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Old Nov 14, 2005, 11:06 PM   #1
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I just bought a 2nd computer that I want to use for my photo hobby only.
It's P4 3.0 Ghz, 1 gig DDR, 200 Gb HD . Cost $600.
For $200 more I can get Pentium D dual core, 1 gig ddr2, 250 Gb HD.
My question is: should I go for it, or to spend this $200 for good videocard?
I'm not going to do any hi end gaming or video editing, just photo. So do I really need a good video card at all? Maybe I better off with the original graphic accelerator 950 and get better processor, memory and HD.
I still have a week to return it and I don't want to have any regret.

Please help to make a decision!:angry:
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Old Nov 15, 2005, 2:40 AM   #2
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If you don't play games integrated graphics "decelerators" are enough.
(but any newer graphically heavy game and you'll be turning every detail setting to minimum unless you want slide-show)

And DDR2 memories are little contradictory, on the other hand their memory bandwidth (amount of data transferred in certain time) is bigger but on the other hand they have also doubled latencies meaning it takes longer to get that data moving and change read/write addresses.
So I would say sufficient amount of memory is much more important than type, 1GB should be greally good for normal image processing.
(but make sure there isn't dozens of useless crap programs running on background and hogging memory, you get those with brand PCs)

Biggest advantage of multicore processor would be that using more than one CPU-heavy program at the same time wouldn't totally slow down everything, but apparently you would run only one program at a time.
Of course even one program could run faster in it if program is writed to support multicore CPUs/multithreading (like most big and known programs) but on the other single-threaded software might be actually slower.
Also considering power consumption/heat production current CPU should be quite nice, faster Intel's CPUs consume huge amount of power (and output it as heat) under heavy load. (until desktop CPUs based to notebook's Pentium M/"Centrino" architecture will come out but that might take over half year)

So in processor side it's more about do you want the fastest speed with price of considerably bigger power consumption/heat production (and more noise from CPU fan) or do you accept somewhat slower speed with moderate power consumption/heat production and lesser noise.

Also HD should be quite adequate, I don't think you will be storing hundreds of thousand pics in it.
And make sure it has DVD-writer. (DVD blanks are equally priced as CD-Rs but have much bigger capacity and better error correction)
Because you might need those backups if HD crashes (more propable with certain HD brands).
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Old Nov 15, 2005, 7:27 AM   #3
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There are very few applications that could really benifit from the performance boost a dual core CPU could provide.

Photo editing is NOT one of them. If you were into high end games (plus you would need a high end graphics card) or into video editing (especially HD), then the dual core CPU would be of limited additional value.

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Old Nov 15, 2005, 7:54 AM   #4
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Photoshop is written to support multiple CPUs so if you are using this you MIGHT get a performance boost. If the P$ you have supports hyper threading that will already be giving a slight boost to Photoshop. So all in all I would spend the $200 on something else. I'm guessing that photo editing isn't really taxing the 3 GHz processor while it loads or processes your pics.
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Old Nov 15, 2005, 9:35 AM   #5
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I think your fine with what you have. I would make sure that the motherboard has a 800mhz frontside bus. I have seen some "deals" on computers lately that advertized speedy CPU, but they were installed on cheap motherboards that had slow FSB.

I'm running a P4 2.8 on fast chip set with 1gig ram. I have no problem having 10 images open at the same time, plus other programs(I keep an image database on filemaker pro)

The DVDr is important as mentioned above. Do not count on your hard drive to store your images. It is nice to have a big HD and have them all there and quickly available but they must be backed up and DVD is the way to go. Get good software to burn your DVDs so you can burn them in sessions and back up images as soon as you get them. Some free and "lite" versions do not do multi-session burns. I found out the hard way.

You didn't mention a monitor. May as well have something good for dealing with photos. I couldn't afford an LCD good enough for my taste so I got a CRT with a 0.21 dot pitch and it is very nice and very cheap.
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Old Nov 15, 2005, 9:42 AM   #6
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PhotoShop will take advantage of dual cores, and many, many things in photo editing could benefit from it. Anything that processes the image in one or more independent passes could be programmed to do it. I write parallel processing engines for a living, you gotta trust me on this one. I would bet a good portion of the filters could be sped up a lot if they were coded to leverage dual cores.

I agree with sedges about the fast front side bus. That will speed up most of the operation of the system.

The comments about a good monitor are quite important. Good LCDs are expensive. But this is a matter of your standards. I've looked at a Dell wide screen 20" monitor and it wasn't good enough for me (too bright, lacked detail in darks.) But maybe it would be for you.

Bring up the task manager while you're working. Monitor your memory usage. The thing that I'd consider doing with that system is upgrading to 2G of ram. Not everyone needs that, but some do. I know that I just upgraded to PhotoShop CS2 and PS seems to use more memory, and the bridge eats some (or at time LOTS) and I find that I'm paging to disk a bit more than I was. I hover around 300m free instead of 450m or so (I think that is where I was before the upgrade) so I'm considering upgrading my ram to 2G.

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Old Nov 15, 2005, 2:51 PM   #7
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Maybe this will help, maybe not... I just go a new system because I wasn't happy with the performance of my Dell. The Dell was a pretty snappy system, 1.9Ghz CPU, 64Meg GPU, and 768Meg of RDRAM. For what it's worth RDRAM is very, VERY fast. I'm a Unix Admin and Oracle DBA and know how to squeeze every last ounce of performance out of a system, but it was still too slow. (I work with folders of a couple hundred raw images at a time, bridge was painful in renaming, building thumb nails etc...

New system is a AMD 64x2 (dual core) 4400+ with 4Gig memory. 3 SATA drives, 1 IDE slaved off of the DVD. No RAID. 256Meg GPU. Asus nForce motherboard. I've got the /3Gb switch set in the boot.ini file, OS on one drive, CS2 on another, scratch disk on a couple.

The difference is amazing! Don't know how much of the improvement is dual core, memory, or more drives + SATA. But, I do keep bridge open and it runs as it's own application. So this should take advantage of the dual core. I have photoshop using 2.7Gig of memory due to the /3Gb switch. If I had to guess, I'd say the system is 8 - 12fold faster than the Dell.

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Old Nov 15, 2005, 4:54 PM   #8
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Thanks everybody for your replies! The info you gave me was VERY helpful.

So I'm going to stay with what I have, and get a Spyder 2 to calibrate my mohitors. I'm using Samsung 204t now. For my 2nd comp. I'm thinking of getting a good 20-21" CRT.

Sedges mentioned 800 mhz FSB. My is 533, 1mb L2 cache. Does it make a really big difference?

I'm not a pro, just another guy who got addected to digital photography couple of years ago. So maybe later I will upgrade to something like jlacasci has:G

Again, thanks alot, E.T, Declan, Nagasaki, Sedges, Eric, Joe ! You really helped me to make up my mind.:|
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Old Nov 15, 2005, 7:27 PM   #9
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The better FSB would certainly help. Would it justify at a minimum a new motherboard, and probably new CPU and RAM? (NOTE: It might not require that, but it could)? I don't honestly know. Check out:

They do a good job of reviewing hardware and their benchmarks are fairly well thoughout and they understand the PC components well enough that if they see something funny they know how to figure it out. I don't know if they have a test which compares similar systems with different FSB, but those are the type of places that would.

If you really aren't going to game, a good Matrox video card could improve performance, but other things would improve it better. While NVidia and ATI have dumped money into 3D cards, Matrox has perfected the 2D card. Photoshop eats it up. They also use better components for cleaner signals and better connectors, they do dual-monitor better, they support multiple profiles on one card better (although NVidia does this well now too.) Just a higher quality card for things like PS.

Getting a spyder will help. Not as much for what you see on your monitor, but if others profile their monitor it will look good on theirs too. And prints will benefit as well (with a profiled printer.)

Glad to help!

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Old Nov 15, 2005, 9:15 PM   #10
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Eric, I will certainly check out the links. Thanks a lot for 3d/2d cards info. I didn'n know that. So I will probably install 2d card. The main reason I want Spyder: I want my prints to match what I see on the monitor. ( I use Canon i9900 printer)


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