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Author Topic: Which upgrade for best bang for the buck?  (Read 2748 times)
walter.sk
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« on: February 06, 2010, 10:55:43 AM »
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I do a lot of heavy image processing that includes HDR work with 5 images, and want to up the speed.  I have been given suggestions that conflict, and I'd like to get some input here.

I'm currently running CS4 32bit on a WinXP 32bit machine, a Dell XPS730.  I have a 2.6GHz quad core Intel processor, 4Gb of DDR3 1333mHz RAM, 2 nVidia GeForce 9800GT video cards in SLI configuration, and a wonderful NEC 3090 monitor.  My system drive is a 500Gb Western Digital Caviar Green drive, and my photos are on a WD Caviar Black 1Tb internal drive with a second one used to back up my data.

Some of the choices are:

1) XP 32 bit to: Windows 7 32 bit, Windows 7 64 bit or XP 64 bit
2)Upgrade to 8Gb (the machine's max) of DDR3 1333 mHz RAM if I go to 64 bit XP or Win 7 (32 or 64 bit)
3)Change the video cards to a single card with 1Gb of video ram?
4)Change my 1Gb data drive to a RAID 0 drive?  What is involved in that?

If anybody can come up with some other choices, other than getting a new computer, let me know, as well.  Thanx.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2010, 04:11:33 PM by walter.sk » Logged
DarkPenguin
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« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2010, 11:35:27 AM »
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1. Don't bother unless you plan on buying a lot of memory.  (Edit: See 2.)
2. See 1. (Edit: Er, um, upgrade to 64bit if you are buying a lot of memory.)
3. Won't help you.
4. You'd have to buy a second drive and put them into a raid.  Either with hardware or using windows.  (Either way make a second backup before destroying your main copy.  Lots of disasters happen when you get rid of your safety net.)

5. Add a good SSD drive.  Put your swap, page file and in process images on it.

Note that these are generic suggestions.  I'm not sure how HDR requirements impact this.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2010, 11:46:26 AM by DarkPenguin » Logged
Sheldon N
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« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2010, 11:40:57 AM »
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I'd definitely go with an upgrade to Windows 7 64bit with an upgrade to 8gb of RAM as the first priority. More RAM plus the ability to access it all at once will make the biggest difference.  

If you're going to be rebuilding the operating system and reinstalling from scratch, my second recommendation would be for a faster system drive. Now is the time to do it so you wouldn't have to rebuild again down the road if you ever did decide to upgrade the system drive.  A new system drive won't speed up any of the big processor or data intensive operations, but it will make everything else seem snappier... faster startup, faster opening of programs, overall a quicker feeling computer. The fastest option (but spendy) would be an SSD. You could go the complicated route of buying a second 500GB drive and pairing them in RAID 0, but that's a bit more complicated to set up and is less stable in the long run. The other reasonably priced option would be to get the very good WD Caviar Black 640GB drive as a replacement for the 500GB green drive. The 500GB drive could be used as another backup drive.

Having a dedicated drive for Photoshop scratch is also a good way to improve performance. The Caviar Green drive is probably a little slow for that though. If you have a way to format and rebuild your 1TB Caviar Black drive, you might consider creating two partitions... one for scratch and one for storage. Make the first partition roughly 50GB in size and the second partition gets the remaining space. The first partition will be on the fastest part of the drive and you can designate that as your CS4 scratch disk. If you kept your current working files on the system/operating system drive and older storage on the 1TB, then the 1TB wouldn't have any demands on it other than the scratch disk in day to day use.

Thinking it all through... I think that's the best bang-for-the-buck upgrade.

Windows 7 64bit, 8GB of RAM, WD 640GB Caviar Black OS drive, configure existing WD 1TB Caviar Black drive to optimize for scratch disk use, keeping your working files on the OS drive.
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schrodingerscat
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« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2010, 12:43:06 PM »
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Quote from: Sheldon N
I'd definitely go with an upgrade to Windows 7 64bit with an upgrade to 8gb of RAM as the first priority. More RAM plus the ability to access it all at once will make the biggest difference.  

If you're going to be rebuilding the operating system and reinstalling from scratch, my second recommendation would be for a faster system drive. Now is the time to do it so you wouldn't have to rebuild again down the road if you ever did decide to upgrade the system drive.  A new system drive won't speed up any of the big processor or data intensive operations, but it will make everything else seem snappier... faster startup, faster opening of programs, overall a quicker feeling computer. The fastest option (but spendy) would be an SSD. You could go the complicated route of buying a second 500GB drive and pairing them in RAID 0, but that's a bit more complicated to set up and is less stable in the long run. The other reasonably priced option would be to get the very good WD Caviar Black 640GB drive as a replacement for the 500GB green drive. The 500GB drive could be used as another backup drive.

Having a dedicated drive for Photoshop scratch is also a good way to improve performance. The Caviar Green drive is probably a little slow for that though. If you have a way to format and rebuild your 1TB Caviar Black drive, you might consider creating two partitions... one for scratch and one for storage. Make the first partition roughly 50GB in size and the second partition gets the remaining space. The first partition will be on the fastest part of the drive and you can designate that as your CS4 scratch disk. If you kept your current working files on the system/operating system drive and older storage on the 1TB, then the 1TB wouldn't have any demands on it other than the scratch disk in day to day use.

Thinking it all through... I think that's the best bang-for-the-buck upgrade.

Windows 7 64bit, 8GB of RAM, WD 640GB Caviar Black OS drive, configure existing WD 1TB Caviar Black drive to optimize for scratch disk use, keeping your working files on the OS drive.


Yep, RAM and scratch disc. The scratcher should be at least a 7200RPM drive and dedicated for just that purpose with no OS installed.
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DarkPenguin
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« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2010, 01:20:07 PM »
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Quote from: schrodingerscat
Yep, RAM and scratch disc. The scratcher should be at least a 7200RPM drive and dedicated for just that purpose with no OS installed.

I think that is good for a normal disk.  But I don't think the no OS thing matters if you use a SSD.  (I'm sure it doesn't hurt.)
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PeterAit
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« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2010, 02:17:55 PM »
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Quote from: walter.sk
I do a lot of heavy image processing that includes HDR work with 5 images, and want to up the speed.  I have been given suggestions that conflict, and I'd like to get some input here.

I'm currently running CS4 32bit on a WinXP 32bit machine, a Dell XPS730.  I have a 2.6GHz quad core Intel processor, 4Gb of DDR3 1333mHz RAM, 2 nVidia GeForce 9800GT video cards in SLI configuration, and a wonderful NEC 3090 monitor.  My system drive is a 500Gb Western Digital Caviar Green drive, and my photos are on a WD Caviar Black 1Gb internal drive with a second one used to back up my data.

Some of the choices are:

1) XP 32 bit to: Windows 7 32 bit, Windows 7 64 bit or XP 64 bit
2)Upgrade to 8Gb (the machine's max) of DDR3 1333 mHz RAM if I go to 64 bit XP or Win 7 (32 or 64 bit)
3)Change the video cards to a single card with 1Gb of video ram?
4)Change my 1Gb data drive to a RAID 0 drive?  What is involved in that?

If anybody can come up with some other choices, other than getting a new computer, let me know, as well.  Thanx.

I think that the fist thing to do is upgrade to the 64-bit version of Windows 7 and add as much RAM as you can.  I don't think upgrading the video card will help at all. Changing your data drive to RAID 0 will speed up image load and save times, but will not speed up HDR processing. You might also considered getting an SSD drive to dedicate as your scratch disk.
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Peter
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walter.sk
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« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2010, 04:15:19 PM »
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Quote from: PeterAit
I think that the fist thing to do is upgrade to the 64-bit version of Windows 7 and add as much RAM as you can.  I don't think upgrading the video card will help at all. Changing your data drive to RAID 0 will speed up image load and save times, but will not speed up HDR processing. You might also considered getting an SSD drive to dedicate as your scratch disk.
Thanks to all so far.  The suggestions sound good, and give me something to think about.
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mcbroomf
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« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2010, 11:50:02 AM »
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Quote from: walter.sk
Thanks to all so far.  The suggestions sound good, and give me something to think about.
I've gone your route Walter, I replaced an XP/4GB machine last year with a Vista 64 / 8GB and the difference was incredible as PS and LR went 64 and coud use all of my RAM.  I didn't bother with raid.  I'm building a Win 7 machine now with 12GB and I will add a pair of raid 0 drives for PS this time.  I'm holding off on an SSD until the price comes down, maybe my next machine.

Mike
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Mike Broomfield
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« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2010, 06:33:44 AM »
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Quote from: walter.sk
I do a lot of heavy image processing that includes HDR work with 5 images, and want to up the speed.  I have been given suggestions that conflict, and I'd like to get some input here.
If anybody can come up with some other choices, other than getting a new computer, let me know, as well.  Thanx.

Changing video cards would probably make no difference as long as they are more than a couple of years old.  I have read that solid state disks really speed things up when used as the OS disk.  Having 4GB ram is somewhat wasteful with a 32 bit OS as only about 3.5GB will be used.  I would upgrade to the 64 bit version of Windows 7.
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fike
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« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2010, 09:27:43 AM »
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64-bit with as much RAM as you can afford is the first choice, and it is also the most expensive and complex.  A less complicated option would be an SSD for your scratch disk.  That faster drive can substantially improve performance.
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Rhossydd
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« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2010, 09:35:03 AM »
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Putting in a faster system drive would my foremost recommendation. If the high (early adopter) costs of a solid state drive are unjustifiable, look at using a WD velociraptor 10krpm drive. This will noticeably speed up most aspects of the system. Adding another one as a scratch disk also cranks up Photoshop performance too.
Then consider moving to Windows 7 64bit with more ram.

With respect to your graphics cards, at the moment that configuration will actually be making photo work slightly slower. Windows uses system ram to map the GPU ram, so having more graphics card memory than needed actually reduces the amount of free ram to work with. Great for gaming, but not much use for photo work.

Paul
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Christopher
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« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2010, 09:52:33 AM »
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First would be a fast SSD Drive for the System. Something like a 120Gb SSD. After that next best step is a lot of RAM, it is better to save money on teh CPU and spend it on RAM.

Next SSD for scratch is a total waste of money. You would need a 100GB SSD, because otherwise the writing performance is is to bad. So it is getting expensive. The far better choice is to get 2-4 normal HDs in a RAID 0 array. This way will be faster and a LOT cheaper.
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