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AK-66 Nov 14, 2005 11:06 PM

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:

E.T Nov 15, 2005 2:40 AM

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).

amazingthailand Nov 15, 2005 7:27 AM

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.


Nagasaki Nov 15, 2005 7:54 AM

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.

sedges Nov 15, 2005 9:35 AM

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.

eric s Nov 15, 2005 9:42 AM

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.


jlacasci Nov 15, 2005 2:51 PM

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.


AK-66 Nov 15, 2005 4:54 PM

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.:|

eric s Nov 15, 2005 7:27 PM

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!


AK-66 Nov 15, 2005 9:15 PM

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)



jlacasci Nov 15, 2005 10:52 PM

The spyder is a pretty good tool for calibration/profiles for the monitor. I was using a spyderPro for acouple of years. Depending on how far you go with this hobby if you intend to sell prints and really want to get into color management I'd suggest getting a copy of the book Real World Color Management by Bruce Fraser, Chris Murphy and Fred Bunting. Great start to begin to learn about this stuff. I recenlty puchased the Gretabmacbeth Eye-One Photo SG package and it does a great job on the monitor (not much better than the spyder IMHO although faster), but what I really wanted it for was to create profiles for different papers for my printer. This does a fantastic job, my workflow is finally capable of getting very good color from start to output on a number of papers now. It's not an inexpensive product for sure but does work as advertised.


KCan Nov 15, 2005 10:56 PM

I would like to add another point of view about backup ...

Now, I no longer rely on CD or DVD backup, kind of tired to keep track, and frankly, I do believe more on HD reliability.

I did backup on a Big USB HD drive, very rapid , and easy to synchronize with "life" data on the main HD of the computer.

Also I added another big HD in the computer, even more rapid to sync another set of data, plus, this second drive is all set tolet me boot up in case windows get weird (It did happen to me :G)

JimC Nov 15, 2005 11:22 PM

Diitto (I prefer to rely on hard disk drive technology).

I've seen 20+ year old hard disk drives that still work fine (for example, a 5MB Seagate Full Height Drive I boughjt in the early 80's). I've seen 5 minute+ CDs with errors.

AK-66 Nov 16, 2005 1:04 AM

I save all my pictures on the HD and DVD. IMO it's very unlikely that something happens with both of them at the same time. ;)
I use Roxio drag-to-disk program. Works good for me .
Is double-layer feature good for this? I know I can store twice more of data, I just wondering if it doesn't affect the quality?

Joe! I did a little search about Eye-One Photo SG. Very interesting stuff, but for me it would be way too much. And it really is not an inexpensive:shock: ($1,400) For me it would be like driving a formula-1 around Brooklyn:G. Thanks for the info anyway!

I just found out that my motherboard is Intel 915 GV with 1 PCI Xpress and 2 PCI slots and FSB up to 800 Mhz. So can I just upgrade from 533 to 800 and install a desent graphic card without any pain?
I understand that my questions my sound strange for computer experts but I'm not the one so I apologize in advance.



E.T Nov 16, 2005 10:30 AM

KCan wrote:

I did backup on a Big USB HD drive, very rapid...
One wrong bumb and that backup won't work anymore...
Also depending on enclosure HD inside it might be running quite hot.

Just go here to see how "reliable" HDs can be.
If you don't want to register and participate by submitting your HDs use login data from here.

And remember that small cramped cases are worst thing to happen for HD reliability, even more if you put two HDs directly on top of each other. (with multiple HDs there should be always air space between them and fan making sure there's airflow cooling them)

Considering blank medias avoid unknown brands and "El Cheapos", some of those are complete junk and best used as BB gun targets.
From CD-Rs Plextors (made by Taio Yuden) have propably best quality, also Verbatim Datalife Plus should be quite good. (without Plus and quality can have considarable variation).

From DVDs you better forget DL, because of their structure they don't tolerate so much deterioration.
So best choise is single layer DVDs, Verbatims are generally one of the best.
(naturally their price is higher than generally found El Cheapos)

Here's lot more about different medias.

AK-66 wrote:

I just found out that my motherboard is Intel 915 GV with 1 PCI Xpress and 2 PCI slots and FSB up to 800 Mhz. So can I just upgrade from 533 to 800 and install a desent graphic card without any pain?
Yep, that limit is caused by processor.

But considering updating to newer graphic card looks like you might have run out of luck:

All chipsets (except 915 GV Express, which has integrated graphics exclusively) support one x16 PCI Express slot

Finding PCI graphic card might be little harder (and all those are propably much slower in 3D/games).
And only x1 PCI Express graphic cards I know are made by Matrox and again those aren't any faster in 3D.
But except gaming there's pretty much zero use for faster graphic card, all current graphic chipsets are well adequate for normal use of Windows/ordinary software.

Some years ago there was little talk about using heavy parallel calculation capability of GPUs for image/video editing but I have heard nothing after that.
So what counts is 2D quality, meaning mostly quality of RAMDAC. (if you use CRT screen)

eric s Nov 16, 2005 11:28 AM

While I agree in principle that a hard drive does open you up to new types of problems (like bumping the drive while its on) you also have to take care of your CD/DVDs properly or you'll have serious problems there too. So both have their issues.

To me, here are the things to take into account.
Assuming you buy really high quality media...
And you store them properly...
And you actually put the effort/time into backing up your pictures onto DVDs/CDs...

Then they are probably the best way to go. If you use write-once media you won't delete them by mistake and you can easily store them elsewhere. And if your images are important to you, this is a good thing.

But those are non-trivial assumptions. The worst, to me, is the time. Backing up doesn't take loads of time but people don't do it. Backing up to hard disk is very, very easy. And if you don't do the backups the rest of your system doesn't matter.

I back up to hard disks that I only turn on for the express reason to back stuff up. Then the window of deletion or corruption is very small. Its simple to do (I have a batch file that drives robocopy to do it all) and I actually do it. I didn't back stuff up to CDs even when I had the stack of media right there.

I fully endorce those links you gave, by the way. Very good sites. Anyone reading this thread who cares about getting good writable media or who cares about hard disks should look around those sites. Extremely good information there.

AK-66 has already said that he isn't going to play games on the system, so getting a 3D card is almost pointless. This makes getting a PCI card acceptable. It was unclear to me if that chipset wouldn't support 16x PC-X, or not support a graphics card on a slower PC-X slot. He isn't play games, so putting a graphics card in a slower PC-X slot shouldn't be a problem.

In fact, your comment about Matrox video cards is what I would recommend. They do 2D better than anyone else, they use top quality parts and make very good RAMDACs. They fit the bill very well (if you aren't play games.)


AK-66 Nov 16, 2005 5:54 PM

I've seen somewhere in the forum ( don't remember which one) that someone backs up on DVD and keep them in the local bank in the vault.:idea:

Is Sony CD/DVD-R considered good? That's what I'm using.

As I'm not gaming, I will look for Matrox card you guys mentioned. Just could you please specify name/model . I went to their site and I couldn't see anything that meet my needs. Maybe I just don't understand:roll: Looks to me like they specialize in security monitoring or something...
My chipset doesn't support 16x PC-x, just regular PCI. Will I be OK with it?
The reason I want a separate graphic card is not only image quality but also to free up main memory. Am I right?

I also have some questions about CRT monitors, but probably it would be better to start a new thread .

I'm glad this thread became popular. I'm sure that, besides me, there are a lot of amateurs around having similar questions that stopping them from going foreward.

Thanks a lot!


eric s Nov 16, 2005 8:12 PM

I wouldn't be surprised if you're built-in video card used some of the main memory for its video memory. But I don't know that for sure.


I just found out that my motherboard is Intel 915 GV with 1 PCI Xpress and 2 PCI slots and FSB up to 800 Mhz. So can I just upgrade from 533 to 800 and install a desent graphic card without any pain?
I took this to mean that you did have 1 PCI Xpress slot (but that it wasn't 16x), but maybe that isn't true.

Here is a link listing a variety of Matrox video cards.

Here is a link to (what looks like) the only Matrox PCI card they sell:

I've thought about coping my pictures and storing them in my safty deposit box. It has the space, costs me nothing and my images are worth money and are irreplaceable. Sounds like the proper criteria for storing something in a secure location.


AK-66 Nov 16, 2005 9:46 PM

Thanks for the link, Eric! After reading reviews it looks exactly what I need. I think it will be no problem to install it myself.


I've thought about coping my pictures and storing them in my safty deposit box. It has the space, costs me nothing and my images are worth money and are irreplaceable. Sounds like the proper criteria for storing something in a secure location.

I really think this is a very good idea. Images are valuebles. People keep there jewelery, money, etc. - why not images? And I'm sure you have some images that worth more than money.They are memories.



E.T Nov 17, 2005 4:57 AM

AK-66 wrote:

The reason I want a separate graphic card is not only image quality but also to free up main memory. Am I right?
Memory reserved for integrated GPU should be adjustedtable from BIOS.
And for 2D use (/for framebuffer) even something like 8 MBs is well enough.

Looks like that Matrox's PCIe x1 card is low profile card so I wonder does it include normal backplate.

Sonys should by quite good, although they have used really many factories for making those so quality can vary.
Other equally important thing is compatiblity with writer, have you checked burning quality?
If you have Nero just go to Nero Toolkit and select Nero CD-DVD Speed, then go to "Disc Quality" tab.
You can do this after burning disc or scan discs burned earlier.

If you don't have Nero test program can be downloaded from here:

AK-66 Nov 17, 2005 8:44 PM

Thanks, E.T ! I downloaded the program, will check some CDs later.:cool:

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