Parts Not Required: keyboard, mouse, OS, monitor. This will be run with Windows 7 Prof.

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: I've used Newegg exclusively in the past but I'm open to whatever.

Country: USA

Parts Preferences: Not tied to any brand. Unless someone convinces me otherwise this will be in a mid-ATX tower bc it is a good middle ground.

Overclocking: Probably not? I have never overclocked before and probably wouldn't find it worth the time to learn, tweak, and potentially cause problems for a small performance boost. Ease of setup, stability, longevity, and reasonable ambient noise are more priorities for me than top notch performance.

SLI or Crossfire: I really doubt I'll ever want or need this. I'm not a gamer and though video editing can benefit from GPU performance, I think one is enough for me.

Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080 I think. Eventually I'll probably upgrade my $120 23" LCD monitor.

Additional Comments: No bling (matte black preferred), would like for this to be pretty quiet (but not my TOP concern), and plan for this build to last a while. I won't be rebuilding this in 2-3 years so I'm hoping to put together a system that is nice and stable and will stay snappy for years.

I've compiled a list of parts but it is pretty much a total guess as to what I need. I used pcpartpicker.com to assemble the list and the prices are quoted from there through a few diff retailers.

I should probably go Intel, yeah? What's the difference between x79 and z77?

CPU - $289.99
Intel Core i7-3820 Sandy Bridge-E 3.6GHz (3.8GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 2011 130W Quad-Core Desktop Processor

Mobo - $249.99
ASUS P9X79 LGA 2011 Intel X79 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard with UEFI BIOS

RAM - $89.99
G.SKILL Ripjaws Z Series 16GB (4 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)

GPU - $199.98
EVGA 01G-P3-1561-KR GeForce GTX 560 Ti FPB (Fermi) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card

BOOT DRIVE - $119.99
Crucial M4 CT128M4SSD2 2.5" 128GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

STORAGE - $68 (x2) = $136
Seagate Barracuda ES.2 ST3750330NS 750GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
(x2 for RAID0 configuration. I've never set up RAID, should I be worried?)

CASE - $39.99
Rosewill Blackbone Black Steel / Plastic ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
(I used this case on my last build and liked it)

PSU - $44.99 (w/ rebates)
OCZ ModXStream Pro 700W Modular High Performance Power Supply

I'd also add in a $20 DVD/CD burner and a $15 card reader. Maybe upgrade or add a fan or two if needed.

So what do you think? Thanks in advance for any comments/suggestions!
26 answers Last reply
More about 1200 photoshop video editing
  1. X79 is perfect for heavy duty CS5 but you might want to think about switching your GPU to a Radeon 7850. It will make setting up a multiple monitor configuration far easier than a 560TI will.

    I don't know about setting up a RAID configuration - if you're using the M4 as your primary SSD you won't really notice the performance gains from setting up a RAID configuration so it might not be worth it.

    Make sure your RAM is a dedicated quad channel configuration and you will need an aftermarket cooler since the 3820 doesn't come with one (Intel assumes people who pay for this CPU already have one). You'll need the Hyper 212 with 2011 retention bracket, try this:

    - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835103099
    - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835103432

    And I wouldn't get that PSU - OCZ PSUs aren't the greatest and you don't want to trust your build to a PSU like that. Try this for a better price: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139020
  2. I would actually go with the Nvidia card. It plays really well with CS5
  3. please do NOT get refurbished hard drives.
    just get 1 big one for storage:
    Western Digital Caviar Green WD20EARX 2TB $119.99
    and you may consider a scratch disk:
    Western Digital RE4 WD2503ABYX 250GB $84.99
    i know i just added $79 to the budget but i believe the performance will pay off.
  4. This is my recommendation. I will not take i7 3820. The i7 3770K is better. See this link:


    (1) Doing RAID 0 as a scratch disk is a good idea. Raid 0 is stripped volume. It splices the data and writes on two disks. The downside is you would lose two disks if either of them is corrupted. :cry:

    (2) You need a SATA for storing everything else. In addition, you need to consider an external backup. The link below does not provide / cost the third disk and a backup system.

    (3) GPU: Abode recommends Quadros. However, I know of many using AMD Firepro. I reckon they take the OpenCL/GL route.
    See this link if this is useful.


    I have priced in a Firepro 4900. If you can afford, I would suggest Firepro 5900.

    (4) See this recommendation in the link below for the build idea.

    Samsung spinpoint is a good HDD. This build will cost you $1500 without a third HDD and an external backup.


    (5) I would recommend a 32GB RAM. The CPU and the extra RAM would come handy for your work.

    Please let me know what you think....
  5. Thanks so much all for the advice.

    Good to know that x79 is a good platform for what I want. Any thoughts on the CPU? I've never paid more than ~$120 for a CPU in the past (they've always been AMD) so I'm not sure if this is overkill. The 130W may make things a bit noisier too yeah? And thanks for the CPU cooler tip and suggestion - that would've been sad to have all my parts show up but be missing a fan for the processor.

    I'm not sure I'm talked out of the PSU - I have an OCZ in my previous build and it is going strong and nice and quiet. I also like that it is modular and it looks as though I can get it for $45. Should I really not trust it?

    I think you guys have talked me out of setting up RAID. I suppose I can just get one drive and if I feel the need to in the future I can add another and try it out. Help me understand the purpose of a scratch disk.. is that so I can read from one drive while writing to another? Would that be mainly for rendering video? Could I output to my SSD instead and move the files over once they are done?

    So the refurbs are a no-no. That's fine, I can spend a little more for a 1-2TB drive if I am only getting one.

    Any other thoughts on the GPU? I know about zero when it comes to GPUs - I thought I had read something about the GTXs working with the OpenCL that allows CS5 to utilize the GPU instead of just the CPU? I may be way off with that one. Anyone know?

    Thanks again so much for your advice!
  6. the scratch disk is similar to a temporary swap file for memory; it helps rendering.

    since an SSD's life expectancy is measured in writes to the disk, it is not a good idea to have temp files write to it.

    if you cruise over to the adobe forums, there are many suggestions to use an SSD for OS/programs, a speedy little scratch disk and then a big bertha for storage.

    if you can't get a dedicated scratch disk then configure PS to use the platter and not the SSD.
  7. SSri - thanks for putting that together for me. The firepro 5900 is definitely more than I want to pay for a video card, but I could certainly do the 4900- which is even a little cheaper than the GTX 560 I had selected.

    The mobo I had picked out had 8 slots for RAM - which would give me the nice option to up from 16GB to 32GB in the future if needed. Not as cheap as the one you selected though.

    So I would use the scratch disk to save files to? Would this help with Photoshop as well as rendering video? I would then have to copy the file to my bigger storage drive for archiving - wouldn't the inconvenience and copying time outweigh the benefit of faster saving/rendering?

    Does anyone use a scratch disk this way for this kind of work that can chime in?

    Thanks all!!
  8. like i said, its a temp file for rendering, it has nothing to do with saving. PS and premeire pro will need it regardless.

    using another disk for a scratch disk decreases the time for rendering.

    like i suggested, go to the adobe forums and see what they suggest or just google it.
  9. I think I understand now. I'll research this more and see what I find. Thanks.
  10. Looniam has already answered your queries regarding scratch disk and storage. It may all sound confusing at the beginning but you will understand as you spend time reading/understanding before hand.

    To help you get started, read this link...


    In case if you are planning to OC, you must read this excellent piece at Tom's


    Good luck reading/researching
  11. Thanks for those links.

    I found that adobe page earlier and read through it and it helped me a lot in understanding what I need.

    For Photoshop, it appears the more RAM the better. When it runs out of RAM, it will use the scratch disk which is slower. Adobe does recommend using an SSD as a scratch disk but says that adding RAM is a more cost effective way to increase performance.

    So for Photoshop, I think using the SSD as my scratch drive, even though it will also be my boot drive, will be acceptable especially since I'll have 16gb and possibly even 32gb of RAM. A separate scratch disk is not really worth the price in this case.

    For Premiere, however, the general recommendation is to have enough drives to separate your OS/programs, source files, and previews/media cache/exports - like Looniam mentioned. Since I'm not really trying to optimize video editing performance at all costs, I think I'll still stick with the SSD for a boot drive and a big bertha for storage. I didn't even think about this earlier, but I can add in one of my current drives, a smaller 7200, as a scratch drive for previews/media cache/exports if i run into sluggish performance.

    So I think that makes the most sense - for me - as far as storage goes. For others that really want to optimize performance for video editing specifically - having at least 3 drives helps, and throwing in a RAID configuration helps even more. For those that want to learn more about optimizing performance in Premiere Pro and After Effects - there is a very thorough (and lengthy) set of videos here - http://www.video2brain.com/en/play-product-115.htm.
  12. Hi! I am building similar rig for primary for photo editing work (from 10- 60mipx resolution), the little bit of HD video and also time to time some new games.
    For now, this is my setup list.

    CPU Intel Core i7-3770

    BOARD ASRock Z77 Extreme4

    RAM Corsair XMS3, 16GB, DDR3, 1600MHz, CL9, Kit of 4

    VIDEO Gigabyte GV-N56GSO-1GI / GTX 560

    HDD SEAGATE HDD Server Constellation ES 7200 1T 64mb


    POWER Corsair supply TX650 V2 80 PLUS Bronze, ATX 650W, EU version

    CASE Cooler Master Elite 350

    DVD RW Asus DRW-24B5ST Black

    maybe some suggestions or tips? Is it all looks ok and stable ?
    My biggest concern is about Mobo - many options from Asrock to Gigabyte, MSI, Asus.
    Your suggestions please!
  13. Jan4ix said:
    Hi! I am building similar rig for primary for photo editing work (from 10- 60mipx resolution), the little bit of HD video and also time to time some new games.
    Your suggestions please!

    it would serve you better to start a separate thread for your build. most have considered this finished.
  14. Hey Jan4ix, sounds like we have really similar needs. From what I know it looks like a pretty solid build. I believe ASRock, ASUS, Gigabyte, and MSI are all pretty reliable companies - I would choose based on features that you want to have and customer reviews.

    After doing more research and considering what everyone here has suggested I'm getting closer to figuring out what I want. I'm not not entirely sure what platform to go with though. The three I'm considering (in the following order) are -

    1. Ivy Bridge via i7-3770 ($300) and Z77 mobo

    The benefits of this CPU is that it has an integrated GPU and is 77w. Previously I was set on a discrete GPU but now I'm rethinking. Because I'm not gaming and not even sure how much video editing I'll be doing, a separate graphics card might be overkill for me. I'm really not even sure how much it will help with video editing, and there doesn't seem to be a general consensus on which type to get. If I do find I need one down the road, it's easy to add.

    2. Sandy Bridge E via i7-3820 ($290) and X79 mobo

    The Sandy Bridge E gets me a quad-channel memory controller and more PCIe bandwidth. I doubt I need the PCIe bandwidth but have no idea if quad-channel memory will benefit me much over dual-channel. The drawback is that this CPU runs much hotter at 130w, requires buying a separate cooler, and a more expensive motherboard to house it. This is likely the most expensive option.

    3. 2nd gen Sandy Bridge via i7-2600k ($289) and and Z77 mobo

    Same mobo platform as the Ivy Bridge but 95w and no integrated graphics.

    Thoughts? For my needs does the Ivy Bridge 3770 and no discrete GPU seem like a good plan? I can put the GPU savings into a more comfortable chair...
  15. Oceanoption: You should go for i7 3770K. It will help you overclock some time in the future, if you do not want to. It will cost you $20 to get the finetune plan protection. You would certainly need a GPU for your abobe photo/video.
  16. Jan4ix said:
    Hi! I am building similar rig Your suggestions please!

    This tread belongs to Oceanopticon. Please start a new thread to get a better response. Let's not hijack his tread and deviate from his requirements.
  17. Oceanopticon said:

    1. Ivy Bridge via i7-3770 ($300) and Z77 mobo

    The benefits of this CPU is that it has an integrated GPU and is 77w. Previously I was set on a discrete GPU but now I'm rethinking. Because I'm not gaming and not even sure how much video editing I'll be doing, a separate graphics card might be overkill for me. I'm really not even sure how much it will help with video editing, and there doesn't seem to be a general consensus on which type to get. If I do find I need one down the road, it's easy to add.

    Same mobo platform as the Ivy Bridge but 95w and no integrated graphics.

    Thoughts? For my needs does the Ivy Bridge 3770 and no discrete GPU seem like a good plan? I can put the GPU savings into a more comfortable chair...

    You should go for i7 3770K. It will help you overclock some time in the future, even if you do not want to at this time. You would get the most out of the CPU by going up to 4.2 speed (4.5 max) within Intel's voltage parameters. Please note that overclocking and CPU life are probably inversely related. It will cost you $20 to get the finetune plan protection from the date of purchase of the CPU. You would certainly need a GPU for your abobe photo/video.
  18. Thanks all for the suggestions. I thought I'd share what I settled on for my final build.

    Intel i7 3770K 3.5GHz Quad-Core ($349.99)
    + Cooler Master 212 Evo ($29.99)
    Asus P8Z77-V LK Z77 Mobo ($125.05)
    G Skill Ripjaws Z 32GB DDR3 1600 RAM ($186.99)
    Crucial M4 128GB SSD ($109)
    Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB 7200RPM HDD ($82.49)
    OCZ ModXStream Pro 700W Modular PSU ($49.99)
    Rosewill Challenger Mid ATX Tower ($49.99)
    Lite-On DVD/CD Writer ($22.98)
    Silverstone SST-FP37B USB 3.0 Card Reader ($35.98)

    Total $1,042.45

    I spent a little more on the processor than I wanted, but decided to just go for it and get the unlocked version with an aftermarket cooler. I plan on doing a very moderate overclock and making sure the temps stay low so that it will last a long time.

    Also, I plan on running with Ivy Bridge's integrated graphics for a while until I need something more. After all, I am not gaming so this computer will be doing zero 3D graphics. I may decide to add a card if I get into a lot of video editing but I'm betting for now the integrated graphics will be just fine.

    I also decided to go with 32GB RAM and feel good that I did. While this is probably overkill for most things, I think it will give me a lot of headroom in Photoshop, working with massive panoramas, multiple images each with lots of layers, etc. It will also be handy for high res video editing work and of course general computer multitasking.

    Everything should arrive by this weekend so I hope to have it up and running soon!
  19. I would probably spend $20 more and get cooler master H612.
  20. Too late! The 212 Evo should be arriving today. I'll make sure to keep an eye on my CPU temps at first, both idle and under load.
  21. My system has been up and running for a couple weeks now so I thought I'd share the results.

    In a word: awesome.

    Everything is totally stable and all components are playing nice with each other. The build was pretty painless - I downloaded the latest drivers ahead of time and had it up and running in no time. DIY builds just keep getting easier it seems.

    After trying out some heavy duty Photoshop, I'm glad I decided to go with 32GB of memory. 16GB would be enough for the vast majority of tasks, even pretty serious Photoshop work, but I tested out stitching a massive panorama of RAW files (which all get loaded into memory) and saw that my system was using over 16GB. Rarely will this happen, but it is nice knowing that I have that sort of headroom.

    One thing to note with this rediculous amount of memory - after first installing windows I noticed it was taking up 70GB on my SSD. Not cool. Looked into and found there were two things taking up all that space, both based on memory size. One is the hibernation file windows sets up - to allow writing your memory to disk in order to power down yet resume quickly. With the speed at which this computer boots and the ability to still use the sleep option, I just disabled hibernation. The other is the windows pagefile, which is set up to be used as logical memory if your physical RAM fills up. With 32GB this probably won't be an issue for me - so I dropped the allocation down to 2GB.

    The CPU seems to be able to handle anything I throw at it and likely will for years to come. I am still running at stock speeds - I maay try out a mild overclock but honestly, I don't feel the need to. I am glad I got the hyper 212 aftermarket cooler though. Aside from being massive and making me feel more badass, I don't doubt that it runs significantly quieter than the dinky-in-comparison stock cooler. I also like having the extra piece of mind that my CPU will stay cooler and likely live longer as a result. I haven't seen it get hotter than 26C so far under regular use. There is less than an inch of clearance between the top edge of the cooler and the side of the case, and the cooler fan is actually sitting on top of the first stick of RAM, but it fits.

    I'm glad I decided to forego a graphics card. The integrated graphics is working flawlessly so far. No problem playing HD video or mousing around in PS. I have yet to try any serious games or video editing, but I imagine it would perform pretty well even in those situations.

    The SSD is awesome. I would say it boots somewhere between 15-20 seconds. Programs open instantly. Even photoshop only takes a couple seconds.

    The only issue I've had so far with the entire build is that my Silverstone card reader works intermittently - I've contacted them to try and resolve it.

    So far the most demanding task I've given it is Photoshop and it has performed fantastically. I can paint with large brushes on high res images without the lag - images open and save quickly, filters process fast, playing with sliders (such as when opening a RAW file) gives me instant preview feedback with no delay which lets me dial in my settings much faster. So far this computer is a real productivity booster.

    All in all I am very satisfied with the build. Here are my takeaways -

    - Aftermarket coolers are a worthwhile investment, especially in a non-budget build. They keep things quiet, cool, and make you feel more badass.

    - SSDs rock and are pretty affordable. Much faster, much quieter (silent), much cooler.

    - Memory is cheap so figure out how much you need then get a bit more to give you some headroom. If you do anything with video, audio, or photos you'll likely need a lot more than the hxc gamerzzz.

    - Integrated graphics are underrated. Unless you're into playing the latest 3D games you may very well not need a discrete card at all. And you can always add one later on, when they become cheaper and better.

    - A case with good cable management is great. Routing all your cables underneath the mobo tray makes the inside super tidy and clean which in turn equates to improved airflow. Side panel thumbscrews are nice to have as well.
  22. Great...
  23. Hello oceanopticon, I'm building a PC almost like yours and I'm wondering if you are not using a separated SSD for PS scratch disk.
    I've read PS always reads and writes on scratch disk even if you have a lot of RAM (like 32gb, I'm planning to build with 16gb ripjaws X 1600 CL9)
    As you said, you are using your SSD for OS and scratch, is this configuration working fine? Maybe it would be nice for me build 32gb RAM and save a second SSD
  24. Hi Jumanjii, yes I am using the same SSD for my OS and Photoshop scratch. This configuration is working great because I have loads of memory - if you're thinking of getting a separate SSD just to use for PS scratch I think you're better off putting that money elsewhere.

    From Adobe's help site -

    When your system does not have enough RAM to perform an operation, Photoshop uses a proprietary virtual memory technology, also called scratch disks. A scratch disk is any drive or drive partition with free memory. By default, Photoshop uses the hard drive on which the operating system is installed as the primary scratch disk.

    and from a section called optimizing performance...


    Max out on RAM
    Photoshop uses random access memory (RAM) to process images. If Photoshop has insufficient memory, it uses hard-disk space, also known as a scratch disk, to process information. Accessing information in memory is faster than accessing information on a hard disk. Therefore, Photoshop is fastest when it can process all or most image information in RAM. If possible, allocate enough RAM to Photoshop to accommodate your largest image file.

    How much RAM can Photoshop access?

    CS4/CS5 32-bit >> Windows 32-bit >> 1.7 GB
    CS4/CS5 32-bit >> Windows 64-bit >> 3.2 GB
    CS4/CS5 64-bit >> Windows 64-bit >> As much RAM as you can fit

    Solid-state disks
    Installing Photoshop on a solid-state disk (SSD) allows Photoshop to launch fast, probably in less than a second. But that speedier startup is the only time savings you experience. That’s the only time when much data is read from the SSD.

    To gain the greatest benefit from an SSD, use it as the scratch disk. Using it as a scratch disk gives you significant performance improvements if you have images that don’t fit entirely in RAM. For example, swapping tiles between RAM and an SSD is much faster than swapping between RAM and a hard disk.

    Note: Adding RAM to improve performance is more cost effective than purchasing an SSD. If money is no object, you're maxed out on installed RAM for your computer, you run Photoshop CS5 as a 64-bit application, and you still want to improve performance, consider using a solid-state disk as your scratch disk.

    I would definitely get 1 SSD for your OS and programs, but maxing out on RAM is smarter than getting a 2nd SSD just for PS scratch. Also, make sure you are using 64-bit PS and of course 64-bit Windows to make use of all that RAM!
  25. Thank you for your answer and also for this post, surely this is the most clarifying discussion for my interests I've found at internet on several weeks.

    So I'll buy almost your pc configuration, with a single 128gb SSD and 2x8gb RAM and I'll buy another 16gb of RAM if I need them.
  26. Sounds like a great plan.

    I'm glad this post was able to help!
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