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Best CPU Choice

Discussion in 'Computer Hardware' started by choucove, Jul 21, 2010.

  1. choucove

    choucove Active Member

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    We are doing some research into new design computers and trying to determine exactly which CPU choice would work best for our situation. Right now the decision is between the dual-core i5 processors at 3.2 Ghz or 3.3 Ghz, or the quad core i5-760 at 2.8 Ghz.

    Here's the deal. The design computers mostly run FlexiSign Pro 7.6 on Windows 7 Professional. From what I understand, Flexi is not heavilly threaded unless you are ripping from it, in which case it can use up to three threads. The other software that they might run occasionally is Photoshop CS4, and of course basic Word and internet usage. Because the majority of the work they do in Flexi is not capable of using lots of processing cores or threads, would it be more beneficial to go with the faster clock speed dual-core processor than the slightly slower quad-core processor? Price is about the same, so that is not an issue here really. I do not foresee that they would ever really need more than 4 cores or threads on their computers, even, so having more than that may be overkill.

    I've built a few machines lately using the Core i5-650 processor and really been impressed with its performance, and was even able to overclock one to 4.2 Ghz with a standard air cooler. Still, I'd like to stay away from overclocking these computers unless really necessary, so would the higher stock clock speed of a dual core processor be enough, or should I just get the quad-core and overclock it to the same speed?
     
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  2. tcorn1965

    tcorn1965 Very Active Member

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    I would go with the i5 750. That is where the price break is the greatest. Additionally Adobe takes advantage and uses all 4 cores

    Terry
     
  3. insignia

    insignia Very Active Member

    I'd go with the quad core too, especially if you plan to overclock it, then the stock speed wouldn't really be a factor. You may regret not getting a quad core as you upgrade programs. Don't forget to go for a fast sata hard drive for a scratch disk, that'll probably give a larger performance boost than the speed of the processor, or at least to Photoshop.
     
  4. choucove

    choucove Active Member

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    Yeah, I'm thinking more along the lines of the quad-core as well, as you can still overclock it to the same speed as the dual-core processor if need be. Right now I'm also planning on putting a 160 GB Intel SSD in these computers to help with speed of bootup, ripping, saving, and more. It definitely jumps the price up, at about $440 per SSD, but after having two SSDs in my home computer, it's hard to step back when it's all about increasing their speed.
     
  5. insignia

    insignia Very Active Member

    If I were you I would just use a "regular" fast drive for your programs, like a WD Raptor, and then put in a much smaller SSD as a scratch disk. I think the performance gains will be more significant that way vs. using a SSD for storage/programs, and it would be cheaper since scratch disks don't have to be huge.
     
  6. choucove

    choucove Active Member

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    Insignia, I understand what you are meaning, but in our situation very little photoshop is used so having a separate scratch disk wouldn't be used too often. The reason I was looking at the entire drive being SSD is to help with system loading times and application loading times. Files are saved onto a central server, so there really wouldn't be more than 60 GB of files between fonts, applications, Windows, and some temp files on the drive at all.

    Would Flexi be able to be set up with a separate temp file location? I haven't myself used the program really to know how or if that can be customized in which case, yes, a separate SSD scratch disk might be better. Also, how much space would be a good recommendation for a scratch disk? I have heard of people setting up a RAMDdisk for a small scratch disk for Photoshop, but would 6 GB be enough space for that, or would you need closer to a 40 GB SSD?
     
  7. insignia

    insignia Very Active Member

    I don't know enough about flexi to say for sure but I can't imagine a program like that can't take advantage of a separate scratch disk. I finally bit the bullet and got an eSata WD Raptor last fall to use as just a scratch disk for PS/Illustrator and I can say it made an enormous leap in the performance of the programs. Onyx also uses a scratch disk and adding one for it sped it up considerably. I'd be amazed if the same wasn't true for Flexi.

    As far as size, I'm no expert but I do know they don't have to be huge. I don't know if 6gb is big enough but I'd guess it is. I'd just get the smallest disk you can. Once it's set up as a scratch disk, just ignore it, don't store files or anything on it.
     
  8. petesign

    petesign Very Active Member

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    I use an i5 750 cpu on Windows 7 64 bit pro, and it runs pretty good, best advice I can offer is not to skimp on the ram - I went with 8GB and wish I had done a lot more. There are a few things that are a little buggy with the motherboard I chose. I went with an SLI ASUS P7P55D board... my advice is to RUN from it. :)

    Also, for what it's worth - I had a powermac g5 about 5 years ago, and it seemed to run just as fast as this thing does...
     
  9. choucove

    choucove Active Member

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    Do you know specifically which model board you chose and what errors you have been having with it? I've built three systems using the microATX ASUS P7H55-M Pro motherboard, but that uses the H55 chipset instead of the P55 chipset I wish to use but never had a single problem with these ASUS boards. I've always preferred ASUS above any other brands, especially saying that in the last six months I've ordered three Gigabyte boards and instantly had problems with each one of them and replaced them with ASUS boards.

    The motherboards that I've been looking at for this system were either the ASUS P7P55D ATX or the ASUS Sabertooth 55i ATX. Both have great reviews on Newegg right now.
     
  10. petesign

    petesign Very Active Member

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    Specifically, USB driver problems. It all started when it wouldn't recognize my iphone (eventually they fixed the driver for that problem and you could sync) -- but it has seemed buggy for many many usb devices since.

    Honestly, I guess I expected more from a quad core processor - but I have not been blown away by its speed. I also have a dual core pentium ES200 with 4 gigs of ram I use as a rip station, and it renders in photoshop at almost the same speed.
     
  11. choucove

    choucove Active Member

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    Thanks for the input Petesign, that will help me in determining future motherboards! As for the render speed in Photoshop, if I'm correct that is basically a lot of load placed on your scratch disk as well, which means the faster your scratch disk in those situations the better the performance and speed of your render. This would make sense, then, why there is little difference in render speed between your two computers if they both are using nearly identical speed mechanical hard drives as scratch disks. However, I could be quite wrong with this one!
     
  12. petesign

    petesign Very Active Member

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    That is awesome info to know. Maybe I should consider getting a solid state drive and force it to use that as a scratch disk.. Those are supposed to be blazing fast.

    **okay this thread got me to looking around. I have been using photoshop for 12 years, and never knew about the efficiency indicator you could open. That's pretty cool! This might help me figure out how to configure this thing to run a little faster. I am definitely going to either add a new scratch disk or double my ram though. Thanks for the valuable info guys.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2010
  13. choucove

    choucove Active Member

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    There is quite a noticeable performance increase when using a SSD. I've been using two in RAID 0 as my primary operating system drive for a year and it has been amazing the difference it can make. As previously suggested in this thread you can also just get a small SSD dedicated for a scratch disk. The other thing I've heard suggested occasionally is to get a TON of RAM (such as 16 GB) and set aside half as a RAMDisk for a scratch or temp location for your programs, which is even much faster than an SSD.
     
  14. cgsigns_jamie

    cgsigns_jamie Very Active Member

    You can set the Temporary Files location in the application preferences.
    Edit Menu > Preferences > File Paths (Tab)

    I have my temp files located on a separate partition (for reasons other than speed) and when I'm working with large print files I can have temp files that are 12-20 GB.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2010
  15. choucove

    choucove Active Member

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    Thank you Jamie, that is exactly what I needed to know! That should help in picking out components as well.
     
  16. choucove

    choucove Active Member

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    My initial thought after seeing that Flexi would allow you to customize the location of temp files was to utilize a RAMDisk istead of an SSD. After all, a RAMDisk can be several times faster than even the best SSD since it is stored in RAM. However, if you are saying that temp files can range between 12 GB and 20 GB of space, there's no way really to put in enough RAM to do that kind of RAMDisk and instead an SSD would be the next bet. Too bad, really, as it would have been quite interesting to see a system loaded up with that kind of speed in the scratch or temp file location!
     
  17. cgsigns_jamie

    cgsigns_jamie Very Active Member

    These were HUGE print files... most of my Flexi files are usually 100% vector and only have temp files ranging between 20mb-1Gb.

    If you're not working with large raster files you could probably get away with a 2Gb-4Gb scratch/ram disk
     
  18. choucove

    choucove Active Member

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    Alright, I've been doing a little more playing around with this and have another comparison idea for your input and ideas.

    Instead of doing a SSD system at all (which, I know from personal experience do take a little extra maintenance to upkeep to top performance, are still unknown for long-term performance usage, and still quite expensive for their capacity) how about instead trying to utilize a RAMDisk with a large amount of system RAM? After all, RAM is many times faster than even the fastest consumer SSD and doesn't suffer from slow-downs over time. So, instead of building a system on the Core i5-760, I could instead switch to the X58 chipset and build on the i7-930 processor. You can then install up to 24 GB of DDR3 1333 memory and dedicate between 12 and 18 GB of RAM to a RAMDisk for temp files in Flexi or Adobe Photoshop. You then could use a standard mechanical drive for the operating system and applications. It might work out to be a slight bit more expensive, but what do you think about doing this kind of alternative?

    Also, is this just too over-complicated to really work well? Configuring RAMDisks and separate caches, would it be too expensive or too impractical to really make that much of a difference or even cause technical difficulties? In the end would it just be better off to have a standard Core i5 system with standard RAM, mechanical hard drive for the OS and programs, and perhaps a small SSD in for a temp cache for Flexi/Photoshop?
     
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