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I4U Builds a High-End PC for a Graphics Designer

Dec 21 2004, 9:15am EST | by , in News | Other Stuff

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I4U Builds a High-End PC for a Graphics Designer
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So last Saturday I build since a long time a PC together from components. First of all it was fun again to-do. I aimed to build a high performance Windows XP workstation for a Graphics Designer running Adobe Photoshop, Macromedia Dreamweaver, Macromedia Fireworks, Adobe Illustrator and so on. Most custom computer guides are for gaming computers. In this case focus was on a workstation that is optimized for massive data throughput throughout the whole system and 2D graphics performance. Another factor was noise, although performance took priority. Cost is also a factor and I did not select components where the price is not worth the additional performance. Overall the PC I specified cost me 1,600Euros. In the US the components will cost about $1,820 and in the UK it will run for about £1,120 (see table below).
The PC I put together is a winner so far. The graphics designer can't stop grinning when working with her new PC. Application load times dramatically shortened for instance. If you ever started Adobe Photoshop you know how long Graphic Design Applications can take to load. The fast hard-drives and the fast bus architecture pay here off dramatically.
I built the PC in about 4 hours with Windows XP Professional up and running at the end.
Below I list the components I selected to build this fast machine. The savings compared to buy such a high-end PC at Dell (saves about 40%!!) or similar vendors are quite dramatic.

Components for I4U High-End Workstation

Component Buy it in the US: Buy it in the UK:
CPU: Intel Pentium IV 3.4GHz 550 Socket 775
Currently the 3.4Ghz version of the P4 has the optimum price-point. The 3.6Ghz version cost about $150 more. 200Mhz for $150 is just not worth it. Gamers would go for an AMD processor by the way.
Compare Prices
$278.00 - $454.16
Compare Prices
£179.00 - £208.00
Motherboard: Asus P5GD2 Premium 915
This motherboard rocks. It has Wi-fi onboard (802.11g), SATA Raid, Audio, Gigabit Ethernet and so on. The Premium has some more features than the Deluxe but the price difference was not that big, so I went for the high-end version. Lots of the features I am not using yet, but maybe in the near future. (GotApex reviewed this motherboard)
Compare Prices
$207.00 - $281.02
Compare Prices
£130.00 - £163.00
RAM: 2x 1GB DDR-2-533 Non-ECC
I got Infineon DDR-2 Ram, because there was a good deal in Germany available for it. You can get the Ram at Crucial for instance.
Crucial Memory Store.
268.99 (1GB)
Crucial Memory Store UK
£163.31 (1GB)
Hard-Drives: 2 Western Digital Raptor 74GB, 10,000rpm, 8MB Cache, SATA
One of the fastest hard-drives out there with 10,000rpm. It is not as loud as I expected, but it sure make sense to use a special case and decouple the drives from the case.
Compare Prices
$164.76 - $260.23
Compare Prices
£115.00 - £150.00
Video Card: Asus N6600/TD GT Geforce 6600 128MB PCIe
There are many Graphics Card manufacturer. I choose Asus because I also use a Asus Motherboard and the price was ok. Here is one of the biggest differences besides the CPU to building a Gaming PC. This graphics card is mid-range, but has a fast chip-set for fast data transfer rates. I could not really find a 2D optimized graphics card, besides professional CAD graphics cards, which are not the solution here either. See a review of the Nvidia 6600GT on PCModdingMy
Compare Prices
$227.16 - $299.44
Compare Prices
£132.00 - £188.00
Case: Arctic Cooling Silentium T2
This Case features a aluminum HD muffler for one HD. Because of that I also ordered a Zalman HD Cooler that has rubber knobs to keep the HD vibrations away from the Case. I did not tackle the topic water cooling for this PC.
Arctic Cooling
MSRP: $129
Arctic Cooling
MSRP: £67
DVD Burner: Plextor PX712SA,  SATA
First I decided to get the BenQ DW1620 Pro Dual Layer Burner (4x DL). (Note: The DW1620 without the "Pro" only makes 2.4x DL speed). The BenQ is one of the fastest Burners out there and cheap. But I ran into a physical issue with the Arctic Cooling T2 Case and the Asus Motherboard. The primary IDE Connector is blocked by the HD Muffler and I could not connecte the BenQ Burner. I did not want to change the case again so I decided to get the first SATA DVD Burner from Plextor the PX712SA. The new PX-716SA with DL support would be better but it is not in stores yet.
Compare Prices
$111.95 - $188.69
Compare Prices
£58.00 - £112.00
  Overall Cost about:  $1,820 Overall Cost about: £1,120

List and prices based on date: 12/21/04

I4U and myself are not Tom's Hardware or Anandtech.  I am not getting into the overclocking each component topic or have performed exact measurements on which component is slightly better. I researched the components below on the Internet and asked hardware savvy friends what they recommend.

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