Following on from this thread, I revisited the whole new PC thing again this week and I really need to get this one upgraded.
As the other thread said, I've always built my own PCs as I could spec them exactly how I wanted and more often than not for as much as, or even less than, an off-the-shelf one.
After looking around at a few options, I realised the price of off-the-shelf stuff has really dropped in price and you can still customise them to a very good degree - certainly with Dell anyway, the main one I was looking at.
I realised that I could get a fully-fledged and certified workstation at a price that there's no way I could do it if I built it from scratch - plus there's the advantage of it arriving all configured and ready to go, and with a nice three year warranty. I simply haven't got the time at the moment to be doing masses of research into what components to get, what's compatible/runs best with what and then building it all and setting it up etc. Christ, it took me long enough to work out what spec I wanted just from all the options available! lol
So, here's what I'm looking to get at the moment. The main elements being....
That's the main specs. It has the usual plethora of USB sockets, Gigabit ethernet etc. etc.
- Dell Precision T5400 certified workstation.
This is being used solely for my imaging stuff i.e. Photoshop, RAW prcessing and image cataloguing etc. I'm ordering a second, much less specced machine, as my day to day one for office, e-mail and all the other gumph I do on computers.
One thing that I think that didn't help with my current machine is that it basically was used for everything, so had all the Office software etc. on it, and loads of other stuff, so inevitably I'm sure that bogs things down. So this time I'm keeping the main workstation completely and utterly dedicated to just imaging, with everything else on another PC.
- Processor - Intel Xeon E5420 (2.50GHZ, 1333Mhz, 2x6MB cache,Quad Core). Motherboard has a second processor slot to turn the system into a dual-processor 8 core system.
- Memory - 8GB DDR2 667 Quad Channel FBD Memory (4x2GB). System can take up to 32Gb
- OS - XP 64 bit installed, with free upgrade to Vista Ultimate 64 bit as and when/if I'm happy to upgrade.
- Graphics card - 256MB nVidia Quadro FX 570. Not the whizziest of cards I know, but a popular one for workstations. I'm not playing games with it or doing 3D stuff so I don't need one of the high-end super whizzy ones. I'm going to have two of these in the workstation to run a monitor each in the dual monitor setup. Whilst one card would run both monitors (as the card is dual-head), it would mess up the colour calibrating side of things. It needs to be one card per monitor to allow to use the proper colour calibration device that I have.
- Primary hard drive - 160GB (10,000rpm) SATA Hard Drive with NCQ. Fast drive for the OS to give the added benefits.
- Secondary drive - 320GB (7,200 rpm) SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive with NCQ and 16MB DataBurst Cache™
Drive will be used solely as a scratch drive for Photoshop if needed. I'm not storing any data as such on this machine as it's all on an external RAID array NAS.
- Monitor - main monitor will be one of these beauties......
.....with the 19" Dell widescreen monitor that comes with the system being the secondary monitor to park all the pallets in Photoshop on to keep the main working area clutter free. Also very handy when working on two things to have one open on each monitor. The quality of this monitor isn't so crucial given what it'll be used for, all the critical work will be displayed on the fully calibrated main monitor.
One reason why I've gone for the 64 bit Xeon route and 64bit XP is that I can shove in more memory. With 32 bit systems and OS (like normal XP/Vista), the largest amount of memory the OS will see is 4Gb - well it's actually 3-3.5Gb depending on the motherboard. Often 1Gb of that will be grabbed by the OS, leaving only 2-2.5Gb left for the apps.
Photoshop isn't yet 64, but would still benefit from being run in a 64bit environment. Apparently Photoshop (32bit) can address and make use of up to 4Gb of RAM, so in a 64bit system with say 8Gb of RAM, even once the OS has grabbed it's bit, Photoshop can still address a whole 4Gb of RAM and still have some left over for other apps/the OS to use as well.
The other reason is that it gives me a very nice upgrade path. If future version of Photoshop/RAW processing apps start to get more and more resource hungry and I notice the system not running as quickly as it used to, all I need to do for an easy and not expensive upgrade is whack another Xeon processor into the second processor slot and chuck another 8Gb, or whatever, of RAM - and that'll give the workstation a new lease of life.
Then once Photoshop 64 bit comes out (and it's definitely a case of when as opposed to if) then it'll really be flying
Sooo, given all the spec above and what I've said, can anyone see anything I've missed/not mentioned/should maybe look at revising? I don't think there is, I spent long enough going through all the different workstations and specs! lol - but any feedback/comments welcome.