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Thread: Building a Photoshop machine for editing BIG files

  1. #1
    Daniel Stone's Avatar
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    Building a Photoshop machine for editing BIG files

    hey all,

    Well, I've come to a wall. I haven't been into PC-tech since 4 years ago when I bought my MBP, and its been able to handle some occasional Imacon 200mb-300mb files when I have them. Now that I have a drum scanner, this thing spits out 500mb files(and much larger) like nobody's business! Soooooo.... I'm looking to build a new machine.

    Starting files will range from 500mb-2.5GB 16bit file size(starting, no layers). So I need a beefy machine with a good amount of "oomph" to move these files with speed and ease. Opening files, rendering/rotating, etc.. I need some speed. Budget is $1500 MAX. These are drum scans, so not your average Epson scan, big files. I'm thinking a nice fast 64gb SSD as a scratch disk, 24-32gb of ram, a 4-8core processor(Intel preferred), and lastly, my CRT diamondtron will be doing the display work.

    FYI, I don't know sh!+ about PC components these days, so I'm looking for some recommendations. My buddy just put 32gb of RAM into his PC, and that thing FLYS with big files(he uses a P65+ digital back, he's a tech, but shoots his own stuff too).

    Thanks

    Dan

  2. #2
    norly's Avatar
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    Re: Building a Photoshop machine for editing BIG files

    I would stick with mac. In my opinion as a former PC user they are generally faster to work on, but thats subject to a lot of discussion.

    Its a new mac pro on the way according to internet rumors so buy that. Throw in a 256 gb sata 6 SSD h-disk. And 10 gb ram and you will be fine. ( I bought my upgrades separately from another supplier to keep the costs down )

    Ive got 2 raid barracuda 7200 rpm disks in my mac pro 2.8 but my small mbp ssd beets the crap out of them when loading and saving files (I think thats the most time consuming part when working 500mb+ files). So I recommend a ssd no matter what..

    good luck
    -----------------
    4x5 and 6x6 stuff

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    Re: Building a Photoshop machine for editing BIG files

    He said he's got $1500 max to spend. You can't touch those specs on a mac for that. Hat said, I won't get within 10 feet of a pc. About to get a new mac myself.

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    Re: Building a Photoshop machine for editing BIG files

    If you use win7-64, be warned that the file explorer has a bug in it.
    Just pointing to a large .tiff file, >1.somethingGB, I haven't found the limit, will cause the file explorer to consume 100% memory.
    This is found also from many users if you search with Google.
    I have gotten around this by using Q-Dir, or Bridge, and/or saving large PS-CS5 as .psb

  5. #5
    Daniel Stone's Avatar
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    Re: Building a Photoshop machine for editing BIG files

    Quote Originally Posted by buggz View Post
    If you use win7-64, be warned that the file explorer has a bug in it.
    ...
    my scanner comp needs a 32bit OS, so that's whats installed. I'd imagine that for my editing machine 64bit would be best for future-proofing software-wise when it allows for 64bit expansion. If it isn't already available currently(IDK if it is)

    -Dan

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    Joanna Carter's Avatar
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    Re: Building a Photoshop machine for editing BIG files

    Quote Originally Posted by DanielStone View Post
    my scanner comp needs a 32bit OS, so that's whats installed. I'd imagine that for my editing machine 64bit would be best for future-proofing software-wise when it allows for 64bit expansion. If it isn't already available currently(IDK if it is)
    Unlike Windows, OS X supports both 32bit and 64bit drivers and programs at the same time.

    I switched to MAcs about 4 years ago and would never switch back to Windows.
    Joanna Carter
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    UKLFPG

  7. #7

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    Re: Building a Photoshop machine for editing BIG files

    Quote Originally Posted by DanielStone View Post
    hey all,

    Well, I've come to a wall. I haven't been into PC-tech since 4 years ago when I bought my MBP, and its been able to handle some occasional Imacon 200mb-300mb files when I have them. Now that I have a drum scanner, this thing spits out 500mb files(and much larger) like nobody's business! Soooooo.... I'm looking to build a new machine.

    Starting files will range from 500mb-2.5GB 16bit file size(starting, no layers). So I need a beefy machine with a good amount of "oomph" to move these files with speed and ease. Opening files, rendering/rotating, etc.. I need some speed. Budget is $1500 MAX. These are drum scans, so not your average Epson scan, big files. I'm thinking a nice fast 64gb SSD as a scratch disk, 24-32gb of ram, a 4-8core processor(Intel preferred), and lastly, my CRT diamondtron will be doing the display work.

    FYI, I don't know sh!+ about PC components these days, so I'm looking for some recommendations. My buddy just put 32gb of RAM into his PC, and that thing FLYS with big files(he uses a P65+ digital back, he's a tech, but shoots his own stuff too).

    Thanks

    Dan
    Dan, given your budget limitations I'd buy a used or refurbished MacPro, a 2010 model (a MacPro 5.1 model) or later. I'd start off with one HD, although that I would buy NEW, (I'd never trust a used HD) and get as much OWC ram as your budget allows. Eventually I'd add a second HD and more RAM. The need for the MacPro to be a model 5.1 is that it runs 64 bit, and means that Photoshop can address more than 2 gigs of RAM. The earlier MacPros are NOT 64 bit and limit PS to 2 gigs of RAM.

  8. #8

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    Re: Building a Photoshop machine for editing BIG files

    I run both PC's and Macs so I'm technically agnostic. That said, for the money you'll get more on a PC.

    But whichever one you get, the bottleneck is more likely to be the I/O - I edit audio and video and multi-GB files are sort of standard. I use striped RAID for working files and was actually thinking of striping a couple of SSD's. I'm still in investigate mode - not yet sure that SSD's will be much faster that hard drives.

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    Re: Building a Photoshop machine for editing BIG files

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Andrada View Post
    I run both PC's and Macs so I'm technically agnostic. That said, for the money you'll get more on a PC.

    But whichever one you get, the bottleneck is more likely to be the I/O - I edit audio and video and multi-GB files are sort of standard. I use striped RAID for working files and was actually thinking of striping a couple of SSD's. I'm still in investigate mode - not yet sure that SSD's will be much faster that hard drives.
    Jim, PS is very different than audio and video. In video you are working with files that are sort of endless. They just keep loading new frames and new sounds, so a RAID or other high speed drive is critical for you. But in the case of PS, once it loads from the HD into RAM, if you have enough RAM you don't go back to the HD.

    I have 32 gig of RAM, PS is assigned 21 gig. I work on a 2 gig file and add 6 layers and I end up, according to the scratch size indicator using 10 of the 21 gigs of PS RAM. So even on a 2 gig file layered up to 10 gigs I am no where close to having to use the HD as a scratch disk. ALL you need is PS running in 64 bit and enough RAM. The only I/o bottle neck is opening and saving the file, but you don't do that too often.

  10. #10
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    Re: Building a Photoshop machine for editing BIG files

    In my experience on the cheap end of the market, the first best thing you can do for handling big files in Photoshop is to buy more RAM. I forget the rule of thumb, but it's something like RAM should be ten time your largest file. To get value out of that, the machine and operating system must be 64-bit, of course.

    Thus, I'd get a computer with a motherboard that can handle lots of memory, and lots of fast memory. My cheapie (much less cost than your budget) takes 16GB of RAM, and that will handle 500MB-1G files without breathing hard. For your purposes, consider a machine that can take 32GB at least, at full speed (my computer slows down the memory IO when all four slots are used, but it's still worth it with Photoshop).

    The next thing is a hard disk. Photoshop uses a scratch file on hard disk, but the more RAM you have the less it has to swap out to that scratch file. But a bigger hard disk is not a faster hard disk (until you run out). A faster disk is better, but a separate disk is better still.

    USB3 is nice. I bought a USB3 card and an external USB3 memory card reader. I can upload a 16G memory-card load from my Canon in about one-tenth the time it used to take.

    Solid-state "disks" are expensive, and I would only consider it if you have budget after maxing out RAM.

    If you do stuff over a network, then I think it might be better to spend a bit less on the computer and make sure your network is optimal. Optimal means at least gigabit Ethernet, with a decent switch. If you store your files on network-attached storage, the consumer-level devices work but they are slow. This is a big bottleneck for me right now, and I wish I'd budgeted some for a better NAS. I back up daily to my NAS, with incremental backups every day and a full backup every month. The incremental backups are fast enough, but the full backup can take literally all day. This is not because of the network or the hard disks--it's constrained by the processing speed and OS on the NAS itself. The NAS uses RAID 1 to mirror the same data on two drives for redundancy. You can get that in your computer, but my experience is that slows things down a bit. (I use network storage because that system backs up several computers.)

    I agree that with a PC you get more for your money, in return for having to know more and sometimes work harder getting things set up. The difference in price is not insignificant--a used Mac able to do the things I suggest will still cost more than a new PC that can do those things. I would only consider a Mac if the user interface of the MacOS is something important to you.

    Rick "for whom a faster NAS is next on the list" Denney

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