i7 3770 vs 3820 for photoshop?
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sjms
Registered: Mar 21, 2003
Total Posts: 18115
Country: United States

I run an average 3-4 years between machine builds

you can always use your drives over in other cases and such.
DVD drives are a dime a dozen
I have nothing under a 700w PS and my next build will also use the same output as the CPU's are getting considerably more efficient in power consumption. I also wait for the newegg sales as I can pretty much get a reasonable deal. my last PS was $60 after the MIB.

and why can"t you reuse the case and PS? the cases are layed out for a standard ATX format and have been for year. I can swap out MB's and innards from the 3 I have in the house right now and those machines span 6 years of build. of course there are some limitations.

a Dell case is a proprietary type build so there you have lost. they also put in the absolute optimized power output for stuff installed.

the advantage to a build it yourself is that you get a few added nice things
1- you really know what's inside because you put it there
2- warranties on individual components will vary. HD's generally up to 5 years. PS can be lifetime as well as video cards. MB's up to 3 years.
3- you built it to your real specs not to what they had available.



Bifurcator
Registered: Oct 22, 2008
Total Posts: 9247
Country: Japan

sjms wrote:
you will discover that by the time you think you are going to upgrade your system cpu the next "state of the art" chipsets/MoBo/CPU's/capabilities/gee whizzes/ and wows will be well upon you (and probably by at least 2 generations) and that it will not be cost effective route to travel. I have been there and tried that.

justruss wrote:
^--This--^

Unless you need to pay tremendous amounts for top of the line (Xeon/Opteron, 6/8 cores)-- go with something middle of the road in enthusiast terms. The 3770 is perfect. Even the 2600K-- which overclocks like magic-- is a great choice.

Get a good mobo, and a very good power supply (this you can reuse). Do a basic, simple overclock to 4.0 Ghz (which is basically turnkey) or fiddle and aim for better. Cheap 3rd party cooler will do it fine, such as the 212+, which sells for $15 to $30.

Don't go all out hoping to hit a fortuitous upgrade cycle. Hit a bang-for-the-buck higher end system, nurture it, and do a full upgrade a few generations later.

jzucker wrote:
so the question is, for a 2 year cycle is it worth even putting together my own machine? The $200 for the case and power supply that I can reuse doesn't seem worth it.


Yup, it's been like that for about 10 or 15 years now. Buy a system and not a roll-your-own. You usually end up with an inferior PSU in a consumer grade system but those are cheap. With a pre-built system you get the on-site service and all encompassing warrantee so you don't have to troubleshoot anything when it dies or track down the receipts and shipping addresses. This carries over even more strongly with a workstation class machine where you're treated more like royalty - not to mention everything is built better, runs quieter, and I think the service contract is for a longer period.

IMO if you reeeeeeealy know what you're doing, can find stuff way cheaper than normal people, are really organized, have lots of time on your hands, and are really good at troubleshooting - then and only then is a roll-your-own going to be a sure advantage. If you're the typical joe-user who just does his computer homework on the net (like me!) then buy a bare-bones system and upgrade it to your liking.


Here's what the 2003 Dell Precision systems looked like. They lasted a little over 7 years before they were much slower than the fastest non-Xeon systems available. Sorry I don't currently have any pics of their replacements. These shots were taken in their bare-bones state before I upgraded them initially. The insides of the new ones are even cleaner looking than these and I assume the current models are even better yet.




Just looking down into the MB. The lifted green lever thing frees all your cards
to be installed or removed without the use of any screws. In fact everything
in the system just snaps in place without the need for any screws or tools.



The passive cooling shroud lifts up in a similar
fashion to reveal the dual procs underneath.



You can also see the adjustable tensioned stay
which keeps the video card seated nice and snug
The fan units there also just snap on and off.



Typical passive cooling sync for workstations back in those
days. Desktops usually used the noisier dirtier active cooling
type coolers. Xeons don't need this! Something to think on.



Here you can see a little better how the shroud
is formed and fitted over the CPUs.



And the other one too.



The Workstation grade custom PSU is
hidden in the bottom of the machine.
This is all you get to see of it (back).



On these particular models the case door contained the drives
which are on slide rails (kinda unusual at the time) making it
really easy to install and remove any of the drives. I thought
pretty slick!



On the bottom you can see the air intake for PSU cooling.
Being separate from the rest of the system the PSU didn't
warm up to the point where the fans sped very fast and
so this area didn't require cleaning for the first two years.




Anyway, that's enough out of me already. Here you can put some pictures to my words even if this is Dell 10 years ago. And I've said pretty much everything there is to say already. People have been divided into various camps over purchasing SOHO PCs for as long as I can remember.

1) Buy/lease high-class high-spec "workstations" once every 6 or 7 years having the fastest machine on the planet for the first 3 or so and average "fast-ish" the rest. Spend a little more initially with big savings in the long run. If something stops working let someone else figure it out and do the work - usually same day. On my current systems they replaced all my motherboards and drive cables just because one system was getting read errors and the cables throughout were looking shabby (just dirty really - I smoke! Shhhhh! ). Dell Workstation support - gotta love it.

2) Buy/lease high spec pre-built desktop-class systems every 3 years or so having an average fast-ish system just about the whole time. Shorter warrantee and more typical service but they'll fix it - hopefully the same day.

3) Buy bargain grade PCs and just throw them away (minus drives) every two years. Assuming of course the cheap box didn't destroy your drives and other cards when the PSU blew out.

4) Roll your own - customize to your needs - from Xeon zingers to low spec boxes. You handle any repairs and send in any warrantee claims after securing the proper RMAs. Sometimes takes weeks. And sometimes the troubleshooting is a frigging nightmare. But sometimes nothing goes wrong either so it's a gamble. And typically you save about 20%, hey! This also requires some degree of research. Which RAM spec to get for best performance on that particular MB/Chipset, same with gfx card, PSU to support whatever, and so on. I used to do this myself and still take it on every once in a while - last time was 3 years ago IIRC.




penpro
Registered: Oct 24, 2011
Total Posts: 776
Country: Canada

My 2 cents, from some one in the 3D animation industry where we eat computers up real fast. I never buy the top of the line systems and instead go for what is a few versions old with the best price point. I don't bother to upgrade the system other then maybe a video card and just purchase new ones ever few years. I pull hard drives if they are still large and working well and put those in either the new machine, an external case for back up or use in a raid.

Updating computer with parts can just lead to having other parts that are not as fast or about to die on you and need updating as well.



jzucker
Registered: Jan 07, 2002
Total Posts: 2338
Country: United States

Here's what I ordered: $1300

CASE - Cooler Master HAF 912
DVD - CD: 24X Double Layer Dual Format DVD+-R/+-RW
CPU: Intel(R) Core i7-3820 Quad-Core 3.60 GHz 10MB Intel Smart Cache LGA2011
FAN: Asetek 510LC Liquid Cooling System 120MM Radiator & Fan
HDD1: 256GB ADATA SP900 SATA-III 6.0Gb/s - 555 MB/s Read & 530 MB/s Write
HDD2: WD 7200 RPM 2TB drive
MOBO: ASUS P9X79
PS: 800W
VIDEO: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti 1GB
MEMORY: 32GB (8GBx4) DDR3/1600MHz



sjms
Registered: Mar 21, 2003
Total Posts: 18115
Country: United States

Bifurcator wrote:
sjms wrote:
you will discover that by the time you think you are going to upgrade your system cpu the next "state of the art" chipsets/MoBo/CPU's/capabilities/gee whizzes/ and wows will be well upon you (and probably by at least 2 generations) and that it will not be cost effective route to travel. I have been there and tried that.

justruss wrote:
^--This--^

Unless you need to pay tremendous amounts for top of the line (Xeon/Opteron, 6/8 cores)-- go with something middle of the road in enthusiast terms. The 3770 is perfect. Even the 2600K-- which overclocks like magic-- is a great choice.

Get a good mobo, and a very good power supply (this you can reuse). Do a basic, simple overclock to 4.0 Ghz (which is basically turnkey) or fiddle and aim for better. Cheap 3rd party cooler will do it fine, such as the 212+, which sells for $15 to $30.

Don't go all out hoping to hit a fortuitous upgrade cycle. Hit a bang-for-the-buck higher end system, nurture it, and do a full upgrade a few generations later.

jzucker wrote:
so the question is, for a 2 year cycle is it worth even putting together my own machine? The $200 for the case and power supply that I can reuse doesn't seem worth it.


Yup, it's been like that for about 10 or 15 years now. Buy a system and not a roll-your-own. You usually end up with an inferior PSU in a consumer grade system but those are cheap. With a pre-built system you get the on-site service and all encompassing warrantee so you don't have to troubleshoot anything when it dies or track down the receipts and shipping addresses. This carries over even more strongly with a workstation class machine where you're treated more like royalty - not to mention everything is built better, runs quieter, and I think the service contract is for a longer period.

IMO if you reeeeeeealy know what you're doing, can find stuff way cheaper than normal people, are really organized, have lots of time on your hands, and are really good at troubleshooting - then and only then is a roll-your-own going to be a sure advantage. If you're the typical joe-user who just does his computer homework on the net (like me!) then buy a bare-bones system and upgrade it to your liking.


Here's what the 2003 Dell Precision systems looked like. They lasted a little over 7 years before they were much slower than the fastest non-Xeon systems available. Sorry I don't currently have any pics of their replacements. These shots were taken in their bare-bones state before I upgraded them initially. The insides of the new ones are even cleaner looking than these and I assume the current models are even better yet.




Just looking down into the MB. The lifted green lever thing frees all your cards
to be installed or removed without the use of any screws. In fact everything
in the system just snaps in place without the need for any screws or tools.



The passive cooling shroud lifts up in a similar
fashion to reveal the dual procs underneath.



You can also see the adjustable tensioned stay
which keeps the video card seated nice and snug
The fan units there also just snap on and off.



Typical passive cooling sync for workstations back in those
days. Desktops usually used the noisier dirtier active cooling
type coolers. Xeons don't need this! Something to think on.



Here you can see a little better how the shroud
is formed and fitted over the CPUs.



And the other one too.



The Workstation grade custom PSU is
hidden in the bottom of the machine.
This is all you get to see of it (back).



On these particular models the case door contained the drives
which are on slide rails (kinda unusual at the time) making it
really easy to install and remove any of the drives. I thought
pretty slick!



On the bottom you can see the air intake for PSU cooling.
Being separate from the rest of the system the PSU didn't
warm up to the point where the fans sped very fast and
so this area didn't require cleaning for the first two years.




Anyway, that's enough out of me already. Here you can put some pictures to my words even if this is Dell 10 years ago. And I've said pretty much everything there is to say already. People have been divided into various camps over purchasing SOHO PCs for as long as I can remember.

1) Buy/lease high-class high-spec "workstations" once every 6 or 7 years having the fastest machine on the planet for the first 3 or so and average "fast-ish" the rest. Spend a little more initially with big savings in the long run. If something stops working let someone else figure it out and do the work - usually same day. On my current systems they replaced all my motherboards and drive cables just because one system was getting read errors and the cables throughout were looking shabby (just dirty really - I smoke! Shhhhh! ). Dell Workstation support - gotta love it.

2) Buy/lease high spec pre-built desktop-class systems every 3 years or so having an average fast-ish system just about the whole time. Shorter warrantee and more typical service but they'll fix it - hopefully the same day.

3) Buy bargain grade PCs and just throw them away (minus drives) every two years. Assuming of course the cheap box didn't destroy your drives and other cards when the PSU blew out.

4) Roll your own - customize to your needs - from Xeon zingers to low spec boxes. You handle any repairs and send in any warrantee claims after securing the proper RMAs. Sometimes takes weeks. And sometimes the troubleshooting is a frigging nightmare. But sometimes nothing goes wrong either so it's a gamble. And typically you save about 20%, hey! This also requires some degree of research. Which RAM spec to get for best performance on that particular MB/Chipset, same with gfx card, PSU to support whatever, and so on. I used to do this myself and still take it on every once in a while - last time was 3 years ago IIRC.




it's an opinion. and pretty much wrong in mine.


DTOB
Registered: Oct 07, 2010
Total Posts: 1359
Country: Canada

jzucker wrote:
Here's what I ordered: $1300

CASE - Cooler Master HAF 912
DVD - CD: 24X Double Layer Dual Format DVD+-R/+-RW
CPU: Intel(R) Core i7-3820 Quad-Core 3.60 GHz 10MB Intel Smart Cache LGA2011
FAN: Asetek 510LC Liquid Cooling System 120MM Radiator & Fan
HDD1: 256GB ADATA SP900 SATA-III 6.0Gb/s - 555 MB/s Read & 530 MB/s Write
HDD2: WD 7200 RPM 2TB drive
MOBO: ASUS P9X79
PS: 800W
VIDEO: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti 1GB
MEMORY: 32GB (8GBx4) DDR3/1600MHz


I've been building my own PCs for a long time now...it's pretty crazy what $1300 can get you these days.

You should be thrilled with that machine for years to come, regardless of what some dell fans (fan) might have you believe.



Bifurcator
Registered: Oct 22, 2008
Total Posts: 9247
Country: Japan

DTOB wrote:
I've been building my own PCs for a long time now...it's pretty crazy what $1300 can get you these days.

You should be thrilled with that machine for years to come, regardless of what some dell fans (fan) might have you believe.


What? No, it's nothing like that. Geez, that's reading a lot between the lines that wasn't there. I'm a "Workstation Class Computer" fan-boy to some extent. Dell has pretty good prices and good service but that's the extent of that. And there's no place you can point to where you'll find me saying one way is better than another for everybody. Some ways are cheaper or easier than others depending on the individual's talents and/or the purpose of the machine - but that's all. I certainly never said one way was not "thrilling" or less "thrilling" than another. Silly you... Why shouldn't he know his options and get some details about them?




penpro wrote:
My 2 cents, from some one in the 3D animation industry where we eat computers up real fast. I never buy the top of the line systems and instead go for what is a few versions old with the best price point. I don't bother to upgrade the system other then maybe a video card and just purchase new ones ever few years. I pull hard drives if they are still large and working well and put those in either the new machine, an external case for back up or use in a raid.

Updating computer with parts can just lead to having other parts that are not as fast or about to die on you and need updating as well.


This is interesting to me because I also have developed my opinions from my career as a CG artist. Maya, XSi, LW3D, PS, Fusion, etc. both used really hard 24/7 and taught at University level for 8 years. The majority of my colleagues in the CG industry hold similar opinions to my own as well. The exception of course are the freelancers who almost without exception roll their own high-spec desktop grade systems. So it's somewhat interesting to me when I come across someone with similar experiences and background who arrived at a completely opposite conclusion. And even radically different than the majority of freelancers I know. Pretty typical: http://www.facebook.com/DaveJerrard works primarily at home on a 12 core 64gig RAM dual video card, DIY box next to his wife who built it for him, and has the same. If the freelancers are any good they get paying work and that means they create nice systems for themselves. Time is money in the CG industry and no one wants their computers costing rather than saving them money. The difference between rendering previews at 1min. per frame vs. 15sec. per frame is the difference between having to wait 1 hour vs. 15min - for a super short 60-frame preview. For a 240-frame preview that's 4hrs vs. 1hr. Simple logic shows that in such cases even a machine costing ten times more is well worth it if you can bare the initial cost. And if you can't, get a job.

I guess the OP isn't doing hard core CG though so the balances and trade-offs are a lot different for him. But you could sued for reckless endangerment with such opinions as yours in the CG industry.




sjms wrote:
it's an opinion. and pretty much wrong in mine.


Sure, NP. We can have opposing opinions and still be forum buddies. Right?





sjms
Registered: Mar 21, 2003
Total Posts: 18115
Country: United States

absolutely



DTOB
Registered: Oct 07, 2010
Total Posts: 1359
Country: Canada

Bifurcator wrote:

What? No, it's nothing like that. Geez, that's reading a lot between the lines that wasn't there. I'm a "Workstation Class Computer" fan-boy to some extent. Dell has pretty good prices and good service but that's the extent of that. And there's no place you can point to where you'll find me saying one way is better than another for everybody. Some ways are cheaper or easier than others depending on the individual's talents and/or the purpose of the machine - but that's all. I certainly never said one way was not "thrilling" or less "thrilling" than another. Silly you... Why shouldn't he know his options and get some details about them?




I might see your logic in workstations before the days of dual/quad/octo core cpu's. There once was a time when getting a duallie opteron rig would have serious benefits for us lowly photo-editors. I can't see how it would make sense in this day and age. And I know people with current 4-cpu xeon systems. They run benchmarks. That's their game. Been there, done that, no time to compete these days. If this was a CG forum, I might be inclined to agree with you (although, I would still not pay Dell to build me a workstation).

To me, even if one is not well versed in building/maintaining their own computer, the incentives to learn are too great to ignore.

Try speccing out a Dell with the configuration he listed...if they even offer it! And then try OC'ing that Dell. Good luck!

My 970 has been running at 4.2ghz since the day I got it, over 2 years ago now. I'm not sure there is a Dell on offer less than $3k that can touch it. But it isn't really about all that...it's about getting the job done, and even my lowly dual core laptop with 4gb of ram does lightroom and PS good enough for most people.



Bifurcator
Registered: Oct 22, 2008
Total Posts: 9247
Country: Japan

Bifurcator wrote:

What? No, it's nothing like that. Geez, that's reading a lot between the lines that wasn't there. I'm a "Workstation Class Computer" fan-boy to some extent. Dell has pretty good prices and good service but that's the extent of that. And there's no place you can point to where you'll find me saying one way is better than another for everybody. Some ways are cheaper or easier than others depending on the individual's talents and/or the purpose of the machine - but that's all. I certainly never said one way was not "thrilling" or less "thrilling" than another. Silly you... Why shouldn't he know his options and get some details about them?


DTOB wrote:
I might see your logic in workstations before the days of dual/quad/octo core cpu's. There once was a time when getting a duallie opteron rig would have serious benefits for us lowly photo-editors. I can't see how it would make sense in this day and age


Well, there's a few reasons they might make sense (most of which I think I already covered but I'll try again if you'd like (and please keep in mind that I'm making these statements for the purpose of informing - not selling. The system he should get is the system he wants after weighing the options - simple as that - I have no preference whatsoever as to what kind of machine he selects.)):


  1. The 6-core or 8-core (or dual 6 core and dual 8-core) models are faster at any of the plugs and apps that support threading as well as system wide when running multiple apps. Most cameras do video now too and video editing is a CPU intensive affair as you know.

  2. Xeons run significantly cooler and/or need less cooling. This allows for passive instead of active cooling to be used. (in fact if you didn't need to cool the drives, RAM and video card you could turn all the fans completely off and run it 24/7 all cores at 100% without it overheating in a room that was about 20˚C) This means a SIGNIFICANTLY quieter system and a MUCH cleaner system internally too! This means that other components won't heat up as much and I guess the DVD writer will last longer as well. This "quietness" can also be critical if he's going to watch movies HT style with his system as well - high quality music listening too. Xeon systems typically run so quiet that you actually can not tell if the system is turned on or not - just from listening alone.

  3. System longevity has always been two to three times that of a desktop grade system with a similarly speced CPU. Why? Well, the L2 cache for both data and instruction as well as the L3 caches is bigger for one. I dunno about current models without looking it up but in the not so distant past Xeon caches have been about double the size. The current X7560 that I'm kinda toying with the idea of building a system around for example, has a 24MB L3 cache and some other current Xeons go up to 30MB. This makes everything run smoother and faster as seen in real world benchmarks. There are other reasons having to do with the chips architecture too but I forget the details just now. In three or four years from now these things will keep apps which would normally cough and sputter with what the Core proc gives them, happier. (hehe happier apps! I hope you know what I mean tho...). Also since typically the entire system is spec-up then it just lives longer (in such a happy state) compared to a Core system purchased at the same time. Of course if someone knows how to trick-out a home-build there likely won't be a relative "spec-up" and the later part of #4 here won't apply as much or maybe at all.

  4. Only Xeon/Opteron systems allows for a second processor (or multiple processors) to be added. So when his 6-core (or 4-core) is showing it's age in 3 years time all he has to do is drop in another proc and boom! Double the speed - and he's good for another three years. By the time he needs that second proc they'll be dirt cheap too!

  5. Only Xeon/Opteron systems support ECC. This reduces the number of system crashes one experiences and in some areas of the world this can be a rather significant difference. Solar and astrological events also play a roll in causing these system crashes. ECC will save you whereas you have no such security blanket on a Core system. Of course if you don't mind the occasional system crash or live in an area with extremely low background radiation then ECC isn't really important. In a well groomed and kept system I guess somewhere around 25% of the system crashes one experiences in a year could be avoided by using ECC over non ECC components.

  6. Motherboards manufactured for Workstation class computing typically use higher grade components and undergo more rigorous quality controls. This would imply that all components system-wide are less likely to fail. It additionally means that manufacturers can offer longer warrantee periods as indeed many do.

  7. Probably something I'm forgetting.



And I know people with current 4-cpu xeon systems. They run benchmarks. That's their game. Been there, done that, no time to compete these days.

Eh, whatever. I don't care what people do with their systems. If they wanna run benchmarks instead of watching porn or talking about camera equipment that's fine - I don't care. I guess everyone runs benchmark tests after getting a new system or adding new components and then just forgets about it. That's me anyway. Most (not all but most) benchmark code is too specific to have much real-world meaning anyway.




If this was a CG forum, I might be inclined to agree with you (although, I would still not pay Dell to build me a workstation).

Yeah, CG or video... Oh, whoops, video! Most cameras these days do 1080P right? But also many of the image processing apps like LR, PS, C1 now scale (across multiple cores) very well so every added core will be a significant speed increase and overall time savings. HT (HyperThreading) on the other hand does almost nothing to speed those apps up. Typically only around 2 or 3 percent can be realized. HT is good for when many different apps are running individually which can't otherwise multi-thread AND which don't tax the CPU too much in the first place.




To me, even if one is not well versed in building/maintaining their own computer, the incentives to learn are too great to ignore.

Yup, I can understand that. Still, it's not for everyone. I used to think I liked it. I realized some time ago that I really don't and (for me) it's just a waste of time and energy not to mention I'm the one who gets left with the task of after-sales support. UG! If I calculate just the time I need to spec and build a single system by the hourly rate I charge others for Teaching or creating commercial art the resulting system costs for that machine sky-rockets to unbelievable heights! At the same time however some (many?) prebuilt "desktop" grade systems totally stink and the makers offer far far too few choices.




Try speccing out a Dell with the configuration he listed...if they even offer it! And then try OC'ing that Dell. Good luck!

Yeah, Dell is one like I just mentioned above. Too few options for their desktop grade systems. Still I came incredibly close to his specs there for $1399. The PSU was down in spec and that was only 16GB RAM tho. But Dell "desktop" grade systems aren't for me. I haven't seen the new ones but the ones I did focus on over the last 8 to 10 years were pretty crappy with really crappy option selections. So I wouldn't go recommending a Dell system based on Core branded procs to anyone I liked.

-- just saying...







sjms wrote:
absolutely

Awesome!


15Bit
Registered: Jan 27, 2008
Total Posts: 3585
Country: Norway

Hmm, things are hotting up here i see.

Bifurcator, I actually have one of those P4 Dual Xeon Precision Workstations under my office desk - it runs as the backup server for my labs. And it is a nicely built, well thought out and reliable piece of kit. Its not quiet though, especially when both CPU's spin up.

I have a feeling people are arguing over slightly different applications here, but aren't noticing. There is a place for a multi-socket workstation - for applications which need large amounts of CPU and where you have software that scales decently with core count. That would include rendering software, high end video editing suites and maybe one or two photoshop filters. We have a couple of dual socket Dell workstations at work for doing computational chemistry calculations. That is where you buy the Xeon's - high uptime, high core count machines for applications that need those. The limitations of the Xeons are the clockspeed. Even the fastest 8 core chip will only turbo to 3.1Ghz. That is why they run cooler, and part of the reason why they are more reliable.

For applications which don't scale well with core count (which includes LR, and in the main, photoshop too i think), then clockspeed is what you want. And in this regard a quad core overclocked to run at 4.2-4.4Ghz will leave the Xeons for dead, no matter how many cores you can throw in there.

With respect to the other "workstation" class features, things have changed in recent times. You can buy extremely nice cases for home builds now, as well designed as the workstation cases that Dell offer. My Seasonic PSU came with a 5 year warranty, so i have little doubt about its reliability, and it is spec'd so i can expand my system later (which the Dell's aren't). My last build had a full Intel branded motherboard with overclocking features, and that had a 5 year warranty also: You can get quality components if you want them. You won't get ECC memory support on a desktop motherboard and you'll be limited to 32Gb, but thats not a catastrophe for most of us.

The one place that pre-built workstations do win out is cooling. Things are getting better in the consumer space - my currently Asus motherboard has automatic fan control for 5 fans i think, and includes the ability to completely turn off fans when not needed. This is one of the reasons i bought the motherboard, as this kind of control is something that i think should have been available for desktop boards year ago. Good as it is though, it is not as good as proper workstation cooling control for the simple reason that it needs to be fairly generic in order to support a range of fans and cases, whereas a Dell or HP workstation can have a properly optimised internal airflow design and fan control setup.

I would have to say that my last PC lasted me 5 years, with some upgrades along the way (most notably CPU and SSD). I expect my current i5 to last me at least 3 years and hopefully 4 or 5.

Perhaps an interesting compromise for those wanting both cores and clockspeed is an overclocked 6 core system. There is an interesting read about that here - http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/core-i7-3970x-sandy-bridge-e-benchmark,3348.html. Much of the discussion also applies to the 4 core vs Xeon argument too.



justruss
Registered: Jul 05, 2004
Total Posts: 4186
Country: United States

15Bit wrote:
Hmm, things are hotting up here i see.

Bifurcator, I actually have one of those P4 Dual Xeon Precision Workstations under my office desk - it runs as the backup server for my labs. And it is a nicely built, well thought out and reliable piece of kit. Its not quiet though, especially when both CPU's spin up.

I have a feeling people are arguing over slightly different applications here, but aren't noticing. There is a place for a multi-socket workstation - for applications which need large amounts of CPU and where you have software that scales decently with core count. That would include rendering software, high end video editing suites and maybe one or two photoshop filters. We have a couple of dual socket Dell workstations at work for doing computational chemistry calculations. That is where you buy the Xeon's - high uptime, high core count machines for applications that need those. The limitations of the Xeons are the clockspeed. Even the fastest 8 core chip will only turbo to 3.1Ghz. That is why they run cooler, and part of the reason why they are more reliable.

For applications which don't scale well with core count (which includes LR, and in the main, photoshop too i think), then clockspeed is what you want. And in this regard a quad core overclocked to run at 4.2-4.4Ghz will leave the Xeons for dead, no matter how many cores you can throw in there.

With respect to the other "workstation" class features, things have changed in recent times. You can buy extremely nice cases for home builds now, as well designed as the workstation cases that Dell offer. My Seasonic PSU came with a 5 year warranty, so i have little doubt about its reliability, and it is spec'd so i can expand my system later (which the Dell's aren't). My last build had a full Intel branded motherboard with overclocking features, and that had a 5 year warranty also: You can get quality components if you want them. You won't get ECC memory support on a desktop motherboard and you'll be limited to 32Gb, but thats not a catastrophe for most of us.

The one place that pre-built workstations do win out is cooling. Things are getting better in the consumer space - my currently Asus motherboard has automatic fan control for 5 fans i think, and includes the ability to completely turn off fans when not needed. This is one of the reasons i bought the motherboard, as this kind of control is something that i think should have been available for desktop boards year ago. Good as it is though, it is not as good as proper workstation cooling control for the simple reason that it needs to be fairly generic in order to support a range of fans and cases, whereas a Dell or HP workstation can have a properly optimised internal airflow design and fan control setup.

I would have to say that my last PC lasted me 5 years, with some upgrades along the way (most notably CPU and SSD). I expect my current i5 to last me at least 3 years and hopefully 4 or 5.

Perhaps an interesting compromise for those wanting both cores and clockspeed is an overclocked 6 core system. There is an interesting read about that here - http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/core-i7-3970x-sandy-bridge-e-benchmark,3348.html. Much of the discussion also applies to the 4 core vs Xeon argument too.


I'm in total agreement here.

I think you're a few years back, Bifurcator, on this issue for this specific space (we're not talking about a render farm, folding, benching)-- we're talking about mid/upper enthusiast class, meaning 4/8 core/logical cores, doing 2d editing w/ a bit of 1080p video editing (which the 4/8 chips handle just fine), good but not high end GPU. This is the realm where 4 cores overclocked with cheap air cooling (Hyper 212+)/all-in-one hydro (H80 for instance) is a killer combination from a cost and performance standpoint.

Building your own system in this realm is super simple, and definitely significantly cheaper, particularly if you keep an eye out on Newegg/Amazon (live near a Microcenter... bonus!). With even a tiny bit of knowledge, it's easier to support too. Buy components, spend a little time checking reviews/manufacturer specs for compatibility, snap pieces into place. Getting it to run OS X is even only a medium difficulty task with resources like Multibeast (retail installation/no piracy involved), but involves plenty of tinkering if you want it to run operationally smooth on a production machine.

Very few amateurs/enthusiasts are going to build a multi-socket (or even single socket), Xeon/Opteron-based, PASSIVELY cooled system. Even if they go that route, it's going to be actively cooled these days-- and it's NOT going to be quiet. ECC memory is more expensive, as are component costs (Mobo/CPU), for diminishing returns for single-system builds for most people.

In addition, take a look at a generation or three back Xeon/Opteron/-E (Enthusiast desktop chips that are essentially re-branded Xeons) CPU prices. They are not dirt cheap.



justruss
Registered: Jul 05, 2004
Total Posts: 4186
Country: United States

Hell, for most tasks the (4/8) 2600K or 3770K is on par with the older (6/12) i7-970.

If you have an i7-950 (few gens back) running at around 4.0 Ghz-- like I have-- it's going to make the most sense to wait a few generations, say 3-5 years, and then pick up a similar class chip/mobo rather than spending the same amount to drop in a 6/12 chip from the same i7=9xx generation.

Xeons tend to run triple ($1K) the cost for identical performance.



DTOB
Registered: Oct 07, 2010
Total Posts: 1359
Country: Canada

Yep, my i7-970 @ 4.2ghz is more than a match for pretty much any stock machine on the planet with respect to what we do. LR, standard photoshop stuff, the odd game, web browsing, and even (imagine this!) heavy photo editing are all a breeze.

I've had it running this way 24/7, 365 days a year, 2 years and counting, and all without ECC and no blue screens! I know, amazing!

My e6300 rig @ 3.7ghz (1.86ghz stock mind you) lasted me a good five years, and is now purring along quietly at my mother in laws at a measly 3.4ghz. I expect my current machine to easily live a longer useful life.


Bifurcator wrote:
System longevity has always been two to three times that of a desktop grade system with a similarly speced CPU.... The current X7560 that I'm kinda toying with the idea of building a system around for example, has a 24MB L3 cache...


Bif, I'm not big on multi quote, picking apart posts bit by bit, so I'll just comment on this snippet.

You have to be joking, talking about building a (presumably dualie) X7560 rig. Not sure what that has to do with anything on this planet (this planet being FM, inhabited by photographers, who edit photos, and admittedly, perhaps, the odd home movie).

You are talking about a $3,920.99 CPU....ON SALE!!! Better act quickly, otherwise you might miss out, and have to pay its full retail price of 4019.99! But you'll need 2 of them (at least!), so that's over $8k on CPUs alone, and you haven't even looked at a $1000+ MB or $500+ PSU yet, not to mention the ECC memory you think so highly of.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115063

Also, take note, that despite its 24mb of cache, its clockspeed is only 2.266GHz, and it will turbo allllllllll the way up to (try and contain yourself here) 2.666GHz!!!

http://ark.intel.com/products/46499/Intel-Xeon-Processor-X7560-24M-Cache-2_26-GHz-6_40-GTs-Intel-QPI

Sorry, but my 6 core, 2 year old i7-970 with 12mb of cache running at 4.2ghz (conservative clock...will do 4.6ghz) will run circles around that cpu for all but the most specialized of tasks (and please do take note, that at stock speeds, both the x7560 and my i7-970 both have a max TDP of 130w....so there goes your plans on running without a fan).

http://ark.intel.com/products/47933/Intel-Core-i7-970-Processor-12M-Cache-3_20-GHz-4_80-GTs-Intel-QPI

Just as my e6300 at 3.7ghz, with its 2mb of cache would routinely smash all of its bigger brother C2D's, including the e6700 with its then massive 4mb cache. Only when clocking the e6700 to 3.4-3.5ghz would it begin to catch me.

I hope you don't take offense at my rebuttal, but you sir, are offering advice that smacks of uninformed elitism that has no real bearing to the OPs original query or the realities of modern computing.

Dylan



Bifurcator
Registered: Oct 22, 2008
Total Posts: 9247
Country: Japan

Thanks for the links... Yeah, I hadn't looked at pricing yet. Hehehehe...



swoop
Registered: Feb 11, 2005
Total Posts: 1320
Country: United States

Not essentially for the OP but basically for anyone that's reading. Back in the day most photographers also understood basic chemistry. Because photography was both an art and a science. Nothing has really changed except that instead of chemistry you really need to have a basic understanding of IT and computers.

And while everyone may not be in the mood to build their own computer, in the end it's a lot more economical to build a PC yourself than buy a readymade box. Parts that will last will be the case, and the power supply. I've had the same case for 10 years now (about 8 different systems). And the same power supply for 3 (two different systems).

RAM should last you at least 2 systems if you upgrade every 3-4 years. While RAM speeds may increase, the standards usually don't. And even running slower RAM won't limit you too much in your next build.

Parts you'll upgrade regularly are the Motherboard, CPU, video card and hard drives. These you'll often want to change together.

Buy a motherboard based on features. Number of ports, PCI slots, RAID support, maximum RAM, etc.

Buy a CPU based on speed. These days cores and cache sizes are the selling points, not pure MHz. Don't put a lot of weight on overclocking. It's not a given. And overclocking usually means you'll be running more power which means the electric cost goes up, increased heat, which means you'll need a better/louder heatsink so noise goes up. It's a trade off for a marginal gain in speed.

Video Cards are about the perfect example of getting what you pay for. Anything in the $100 range should be just fine and last you quite a while. These days both Windows and Photoshop actually makes use of your graphics card so it's a wise investment. but don't go crazy. A $400 card won't perform any faster or do you any good unless you're playing games.

Hard drive choices should be based on need. You have SSD's which are great for the OS to run on. You can use traditional magnetic drives for storage. You can either keep backup drives internal if you have the space and power supply, or run external or even network solutions for backup.







justruss
Registered: Jul 05, 2004
Total Posts: 4186
Country: United States

swoop wrote:
And overclocking usually means you'll be running more power which means the electric cost goes up, increased heat, which means you'll need a better/louder heatsink so noise goes up. It's a trade off for a marginal gain in speed.


Actually, simple overclocking can have a dramatic increase in processing power for minimal costs both in terms of extra hardware and electricity cost.

A hypothetical 4-core (8 logical cores) system at ~3 Ghz stock can be over clocked by 20-33% with little to no voltage increase. In many cases that's like the speed increase of having 1 to 2 more cores at the stock clock speeds. Think of it as a free upgrade that keeps your system current for an extra generation.

And it's why for most-- but not all, obviously-- tasks, such a system (running OS X) will outperform the majority of 6 and 8 core Mac Pros in both benchmarks and real-world use.

A system drawing an extra 20 Watts-- IF drawing at full for 8 hrs a day without downtime or the CPU stepping down to lower power at all-- is going to cost you like $4.50 per year in extra electricity costs.

For such a basic, non-taxing overclock, you probably need about 30 minutes at most. More like 30 seconds to bump up one or two multipliers-- more time if you want to push the limits and actually fully test out stability.

And a cheap heatsink like the 212+ will run you $29 at full retail on any given day-- or as low as $14 if you buy it on sale, which happens almost every month of the year. It takes 5 minutes to install. This will almost assuredly run your overclocked system at both lower temperatures than stock system with stock heatsink and at lower fan sound.

Everything I've said is untrue once you want to push the limit of your overclock to the last possible squeezing out of full-power performance. It's a classic example of dramatically diminishing returns on exponential costs. That first 80% of the overclock is virtually free (time, money, effort) and stupidly easy. The next 18% takes considerable effort to nail down. The last 2% is only for those who literally enjoy the process of getting there more than the result itself.

In summary, an easy/turnkey overclock:

1. Gets you 20 to 30% performance increase (think 4 x 3.0 = 12.0 < 4 x 4.0 = 16.0)
2. Takes you an extra 30 minutes to setup initially (including hardware install)
3. Extra hardware runs you $15 to $30
4. Runs your system at cooler temps
5. Runs your system MORE quietly for the most part
6. Costs virtually nothing more regarding yearly electricity bill

If you're going to build your own system, you have the skills to do a basic overclock-- and doing so is like getting a massive upgrade-- since 20 to 30% is comparable to the largest jumps one can ever expect from the next-gen version of whatever chip you currently have (and usually a generation equates more closely to 10 to 15% improvement in normal cycles).



sjms
Registered: Mar 21, 2003
Total Posts: 18115
Country: United States

the basic issue here is building a stable running computer that will perform well using photoshop CS6. nothing more nothing less. if done properly 95% of this "conversation" is irrelevant and meant for an "enthusiast". if you want to eek out percentages most MB makers today supply simply programs that "take it up a notch or two w/o any real effort on the users part with reasonable stability.



Bifurcator
Registered: Oct 22, 2008
Total Posts: 9247
Country: Japan

I don't think it's at all irrelevant.

I thought this was one of the better discussions on FM about buying computers! I'd like to continue a little with the Workstation thing tho.

Let the truth be known, PS CS6 even more than PS CS5.5 scales really well across multiple processors. People saying it doesn't are probably still using CS4 or maybe early CS5. I rather dislike LR so I dunno exactly but the versions I have tried scaled fairly well and Adobe has said they are making extra efforts to improve MP scaling in LR and PS. The CS video editing apps especially, just scream the more physical procs ya give them. And I wipe the floor with home built overclocked boxes when it comes to apps like Handbreak. One of my 5-year-old Xeon machines at 2.66 x 8 still keeps up or overtakes the OC Gammer boxes of 2012 for video processing and is right there at shoulder height from image editing too. Virtual (logical extra) procs as I explained earlier do almost noting for typical single app performance. So it's quite easy to calculate directly:

3.8 x 12cores = 45.6
3.6 x 12cores = 43.2
3.4 x 12cores = 40.8
3.0 x 12cores = 36.0
2.6 x 12cores = 31.2

3.8 x 8 cores = 30.4
3.6 x 8 cores = 28.8
3.2 x 8 cores = 25.6
3.0 x 8 cores = 24.0
2.6 x 8 cores = 20.8 (shown in the screen-shot below - actually 2.67 x 8 so the potential is 21.36GHz)

3.8 x 6 cores = 22.8
3.6 x 6 cores = 21.6
3.2 x 6 cores = 19.2
3.0 x 6 cores = 18.0

4.0 x 4 cores = 16.0
3.6 x 4 cores = 14.4
3.2 x 4 cores = 12.8
3.0 x 4 cores = 12.0

And yes, I do see the full potential of all 8 (PHYSICAL) cores in PS CS6 about 80% of the time when PS is actually processing something. Even just opening a RAW file uses all processors. Just like an Corei7 does. And I'm constantly checking the CPU graph too so I know of what I speak.




Just finishing opening twelve 28mpx images - notice the CPU temperature and fan-speed besides of course the CPU usage.


And if you just HAVE TO overclock your system there are ways to overclock some Xeon setups:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/xeon-e5620-overclocking-westmere-ep,2767.html
And I've seen setups that mask socket connections in order to do similar things on yet other systems.
They don't typically interest me tho as I don't need to overclock in order to go fast. Most of the apps I use for photography, video, and animation scale just fine and as the numbers above show, that's plenty good enough for me.

Just because there was one CPU named here which was ridiculously priced doesn't mean they all are - as indeed the Dell system prices show.

IMO what we have here are some guys who love to tinker with their hardware advocating the most tinkerable systems. What was it Swoop said: "...for 10 years now (about 8 different systems)..." whereas someone like me doesn't touch anything for 5 or 6 years or longer. I still think all 4 ways have good merit!

1 Build your own PC
2 Buy a prebuilt PC
3 Build your own WS
4 Buy a prebuilt WS

And each will appeal to different individuals differently. In my particular case the appeal is in the reverse order of the list above there (4, 3, 2, 1) mainly because of the simple math shown in the MC potential horse power calculations above and the support packages which are available. I have both here (DIY PCs, and Prebuilt WSs) and there's no question in my mind which I prefer. Others here have other preferences - of course - but a WS system still remains IMO anyway, a viable solution to consider for any photographer thinking about getting a new system.




---------- EDIT ----------
I reinstalled LR and updated it to v4.3 and it scales excellently! I created a catalog with 6,000+ RAW files from the GH2 and applied various modification, ran a few plug-ins, and just generally had another look around under the hood so-to-speak. This is very typical of what it looked like when it was doing something computationally demanding:





Other times the graphs were just many little peaks of between 20% and 90% depending - but I didn't see almost any operations where only a single core or two peaked without the others. So that's an excellent indication that LR is very capable of best utilizing MP/MC systems! And also again even after an hour of hard use trying to push the application the CPU temperatures never went much over 30˚C and the system remained virtually silent.




sjms
Registered: Mar 21, 2003
Total Posts: 18115
Country: United States

yep I run out and shoot 6000 raw images and then batch process them a few times a week. I'm sorry I forgot about that.



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