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Old Feb 17, 2006, 1:03 PM   #1
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I made a post several weeks ago looking for advice on buying a new PC. Your suggestions were great and I've learned a lot. To recap, I shoot with a 20D (RAW and JPEG), and take lots and lots of photos every week. I do sports photography which involves using burst mode constantly. Other than general internet use my main need for a PC is to edit my photos. Perhaps in the future some video as well.

I'm on a pretty tight budget though and want to stay under $1000 (excluding monitor). Still, I want something solid that will be a good investment for the next several years.

I found this system and thought it looked and sounded quite nice and well-suited to my needs, what do you think? It's a Gateway. Bear in mind that I will add 1-2 hard drives per your instructions, a small one for software/os and another 250 gig ina mirrored set up.

Check it out at this url:


There is also anHP with very similar specs for slightly more $, the "light scribe" feature sounds enticing but that's the only real difference I can see:


So basically all I need from you experts is some kind of confirmation, such as:

a) either of these should work fine, Rob, go for it (and quit bothering us)

b) either is good but I'd opt for this one and here's why....

c) have you learned nothing from us, Rob?neither of these is right for youand here's why, you idiot......

I just feel a bit more comfortable if I get your guys' OK on this first. Oh and I researched monitors pretty thoroughly, too, and settled on this one. Any thoughts on it while we're at it?


Thanks again o' wise ones.....


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Old Feb 17, 2006, 2:31 PM   #2
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I would double up the RAM to atleast 2GB. That will make bigger difference than speed of the CPU. Remember you have 2 CPUs so throw more RAM at them.

The price looks nice, not sure what quality components these companied put inside these PCs. I am in mkt for a new machine and plan to put it together myself. Considering AMD 64 X2 3800+, 2GB RAM (with capability for 4GB) and nice motherboard which allows Raid setup.
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Old Feb 17, 2006, 2:35 PM   #3
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Old Feb 17, 2006, 3:13 PM   #4
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Those will both do a nice job on graphics and the price seems right.

You might want to use your rebate to get a second HD and another Gig of RAM. Both are pretty cheap these days. Photoshop works faster if you can put the scratch disk on another physical drive. Your primary drive runs faster if you don't get it too full of stored photos. A second drive is a good short term backup until you can put the images on CD or DVD – or whatever backup you choose. If the included drives aren't SATA, get a SATA drive and make it your primary. Drives come with a utility to clone everything over.

You can actually use up a Gig of RAM quite easily if you have lots of stuff going in Photoshop. And a large panorama will definitely push you over a Gig.

You might check on how many memory slots are included. Those are probably mini boards and they already have 2 X 512 memory modules. Some mini boards have only 2 and you would have to dump the included memory and add two 1 Gig sticks to upgrade if that is the case. You will eventually want to upgrade the RAM if you plan to keep the computer a while. My Nvida full sized board has 3 slots with the first two for dual memory which runs faster. That is probably why they have two sticks of memory.

I don't think either of those would work for me. I'm not a snob who needs the best of the best, but I have become accustomed to dual monitors and have no intention of ever going to a single monitor setup again. I looked up the Nvida 6100 and it doesn't appear to support dual monitors. Seems they would have mentioned it.

The integrated GeForce graphics are fine on my machine. They wouldn't be too great for games but I have no problems with graphics. My integrated graphics do allow for dual monitors.

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Old Feb 18, 2006, 4:09 AM   #5
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I think your going over kill on the processors and not enough on the hard drive end.

The real issue is if you go to a local store you can get a cheap setup in a huge case that is a far better deal than a Dell, HP on any other computer. Take this idea most local store have bare bone pc's for certain setups you want a great board a cheap processor, and 1024mb of ram. you want a big case such as this:

Then you want to find a good board for the processor you want here is a good one:
It has 6 SATA connections for HDD's and 2 PATA channels for 4 optical drives.

Then you can buy cheap parts(cpu, gpu, ram, soundcard) that are easy to upgrade that will get cheaper with time. Where the system you picked out on Circuit City wont have the upgradable that that board offers you.

The best thing about that setup with that case is the drive setup you can have all your drives in hot swap cages for unlimited storage using 4 of these :

Then you still have 2 SATA connections for your system drive and a drive for programs.

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Old Feb 18, 2006, 10:21 AM   #6
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I agree that you do better to build your own computer with a large motherboard and large case. You usually end up with a faster computer with a good MB. And you have a lot more versatility with extra slots and bays.

I don't think a lower end processor is practical though. The Athlon 64 4200 X 2 is the third fastest in the Athlon dual cord lineup, and only the 3800 is slower. The 4200 is right around the point of diminishing returns in a dual core processor. Photoshop uses a dual processor very well and has been set up for them for years. You wouldn't want less IMO. Photoshop speed is almost directly proportional to your processor speed until you run out of RAM. You could load your images a lot faster with a Raptor or striped RAID, but that doesn't much affect the speed that filters etc run once the image is open.

I have found that by the time you are ready to upgrade they will have 128 bit 4 core processors with quad memory and you can't use any of it in your old system. I've built my own computers for years and haven't upgraded a processor yet because I would just be incrementally upgrading old technology. I did buy a faster Athlon once when my temp monitor failed on an overclocked system, but I don't consider that a voluntary upgrade.

The cheapest price I see on Pricewatch for that processor is $355. And the cheapest price I see with that Nvida 6100 in a MB with that processor is $452.29. With a full sized state of the art board, good large case, a Gig of RAM, a dual side DVD recorder plus a DVD player, TV tuner with recorder, card reader, 17 inch LCD and XP Media Edition there is no way RKeaton could stay within his budget. With one of those computers he could get an extra Gig of memory and a second HD and still be within budget.

Edit: I found a picture of the Biostar Nvida 6100 and it appears to have 4 memory slots in pairs. So to upgrade you would add 2 more 512 sticks to take advantage of the dual memory. I would guess the computers listed would have the same setup. It is nice that it has an AGP slot should you ever need to upgrade thevideo card – many mini boards with integrated graphics don't have an AGP slot. The AGP slot cuts the PCI slots to two though. That is probably plenty unless something is already plugged into one of them.

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Old Feb 19, 2006, 10:31 AM   #7
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RKeaton wrote:
Bear in mind that I will add 1-2 hard drives per your instructions, a small one for software/os and another 250 gig ina mirrored set up.

I know I tend to ramble on so I guess a couple of you missed where I said that I do plan to add a hard drive, if not two.

While I'm at it I'll double up on the RAM as you suggest.

Otherwise I think I'll be happy with this set up for a few years. If you knew what I was working with now.... This will be a major upgrade for me.

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