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Putting together my new digital editing workstation


Catul

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I'm putting together a new system which will be used primarily for image editing (Photoshop, etc.), some video editing (Premiere Pro), and the other usual tasks - no gaming. My searches for new motherboards led me to this forum, and even though I don't plan to overclock much, if at all, I think the nF4 Ultra-D motherboard is the way to go (compared to say the Epox 9NPA+ Ultra or the Asus boards).

 

I've been reading the various threads on recommended components, and would like to solicit comments and advice on my system.

 

Video: since I don't need gaming, I'd like to stick with the Matrox cards that I've liked for several years. My current G450 is AGP so I guess I can't use it. I think I'll get the Matrox Millennium P650 PCIe 128 (http://tinyurl.com/cch7q) which uses the PCIe x16 slot - anyone have this card?

 

CPU: The Athlon 64 X2 3800+ dual core (http://tinyurl.com/95oqa) seems to hit a good price point, and should be ideal for my multitasking/multithreaded applications. Maybe the 4200+ for $100 more?

 

Memory: This is key, even though I don't need/anticipate overclocking. I sure would like to get 4Gb, will fill up all slots (anyone have problems with that?); thinking two sets of the OCZ Performance 2GB (2 x 1GB) 184-Pin DDR SDRAM Unbuffered DDR 400 (PC 3200) (http://tinyurl.com/dlfcd) would work well - any other recommendations? I like that OCZ has an official rep on this forum, and that these sticks are compatible with the nF4 Ultra-D.

 

PSU: The OCZ PowerStream 520W (http://tinyurl.com/7567h) seems good.

 

Hard drive will likely be a WD Raptor for the system drive; I have several others as you might imagine my storage requirements are pretty hefty :-) Have another networked "server" system that has 850Gb of RAID-5 storage that is used for backups.

 

I really appreciate any advice, comments or tips that anyone can offer - thanks!!

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I'm putting together a new system which will be used primarily for image editing (Photoshop, etc.), some video editing (Premiere Pro), and the other usual tasks - no gaming. My searches for new motherboards led me to this forum, and even though I don't plan to overclock much, if at all, I think the nF4 Ultra-D motherboard is the way to go (compared to say the Epox 9NPA+ Ultra or the Asus boards).

 

I've been reading the various threads on recommended components, and would like to solicit comments and advice on my system.

 

Video: since I don't need gaming, I'd like to stick with the Matrox cards that I've liked for several years. My current G450 is AGP so I guess I can't use it. I think I'll get the Matrox Millennium P650 PCIe 128 (http://tinyurl.com/cch7q) which uses the PCIe x16 slot - anyone have this card?

 

CPU: The Athlon 64 X2 3800+ dual core (http://tinyurl.com/95oqa) seems to hit a good price point, and should be ideal for my multitasking/multithreaded applications. Maybe the 4200+ for $100 more?

 

Memory: This is key, even though I don't need/anticipate overclocking. I sure would like to get 4Gb, will fill up all slots (anyone have problems with that?); thinking two sets of the OCZ Performance 2GB (2 x 1GB) 184-Pin DDR SDRAM Unbuffered DDR 400 (PC 3200) (http://tinyurl.com/dlfcd) would work well - any other recommendations? I like that OCZ has an official rep on this forum, and that these sticks are compatible with the nF4 Ultra-D.

 

PSU: The OCZ PowerStream 520W (http://tinyurl.com/7567h) seems good.

 

Hard drive will likely be a WD Raptor for the system drive; I have several others as you might imagine my storage requirements are pretty hefty :-) Have another networked "server" system that has 850Gb of RAID-5 storage that is used for backups.

 

I really appreciate any advice, comments or tips that anyone can offer - thanks!!

 

I haven't seen anyone using workstation class cards on these boards yet. They really weren't designed for workstation useage in mind. This doesn't mean they are not reliable and cannot be used for such! But the quantity of Matrox, ATI Fire, NV Quatro etc cards won't be high around here. I'll assume you will do the research on the Matrox though to verify if it is a good choice.

 

 

cpu - if you are going to do multitasking with software that can take advantage of either SMP or Hyperthreading, then you should maybe look at the 4400+, since it has dual 1MB L2 caches....normally cache size is almost immaterial because the cpu's are so darn fast...but some applications utilize the bigger cache. You don't need anything like a 4800+, but you should google around for your software and if it runs better with a larger L2 cache (like the Prescott with 2MB L2). If it does, for what you are wanting to use it for, then spend a little extra to get the 4400+.

 

memory - 4GB is a good option for XP-64, but really isn't necessary yet, even for low end workstations (and it isn't an insult to call what you building a low-end workstation, but in the scheme of professional workstations for the stuff you want to do, it would be considered such). 2GB of memory is great, and those OCZ modules are just fine.

 

To get 4GB recognized in WinXP 32-bit, you have the change a bios setting, and hope your cpu can use 4x1024 modules. Again I am not saying it cannot be done, but I don't yet have 4 matching 1GB modules to test (and i have tested the OCZ 2GB kit you are looking at, as well as the 2GB OCZ PC4000 kit on my X2 4400+, as well as 4x512 of OCZ BH-5 @ 2-2-5-2 timings)

 

Power Supply - should be good enough for what you are wanting. The 520w Powerstream is beefy. If you have a lot of drives and other items that will all be needing power, then the 600w version might be a better long-term choice.

 

 

hdd's - Raptors are ok, but for video/audio editing, this is something to look into:

 

single 80GB Hitachi SATA II drive for boot, programs, etc

 

2x of either of these for your working drives (especially real-time editing/encoding):

 

SATA I

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?...N82E16822144424 (5 year warranty, 16MB cache)

 

SATA II

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?...N82E16822144701 (RAID-0 for speed for realtime encoding etc)

 

 

and 2 of those in RAID-1 for storage/backup, or 2 of these in RAID-1 for storage/backup:

 

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?...N82E16822147007

 

 

 

since you already have 850GB of network storage, it probably isn't necessary for the last two.

 

 

Raptors are good drives, but I prefer the Hitachi SATA II in RAID-0 for speed and noise (and price!)

 

 

 

what kind of cooling are you looking for? Quiet since you are not overclocking?

 

If quiet, then you can get either the Thermalright XP-90 + a 92mm cooling fan for $25 @ www.svc.com

 

or the Thermalright XP-120 with a 120mm cooling fan...they work well if you want to overclock also lol, but they can be nice and quiet.

 

 

onboard sound i will assume?

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Travis, thanks for the quick and detailed reply! This is a big part of the reason I'm leaning towards a DFI board, having exclusively stuck with Asus (and initially Abit) for over 8 years of building my own systems.

 

I haven't seen anyone using workstation class cards on these boards yet. They really weren't designed for workstation useage in mind. This doesn't mean they are not reliable and cannot be used for such! But the quantity of Matrox, ATI Fire, NV Quatro etc cards won't be high around here. I'll assume you will do the research on the Matrox though to verify if it is a good choice.

 

Since my main requirement is 2D graphics, the typical gaming card that is overwhelmingly the favorite with this board won't be helpful to me. Does anyone here use a non-gaming card with the nF4 Ultra-D? I'd love to hear recommendations for photo editing cards!

 

cpu - if you are going to do multitasking with software that can take advantage of either SMP or Hyperthreading, then you should maybe look at the 4400+, since it has dual 1MB L2 caches....normally cache size is almost immaterial because the cpu's are so darn fast...but some applications utilize the bigger cache. You don't need anything like a 4800+, but you should google around for your software and if it runs better with a larger L2 cache (like the Prescott with 2MB L2). If it does, for what you are wanting to use it for, then spend a little extra to get the 4400+.

 

Perfect, makes a lot of sense; my applications definitely take advantage of SMP so the extra bucks for the 4400+ is a done deal.

 

memory - 4GB is a good option for XP-64, but really isn't necessary yet, even for low end workstations (and it isn't an insult to call what you building a low-end workstation, but in the scheme of professional workstations for the stuff you want to do, it would be considered such). 2GB of memory is great, and those OCZ modules are just fine.

 

To get 4GB recognized in WinXP 32-bit, you have the change a bios setting, and hope your cpu can use 4x1024 modules. Again I am not saying it cannot be done, but I don't yet have 4 matching 1GB modules to test (and i have tested the OCZ 2GB kit you are looking at, as well as the 2GB OCZ PC4000 kit on my X2 4400+, as well as 4x512 of OCZ BH-5 @ 2-2-5-2 timings)

 

Photoshop uses a LOT of RAM, the more the better. I only have 1Gb right now, and even a few minutes' editing on a typical file will quickly have Photoshop needing to use the scratch disk - not good. My files are only getting bigger, and the demands on memory are not decreasing. 2Gb will just about get to a point only a little better than now, so I'd really like to go with 4Gb.

 

How can I find out which OCZ chips (or others) the 4400+ will work when four of them are installed? Is it a trial-and-error process? Anyone here have 4Gb RAM??

 

Which specific OCZ 1Gb chips are recommended for the fastest rock solid non-overclocking use?

 

single 80GB Hitachi SATA II drive for boot, programs, etc

 

Will do, and I'll consider the other SATA drives in a RAID-0 configuration as needed. I have a couple of 250Gb PATA drives as my primary storage right now, so perhaps it's time to upgrade a little ... could always use additional space. The 850Gb in networked storage is pretty much for backups only.

 

what kind of cooling are you looking for? Quiet since you are not overclocking?

 

If quiet, then you can get either the Thermalright XP-90 + a 92mm cooling fan for $25 @ www.svc.com

 

or the Thermalright XP-120 with a 120mm cooling fan...they work well if you want to overclock also lol, but they can be nice and quiet.

 

Yes, quiet is paramount; no plans to overclock, but I might not be able to resist just a little tweaking for fun. I think the XP-90 should be sufficient? I will use a decent case with good airflow.

 

onboard sound i will assume?

 

Yes, that will be plenty good.

 

Any other thoughts for my system; I really appreciate all the info, there are some great pointers in your original message, looking forward to more recommendations!

 

Thanks again ...

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How can I find out which OCZ chips (or others) the 4400+ will work when four of them are installed? Is it a trial-and-error process? Anyone here have 4Gb RAM??

 

I am waiting on a second kit of OCZ PC4000 2x1024 to arrive to see how they work together on my SLI/Ultra NF4 boards with the 4400+ cpu

 

the 2x1024 modules work like a champ

 

I do have the non-overclocking 2-3-5-2 Infineon 2GB modules and they work very well, and even overclock a little bit.

 

Talking to AndyOCZ right now on MSN to see if they can get 4x1024 of the 2-3-5-2 stuff tested on a 4400+ cpu on our board.

 

 

Yes, quiet is paramount; no plans to overclock, but I might not be able to resist just a little tweaking for fun. I think the XP-90 should be sufficient? I will use a decent case with good airflow.

 

yep, my gf has the SLI-D with a San Diego FX-55, X850XT PE vid, SATA II RAID, and an XP-90 + Enermax 92mm adjustable fan, and quiet Fortron Bluestorm 500w psu...and its like a Lexus...you have to look at the light on the front panel to see if it is on lol.

 

Any other thoughts for my system

 

a good widescreen LCD or pro workstation monitor that can do true color matching...

 

and a good all-aluminum case with plenty of workspace and good airflow (like the Lian Li, Coolermaster Stacker all-aluminum, or other good cases...)

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I am waiting on a second kit of OCZ PC4000 2x1024 to arrive to see how they work together on my SLI/Ultra NF4 boards with the 4400+ cpu

 

the 2x1024 modules work like a champ

 

If I don't plan to overclock, which OCZ chips are the one to get? Is there only one kind of 1Gb PC4000 chip? Which would give me the fastest memory performance (which will have a good impact on Photoshop use)?

 

If I increase bus speed/memory timings a bit, will it have a noticeable impact on memory performance? I think a slight/reasonable overclock might be worth considering; what's the CPU speed of the Athlon64 X2 4400+, and what's a reasonable tweak increase that to?

 

yep, my gf has the SLI-D with a San Diego FX-55, X850XT PE vid, SATA II RAID, and an XP-90 + Enermax 92mm adjustable fan, and quiet Fortron Bluestorm 500w psu...and its like a Lexus...you have to look at the light on the front panel to see if it is on lol.

 

Sounds great, that's what I'm after (thought it doesn't have to be quite that silent :). Is the OCZ PowerStream 520W fairly quiet too? I will certainly get the XP-90 and Enermax 92mm fans. Arctic Silver 5 is recommended for the X2 4400+ I presume?

 

a good widescreen LCD or pro workstation monitor that can do true color matching...

 

I have a decent 19" CRT right now (Cornerstone p1500) which is hardware color-calibrated (using a Gretag Macbeth Eye-One). At some point, I will likely replace that with two pro LCD screens that are good for color-critical work, so the Matrox dualhead video card is nice to have.

 

and a good all-aluminum case with plenty of workspace and good airflow (like the Lian Li, Coolermaster Stacker all-aluminum, or other good cases...)

 

My desktop is using a Lian-Li PC-70 case right now which I like pretty well, but I put my "Backup Server" system in a Thermaltake Xaser III V1420A case that I really like - good airflow with cool temps that doesn't require loud fans. I think the aluminium Thermaltake XASER III V2000A case will be the one I use.

 

My system is coming together nicely, I'm excited about its performance! Deciding on the video card is going to be the next project, along with determing which four sticks of 1Gb RAM to get. I'd appreciate your help with those as well!!

 

Is anyone here using non-gaming video cards with their nF4 Ultra-D? How about 4Gb of RAM? :)

 

Thanks again!

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Further to my posts, I think I should consider overclocking - I've done it on my last two systems with good results. The main reason I didn't think I was going to do it this time around was because of fan noise :). I do think I can achieve a reasonable overclock with the XP-90 (or perhaps XP-120) in a decent case without requiring loud fans.

 

So, with the Athlon X2 4400+ and OCZ (2x1Gb) Platinum PC3200 memory (total of 4Gb - is there any faster memory?), what kind of basic boosts am I looking at? Can the 4400+ hit about 2.4-2.6GHz without needing radical cooling? Just as important, how fast can the memory go?

 

Gotta find a good 2D video card that will work in this system now ...

 

Thanks!!

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