View Full Version : Building a computer for photoshop

02 February 2008, 01:56 PM
Hi I've watched you amazing guys for years but this is my first real post here :) I'm going to be getting a new computer very soon and wonder if anyone can give me insight as to what I need to do certain things. Specifically I work in Photoshop 7 and I would like to be able to at least create 600 ppi 11 by 17 (6600px by 10200px) images with large brushes (say at least 1200px with 10% spacing) in real time, without the lag. Working with large smudge brushes is impossible right now. I usually turn down the spacing to help or work 300 ppi, upsample to 600 ppi and add detail back in but one can only go so far with this. In fact even at 300 ppi I cannot use brushes as big as I would like.

My current computer is a regular Pentium 4 2.4 gig with 1.25 gigs of memory and a geforce 5500 card.

The one I am looking to build is a Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 3.0ghz with 2 gigs of DDR 2 and a GeForce 8800GTS (G92) 512MB 256-bit GDDR3.

I do realize there are different video cards for different things but I am trying to do multiple things with this computer, on a $1500 budget. Photoshop rates highest on my list but it's not alone. I want to get into Blender too and yes run the occasional game. Anyway what kind of performance can I expect from such a machine with Photoshop 7? What computer builds do you guys use?

Thank You :)

02 February 2008, 06:05 PM
Hi Gerbil,

this is my thrid post here... :)

Well the GPU seems completly overrated to me. For occasional gaming and a little 3D a cheap ATI 3850 with 256MB Ram is more than sufficient. Safe the money for a better / bigger screen... You could get 4 Gigs of RAM - although a 32-Bit System will only recognise around 3,5 (that still means full 2GB for PS and the rest for Windows / other apps). I would take cheap DDR2 800 RAM.

You didntīt suggest any Harddrive. This is quite important when it gets to PS. I would recommend Samsung F1 Series - in a good setup your Cache for PS is on a differnt HD than the rest of your Windows system, so you might take 2 drives.

Oh and please donīt buy a cheap power supply. This is really important for system stability. Seasonic or BeQuit are silent and very stable.

My system: Q6600 (cooled by a Scythe Ninja), Gigabyte P35-DS3 Rev.2, 2x 2GB DDR 800, 750GB Samsung F1, geforce 7600GT, BeQuiet Dark Power 530W

I hope i could help you

02 February 2008, 07:29 AM
Hi Lord Saddler :) Thank you for posting. I was wondering if I should have posted in the hardware section but I posted here because I live and breathe by Photoshop :) Unfortunately I had just bought my system a few hours before I saw your post :/. However, your post is actually affirming because I had decided on some of the exact things you mentioned. It's still has to ship here but the following is coming...

Motherboard EVGA 132-CK-NF78-A1 LGA 775 NVIDIA nForce 780i SLI (I hope to upgrade to 2 video cards in a few years)
Memory Crucial Ballistix 4GB DDR2 800 (for the reason you sited, glad to hear it will work that way)
Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 Wolfdale 3.0GHz 6MB L2 Cache
Two 10,000 sata western digital raptors 150gig each (I am certain 150 is big enough for a few years)
EVGA GeForce 8800GTS (G92) 512MB 256-bit
CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX ATX12V / EPS12V 750W Power Supply (I was actually going to buy a cheaper rosewell but I lamented and spent more on this for the very reason you said. I hope this is a good one)

After adding various other ectera it was $1505.41 dollars, minus the rebates $155 (if they all come through) = 1350.41 (and then I bought 2 games in addition but I won't talk about that :p)

I too think the video card and motherboard may be overkill. Of all the parts I thought on them the most. I guess I could have gone with a Gigabyte board :/ ,which was actually my other choice, but since I was already spending a huge amount of money I wanted to be on the safe side, oh well (it's 3 times the most I've ever spent on one thing... before this it was my <3 wacom, WACOMS FTW! :D). I used my first computer for ten years and hope this one lasts that long.

I'm thinking of using a raid 1 for redundancy and an old ide hard drive for a back up on top of that. Being a bit uncertain about motherboard based raid I wonder does anyone else here uses raid 1 via motherboard (I did see a couple posts here that mentioned it but not if they actually used it). I could add a controller card later but I have to figure out which cheap ones are hardware, not software, based and I haven't. Uber workstations and servers seem to use dedicated hardware controller cards but I think the ones they use are way, WAY beyond my price range (or any sane persons). I'm also unclear if you can even boot from a controller card. Since I'm pretty much out of money right now, even for cheap things, the point is moot. I'm hoping a controller card is one of those things you don't ever really need for only 2 drives.

On the virtual memory cache doesn't Photoshop only use that once you run out of physical memory? If so I'm going to set it for the old ide drive if it will let me. For now I don't think I will easily run out of the 2 gigs of the physical memory allowed by Photoshop/Windows XP. I wonder how a linux OS handles memory hmmmm...

Thank you for posting again. CGTalk is the best CGI site on the net and I feel special just to post here :) (even if it is open to anyone). Lets all help each other push our artistry to a higher level! :)

02 February 2008, 02:23 PM
(This is my first post here too ô.ô! And I've been looking for all of this for years as well XD Aw well, I guess I don't feel good enough to post any of my work here yet)

LordSaddler's right about the HD, I have 2x250 gigs HD in a raid 0 ( and it works pretty well. Part of the lag in Photoshop was due to the HD. Raptors are good too, as TheMightyGerbil mentionned, they're known for processing information a lot faster than usual HD.

and RAM's good too, I love RAM :3 (the more the better!)

well as for details, I guess you had them already ._. I'm not much of a geek anyway ^^''

02 February 2008, 04:24 PM
I wouldn't think that building a computer for Photoshop would be too expensive;
make sure you have a good processor and a fair amount of ram (2gb+). I wouldn't think that not having a fancy-shmancy graphics card would be a problem, but I might be wrong. In my computer I use a GeForce 8800 GTS (320mb). I use it for games, but it also works fine for photoshop as well. :)
Anyway, what you have there looks pretty good.
Two 10,000 sata western digital raptors 150gig each (I am certain 150 is big enough for a few years)
Yeah, I bought a 100 gig hard drive a while back, and it fills up quickly nowadays. I have trouble keeping enough space open for Photoshop's scratch disk space.
CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX ATX12V / EPS12V 750W Power Supply
Good, good. That should do. I've heard way too many stories of people's power supplies going kaput on them. It even happened to me one time. :(

03 March 2008, 03:56 PM
I have to disagree that the video card is overrated.

Adobe apps make a fair amount of OpenGl rendering and with the new CS3 being able to render basic 3D T&L, having a good video card can never hurt.

To be honest, I think a good video card is one of the most ovrlooked elements when putting together a good machine and I have seen fairly powerful processors with good ram be completely marginalized by a GPU. Is it a make or break thing? not necessarily, but do not underestimate it. I bet my salary that getting a goood video card WILL improve performance. With that being said, I would agree that you should not dish out $$$ for a premium card, like the difference between an 8800 GTS Vs GTX, get the GTS, unless you are a gamer as well, i find the GT to be the best bang for the buck. The new 9600s are pretty good for the price as well if your not a hard core gamer.

As far as the rest of your system, the CPU seems fine, I would put at least 3 GB Ram though. Your OS and cahe is going to effectively take up a gig on its own.

What is VERY important, just as important as RAM if you are working with large files or history states is room for CACHE. I would get a second HD, high rpm, moderate size (<50GB if you can find one now a days) and set your cache for photoshop to the second drive. Your OS will be pulling cache from the OS drive so having it access on a second (even faster drive) will show significant improvements. Or you can do like the above and raid them.

Here is an example of my primary design system used for 2d, 3d and video rendering:

Win XP64
Intel Core2 Duo (2.8 GHz)
GeForce 880oGT

1- WD 72 GB @ 10,000 rpm - OS/Apps
2- WD 36 GB @ 10,000 rpm - Cache ONLY
3- WD 250 GB @ 7,200 rpm - Working Files/Data
4- WD 500 GB @ 7,200 rpm - Digital Assets/Backup

And honestly, working with GIG-level files every day, I cannot remember the last time I had a hangup or out of memory error. Very fast.

PS - I COMPLETELY ARGEE on the PSU issue.. get a good one, or all the money you spend on the rest will be for nothing.

03 March 2008, 10:48 PM
Get an 8800GTS 512 if you can find it for $200-250. Get a Geforce 9600GT if you want a cheaper but almost-as-fast card. It should be around $180 and it's much faster than the Radeon HD 3850 - in fact, it's faster than the 3870 too!

Also, like people said, get a fast hard drive and lots of memory when working with huge files. And finally, don't expect smudging to work fast even on a fast PC (when working with huge files)'s just a slow process and it'll always run slower than everything else. You need to turn up the spacing if you want more performance. I have a Q6600 and an 8800GT and it's still slow.

03 March 2008, 01:59 AM
You mentioned Photoshop 7. I'd stick to an XP OS rather than Vista, or if you must, have it able to dual boot.

CGTalk Moderation
03 March 2008, 01:59 AM
This thread has been automatically closed as it remained inactive for 12 months. If you wish to continue the discussion, please create a new thread in the appropriate forum.