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Thread: Input Wanted: Building My Next PC (Updated)

  1. #1
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    Input Wanted: Building My Next PC (Updated)

    Resurrected thread! Unless you want to read the old stuff, please see the latest post.

    I'm planning to build a new PC with our annual dividend check. That's still a couple of months away but I've started putting my wish list together. I haven't been keeping up with component trends lately, so I'd appreciate feedback on my tentative choices from the resident hardware heads.

    ASUS P5Q-E LGA 775 Intel P45 ATX Intel Motherboard
    (Overclocking isn't in my plans but I like the looks of the P45 and the fact that this board uses the still-cheaper DDR2 RAM)

    Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550 Yorkfield 2.83GHz 12MB L2 Cache LGA 775 95W Quad-Core Processor

    ZALMAN 2 Ball CPU Cooling Fan/Heatsink

    OCZ Platinum 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory
    (8GB total)

    MSI Radeon HD 4850 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card

    Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD2500AAKS 250GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive
    (2 drives, RAID-1: OS and programs)

    Western Digital Caviar SE16 640GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive
    (2 drives, RAID-1: Data)

    Pioneer 20X DVD±R DVD Burner Black SATA

    COOLER MASTER Black SECC/ ABS ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

    CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX 750W ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply

    I plan to install Vista Ultimate 64-bit 32-bit and some heavy-weight programs like Photoshop CS3 and Adobe Lightroom. I haven't been much of a gamer for years but lately, I've had the hankering to get back into flight sims.

    Thanks in advance for the advice!
    Last edited by PetersCreek; 2008-Aug-17 at 09:39 PM. Reason: Updated list
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  2. #2
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    A 4870?

    That should certainly handle anything you throw at it, though if you aren't planning on gaming other than flight sims, I'd get a 4850 and save the extra money (perhaps towards a Q9450, and the extra cache and 45nm process will help it on the kind of applications you mentioned). Unless you plan on serious gaming, I would say you would be happier with a Q9450 and a 4850 rather than a Q6600 and a 4870, considering that both combinations end up at about the same price.

    Also, newegg seems to be down right now, so I can't tell certain things about your setup, but if that hard drive (the 640) isn't the WD6400AAKS model, you should consider it - it is a great deal, very fast, and pretty cheap too.

    EDIT: now that Newegg seems to be working again, I can see that your hard drive of choice is the WD6400AAKS. Excellent choice.

  3. #3
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    Sounds nice, though I'd personally install Windows XP (but that's just my opinion, as I'm quite used to XP.)

    ...While in the mean time I plan to build a PC using an Intel D201GLY2A or D945GCLF motherboard (Celeron or Atom processor), an 80GB notebook HD (considering how cheaply you're getting your full size hard drives, I might consider sacrificing size to get more space, although I don't need it much), the cheapest notebook size CD-RW/DVD drive Newegg stocks, a leftover 512mb RAM chip, a couple other bits and pieces, plastic or aluminum sheets (building own case), and some LEDs for style. Running Ubuntu, of course. I'm thinking of building it as I need a portable "field computer" and can't afford a laptop, a used one or even an Eee PC. Don't worry, my current computer isn't that bad.

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    Vista is mature enough that it is the logical choice for any new build with a decent amount of power IMO. With 8GB of RAM, it's definitely the way to go. It also has significantly better driver support than xp x64, the other possibility for a machine like this.

    Oh, and an eee is a great choice - I recently got an eee 901, added Ubuntu linux, and its working great. The atom, while not stunning, is certainly adequate, and seems to use almost no power. It's a great little notetaking and internet machine for class. A similarly specced mini desktop with an atom would be great too.

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    I would have to agree with cjl on the processor and VGA change. The Q9450 is a substantial upgrade in performance over the Q6600 for the price difference of around $35.00. Here is a quick link on CPU performance ratings. http://cpubenchmark.net/high_end_cpus.html
    Also, if video editing is your gig, you may want to consider running a "Raid" configuration on the drives. For more info on "Raid", Google it. Remember that when using "Raid" you must MATCH the drive specs to exact. I happen to be partial to nVidia and use a performance enhancement called nVidia "PureVideo" for exception video quality (Nvidia based VGA only). You can research that here: http://www.nvidia.com/object/nvidia_purevideo.html .
    Check out this tid-bit on VGA's : http://zdpub.vo.llnwd.net/o2/ziffdavisplayer/flvplayer2.html?show=PCMAG&movie=254
    http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,2845,2327347,00.asp
    http://zdpub.vo.llnwd.net/o2/ziffdavisplayer/flvplayer2.html?show=DLTV&movie=episode239
    You may want to double check your programs for x64 bit support! Still a bit fresh to the market. Note: Vista is very memory Hungry!
    Not trying to through a wrench into the gears, but worth checking out!

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    Quote Originally Posted by jet101 View Post
    I would have to agree with cjl on the processor and VGA change. The Q9450 is a substantial upgrade in performance over the Q6600 for the price difference of around $35.00. Here is a quick link on CPU performance ratings. http://cpubenchmark.net/high_end_cpus.html
    Also, if video editing is your gig, you may want to consider running a "Raid" configuration on the drives. For more info on "Raid", Google it. Remember that when using "Raid" you must MATCH the drive specs to exact. I happen to be partial to nVidia and use a performance enhancement called nVidia "PureVideo" for exception video quality (Nvidia based VGA only). You can research that here: http://www.nvidia.com/object/nvidia_purevideo.html .
    Check out this tid-bit on VGA's : http://zdpub.vo.llnwd.net/o2/ziffdavisplayer/flvplayer2.html?show=PCMAG&movie=254
    http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,2845,2327347,00.asp
    http://zdpub.vo.llnwd.net/o2/ziffdavisplayer/flvplayer2.html?show=DLTV&movie=episode239
    You may want to double check your programs for x64 bit support! Still a bit fresh to the market. Note: Vista is very memory Hungry!
    Not trying to through a wrench into the gears, but worth checking out!
    Welcome to BAUT jet101
    And I second what you said: Vista is HUNGRY- a very Hungry beast indeed.
    It's the whole reason I do not like Vista- aside from it's security issues(Which may be patched by now...)

    Vista is a big fat hog.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jet101 View Post
    I would have to agree with cjl on the processor and VGA change. The Q9450 is a substantial upgrade in performance over the Q6600 for the price difference of around $35.00.
    Do you mean a $35.00 net price difference if I opt for the cheaper VGA card? If not, I'd be interested in your CPU source. I've priced the two CPUs at about $140 apart.

    The 4850 sounds like a reasonable option. I'd just read quite a few users' concerns about high GPU temps and not so many about the 4870. I also read there's a script fix for fan speed on the 4850 and I suppose I could also upgrade the card cooler. Then later, if I need more video oomph, I can Crossfire another 4850.

    I do plan on setting up RAID-1 but I'm not sure it'll be at startup. I'm trying to manage the overall cost while getting most of the "goodies" I want. For instance, I have the CH Products flight stick, throttle, and rudder pedals on my wish list. Going full RAID on my program and data drives would likely mean a sacrifice in that or other areas...which I just might do after all. I keep going back and forth on it.

    No real need for video editing yet. I'm a photographer.

    Thanks for the input on 32- vs 64-bit support. Lightroom offers native 64-bit support but Photoshop is currently "certified" for 32-bit OSs only. A quick Google leads me to believe it'll run just fine under x64 in 32-bit mode. It just won't directly access all of the installed RAM I plan...only 3GB, IIUC. Adobe says the next full version update will include 64-bit support so I might just stick with CS2 until then...but then, maybe not. I'll have to look at the timeline.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PetersCreek View Post
    The [ATI Radeon] 4850 [video board] sounds like a reasonable option.
    I'd just read quite a few users' concerns about high GPU temps and not
    so many about the 4870.
    I noticed the power requirement and thought that was too much.
    Since I haven't been able to comprehend the differences between video
    boards, I was planning to go into the store and tell the salesperson that
    the 4850 (and 4870, which seems to be in the limelight) have nice specs,
    but I'd like something that uses a bit less power and gets less hot.
    As I said in my own thread asking for recommendations, the most
    demanding tasks for me will likely be video editing and photo editing.

    If I use a 32-bit OS, should I install 2, 3, or 4 GB of RAM?

    Quote Originally Posted by PetersCreek View Post
    ZALMAN 2 Ball CPU Cooling Fan/Heatsink
    Whew! Is that necessary? Is the processor THAT hot? What's wrong
    with the fan that comes with the CPU?

    -- Jeff, in Minneapolis

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    This is only hearsay, as I have Vista 32, but it seems Vista 64 had even more problems than 32, based on complaints I've read on various forums?

    (Most of Vista 32's problems have been solved--most--maybe 64's has too by now?).

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    I also meant to ask about the motherboard. There appears to be quite a
    number of different versions of the ASUS P5Q, at a range of prices, but, just
    as with video boards, I can't tell what the differences are.

    -- Jeff, in Minneapolis

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Root View Post

    If I use a 32-bit OS, should I install 2, 3, or 4 GB of RAM?


    Whew! Is that necessary? Is the processor THAT hot? What's wrong
    with the fan that comes with the CPU?

    -- Jeff, in Minneapolis
    For a 32 bit, I'd go with 4 gigs, though it won't recognize all of it. 2, 3, and 4 gigs are all good choices though, and will all run fine. As for the fan? The one that comes with the CPU is fine for stock speed. If you overclock at all, the Zalman is quite nice though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PetersCreek View Post
    I do plan on setting up RAID-1 but I'm not sure it'll be at startup.
    There are different schools of thought on that. Since some motherboards allow you to RAID 1 (mirroring) two SATA drives, it's a cheap and easy way to RAID your OS and programs storage. Most people use additional drive(s) for the photos and video. The basis behind this is to provide some protection for your OS and programs (reloading them is never fun) while providing more protection to safeguard your efforts (data).

    Minimum total drives: 5

    The second thought is to simply use a screamingly fast hard drive for the OS/programs, and use RAID to store the fruits of your labor. The basis behind this is to RAID the critical stuff, and reload the OS and programs if the system crashes without worring about your data.

    Minimum total drives: 4

    My thoughts are three-fold, and both involve being able to withstand some occasional downtime (no "mission-critical" 100% uptime required), while trying to optimize both data reliability and hard drive speed.

    My first thought is to use two screamingly fast hard drives in a RAID 0 (mirroring) array for the OS and the program files, then use a RAID 5 (striping with distributed parity) or 6 (striping with dual distributed parity) array for the volume that contains your data (I just have a shortcut on my desktop to my real "My Documents," although I'm guilty of using my desktop as a scratch pad, which I do clean up from time to time). The basis behind this is the same as the first thought at the beginning.

    Minimum total drives: 5

    My second thought is that if the motherboard supports both RAID 0 (striping) and RAID 1 (mirroring) across four SATA drives, then build a nested RAID array for the OS and program files, in a RAID 10 (also called 1+0) configuration, and offload the data files to a RAID 5 or 6 volume. This simply stripes across two mirrored volumes. Raid 0+1 mirrors across two striped volumes. Either way, the four-drive volume can tolerate the loss of a single hard drive. Most people claim that 1+0 is faster due the fact that the mirroring between drives 0 and 1, and between 2 and 3 are each controlled by a dedicated pathway. Thus, to the system, each of the mirrors appears as, and is as fast as, one drive, so that striping the two mirrors is as fast as striping two drives, but with the benefit of RAID (mirrors). This is one reason most high-load systems are using RAID 10. The basis behind this is a fast, yet robust OS/program volume, without solid protection for your data files.

    Minimum total drives: 7

    Shoestring budget? Do a RAID 0 (mirroring) of high speed drives and load both the OS/programs as well as your data on it.

    Minimum total drives: 2

    Thanks for the input on 32- vs 64-bit support. ... Adobe says the next full version update will include 64-bit support so I might just stick with CS2 until then...but then, maybe not. I'll have to look at the timeline.
    When most programs were 16-bit when the first 32-bit processors and OSes came out, half a decade later very few programs did much to take advantage of the 32-bit processor/OS combo. Now they do, but I'm on my third 32-bit processor and my third 32-bit computer!

    You're better off spending your money elsewhere.

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    Thanks(!) to the feedback so far, I've updated my spec list.

    I ran some configurations through an online PSU calculator and based on those numbers, I've taken the PSU from 650w to 750w.

    I stepped the VGA card down one model to MSI's version of the Radeon 4850 and applied the savings to a Q9450 CPU.

    Decided to set up RAID-1 drives for OS/programs (250GB) and data (640GB).

    I've decided to wait on the x64 version of Vista until program and hardware compliance is more common. As a result, I've knocked the 8GB of RAM down to 4GB.

    As for the fan, I've never been a fan (no pun intended) of the stock fans, even though most are adequate. I'm of the mo' cooler is mo' better school of thought. Besides, I may get the urge to overclock one rainy Saturday afternoon.
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    Intel Q9450 price update!

    Brett, sorry for the typo on the CPU cost factor. However, here is the location that I have purchased from, now offering the Q9450 @ $279.99

    http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml?product_id=0287628&Br Cs=498&BrCg=16182160&BrRc=1465887463

    I am also including some links on a case that I purchased last month and I was very impressed with the overall quality of the caes at $54.99. A big reason that I purchased this case was due to the fact it has upper case venting and real cool and clean looking hide-away drive doors. I have added this one to the many favorites that I own.

    http://www.xoxide.com/moneual-lab-m550f25-case.html

    Here is a rear 120mm case fan 50cfm /1500RPM @19db.

    http://www.xoxide.com/hiper-120mm-fan-clrchrbled.html

    PM me if you have any demension requests.

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    I'd go for Vista 64. The driver support is there IMO, and the extra memory should really speed up overall system performance. I'm waiting for Nehalem to build a computer, but I'll be going with at least 6GB of RAM and Vista 64, without a doubt.

    Oh, and since the recent price cut, you might consider this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cjl View Post
    I'd go for Vista 64. The driver support is there IMO, and the extra memory should really speed up overall system performance. I'm waiting for Nehalem to build a computer, but I'll be going with at least 6GB of RAM and Vista 64, without a doubt.
    Uh... Why?

    I've got two identical Vista 32 computers with Office 2007 at work, one in one office, the other in my private office. The private machine has 2 GB. The machine in my common office has 3 GB.

    There is absolutely no noticeable difference either during bootup or running any program.

    The ability to upgrade memory is nice, but paying now for something that doesn't make any appreciable dent in one's computing experience isn't the best option. Will Vista make use of it? Absolutely. Will you notice the difference in your computing experience? Unless you're rendering 10 MB RAW files in Photoshop to highest-resolution JPG (about 250 mb ea), no - you won't.

    Oh, and since the recent price cut, you might consider this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mugaliens View Post
    Will you notice the difference in your computing experience? Unless you're rendering 10 MB RAW files in Photoshop to highest-resolution JPG (about 250 mb ea), no - you won't.
    And this is what has me thinking hard about it. I do process large, multilayer JPEG, TIFF and PSD files, including very large panos...with an eye toward doing even more in the future. Based on my reading so far, it looks like x64 offers advantages even though Photoshop is still a 32-bit application...

    Quote Originally Posted by Adobe
    When you run Photoshop CS3 on a computer with a 64-bit processor (such as a, Intel Xeon processor with EM64T, AMD Athlon 64, or Opteron processor) running a 64-bit version of the operating system (Windows XP Professional x64 Edition or Windows Vista 64-bit) and with 4 GB or more of RAM, Photoshop will use 3 GB for it's image data. You can see the actual amount of RAM Photoshop can use in the Let Photoshop Use number when you set the Let Photoshop Use slider in the Performance preference to 100%. The RAM above the 100% used by Photoshop, which is from approximately 3 GB to 3.7 GB, can be used directly by Photoshop plug-ins (some plug-ins need large chunks of contiguous RAM), filters, or actions. If you have more than 4 GB (to 6 GB), then the RAM above 4 GB is used by the operating system as a cache for the Photoshop scratch disk data. Data that previously was written directly to the hard disk by Photoshop is now cached in this high RAM before being written to the hard disk by the operating system. If you are working with files large enough to take advantage of these extra 2 GB of RAM, the RAM cache can speed performance of Photoshop. Additionally, in Windows Vista 64-bit, processing very large images is much faster if your computer has large amounts of RAM (6-8 GB).
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    Quote Originally Posted by mugaliens View Post
    Uh... Why?

    I've got two identical Vista 32 computers with Office 2007 at work, one in one office, the other in my private office. The private machine has 2 GB. The machine in my common office has 3 GB.

    There is absolutely no noticeable difference either during bootup or running any program.

    The ability to upgrade memory is nice, but paying now for something that doesn't make any appreciable dent in one's computing experience isn't the best option. Will Vista make use of it? Absolutely. Will you notice the difference in your computing experience? Unless you're rendering 10 MB RAW files in Photoshop to highest-resolution JPG (about 250 mb ea), no - you won't.
    Actually, there is a MUCH bigger boost from 3GB to 6 or 8GB than there is from 2 to 3, and the 64 bit can use it more effectively too. Also, 32 bit Vista will never allocate more than 2GB of memory to any single application, while 64 bit will give 32 bit apps up to 4GB, and will give 64 bit apps as much as you have, minus however much is needed for background processes. Because of this, even 32 bit photoshop will benefit significantly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cjl View Post
    Oh, and an eee is a great choice - I recently got an eee 901, added Ubuntu linux, and its working great. The atom, while not stunning, is certainly adequate, and seems to use almost no power. It's a great little notetaking and internet machine for class. A similarly specced mini desktop with an atom would be great too.
    Seems like someone agrees with you.

    The Eee Box looks rather nice, not a powerhouse by any means but cheap with more than enough power for basic tasks.

  20. #20
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    Hmm - an eee box. Looks like it could be a neat little machine, though I wouldn't run XP on it. Linux could work nicely though.

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    Intel is going to replace LGA 775 sometime in the next 2-3 months and the new chips are going to be real monsters.

    The AMD(ATI) graphics card is nice, but they are running into a few driver snags, also, if you can find a 1 GB version, get it... there are a few games where the minimum video RAM requirements are above 512 MB.

    RAM is still fairly cheep, go with 4 GB even if you're using a 32bit OS, but make sure you use a kit, matching pairs are the only way to ensure dual channel mode, go with OCZ, Corsair, or G.SKILL if you plan on overclocking, if not I recommend Crucial. Kingston also makes great RAM modules. I have heard some nasty horror stories about Patriot, but most of them were due to bad overclocking.

    RAID 1 is great for redundancy but it sucks for performance, it will make your system slower, RAID 0 will make disk reads and writes faster, the downside is that if one disk gets corrupted or dies, all your data is gone... but your best bet would be RAID 5, it has performance and redundancy features.

    I see you are wanting Vista Ultimate, go with the full(non upgrade) retail version, it (should)comes with both the 32 and 64 bit install DVDs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by drainbread View Post
    Intel is going to replace LGA 775 sometime in the next 2-3 months and the new chips are going to be real monsters.
    Well, it should be amazing, but it also won't be cheap. The lowest end chip will probably go for $350 or so at release, and the boards will all be higher end as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by drainbread View Post
    The AMD(ATI) graphics card is nice, but they are running into a few driver snags, also, if you can find a 1 GB version, get it... there are a few games where the minimum video RAM requirements are above 512 MB.
    Minimum? Which ones? I've yet to see one with a minimum requirement above 256MB, and I also haven't ever seen a game benefit from >512MB of RAM at under 1920x1200 resolution. I'd say that card with 512 should be more than adequate for any game for a decent time to come, especially if you are running at 1680x1050 or lower.

    Quote Originally Posted by drainbread View Post
    RAM is still fairly cheep, go with 4 GB even if you're using a 32bit OS, but make sure you use a kit, matching pairs are the only way to ensure dual channel mode, go with OCZ, Corsair, or G.SKILL if you plan on overclocking, if not I recommend Crucial. Kingston also makes great RAM modules. I have heard some nasty horror stories about Patriot, but most of them were due to bad overclocking.
    Definitely agreed about the RAM here - Corsair Dominator is amazing (though a bit expensive), and any of the above manufacturers is great.

    Quote Originally Posted by drainbread View Post
    RAID 1 is great for redundancy but it sucks for performance, it will make your system slower, RAID 0 will make disk reads and writes faster, the downside is that if one disk gets corrupted or dies, all your data is gone... but your best bet would be RAID 5, it has performance and redundancy features.
    I wouldn't go for RAID 5 - it has great read performance, but the write performance suffers, especially on small writes.

    Quote Originally Posted by drainbread View Post
    I see you are wanting Vista Ultimate, go with the full(non upgrade) retail version, it (should)comes with both the 32 and 64 bit install DVDs.
    Of course, it also costs $277...

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    Quote Originally Posted by cjl View Post


    Minimum? Which ones? I've yet to see one with a minimum requirement above 256MB, and I also haven't ever seen a game benefit from >512MB of RAM at under 1920x1200 resolution. I'd say that card with 512 should be more than adequate for any game for a decent time to come, especially if you are running at 1680x1050 or lower.

    You're right...

    Forgot that I read "Forum posting for dummies", page one states to "never post FUWUTI or half asleep", now that I re-read that part of my post it seems, well, just off.

    However, I can think of 2 games off the top of my head that are video RAM starved, Crysis and Crysis: Warhead(not out yet).

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    Quote Originally Posted by PetersCreek View Post
    And this is what has me thinking hard about it. I do process large, multilayer JPEG, TIFF and PSD files, including very large panos...with an eye toward doing even more in the future. Based on my reading so far, it looks like x64 offers advantages even though Photoshop is still a 32-bit application...
    At this site, you can download Adobe's plans for 64-bit processing support in Photoshop.

    They say native 64-bit support for Windows will be included in the next version release. Don't know if that's CS3, ver 2.1, or if it's CS4.

    Ah... A little further on they said this:

    Q: Will the current versions of Adobe products be made available with 64-bit support? For example, can we look for a 64-bit native update of Photoshop CS3?
    A: No. 64-bit support will only be available in future full-version upgrades of Adobe software.
    So, if you don't yet have CS3, skip it and wait for CS4, as 64-bit support won't be had with CS3.

    In the meantime, consider building a barebones hotrod 64-bit capable system with plenty of room for upgrades (memory, graphics).

    As for my previous recommendations, now that I know what you're primarily doing, here's an upgrade to my previous recommendations:

    Processor: Fast quad core with LOTs of cache.

    RAM: Also fast, but a single 2 GB module ought to get you started - upgrade when the prices drop (they always do).

    The rest assumes you're a self-employed professional photographer who works from home or a small studio.

    OS/programs volume: Use the RAID 1 option and two SATA drives. You don't need the screamers (10,000 rpm), as once CS3 is loaded, it's fast. The screamers might save you a few seconds a day - is that really worth a couple hundred extra bucks?

    Photo/video/artwork volume: RAID 6.

    Why? Because if one hard drive dies (or even if there's a bad block on a hard drive), with RAIDs 1 and 5, you can loose your data if a second drive fails during shutdown or during the rebuild operation. RAID 6 provides continued RAID service during the shutdown and rebuild operation.

    You'll need a minimum of 4 drives to implement RAID 6, and for best performance you should use an external RAID 6 structure which includes the controller(s), the housing, a power supply, and the drives.

    The useable capacity of a RAID 6 array = (N-2)*Smin, where N is the total number of drives, and (N-2)*Smin is the capacity of the smallest drive. So, for four 100 GB drives, you get a useable RAID 6 volume of 200 GB.

    In short, it's the same 50% useable capacity as mirroring, but reads are just as fast (reading from any two drives at a time, as with mirroring) and writes take less time, as the parity is the same amount of data but spread across two different drives.

    If budget really is an issue, skip using a RAID 6 array and just mirror two hard drives for your data.

    Summary:

    Ideal:

    OS/Progs: Volume 1 (RAID 1)
    drive 0
    drive 1
    Data: Volume 2 (RAID 6)
    drive 2
    drive 3
    drive 4
    drive 5

    Budget:

    OS/Progs: Volume 1 (RAID 1)
    drive 0
    drive 1
    Data: Volume 2 (RAID 1)
    drive 2
    drive 3

    The cool thing about the budget approach is that with the right motherboard, you can program through the BIOS/CMOS to establish two RAID 1 volumes using four drives all connected via SATA to the motherboard. And with the right case and power supply, you can fit all your hard drives, DVD/CD, etc. in the same case.

    That way, in case of a fire, it's easy to rip the crap out of the back and save your life's work!

    just kidding...

    Seriously - moving on:

    1. I'm glad you upped to 750W. My setup (still in design phase) has a lot of the same requirements as yours, and I found I'd need a 750W for some breathing room (to ensure I wasn't straining the power supply). I found an ultra-quiet 800W supply on sale, so that's sitting on my desk awaiting the rest of the stuff.

    2. I'd seriously consider getting both a mobo and graphics cards which support CrossFire X or SLI. I'm not sure how much JPG calculations are offloaded to the graphics cards, but in working with 100+ MB jpegs, even with a fast single card, it was fairly slow. The benifit of CrossFire X is being able to use multiple video displays. Previous versions of CrossFire X and all current SLI offerings are single-display only.

    To read more about both, including some "must-know" technical details and limitations, see this article.

    After reading more about both, I'm leaning towards CrossFire X for it's multiple-monitor capability. However, this requires four x16 PCI Express slots! And it's primarily for gaming...

    If you stayed away from gaming, you'd only need a regular video card with a good amount of memory (512 MB, min, due to the graphics work). And that video card should support two monitors for photo editing work quite well. For the dual-monitor use, go with a gig of video RAM or use two independant video cards in the PCI-E slots.

    I think the others have the processor/memory issues pretty much wired, so again, I'll stay hands off on that.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by drainbread View Post
    RAID 1 is great for redundancy but it sucks for performance, it will make your system slower, RAID 0 will make disk reads and writes faster, the downside is that if one disk gets corrupted or dies, all your data is gone... but your best bet would be RAID 5, it has performance and redundancy features.
    RAID 1 is slower (half speed) on lengthy writes only if one controller is controlling both drives (unless it's a dual-channel controller, able to simultaneously write to both drives). It's faster (double speed) on reads, regardless of whether you're using one or two controllers, as it can read one block from one drive while it's reading a successive block from the other drive, much like the performance advantage one gets with striping.

    As RAID 5 stripes with parity, both reads and writes are faster. Where it's developed a bad rep is in the database world, where real-time indexes and complex relational searches bog the snot out of it due to the intensive read/write nature of most databases (lock the record, write the data, verify the data, unlock the record). Since more records are < a disk's cylinder capacity, with a single disk this takes four rpms of the disk. With a three-disk AID 5 array, due to timing issues, this can take up to twelve revolutions, but averages around seven revolutions. There is no hit on read performance, however.

    I see you are wanting Vista Ultimate, go with the full(non upgrade) retail version, it (should)comes with both the 32 and 64 bit install DVDs.
    I didn't know that! Thanks! I'll check with Microsoft, though, just to be sure... (I was going to buy Ultimate, full, anyway, as 1.) I hate upgrades, and 2.) I'm building a new system from the ground up).

  26. #26
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    Writes are slower in raid 5 and 6 unless all your writes are in blocks of a complete stripe, since otherwise the write requires a read of the rest of the stripe to generate the parit(y/ies), that's why they have a very bad rep in the database world, since non-sequential writes cause lots of read/parity-calc/writes.
    __________________________________________________
    Reductionist and proud of it.

    Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn. Benjamin Franklin
    Chase after the truth like all hell and you'll free yourself, even though you never touch its coat tails. Clarence Darrow
    A person who won't read has no advantage over one who can't read. Mark Twain

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by drainbread View Post
    You're right...

    Forgot that I read "Forum posting for dummies", page one states to "never post FUWUTI or half asleep", now that I re-read that part of my post it seems, well, just off.

    However, I can think of 2 games off the top of my head that are video RAM starved, Crysis and Crysis: Warhead(not out yet).
    True, and especially if you like filtering (antialiasing and the like).

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by HenrikOlsen View Post
    Writes are slower in raid 5 and 6 unless all your writes are in blocks of a complete stripe, since otherwise the write requires a read of the rest of the stripe to generate the parit(y/ies), that's why they have a very bad rep in the database world, since non-sequential writes cause lots of read/parity-calc/writes.
    That's the "unless" I had in mind.

    I'm partial to RAID 6, for several reasons.

    First, although 5 protects against single disk failure, it's still a time-consuming rebuild. Second, individual block data transfers at the same rate as a single disk. Nevertheless, 5 is the most versitile RAID, with the highest Read data transaction rate. You're correct, though, as the write data transaction rate is merely average, and below average for non-sequential writes due to the overhead. RAID 5 is also the most efficient in terms of the lowest parity/data ratio. But RAID 5 shutdowns and rebuilts on a failed disk are vulnerable, and the rebuilts are long.

    RAID 6 has more controller complexity and overhead, but with today's faster processors, that's not really a big deal, and on-controller Reed-Soloman ASICs bring the write performance on part with RAID 5. Although it's a less efficient use of partity/data, it maintains RAID during single drive failure, shutdown, and rebuild.

    If you're searching for a high I/O database solution, RAID 10 is a faster alternative to RAID 1, with the same fault tolerance. The striping controllers are separate from the mirroring controllers, so to the system, it appears as RAID 0, with all the speed advantages, but since each pair of striped volumes is mirrored, the failure of one drive is of little consequence - while that one mirrored pair no longer has RAID, the rest maintain their RAID.

    However, it's expensive!!!

  29. #29
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    Like Brett, I'm building a system, too. I've been thinking about it for more than a year, and I'm glad I did, as I've learned a lot, mostly about how much less up to speed I am on the various technologies and interoperabilities than I was before.

    So, here's my approach:

    Requirements:

    1. Processor - Fast (don't need the cutting edge - an 80% solution will do). I do want a quad-core. I need help with matching the processor, the memory, and the mobo.

    2. RAM - Start with 2 GB or 4 GB, upgradeable to at least 6 GB, but would prefer upgradeable to 8 GB (additional room for upgrade would be preferable, as my current machine is 6 years old, and I'll probably keep the new one about the same duration.

    2. Graphics - Strong graphics performance, particularly with DirectX 10. Need mem for high resolution. I'm going to be pushing three monitors - one high-res (1920x1200), 16x10 monitor with HDMI input, and two lesser monitors on either side (probably just 15-pin VGA). The center monitor is where the action will be. The side monitors are for things like radio stacks, throttle quadrants, displays of rough drafts and other original material - in short, stuff that doesn't move much. Was thinking about either SLI and two cards for the center monitor and a single care for the side ones, or just using two PCIe cards, one high-end single-out, and the other low-end dual-out.

    3. Storage - I've got this one licked, and am planning a three-fold increase over current requirements, with a 2/3 overage. That's current requirements times 5. I'm currently using 23 GB for my OS, and 16 GB for my programs. This comes to 125 GB requirement for my OS volume, and an 80 GB requirement for my Programs volume.

    These are minimum values! I'll probably double them.

    I'll also be using RAID 1 (mirror) for each of those two volumes, via on-mobo RAID. At least one mobo I looked at supports dual mirroring off it's four SATA ports. I've got a PCI card with two SATA ports which I'll use for my SATA DVD and in the future, my SATA Blue-ray.

    Data storage is handled by a 1 TB external drive, and a second, 200 GB external drive backup for critical files and finished works.

    4. Operating System: Windows Vista Ultimate, 64-bit. My only question is - will it run everything Windows Vista Home will run?

    5. Case - My Antec tower is doing terrific, and have never had any heat problem. I will replace the fans and power supply, though.

    6. Power Supply - I found a super-quiet 800 W unit that fits my Antec. It's sitting on my desk.

    7. Sound card - I'm integrating my computer and stereo more thoroughly, so I'll need a sound card with either a coax or optical audio out - SPDIF? I'd like it to be able to carry a full 7.1 signal, but it's not required. 5.1 is good enough if that's all they have. I've always liked soundblaster, so I'm wondering whether or not it'll pay to get the X-Fi, or if the Audigy series is enough. The Audigy 4 seems to have 7.1 and is good for gaming, movies, and music, so I'll probably just get that.

    Well, it's a start!

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by mugaliens View Post
    Like Brett, I'm building a system, too. I've been thinking about it for more than a year, and I'm glad I did, as I've learned a lot, mostly about how much less up to speed I am on the various technologies and interoperabilities than I was before.

    So, here's my approach:

    Requirements:

    1. Processor - Fast (don't need the cutting edge - an 80% solution will do). I do want a quad-core. I need help with matching the processor, the memory, and the mobo.
    How soon do you need it? Soon, intel is coming out with the next generation parts, and they should be significant improvements over the current stuff. Of course, if you need it right now, the Q9450 or 9550 is a great choice.

    Quote Originally Posted by mugaliens View Post
    2. RAM - Start with 2 GB or 4 GB, upgradeable to at least 6 GB, but would prefer upgradeable to 8 GB (additional room for upgrade would be preferable, as my current machine is 6 years old, and I'll probably keep the new one about the same duration.
    Sounds like a good plan to me - I'd go with a pair of 2GB DIMMs to start, or 3 1GB DIMMs if you wait for the next generation CPUs (which will have a triple channel memory controller).


    Quote Originally Posted by mugaliens View Post
    2. Graphics - Strong graphics performance, particularly with DirectX 10. Need mem for high resolution. I'm going to be pushing three monitors - one high-res (1920x1200), 16x10 monitor with HDMI input, and two lesser monitors on either side (probably just 15-pin VGA). The center monitor is where the action will be. The side monitors are for things like radio stacks, throttle quadrants, displays of rough drafts and other original material - in short, stuff that doesn't move much. Was thinking about either SLI and two cards for the center monitor and a single care for the side ones, or just using two PCIe cards, one high-end single-out, and the other low-end dual-out.
    Well, the best bang for the buck right now is the ATI Radeon 4xxx series cards, but almost no single card out there has more than 2 monitor capability. The HD4870x2 might have the capability for 4 monitors in some non-reference variants though, or there's always multiple cards.


    Quote Originally Posted by mugaliens View Post
    4. Operating System: Windows Vista Ultimate, 64-bit. My only question is - will it run everything Windows Vista Home will run?
    Absolutely. You shouldn't have any trouble.


    Quote Originally Posted by mugaliens View Post
    5. Case - My Antec tower is doing terrific, and have never had any heat problem. I will replace the fans and power supply, though.

    6. Power Supply - I found a super-quiet 800 W unit that fits my Antec. It's sitting on my desk.
    Sounds good, and that should be plenty of power.


    Quote Originally Posted by mugaliens View Post
    7. Sound card - I'm integrating my computer and stereo more thoroughly, so I'll need a sound card with either a coax or optical audio out - SPDIF? I'd like it to be able to carry a full 7.1 signal, but it's not required. 5.1 is good enough if that's all they have. I've always liked soundblaster, so I'm wondering whether or not it'll pay to get the X-Fi, or if the Audigy series is enough. The Audigy 4 seems to have 7.1 and is good for gaming, movies, and music, so I'll probably just get that.

    Well, it's a start!
    Most higher end motherboards have optical out these days, and the Radeon HD4800 series video cards can also do 7.1 channel audio over HDMI (if your reciever supports HDMI in/out).

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