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Thread: About to order my new workstation (PC)

  1. #1
    [Ex]Admin Duncan's Avatar
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    Default About to order my new workstation (PC)

    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....

    • 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.
    That's the main specs. It has the usual plethora of USB sockets, Gigabit ethernet etc. etc.

    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.

    D

  2. #2
    Regular Member parapaul's Avatar
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    Where's the 'brain exploding with information overload' smiley?

    Not a clue what any of that means, but it all sounds very clever!

  3. #3
    Full Member merikiito's Avatar
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    Nice to see someone buying a PC to match their needs rather than being sold something by a salesman in a shop which ends up not doing the job you wanted.
    Looks ideal for your needs mate.
    Lois Griffin: Peter! You're bribing your daughter with a car?
    Peter Griffin: Ah, c'mon, Lois, isn't 'bribe' just another word for 'love'?

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    Regular Member Caterman's Avatar
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    Nice spec D

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    WAIT, nehalem core will be out in q4. Will be up to 40% faster in multithreading workloads and single threaded should see a bit of a boost as well. Even if you are not worried about the extra performance it will drop the prices of other products.

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    Regular Member moorlander's Avatar
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    well the spec's are fine! (everythings going sata these days!) my mate recently bought an off-the shelf PC (like me, he always built them himself) & I was what are you doing ? but for the price it could not be beaten!

    the only thing I would not be sure about is the brand - Dell. I only say that because we have a few Dell servers @ work and they seem tempermental regarding heat. If the air-con flaps my boss swipes as many fans as he can & positions them around the dells! however after saying that you have 3 yrs warranty..go for it

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    [Ex]Admin Duncan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gallag View Post
    WAIT, nehalem core will be out in q4. Will be up to 40% faster in multithreading workloads and single threaded should see a bit of a boost as well. Even if you are not worried about the extra performance it will drop the prices of other products.
    Thing is I need to get this current system upgraded ASAP. It's sooo slow now running the latest RAW software etc. Don't think I can wait until then.

    Also, the Nehalam core is going to be a successor to the Core architecture and is 'only' 32 bit. With Xeon being 64 bit and the Nehalem not being any sort of successor to the Xeon I'm not sure if the price of Xeons would drop?

    As far as I can see, Xeons are still going to be getting produced and system builders like Dell etc. are still going to be putting them into workstations and servers.

    Put it this way, at this moment in time, for me to go and buy a second Xeon processor of the spec that is in the system above is only just over £200. Even if the Xeons did drop a bit, and I'm not sure they would for the reasons above, it's not going to be much - not enough to make me wait until then anyway - I need this system now.

    Appreciate the thought though!

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    Regular Member moorlander's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gallag View Post
    WAIT, nehalem core will be out in q4. Will be up to 40% faster in multithreading workloads and single threaded should see a bit of a boost as well. Even if you are not worried about the extra performance it will drop the prices of other products.
    ooohh, I thought it was next spring/summer...

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    [Ex]Admin Duncan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by moorlander View Post
    well the spec's are fine! (everythings going sata these days!) my mate recently bought an off-the shelf PC (like me, he always built them himself) & I was what are you doing ? but for the price it could not be beaten!
    Yep, same here. No way could I beat the price of that spec doing it myself.
    Quote Originally Posted by moorlander View Post
    the only thing I would not be sure about is the brand - Dell.
    Yep, I've heard that they're not quite as good as they have been in the past. Nothing wrong with them, just haven't got the clear lead they have had in the past with build etc. I think it's maybe a case of the others catching up? I did look at the HP options but they just didn't have the customising options that Dell had - it was very limited.
    Quote Originally Posted by moorlander View Post
    I only say that because we have a few Dell servers @ work and they seem tempermental regarding heat. If the air-con flaps my boss swipes as many fans as he can & positions them around the dells!
    lol - was that a rack server?, or a tower? - and what models/range?
    Quote Originally Posted by moorlander View Post
    however after saying that you have 3 yrs warranty..go for it
    Yep, hopefully that'll cover any unexpected eventualities.

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    [Ex]Admin Duncan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by moorlander View Post
    ooohh, I thought it was next spring/summer...
    Nehalem will be released in late 2008 for high-end desktop and dual-processor platforms and in Q3 2009 for mainstream desktop and mobile platforms.

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