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Thread: Building a computer for photoshop, need some advice please...

  1. #1
    Daniel Stone's Avatar
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    Building a computer for photoshop, need some advice please...

    Hey guys,

    I'd love to say I can buy a top-tier Mac Pro, but alas, the funding got in the way !

    So, I want to go the "back door" route, and build a "hackintosh". Does anyone have any experience w/ building one?

    This machine will be used predominately for PHOTOSHOP(CS5 once I've got enough pennies saved). Editing large film scans(some starting at 1.5-2gb and up). I'd like to keep budget UNDER $1k(not including monitor), and have as "future proof" of a system as possible. I don't know Asus from MSI boards, PCI-Express from VGA(which I think is dead, right?). I DO know that SSD drives are leaps and bounds faster than SATA, and a crapload faster than IDE drives...

    So, what does Photoshop NEED in order to run as smoothly as possible, w/o hardware compatibility issues with OSX? I'll probably have this machine OFFLINE 90% of the time, since I use my laptop for that...

    I prefer Intel chips, but if AMD is better(or a little cheaper for the same tech specs), I'm open to new things .

    thanks

    -Dan

  2. #2

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    Re: Building a computer for photoshop, need some advice please...

    I don't know Asus from MSI boards, PCI-Express from VGA...
    If you don't have experience building your own computers, building a "hackintosh" is likely to turn into an expensive headache.

    Some people (hello, Preston) are using custom systems built by Puget Systems and are very happy with them. I've never dealt with Puget Systems so I'll let others relate their experiences in dealing with them. I know it's coming.
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  3. #3
    Joanna Carter's Avatar
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    Re: Building a computer for photoshop, need some advice please...

    I hate to be a party pooper but, are you aware that it is against the EULA for OS X to install it on anything other than Apple hardware? The reason is that, without the version that comes with every Mac computer, the disks you can buy are officially upgrade disks, not the full licensed version; that is why the disks seem so cheap.

    As for spending around $1000 on a "hackintosh", why on earth don't you spend the same money on a Mac Mini server for the same price? Or, better still, the non-server version for only $799. Both are well capable of doing what you intend and, what's more, you don't have to fiddle around trying to keep it running every time Apple issue OS updates that could break the hacks you have to do to get a PC running.
    Joanna Carter
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  4. #4
    Corran's Avatar
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    Re: Building a computer for photoshop, need some advice please...

    Or just buy/build a PC and don't believe everything you read online about how Mac's are "better" due to xyz that was only true 15 years ago.

    By the way, if you've never built a PC at least find someone local to walk you through the parts purchasing. It's easy to get the wrong thing and have to go through a lot of rigmarole to make it right.
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  5. #5

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    Re: Building a computer for photoshop, need some advice please...

    Agree 100% with Joanna!

    Also see Frank's ideas in the thread below, he's been around PS a few years....

    http://www.largeformatphotography.in...ad.php?t=83585

  6. #6

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    Re: Building a computer for photoshop, need some advice please...

    Contrary to popular belief, Photoshop is not a CPU hog. The internal architecture was designed in the early 1990s to run on computers 10X slower than your cellphone. It's no exaggeration to say that if your iPhone had 8GB RAM and Photoshop, you could edit 8x10 scans on it quite comfortably.

    When you edit large files in Photoshop, you have two interrelated bottlenecks: RAM and hard drive. When Photoshop runs out of RAM, it starts reading and writing image tiles to your disk. So you want a lot of RAM, and a very fast drive for when PS needs to use it.

    So a fast Photoshop machine would have tons of RAM and an extremely fast disk setup (think RAID or SSD). If you put 16GB in a Mac Mini or commodity PC, and connect it to cheap "RAID" 0 (not really RAID; be sure to backup) drive via FW800, you'll have a PS monster. Don't overbuy on the CPU!

    Half the battle is deciphering how to optimize PS for large files. Under Preferences > Performance, the "Memory Usage" section lies to you! Open up Activity Monitor (Application > Utilities) and look at how much System Memory is listed as "Free." That's the number you should let Photohop use.

    Next, make sure your high performance drives are active under Scratch Disks, and your low performance drives are UNCHECKED. When I edit big scans, I always have to remember to uncheck my laptop's internal drive in Scratch Disks and restart PS.

    Finally, History & Cache... History States setting basically controls how many levels of undo you have. The lower it is, the less RAM is needed. If you're editing a big scan, 20 levels of undo is absurd. A setting of 4-8 is enough for undoing the last few healing brush strokes or whatever.

    Cache Levels should be 8. This just makes the interface more responsive, as Photoshop doesn't have to re-read the image as often. It will be slower to open the file, but it's slow to open a scan anyway.

    Cache Tile Size should be 1024k.

    If you do the above, you'll be all set!

  7. #7
    Daniel Stone's Avatar
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    Re: Building a computer for photoshop, need some advice please...

    I was just taking with a techy friend over lunch and he mirrored a lot of what you guys have mentioned. I'm going to trust yours and his judgement and just end up building a pc box after all. Since its going to be offline most of the time I figure it'll be fine.

    I got 8gb of ram at fry's during the black friday scramble, along with a free case and power supply(both cooler master). The video card I also picked up is one of these:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16814103115

    Think it'll be enough to drive a 24" lacie lcd monitor?

    -Dan

  8. #8
    Corran's Avatar
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    Re: Building a computer for photoshop, need some advice please...

    Definitely - higher-end video cards are more for gaming in my opinion than graphic editing.

    I'd like to say that my Windows XP machine I built 4 years ago now still runs great and I can edit 200mp 4x5 scans with no problem on it. Only has 4 gigs of ram. Hard drives are Western Digital Black.
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  9. #9

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    Re: Building a computer for photoshop, need some advice please...

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Syverson View Post
    ... and connect it to cheap "RAID" 0 (not really RAID; be sure to backup) drive via FW800, ...
    I'm thinking the FW800's relatively slow <800 mpbs would negate any gain from RAID 0. Better to go with SAtA/eSATA with 6.0 gbps to maximize the data transfer rate to/from scratch disk.

  10. #10

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    Re: Building a computer for photoshop, need some advice please...

    eSATA is better, but FW800 is built-in on the Mac Mini. 100 MB/sec is still pretty good.

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