Would this make a good computer build? Changes?

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by josh_shelton, Apr 12, 2010.

  1. Just got back from my local computer store with an estimate for a brand spankin' new computer (see below). I'll give it to you exactly how they gave it to me, with itemized add-ons and substitutions.
    First of all, I'm not too worried about cost unless you can convince me that I'm being absolutely gouged by the current bid. I'm more interested in the capabilities of the system... are there obvious weaknesses that need to be addressed? What should I add on, what should I substitute, what should I buy myself, etc.?
    Second, without dominating the discussion, I'd love some feedback on monitors. Two 19" or one 24"? It'd be roughly the same cost. I don't have calibration software yet. Will a monitor (like the one their offering) do me fine after it's calibrated with some decent software?
    Third, it'll run CS3 (maybe 5 shortly), LR2, and a small smattering of other, smaller editing programs. The computer will be 95% editing workhorse, 4% music player and email checker, 1% watch Jack Bauer obliterate people, and 2% do-my-math-for-me machine. I run a (small) portrait photography business.
    Here it is:
    • System build w/3-year parts and labor warranty
    • ATX case and power supply
    • Windows 7 Home Premium 64Bit
    • Motherboard. HDMI, Firewire, 6 USB 2.0, 2 USB 3.0
    • Processor. Intel i3-540 3.06 GHz 4MB Cache
    • RAM. 4GB DDR3 PC 1333
    • Seagate 250 GB SATA Hard Drive
    • 20x DVD/CD Burner w/Nero Express
    • Internal Multi-Media Card Reader
    • Acer 19" Widescreen LCD Monitor
    • Keyboard and Mouse
    Total: $1100.
    • External 500 GB Backup Hard Drive $125
    • Extra 2 GB of RAM $75
    • Windows 7 Professional 64Bit $50
    • Intel i5-650 3.2 GHz 4MB Cache $75
    • Intel i7-860 3.2 GHz 4MB Cache $135
    • Seage 500 GB SATA Hard Drive $20
    • Seagate 1TB SATA Hard Drive $75
    • Acer 23" Widescreen LCD Monitor $75
    • Acer 24" Widescreen LCD Monitor w/HDMI $150
    • Wireless Keyboard/Mouse Set $20
    Thanks in advance for not posting any "just get a Mac" comments. Cheers!
    Josh Shelton
  2. My only concern is the CPU, the i3 is the low end processor of Intel's current generation (with i5 being mainstream, and i7 being high end).
    I'd move up to an i7, extra 2GB RAM, and go with dual 19" monitors.
    To be honest, if you can find money in your budget I'd go for ~64GB MLC SSD for your OS drive, and use the 250GB for your media files. You might free up some money by going with a single 19" monitor.
    Besides, you can always add RAM or a second monitor later if necessary. OTOH reinstalling your OS is a bit of a pain.
    Also, I'm simply comparing to Dell for prices but for $900 you can get a nicely decked out desktop.
  3. Ditto what William said and several additional suggestions. Ask your builder whose motherboard and model, then do a search for reviews. There are some fairly pedestrian MBs out there and you'll really want one on the higher end of the performance scale, especially if you move up to the i7 CPU.
    Likewise, do the same with the video board. Chances are it's pretty decent if it has dual output capability. And be sure they install a heavy duty power supply not a minimal 250 watter.
    Finally, for serious photo editing you might want to seek reviews on monitors. The Acers to the best of my knowledge, don't enjoy any particular reputation for being graphics grade quality. Dell does have a few monitors in their line that qualify and there are others such as NEC, but the prices go up. Your plan for dual monitors is good and you will wonder how you ever did any serious editing, photo or video, once you get use to dual displays.
  4. First the important part: if you're not worried about cost, get a better monitor, you can't get a decent one for photo editing at those prices. There are plenty of discussions here on photo.net to guide you on that. At 24 inches, I like the HP LP2475w I use, but some people don't, and there are many others.
    Second, if you're editing music at all, you might look for a relatively quiet case and PS, such as an Antec. Even if you don't edit music, a quieter PC makes for a better working environment.
    Third, I haven't had good luck with internal card readers. Get recommendations before you buy. I removed the one put in by my last PC builder (which takes pride in its products) sent it back for credit, and use an external one. But there must be someone in the photo.net community who has experience with a good one.
    I second the suggestion above for a faster processor.
  5. Here it is:
    • System build w/3-year parts and labor warranty
    • LTX case and power supply
    • Windows 3.1
    • Motherboard. 3 isa; 1 new PCI *(Hope new PCI is not a dead end!)
    • Processor. Intel 75Mhz pentium No-Cache
    • RAM. 8 megs
    • Seagate 800 MB IDE Drive; 3800 RPM (Upgrade from slower rpm stuff)
    • CD Reader
    • Wazoo IDE disc controller
    • NEC 17" SVGA Monitor; 700 bucks
    • Keyboard and Mouse
    Total: $3400.
    • 14.4 Dialup Modem $200
    • Extra 64 MB of RAM $ 2300
    This was our dream machine in 1994 for Photoshop; today it prints UPS labels and only draws 8 watts!

    This box does not support Y2K in the bios; we added a ISA card that is for Y2K!

    This box was once the top dog Photoshop box; the one folks fought over; wished for; a total screamer built ground up for super high end pro commerical Photoshop usage!
    I post this to show how funny specs look like as they grow older!
  6. Josh, I reckon that for photo editing you don't need two high quality monitors - get a good large one (for images) and use a smaller, second-hand, uncalibrated monitor (approx $100) for your Photoshop palettes and other stuff.
  7. Kelly- How did you watch Jack Bauer on a machine like that? You pioneers, I tell you what...
  8. @Josh: If not from DVDs, then probably online. You can find more shows on Hulu.
  9. I buy most of my computer parts at www.newegg.com Pretty good prices on most things, but not necessarily the best stop for monitors. I think they will also assemble some parts for you, so it could be a good place to make sure you are getting a good deal. They also have user reviews of the parts they sell, you have to be a little skeptical with the reviews but they can point out issues.
  10. if anyone wants a " bottom of the line" pc like kelly's I have some left.
    I just shipped 10 p2/p3 MB to a man in the midwest who will rebuild older machines.
    Question? what can be older than a P2? Maybe my 486-133,mhz.
    when you buy a new machine the brand of the MB is important ASUS and Intel are two, others may be good also.
    systems running 32 bit OS may top out at 4gb of ram.
    a system running a 64 bit OS will run more.
    Be sure there are 4 ram slots and more than 2 or 3 pci slots and an agp slot and all the other features on the mb.
    a case should be plated with rolled-no sharp edges.
    the power supply should be of adequate capacity. you may not recognize the name. but some are really 400w some just say 400w.
    be sure that You are able to register your os as a Legal os. It took my son an hour of talking to convince Microsoft that his OS was legal after the hard drive had failed and he replaces it. There was a license on the case.
    Other systems like DELL just get authoried. activated because of WHO THEY are.
    But many brand name pc's do not come with a real copy of the os and usually lack any kind of expandability.
    Kelly , a friend bought a IBM PC 64meg mb 15-64m version ONE single sided 160m floppy. no HD no Modem green monitor.
    it was $3200.00. ( ram from 16-64 had to be added)
    I found the last upgrade bios in the world and installed it
    so he could install a hard drive.

    Our 4.77 xt clone with a 10m hd and two 360k floppies was $1600.00. I had to buy a board to add ram to 640m as the mb was a 256k mb. not a 640k mb.
  11. If this system will get a lot of Photoshop usage, you might consider a second internal drive as a Photoshop scratch drive, this will improve performance.
  12. A hearty 'thank-you' to all the replies. I've been pooring over them every night, pretending like I completely understand what you guys are talking about. Regarding the advice to add an SSD, is this a good deal and worth putting in a new system?
    Thanks again.
  13. Yup it looks like a pretty good drive, MLC and Trim support as well as good benchmarks.
  14. My PC was something like that, except the OS and processor (XP and Dual Core) plus a gaming video card. Two and a half year ago i have paid it 600 euros. So, i don't think it is a good deal for $1100.
  15. Ditto as William, including a Dell option. The one William linked above is fine and even though there is not much information, I think it is a better design for Photoshop (it apparently has triple channel memory and external video card). I would only add more memory, 6GB and go with the Dell and add a good monitor.

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