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Thread: Graphic Design Computer

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    Hardcore Til I Die htid's Avatar
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    Graphic Design Computer

    Hi,

    I work as a graphic designer for a small company, and am working with 100-300mb files which are stored on an internal hard drive (not sure which it is). The other specs are:
    CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad Q8600 @ 2.66ghz
    4gb DDR2 (on Windows 7 32bit so I think only 3gb are recognised?)

    When I have multiple files open in Photoshop and also have Illustrator open, I'm noticing everything lags a lot. I was going to just upgrade Windows and get some more RAM, but my MD said whilst I'm doing it I may as well get a whole new system that's more up to date.

    I have no idea where to start with all this, I've built PCs in the past so I'm confident in doing it, however I just don't know what I'll need for graphics work and what's compatible? I'm not sure on budget, I reckon I can push him to £800, which isn't loads as far as I'm aware, but I can get something decent on that right? So my thoughts so far:

    CPU: C-T-F mentions the Core i5 2500K on his Build Guide for October - will that be sufficient?
    Mobo: Not a clue, any recommendations?
    RAM: I'm not sure if I'm just way out of touch, but it looks to me like on Scan you can get 16gb for about 70 quid?! A few years ago I paid over £200 for 2gb, have prices really dropped THAT much??
    HD: Some type of SSD? Currently I have one hdd for all my programmes and another for any current things I'm working on. The C drive has 80gb and current work, well that depends, but probably at most 20gb at a time (as things are moved onto the server when they are completed). Would this mean an SSD of 128gb would be too small, as it would almost be full meaning it runs slower? Or does that not apply to SSDs?

    Anyway that's all for now, thanks for any help!

    Cheers.

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    Re: Graphic Design Computer

    Hi there,
    You don't need a 2500k if you are not overclocking, but it's not much more then a 2500 so you could get it anyway. A 2600(k) might be better because your apps might benefit from the hyper threading, but I don't think it's worth a ~£100 price hike on the system.

    Any P67 or Z68 motherboard should be fine, I would suggest a discrete GPU so you can support multiple monitors better in future. Anything should do though, doesn't have to be a good one!

    Memory, yes prices are silly, you can get 8gb of (slow) RAM for £30 but I would pump for 1600 mhz 4gb sticks, get 2 see how you do, if you need more get another two.
    Get enough RAM so you never hit swap file, if this is on an SSD it can cause the SSD to wear out.

    SSD - it is somewhat better to run them with some free space, depends on the drive, but it does help. Still using 100gb out of a 128gb one should be fine. Would suggest a M4 since it's likely to REALLY speed up your experience, but to be honest any SSD will be seriously fast.

    Get a ~1TB backup/data drive too if you need it, always a good idea to have a backup.

    You will also need to budget for Windows 7, any version should be fine except the very cheapest, be sure to get a 64 bit version.

    Finally take a look at the scan value systems for some inspiration! Your boss might also prefer 3rd party warranty to roll-your-own with component warranties.

    Hope this helps any questions post away there are plenty of people here who can help with something with this. Good luck.
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  3. #3
    Bows out! CAT-THE-FIFTH's Avatar
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    Re: Graphic Design Computer

    Quote Originally Posted by htid View Post
    Hi,

    I work as a graphic designer for a small company, and am working with 100-300mb files which are stored on an internal hard drive (not sure which it is). The other specs are:
    CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad Q8600 @ 2.66ghz
    4gb DDR2 (on Windows 7 32bit so I think only 3gb are recognised?)

    When I have multiple files open in Photoshop and also have Illustrator open, I'm noticing everything lags a lot. I was going to just upgrade Windows and get some more RAM, but my MD said whilst I'm doing it I may as well get a whole new system that's more up to date.

    I have no idea where to start with all this, I've built PCs in the past so I'm confident in doing it, however I just don't know what I'll need for graphics work and what's compatible? I'm not sure on budget, I reckon I can push him to £800, which isn't loads as far as I'm aware, but I can get something decent on that right? So my thoughts so far:

    CPU: C-T-F mentions the Core i5 2500K on his Build Guide for October - will that be sufficient?
    Mobo: Not a clue, any recommendations?
    RAM: I'm not sure if I'm just way out of touch, but it looks to me like on Scan you can get 16gb for about 70 quid?! A few years ago I paid over £200 for 2gb, have prices really dropped THAT much??
    HD: Some type of SSD? Currently I have one hdd for all my programmes and another for any current things I'm working on. The C drive has 80gb and current work, well that depends, but probably at most 20gb at a time (as things are moved onto the server when they are completed). Would this mean an SSD of 128gb would be too small, as it would almost be full meaning it runs slower? Or does that not apply to SSDs?

    Anyway that's all for now, thanks for any help!

    Cheers.
    What is your budget and what software are you using?? I would think that disk speed and the amount of RAM you have will be important. Some applications may benefit from CUDA.

    I assume you are not overclocking so this CPU is worth considering:

    http://www.scan.co.uk/products/intel...tio-80w-retail

    It is bascially a Core i7 2600 with no IGP and slightly lower clockspeeds.


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  4. #4
    Hardcore Til I Die htid's Avatar
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    Re: Graphic Design Computer

    Quote Originally Posted by CAT-THE-FIFTH View Post
    What is your budget and what software are you using?? I would think that disk speed and the amount of RAM you have will be important. Some applications may benefit from CUDA.

    I assume you are not overclocking so this CPU is worth considering:

    http://www.scan.co.uk/products/intel...tio-80w-retail

    It is bascially a Core i7 2600 with no IGP and slightly lower clockspeeds.
    I mentioned in my original post that I'm not sure of a budget, I'll try and push him higher if I need to, but I reckon if I aim for £700-£800 I should be able to get away with that. I'll be using Photoshop, Illustrator and from time to time Sony Vegas, but I've never had any problems with Vegas slowing up so there's no need to consider that.

    Won't be overclocking...I don't know what IGP is, but will that CPU be faster than the i5 2500? If so, would I also need any P67 or Z68 motherboard for this, or do Xeon chips use a different one? (I'm not very knowledgable about all this tbh).

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    Not a good person scaryjim's Avatar
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    Re: Graphic Design Computer

    Would your boss consider letting you just get a Mac? I wouldn't normally recommend it, but if it's specifically for graphic design Mac are the industry standard, and learning to work with one would be good for your CV if you want to move to a similar job in another company.

    Otherwise, lots of RAM is really a must: DDR3 is silly cheap at the minute so you could probably go 16GB without too much pain. An SSD would help too,and given current HDD prices they keep looking like a better and better investment. A 128GB drive would probably be sufficient (SSDs shouldn't slow down when they're near capacity) as long as you keep your install clean. Alternatively, go for a couple of small drives in RAID 0 - this will improve read speeds noticably compared to a single drive (although it won't be anywhere near as fast as as SSD, of course). Ebuyer seem to have some good deals on OCZ SSDs at the minute.

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    Hardcore Til I Die htid's Avatar
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    Re: Graphic Design Computer

    Quote Originally Posted by Millennium View Post
    Hi there,
    You don't need a 2500k if you are not overclocking, but it's not much more then a 2500 so you could get it anyway. A 2600(k) might be better because your apps might benefit from the hyper threading, but I don't think it's worth a ~£100 price hike on the system.

    Any P67 or Z68 motherboard should be fine, I would suggest a discrete GPU so you can support multiple monitors better in future. Anything should do though, doesn't have to be a good one!

    Memory, yes prices are silly, you can get 8gb of (slow) RAM for £30 but I would pump for 1600 mhz 4gb sticks, get 2 see how you do, if you need more get another two.
    Get enough RAM so you never hit swap file, if this is on an SSD it can cause the SSD to wear out.

    SSD - it is somewhat better to run them with some free space, depends on the drive, but it does help. Still using 100gb out of a 128gb one should be fine. Would suggest a M4 since it's likely to REALLY speed up your experience, but to be honest any SSD will be seriously fast.

    Get a ~1TB backup/data drive too if you need it, always a good idea to have a backup.

    You will also need to budget for Windows 7, any version should be fine except the very cheapest, be sure to get a 64 bit version.

    Finally take a look at the scan value systems for some inspiration! Your boss might also prefer 3rd party warranty to roll-your-own with component warranties.

    Hope this helps any questions post away there are plenty of people here who can help with something with this. Good luck.
    I actually run duel monitors off an old 512mb GT220 so I'm fine for that. I also have (in the current PC, which is a Dell which I upgraded) a 300w PSU, DVD writer & case. The 300w will be too low for my new components I assume? I expect I'll need a 600w or similar, are there any recommended ones? Don't want to spend loads but don't want to get the cheapest possible of course. The DVD writer I can use and the case...I'm not sure, it might be too small, may as well just get a new one, any suggestions? I expect anything will do.

    I'm expecting my basket (if I go ahead) to be something similar to the following, but with case and PSU added in there too:

    CPU: i5 2500
    Mobo: Gigabyte GA-Z68P-DS3 Motherboard
    RAM: Corsair Memory Vengeance Red 8GB DDR3 1866 Mhz CAS 9 XMP Dual Channel Desktop
    SSD: Crucial RealSSD M4 128GB
    Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit

    Thanks again.

  7. #7
    Hardcore Til I Die htid's Avatar
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    Re: Graphic Design Computer

    Quote Originally Posted by scaryjim View Post
    Would your boss consider letting you just get a Mac? I wouldn't normally recommend it, but if it's specifically for graphic design Mac are the industry standard, and learning to work with one would be good for your CV if you want to move to a similar job in another company.

    Otherwise, lots of RAM is really a must: DDR3 is silly cheap at the minute so you could probably go 16GB without too much pain. An SSD would help too,and given current HDD prices they keep looking like a better and better investment. A 128GB drive would probably be sufficient (SSDs shouldn't slow down when they're near capacity) as long as you keep your install clean. Alternatively, go for a couple of small drives in RAID 0 - this will improve read speeds noticably compared to a single drive (although it won't be anywhere near as fast as as SSD, of course). Ebuyer seem to have some good deals on OCZ SSDs at the minute.
    I did ask him, but it's a bit too expensive and he'd rather we all stick to PCs. I'd definitely consider 16gb ram if it's worth it. Can't hurt to get the upgrades whilst it's cheap eh?

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    Re: Graphic Design Computer

    Got a friend who works in graphic design and he just built a 2500 system with my help......and he was pretty adamant that he would see the benefit for going with 16GB RAM.

    Now, he does use aftereffects as well, although not sure how much of a difference that makes.
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    Re: Graphic Design Computer

    Quote Originally Posted by htid View Post
    I did ask him, but it's a bit too expensive and he'd rather we all stick to PCs.
    Fair enough, it costs nothing to ask For equivalent hardware specs Mac are pretty damn pricey...

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    Re: Graphic Design Computer

    If your psu is a good one then it should be fine, there's no real change in demand from a Core2Quad to a sandybridge i5/i7
    You could happly stick with the graphics card.

    I'd advise against the mac, not because of "it's a mac" but because of the cost, not just the cost of the mac itself but you'd also have to rebuy all the software as well, retail photoshop + illistrator is around £1000

    I'd check which version of win7 you need, you could well need win7pro not home premium, esp if you're connecting into a network.

    DDR3 prices have really tumbled over this last year 8gb at least esp for large multi layered photoshop files.

    it would probably be worth keeping the 80gb harddrive just to use as a page file and scratch file disk, I'd keep those off the ssd as while it would be a bit slower, they both heavy load (ie a lot of writes and rewrites)

    not sure about that xenon cat linked, if it works in a standard z68 motherboard with non-eec ram then it's worth considering instead of an i5/i7

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    Hardcore Til I Die htid's Avatar
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    Re: Graphic Design Computer

    It's just a standard one that came with the dell, so I expect it's not all that good - however it has been running for a good 2 years or so all day every day and never any problems.

    I'm running Home Premium now (32bit) and it's working fine on the network, it's only a simple network, so that should do.

    As for the scratch disk, would I really need to have one if I have 16gb ram? I just use the programme, I don't have a clue about the tech stuff behind the scenes (such as how much ram is actually being used at any one time) Speaking of ram, I have no idea about the speeds of ram - Do I need to look at the latency? If so, what are good numbers? All of the 16gb 1800mhz quad channel sets have the same latency as the 8gb 1800mhz duel channel sets. So does it make sense to just get 2 lots of 8gb duel channel sets?

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    Re: Graphic Design Computer

    Windows 7 64bit
    Core i7 2600k
    16GB 1600Mhz DDR3
    128Gb SSD
    CUDA capable graphics card (photoshop is CUDA compatible), so go for nVidia. You can use a lower end card if you're just working with 2D, go for something like the 560 Ti if you're working with 3D.

    Note CUDA doesn't really work for 3D rendering, and current opinion is GPU rendering isn't geared towards 3D production (doesn't have the depth of complexity that a CPU can render). An analogy I saw likened a GPU to a wide shallow rendering pipeline (fast for rendering simpler scenes), whereas the CPU is slim but deep, so can render more complexity but more slowly.

  13. #13
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    Re: Graphic Design Computer

    Just to point out htid you will need some 64 bit version of Windows 7 to use more then 3.5 gigs of memory, so I'm afraid an upgrade is on the cards. Home Premium should do fine, though.
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    Re: Graphic Design Computer

    Quote Originally Posted by cptwhite_uk View Post
    CUDA capable graphics card (photoshop is CUDA compatible), so go for nVidia..
    Photoshop doesn't use CUDA anymore - it's accelerated by any modern card these days.

    http://kb2.adobe.com/cps/404/kb404898.html
    Last edited by kalniel; 30-11-2011 at 03:09 PM.

  15. #15
    Anthropomorphic Personification shaithis's Avatar
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    Re: Graphic Design Computer

    Quote Originally Posted by Millennium View Post
    Just to point out htid you will need some 64 bit version of Windows 7 to use more then 3.5 gigs of memory, so I'm afraid an upgrade is on the cards. Home Premium should do fine, though.
    32 and 64bit are inter-changeable since Vista.

    You can just re-install with the 64bit media using the same key.
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    Re: Graphic Design Computer

    I think you have quite a lot of thinking to do.

    The question, if you have a limited budget, is where best to spend the money to address the bottlenecks? Upgrade, or new?

    For those apps and those file sizes, I'd suggest that RAM is the first consideration, and the more the merrier (within reason) provided you can address it. Then, especially for the like of Photoshop, a dedicated drive for scratch files helps.

    As for graphics card, Photoshop does support £D acceleration using the graphics card processor for some functions. It can provide a serious kick, but only for some types of function. If I remember correctly, the main benefit is on applying some filters, but I seem to remember that it only works with some filters because it depends on the way the filter works. There's quite a detailed article on Adobe's forums from their lead designer about that, and it's worth hunting down and reading to see if you'll get much of a boost doing what you do, or not.

    Then, perhaps, think about an SSD for system boot and major apps.


    So .... were it me, I'd be looking at :-

    - RAM upgrade
    - Windows 7 64-bit
    - SSD boot drive
    - maybe use the current 80GB drive as a data drive (given the server storage) and another fast-ish HD for scratch disk. Say, 500GB - 1TB.
    - (optional) graphic card, depending on your usage.

    Cost that out, and compare to the cost of a new machine that also meets all the criteria.

    If you have to compromise too much on those core points to be able to buy a new machine, the upgrade route might yet be the better option.

    All IMHO, of course.

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