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Author Topic: Building a photoshop computer  (Read 7883 times)
soboyle
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« on: July 07, 2008, 08:33:46 PM »
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I've built several computers in the past, but am pretty rusty since my last machine has lasted me over 4 years. Looking for suggestions for specific hardware, motherboard, processor, ram and video card. My goal is a stable 8 gig machine optimized for Photoshop. I'm currently using XP pro 32 bit, and will probably stick with that until photoshop goes 64 bit, so I want a computer that will handle 64 bit apps in the future with a change of the OS. Since XP pro 32 bit only will address under 4 gigs, then I will only purchase 4 gigs ram at this time (2 2 gig chips)
Any suggestions are welcome.
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AlanG
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« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2008, 12:27:16 AM »
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You might want to read this article but it is months old.

http://blogs.zdnet.com/Ou/?p=942

I liked the motherboards that could hold two processors and 16 memory slots.
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Alan Goldstein
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johnchoy
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« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2008, 01:43:52 AM »
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Are you going to add cards such as raid card or Esata card? If so, you have to check with the motherboard manual about the information of IRQ assignment.

I suffered from system instability a while ago when my previous motherboards (Asus P5k and P5k/EPU ) didn't have any independent slot for IRQ assignment. I need raid ( raid 0) because of photoshop scratch disk.

I'm now using a Asus P5Q with Promise 2300 raid card (PCI version). It has a IRQ independent PCI slot. Moreover, this motherboard utilize intel p45 chip set and can support up to 16 gig memory.THe 4 G memory module will soon became cheap and available.

Changing 3 motherboards and 3 raid cards in 1 and a half month time, I'm now settled.  Although money wasted, I learn a lot.

Hope it helps.
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tomrock
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« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2008, 07:33:01 AM »
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You may want to consider a Mac Pro tower. It has everything you want and will run Windows fine. I have a buddy who has one and runs Vista on it 95% of the time.
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AlanG
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« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2008, 10:07:33 AM »
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You may want to consider a Mac Pro tower. It has everything you want and will run Windows fine. I have a buddy who has one and runs Vista on it 95% of the time.
[{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I am sure the Mac Pro is an excellent computer but one of the main advantages of building a computer is to get exactly what you want.  For instance the Mac Pro does not support SLI dual graphics cards. This is something mostly used by gamers right now. But my understanding is that future versions of Photoshop will make use of the processing power in the graphics card (some programs do this now.) From the little I've heard it seems that the high end graphics will make a big difference on the next Photoshop - CS4.  So you may want a motherboard that supports SLI graphics even if you only buy one SLI graphics card to start.  The newsest SLI boards can support three SLI cards (only certain model cards can be ganged in three.) The Mac motherboard requires a RAID card whereas lots of PC motherboards have RAID built in.   Various motherboards have special features including overclocking capabilities and software to adjust and monitor the board.

I am not sure if you can get a dual processor SLI board. If not, it might be a good idea to wait until you can find out what features in a computer will do the most to accelerate Photoshop CS4. (Processor, memory, graphics, or 64 bit) That is what I am going to do.

There is no word from Adobe that this GPU acceleration will be in CS4.  But NVIDIA makes SLI motherboards and graphics cards.

There is some controvery surrounding this report:

[a href=\"http://www.tgdaily.com/content/view/37611/140/]http://www.tgdaily.com/content/view/37611/140/[/url]

In addition, the Mac Pro is limited to 4 internal hard drives and what look like 2 5 1/4 bays. My PC case has space for 6 3.5 inch hard drives (all shock mounted on silicone bumpers), a 3.5 inch front accessible slot for floppy or flash card reader or whatever, and 4 5 1/4 bays.  I currently have 5 hard drives installed and probably will add one more. Additionally, my case has three large fans and room for more.  The hard drives are mounted vertically with space between them for cooling.  There is enough room for separate hard drive fans if I find that necessary. (I am going for a very robust system.)
« Last Edit: July 08, 2008, 10:12:23 AM by AlanG » Logged

Alan Goldstein
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johnchoy
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« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2008, 11:03:38 AM »
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I am sure the Mac Pro is an excellent computer but one of the main advantages of building a computer is to get exactly what you want.  For instance the Mac Pro does not support SLI dual graphics cards. This is something mostly used by gamers right now. But my understanding is that future versions of Photoshop will make use of the processing power in the graphics card (some programs do this now.) From the little I've heard it seems that the high end graphics will make a big difference on the next Photoshop - CS4.  So you may want a motherboard that supports SLI graphics even if you only buy one SLI graphics card to start.  The newsest SLI boards can support three SLI cards (only certain model cards can be ganged in three.) The Mac motherboard requires a RAID card whereas lots of PC motherboards have RAID built in.   Various motherboards have special features including overclocking capabilities and software to adjust and monitor the board.

Although many of the PC motherboard has raid built in, I suspect its versatility and usability as the separate raid for PS scratch disk.

I didn't check with other brand's motherboard, but just found on those consumer boards by Asus, that boards with 2 PCIE normally share IRQ assignment between the PCIE. If one is having a PCIE raid card, it will made a system becomes unstable.

I'm sure CPU, disk access and memory both contribute to faster PS speed. But for display, I think it would be less critical.
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AlanG
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« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2008, 11:27:12 AM »
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Although many of the PC motherboard has raid built in, I suspect its versatility and usability as the separate raid for PS scratch disk.

I didn't check with other brand's motherboard, but just found on those consumer boards by Asus, that boards with 2 PCIE normally share IRQ assignment between the PCIE. If one is having a PCIE raid card, it will made a system becomes unstable.

I'm sure CPU, disk access and memory both contribute to faster PS speed. But for display, I think it would be less critical.
[{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


Here is what is on the EVGA Nforce board made by NVIDIA.  You tell me if the PCIE and RAID are good enough:

[a href=\"http://www.nvidia.com/page/nfpro_server_features.html]http://www.nvidia.com/page/nfpro_server_features.html[/url]

Here is info about a top of the line NVIDIA's board. (Single processor only.)

I guess my main point fromm reading the rumors about CS4 is that if if supports the NVIDIA CUDA graphics programming technology it may offer much faster acceleration for some tasks. (It would be good to know for sure how useful any of this will be before building an expensive system.)

http://www.nvidia.com/object/cuda_what_is.html
« Last Edit: July 08, 2008, 11:42:16 AM by AlanG » Logged

Alan Goldstein
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soboyle
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« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2008, 11:33:39 AM »
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My main motivation for building a machine from scratch is to build a high qualiy system at a reasonable cost. I won't be using the high end video cards at this point, my main interested in a solid stable board and processor that will allow at least 8 gigs ram, and give me a few years of service.  I'm currently looking at the Asus and Gigabyte boards, if anyone has specific recommendations, that would be great.
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budjames
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« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2008, 08:40:57 PM »
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As a former PC guy, I switched to Macs in January 2007 after was shown a MacBook Pro 15" running Windows XP in a Parallels window by a friend of mine who owns 2 Apple retail stores.

Within 4 months I retired my Dell Precision workstation (it's for sale if you're interested) and replaced it with a MacPro 8-core. I also purchased a MacBook Pro 15" to replace my Dell Latitude laptop and a MacBook for my daughter.

I run my wealth management and financial planning practice on my MacBook Pro running Windows XP inside Parallels because I use ACT! CRM, MS Outlook and various financial planning software applications. I also have to access IE specific web sites that use specific ActiveX programming so no other browser works to date.

Other than that, everything else is done on the Mac side, now running Leopard 10.5. Photoshop CS3 and Lightroom 1.4 fly on my Macs. My tech support needs have been greatly reduced because the Mac stuff runs so well.

PC Magazine dubbed the MacBook Pro as the best laptop to run Windows or Vista! Imagine that!.

I strongly urge that you check out today's Macs as they are competitively priced and work out of the box. Besides, iPhone, iTunes, AppleTV (I own them all) and all of the other cool stuff from Apple play much better with Macs.

Bud James
North Wales, PA
« Last Edit: July 08, 2008, 08:43:28 PM by budjames » Logged

Bud James
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sesshin
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« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2008, 05:35:01 AM »
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The Mac motherboard requires a RAID card whereas lots of PC motherboards have RAID built in.

Not necessarily. A Mac Pro only requires a RAID card for doing RAID 5, but RAID 0 and RAID 1 are supported by the OS disk utility straight out of the box.

Quote
In addition, the Mac Pro is limited to 4 internal hard drives and what look like 2 5 1/4 bays.

You can add more hard drives if you put one of these in it:
http://www.maxupgrades.com/istore/index.cf...&product_id=158
not to mention the ability to add on eSATA out the back...

I recently bought the base level quad core Mac Pro and installed the following:
16Gb DDR 800 RAM
300Gb 10k Velociraptor - OS / Apps
2x 74Gb 10k Raptors in RAID 0 - scratch
2x 500gb 7.2k Barracudas RAID 0 - data
1Tb 7.2k Barracuda - data backup
(os / apps backed up wirelessly to Time Capsule)

Works like a dream.

Personally for me though the amount of memory you can install is what truly makes the Mac Pro better for Photoshop than the PC. Thats the number one factor affecting Photoshop performance so it makes sense to use as much as possible. I am a pretty heavy power user, working with several multi-gigabyte files at a time, and I noticed a big difference going from a top-of-the-line PC with 8Gb to a dual quad core Mac Pro with 16Gb. I'm sure 32 would be even better too, but it really boils just down to what your needs are if thats worth the cost.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2008, 05:50:39 AM by sesshin » Logged
soboyle
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« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2008, 11:37:19 AM »
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Cost is a big factor for me, I would like to make the jump to Mac eventually, but my current budget doesn't allow that. For under $1K I can build a very nice photoshop PC, a similar speced Mac would be at least 3x that cost. Most of my work is done on a 5D, so an 8 gig PC will hold me for some time to come.
If anyone has experience with specific hardware, please let me know.
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johnchoy
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« Reply #11 on: July 09, 2008, 12:55:22 PM »
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Cost is a big factor for me, I would like to make the jump to Mac eventually, but my current budget doesn't allow that. For under $1K I can build a very nice photoshop PC, a similar speced Mac would be at least 3x that cost. Most of my work is done on a 5D, so an 8 gig PC will hold me for some time to come.
If anyone has experience with specific hardware, please let me know.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=206690\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

editing a single 16 bit 5d images with 8 layers in PS will utilize around 1.5G scratch disk. In this case, a raid 0 scratch disk configuration is not necessary and this will simplify your choice due to compatability issue.

Mine is a Intel Quad core 6600, Asus p5q and 8 G DDR2 667 memory. This system handle the above case effortlessly. Not to mention I install and use a ramdisk of 4G as the PS scratch disk.
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Gellman
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« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2008, 12:07:04 PM »
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johnchoy -

Could you please explain the reasoning for installing a "ramdisk of 4G as the PS scratch disk".  I am not questioning your judgement, I just need to be educated. What exactly is a ramdisk?  Thanks.

John G.
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peteh
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« Reply #13 on: July 28, 2008, 07:48:20 PM »
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As a former PC guy, I switched to Macs in January 2007 after was shown a MacBook Pro 15" running Windows XP in a Parallels window by a friend of mine who owns 2 Apple retail stores.

Within 4 months I retired my Dell Precision workstation (it's for sale if you're interested) and replaced it with a MacPro 8-core. I also purchased a MacBook Pro 15" to replace my Dell Latitude laptop and a MacBook for my daughter.

I run my wealth management and financial planning practice on my MacBook Pro running Windows XP inside Parallels because I use ACT! CRM, MS Outlook and various financial planning software applications. I also have to access IE specific web sites that use specific ActiveX programming so no other browser works to date.

Other than that, everything else is done on the Mac side, now running Leopard 10.5. Photoshop CS3 and Lightroom 1.4 fly on my Macs. My tech support needs have been greatly reduced because the Mac stuff runs so well.

PC Magazine dubbed the MacBook Pro as the best laptop to run Windows or Vista! Imagine that!.

I strongly urge that you check out today's Macs as they are competitively priced and work out of the box. Besides, iPhone, iTunes, AppleTV (I own them all) and all of the other cool stuff from Apple play much better with Macs.

Bud James
North Wales, PA
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=206554\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Get a Mac Pro.Works real fast with Windows too!Best PC I have had.
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budjames
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« Reply #14 on: July 28, 2008, 08:05:52 PM »
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Get a Mac Pro.Works real fast with Windows too!Best PC I have had.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=211274\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Thanks for your suggestion, but I already purchased a MacPro 8-core back in April 07. It has 4TB on board storage (1tb x 2 in RAID 0) and 12GB RAM. It rocks, but it is our general home computer and my PS and LR workstation.

I use the MacBook Pro for my business as I need the portability of a laptop occasionally.

Cheers.

Bud
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Bud James
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johnchoy
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« Reply #15 on: July 30, 2008, 07:43:57 AM »
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johnchoy -

Could you please explain the reasoning for installing a "ramdisk of 4G as the PS scratch disk".  I am not questioning your judgement, I just need to be educated. What exactly is a ramdisk?  Thanks.

John G.
[{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

ramdisk is a software that use Ram/memory to simulate hardisk. Unlike Mac, PS3 of PC version don't have a plugin in handle memory more than 4G (if I recall correct ). So if running 8G of memory w/ win xp x64,  we can manually assign 4G memory into a software simulated drive as PS scratch disk.

I'm using the Qsoft ramdisk
[a href=\"http://members.fortunecity.com/ramdisk/RAMDisk/ramdriv.htm]http://members.fortunecity.com/ramdisk/RAMDisk/ramdriv.htm[/url]
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