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Author Topic: PC specs for processing large photos  (Read 16921 times)
ljenno
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« on: December 05, 2005, 04:10:02 PM »
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When I process my raw files and save them in tiff format the files typically get very large. They can get to 150meg and up. If I want to do any size corrections or image tweaking to suit a special need my 3 year old HP comes to a stand still. I want to buy a new system and prefer a portable one but am not fixed on that choice. My outputs are usually sent to an Epson 4800 or a 2200 or a HP 5500. So most of my prints are very large in the square inch range also.
If this new machine were to be dedicated to just my photo work, do any of my forum friends have recommedations for internal specs (processor, bus speeds, memory, storage and graphics cards, ect)?
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DarkPenguin
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« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2005, 04:50:57 PM »
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A lot of memory is your friend.
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jani
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« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2005, 05:04:44 PM »
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A lot of memory is your friend.
What he said.

1 GB minimum, aim for 2 GB or more.  RAM is at its cheapest ever.  Buy extra RAM rather than that extra 0.2 or 0.5 GHz of processor speed.

A dual-CPU (or dual-core CPU) setup will give some performance advantage over a single-CPU system, but most of the time, that extra RAM will be better.

Motherboard: get something that supports the CPU you want to buy and as high an amount of RAM as you can afford. Having a PCIe 16x-based board gives you good expansion options for the near future, a dual-16x board may be better, but it also may not (hard to say). Buy from a reliable manufacturer, such as Asus.

A graphics card with a decent amount of memory (128 MB or more) also helps, but 3D performance should be unimportant for now*.

As for hard disks, go for something nice and reliable.

If you can afford to, consider getting a device like the Gigabyte I-RAM (Google for it), fill it and your motherboard with RAM chips, and use the I-RAM for Photoshop scratch space and maybe system swap.

Or, if you have got that money, spend it on an Apple PowerMac G5 quad. >:->

* There is no evidence that Photoshop or other such applications will take advantage of the GPU on a graphics card for extra processing power any time soon. Apple's Aperture doesn't use it as such, but the user interface does.
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Jan
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« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2005, 05:10:48 PM »
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2 GB RAM; at least two very large, very fast hard drives; graphics card that supports dual monitors.  Predictions are that DVD will become more significant for PCs when Microsoft's new OS becomes available so a R/W DVD drive would make sense.
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John DeMott
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« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2005, 05:16:16 PM »
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Hi Ljenno,

In terms of graphic card, many photoshop artists like the Matrox cards that appear to deliver the best 2D image quality, especially when working with more than one screen. Their 3D performance is however ridiculous compared to the latest models from NVidia and ATI. It all depends on the usage you will be making of your PC. It is a PS machine only, or will you also use it as a general usage PC?

The next generation of Windows called Vista to be released in 06 will propose more and more 3D interfaces, and a 2D only graphic card might not be the best bet considering this. It all depends how long you intend to keep this PC.

Today, it would appear that the pentium D series (the Pentium D820 for instance) offers the best bank for the buck thanks to its double core. The AMD CPUs are faster, but the high end models have become extremely expensive.

Regards,
Bernard
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DarkPenguin
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« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2005, 05:28:45 PM »
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Dual core shootout ...

http://reviews.cnet.com/4520-10442_7-63890...l?tag=cnetfd.wk
« Last Edit: December 05, 2005, 05:28:58 PM by DarkPenguin » Logged
61Dynamic
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« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2005, 12:37:40 AM »
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Video Card:
Adobe systems have stated several times that Photoshop does not utilize the video card. (search for the documents on tweaking PS for performance) The video card only matters in its ability to run the monitor resolution you need to run at a decent refresh rate (75Hz or more). Refresh rates do not apply to LCDs.


Quote
In terms of graphic card, many photoshop artists like the Matrox cards that appear to deliver the best 2D image quality, especially when working with more than one screen. Their 3D performance is however ridiculous compared to the latest models from NVidia and ATI. It all depends on the usage you will be making of your PC. It is a PS machine only, or will you also use it as a general usage PC?

The next generation of Windows called Vista to be released in 06 will propose more and more 3D interfaces, and a 2D only graphic card might not be the best bet considering this. It all depends how long you intend to keep this PC.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=52873\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

The Matrox cards are beneficial over others only if you are using CRT monitors and the usefulness only really applies to the legibility of text onscreen. Matrox cards are know for producing the sharpest image possible for analog CRTs. If you are using LCDs this does not matter as the signal is digital.

One video card will not help you photoshop better over another video card.

Windows Vista will be mostly Vector based (mathematically rendered and not with bitmap images) and hardware accelerated if your system can handle it. Much like the Macs are today but more-so.

Buying a fast video card that is "Vista Ready" is only important if you a) later upgrade to Vista (which may or may not turnout to be a valuable thing to do) and b ) want to have the pretty interface special effects that Vista will be capable of.

If neither of these items matter to you than don't worry about the video card too much. Any of the old 128MB Nvidia or ATI cards will do you well and only cost you about $30. If you only use one display, many of the motherboards out there with built-in video will do the trick.

A fast video card is not a requirement for upgrading to Vista.


Ram:
Max out the ram. Buy Windows XP Professional as that allows for 3GB of Ram and Windows XP Home limits you to 2GB. XP Pro 64-bit will allow up to 16GB of ram but driver and software support for it is minimal meaning your experience could be rather problematic.

CPU:
Defiantly get dual-core system at a minimum. Honestly, PS is optimized to take advantage of multiple cores and it shows (YMMV of course). I have several clients with single-core 3.2Ghz P4s that are easily only 1/5th the overall performance of my Dual 2.3Ghz Mac (and that was before I upgraded it from 1.5GB of RAM to 3.5GB). It drives me nuts because I have to use the confounded things regularly.

It should be noted that a dual-core system won't always be faster than a single core system per-se. It all depends on the actions you're doing. It will make things run more smoothly overall and that is just as important. Sheer speed doesn't mean squat if the system comes to a halt if you try to browse a folder in Bridge while PS is batch processing in the background (just one example).

Dealing with large files, a dual-core system with as much ram as you can squeeze into it will make the difference between tapping your fingers waiting for crap to happen and getting things done. I would not recommend skimping on your computer, especially if you deal with large files. You'll only end up with a frustrating experience. A more powerful system may cost a bit more but it'll last you longer and make you happier.
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Das Bosun
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« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2005, 07:22:23 AM »
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ljenno hasn't provided us with his processing software, but it's fair to assume pixel editing is being done in Photoshop.

Interestingly, I found in some PC/Imaging testing that I did midyear that Phase One's Capture One Pro (v3.7) is 100% processor intensive when converting raw files, right up until it rights the converted file to the hard drive.  At this point in time (dec05) C1pro benfits from as much CPU as you can throw at it.

I have however read on the net that Phase One intend to release C1pro v4 in the first quarter of 2006 with a major system usage software re-write (e.g. C1pro will start to utilize additional system resources like RAM and scratch disk space).  

DarkPenguin's link to the dual core shoot out is a step in the right direction, but just keep in mind the fact that all expenditure gets out of hand when performance increases become only slight.  

Everything 61Dynamic has to say is on the money.  

64bit XP is impressive (compare System #6 & System #11 in the attached Performance test PDF), but many applications are not yet supported.  Most notibley, monitor calibration and profiling software.  64bit XP is hugely promising for existing highend hardware performance.

If you'd like to see what increases in RAM do for Photoshop usage, compare systems #1 (2gb RAM), #14 (1gb RAM) and #13 (512mb RAM) in the attached performance PDF.  Systems #1, #14 and #13 are all based on Pentium 3.0gHz HT processors.

Das Bosun
« Last Edit: December 06, 2005, 07:25:20 AM by Das Bosun » Logged
Andrew Larkin
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« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2005, 05:35:27 PM »
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On of the reasons that the Matrox cards are favoured for graphic use is that some of their models have separate LUT's for each monitor.

This is a requirement in order to profile both monitors.

The nvidia and ATI cards generally only have a single LUT, which means that only one monitor can be profiled as the profile is "shared" between the monitors.

Andrew
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2005, 09:15:57 PM »
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I'll pile on to the consensus that you should get as much RAM as you can afford. 2GB is certainly not excessive; if you ever want to do stitched panoramas, 8-16GB would not be wasted. I've run into memory shortage problems stitching 7 1Ds images together when they're 48-bit RGB (16-bit per channel) with 2GB, although that is sufficient for most single-capture image editing.

If you batch process, multiple or dual-core CPUs will provide significant benefit. RAW conversion in Photoshop, as well as many Photoshop filters, are designed to take advantage of multiple CPUs, and multiple processors go far to making your system snappier and more responsive even when under a heavy CPU load. You can browse the internet or read email with 95% CPU utilization and not even notice the difference.

Regarding the multi-LUT issue, I prefer to use a separate video card for each monitor. This guarantees that each monitor has its own LUT and can be individually profiled.
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Tim Gray
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« Reply #10 on: December 12, 2005, 08:20:15 AM »
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I was playing around the other day and this is what I came up with - I priced at just under $2,000 CDN (before tax)

It's predicated on my presumption that the eventual successor to the 1DSII will be about 22 mpx, so with the occasional stitched pano, I would guess (any thoughts?) that even with 4 gig ram you'll still back into a scratch disk (I would also guess that the next version of PS will increase the limit on RAM up to 4 gig).  In any event that's why I have the pair of WD SATA Raptors at Raid 0, I think that's probably the fastest scratch disk I could get.

I only have one monitor, so I'm assuming that the on board video would be sufficient (thoughts?) - I could always add a card later...

===============================================
Case:  IN-WIN Z583T Micro ATX (Black) 20/24pins with True 350Watt Power Supply 14" high
Hard Drives:  Western digital Raptor SATA 75gb x 2 raid 0 + seagate 160
Raid Controller: on MB?
CPU:  Intel Pentium D 830, 3.0GHz, EM64T XD Dual Core, 2X1MB, Socket LGA775
Memory:  1GB (1024MB) PC4200 DDR2 533MHz 240-pin Unbuffered DIMM x4
Mother Board:  Intel Desktop Board D945GTPLR Socket 775 Intel 945G Chipset Dual-Core CPU
Video:  included on motherboard?
DVD RW:  NEC ND-3550 (Black) 16x DVD+/-R 8x DVD+RW 6x DVD-RW Writer 4x DVD-R/8x DVD+R Double Layer
windows xp pro 64bit
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dmerger
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« Reply #11 on: December 12, 2005, 10:30:12 AM »
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Tim, you should do some research on actual RAID 0 performance for a desktop PC.  Every test report that I've read found no significant performance increase.  This topic has been discussed on this forum in the past.
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Dean Erger
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« Reply #12 on: December 12, 2005, 11:58:38 AM »
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Tim, you should do some research on actual RAID 0 performance for a desktop PC.  Every test report that I've read found no significant performance increase.  This topic has been discussed on this forum in the past.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=53326\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

maybe we lost it in the transition to a new server, but I couldn't find any posts indicating Raid 0 was ineffective in increasing the performance of a Photoshop scratch disk - which is the application I have in mind.  In fact a quick review of the links resulting from a google of Raid 0 Photoshop were very consistent in saying that Photoshop temporary files were a sweet spot for a Raid 0 configuration.  I know that raid 0 won't give a boost to normal disk io, but the scratch disk is a special application.  Please let me know of any links that claim the opposite - thanks.
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #13 on: December 12, 2005, 12:56:33 PM »
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IMO the main advantage of RAID isn't performance boost, it's redundancy--the ability to survive a disk failure without losing data. For that reason, I never use RAID 0 or 1, as RAID 0 squares the probability of catastrophic data loss over a single drive, and RAID 1 is unacceptably inefficient and offers zero performance advantage over a single drive. I prefer a RAID 5 array in a 4-8 drive configuration, which offers some performance advantage over a single drive (how much depends greatly on the controller) and data protection unless you have 2 simultaneous drive failures.
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ljenno
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« Reply #14 on: December 12, 2005, 04:52:31 PM »
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Thanks to all of your replies and there were many. I'm looking into all the suggestion and hopefully will be able to configure a machine that will allow me to focus on my graphics and not the system. I really believe that most of the frustrating hang-ups come from the Windows OS and its use of the hardware rather than the hardware its self.
One suggestion was to go with a high end Mac. I don't mind the cost but am apprehensive about the change over. Are there any testimonials from folks who have made the change? Especially made the change after starting out on PCs and using them for thirty years (my first machine was a Commodore before they had hard drives).

Once again, thank you all for your replies. They were very useful.

L
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #15 on: December 12, 2005, 05:00:29 PM »
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Tomshardware has recently published test results showing that configuring 2 SATA I-Ram in Raid 0 did have a very significant advantage in terms of I/O and maximum throughput.

http://www.tomshardware.com/2005/12/05/hyp...lock/page6.html (and next page)

It would be interesting to see how much PS would benefit from having its scratch stored on 2 4GB I-RAM configured in RAID0.

Regards,
Bernard
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dmerger
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« Reply #16 on: December 12, 2005, 06:37:35 PM »
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Tim, I haven't looked into RAID 0 for quite some time.  If I recall correctly, none of the test reports that I read included a test for Photoshop scratch disk performance.  It's possible that RAID 0 would benefit Photoshop scratch disk, but the explanation of RAID 0 in the test reports makes it appear unlikely that RAID 0 would be a significant improvement for Photoshop scratch disk.  If you set up a such a system, please post your experience.  I'd add a RAID 0 if I thought it would speed up Photoshop for me.

Here are links to two of the test reports I referenced.

http://www.storagereview.com/articles/2004...40625TCQ_1.html

http://www.anandtech.com/storage/showdoc.aspx?i=2101&p=1
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Dean Erger
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« Reply #17 on: December 12, 2005, 07:29:09 PM »
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Thanks to all of your replies and there were many. I'm looking into all the suggestion and hopefully will be able to configure a machine that will allow me to focus on my graphics and not the system. I really believe that most of the frustrating hang-ups come from the Windows OS and its use of the hardware rather than the hardware its self.
One suggestion was to go with a high end Mac. I don't mind the cost but am apprehensive about the change over. Are there any testimonials from folks who have made the change? Especially made the change after starting out on PCs and using them for thirty years (my first machine was a Commodore before they had hard drives).

Once again, thank you all for your replies. They were very useful.

L
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=53378\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I made the change myself. After 12 years of WinPCs I switched to a dual 2.3 PowerMac. I have to say it's hand's-down the best system I've had the pleasure of using. It is nice using a system that works with you rather than against you.

Making the transition wasn't difficult at all. Getting really used to the OS X GUI took only a couple of hours of fiddling around. The most difficult thing about the switch has been the keyboard layout (re-learning 12 years of muscle memory).

My biggest apprehensions on switching was that of performance and how I would launch applications. Yes, that last one sounds silly but with no start menu I really had no idea! I found an app called QuickSilver that has made life very easy in that regard (and others) as it lets me launch apps with a few keystrokes. Otherwise, any Finder window has a link directly to all of the installed apps.

Performance has been far better than I had expected. It may not have as much raw grunt as a new dual-core Athalon (what does?) but it excels in other areas. I've been able to multi-task on this mac more quickly and smoothly than any current PC system is capable of. I'm sure that might start a flame-war but most people here have not had the chance to compare the two...

I've had my Mac for three months now and have had only one issue with it and that has since been resolved with the latest software update. A rock-solid system.

Feel free to ask me any questions regarding my transition. I'd be glad to share.
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #18 on: December 12, 2005, 08:32:03 PM »
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Daniel,

OK, I'll start.

How about the many applications that you were using on your PC:

- Adobe products -> did you have to buy new licenses,
- ...

Didn't you find that many applications available for PC are not for the Mac?

That lack of application, and the portential cost of migrating licenses are the main reasons why I don't see myself seriously considering that tempting quad core G5 with 8 GB RAM...

Besides:

- are there still SCSI cards available for the G5? Would I be able to connect my Imacon scanner?
- is my Samsung LCD screen usable?

Thank you in advance for your feedback.

Regards,
Bernard
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Tim Gray
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« Reply #19 on: December 13, 2005, 08:00:53 AM »
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Tim, I haven't looked into RAID 0 for quite some time.  If I recall correctly, none of the test reports that I read included a test for Photoshop scratch disk performance.  It's possible that RAID 0 would benefit Photoshop scratch disk, but the explanation of RAID 0 in the test reports makes it appear unlikely that RAID 0 would be a significant improvement for Photoshop scratch disk.  If you set up a such a system, please post your experience.  I'd add a RAID 0 if I thought it would speed up Photoshop for me.

Here are links to two of the test reports I referenced.

http://www.storagereview.com/articles/2004...40625TCQ_1.html

http://www.anandtech.com/storage/showdoc.aspx?i=2101&p=1
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=53390\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Just skimming quickly, here's what I think is a relevant quote from your first link:

"...Without requests backed up and waiting, an increased actuator count simply can not make itself felt. Under such light loads, the simplest design, Promise's S150 TX4, delivers the best performance regardless of the number of drives in the array...."

The point is that backing into the scratch disk is, in fact, a heavy load and there's clearly a significant IO que.  

The results from the second link show a Raptor w/o raid 0 having a 752 IO score and the same disk with raid 0 having 901 - roughly a 20% increase.

I won't be upgrading until the next 1DS comes out...   and I'm not sure that my level of technical competence is sufficient to switch the Raid off and on to see the difference - isolating the improvement kick I'll get from the increased ram, faster processer and dual core.  

My question, which I'll likely repost later when the camera actually comes out, is assuming a system with 4 gig, is backing into the scratch disk frequent or not, given 22mb, 16bit files?  I would agree, that if backing into the scratch disk is "infrequent" raid is probably not a worthwhile investment.

On a related issue - I have separate processes in place to deal with backup and redundancy.
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