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Thread: Building a photo editing workstation

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    Building a photo editing workstation

    I'm considering building a desktop for a photo society at university, currently the plan is to get a Dell workstation with a budget of around £600. I reckoned i could beat that by a substantial margin, but I need a bit of help double checking things and knocking some cash off. It's been a long time since i've needed to pick some serious components so any advice would be welcome.

    The crux is this. We need a new monitor, and the nice 22" Dell IPS screens are near £230 a pop which makes it a little hard - but i suspect not impossible to get the rest of the rig in, especially with 4GB of DDR3 (would be nice). It'll be predominantly used for editing photos, so it'll have things like Lightroom, Photoshop (probably) and other similar applications. The monitor needs to be good, we've got a Spyder to calibrate it but it makes sense in my mind to buy a decent one and plan for the future. I thought getting 4GB RAM would be a good route since it'll be more useful than getting a good graphics card. With respect to graphics, i've tried to be cheap but not bottom of the line - to be honest i'm not sure about that. We're not going to be gaming on it (probably), but i don't know how much grunt applications like PS CS4 need in terms of GPU acceleration. The ability to play games reasonably is a bonus, but not mandatory!

    CPU wise i went for the AMD 630, nice cheap quad core.

    Peripherals are fairly standard, basic £30 uATX case, 350W Silverstone PSU (doubt we need even that tbh), Microsoft keyboard, 3.5" card reader, 500GB hard drive (we've got a TB external too).

    Where i think the problems may start is when we consider things like getting a copy of Win 7, an antivirus subscription, etc. So add on £70 for a student copy of Win 7 professional and £30 for an AV suite. Not sure if we can get something free like AVG as we're using the university network...

    1) Monitor recommendations? I'd really love to squeeze in that Dell, but the £600 is absolute.
    2) Is 4GB RAM overkill? We could probably skimp down to 2 to get back £40 if necessary
    3) Motherboard - i'm totally baffled as to what to go for, there are so many! Perhaps http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/MSI-7...oard-Graphics?
    4) Graphics card - not sure here, is there a benefit with going ATI+AMD

    Here's the scan basket:
    Last edited by Whiternoise; 11-03-2010 at 01:40 AM.

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    Bows out! CAT-THE-FIFTH's Avatar
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    Re: Building a photo editing workstation

    This is what I would look at getting:

    AMD Athlon II X4 630 ~ £81

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/176579

    OR

    AMD Athlon II X3 440 ~ £66

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/191955

    4GB 800MHZ DDR2 ~ £67

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/133709

    ASROCK A790GMH/128M ~ £61

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/166041

    Has the 790GX chipset with 128MB of dedicated DDR3 for the HD3300 IGP.

    Antec 380W EarthWatts Green PSU ~ £34

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/185183

    Plexus Figure 8 Type UK Power Cable 2m ~ £1

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/131548

    Samsung F3 500GB ~ £43

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/146252

    This is a single platter hard drive.

    Casecom 6788 ~ £26

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/172779

    Arctic Cooling Arctic F12 Pro PWM 120mm Rear Case Fan ~ £4

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/185154

    LiteOn IHAS124-19 ~ £14

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/176026

    All in 1 Internal Card Reader ~ £6

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/108453

    Dell Ultrasharp 2209WA ~ £215 to £223 excluding delivery

    http://www.pcbuyit.co.uk/product_inf...bf7556a63e001e

    http://www.scan.co.uk/Product.aspx?W...source=froogle

    The university should provide a free copy of the AV TBH and you could be able to get a free or discounted copy of the OS too.
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 11-03-2010 at 01:58 AM.


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  4. #3
    Pseudo-Mad Scientist Whiternoise's Avatar
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    Re: Building a photo editing workstation

    You're a legend, Cat

    Athough a tri-pin rather than a dual, surely? http://www.ebuyer.com/product/123415

    And space is at a bit of a premium, any ideas for an mATX board? Possibly this: http://www.ebuyer.com/product/166041 almost identical specs from the looks of it. So you reckon that going integrated won't be a problem?

    And for that price PSU, why not something like http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/450W-...-year-Warranty. Seems a bit expensive paying £70 for only 380W when we could get a modular Corsair for less.
    Last edited by Whiternoise; 11-03-2010 at 02:27 AM.

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    Re: Building a photo editing workstation

    Quote Originally Posted by Whiternoise View Post
    You're a legend, Cat

    Athough a tri-pin rather than a dual, surely? http://www.ebuyer.com/product/123415

    And space is at a bit of a premium, any ideas for an mATX board?
    I blame the Moose for the choice of the wrong cable!!

    The motherboard I listed is mATX:

    http://www.asrock.com/mb/overview.as...l=A790GMH/128M

    You could probably go for a cheaper AM2+ motherboard with a slower IGP too if you want to reduce the cost of the build. If you want DDR3 you will need to get a motherboard with a 785G IGP and this should be similar in price to the 790GX motherboard and the 800MHZ DDR2 I listed. However this would mean getting a motherboard with only two RAM slots and no dedicated RAM for the IGP.

    Edit!!

    The PSU is around £34(or around £35 if you include the power plug) so where is the £70 figure coming from??

    Also I think that we have listed the same Asrock motherboard too.
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 11-03-2010 at 02:26 AM.


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  6. #5
    Pseudo-Mad Scientist Whiternoise's Avatar
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    Re: Building a photo editing workstation

    I have no idea tbh! Must have added two

    Same mobo too - I was probably thinking along the lines of cases!

    Gah i'm tired

    EDIT:

    Ok, i make it around £560 for the lot Seems like Warwick are happy for students to use AVG, so that covers antivirus and since it's technically a university owned machine we can probably get Kaspersky from them.

    Windows will be another matter, but that shouldn't be a problem.
    Last edited by Whiternoise; 11-03-2010 at 02:47 AM.

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    Re: Building a photo editing workstation

    If you don't mind going for a cheaper motherboard you could get an AM3 based computer:

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/181968

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/166995

    If you want to stick with a DDR2 based setup then the following motherboards should do the job:

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/179083

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/171803

    The Asrock 790GX motherboard does have a faster IGP than the 760G and 785G based motherboards,dedicated DDR3 RAM for the IGP,a better southbridge and more RAM slots too.

    I would also look at this case too:

    http://www.scan.co.uk/Product.aspx?W...source=froogle


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  8. #7
    Pseudo-Mad Scientist Whiternoise's Avatar
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    Re: Building a photo editing workstation

    This is what i've got at the moment:



    Decided that the case will be stuck under a table anyway so it needn't be too purty. Need to change the fan though, doesn't have a 120mm rear port. Couple of Tricool 92mm's should do, i think.

    The reasons you mention are probably enough to make me stick with the 790 chipset.
    Last edited by Whiternoise; 11-03-2010 at 03:03 AM.

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    Re: Building a photo editing workstation

    I would check the Asrock website for compatible memory and CPUs ( different BIOS revisions are required for different CPUs) as if you order the board and CPU and find that the BIOS the board ships with doesn't support your CPU, a) the CPU might work but not be recognised for hat it is or b) mobo might not boot at all - in the case of a) you can just flash the bios to the latest revision. In the case of b) unless you have a CPU that works with the board you are stuffed. I would find out what BIOS the board ships with before ordering.

  10. #9
    Pseudo-Mad Scientist Whiternoise's Avatar
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    Re: Building a photo editing workstation

    Quote Originally Posted by kmac View Post
    I would check the Asrock website for compatible memory and CPUs ( different BIOS revisions are required for different CPUs) as if you order the board and CPU and find that the BIOS the board ships with doesn't support your CPU, a) the CPU might work but not be recognised for hat it is or b) mobo might not boot at all - in the case of a) you can just flash the bios to the latest revision. In the case of b) unless you have a CPU that works with the board you are stuffed. I would find out what BIOS the board ships with before ordering.
    From the ASRock website:

    "Support for Socket AM3 processors: AMD Phenom™ II X4 / X3 and Athlon II X4 / X3 / X2 processors"

    Sounds ok to me? On the CPU support page it lists ADX630WFK42GI and ADX630WFK42GM.

    As for memory, KHX6400D2ULK2/2G is listed so i presume it'll be ok.



    Is this some issue with ASRock mobo's or AMD? I've never had to check whether a chip is supported with Intel before.. Just buy the right socket and pop it in.

  11. #10
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    Re: Building a photo editing workstation

    Not some issue with Asrock in particular. Its what I thought as well about buying a CPU advertised as supported. When my mobo wouldn't boot, I was told to check the CPU support list. As it turns out the mobo was faulty as the CPU was supported. Its just that some mobos need a particular BIOS revision to support some CPUs

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