5 Replies Latest reply on May 11, 2010 6:38 AM by Chuck A. McIntyre

    Need advice: Souping up computer lab to use CS5

    Factgathering2010 Level 1



      I am a college professor at a liberal arts university that is strongly committed to emerging media. In one of our teaching labs, we have sixteen computers that are used for web design, game design, video editing, and 3D animation. We recently upgraded our campus television station to HD, and our current systems are struggling to handle the most basic rendering tasks.


      I'm trying to scope out replacement desktop systems for about $3,000 that would allow us to take maximum advantage of the new Adobe creative package. I've looked into the systems that Adobe is pushing to maximize the Mercury engine (http://www.adobe.com/products/creativesuite/production/performance/), and they don't really work for our needs. I'm also deeply suspicious of the Quadro FX graphics cards that Adobe and Nvidia are promoting. We bought these extremely expensive "workstation graphics cards" during previous upgrade cycles, and they were almost immediately made obsolete when the next generation of gaming graphics cards were released for a fraction of the price.


      Here are our general specifications: We would like to purchase i7 systems that are running a 64 bit operating system and something like 16 gigabytes of RAM. We're hoping to purchase blazingly fast graphics card that deliver maximum high-definition video editing performance while ensuring that our games students are going to be in a good shape for the next few years. These don't need to be overpriced workstation cards. High-performing gaming cards would be just fine.


      I've been looking through Tom's Hardware, PC Magazine, Gizmodo, Computer Shopper, and similar sources. But I'm coming to this forum because I'm curious to hear advice from communication professionals who use Adobe products on a daily basis. If you were purchasing systems for a small start-up company, how would you spend your money to make sure that you got the most bang for your buck?


      As a side note, we probably need to use a familiar name brand desktop system such as Dell as the base, but we can stray to other vendors when it comes to the graphics card and other peripherals.



        • 1. Re: Need advice: Souping up computer lab to use CS5
          Bill Gehrke Most Valuable Participant

          There are numerous threads on this forum which specifically deal with building CS5 workstations, do not waste any more time with those generalized sites and spend a few hours going through the information on this forum.  Also become aware of my benchmark site of basically CS4 benchmarks.  There are many things to be learned if you have the patience to spend a few hours in this forum.  There are at least two threads that have dealt with $3000 systems.


          Message was edited by: Bill Gehrke Welcome to the forum1

          • 2. Re: Need advice: Souping up computer lab to use CS5
            Factgathering2010 Level 1

            Thanks, Bill. I am currently reading through the message board. So far, I have not come across any postings from people who are buying sixteen computers simultaneously in an attempt to upgrade their computer lab. I've found plenty of threads talking about abstract upgrade scenarios, but no threads discussing anything close to this specific scenario.


            My question are:


            + If you were buying sixteen computers for a college lab and were trying to balance the factors identified in my previous message, what systems would you choose?


            + Are the Nvidia workstation graphics cards really worth the extra money if the institution purchasing the cards is working under a limited budget?


            + If the Nvidia workstation cards are *not* the solution, what sort of gaming cards would come close to serving as a substitute?


            Thanks in advance for your comments and suggestions on this specific scenario. I am continuing to read through the forum archives, but would be grateful for specific comments on this specific situation.



            • 3. Re: Need advice: Souping up computer lab to use CS5
              Chuck A. McIntyre Level 3

              I built the following two systems for the company I work for and they have been great.  I selected a motherboard (X58) that will take the 980x, if later we want to upgrade. All of the internal hard drives are in a hot-swappable bay from Supermicro.  You could use a product like Acronis True Image to restore the opearating systems in case one of the students makes a really wrong move somewhere down the line:




              If I were in your place, I would build (find a good builder) the above or a version of the above right up to the maximum $ allowance.  Perhaps get a faster processor or a newer motherboard that supports USB 3.0. I really like the Gigabyte Ultra Durable motherboards.  Decide whether or not  you will be burning Blu-ray disks.


              I edit video for a living and work for a company that produces mostly corporate video and stagings.  I have done a little 3d work.  One time we needed to use a 3d model of a Rubicks Cube that took over in a tight shot after the talent tossed the real one.  The 3d work was done on one of our older computers with a so-so graphics card.  Perhaps the latest and greatest from Nvidia (non-Quadra) will be good enough.  I would check that out further though.  Perhaps someone who does a lot of 3d work in the forum can give you a recommendation.  I don't spend a lot of time at Creative Cow, but that may be a better place to post your question about cards.  We once purchased a 3d model online.  The guy that owns the Website is a 3d artist.  He was very helpful.  Someone like that should be able to answer questions regarding gamer vs Quarda cards in a classroom situation.

              • 4. Re: Need advice: Souping up computer lab to use CS5
                Factgathering2010 Level 1

                Thanks, Chuck and Bill. I appreciate the advice and the pointer toward the Creative Cow forums.



                • 5. Re: Need advice: Souping up computer lab to use CS5
                  Chuck A. McIntyre Level 3

                  Just a couple of additional remarks:


                  I really like the Cooler Master Haf full tower cases I selected.  For a classroom situation, these may not be ideal because of the open air design.  In other words, it's easy to accidentally spill a drink into this case.


                  Also the Super Micro hot swappable bay would not slide into the space in the front of this case without bending several CD/DVD metal tabs down and out of the way.


                  I think the Cooler Master cases are a great quality and value.  If you decide to have someone build the systems for you, I would select a less "open" case, but with good internal cooling.