Non-gaming Ivy Bridge System - RAM/GPU/Hard Drive Questions

Approximate Purchase Date: August 2012
Budget Range: N/A
System Usage from Most to Least Important: Surfing Internet, Microsoft Office applications, Adobe applications. Highest performance requirement is transcoding of HD video in Adobe Premiere. I DO NOT need gaming performance at this time (hence the relatively small PSU and lack of a GPU).
Are you buying a monitor: No
Parts to Upgrade: RAM and Memory configurations
Do you need to buy OS: No
Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Amazon or Newegg
Location: Oregon
Parts Preferences: Any
Overclocking: No
SLI or Crossfire: Maybe – currently no GPU but might consider. See comments
Your Monitor Resolution: 1680x1050 (x2 – one vertical one horizontal)
Additional Comments:

Already have most of the system. Includes the following:

Cooling: XIGMATEK Dark Knight II SD1283
Processor: i7-3770
Motherboard: Intel DZ77BH-55K
RAM: Looking, see comments
GPU: None. See comments
SSD 1: Intel 520 – 240 GB
SSD 2: OCZ Agility 3 – 240 GB
Hard Drive 1: Still looking
Hard Drive2: Seagate HD204UI 2TB
Case: Antec DF-35 Black Steel Computer Case
PSU: CORSAIR Builder Series CX600 V2 600W ATX12V v2.3
Optical: LITE-ON DVD Burner - Bulk 24X
OS: Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit

As noted above, this is not a gaming system. I am building the system for general computing use. Most tasks are not ridiculously processor intensive. The main exceptions are Adobe CS6 applications (Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Premiere, Illustrator and Acrobat). If there was a singular use case for performance it would be transcoding of HD video in Premiere for DVD or (eventually) Blu-ray playback. I want the system optimized for this purpose for when I need to transcode and expect that this would mean that all other tasks would perform well.

I have most components for the system but need the following advice:

Hard Drive: I have a 2TB drive, but it I believe that the one I purchased would be better as a secondary (backup) backup drive. I would like to get a fast primary drive but the cost is so high right now that I want to hear about other options (slower drive with SSD caching, smaller drives partitioned differently, etc..). Should I just wait on the second hard drive and use existing external drives for backup?

Memory: I want to purchase 32 GB (4x8GB) of memory and want to know more about whether I absolutely must use a 32GB kit (such as or if I can safely purchase other configurations (individual RAM or kits of two). Also comments on the speed of the RAM would be valuable. Budget here is $2-300 depending on performance improvements.

Hard Drive/SSD/Memory configuration: I would like advice on how to configure the two SSD drives, RAM and hard drives for maximum performance. For example, should I use Intel SRT, and if so, which SSD (OCZ or Intel) should I use? Should I use only a partition of that SSD? How about a RAM disk with a portion of the RAM? Should I install the OS and/or programs on one of the SSD drives (and which one)?

GPU: Although I plan to go without a GPU to begin with, I would be open to adding one if performance (again not for gaming) might improve. I would want a GPU with HDMI output and it would probably only need to drive one monitor (second monitor may use a USB-video adapter for other reasons). Insights into what I should look for to aid in Photoshop and Premiere processing would be great. What GPU might be recommended AND would not require a larger PSU. I am willing to wait for prices to fall on this portion as it is not a critical need. I would love to keep this under $200 unless there is going to be a really big performance improvement (and, again, I can wait).
7 answers Last reply Best Answer
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  1. Best answer
    Here are my thoughts on your questions:

    Hard drive speeds do not differ much.
    Buy on price and reliability.
    Here is a report on HDD return rates:

    My understanding that some 64 bit enabled apps like photoshop can use all the ram they can get to reduce workfile I/o.
    Ram is sold in kits for a reason.
    Ram from the same vendor and part number can be made up of differing manufacturing components over time.
    Some motherboards can be very sensitive to this.
    That is why ram vendors will not support ram that is not bought in one kit.
    Although, I think the problem has lessened with the newer Intel chipsets. Still,
    it is safer to get what you need in one kit.
    The current Intel cpu's have an excellent integrated ram controller. It is able to keep the cpu fed with data from any speed ram.

    The difference in real application performance or FPS between the fastest and slowest ram is on the order of 1-3%.

    Synthetic benchmark differences will be impressive, but are largely irrelevant in the real world.

    Fancy heat spreaders are mostly marketing too.

    In fact tall heat spreaders are a negative because they can impact some cpu coolers.
    Only if you are seeking record level overclocks should you consider faster ram or better latencies.

    Read this Anandtech article on memory scaling:
    ---------------bottom line------------

    DDR3 1600 is the sweet spot considering the marginal cost delta over 1333.

    What is your rationalle for the two different SSD brands?
    And why two SSD's vs a single 500gb ssd?

    In general a larger ssd performs better.

    You might want to read this recent review of the Intel 330 series from amandtech.

    I understand that photoshop can use the CUDA capabilities of Nvidia graphics cards. Top end cards are not required for this.
    I am no expert there, but do some reasearch to see if it might apply to your apps.

    On a last note, I would spend the $20 extra to buy the 3770K. The "K" gives you the option to easily raise the multiplier from 3.4 to around 4.3.
  2. 1. CS5/6 loves discreet GFX cards and CUDA

    2. Video Editing benefits from higher speed and lower CAS ... but 32 GB sets don't go there much

    3. This are great for video editing

    For a hard drive, the Barracuda XT series offers the best performance available from a 7200 RPM mechanical storage device.

    I have the 2TB model

    3. I don't get the mixed SSD's and I wuda went with twin Mushkin Chronos Deluxe which are Tier 1 in THG's charts... yours are Tier 2 and Tier 3,3255-6.html

    Id put the OS and editing programs on 1st SSD and scratch disk on 2nd

    If ya not Overclocking ya don't need the cooler
  3. Thanks - I will think more on this. The reason for the two SSD's is that I had already purchased the OCZ and then got an offer from a friend at Intel to get the SSD (and chip and motherboard) at deeply discounted prices. I could use the OCZ in another system but figured I should consider how to fit it into this one. I will look a the various links that you guys sent - thanks for the timely advice!
  4. OK. Good reason.
  5. Thanks again guys - great links and useful information. I will take this into account in the rest of my buying decisions (may still be able to get a 3770K instead of the 3770).

    I am not sure what is meant by "scratch disk" - is that using SRT or would it be the actual transcoding scratch disk location? Would you recommend using SRT at all?
  6. dsohigian said:
    Thanks again guys - great links and useful information. I will take this into account in the rest of my buying decisions (may still be able to get a 3770K instead of the 3770).

    I am not sure what is meant by "scratch disk" - is that using SRT or would it be the actual transcoding scratch disk location? Would you recommend using SRT at all?

    I think a ssd is better used natively and not as a cache(srt) to a hard drive.

    Scratch disk usually means a work disk to which intermediate workfiles are read and written.
  7. Best answer selected by dsohigian.
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