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  1. #1
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    Photo computer build

    I want to build a new computer and am looking for recommendations for the build. I have pretty much settled on an intel based system, especially with the new core duo chips. That seems to be the most upgradable. I have questions though about where the money is best spent on a system that will be primarily be used for photo and video editing. I don't think that the considerations are the same as say a gaming machine. Should the cpu/ chipset be primary or the video card. Specifically, which video cards are recommended and why? If the power of the core duo isn't necessary, what do you recommend? Basically, I want to build a system that is fast but not build a gamers dream machine that never lives up to its potential.

  2. #2
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    Re: Photo computer build

    If the new Duo chips are dual core, then AMD has offered that for a long time. I use a AMD 3800+ X2. I prefer AMD, personally, because I know it's run by engineers, not marketers. But it's your choice.

    Stay away from gaming cards. What you'll want is a card designed for photo editing, a gaming card would suffice, but they're designed to handle 3d graphics better, an Nvidia 6800 GT would easily do, or an ATI, I don't know the ATI line very well.

    One thing I'm sure on, RAM, lots of it. I'd suggest getting at least 1 gigabyte, if not more. Pick a Motherboard that can easily handle lots of RAM, I'd suggest getting however much you feel like using in a dual channel kit, they tend to perform a bit better than individual sticks.

    Again, you don't need to go all out, but the more you pay for, the faster it'll work, in general. It's a matter of how much you'll want to pay.

    Side note: Assuming the Intel Duo is a dual core chip (I'm a AMD man myself, don't know squat about Intel), keep in mind that some programs despise dual core. Usually simple programs don't mind, but things like Maya, and videogames don't like it. You can take programs off one chip through an option in the task manager, or through installing a command line option, which'll fix any problems permanently. But if you despise commandline, or if you don't feel like the potential issue, I don't know if the dual core will serve you more than a good single core, truth be told.

  3. #3
    Fluorite Toothpaste poker's Avatar
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    Re: Photo computer build

    Don't skimp on a good monitor with a high contrast ratio. If you are really serious, don't forget about the monitor calibration device.You'll also need a DL DVD burner to backup everything.

    Just something to think about.
    Canon 5D MKII & Canon 7D

  4. #4
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    Re: Photo computer build

    Very... very... large harddrive.

  5. #5
    Check out our D300 Pro Review! deckcadet's Avatar
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    Re: Photo computer build

    Quote Originally Posted by Ashton K.
    If the new Duo chips are dual core, then AMD has offered that for a long time. I use a AMD 3800+ X2. I prefer AMD, personally, because I know it's run by engineers, not marketers. But it's your choice.
    Intel has also offered dual core for some time, however the new Intel Core 2 Duo has the best microarchitecture on the market- the midrange 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo desktop chip equaled or beat the absolute top AMD chip in almost every single benchmark. The Intel Core microarchitecture is very efficient, and is also power and heat efficient. The Core 2 series are the flat out best chips in the desktop market today, topping out with the 2.93GHz extreme edition, with a 3.2GHz EE on its way and a quad core version coming around the end of 2006/beginning of 2007.

    My advice- get a Core 2 Duo 2.67GHz or 2.93GHz, the 2.4/2.67 overclock very well by the way.

    One thing I'm sure on, RAM, lots of it. I'd suggest getting at least 1 gigabyte, if not more. Pick a Motherboard that can easily handle lots of RAM, I'd suggest getting however much you feel like using in a dual channel kit, they tend to perform a bit better than individual sticks.
    1GB is nothing...I'd suggest 2GB minimum for photo editing, preferably4GB.
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  6. #6
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    Re: Photo computer build

    Intel and AMD benchmark in different ways. Use third party analysis. And apply a cost-benifit analysis.

  7. #7
    Check out our D300 Pro Review! deckcadet's Avatar
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    Re: Photo computer build

    Quote Originally Posted by Ashton K.
    Intel and AMD benchmark in different ways. Use third party analysis. And apply a cost-benifit analysis.
    I am applying results here obtained with 3rd party benchmarks as reported after the NDA was lifted on the Core 2 processors.

    the 2.4GHz version IIRC Overclocked to 3.6GHz+ on air cooling (not the stock intel cooler though).

    AMD had to slash their prices because they no longer reign supreme.
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  8. #8
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    Re: Photo computer build

    *shrug* Whatever. I don't care really. How much work does photoediting make the processor do? I'm a gamer by trade, and I have a workhorse PC for gaming, never been a photoeditor.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Dylan8i's Avatar
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    Re: Photo computer build

    i just got a new computer. its a dell inspiron 9400 (laptop) with duel intel t2600@2.16 ghzm 994 mhz, 2gb ram and i forget the number btu what ever nvidia card with 256mb dedicated. and for the pictures i have it works incredably fast. (mine are only from a 3.2 mp camera though), but even my 9 mb panos load just as quick ( as far as i can tell).

    i'm alittle concerned about the colors on a laptop after joining this site, but i guess i can always, if i need to, buy a real monitor and just calibraatet it and hook it up to the laptop.
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  10. #10
    Check out our D300 Pro Review! deckcadet's Avatar
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    Re: Photo computer build

    I'm running very snappily on my macbook pro, which also uses the T2600 at 2.16, wiht 2GB RAM, 256 vid, etc. and all my editing apps are not Universal Binary, so they run via an emulator. I can process files up to 10mp no problem (if a bit slow on the render). My files are routinely 4-11mb.
    Harrison
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  11. #11
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    Re: Photo computer build

    I'm a computer kind of guy. I've been building them for 4 years, and tinkering since i was 10, believe it or not.

    I would wait till the 27th, and order the new Intel Conroe Core Duo (E6600) for $318. It completely blows away any of AMD's cpus in comparable range, and with a small overclock, it can even blow away their FX-60 ($1230)

    2gb of ram is standard now, if not more. I usually go for 1/4th of what the motherboard can support. Now a days the motherboards are supporing 8gb. My last board supported 4gb, I was fine with 1, but I am now finding myself NEEDING more. For my next system, I plan to get 4gb of RAM. RAM is a part you dont want to skimp on. I would buy Corsair or OCZ ram, but dont get value ram. Try to get a Dual Channel kit if you can find one. Make sure your timings are low too (timings as in a number like: 4-4-4-12)
    Heres some RAM I would suggest: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16820145034

    Graphics card... ATI.. no doubt. nVidia is aiming towards gamers right now, and ATI's cards are actually able to graphically render things quite well. Any way, a workstation card is about $800, pretty high. I'd suggest you get an x1900xt($369), or the newest, x1950xtx($399, but not released yet.)

    Also, to handle that beast, you will need a high power, power supply. This should have more than enough power to hold up your system. I have one, and its silent, and reliable as anything.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16817153028

    Hard drives. I would get 500gb x 2 for a raid setup. $80 per drive, for a 250gb drive.
    Grab up 4 of them for 1tb of space, and then run them in raid, so if 1 drive fails, it is always backed up on on of the spare drives. This would effectively give you 500gb of usable space, and 500gb of backup.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16817153028

    I cant suggest a motherboard yet, as there are none out as of yet, that are OFFICIALLY supported by intels new Conroe CPU. No doubt in my mind, the conroe is a CPU revolution. Dont get anything less than the E6600, because the lower models only have 2mb of shared cache, and the more cache, the better. The E6600 should be able to overclock to 3.2GHz, and be blistering fast for whatever you throw at it today.

    Good luck with shopping for new pc.
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  12. #12
    Captain of the Ship Photo-John's Avatar
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    Great Thread!

    I built myself a new computer a little over a year ago because my previous one got cooked in a power surge. Mine is nowhere near is slick as the stuff you guys are talking about. I think my motherboard will take two gigs of RAM, but I'm still only running half a gig. I'm just lazy. And I regularly work with layered TIFF files of 30 megs or more. I just delivered a bunch of CMYK JPEGs to a client and they were all about 10 megs. So, while power is nice, I've been able to live without having the latest and greatest.

    So far I've only seen one person mention it, and it's probably one of the more important elements of a serious system - monitor calibration hardware. Make sure to budget $200-300 for a good monitor calibration system. All the power and speed in the world won't matter if your color is off. And I wwould recommend a CRT monitor over an LCD, if you're serious about your images. I know LCDs have come a long way, but I still haven't seen one that I trust. I'm waiting for OLED monitors. I think those will be worth the wait.
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  13. #13
    Senior Member racingpinarello's Avatar
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    Re: Photo computer build

    I bought a dual 64 bit processor with 4mg of RAM, and it works very nicely. If you want fast graphics then get a PCI-Express video card because that is where you need the power. I have two super fast processors, and even though I have a fast graphics card this is the chain that will hold up my image processing.

    IMO, get a fast pentium 4 or single 64 bit Xeon processor, and splurge on a ATI PCI-Express video card and a mother board that suports it. Spend more money on video calibration.

    I had the Sypder, but I now use EyeOne.

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  14. #14
    shake it like a polaroid picture berrywise's Avatar
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    Re: Photo computer build

    I just built up a new machine. Dual 3.2 gig processor, 6 terrebytes of hard drive space, and 16 gigs of ram. It was running sweet until the smoke got out of the box and now it doesn't work.

  15. #15
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    Re: Photo computer build

    Quote Originally Posted by racingpinarello
    IMO, get a fast pentium 4 or single 64 bit Xeon processor, and splurge on a ATI PCI-Express video card and a mother board that suports it. Spend more money on video calibration.Loren
    I'd disagree on the Pentium 4 here- not only is it single core, but it uses the now obsolete Netburst architecture, as does the pentium D and Pentium Extreme Edition.

    For Xeons:
    Xeon 5100 series Woodcrest dual core- the server level version of the Conroe Core 2 chip using the Intel Core Microarchitecture. More expensive, but uses FB-DIMM RAM. Similar thermal requirements to the desktop version.

    For Desktop chips:
    Intel Core 2 Duo/Core 2 Extreme Conroe dual core- cheaper than the 5100 series Xeons in actual chip/supplementary hardware costs, similar performance, slightly slower FSB, but this doesn't matter much in practice.
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  16. #16
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    Re: Photo computer build

    Thanks for all the great advice so far. I think that I am going to go with the Intel core duo CPU since it seems to be an incredible leap forward as far as chip architecture goes. I read one review that tested it cooled by air alone and it still ran with no problems.

    With reguard to storage, SATA drives are clearly the way to go. The whole raid redundancy seems to provide peace of mind on the first analysis but doesn't that mean that any potential threats i.e virus' that may trash the drive will be on both drives. I have a hardwired network in my home and I have been thinking about getting a SATA network attached device that can also be a server/ftp for sharing pics etc. Then I could back up the files weekly or on some other schedule. Perhaps both ideas should be entertained.

  17. #17
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    Re: Photo computer build

    Quote Originally Posted by deckcadet
    Intel has also offered dual core for some time, however the new Intel Core 2 Duo has the best microarchitecture on the market- the midrange 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo desktop chip equaled or beat the absolute top AMD chip in almost every single benchmark.
    Not in the benchmarks I read, the AMD 4200+ beat it in quite a few tests.
    But they were roughly equivalent until you run a program that is not multithreaded.
    Once you run single threaded programs, they are as slow as the single CPU core which isn't that good.
    Nevertheless, I think I'd take an Athlon or a Pentium D over a pair of Xeon processors, which Dell are still seling in some of their servers and workstations.

    I am considering a refurbished (warrantied) Dell server and adding to that a decent multi-head graphics card. I'm sold on multi monitor desktop !
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  18. #18
    Check out our D300 Pro Review! deckcadet's Avatar
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    Re: Photo computer build

    I'd take an Athlon over a Xeon 5000 series Dempseys (netburst) which are just souped up Pentium D's, but I'd take a Xeon 5100 series Woodcrest (Intel Core Microarchitecture) over anything right now. Even faster than the Core 2 Conroe, faster FSB, FB-DIMM RAM, and can be in a dual processon config for a quad core machine. They're absolutely fantastic.

    Now if you were really going to want speed out of a desktop chip, i'd be hanging on until Kentsfield later this year, the quad core version of Conroe. Apparently he could have even found one already, some sample Kentsfields were on the Taiwan eBay a short while ago!

    Of course if you gave me a few months I'd be more than happy to wait for Clovertown-MP and Tigerton, quad core chips x2 for an 8 core machine.
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  19. #19
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    Re: Photo computer build

    I put togetgher a machine with two AMD Duron 270's (four processor cores total), 8GB of memory, a large IDE hard drive and SATA RAID to store the photos. I also got a Radeon X1700 to power my two LaCie 321 monitors, and I'm using Monaco EZ color and the Optix colorometer. I'm really happy with the system, and I'm using 64 bit Windows XP to get the benefit of the extra RAM over 4GB.

    My hope is that the machine will be usable for a long time to come, hopefully years. With the advent of 64 bit computing, everything is a bit up in the air right now, so get the best machine you can and keep it up to date.

  20. #20
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    Re: Photo computer build

    I built my own earlier this year. Here is what I did:

    A 3.8 gig HT processor (Couldn't afford the duo core at the time but will upgrade soon)

    4 gigs of ram (I had 2 already from my old system)

    Adaptec SCSI controller card and 2 36 gig 15k ultra 320 drives for the operating system and programs only. I configured them in RAID 0 for performance and created an image of the drive after all of the software was loaded.

    4 250 gig SATA drives for data storage

    An ATI video card (Can't remember the model)

    DL DVD burner

    It is fast. Loads CS2 in about 6 seconds. I have run large batch jobs and handled very large images without trouble. I don't do video editing so I can't tell you how it would perform there.
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  21. #21
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    Re: Photo computer build

    Quote Originally Posted by dmm96452
    I don't do video editing so I can't tell you how it would perform there.
    I do video editing on a 400Mhz iMac. I think your HAL 9000 there can probably hack it.

  22. #22
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    Re: Photo computer build

    Im a computer tech by trade so maybe i can offer some insite into this.

    First and for most, the Intel VS AMD war is pointless in this type of discussion. AMDs run at higher temps then Intel chips do. The end.

    Xeon chips are for servers so stay away from them, they ARE NOT as fast as everyone thinks. (servers rely on 70% ram 30% cpu)

    What you should be looking for is Cache size. a 1.7ghz centino chip with 2mb of cache actually faster then a 3.0ghz chip. so with that in mind. dont always go on the GHZ of a chip.

    Cache is but one of the things you should be looking at. 4 gigs of DDR2 ram is overkill. Go with 2 gigs of DDR2 and youll be fine. if you can only afford DDR then for with a little more. (DDR2 is newer and faster) Kingston is a good brand.

    try to avoid laptops if your a serious power-user. they have onboard videocards and the videocards drain from the RAM.

    1gig DDR3 videocards are very nice but also cost more then most computers so settle for a 256meg or even 512meg DDR2 if you can afford it. Try to get AGP as pci is slower. Nvidia makes great cards (dont skimp on this)

    for storage go with duel 120gig drives. why not a single 250gig? the 250 gig is hotter, costs more, and if your harddrive was to ever get damaged its around $100 a gig for data recovery. but then again youll always back up so you wont have to worry about that...right?

    Next you need a DVD burner. pretty much any will do, but try to go with Aopen. make sure its + - .

    In terms of a motherboard go for an Asus. they make the best. make sure the North Bridge has a very large heat sink, (the north bridge is where data is transfered between your graphics card and cpu, lots of data means lots of heat.) Also look for one that supports the ram you have chosen, 4 slots preferably. (make sure they are all DDR or DDR2 you dont want a board with SDRAM and DDR slots. (they dotn make Sdram anymore so it would be a waste) dont bother with a onboard video. It eats at your ram. which you dont really want.

    dont bother with a floppy.

    Powersupply! Opt for a 500watt with 20amps. Amps are very important always ALWAYS get atleast 18 - 20. your graphics card may require a 550 watt powersupply so be sure to check that! FlowMax is a great brand.

    sound card is well....mostly onboard nowadays. so dont worry about that.

    put all of that into a nice Aspire case with 3 fans and your good to go.

    no liquid cooling. It can leak and its not worth the price. Just buy a couple of good fans.

    got questions? ask me!

    remember heat is bad! stay cool and youll have better performance. I know i only talked about 250gigs of storage but you can stack external drives alot more easily then dealing with raids and the such. just dont put all your eggs in one basket always have more then one drive.

    one more thing. If you overclock your doing it at your own risk. If you do opt to do it, make sure you get a better heatsink and fan then the one that comes stock with your cpu.

  23. #23
    Erstwhile Vagabond armed with camera Lionheart's Avatar
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    Re: Photo computer build

    Quote Originally Posted by deckcadet
    1GB is nothing...I'd suggest 2GB minimum for photo editing, preferably4GB.
    Caveat about 4 GB if you're running 32 bit XP.
    I recommend staying at 2 to 3 GB of RAM unless you're running Vista or XP 64 bit. Windows XP can only handle up to 4 GB of RAM, but at 4 GB, the upper 512 MB ends up wasted (something to do with legacy memory mapping if I recall from some articles a while back). I've run on 4 GB before, and XP only reports 3.5 GB of it, and the computer actually runs slower-why? I don't know. Just my 10 bits and my own personal experience. btw, if your rig is a gaming rig, it'll be JUST fine for photoshop. The only critical video requirement for photoshop is how much resolution you want at maximal color depth and a monitor to match. Any number of video cards out there will do. Most will support 1600x1200 or better, and you can play games when you're bored.
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