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The New System Revealed (Windows)

PatrickC

Active Member
Joined
Jan 30, 2008
Messages
178
Location
UK
Upgrade time came and I decided to go for speed. Ready-made PCs with a high enough spec are mostly set up for gaming, so I decided to go it alone. Here's what I ended up with:

Motherboard: Asus P5Q-E
RAM: 4GB Corsair Dominator RAM
Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad Q955' processor
Graphics card: MSI NX86''GTS T2D with 2x DVI, 512 MB ram
Main image storage: Seagate FreeAgent XTreme 1.5 TB external eSATA drive
OS: Windows Vista 64
Software: Photoshop CS4; Lightroom 2.3 (both running 64 bit versions).

The most remarkable thing about this exercise was how trouble-free it was. In the past I've done a good deal of computer upgrading and one or two builds, and they have always been stressful at some point. This time, I allowed myself plenty of time, and didn't make the mistake of working on it late at night when my judgement was impaired. If I came up against something I was unsure of, I stopped and did the research to make sure I got it right before proceeding.

The outcome was a trouble-free build and a trouble-free installation, with just a couple of hiccoughs.

The case I chose was, to be honest, cheap and not worthy of the contents. It is not very well designed. The drive bays were positioned in such a way that the HD connectors interfered with the motherboard and especially the graphics card, which is fanless and has a bulky piped cooling sysytem mounted on it. In the end, I got to work with drill and files, removed the drive bays and rotated them 9' degrees so the connectors pointed to the side of the case, giving the motherboard room to breathe.

The fast PCI-e slot for the graphics card is located in a position close to the memory slots. The cooler was just touching the memory modules, so I had to make some gentle adjustments to the pipework connecting the card to the cooler. All it needed was a few millimetres, so I wasn't too concerned about doing it.

This also meant that the fan which came with the RAM couldn't be fixed with the clips that came with it (which clip onto the RAM retaining levers). I made up a bracket from aluminium strip which hangs off the 5.25" bay metalwork to support the fan, and this seems to be working OK.

The upgrade to 64-bit (from XP Pro 32-bit) meant that all the software had to be reinstalled, so I eventually opted to start with a clean, formatted HD and install everything afresh rather than use Windows Easy Transfer. At first I thought I'd use Easy Transfer and steamed into it without thinking through what it does (or reading the manual!). It hung, and after further reading up I realised that its usefulness in this particular situation is limited, so I re-formatted and started over again with the clean install. When I get a few minutes I will use Easy Transfer to transfer my email settings and Firefox bookmarks, but not much else.

Deactivating CS4 and re-activating on the new machine went smoothly, and Lightroom doesn't need deactivation. I'm trying to keep this machine 'lean' in terms of software, so I have kept all non-essential stuff off it, including most of the software which came with the motherboard.

Transferring the LR catalogue and previews was simply achieved by moving the 'Lightroom' drive from one machine to the other. All smooth and hassle-free.

I use two monitors, a Spectraview 218' for colour critical work and a Lenovo L194 for the Lightroom grid, etc. In XP, I could calbrate and profile only one monitor, but the profile was applied to both. in Vista 64, joy of joys, I can calibrate and profile each monitor separately! This is a great boon, because the Lenovo and the Spectraview are very different, and the Spectraview profile really screwed up the colours on the Lenovo. I used the Lenovo on-screen settings to get a very rough approximation of the colour, but it wasn't really ever even close. Now, with each monitor profiled, our images actually look pretty much the same on both monitors!

I'd heard about the issue with Vista re-setting the monitor profile when it dims the screen and in several other situations. I believe that one of the Windows security updates has actually fixed this, but just to be safe I used the TweakUAC utility (which runs without needing to be installed) to set User Account Control to Quiet mode.

I hope this report doesn't sound too smug, but I have to admit to feeling quite pleased with myself. I just hope there are no disasters lurking around the corner!

Best regards, and many thanks to the ladies and gentlemen of this forum for the invaluable and numerous small items of information and accounts of your experiences which made this process possible and much less painful than it might otherwise have been.

Patrick Cunningham
 

Brad Snyder

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 20, 2007
Messages
6,293
Location
Port Deposit, Maryland USA
Lightroom Experience
Intermediate
Great news Patrick, thanks for sharing. If I had to upgrade today, that's about the sweet spot I'd be aiming for, bang/buck wise.

How do you find the subjective performance? Are Lr and PS snappy? If I had to upgrade today, that's about the sweet spot I'd be aiming for, bang/buck wise.
(You said you were quite pleased, maybe I missed it, but I don't see anywhere you talk about actual results)
 

PatrickC

Active Member
Joined
Jan 30, 2008
Messages
178
Location
UK
Brad

I've been busy fine tuning the setup and I haven't done any serious production yet - but I will be starting tomorrow, so I'll give you an update once I've given it a serious go.

Patrick
 
P

parintele

Guest
The performance should be at least decent for current filesize raw files (12-16Mb) but is allwys room for tweaks and improvement. i am thinking at faster HDD's like Raptor or Velociraptor which really improve speed allthough Lr is little tricky.
I use raptors for scratch/temp of PS and LR, still in LR the storage HDD speedis still critical and most often we can;t afford to store the raw's on fast HDD's... despite all that that is a decent configuration...

PS: I suggest those who are thinking of an upgrade this year to wait a little...new i7 series or processors and change of architecture (slot, processor internat arhitecture, chipset, Ram...) is really faster and will last longer...Early this year was released but big players did not released consumer products, rather they started with computer addicted products/high end stuff which is also ridiculous expensive.

RAM is still slow and very expensive, Motherboards are just few, small number of choices and rather big prices, processors price will probably drop this summer as better ones will be launched, etc...
As a funny note, one moth after the processors were released even passionates didn;t have any choice regarding cooling system.. no big player in this segment didn't offered something for the new port/processors...everyboy had to use those crappy box coolers alluminum made, poor efficiencyand huge noise...

I reccomend upgrade only for those who really need a stronger computer "yesterday"... for the rest of the people is wiser to wait probably beggining of this summer being a proper moment to upgrade..i'll do it this fall, probably a month or so before winter hollidays...
 
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