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Help request on photography specific build

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November 20, 2012 3:22:29 PM

This is my first post and first build and I'd really appreciate any reviews/advice.

The system will be used primarily for photography processing using Lightroom 4, some light Photoshop (Elements not CS), MS Office, general browsing, etc.

The computer will not be used for any gaming.

I've spec'ed out a system (below) that I think will meet (or exceed) my needs but really I have little knowledge of which components are best suited to my needs.

I really want the system to be future proof and upgradeable, have a small footprint, and be (relatively) inexpensive - I'm happy to save money on components if anyone has suggestions.

Components
Shuttle SH67H3 Intel Core i7 / i5 / i3 (LGA1155) Intel Socket H2(LGA1155) Intel H67 Intel HD Graphics 2000/3000 integrated (Model #:SH67H3)
$239.99
(I'm not married to this case buit it seemed like the right combination of size and motherboard. Thoughts?)

Western Digital WD Blue WD5000AAKX 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive (Model #:WD5000AAKX)
Item #:N82E16822136769
$79.99 -$30.00 Instant $49.99
(Pictures are stored on a home server so this will be used for pictures I am actively processing)

CORSAIR Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Low Profile Desktop Memory Model CML8GX3M2A1600C9 (Model #:CML8GX3M2A1600C9)
$39.99

Intel Core i5-3570 Ivy Bridge 3.4GHz (3.8GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 77W Quad-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 2500 (Model #:BX80637i53570)
$214.99

Microsoft Windows 7 Professional (Model #:FQC-00129)
Item #:N82E16832116717
$299.99 -$20.00 Instant $279.99

Intel 330 Series Maple Crest SSDSC2CT060A3K5 2.5" 60GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) (Model #:SSDSC2CT060A3K5)
Item #:N82E16820167120
$69.99
(For OS and programs)

Thanks very much for your help. Really excited to get started on my first build.
November 20, 2012 8:01:22 PM

I think I would dump that whole build. Intel SSDs are way overrated. And you're paying $300 for a Windows license when you could get one for $100. What is your budget? I would suggest a different system.
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November 20, 2012 9:19:18 PM

Thanks for the quick reply. I'm not married to any of the components so any suggestions would be great. I did see an OEM license for W7 but wasn't sure I could use it.

If I could keep the build to around 800 or less, I'd be happy.

Thanks again
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November 20, 2012 9:32:02 PM

You are building your own system, so that's what the OEM licenses are for. And just get Home Premium x64. Pro is mainly just for connecting to an Active Directory domain.

I think you are on the right track with the build, and without a big 3D gaming graphics card, you should be able to use one of the small barebone units if the size appeals to you. However, with a new Ivy Bridge system, you wouldn't want get an H67 based motherboard as they often won't work together right out of the box. Look for one with a H77 or B75 chip, or just build your own using a mini-itx motherboard and case.

And Intel SSD's are rated one of the most reliable and they perform well, no reason not to go Intel, but I would recommend 128GB or two 60's so you can have some extra space for Lightroom scratch disk on an SSD. That will really speed things up.
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November 20, 2012 10:51:35 PM

twelve25 said:
You are building your own system, so that's what the OEM licenses are for. And just get Home Premium x64. Pro is mainly just for connecting to an Active Directory domain.

I think you are on the right track with the build, and without a big 3D gaming graphics card, you should be able to use one of the small barebone units if the size appeals to you. However, with a new Ivy Bridge system, you wouldn't want get an H67 based motherboard as they often won't work together right out of the box. Look for one with a H77 or B75 chip, or just build your own using a mini-itx motherboard and case.

And Intel SSD's are rated one of the most reliable and they perform well, no reason not to go Intel, but I would recommend 128GB or two 60's so you can have some extra space for Lightroom scratch disk on an SSD. That will really speed things up.


The problem with those bare bones systems that the big box stores sell is that they include junk power supplies and cases. The reason I do not recommend going with Intel is because of Sandforce - no matter which drive, these are known to have stability issues and errors.

I'd suggest this:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-3470 3.2GHz Quad-Core Processor ($199.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: ASRock H77 Pro4/MVP ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($87.55 @ Newegg)
Memory: G.Skill Ares Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($37.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($88.98 @ Newegg)
Storage: OCZ Vertex 4 128GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($129.99 @ Newegg)
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 7750 1GB Video Card ($99.98 @ Newegg)
Case: NZXT Source 210 (White) ATX Mid Tower Case ($45.98 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: SeaSonic S12II 430W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($70.17 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD/CD Writer ($22.98 @ Newegg)
Total: $783.61
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2012-11-20 19:51 EST-0500)

Or maybe try this without the SSD:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i7-3770 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($299.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: ASRock H77 Pro4/MVP ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($87.55 @ Newegg)
Memory: G.Skill Ares Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($37.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($88.98 @ Newegg)
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 7750 1GB Video Card ($99.98 @ Newegg)
Case: NZXT Source 210 (White) ATX Mid Tower Case ($45.98 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: SeaSonic S12II 430W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($70.17 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD/CD Writer ($22.98 @ Newegg)
Total: $753.62
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2012-11-20 19:52 EST-0500)
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November 21, 2012 11:47:22 AM

I really appreciate the help! Thanks.

Couple of questions:
Do I need the graphics card or will the integrated graphics on the processor be enough?
If I go with a 128gb SSD, is a secondary hard drive necessary given that I ill be storing files on a home server long-term?
I'd like to go with a smaller case for now (knowing that I will be giving up space for upgrades). Any recommendations on good cases with a smaller footprint?
Would there be any really benefit in increasing RAM to 16gb?

Thanks again!
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November 21, 2012 3:23:05 PM

If you are not planning on running modern high end 3D games, then the Intel HD 4000 that comes on the new ivy bridge i5's is going to be more than adequate and can even run multiple monitors depending on what the motherboard you pick includes for display ports.

Storage needs are kind of an individual thing. I don't know about 128GB, but with a 240/256 you'd definitely be safe. It's going to depend on how big your files are. Are we talking 36MP D800 RAW files or a regular 12MP JPEG?

Working with photos over the network is going to be pretty slow, so that's going to conteract all this work you are doing making a fast system. I'd want enough space to keep the last few weeks or months worth of projects on the local computer to work on.

16GB is useful if you like using lots of layers, HDR stacks, panoramas, etc. Most people won't use more than 8, really, and if your page file is on an SSD, it's not that bad if you do run a little low on RAM. But, 16GB is not that much more expensive than 8 and provides a safety net, especially if your MB only has 2 slots.


This is an awesome mini case that will even allow a little room for a graphics card in the future if you decide you need one it's not very cheap, but it does include a high quality power supply:

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

Then you will need a mini ITX motherboad. The main tradeoff is going to be only one PCIe slot, but honestly that's all most people use anymore. Everything is USB or built into the motherboard so there aren't that many uses for PCI slots for the typical person. It also needs a laptop sizeCD drive for space saving, so keep that in mind when ordering the optical drive

Here's a decent option for motherboard:

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

again, a little more pricey because it's had to be made half the size of a normal motherboard.
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November 21, 2012 3:30:35 PM

Quote:
If you are not planning on running modern high end 3D games, then the Intel HD 4000 that comes on the new ivy bridge i5's is going to be more than adequate and can even run multiple monitors depending on what the motherboard you pick includes for display ports.

Storage needs are kind of an individual thing. I don't know about 128GB, but with a 240/256 you'd definitely be safe. It's going to depend on how big your files are. Are we talking 36MP D800 RAW files or a regular 12MP JPEG?


Yeah but then you put a huge strain on your CPU if you have to do any major redraws. Believe me, I use lots of CAD products and have had CPUs overload that way.

Quote:
Working with photos over the network is going to be pretty slow, so that's going to conteract all this work you are doing making a fast system. I'd want enough space to keep the last few weeks or months worth of projects on the local computer to work on.


I agree with this - transferring large files over a network takes forever. Even on my i5-3450 based system it does.

Quote:
Then you will need a mini ITX motherboad. The main tradeoff is going to be only one PCIe slot, but honestly that's all most people use anymore. Everything is USB or built into the motherboard so there aren't that many uses for PCI slots for the typical person. It also needs a laptop sizeCD drive for space saving, so keep that in mind when ordering the optical drive


I've never really built an mITX system. Silverstone makes excellent cases. I have an HTPC case of theirs and it's extremely solid. I love the Falcon Northwest TIKI system though.
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November 21, 2012 3:41:10 PM

The CPU actually has separate processing units for the video. If you overloaded the processor with video demands, you just overloaded the video portion of the processor. CAD does require a good professional graphics card, but Photoshop and Lightroom will not.

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November 21, 2012 6:00:49 PM

Thanks both! This has been tremendously helpful. I'm going to reconfigure my build based on your recommendations. I'll post the new configuration; would appreciate a final review.
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November 22, 2012 2:08:43 AM

Here's the new build based on your suggestions:

CPU Intel Core i5-3470 3.2GHz Quad-Core $184.99
Motherboard Asus P8H77-I Mini ITX LGA1155 $99.99
Memory G.Skill Ares Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1866 $54.99
Storage Crucial M4 128GB 2.5" SSD $99.99
Western Digital Scorpio Black 500GB 2.5" 7200RPM $56.59
Case Silverstone SST-FT03B-MINI (Black) Mini ITX Tower $151.39
Power Supply Silverstone 450W SFX12V $53.97
Optical Drive Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD/CD Writer $15.99
Operating System Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit) $91.99

A couple of notes:
I went with the 500gb secondary drive for the current projects actively being processed
I chose the SST-FT03B-MINI which is a little bigger but seems to be easier to access. It was a close call between this case and the SILVERSTONE Sugo SG06BB-450 which comes with the PSU. Thoughts on which case works better would be great.
Not sure if I need a separate CPU fan - will the CPU have a sufficient cooling mechanism out of the box or do I need to buy a separate CPU fan?

Thanks!
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November 22, 2012 2:18:36 AM

Looks good. Cases are largely a personal choice, so if you like that one it certainly has great reviews. But It's 15" tall, which puts it into Micro ATX territory. It's not as deep at ATX, and I have no idea what your desk is like, but for me that kinda defeats the purpose of miniITX. I think it is more designed to stick behind a entertainment center. I don't like it personally, but purely for style reasons, not technical or functional. Does it actually have a space for an optical drive?

Overall it looks like a very solid build.
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November 23, 2012 10:55:59 PM

In the end I agree with you on the footprint and am up going with the SGO6BB. Really appreciate all the help. Going to start getting the parts and a putting it together! Thanks again.
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