Right, I'm looking at updating my main workstation as the current one is getting a little bit long in the tooth - P4 2.7Ghz, 2Gb RAM with some SCSI drives and one ATA system drive. M/B is an Asus P4B-E. It's still no slouch, but now in need of upgrading.
I've always built my systems, and this is no exception. I like things customised to exactly what i want, and don't mind if it costs more overall than buying a mass-produced off the shelf one, which inevitably are lacking something you want.
Been looking around at what's available and head's spinning a bit. Haven't really kept in touch with the forever changing chipsets etc. available so am a little bit unsure what's what, and what would be best.
My criteria are basically....
That's it I think. Not many questions there really! Grateful for any insight, info etc.
- The sole, most important criteria of the workstation is speed - simple as that. I want it to crunch through Photoshop and RAW software processing software with ease, and minimal waiting time while it does it. It will be used for a bunch of other software, but that's the main purpose of it.
- Looking to have Intel chip, Core 2 Duo, maybe even a quad core.
- Quite happy for sound and ethernet to be onboard. Ethernet has to be Gigabit, no exception. Sound, just normal stereo - don't have, or intend to have, surround etc. wired up to this PC.
- Memory - 4Gb I'd have though would be enough? I know past that, some applications don't even make use of it, or have problems addressing it.
Question is, what type of memory? Again, I've lost touch a bit with what's what and which one is the best to go for - without paying stupid money for it.
- Motherboard - Asus has always been a favourite, but had Gigabit in the past (mixed opinion of it) and aware that there are others like MSI and SuperMicro for instance.
Usual features required - USB obviously (with ability to feed a front socket), FireWire as I have a FireWire film scanner.
- Graphics card - currently running a dual-head Matrox card (to run two monitors), but will probably drop the single card idea as it had some colour management issues. Will probably go for two separate cards - one PCI-X, and one PCI - and still have windows (XP) configure them to run as a dual monitor setup. The main criteria of the card is that the LUT can be re-written to for colour management and calibration purposes.
If the motherboard came with onboard graphics, could I just have one PCI-X card then? i.e. would XP still see the onboard graphics as a graphic card as such and still allow me to do the dual monitor thing? I'm not too fussed about the second monitor being able to be calibrated, it's basically for things like the palettes in Photoshop, Dreamweaver etc.
I don't use the workstation for games, so the latest hugely powerful, and expensive, 3D gaming card isn't needed. Simply one that is OpenGL and DirectX compatible and a decent amount of memory with hi-res and refresh rates.
- Drives - will probably stick in a couple of new SATA drives, and ditch the SCSI ones. Now that I have the TeraStation, the need for lots of internal storage space isn't really needed. Is PATA widely available? Is it worth having? i.e. is it significantly faster?