14 Replies Latest reply: Jan 6, 2013 7:14 PM by Hudechrome RSS

    Workstation for Photographer / Designer - 3200€

    Leon_K Community Member

      Hi,

       

      I'm looking for an advice regards to workstation for Photographer / Designer. Mostly I'm working in photoshop on a huge files with lots of smart objects, filters etc. Files like this can be huge as those are HDR Spherical Panoramas made from 96 images every 12mpix. In the future it will be even bigger as I'm going to buy 36mpix. I'm also using Lightroom4, PtGui, KrPano, SNS HDR and in the future I'm planing to start work in Maya, Zbrush and other 3d software.

       

      I'm totally newbie in hardware. I have decided to go with double processor, SSD discs and RAID following by Nvidia and ADOBE guidelines. I have also choosen a graphic card recommended by them. I the future I will buy some more RAM and normal HHD disc. I already have a monitor ordered.

       

      My the biggest question is about dual cpu motherboard and E5-2620 Xeons. I have heard it might be a better idea to go with one Intel Core i7-3930K 3,2GHz on a single processor mother board. It doesn't make much sens for me as I'm thinking two processors will have more power and cores and this is recommended by Adobe. I'm might be wrong but I just would like to know why and how does it works.

       

      Adome and Nvidia guidelines:

      http://helpx.adobe.com/photoshop/kb/...p-cs4-cs5.html

      http://www.nvidia.com/docs/IO/121765...2012-06-27.pdf

       

      Please let me know what you thing about this:

       

      Motherboard:

      ASUS Z9PE-D16

      http://www.asus.com/Server_Workstation/Server_Motherboards/Z9PED16/#specifications

       

      CPU:

      Xeon E5-2620 X2

      http://ark.intel.com/products/64594/Intel-Xeon-Processor-E5-2620-15M-Cache-2_00-GHz-7_20-G Ts-Intel-QPI

       

      Graphic card:

      AMD 7970

      http://www.amd.com/pl/products/desktop/graphics/7000/7970/Pages/radeon-7970.aspx#2

       

      SSD disc in RAID 10 for system and working files

      Crucial m4 Slim SSD 128GB X4

       

      Memory:

      SAMSUNG M393B2G70BH0-CK0 2X 16GB

       

      Tower:

      Cooler Master COSMOS II

      http://www.coolermaster.com/microsite/cosmos_ii/design.html

       

      Keyboard:

      Logitech K800

      http://www.logitech.com/pl-pl/product/wireless-illuminated-keyboard-k800?crid=26

       

      Optical Drive:

      BLU-RAY SATA ASUS BW-12B1ST x12

       

      CPU Coolers:

      Noctua NH-D14 SE2011 X2

       

      Power Supply:

      G1600-MA

        • 1. Re: Workstation for Photographer / Designer - 3200€
          Hudechrome Community Member

          You are a newbie to hardware and you are going to jump into this at the workstation level? I've built computers in the hundreds and I can tell you that building and configuring these instruments does take quite a bit of experience to get it right.

           

          If you have the cash to do this, I would explore ready built units. (I suspect Noel will weigh in on this) Workstations from Dell or Puget Systems would be my advice. Otherwise, build as simpler system first. A single processor, staying away from overclocking (meaning that with Intel processors avoid those units ending in "K"). You don't need them.

           

          As I said, I've built them in the hundreds, and I have yet to build a dual processor unit.  If I have to have that, I would buy a completed unit with backup from my source.

          • 2. Re: Workstation for Photographer / Designer - 3200€
            Leon_K Community Member

            Well, I'm not really afraid of this. There is tons of information on the internet and people ready to help. I'm following by the Adobe and Nvidia guidelines, I'm checking memory, motherboards, graphic cards compatibility as well case and power supply. Obviously I prefer to ask on forums more advanced user to give me some advice and let know if anything is wrong ...

             

            I have also other set which maybe better in my case. Please let me know what you think about this.

             

            Motherboard:

            Asus P9X79

            http://www.asus.com/Motherboards/Intel_Socket_2011/P9X79/#CPUS

             

            CPU:

            Intel Core i7-3930K 3,2 GHz 12MB L3 LGA2011

            http://ark.intel.com/products/63697/Intel-Core-i7-3930K-Processor-12M-Cache-up-to-3_80-GHz

             

            Graphic:

            AMD 7970

            http://www.amd.com/pl/products/desktop/graphics/7000/7970/Pages/radeon-7970.aspx#2

             

            SSD Discs:

            Crucial m4 SSD 128GB, 2.5", SATA 6Gb/s            X7

            System:

            SSD RAID 0 256GB (2x128)

            photoshop scratch disk

            SSD RAID 0 256GB (2x128)

            work files

            SSD w RAID 5 256GB (3x128)

             

            Memory:

            G.Skill RipjawsZ DDR3 8x8GB 1600MHz CL10 8X8=64GB

             

            Case:

            Cooler Master COSMOS II

            http://www.coolermaster.com/microsite/cosmos_ii/design.html

             

            Keyboard:

            Logitech K800

             

            Drive:

            BLU-RAY SATA ASUS BW-12B1ST x12

             

            CPU cooler:

            Noctua NH-D14 SE2011     

             

            Power Suply:

            G1600-MA


            • 3. Re: Workstation for Photographer / Designer - 3200€
              the_wine_snob Community Member

              You might want to take a look at this Adobe Premiere Hardware thread:  http://forums.adobe.com/thread/947698?tstart=90

               

              Now, Harm's system suggestions are focused on Adobe Premiere Pro (the video-editing program), but other than some additional I/O throughput for video differences, the rest is all about the same. Also, if you add Maya, then that I/O throughput will likely be appreciated.

               

              Though that forum is primarily focused on hardware for Premiere Pro, there are a lot of hardware gurus, who hang out there. Besides Harm Millaard, two other very helpful folk are Eric & Scott from ADK. Their company specializes in building workstations for the graphics industry, and they have years of experience with Photohsop equipment. I would post to that forum too, and see what comments the folk over there can offer. Also, Harm is in Holland, so has a good handle on the prices in Europe, and also availability. The Adobe Premiere Hardware Forum is: http://forums.adobe.com/community/premiere/hardware_forum?view=discussions

               

              Good luck,

               

              Hunt

              • 5. Re: Workstation for Photographer / Designer - 3200€
                Hudechrome Community Member

                Interesting his classifications, including absurd!

                 

                Even for NLE!

                 

                The hread seems to have degenerate into name calling.

                 

                Sigh!

                • 6. Re: Workstation for Photographer / Designer - 3200€
                  Noel Carboni Community Member

                  A problem I see is that the E5-2620 cannot support 1600MHz RAM (max speed is 1333Mhz).   Is it your plan to start small/less expensive, then replace the processors down the road?

                   

                  http://ark.intel.com/products/64594/Intel-Xeon-Processor-E5-2620-15M-Cache-2_00-GHz-7_20-G Ts-Intel-QPI

                   

                  --

                   

                  That looks like it will be a potent system, but based on my experience you seem to be working too hard to separate your SSDs into separate volumes.  The beauty of RAID is that all the SATA connections are made to work simultaneously, so there's no real advantage to separating things like system/scratch/work/etc.  A big advantage is that with one RAID volume all your free space is pooled together, which better supports the concept of overprovisioning (needed with SSDs).

                   

                  I chose the path of making a RAID 0 array of 4 x 480GB drives to create a massive almost 2TB drive C:, which runs the OS, apps, work files, scratch, and swap.  This approach accelerates everything to light speed, and it works well because interlacing SSD operations from multiple processes simultaneously doesn't cause thrashing the way it does with HDDs.  If you're looking for the best value, building up an array of 256GB drives might net you a slightly sweeter price point.

                   

                  --

                   

                  The 7970 seems a bit of overkill, but if you're looking for the most possible future-proofing it's a decent choice.  When I put together my current workstation configuration this past September I chose a 7850, which is working very well.

                   

                  Since around the middle of 2012 the AMD folks seem to be struggling to release display drivers that work well (I'm still on the August release).  I used to recommend ATI cards hands-down, but at this point I'd suggest at least considering a nVidia card, as they have shown themselves to be more ready for Windows 8 and more capable of delivering drivers lately that work well with Photoshop.  I think they've done a flip flop with ATI for the number one slot for quality.  I hate saying it but it's hard to ignore half a year of driver version after driver version that breaks two new things for every one it fixes.

                   

                  --

                   

                  64 GB of RAM will be very good.  My only advice is this:  If you can opt for ECC RAM with that setup, I'd suggest you do so - it helps ensure you don't get RAM errors that cause corruption of data or crashes.  Also, check carefully the system design...  It may be that you can get better performance if you outfit it with RAM at a size that has a factor of 3 in it (e.g., 48GB or 96GB).  That was true with my system.

                   

                  --

                   

                  Regarding the advice above to consider a name brand system (e.g., Dell Precision Workstation) vs. an assembled system, that's good advice.  A 36 year veteran in the computer industry myself, I've come to the conclusion that the value added by the system designers of the big name companies is quite tangible.  The system designs they sell do tend to work better and more reliably, with greater throughput, than systems built up around motherboards.

                   

                  I personally chose to build up a system of just-off-cutting-edge technology based on a refurbished Dell Precision T5500 (their next most recent design, as their T5600 is current).  It turns out one can outfit such a system with the highest of the high-end parts and actually create a moderately priced system that performs as well or better than the latest designs with all but the highest of the high-end parts (which of course are hugely expensive).

                   

                  Look to these pages for comparisons of how well various processors and video cards, as benchmarked in the real world, rate:

                   

                  http://www.cpubenchmark.net/multi_cpu.html

                   

                  http://www.videocardbenchmark.net/high_end_gpus.html

                   

                  Just to underscore the "name brand workstation may be better" advice, note my Passmark scores against those listed on the multi_cpu web page above for dual Xeon x5690 processors (as in my system):

                   

                  From the chart - [Dual CPU] Intel Xeon X5690 @ 3.47GHz:  14,607

                   

                  My Precision T5500 scores (noting specifically the score for the CPUs):

                   

                  Passmark_Scores_T5500.jpg

                   

                  Also, to support my point that an off-cutting-edge system outfitted with top-of-the-line parts (for its day) can outperform a modern system with non-high-end parts, note the score for your E5-2620 processors on the PassMark page:  11,467

                   

                  Note that you can do "what if" comparisons using the PassMark PerformanceTest application, which will allow you to access the online database of tens of thousands of systems benchmarked with the same software directly.

                   

                  --

                   

                  Choosing a new setup can be a difficult process, because you really want to get it right for all that money, but at some point you just have to "go for it".  Chances are, at the workstation level, that the performance won't disappoint you in the slightest.

                   

                  Good luck and have fun!

                   

                  -Noel

                  • 7. Re: Workstation for Photographer / Designer - 3200€
                    the_wine_snob Community Member

                    Yes. I would like to see that thread "cleaned up" a bit.

                     

                    When it comes to hardware, some people have "sacred cows," and champion those, regardless of what real-world benchmarks show.

                     

                    Harm, along with Bill G., have written a set of benchmarks, using Premiere Pro, to allow users to test their systems, and upload the results into a database, for comparison purposes. Harm & Bill G. have then processed that gathered data, to determine what works best, and why. Also, Harm has been building very high-end workstations for video-editing for many years, and works with his son, who is a Sr. IT engineer for a major computer mfgr., to remove all possible bottlenecks.

                     

                    In that thread, and many others in the Premiere Hardware Forum, two other contributors, Scott and Eric, own a workstation building firm, ADK, and specialize in creating systems to run all Adobe programs, plus heavy CAD and 3D units. They gladly share their years of expertise too. Since they work with real-world situations, they seldom rely completely on theoretical conjecture, and charts based on the theoretical.

                     

                    I guess at the end of the day, it gets down to I always buy Ferraris, where you only buy Lamborghinis...

                     

                    Hunt

                    • 8. Re: Workstation for Photographer / Designer - 3200€
                      Hudechrome Community Member

                      ...and I bought Saabs...from Saab dealers! (Well, no, the last one is from a private party,  with the anal-retentive attitude towards service!)

                      • 9. Re: Workstation for Photographer / Designer - 3200€
                        Hudechrome Community Member

                        ECC is NOT available with the mobo specified in the second setup. I don't recall ever seeing a mobo from Asus and several others that do show ECC, but that may be because I wasn't loking hard enough. Given the socket set, I really expected to see ECC.

                        • 10. Re: Workstation for Photographer / Designer - 3200€
                          Hudechrome Community Member

                          "Theoretical conjecture" is an oxymoron!

                          • 11. Re: Workstation for Photographer / Designer - 3200€
                            the_wine_snob Community Member

                            I had a love/hate relationship with wife's 900T hatchback. Great car by design, in the Colorado High Country, but the exectution left a lot to be desired. Such is life.

                             

                            Hunt

                            • 12. Re: Workstation for Photographer / Designer - 3200€
                              the_wine_snob Community Member

                              Yes. I probably should have said that "they postulate on perfromance based only on the theoretical... "

                               

                              Ya got me.

                               

                              Hunt

                              • 13. Re: Workstation for Photographer / Designer - 3200€
                                Noel Carboni Community Member

                                Hudechrome wrote:

                                 

                                ECC is NOT available with the mobo specified in the second setup. I don't recall ever seeing a mobo from Asus and several others that do show ECC, but that may be because I wasn't loking hard enough. Given the socket set, I really expected to see ECC.

                                 

                                There's an old flyboy song with words that go something like "...It's fast, I don't care!  It blows up in midair!"

                                 

                                I wouldn't begin to consider a system that doesn't offer ECC as an option.  It's not workstation class if it doesn't support ECC.

                                 

                                I don't know about others, but one of my most precious resources is time, not to mention I'd like to keep my stress level down.  Loss of data hits both those things HARD.  I need my systems to work and keep on working, without error, without loss of data or time.  ECC RAM is one small step to achieving that.

                                 

                                A lot of folks don't realize you can run a high quality Windows system for literally weeks on end with zero errors or unexplainable activity.

                                 

                                UpTime_01_06_2013.png

                                 

                                -Noel

                                • 14. Re: Workstation for Photographer / Designer - 3200€
                                  Hudechrome Community Member

                                  "I wouldn't begin to consider a system that doesn't offer ECC as an option."

                                   

                                  I know that, and because of that, I've been paying attention. But it looks like I would have to consider a mobo from Tyan or similar to get it, or buy from Dell or???

                                   

                                  But then, it isn't likely I'll build my own anyway. I hardly have the patience to do a garden variety computer.

                                   

                                  Intel burnout, I suspect, even after a year's time has passed.

                                   

                                  Message was edited by: Hudechrome

                                   

                                  I did a quick search and came up with a Toms Hardware discussion I found interesting.