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Thread: SFF PC for Photoshop etc

  1. #1

    SFF PC for Photoshop etc

    The Acer L100 I bought just over a year ago is dying - I only realised a problem after the warranty ran out, and so I need to replace the whole thing. (memory controller/slot problem)

    I need a SFF PC to do 2D work - Using Photoshop Elements, Paintshop Pro etc plus CorelDraw for photo manipulation.
    3D graphics aren't important, it just needs to run 2D art well.
    I like the look of the Lian LI PC-V350B case, and it has two exposed 5.25" bays, so I will be able to fit a 3 x SATA HDD caddy in if I need to (RAID 5)

    I don't think the Proc needs to be superfast - the main problem with 2D work is RAM, so the more the merrier.
    I don't want to use Vista , it is completely useless. XP Pro is the way I will go, but I need some suggestions for the other hardware - Mobo (don't care whether it is Intel/AMD), CPU and Lightscribe DVD RW.
    I was also thinking of putting in a Coolermaster Green modular PSU - I know the cost is a bit OTT to start with, but I don't want anything fried by a cheap PSU.

    Budget including OS is £400 max (OEM XP Pro is around £75). No screen required at present, but any graphics card would need to have twin monitor support.

    The case I chose is Micro ATX compatible, so I don't need to chuck the thing away if something goes wrong.
    I have recently taken charge of a Shuttle XPC I built for someone a while back, which has died - it Powers up for about 20 seconds but doesn't POST, and because it is Shuttle (Propriatory) I don't want to chuck money at it without knowing the fault - so buying a new shuttle for my new build is also out of the question - too expensive if it goes wrong!

    Ideas welcome

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Well, with XP you will be limited to 4 GB of RAM and even then it won't allow you full use of it.

    Also, since you are looking at pure 2D work, you won't need a 'gaming' graphics card, but you will want a good card Most on-board graphics it useless when it comes to that kind of work. So it may be best to find a motherboard without on-board graphics (yeah a bit of a chore these days...).
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    “When men yield up the privilege of thinking, the last shadow of liberty quits the horizon.” - Thomas Paine
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  3. #3
    I was thinking of using the 64 bit edition of XP Pro.
    I know there are driver issues with some peripherals, but I'd need to check them out to see if they would affect me.

    I mainly use a minolta 2300dl network printer, and a quick look on google shows that there is a 64 bit driver available. The only other peripherals I have are external USB drives, and a scanner.

    I agree that separate Graphics card would be best - I know I can't stretch to a photo manipulation optimised one (still up in the several hundred £ bracket) but I thought a lower end one, perhaps with a half gig of RAM may help matters.

    If I can use XP 64, then I don't mind using just 4GB for now and putting a further 4GB in in the near future.

    I've been out of the IT game for a couple of years now, so my knowledge of specs and requirements isn't up to speed.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2000
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    Not sure when Rick will spot this one, but he will have some suggestions for you...
    AV, Anti-Trojan List;Browser and Email client List;Popup Killer List;Portable Apps
    “When men yield up the privilege of thinking, the last shadow of liberty quits the horizon.” - Thomas Paine
    Remember: Amateurs built the ark; professionals built the Titantic."

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    4,988
    If your willing to spend the money for a good 2D card with the best color rendition and support for Photo and video edit work
    hands down it's the Matrox

    With support for XP in 64bit as well

    I prefer and use the Matrox myself
    Parhelia APVe
    Dual display support and Great color ( Photo realistic )

    http://www.matrox.com/graphics/en/pr.../parheliaapve/

  6. #6
    Thanks for that.
    I just took a quick look around at some info on the next version of Photoshop (CS4)...........Guess what they're going to be doing? ......Utilising the GPU & Physics engines.
    I read a brief review at Gizmodo where they demonstrated a 2Gig 442 Megapixel image being thrown about like a 5Mpixel pic on a bog standard system; although they haven't said if this technology will be implemented in any particular release.

    I think I may have to forego the Matrox at the minute because of the costs and profile the monitor when I get the new system. It is rather tempting though......

  7. #7
    OK, I got the system.
    I decided to forego the 64 bit route for now - Vista is a hog, and there appears to be some issues with drivers for printers etc, and I can't afford to replace my other hardware at the minute.

    I went with a Lian Li PC-V350A case. This is beautifully made and not monstrously big, but will take a uATX board. However it is more style than substance, and I have just ordered a 2 x 5.25" to 3 x 3.5" caddy in order to put enough HDDs in.
    The internals of this case mean that even installing 2 HDDs is a problem - they provide some excellent cooling, but the fans get in the way of cabling. Still, my wife won't beat me up for having too big a case now
    I also got an Enermax Pro82 PSU, but again would have different one if I had been awake (a modular one would have been better) but it is a well specced PSU.
    4GB Corsair XS2 800 DDR2 memory
    3 x WD caviar 7200RPM 750GB Green HDDs
    2 x WD caviar 7200RPM 500GB Green HDDs
    which will provide plenty of space for my pics (PSD files are around 50MB) as well as plenty of backup space.
    Graphics are going to be handled by a Gecube X1650 ATI card with 512MB RAM - it doesn't have to run at lightspeed, so this will be fine.
    The Mobo is a Gigabyte GA-MA770-DS3 so I can also have multiple monitors if I need (plus it does full HD from Blu Ray if I need it to) and there is room for more RAM if I do switch to 64 Bit
    Processor is an AMD Athlon 64 X2 5200
    There is also a LiteOn LH-20A1L-14C 20X DVD Lightscribe rewriter, but I think I'm going to put this external, as I don't use them much (just installation and backups)

    well, that's it apart from a Trust 550VA UPS which will be protecting it.
    the HDDs will be juggled until I'm happy - One of them may go into my previous machine and just be used as a network server (Apache maybe - I know nothing of creating NAS systems!)

    Oh yes.. I got Win Media centre as it was the cheapest way to get XP Pro - I just didn't bother with the extra bits for media centre!

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