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Thread: Photo editing PC

  1. #1
    Hardcore Til I Die htid's Avatar
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    Photo editing PC

    My dad wants to build a PC which will be used for the net and image editing, so nothing too taxing. It's been a while since I've looked into PC parts so I just want confirmation that it's all compatible and if anyone can suggest some ways to save money. He wants to spend a max of £500, exclusive of monitor/sound card/DVD drive/OS.


    CPU: Intel C2D E7200 - He's happy with the speed and won't be overclocking so I think that's OK.

    Mobo: ASUS P5K - I have no idea about this, I just picked anything so if anyone can advise something cheaper (maybe the P5K is overkill for what he needs) please do so.

    Graphics card: GeForce 8400 - He's happy with that so no need to change.

    RAM: 4gb Corsair TwinX XMS2 PC2-6400 - Few things about this. Firstly, he'll only be using XP, which I read can only use up to 3gb RAM. Don't you need matching pairs, meaning he either has to have 2x1gb or 2x2gb? Is it possible to have 3gb? Also, since he won't be overclocking, would he be just as well with some generic no name RAM instead of this?

    PSU: Seasonic 430w - I only chose this because I have a Seasonic and have been happy with it, plus it's very efficient so should suffice.

    HD: 250gb boot drive (not sure which) & 500gb data drive (again, not sure which) - I thought he could get a raptor as a boot drive, but I can't seem to find any, I can only find the velociraptors which it seems only come in 300gb flavour, overkill for him. Have WD discontinued the raptors?

    Case: ? - No idea, give me some ideas please.

    Anyway that's it, thanks for any advice!

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    • Will404's system
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      • ASUS MW221u 22"

    Re: Photo editing PC

    That all looks as if it will work fine together. He could get a 64bit version of xp, and then utilise all of his memory, but if you allready have xp 32bit this is a lot of cash to spend on very little update

    Case, I would go for something silent, as that PC is not going to chuck out a huge deal of heat, something like an Antec P182 should be fine - if not too expensive - antec 300 is a lot less, and will have more than adiquet cooling, but it depends on his and your taist, and how much money you have left over.

    I would go for the corsair memory, purley because it is good quality, and it comes with a lifetime warrenty. Weather to go for 2 or 4 Gb depends on how he uses it - is he a heavy user or a lite one, multi task or not.... If you go for 2Gb I would recomend this as it is good memory.

    Hard disk.., having searched scan I can find no mention of the raptors......Ha, my long search has paid off. Misco sell a 74Gb raptor for just under £100 (a lot for a HDD in my opp, but it is a fast one). Here is a link to it

    Finally a P5K should be a fine mobo, if I was going for a P35 mobo, I would have an Abit !P35, such as this one, which should run your pc fine.

    Hope that this essay helps...
    .....bet someone has beatern me to it though

    EDIT>.......no, i am first yay

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    Re: Photo editing PC

    Quote Originally Posted by htid View Post
    He wants to spend a max of £500, exclusive of monitor/sound card/DVD drive/OS.
    My initial reaction is to shave as much as possible off the spec to allow for a really good monitor (like the Dell 27" going for just over £400 mentioned in another thread on Hexus). I'd also budget for a hardware calibrator - my own solution is to buy a cheap Spyder2 or Huey, download ArgyllCMS and follow this guide (it works the same for the Windows version - it takes an hour or two, but the results are worth it):

    http://jcornuz.wordpress.com/2007/11...gyllcms-linux/

    Will he be editing RAW images, or just out-of-the-camera JPEGs? The former does need a little bit of grunt, the latter does not.

    Photoshop (I mean the fully edition) is also a taxing application, mainly on memory and scratch disks. He might want to trial Lightroom 2.0, and spend some of the cash on the reasonably-priced Student edition (£80-odd last time I looked).

    RawTherapee 2.4m1 is my own recommendation for RAW software (it also does JPEGs and TIFFs), and costs as much/little as you're willing to pay! (Tip: Setting RT's preview mode to 1:4 or so instead of 1:1 dramatically speeds things up). Picasa is an excellent (free!) photo manager for amateur photographers using only JPEG format.

    Primary hardware requirements are HD capacity (make sure to have back-ups), adequate memory (4Gb is the sweet spot now) and any multi-core CPU. Any Intel p45 based motherboard would do (choose according to connectivity options).

    As he has no power-hungry GPU to feed, almost any PSU will suffice - I'm a fan of the Antec cases with Earthwatts PSUs included for value+quality. I went for the Antec NSK 3480 mATX, which is too pokey for comfort, so would recommend going for the larger and cheaper 4480 series (costs £50-odd).

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    • colmo's system
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    Re: Photo editing PC

    Quote Originally Posted by Will:) View Post
    Hard disk.., having searched scan I can find no mention of the raptors......Ha, my long search has paid off. Misco sell a 74Gb raptor for just under £100 (a lot for a HDD in my opp, but it is a fast one). Here is a link to it
    I personally don't understand this recommendation. I recently invested in a 1Tb Samsung for £95, which I think is a much more sensible solution for a photographer - I'd take the x13 increase in capacity over the slight increase in performance (and noise + power consumption) any day.

    Edit: My apologies to Will - I missed the mention of Raptors in the OP's post.
    Last edited by colmo; 09-07-2008 at 01:33 PM. Reason: update

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    Re: Photo editing PC

    Id reccomend the coolermaster R330 Elite, Good looking, Cheap and excellent built quality for the price, I got one recently and its honetly just brilliant.

    RAM is so cheap nowadays, get 4gigs of it, That corsair is good stuff too, avoid unbranded ram, especially as theres minimal price difference at the moment.

    Id backup Will on the 430 watt seasonic, I also have a 430 watt seasonic ROHS psu, and its quiet, stable and can even manage to run my e4300 at 2.7 ghz nice and stable, however for tidyness id reccoment a coolermaster modular, these are pretty cheap now and can be had for ~£50, so get this instead if you can, that way you only plug in the cables you need.Id say the P5K is a reasonable choice, however Id reccomend having a look at some of the P31/P35 gigabyte boards, some of them are very good and reliable.

    Where the hard disk is concerned, i think raptors are overkill, however if you must, id reccomend the Velociraptor, but not at the retail prioce of ~£190, try ebay, I know 2 friends who got 2 300gb Velociraptors for £130 each, new and sealed.


    Hope ive helped a bit.

    Oh. and dont forget to invest in a set of velcro cable ties from maplin, they make for nice tidy wiring

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    • Will404's system
      • Motherboard:
      • ASUS P5Q PRO
      • CPU:
      • Core2quad Q6600 @2.85GHz
      • Memory:
      • 4GB Corsoar Twin X XMS2 DDR2-PC2 6400 @ 900MHz, 5-5-5-18
      • Storage:
      • WD 320GB, Segate 320GB (Raid 0), 2* WD 1TB storage
      • Graphics card(s):
      • ATI Sapphire HD 4850
      • PSU:
      • Corsoar HX 520
      • Case:
      • Antec 900
      • Operating System:
      • Windows 7 Pro x64
      • Monitor(s):
      • ASUS MW221u 22"

    Re: Photo editing PC

    Quote Originally Posted by colmo View Post
    I personally don't understand this recommendation. I recently invested in a 1Tb Samsung for £95, which I think is a much more sensible solution for a photographer - I'd take the x13 increase in capacity over the slight increase in performance (and noise + power consumption) any day.
    I was just answering his request:

    Quote Originally Posted by htid View Post
    HD: 250gb boot drive (not sure which) & 500gb data drive (again, not sure which) - I thought he could get a raptor as a boot drive, but I can't seem to find any, I can only find the velociraptors which it seems only come in 300gb flavour, overkill for him. Have WD discontinued the raptors?
    However it may be wise to go for a 1TB HDD, or 2*500GB HDD's would probally be less, and in RAID 1 would reduce the need for backups.

  7. #7
    The late but legendary peterb - Onward and Upward peterb's Avatar
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    Re: Photo editing PC

    I would suggest that the critical aspects on this build is the monitor, followed by RAM size and CPU power. Use 4G of Ram Win XP will use up to 3.5GB of it - and Ram is pretty cheap.

    Samsung drives will be fine for this - most of the work in photo editing is looking at pictures and applying changes - which requires CPU grunt (although not necessarily as much as you might think) rather than disk IO performance.

    I would even say that the GPU is overspecified for this - you could use a much cheaper one and still do the job. Get the cheapest card that supports the maximum resolution of the monitor. Frame rates etc are not relevant for this application.

    Put the money saved into a really good monitor. You may want to consider a stylus pad for fine detail work - again, domn't skimp on that.
    Last edited by peterb; 09-07-2008 at 10:54 AM.
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    Hardcore Til I Die htid's Avatar
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    • htid's system
      • Motherboard:
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      • C2D E6600 @ 3ghz
      • Memory:
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      • Storage:
      • 180gb Spinpoint
      • Graphics card(s):
      • XFX 7900GTX
      • PSU:
      • 500W Seasonic S12
      • Case:
      • Akasa Mirage
      • Monitor(s):
      • 18" Dell

    Re: Photo editing PC

    Thanks for the suggestions everyone.

    I'll suggest the Abit iP35 instead of the Asus P5K, if it will do the job just as well, for cheaper. Thanks for searching for the raptor Will, but considering what others have said, I think he's going to ditch that idea and just get 2 Samsung 500gbs instead, one as a boot drive and one as document storage. Would a 250gb boot drive even be enough, it's not like he has even 50gb of programs so 500gb seems too much unless it has other benifits (such as being a scratch drive for Photoshop, I don't know much about that).

    He already has Spyder so no more hardware calibration required. He does use Photoshop and works with RAW rather than jpeg, but I think he already has all that side of it sorted.

    The only other thing I'm not sure about now then is the PSU. I looked for the Coolermaster modular that you suggested, Wills, but I can only find 500W> which are overkill really. The only ones on scan that are around 450W, are the Seasonic 430W modular and this. The Seasonic is more money, less wattage and lower efficiency, so would it be just as well to get the BeQuiet one, or should he stick to the Seasonic?

    Cheers again

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    Re: Photo editing PC

    100Gb would be more than enough for OS and applications. You could sub partition that drive to give (say) 20Gb for the OS, 50GB for applications and the remainder for data files, together with the second drive.

    If ypou are feeling adventourous, you could link the data partition with second drive to form a logical volume - however I have no experience of doing that in Windows - some suggest that it isn't that good.

    Modular PSUs are convenient - of the two you suggest I would go for the branded Seasonic - but if you can do without modular

    http://scan.co.uk/Product.aspx?WebProductId=644038

    might be worth considering. (just realised Wills suggested a similar case)

    As for the case - I guess your not bothered about 'bling' so pretty much any of the cheap end cases will do the job.

    http://scan.co.uk/Product.aspx?WebProductId=679570
    Last edited by peterb; 10-07-2008 at 11:05 AM.
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    Re: Photo editing PC

    Well if the >500watt Corsair psu is as cheap as i t was when i last looked (£45-50) its about the same price as the seasonic 430 i believe, but you obviously get extra headroom, and the biggest benefit - its modular.

    Just looked, its about £43 for the seasonic and £58 for the Coolermaster modular from scan, Id definately reccomend a modular psu, im wishing mine was, however that seasonic 430 is very good, I have had one for about a year and its been brilliant, even with overclocking my C2D E4300 to 3ghz.


    I think the most important consideration is dont get a non branded (or a poor brand) PSU.

  11. #11
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    Re: Photo editing PC

    I wouldn't pick the coolermaster over the seasonic.. The S12 is still a great PSU even though it's getting on a bit.

    The corsair HX and 450VX if it hasn't already been mentioned are seasonic PSU's so it's just the price that seperates them.

    Given the graphics card is going to need such a small amount of power there is no point getting more than 430W anyway.

    On the subject of graphics make sure it's a passive cooler, you don't want a silly little fan buzzing all the time

    I'd build this

    Antec Solo ~£60 (superb quiet case, will run near silent with a decent HSF and passive graphics card)
    Seasonic S12 430W ~£45

    You could also get the Antec Sonata Plus for a similar price (£110), this comes with a decent 550W modular PSU, which gets good reviews and antec also used to be built by seasonic, so this one may also be).

    I wouldn't bother with a raptor really, a 640GB AAKS from WD is a great price and very fast

    I'd still buy a nice quiet cooler for the E7200 even if he's not overclocking. Something like the Scythe Mine, Bit pricey (£20) but when he turns it on and it's silent he will thank you

  12. #12
    Late Night Ninja! CrazyMonkey's Avatar
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    Re: Photo editing PC

    Just posting my view on a budget case -
    http://www.scan.co.uk/Product.aspx?WebProductId=541780

    It's a seriously excellent case for the price, coupled with an extra 120mm fan and a quiet PSU the thing is near silent. I have built 4 low-mid spec pc's in this case for people often using the stock Intel HSF and the noise is seriously LOW.

    Also CustomPC have named this case as the best budget case and it's apparent why.

  13. #13
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      • Storage:
      • 640Gb WD Caviar AAKS
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      • Be Quiet 550W (black beauty!)
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    Re: Photo editing PC

    Just for information, the E7200 and P5K motherboard is one of the cheapest and, arguably, the best overclocking configuration you can get. P5K motherboards support FSB speeds of over 530 Mhz.

    If you don't plan to overclock, the E8400 and any cheap motherboard will be better.

    Nowadays there's no point getting small drives, big drives are way faster and more economical too. The 1Tb Samsung F1 is currently the fastest consumer drive, faster than the Velociraptor, and it costs only £95. Really don't get 2 small drives when you can have much more performance by partitioning 1 big drive.

    Your PSU is a good, reliable choice for the needs.

  14. #14
    No-one's Fanboi Thorsson's Avatar
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    Re: Photo editing PC

    For Photoshop RAM is the most important thing and CPU power next. If you can stretch to the Q6600 I'd go for it (surprised no-one else has even mentioned it). I would also seriously consider getting a 64-bit OS and 8Gb RAM - or get 2x2Gb now so there's room for later.

    As far as HDDs are concerned then anything from 400Gb to 1Tb (providing you take the best price at each point) is approximately the same price per Gb. I'd definitely stay away from Raptors, and TBH I'm not sure that there's any noticeable performance benefit from getting 2 HDDs at all. I'd pick a single disk that will see him through a year (640 or 750Gb seems sensible), and then get a second if necessary.

    I'd echo what staffsMike said about thinking quiet, that's the only reason for spending a bit more on the case.

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      • Motherboard:
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      • Memory:
      • 6Gb
      • Storage:
      • 160Gb + 320Gb + 1Tb +200Gb
      • Graphics card(s):
      • Gainward 8800GS 384mb
      • PSU:
      • Antec Earthwatts 380W
      • Case:
      • Antec Sonata
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      • OpenSuse 64-bit
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      • HP LP2065
      • Internet:
      • ADSL

    Re: Photo editing PC

    Quote Originally Posted by CrazyMonkey View Post
    Just posting my view on a budget case -
    http://www.scan.co.uk/Product.aspx?WebProductId=541780

    It's a seriously excellent case for the price, coupled with an extra 120mm fan and a quiet PSU the thing is near silent. I have built 4 low-mid spec pc's in this case for people often using the stock Intel HSF and the noise is seriously LOW.

    Also CustomPC have named this case as the best budget case and it's apparent why.
    For £50 PSU + £25 case, you could get a Antec Sonata III. It also has a quality PSU (not modular iirc, though).

    Quote Originally Posted by Thorsson View Post
    For Photoshop RAM is the most important thing and CPU power next. If you can stretch to the Q6600 I'd go for it (surprised no-one else has even mentioned it). I would also seriously consider getting a 64-bit OS and 8Gb RAM - or get 2x2Gb now so there's room for later.
    Photoshop doesn't really benefit from extra cores in certain situations - there's a discussion for why here:
    http://blogs.adobe.com/jnack/2006/12...multicore.html

    I note that on the Photoshop benchmark on Tom's Hardware, the E8400 beats the Q6600 by 22%. Of course, if your dad is a heavy multitasker, he'll still likely prefer the quad core. All this is moot, of course, if he doesn't plan to use Photoshop. If he instead wishes to use something like Lightroom (which is excellent, IMHO), it has a much more current code-base, and so many cores are a greater benefit. If the budget is rigid, you can take heart from this benchmark here, where the E7200 beats the Q6600 by a slim margin in PS CS2. (Edit: Sorry, it's the E6600 not the Q6600 - my mistake, thanks Thorsson)

    You can trail the Lightroom 2.0 Beta here: http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/lightroom/
    Last edited by colmo; 11-07-2008 at 05:57 PM. Reason: comment on mistake spotted by Thorsson

  16. #16
    No-one's Fanboi Thorsson's Avatar
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    Re: Photo editing PC

    Well that was a discussion mostly about 8 cores over 4 cores, although it's clear that certain operations gain nothing from extra cores per se. And the bench was E7200 v E6600 v E6700 - not a Q in sight. Besides doing a PS bench is fraught with assumptions - it doesn't really test how you would use it. If you work on multiple images at once then I feel sure that the extra cores would be useful. Of course one of the strengths of the Q6600 is how easy it is to OC, and that may not be applicable here.

    What was interesting was the suggestion in the linked Windows optimization thread http://kb.adobe.com/selfservice/view...2271&sliceId=1 where it suggested you use a different disk for PS's "scratch disk" than you use for the window's swap file.. This suggests that 2 disks is better for PS after all. From what it says, I'd use one disk for everything else and one dedicated to Photoshop files and the scratch disk. And defrag the latter regularly.

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