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Author Topic: Planning a New PC Build - Advice Needed  (Read 17419 times)
Sharon Van Lieu
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« on: July 17, 2012, 02:21:45 PM »
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Hello, my ancient computer finally died and I need to get a new one. It will be primarily used for Photoshop CS6 and Lightroom 4 and Dreamweaver but will do light duty in Premiere Pro CS6 and Illustrator. I am considering having it built by AVA direct. I haven't talked to them yet - just used their online configuration.

I have drives for storage already so I am mainly concerned with running the programs.

My main concern is getting the max system for my price - this system comes in under 1900.00. I'm thinking that I would benefit more from 32gb of ram than I would with 16gb of ram and adding an ssd drive. Am I thinking wrong?

Here are the specs. I would appreciate any comments. I left off the case/power supply/dvd burner etc. to simplify.

    ASUS P9X79 PRO, LGA2011, Intel® X79, DDR3-2400 (O.C.) 64GB /8, PCIe x16 SLI CF /2+2*, SATA 6Gb/s /4, 3Gb/s /4, USB 3.0 /6, HDA, BT, GbLAN, ATX, Retail

    INTEL Core i7-3820 Quad-Core, 3.6 - 3.8GHz TB, LGA2011, 10MB L3 Cache, HT EM64T EIST VT-x VT-d XD, 32nm, 130W, Retail

    CRUCIAL 32GB (4 x 8GB) Ballistix Sport PC3-12800 DDR3 1600MHz CL9 (9-9-9-24) 1.5V SDRAM DIMM, Non-ECC

    EVGA GeForce® GTX 570 (AR) 732MHz, 1280MB GDDR5 3800MHz, PCIe x16 SLI, 2x DVI+mini-HDMI, Retail

    (2)WESTERN DIGITAL 1TB WD Caviar® Black™ (WD1002FAEX), SATA 6 Gb/s, 7200 RPM, 64MB Cache
    
     MICROSOFT Windows 7 Professional 64-bit Edition w/ SP1, OEM
    

Thanks for any advice.

Sharon
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Sharon Van Lieu
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« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2012, 07:35:07 PM »
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Looking further, I think I will add an ssd drive also.
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Sareesh Sudhakaran
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« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2012, 10:03:47 PM »
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Your system is fine - in theory! You could go for a lower-end GPU to cover the cost of the SSD. In order to make this system scream you might want to consider a RAID 0 in there somewhere, which will add to your cost (and peace of mind). But that's about it.

The question is, though, what exactly are you going to do with the system?
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Sharon Van Lieu
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« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2012, 10:20:37 PM »
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Thank you, Sareesh. I appreciate the confirmation. I am going to add an ssd with this configuration.

This machine will be used mostly to edit large photoshop files. However, we are getting into video more. We did an almost 5 minute video composed of 32 clips taken with the 5dII for an architectural client and we would like to do more videos for both our architecture and landscapes work. Our old computers just couldn't handle it. I had to network three computers to get the video to render.  When we upgrade our second computer it will be more for Premiere Pro and this one will be used less for videos. I do want to be able to do some video work with it but mainly I want a stable machine that can handle photoshop and lightroom and dreamweaver being opened at the same time.

Thanks for the raid 0 suggestion. I'll look into it.

Sharon
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Rhossydd
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« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2012, 01:04:16 AM »
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All looks pretty good. maybe think about adding a second SSD for a scratch disk for PS & the lightroom library.

I've just built a new system myself, but went for the newer Ivy Bridge CPU (i7 3770k), there's not much difference in price. Performance is fractionally better, but power consumption is lower (ie less power used>less heat>quieter) assuming you're not going to overclock it.
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Sharon Van Lieu
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« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2012, 07:40:33 AM »
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Less power/heat would be great. I'll look into that. Thanks!

Sharon
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Sharon Van Lieu
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« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2012, 09:35:46 AM »
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The ivybridge motherboards only go to 32gb of memory. I hesitate to max out memory on a board. I may just add the i73930 processor to the current specs and the second ssd drive.

Sharon
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lfeagan
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« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2012, 01:34:01 PM »
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The ivybridge motherboards only go to 32gb of memory. I hesitate to max out memory on a board. I may just add the i73930 processor to the current specs and the second ssd drive.

Yes, while an Ivy Bridge chipset motherboard only supports 32GB of RAM, I doubt that you will need to be upgrading this soon. If you look at the prices for socket 1155 motherboards and CPUs, you will find that you should easily be able to save $200 or more. A system with 32GB of RAM will be adequate for at least 3 years. At the end of 3 years, CPUs will be two generations further advanced and memory will be significantly less expensive to get to 64GB. If you look at the price curve for memory over time, there is an initial high price for perhaps 6 months, then it drops to a low that it maintains for approximately 2 years, then it starts to rise again, somewhat dramatically. The reason for this large increase in price is that all major memory manufacturers have moved on to a new technology that allows them to produce more bytes of memory on the same size wafer (typically around 300mm these days). Very few fabs continue to make chips using the older technology which has a lower density.

So, while you do not want to be overly cheap about what you buy today, unless you plan on going all out on memory today, I would recommend taking a more conservative approach and planning on an upgrade in the future if needed.

As far as SSD recommendations go, I have quite a few running at present. 2x Intel 160GB (1st generation and still going strong), 4x Crucial M3 256GB, and 1x Samsung 830 512GB. The Samsung 830 256GB is an excellent drive in terms of performance and is available for reasonable prices. I do not feel that you need two SSD drives. The impact of random IOPs on an SSD drive with a good controller/firmware makes having multiple physical drives less of a necessity. While it would improve performance, the level we are talking about is insignificant compared with the cost.

I would personally change a few things around. I happen to like computers with ECC memory so if I were buying for myself I would go with:
SuperMicro X9SCA-F
Intel Xeon E3-1230
Kingston 32GB (4x8GB) DDR3 1600 ECC Unbuffered Memory
Samsung SSD 830 256GB
Asus or PNY video card using an nVidia chipset
2 x Western Digital Caviar Green 2TB or other green hard drives in RAID 1 for mass storage. Doing large sequential read/writes does not require a Caviar Black. For price comparison, a Caviar Black 2TB is $213 vs $120 for the Green at Newegg.

You said you had a large amount of external storage already in use. I assume you plan on continuing to use that.

Again, its just the way I would do it. Your initial setup sounds quite reasonable as well.
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Lance

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Sharon Van Lieu
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« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2012, 01:57:58 PM »
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Thank you, Lance. You have given me a lot to think about. I had heard about the advantages of ECC memory. I'll price out that system also. At the place I am using to price a build, a system with an i7 3930k processor is $100 more than the ivy bridge i7 3770k system (all else being equal) and the i73820k is $200 less. The real difference might come with case/power supply needs.

The downside to not updating often is that I have gotten pretty far behind in hardware knowledge. I appreciate your response and will rethink all of this. Although I need a system yesterday, I want to take the time to make the right choice.

Sharon

« Last Edit: July 18, 2012, 02:17:32 PM by Sharon Van Lieu » Logged

John.Murray
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« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2012, 02:45:42 PM »
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Intel's Reference DX79SI supports up to 64GB memory with 8 sockets - highly recommended

http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/motherboards/desktop-motherboards/desktop-board-dx79si.html

Also, be aware that pretty much *any* mainboard you purchase will require a BIOS update to properly support Ivy Bridge.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2012, 02:54:56 PM by John.Murray » Logged

Sharon Van Lieu
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« Reply #10 on: July 18, 2012, 04:08:09 PM »
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Thanks John, I'll take a look at it. I would like the 64gb capacity if possible.

Sharon
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lfeagan
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« Reply #11 on: July 18, 2012, 04:40:07 PM »
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Intel's Reference DX79SI supports up to 64GB memory with 8 sockets - highly recommended

http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/motherboards/desktop-motherboards/desktop-board-dx79si.html

Also, be aware that pretty much *any* mainboard you purchase will require a BIOS update to properly support Ivy Bridge.

This motherboard has a bad reputation. I recommend you avoid it. When you get into the higher memory capacities using more sticks, having registered/buffered memory to keep the signal integrity is critical. If you really want to go all out on memory, you are going to need to be looking at a server motherboard and using registered ECC memory.

Here is the link to to Intel DX79SI at Newegg. Just flip to the feedback page.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813121534&Tpk=dx79si
29% of the reviews are 1 star out of 38 reviews and only 37% are 5 star.

Compare that with something like this inexpensive ASRock motherboard which is also socket 1155 with 22 reviews and 82% are 5 star and only 9% 1 star.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157296&SortField=0&SummaryType=0&PageSize=10&SelectedRating=-1&VideoOnlyMark=False&IsFeedbackTab=true#scrollFullInfo

So, you can easily do much better than that Intel board for much less money.

An interesting aside on motherboards: At my day job I come into contact with early samples, often times A0 steppings, of Intel CPUs. These are CPUs that won't be announced for over a year from our time of receipt. The motherboards that Intel ships us are from Supermicro. If you want an excellent motherboard done right, get a Supermicro. They are very conservative and aren't sexy in their color schemes or BIOS settings, but they are well engineered.
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Lance

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Sharon Van Lieu
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« Reply #12 on: July 18, 2012, 04:56:31 PM »
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Thanks Lance. I'm checking out an Ecc system with a supermicro board. I definitely want a stable machine that will last a while. I've expanded my budget a bit. I might have more questions.  Smiley

Sharon
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lfeagan
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« Reply #13 on: July 18, 2012, 05:48:40 PM »
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Your chosen motherboard, Asus, is the only other company I buy motherboards from. 100% of the many computers in my house have either an Asus or Supermicro motherboard, other than the Apple's (which I believe are Gigabyte). Anyways, Asus is also generally stellar.

Oh yeah, and the reason why Asus and Supermicro chose not to claim support for 64GB of RAM is almost certainly because they found it wasn't stable.

Lastly, one of the biggest reasons to run ECC memory is if your system runs non-stop and does important things. If you are the type that regularly shuts down (daily), then you will find ECC to be a royal pain in the boot up process. Take my system for example. It takes it nearly 3 minutes to set all the ECC parity bits, and then it boots in about 8 seconds from my SSD drive. Just something to think about.
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Lance

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Sharon Van Lieu
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« Reply #14 on: July 18, 2012, 06:12:54 PM »
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I do shut down every day. My last system was a custom built computer with an Asus motherboard. I never had any trouble with it - it was always very stable.

I should be buying within the near future. Thanks for all the help.

Sharon
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« Reply #15 on: July 19, 2012, 08:46:34 AM »
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for choosing btw 3770 ivy brg and 3930k sandy brg, here are 2 useful links to read and compare:

http://www.tweaktown.com/reviews/4673/intel_core_i7_3770k_lga_1155_ivy_bridge_cpu_review/index13.html

http://www.tweaktown.com/reviews/4435/intel_core_i7_3930k_lga_2011_cpu_review/index9.html

let me know what you think.
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Ali
Sharon Van Lieu
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« Reply #16 on: July 19, 2012, 09:26:17 AM »
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They do seem to prefer the 3930k but I'm not familiar with tweaktown. From what I have read, more ivy bridge motherboards are coming in the last quarter this year or early 2013. I do like that they run more efficiently- less  heat and quieter - but I can't wait that long to get the motherboard features I want.  

I have pretty much settled on the Asus board with the 3930k, the Samsung 830 ssd that Lance recommended and two hard drives in Raid0 as Sareesh suggested.  I'm going with the GTX570 graphics card as that will run Premiere. With 32gb of ram the system comes in less than $2600 shipped so that's not too bad. This system configuration has a lot of documentation and seems to be stable which is a big concern of mine.

Thanks for the links,

Sharon
« Last Edit: July 19, 2012, 09:42:55 AM by Sharon Van Lieu » Logged

lfeagan
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« Reply #17 on: July 19, 2012, 10:32:15 AM »
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You will be well served by that configuration. Did you check the feedback at Newegg for each of the products you are considering?
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Lance

Nikon: D700, D800E, PC-E 24mm f/3.5D ED, PC-E 45mm f/2.8D ED, PC-E 85mm f/2.8D, 50mm f/1.4G, 14-24 f/2.8G ED, 24-70 f/2.8G ED, 70-200 f/2.8G ED VR II, 400mm f/2.8G ED VR
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Sharon Van Lieu
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« Reply #18 on: July 19, 2012, 10:48:47 AM »
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 No, but that is a good idea. I'll do that before ordering.

Thanks for your help, Lance. I appreciate it.

Sharon
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Sheldon N
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« Reply #19 on: July 19, 2012, 10:49:24 AM »
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They do seem to prefer the 3930k but I'm not familiar with tweaktown. From what I have read, more ivy bridge motherboards are coming in the last quarter this year or early 2013. I do like that they run more efficiently- less  heat and quieter - but I can't wait that long to get the motherboard features I want.  

I have pretty much settled on the Asus board with the 3930k, the Samsung 830 ssd that Lance recommended and two hard drives in Raid0 as Sareesh suggested.  I'm going with the GTX570 graphics card as that will run Premiere. With 32gb of ram the system comes in less than $2600 shipped so that's not too bad. This system configuration has a lot of documentation and seems to be stable which is a big concern of mine.

Thanks for the links,

Sharon

I would personally skip the RAID 0 setup, since it looks like that is almost all of your storage in the computer. RAID 0 is good for fast throughput transfer rates, but if one drive fails (and one eventually will) it will take down both drives.  Most people who did RAID 0 did so to either 1) speed up seek/transfer times for their operating system  - which you've accomplished by choosing an SSD; or 2) Get high data transfer rates for photoshop scratch disk - which you don't need because you will have 32GB of RAM.

I would recommend you ditch the RAID 0, and instead get two slightly better hard drives. The Western Digital Caviar Black 2TB drives are very good, and fast. If you got a pair of those you could use them in such a way have an on-board/real time redundant backup of your files, in addition to whatever off-site backup strategy you use.

I would recommend adding a second SSD to use for Lightroom catalog, ACR Cache, and Photoshop scratch disk (for those rare occasions when you might actually hit the scratch disk).

I think the 3930k is a good choice, especially if you do video editing which can really use the computing power of 6 cores. In Lightroom there will be some difference, but not likely as dramatic.  

I did a 3770k for my most recent build, really happy with how it turned out.  I overclocked to 4.4GHz though, which tips the performance tables a bit.  My configuration is similar to what I recommended above. Dual SSD's (Crucial M4's, but the Samsung 830's look good too) one for OS/Programs, one for Lightroom Catalog/ACR/PS Scratch, 2 x 1TB Caviar Black, 1 x 2TB Caviar Black for media storage and real time backup.
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