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Old May 9, 2005, 11:44 AM   #1
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I've been doing a lot of digital photography and editing (using PS 6.0 with Windows 2000 Professional) and am pulling out my hair at the s-l-o-o-o-w (!) speed of my computer. Now, it has graphics "on board" (specifically, on an ASUS P5A motherboard), which means that there's no separate graphics card, and it has "only" an AMD K-6II 450mHzchip. (Also, a 12.6 gig 5400 IDE HD.)I do, however, have 640 MB of PC100 RAM... Still, every maneuver, from opening a file to saving it again, takes forever! What do you allthink would be the minimum specs I should look for in an upgrade? Any specific suggestions as to brand? (Or brands to avoid?!)

Thank youSOmuch!


PS If this isn't thebest forum for this question,perhaps someone would redirect me. Tx!

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Old May 9, 2005, 3:49 PM   #2
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Hello Jane. Photoshop isn't too bothered about high end graphics cards, so if you were to upgrade solely for use with PS then £25.00/£35.00 would do it. Meaning if you do not bother with the latest games software.

The rest of your set up however............. Your cpu is painfully slow, your memory is painfully slow, your hard drive is painfully slow and woefully inadequate for storage. You need a lot of space as PS uses some of the hard drive memory when it has run out of Ram to use and this happens a lot. (Scratch disk)

I would recommend the spec of my 'second' computer, which more than adequately copes with the demands of Photoshop CS.
  • Asus A7N8X-X [/*]
  • AMD Athlon XP 2000 (1.66Ghz) Very cheap these days, so go faster if you can. [/*]
  • 1 Gb Crucial DDR PC 2700 [/*]
  • 160Gb Hard drive 7200rpm with 8mb cache [/*]
  • Nvidia GeForce MX 440 64mb (very,very low end) [/*]
  • Windows XP Pro[/*]
Depending on your budget of course, but get better than this if you can or at least near to this. I don't bother too much with other software (games) and this set up is fine for me. My other set up has better spec but I do use my second one above frequently for PSCS.

Hope this helps point you in the right direction.


In the mean time I would suggest youdo not have any other applications running at all when you are using PS, everything needs the processor and Ram, and Photoshop likes a lot of it !!
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Old May 9, 2005, 6:14 PM   #3
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Hi Steve,

Thanks so much for your input. Yes, this computer is a "dinosaur" and drives me nuts. It was fine until I started doing DP, but it's just no good for that, as you noted.

By L25 or L35 (sorry, I'm in the US and don't have a Pounds Sterling key on my keyboard!) do you mean for a low-end graphics card?

What do you think of this system, which a buddy recommended this morning:


Is there another one on that site you'd recommend instead?

I do have a relationship with the technician at a local shop, and he might be willing to build me something adequate for a reasonable price, recycling the parts from my current PC that are still good (floppy, CDRW, DVD-ROM, firewire card, modem, serial port for the printer...)

I've been waiting to upgrade until I felt a compelling need. I think the time is nigh!

Best wishes,

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Old May 9, 2005, 8:35 PM   #4
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Hi Jane,
May I add my opinion too:
- Agree with Stevekin. Athlon/P4 at over 2.4 Ghz clock seems to be the best performance/cost these days; Athlon system may be a bit cheaper than P4 system.
- Avoid Celeron class CPU.
- 512 M of RAM is almost a must for you.
- The harddisk in the Dell offer (40GB) is a bit small. If you buy that system, you may add a 160 or a 250 GB latter (as primary HD), it would be great.

If you work often with PS, you can also set up one HD just for it to avoid cluttering your OS with all sort of application loaded, let say for example:
- Boot from you 160 GB : Win XP, PS and some pictures managing software (ACDSee, or else …) , CD/DVD writing software, that's it.
- Boot from your 40 GB : Win XP and everything else …
This way, you always have the greatest performance with your photo edition session … :-D
(Switching booting HD is just a matter of shutdown Win and 2,3 keys stroke in the CMOS setting, no cable to plug or unplug of course :G)

Good luck and happy shopping :-)
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Old May 9, 2005, 8:48 PM   #5
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A faster machine is likely to be in your future, but when was the last time you defragged your hard drive?
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Old May 9, 2005, 9:00 PM   #6
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You should upgrade your system, most of the advice
is good that you've received. I personally would
go for the most CPU and Memory you can afford, these
will give you the maximum return for DP.

In the mean time...
do the defrag
look at your startup and get rid of the bells and whistles you don't need, all those icons next to the clock eat memory.
If you are running an antivirus (and you should be!!!) turn
it off while just doing DP.

and what ever you do DON'T run Outlook in any form while
doing Adobe PS (they are both memory hogs).

Good luck,
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Old May 9, 2005, 9:53 PM   #7
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That's a great idea, keeping my DP stuff all on one LARGE hard drive! Thanks!!!

Can you tell me exactly how to boot up to whatever isn't the master drive?

Thanks also for validating my thoughtsabout the necessary basics. I agree: Never a Celeron processor &512 RAM, minimum. However, I've heard that Athlon chips run hot -- any comment on that, folks?

Bill Drew,

Good point about the Defrag. It's probably been a couple of months since I did that . Thanks for the reminder!


Excellent suggestions about cleaning up the StartUp clutter and closing Norton andOutlook when doing PS. (I hadn't thought of closing the AV, but this makes a lot of sense. Thanks!)

I'm definately going tospring for 512 RAM, and at least a 2.x GHz clock. (Seems that there isn't a lot of price difference in going from 2.4 to 2.8, or even higher. I'll have to do some research on this, though.)

You folks are a well-spring of information and I'm very grateful to you for taking the time to share your thoughts on this.

My best,


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Old May 10, 2005, 12:20 AM   #8
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I just went through this when my old MB cooked right at tax time no less

I ended up moveing to a Asus A8V, a 64 bit mother board and an Athalon 64 bit cpu, with 2gb of Corsair ddr400 memory and room for 2 more gb. Just in time for WinXP64 to be released too :blah: though I run linux.

Amazing what they pack on to the motherboards nowadays.
Short list for the board I got, and it was last years model too, the newer ones have switched to 16x PCI-E slots :-) :
10 USB 2.0 ports
2 firewire ports.
gigabit lan adapter, and wireless-G
8.1 channel sound
Promice RAID and S-ATA RAID controlers
8x AGP

And the cost was surprisingly low (All values in Canadian funds) 143$, for the MB, 260$ for the 2gb memory and 180$ for the AMD64 CPU.

Fortunately my case, EnerMax power-supply, video-card, dvd burners(2), and hard drives(2) were OK and usable for building the new box.

Not sure if I would want to invest in older 32 bit technology anymore, I suspect it will be going the way of the 486 :|

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Old May 10, 2005, 4:14 AM   #9
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Jane, you are getting some very good advice so far. And remember, the spec I recommended should be looked at as a minimum. I'm guessing you are on a budget, (aren't we all !), and if your main usage will be Post Processing then you don't need to spend $$$$. Of course spend what you can now and you can always add/change bit by bit in the future. I usually always tell people to defrag, defrag, defrag. Thanks to BillDrew for mentioning that. , but with a 12.6 gig running at 5400rpm and the rest of your set up, I don't think you will be running PS very well anyway. My generalisation to have everything switched off was perhaps a little vague. Yes, switch off the AV, when you are not on line, as this will be checking everything you do, opening, closing, saving running filters etc.

Yes, the £25.00/£35.00 would be for a low end graphics card, here anyway. At todays rate, that is about $47.00/$65.00. But I find that the reality is if I'm paying £25.00 for an item, you are actually paying about $25.00 + taxes. (not fair ).

If I were you I would take advantage of the 'special relationship' you have with a technician . He should be able to advise you on which brands to go for judging by their returns of faulty items etc.

When you have decided/completed the upgrade, might I also suggest you consider trading up from 6 to CS2. I think the upgrade can be bought for a reasonable price.

And let us know what you finally get and how it compares to your current set up.


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Old May 10, 2005, 9:39 AM   #10
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Just ran across a deal on a disk that might help you A LOT
Go look at http://www.staples.com/Catalog/Brows...al+Hard+Drives

This is a fast (7200rpm, 8mb cache, 9ms seek, ATA133 capable) high capacity
(80gb) Internal (EIDE which is what your other disk
is) good quality (1 Yr warranty) disk from a well known manufacturer (Maxtor)
for $50 USD.

It should work in you existing system and any future system
you get. It comes with all the needed software as well.
You can order it on-line as well.

Just a thought,

PS - quick edit - your slowness is due to minimal memory
and disk drive more than CPU; for 5 megapixel or larger
image files you should have between 512 and above memory
(I have 2 GB)

PS to the PS - another quick edit - I just looked at the
Dell system you pointed at. It's a good price and a good
configuration EXCEPT - if you can afford it go with 1GB
memory (first), then add a CDRW drive if you have more
cash. Note that this does NOT come with a floppy drive
(not needed much anymore) nor a modem card (if you use
dial up); but you can transfere your existing modem
into the new box if it is a seperate card. It has built
in the network interface to connect to a cable or ISDN
or DSL modem.
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