Wow this is an excellent resource for people like me (who until now didn't have a clue where to start!) Thanks harm!
I went through HP's pc building website and followed all the choices you've listed for Budget. Is there anything here that jumps out at you that you would change?
My computing needs: I'm a technical illustration student and i'll be doing stuff with CS5, painter 11 as well as FormZ and possibly Maya. Probably some tiny little videos in Affter Effects.
Note: I couldn't find the exact ATI HD card. Nor could i choose the motherboard.
This setup costs: $1,273.99
Thanks for your help!
|Primary optical drive||edit|
|Front Productivity Ports||edit|
|TV & entertainment experience||edit|
|Keyboard and Mouse||edit|
Looks like a nice budget system, but I suggest you add another hard disk.
For video I would say add two disks, but for illustrations and Maya add at least one disk. You can buy this disk around the corner for probably half the price that HP charges and you can build it in yourself. Have a look at Samsung Spinpoint F3, very fast, quiet and affordable.
There are some other articles I wrote, all in the hardware forum where you may get some additional background and info that is worthwhile to read. Just have a look around.
.... should I splurge on a single hexacore (x5650?) with that crazy EVGA SR2 board (I'm not afraid of moderate air-cooled overclocking)? Or go for a tried-and-true Tyan with a couple of Xeons? Or just overclock a single 930?
There is no value for the x5650 Xeon's or for that matter any dual Xeon with Premiere. Take a look at the ADK benchmark information and also at my PPBM site and see that dual Xeons are not among the leading scores.
Harm, Bill, I started building (actually ordering parts for) my new computer. I already ordered the 5 F3 hard drives from
Newegg (and they accepted the discount code). I would just need an advice on a moderately priced Blu-ray burner (LG? Samsung?) There are so many out there, and so many (non-expert) opinions, that it is difficult to choose. Thanks, Laci.
I can't thank you enough for the suggestions.
Just another quick question though. I'm choosing Hard drives at the moment and everyone on here seems to love the SpinPoint drives.
However, would you choose a Samsung SpinPoint F3 HD103SJ 32MB 1TB over a Caviar Black WD1002FAEX, 1000GB, 7200rpm, 64MB Cache, SATA-3?
The Caviar Blacks have the advantage of 64 MB cache, which is a definite advantage. However, WD Caviar Blacks are not suitable for raid configurations, due to that infamous WD TLER utility, that can no longer be changed in the latest Caviars.
Do not be fooled by the marketing hype around SATA-3. Yes, the theoretical bandwidth is much higher, but no current disks comes even close to approaching the bandwidth of SATA-2, let alone SATA-3.
not sure what you are talking about Harm? we use WD's all the time in raid. (the newer ones)
are you talking about the fact a drive can drop out of a raid 5/6 with numerous drives?
For continuous online backup, I've used Caviar Greens in a RAID 5 for a while now. I was worried that Harm was right about the TLER stuff when my RAID degraded from 3 drives down to 2 a couple of weeks ago.
Turns out the drive itself was going bad - really, really slow reads and writes in certain sectors of the disk.
WD replaced the drive under warranty, and my RAID5 is humming along with 3 drives again. Each Green drive is 2.0 TB, with the whole array being 4.0 TB.
I do 8 daily incremental backups and twice-weekly full backups of all my media and data drives. The incrementals run every 2 hours automatically. They're very fast because only the changed disk sectors are backed up. The full backups are scheduled to run right after my twice-weekly defrag runs. It makes no sense to do an incremental backup after a defrag pass since so many sectors are changed anyway. I keep 2 full backup sets (full + incrementals) at all times.
I use ShadowProtect and PerfectDisk.
Another PC build recommendation. I pieced this stuff together from Tom's and here. So, thanks for any guidance. I "have" a budget for my computer, but really just want something that will quickly edit in premiere, indesign, photoshop, and lightroom. Video is by far the biggest resource hog and don't know how to purchase for it. I plan to use one drive for the OS, one for local media, and one for cache.
Without further ado, here is the system:
LIAN LI PC-A70 ATX CASE
1x 600GB VelociRaptor
2x WD Cabiar Black 1T
PSU - SeaSonic X750 Gold
12GB (3x4GB) GSkill RpiJaws PC3 12800
ASUS P6X58D Premium LGA 1366
i7-980X Extreme (I really don't want to spend the $$ on this, but with the 30% plus performance boost encoding is worth it)
LG Blue-Ray Lightscribe DVD
Total - ~$2500
I have 2x24inch monitors and I can't budget in a new GPU. I have an nVidia GTX 285 and really just want to replace those with my monitors next year. I also have a droboelite for backup and shared storage. So, I just need the local drive for workfiles. Everything will be backed up, so I don't want to RAID the local disks (if I don't have too).
Thanks for any help or guidance on this and if I am missing something please let me know.
Your PSU may be a bit meager. 850 W would be better.
The i7-980X is faster than the i7-930, but the performance gain is small when overclocked and may not justify the price difference.
Look here: PPBM4 Benchmark and decide whether is may be worth to invest in a better disk setup with a lesser CPU but overclocked.
Thanks for the quick reply!
I read the article/spreadsheet, but don't really understand what to get (sorry).
So, if I downgrade to cpu to the i7-930 and keep the velociraptor as my OS, what disk config would you recommend for the $700 difference?
Edited-To-Add (What power supply would you recommend as well).
Yes I was thinking for backup. I just want to get my system built and I will consider internal Raid in the future.
I work mostly on large photoshop files. 200 to 600 megs so Ram is my main concern now. On my current XP system with 4 megs and have to go eat dinner or take naps just waiting for filter effects to complete.
I'm strongly considering 24GB of DDR3 2000 for $980
Thank you. I purchased the system for just under 2k. Now, how should I have the three 1T drives configured? Just three separate drive letters or some type or raid?
As for the drobo, I have a droboelite with 12T or usable storage. Plenty for backup and using for photoshop. I've used external drives for photoshop for many years and it works just fine. I don't game, AT ALL. I play hold 'em on my phone, but that is about it. Way too many other distractions in the world
Please allow me to impose on your time (and others who may wish to comment) by asking for your opinion about a computer build that will be used primarily for photo and video processing with CS5. After investigating several possibilities, I have tentatively decided on the components listed here.
My status is that of an amateur photographer, and this system will not be used for any critical production work. I have been using CS4 with an older computer. Since I would like to build a new computer and CS5 has raised the bar for system requirements, I feel more comfortable with some critical review.
Motherboard: - GIGABYTE GA-X58A-UD7 Rev 2
CPU - Intel Core i7-960 Bloomfield 3.2GHz
RAM - Corsair TR3X6G1600C8D Dominator 6 GB 3 x 2 GB (12GB 3x4GB?) PC3-12800 1600MHz 240-Pin DDR3 Core i7 3 channel Memory Kit
Video - PNY XLR8 VCGGTX480XPB GeForce GTX 480 (Fermi) 1536MB 384-bit GDDR5
HDD - OS and Programs - WD Caviar Black 1 TB WD2001FASS SATA (6G)
- Data - WD Caviar Black 1 TB WD2001FASS SATA (6G)- (2 drives)
Case - Antec P183 Black ATX
PSU - Antec Quatro TPQ 1000
DVD - Samsung SH-S243N (2 drives)
OS - Windows 7 Ultimate 64 Bit
CPU: the 960 is much more expensive than the i7-930, which is easily overclocked beyond the stock 960. The 930 is the more economical choice.
RAM: Get at least 12 GB, either 6 x 2G or 3 x 4G. The latter is much more expensive, but allows upgrading to 24 G.
DVD: Why two DVD burners instead of at least one being a BR burner?
OS: Win 7 64 Pro is more than enough, unless you realy need the bit locker features.
Video: With only very limited test results and rather immature MPE support, we have not yet seen a significant performance difference between the 470 and 480 Fermi cards, but it appears the 470 is the more economical choice and has the same number of cores as the FX 5000/6000.
Definitely go with 12 GB of ram. If you have the budget, the new i7 970 is a great choice for the price. If not then the I7 930 is the best choice for the price. Unless you need the HDMI out on the 480GTX for 10 bit color, save money and get the 470GTX. Use the extra for the CPU.
Revised - The 470GTX has a Mini-HDMI out.
Harm, a build your own PC almost always ends up costing me about $500 more than a configured PC from HP or Dell with the same specs (using info from this thread and Videoguys). At first I found this strange because I thought a DIY system would be a better bargain. I then guessed that HP and Dell get better deals on the main components so that's how they can sell for less... although I understand they probably cut corners in the specs they won't list, like the power supply wattage or MOBO they use.
So what are your thoughts on just buying an HP (I'll leave Dell out since I read your criticism of them) and then upgrading low cost items like the power supply... assuming your upgrades don't come close to the cost of a DIY system?
And of all the major PC companies (HP, Dell, Gateway, etc.) is there any you'd recommend to people like me considering a "hybrid DIY" PC?
Strange, a still lacking HP Z800 comes out above $ 20 K, a DIY with more and better components under $ 12 K.
I think you are comparing apples to oranges. HP/Dell only give 1066 memory, do not allow overclocking, come with crippled BIOS, charge more for a single disk upgrade than two separate disks would cost elsewhere, come with PSU's that can't be upgraded in their case, etc.
I restate: Standard configurations from HP/Dell can be attractive if it meets your needs. If you upgrade anything they steal you blind.
I've become a bit of an expert on this subject lately. I own an HP workstation that went bad under warranty and got a replacement refurb that's an upgrade. I then wanted to upgrade the power supply and get specs on the rest of the machine, and looked hard at building my own machine from scratch.
There are pros and cons.
The specs of a z400 are not so bad at all: Xeon (same foundation as i7, though I don't know which level of i7), triple-channel. Not so bad. Prices are on their site and I'm sure you'd do considerably better at CDW (or elsewhere). The tech support with an HP workstation is pretty amazing in one sense: they're very accessible 24/7 with little if any wait times, will stay on the phone with you for hours without a peep and hold your hands and bend over backwards to help you in any way possible, and will replace questionable parts in the wink of an eye when you have a warranty to cover it (they recently replaced the mobo and CPU in the refurb machine -- onsite in one day -- when I had freezes even though it may have been the GPU and I hadn't even replaced that yet).
A considerable amount of their hardware is propriety, yet tech support has precious little knowledge about details/specs of various components. For instance, they told me for days -- a supervisor and three different techs -- that it's a standard ATX case and power supply and simple to put in my own larger after-market PSU... yet it turned out that it's a propriety PSU in terms of how it mounts into the case and the pin-out at the system-board plug. And, there are no larger PSU's to be had that will fit/work in the machine. To run a GTX-470, I ended up using a second, external PSU just for the GPU.
Which is actually working fine.
The case handles the cooling with that GPU just fine, as hot as the GPU is.
I looked into moving things into a Cooler Master case, until one of the more senior techs at HP told me too much is proprietary to make that feasible -- fan controls, power-button controls, etc.
Upgrading RAM to 12GB using 3 x 4GB has to be done with Kingston memory. Nobody else but HP and Kingston make compatible RAM for that machine. Buying it from HP costs over $1,500. Kingston from an online discount retailer it's about half that. It has unbuffered RAM with error correction. It's 1333 RAM running at 1066 (CPU's limit), but from all the research I've done that's a limitation that's really not that noticeable in daily operation. (I don't know how different that is with video production.)
If you want to look into it, carefully differentiate between what should come with the stock machine from HP (or Dell, which I know nothing about) and what you upgrade on your own.
Maybe in the end the savings with HP (or Dell) and even the warranty aren't worth the limitations. I'd compare costs on the base machine to see.
Building your own takes time to make sure everything is compatible, whereas you can get a stock machine from HP and easily add, on your own, a better GPU, RAID controller, upgraded RAM, hard drives (as many as will fit, which is not many in a z400 but for me it was enough -- five hard drives and an optical drive), and just go to work, even knowing you have very good warranty support if you got it with a good warranty offered by HP.
I hope that helps.
So how much did this Z400 originally cost you?
I can't answer that accurately because, as I said, they sent it as a replacement of a prior model (HP xw8600) under warranty which was no longer available. Also, I originally bought the xw8600 loaded from CDW (under an HP lease, making cost a secondary issue).
Note that when comparing, one advantage of buying HP is that if you get a workstation from them and decide you want a different OS (ie: to change from XP to Windows 7 64-bit), you can just ask tech support and they'll send you the discs for free under their umbrella license. It's just limited to your HP workstation(s). At least, this is how they handled it with me and how they explained it to me.
CDW says they're the largest retailer of HP machines (they say they sell more than HP does).
Here's a list of z400 configurations on the CDW site:
And here's a list of z400 configurations on the HP site:
your looking in the wrong places then.
when you start getting into a real system from HP/Dell they get very expensive very fast.
where you cant touch Dell etc is the sub $1000 range. once you start hitting $1500+ its not hard.
plus they option choices they give are well silly.
an HP Z800 with a Quadro 500 series? usless.
If you only want mediocre performance go with the z400. No one has yet submitted a z400 configuration CS5 benchmark but there is one z400 on the PPBM4 (read CS4) benchmarks page it is in 92nd place on the PPBM4 Benchmark Results page out of 142 results. With no overclocking and other BIOS restrictions it would be hard to get good performance out of a Z400. That basic HP box was in excess of $3000 (it comes with a stupid Quadro card) and he had to enhance it with several additional disk drives. You would be better off going to some of the semi custom builders where you would get a motherboard without those restrictions. Or buy the suggested level i7 x58 machine from Scott at ADK for $2700. for a top of the line Premiere Pro CS5 ready great system
He will even properly install your CS4/5 software for you for no additional charge.
" Note that when comparing, one advantage of buying HP is that if you get a workstation from them and decide you want a different OS (ie: to change from XP to Windows 7 64-bit), "
Just so you know this is the standard Win 7 to XP downgrade and not part of some special umbrella license which is actually called volume licensing. Volume licensing has different SKU numbers but does not have any different options than standard OEM. You can get the Win 7 Pro with XP downgrade from any system configurator.
I absolutely defer to your experience and expertise here, and that of Harm as well.
I consider myself a lot more enlightened as a result of this dialog and will look forward to building a system myself in the near future.
(I will have to decide separately about the half-dozen and then dozen machines I'll need to put in for office staff, but I'm guessing it's still better to have them built.)
(By the way, Eric, just to clarify, in my case they "upgraded" me from XP to Windows 7 at no charge. Though that's obviously not enough to tip the scales in favor of buying a machine from them.)
Depends when you bought the system. Sounds like you bought it when HP was shipping the systems with XP loaded with a Win 7 license. That was something many system configurators were doing when Win 7 first released. That is the same as the XP downgrade I was talking about. There is not a free license upgrade to Win 7 outside of that and they would have eaten the cost of the Win 7 when they reported their licenses used to Microsoft otherwise.
Gentlement, if I may ask quickly here: I do have that z400 (I'm a bit deflated now, after having recently become encouraged that it's not such a bad system at all, but that's another matter ).
Triple-channel. Four memory slots.
It came with 8GB RAM. I plan to toss it and put in 12GB consisting of 3 x 4GB (in triple channel). I found the right memory from Kingston via CDW for about $750. I'm installing CS5 tomorrow when it arrives. The machine has an F3 for the OS/apps, an F3 for swap, and three F3 drives in a RAID 5 array for data (with a top-of-the-line LSI RAID controller -- 8888ELP). GPU is GTX-470 Superclocked+ from EVGA.
I'll be using Premiere Pro for video production -- our own in-house business presentations... not a lot of non-stop production work (we're not a production company) but time sure is money for me when doing this work (and waiting on the machine).
The question is whether my going to the 12GB of RAM is a good use of funds.
Okay, I appreciate that... thought that's kind of one of those non-answer anwers, isn't it? I know it's a subjective thing, of course, but it can't be that illusive of a question.
Bill? Harm? Please?
(And by the way, can't anyone give me any consolation about my z400 at all? I dont' overclock anyway. Similar core as i7. Triple-channel. All the right supporting hardware that I added. How bad can it be? Is one benchmark system enough to judge, really, without taking all the other specs into account?)
Europe, Middle East and Africa