Intel always just seems a little more compable with everything. If I were building a new system now I'd go with Intel.
May I suggest considering building a RAID 0 out of fast, high-reliability spinning drives instead of using SSDs, unless your budget is loose enough to allow you to put at least 500 GB (ideally 1 TB) of SSD space in the machine. I am continually reading about people who are struggling with full SSDs. Don't skimp on the space! If you cannot afford SSD, a RAID setup can get you SSD-level performance with spinning drives. Just to give you an idea, I have a 2 TB drive C: I have been using since Windows 7 was released, and after several years of use 1 TB is free.
In the past few years it's seemed to me that quad core processors with large caches yield a good balance. That's why I have a system with dual quad core Xeon x5460s (now a few years old). It has performed well, and I have been able to use the mixer brush to do painting quite interactively, though things DO slow down if you try to go TOO big on the brush sizes (or too small on the spacing). Photoshop simply has to access too many pixels too often for it to be blazingly fast to paint with a large brush, even on the most modern machines.
16 GB RAM is good for a modern 64 bit system (I have 16 GB right now), but If building a new system right now I might look into getting 24 GB of the fastest DDR3 RAM you can to make it more future-proof.
A strategy that has been working for me to build high performance workstations inexpensively is this:
1. Go to eBay and try to get cutting-edge workstations (e.g., Dell Precision) that are just coming off lease.
2. Outfit the base system with a new video card, new hard drives, more RAM as needed.
My current Dell Precision T5400 dual quad core 16 GB workstation with 3 TB of spinning disks cost me $1500 to build this way, and scores 10,000 on the Passmark benchmark, which is high even by today's standards.
I would look into an Intel i7 for the CPU, and a recent video card from either nVidia, or ATI/AMD, with good, current driver support.
For the I/O, I would look into maybe doing an SSD for the OS and programs, and then separate, physical HDD's for media, Scratch Disks, etc. This will spread your I/O load over multiple discs, so that the programs are not waiting on reads and writes.
With 16GB RAM, the Virtual Memory is not going to factor in, as much as it did with a 32-bit OS, but I would still test and benchmark placing it on the SSD vs onto one of the HDD's. Might not make much, if any difference.
Thanks guys for the advice, much appreciated.
I'm torn over the processor and I am a little confused, everyone seems to point towards the i7-2600k by intel (at least), but over here that is £250 or so, for £190 I can get the AMD Bulldozer FX-8 processor which has 4 cores more than the i7 (quad vs eight) and a higher clock speed out of the box, cache is the same etc.
I find it strange then why I should pay more for the i7, please could someone englighten me? is the difference between them worth shelling £60 extra for the i7?
Also to note, the same processor in spec to the i7-2600k is £100 by AMD, thats £150 less than the i7.
You see what I mean?
I'd like to just add I've used AMD since forever, although I'm not really biased I don't think, I'll use intel if there is good enough reason to, but it don't make economic sense to buy the same spec processor for over double the price of AMD.
I guess what I'm asking is what is the difference? and does it justify the price hike?
You've been told the difference. Intel is more compatible with software developed for, well, Intel.
Just to give you an example: When Photoshop CS5 was first released, it would not run on certain (older) AMD processors - possibly because of the instruction set options Adobe chose when building it. Potential users had to wait for an update to be released that was compatible with those processors.
People who have used powerful computers are suggesting you go with Intel. But of course you are free to choose whatever architecture you feel is best. Unfortunately, you're going to find few people with a lot of experience using the VERY latest technology, simply because it hasn't been around long.
When you get it all built, please come back on the forum here and we can compare the interactivity of certain operations (e.g., painting with a large mixer brush and small spacing value, or running complex operations on large images). I know I'd like to know how the very latest tech performs with Photoshop.
And, from my reading .. the video card should support Shader 4.0 ....
Mine, Nvidia GTX 550Ti does not (sadly).
So I need to start thinking of a good replacement .. with probably 2 GB on it?
I keep getting told most benchmark tests are developed for Intel which makes it difficult to guage the performance from processors like the FX-8.
But so far everyone is pointing me towards the 2600k, I'm being very picky with this because it's almost twice as much as the FX-6/8 and I need to know what justifies the price difference, but it's difficult to ask of anyone because not many people have tried them both.
The 2600k and a new mobo with a decent aftermarket cooler will cost roughly £540, but with the FX-8 by AMD a new mobo and aftermarket cooler is just £380, which is a £160 difference. Thats enough to max out on RAM (£47 for 16GB) and a new case (£113) or an SSD for OS boot (£97) or a new copy of Win7, it stretches pretty far.
From what I've been reading AMD usually run at lower temps than Intel and have a longer lifespan, if thats true it would be easier to overclock.
It's a hard choice, on the one hand I want the best out of Photoshop, but on the other it's a lot of money for what might be just 10% better over an FX-8 which isn't worth £160 to me to be honest.
Compatibility problems aren't just "10% better" types of issues. Sometimes they're go/no-go issues.
You're sure you're wanting to build it yourself from components rather than try to get a deal on a purpose-built high performance workstation from a reputable company? I have a good friend who tried that (with an Intel i7) about the same time I bought my Precision system. Mine has always run a little better than his overall and to be honest we spent about the same money. He also spent about 3 months trying to stabilize it, as he'd messed a few things up when he put it together, while mine just worked.
In my experience Dell does a pretty darned good job, in their well-funded engineering organization, of matching parts and putting together the combinations that deliver the best possible performance. They usually build in a good bit of reserve capacity, and while the highest performance parts cost a good bit when they're new, later on they get cheaper. You may find a system built on a few years old technology (but with high-end modern parts) that could outrun a modern piecemeal machine built on a budget.
If you're not looking to accelerate Adobe video editing with the Mercury engine, my money's on ATI video cards. I personally prefer the VisionTek ATI Radeon HD 6670 1GB DDR5 right now. AMD makes good GPUs and the best, most stable display drivers today, in my opinion.
I have to admit I do like the convenience of buying pre-built systems cause I'm no expert at building them, but whether it's Dell, Alienware, Mesh, Apple, HP they are just over priced and come in some of the worst cases.
Also I am very concerned with pricing, you can build very powerful PCs these days for cheap, it doesn't mean I'm skimping out on anything because I didn't pay someone to tune it for me, thats half the fun. But let me show you the example:
Dell XPS 8300 i7-2600 (non k ver) 6GB RAM, GeForce GT530 1GB, 1TB Drive for £769 with an air-tight compact case, no space for fans.
If I build the same thing, Aerocool X-Predator Ult case (7 fans) for £113 and £79 for the PSU 750/80 Modular, Asus P8P67 Pro Mobo for £116, i7-2600 for £226 (£246 for the k) and £46 for 16GB of RAM (10 more than the Dell) because I don't need more HDDs/Video Cards/Optical Drives/Sound Cards etc I can put more money towards what matters.
That comes to £580 which is a big saving considering the much higher RAM and the case.
You are convincing me to lean more towards an i7 though, but I will most likely build myself, so far no one has suggested I go AMD, so I think the i7 it probably is.
I have nothing against Dell btw - I always feel restricted when I buy pre-builds is all.
Thanks for the well written responses.
Yes, new ones are definitely overpriced. That's why I suggested checking eBay for a just-off-cutting-edge Precision workstation system populated with high performance parts.
Best of luck putting your system together. Keep us updated here how it's going, and especially how well it flies through Photoshop work when it's all together.
The only big advantage to going AMD is price.
Most i7's have virtual cores, that is 4 physical cores, 4 virtual. AMD has simply 4 physical. So, with a seriously multithreaded program, the Intel i7's have an edge.
Notice though that some Intel i series do not have virtual cores and some are a 2 physical core, 2 virtual, giving those a total of 4, now competing with the AMD at a similar price point.
I don't believe that Photoshop will yet take advantage of say 8 total core capability; perhaps Lightroom does. The only photo graphics program I know that is threaded for multi cores is DxO Pro v7, which can run 8 threads if available, and is indicated in their prefs setting.
From my experience with Intel and AMD, if you can spend the money, the i7 2600 is where I would go. With all due respect to Noel's suggestion, the benchmarks for an i7 2600 runs circles around his system suggestions. And doesn't require the power levels a dual cpu configuration. But the price might convince you otherwise.
This barely scratches the surface. The current Intel, Sandy Bridge will soon be supplanted with Ivy Bridge with likely performance increases that justify their usefulness.
That being said, I run a 4 core AMD system at 2.8GHz capable of running higher if I choose. I'm not at all disappointed with it, even as my direct experience with the Intel parts should have pushed me there. The savings in cost justified it, and now that DxO can run multithreads, I would move on to the Intel, probably after Ivy Bridge or similar is released.
I didn't actually suggest a particular system, Lawrence - look closely. If I were buying a new one right now I likely wouldn't get what I got before, more than a year ago. I'd probably look at the Dell Precision T5500 systems now on eBay.
As far as an i7 2600 running circles around my system... Not hardly!
A single processor i7 2600 vs. dual Xeon x5460s (my system actually scored over 10K when I measured it, but I'm using the Passmark site's number here):
Not seeing a lot of difference there.
Of course, Xeon is the way to go - not i7 - for a multiple CPU system, and yes, a modern DUAL Xeon system can outpace mine in a helluva hurry. But not for $1500. Not even close.
And as far as I can tell my 8 physical cores are all used by Photoshop for many things. Also, one of my favorite 3rd party plug-ins, Perfect Resize, uses them all quite nicely, as well as do all my own plug-ins.
Now, this is geared towards Adobe Premiere Pro, which is more CPU, GPU and I/O intensive, than Photoshop, but with each version of PS, things get closer. You might want to check out the PPBM database, and compare CPU's, GPU's and various I/O setups: http://ppbm5.com/
There are a lot of setups there, and one might need to read between the lines a bit, but as the benchmark is real world, and is common to all tested system, one CAN infere a lot of useful info from it.
PS - it might also be worthwhile looking over this ARTICLE, on building/buying a system, and why the specific recs. are being made. Again, that article is based on Premiere Pro, which IS more intense, than PS, but not by THAT much.
I took the numbers from Passmark that showed the i7 a clear winner over Xeon in dual cpu setups. I obviously cannot state it for your exact system as I don't have it, and I didn't state your system, merely your system suggestions.
The i7 2600K is capable of extraordinary overclocking as well and there is no reason to believe that the end of those high marks has been reached, without overclocking, therefore my suggestion to wait a bit and see.
Of course, Itel has stock processors that are faster than the 2600 version.
If a fully assembled and tested system is the preferred path, then I would have to factor in the support and warranty into my decisions. Not too many people are going to want to take on that chore, which you will by purchasing second hand.
My 2c worth!
What numbers are you looking at, Lawrence? As far as I know people don't build multiple CPU systems based on the i7 - they use Xeons for that.
Just as an example of what I've been alluding to... Imagine that the Dell Precision T5500 system (one model design newer than mine) can mount up two Xeon X5690 processors. Sure, these processors are insanely expensive today, but give them a year or two, then where will they be? A few hundred bucks. One can find incredible price breaks on just-off-cutting-edge combos that actually perform right up there with the best (a dual X5690 is the 7th fastest multiple CPU system tested, beaten primarily by 3, 4, and 8 processor systems).
I was referring to an i7 single against a Xeon multiple cpu. I thought you knew that since we went over this back when we were first looking over the state of thart, after you purchased your system.
Don't get me wrong. I am confident that your system does what it does well. But in the meantime, technology marches on. Like you say.
While you wait for a cut in 5690 price, there will be processors faster at far less than $1600. And so on.
You know the drill.
I did put the relevant comparison up above... Single i7 2600 and dual Xeon X5460 - about the same rating (near 10,000). The 3.16 GHz X5460 hits a nice sweet spot for dual processor designs.
Consider: A Xeon X5460 processor today sells for as little as a hundred bucks. These are off cutting-edge, but not that far off... While my dual X5460 system with a couple of hundred bucks in processors rates 10,000, the very fastest modern single CPU systems (e.g., the nearly $1000 i7-3960X @ 3.30 GHz) score about 15,000. That's just 1.5x as fast. Plus, in the real world two 4 core processors with 12M cache each might actually get through some kinds of multithreaded work faster than a single 6 core hyperthreading processor simply because there's more parallel hardware working.
My point is that there's a nice niche where you can get great performance for a big discount over best performance.
I had a feeling I had seen Photoshop CS5 use all cores, but out of interest I looked again, and it would seem I was wrong.
Keep in mind you only have 6 physical cores, and Photoshop may choose not to make 12 concurrent threads and use up all the hyperthreaded execution streams. Sometimes doing that actually slows getting to the final result, not speed it up. You only have so much memory bandwidth.
Plus, Photoshop is not a single, unified animal, but has been added-to and augmented with 3rd party purchased software for decades. Not all the parts of it run the same as all the other parts. In my observation, some of it is heavily multi-threaded while other parts run purely single-threaded.
Try a Lens Blur. That appears to use only 1 thread, or maybe 2.
Now try a Filter - Other - Minimum, 100 pixels. That busies almost all the cores.
P.S., Nice system!
After reading all this I've definitely made my mind up on going Intel - but I've been looking at the i7-2600k and the step down i5-2500k, is there much of a difference? I was checking benchmarks and they're not exactly on par with eachother but not far off either, and in some cases the i5-2500k rated higher than the i7-2600k. In terms of price (i5-2500k is £155, i7-2600k is £245) is the higher cache and functions of the i7 worth £90 over the i5? I got advice in other places and someone told me it would probably only make the difference of 1-5 seconds faster in most tasks "you would have to be doing a lot of beastly stuff to start stressing out the i5-2500k let alone the i7-2600k."
£90 is a lot between them, would it be worth getting an i5-2500k and wait for the new upgrade from Intel I keep hearing about?
The most important difference is the thread count. The i7 has 8, the i5, 4 threads. Both are 4 physical cores.
So, if you paln to do video editing, by all means, do the i7. If not, well, my AMD is but 4 cores/threads and runs quite well.
The k designation indicates it's unlocked for overclocking. Do you intend to OC the device? Or need the better graphics of the k series? If not, the non-k versions are around $100 less for the i5.
Personally, I would go for the i7 2600 and not the k version, given the price constraints. The i5 2500k is about the same price as the i7 2600. The i7 will serve you better for graphics, assuming you are going to use a video card. I would. Neither the i5 or the i7 thrill me s to graphics performance.
But finally if price has a great deal to do with your decision, go with the i5 2500, the non-k version.
Thanks for the reply.
Unfortinately over here the price difference between k and non k versions is almost nothing, (cheapest I can find):
i7-2600k - £236.48
i7-2600 - £232.11
It's the same wherever I look, Amazon, ebuyer, overclockers, pcworld etc and the same goes for the i5, so I thought I may as well just get the unlocked version for £4 (about $6) more just incase I want to oc it some time.
I'll be building it around April anyway so possibly the prices could drop some more when ivy bridge is released.
Since I intend to do 2D animation on the machine I am again considering the i7 going by what you say on the video editing, I found a cheaper motherboard (£40 cheaper) which could compensate a little, swapping from a Asus P8P67 PRO Intel P67 to a Asus P8Z68-V LX Intel Z68.
If you're building your own - I built a new system just before Christmas - the best general advice I can give is to purchase the very best components your budget will possibly allow; don't skimp just to save a few quid for the sake of it.
Even if you feel the i7-2600K is a bit more than you need right now - it's what I'm using by the way - you'll be grateful 2 or 3 years down the road as the newer versions of the app's and plug-ins we use demand more and more system resource just to open and sit there on the desktop doin' nuthin'! LOL!
Get a MoBo that will support 32GB RAM, even if you only install 8GB to begin with, as well as SATA3 and USB3, and also consider an SSD for your OS + App's if at all possible, if not right now, then in the future. They're ridiculously expensive compared to spinners, but you're not buying them for storage, you're buying them for speed!
For instance, my new system boots into Win7 Pro 64Bit in about 10sec, Photoshop CS5, including Plug-ins, opens in 2sec, I also "recycled" my old SSD from my previous system and have given it to Photoshop as a Scratch Disk, which has definitely boosted the performance of Photoshop itself; as far as I'm concerned, £ for £ they're the best performance upgrade you can do!
Good luck with the build!
Hi Paul, thanks for the advice!
Really I don't want to spend more than £600 but might stretch to £700 (I hate budgets) I'm really set on the i7-2600k at the moment and am trying to build on top of it. So far I'm thinking of this although it's out of my budget so far, but a starting point:
CPU: i7-2600k £236.48
Motherboard: Asus P8Z68-V LX £78.99
Memory: Corsair CMZ 16GB 1600MHz DDR3 Vengeance £69.99
PSU: Corsair TXM 650W Modular £76.96
Case: Cooler Master CM-690 II Lite Dominator £69.95
OS: Windows 7 HP £109.95
SSD: Corsair Force GT 60GB £85.00
I'm thinking of downgrading to 8GB memory and just bump it up later to 16GB which would save about £30, I could swap the PSU for a non-modular - for some reason these are cheaper - other than that it's pretty tight! I wish I could spend a little more on the mobo, but this one seems ok, DDR3/1600MHz/32GB/OC.
Would this build run Photoshop well? Right now I'm using an old Athlon II x2 2.4GHz stock, 2GB, so anything is better right now LOL.
That looks like a pretty good system, you'll have no problem running Photoshop, in fact moving from your old system to this new one will be like jumping out of a Ford Fiesta and into a Ferrari!!!
A modular PSU would be best - yeah, they're more expensive! - as it doesn't look as if you'll have much room behind your MoBo for cable management. I think the case is only 8.5" wide, and with a modular unit you only use the cables you actually need, oh, and I'm assuming the Win7 is the 64Bit version?
The only thing I would worry about to be honest is the size of your SSD. As well as being ridiculously expensive they're also insanely complex, [this] is a very good article that will explain the core technologies and processes behind the devices, and the consensus of opinion appears to be that you need to leave anything from 25-30% of the drive free for it to manage itself, carry out Wear Leveling etc which will help it maintain its speed and performance.
My original drive, the one I've now given to Photoshop as a Scratch Disk is a 60GB and I think I ended-up with nearly 50GB of it used; my new drive is 120GB, and right now I have a little over half of it free.
All the best
I'm running an AMD system that is closest to being ani5 without the video. I'm running the cpu and memory at stock speeds, no overclocking. The cpu is at 2.8GHz. 12 G Ram, ordinary HD. CS5 opens in 3 seconds. Bridge faster than that. DxO is open and minimized, as is Waterfox (the 64bit version of Firefox) so there is a demand on even the 12G RAM.
The i5 will be fine, erininamori. Trust me! .
I had one and it went belly up when a cable worked loose from the supply connector. Fortunately, the mobo survived.
Connectors have always been the bane of electrical connectivity. The more connectors, the less the reliability over time. So I go with the wired versions, which cuts the number of connectors in half (or thereabouts).
That was an interesting read Paul and thanks for the system reference Hudechrome
I may hold off on buying SSD and use HDD instead until they are cheaper I guess - I can't seem to find any good comparisons or real life usage videos on youtube to review over Photoshop, but if all they do is speed up boot and load times I think it's £80 better spent on the core build, and upgrade for a later time maybe!
I'm not too sure on the case I listed tbh, for what it offers it seems decently priced but I would most def prefer an Obsidian or an Aerocool X Predator which have lovely cable management. (£110-£140+).
I think by April I will get the i5-2500k if the i7-2600k hasn't dropped in price (Amazon is fluctuating the price between £230-£260), it's a long time away but heres to hoping!
Thanks everyone so far for all your advice and feedback, it's helped me a BUNCH on choosing parts for this Photoshop build.
Well, pick and choose.
If you care to look, you will find 960's that approach your results and even pass it in the Summary:
Custom PC-A1F Intel Core i7 960 @3.2GHz
Complete Result Summary: 2585.2
CPU Mark 8532.5
And moving on to the 970, it's CPU Mark matched yours.
And no overclocking applied!
Look, I personally took i7 920's to well over 4GHz with only the B Clock increases, ie Turbo at default. (Turbo is locked)
Reminds me of a TV (Radio?) show: Can You Top This?
Actually I was showing off the kind of I/O performance one can get from RAIDing a couple of good spinning drives. Sustained 200 MB/sec throughput, 450 MB/sec burst... That's good for things like starting Photoshop quickly, opening and saving huge files in a reasonable time, etc.
I was just running some system tests of my own plug-ins... On an 8 core system I throttle back to using 7 threads, so as to allow the system to remain somewhat responsive during heavy CPU usage. I applied my "All Controls Maxed" test to a big image. The plug-in has to be able to survive this in order to pass muster for release. I was easily able to type this message, while listening to an Internet radio station, while this test ran. Having lots of cores is a Good Thing!
"Having lots of cores is a Good Thing!"
You will get no argument from me on that aspect.
It's just that there are so many other options available. The work I did on the original i7's is years old and we really wailed with the upstart sartups!
Looking at that list, your Xeon still sells for $1000. Look at the offerings from AMD for 1/5th the price. A pair of hex cores in the same configuration would really wail, if core count is the criteria.
Ignore those prices; look at eBay for real prices. Xeon X5460 can be had occasionally for $100 each.
Yes, AMD is cheap.
There's an old saying in the military: "It's fast - I don't care! It blows up in midair!"
Noel Carboni wrote:
Ignore those prices; look at eBay for real prices. Xeon X5460 can be had occasionally for $100 each.
Yes, AMD is cheap.
There's an old saying in the military: "It's fast - I don't care! It blows up in midair!"
Yes, used ones. Where have they been?
"If you want good, clean oats, you have to pay for them. If you want the oats that have already been through the horse...."
And how many used cpu's have already "blown up"? My Athlon IIx4 will no longer overclock, but runs perfect at stock (my bad!). So, how much should I ask for it, if at all? Who would know? Maybe they don't know how to overclock AMD either.
You did really well, Noel, no doubt. And there is no doubt you did good because you know what you are doing, sort of (running and hiding!).
Actually, I've learned much from Noel. And he is willing to have a go with dissenters, so long as it is rational! Hat's off to him!
Actually you can buy new CPUs on eBay too. But yes, you make a good point. Of course you do take on some risk to get the break in price.
I'll toss this out in return: The T5400 I bought from eBay came with a Dell on-site next business day warranty intact, which I transferred to me, with the option of extending (for a few hundred a year). It doesn't cover the new drives I bought, but then they're covered directly.
I personally would never overclock a CPU, since absolute, 100% reliability is important to me in my computer. I also only use ECC RAM for that reason. I don't even think the Precision BIOS allows one to set up overclocking, at least on in the screens I've seen.
When it comes to overclocking any of the i7 series, figure this:
These cpu's are binned according to the frequency it can run, sorted accordingly. If you overclock a particular unit, using the appropriate software and techniques, you wind up characterizing that particular unit according to your findings. The stability question has been answered, and what you have accomplished is to be able to run that particular unit at a rate within the performance envelope for the series, at least to a first approximation. So you can let the manufacturer sort it and pick the one that will run to your specs, paying the price, or do it your self. The key is all the parts have the potential to perform at the highest level set for that series. Many don't make it so they are rated lower and sold cheap(er). The difference, of course, is warranty. An i7 980 that snucked by but should have been a 920 gets replaced, where a 920 that can run close to the 980, if it craps out you are SOL if you overclocked, so far as warranty is concerned.
A basic dividing line is locked or unlocked?
So far as ECC RAM, it is dependent on the mobo, correct? I cannot run ECC on my system. And as to BIOS, yes, because Dell chose to. There are significant differences in BIOS available for the cpu. One way to find out is to open BIOS and see what it allows. I know that AMD has built-in modest OC (up to 10% OC) as a choice in BIOS. It will run a stability test before allowing it to proceed after invoking it.
When overclocking, one has to consider any effects on the mobo as well.
Anyway, I'm in your corner so far as reliability is concerned. And when you get 100%, I want to know how you did it!
Noel just how big was the image you managed max out your system on? The example I used further up the thread was 15,000 pixels on the long side, and quite a busy image at that, but I just can't get ny 3930K 32Gb system even close to maxing out with Photoshop CS5.
I have my OS on a not that flash SSD, but everything opens pretty much instantly. I have a pair of 300Gb VelociRaptors in a raid0 for my Premiere Pro project files, and a pair of WD 1Tb Blacks in a raid0 for My Documents and Premiere Pro exports. Back ups are via Shadow Protect with hourly incremental saves to a 2Tb WD Green internal, and other non essential files and more backups are on three WD USB3 externals.
The 2 x 300Gb V'Raptors raid0 (mainboard Intel hardware raid)
2 x 1Tb WD Blacks raid0 (mainboard Intel hardware raid)