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Need help debugging hardware bottlenecks in photography workstation PC

January 13, 2013 6:55:58 PM

What tools can I use, and what’s the process, to see where my PC might be bottlenecking while I’m using it for photo processing?

The applications I typically use are Photoshop CS6, Lightroom 4, Unified Color Expose 2, and DxO Optics 8.

What I’ve observed (using Task Manager) is that the Unified Color Expose 2 fully utilizes all 4 cores while it works. It literally goes x-100% on all 4 cores and then, when it drops back down, it’s only seconds before the application signals the operation is finished. Unified Color Expose 2 seems to be very efficient in fully utilizing the CPU and their staff have told me that it was designed as a fully multi-threaded app.

I wish the other photo applications would fully utilize all of the CPU cores! In some cases I can wait many minutes for an operation to complete and I can see with Task Manager that the cores are generally not all being fully utilized in Photoshop, Lightroom, or DxO. So, maybe those applications are not adequately mutli-threaded, maybe they are waiting on a disk operation, etc. What I’m looking to understand is whether I have some sort of Hardware bottleneck that could be improved upon.

How do go about seeing what’s really happening?

My Current PC:
• Core 2 Quad Q9400 stable overclock at 3.3ghz
• 8 Gigs of DDR2 Ram, running at 420, with 5,5, 5, 18 timing (I’ve seen the ram nearly fully utilized while processing some larger files)
• Video Card: Radeon HD 4550 1199mhz, 1 gig ram, 64bit bus
• Motherboard: Asus P5B Deluxe
• Thumbdrive used for Readyboost
• 1 Terabyte of photos stored on homebuilt NAS PC. I wonder whether read/write to that PC (aside from file open/save operations) via wired network does slow overall photo processing work; however, I don’t know how to check whether that’s really happening. Some files have reached 1.7gb and the read and write for a file that size can take a while!
!