Description

Hello everyone! I have another build for you. This time around my aunt was in serious need of a photo editing machine. She had been using Photoshop CS on a XP machine with a Pentium R and 3 GB RAM since about 2003. I was tasked with creating a new machine that would handle her photo editing, family skyping, facebooking, and Candy Crush needs. I had about $1200 to completely revamp her workstation setup from head to toe.

Goals for this build:

  • Handle fairly heavy photo editing workloads
  • Have plenty of storage space for large RAW images
  • Have a small footprint
  • Knock the socks off of the old faithful

PARTS:

  • CPU:

I knew I wanted the most threads I could get within the budget constraints. I had considered a Xeon, but wanted to avoid any board compatibility problems so I chose the 4790. She will never need to overclock so the non-K version would save a little money and not require an aftermarket cooler. I had heard of this chip producing a lot of heat and this one was no exception. I undervolted, disabled Turbo-boost, reseated the stock cooler with better thermal paste, and still got temps higher than I expected. The temps were taken during 24 hour, Prime-95 testing, so they may be a little more than the usual workload, but they’re within Intel’s thermal limits.

  • MOTHERBOARD:

I have used this board once before on The Mini Fridge. It’s a solid board with lots of features that you might see on a Z97 board, such as M.2 support and four display outputs. The only thing I’d like to see at this price is full audio outputs, but that’s not needed in this specific setting.

  • MEMORY:

I knew that Photoshop can use lots of memory, so I opted for 16 GB. I’ve used several of these kits before and have never had a complaint. They run at the speed and latency advertised and do what I need them to do.

  • STORAGE:

I wanted my Aunt to feel the speed of the SSD so I grabbed the new 850 EVO. I loaded Windows 8.1 onto it and boy does it fly. I think the benchmarks speak for themselves. The SSD is hidden underneath the optical drive. It was impossible to get a decent picture thus the reason for not having one. The Barracuda will be used to store nearly a decade of photos and edits.

  • CASE:

I really like the all-aluminum design. It creates a very clean look while keeping the case very light, physically. The layout was definitely a challenge to work in, but I think I managed to make it work. I ended up flipping the PSU so the fan was facing the left side panel. I thought the PSU and CPU were fighting for air, but it didn’t seem to make much of a difference. I was happy I got this on sale, as I wouldn’t have gotten it otherwise.

  • PSU:

This system didn’t need a ton of wattage, but I wanted something that would be efficient and have the least obtrusive cables in a small case. The semi-modular design, with flat cables made this PSU great to work with. I was able to make a single SATA power cable connector work for all three SATA devices, reducing the clutter greatly. I would like to see the PCI-E cable as optional instead of hard-wired, but that’s only a minor complaint.

  • EXTRAS:

The Acer H236HLbid is a really pretty monitor. With IPS technology and an almost entirely edge-to-edge panel, it’s a pleasure to look at. It’s fairly basic in overall features, but the IPS technology will benefit her during her photo editing sessions.

The Logitech MK120 w/mouse is your very basic keyboard/mouse pack. If you don’t expect a lot and just let them get the job done you won’t be dissatisfied.

The Logitech Z313 speaker system is a great little package for the price. While they are nothing to brag about they work great for a small office environment. I used a set of these all through college to listen to music in my dorm/apartments and was very happy with the performance I got for so very little money.

The WD Elements 1TB external drive is for keeping backups of files as well as being able to transport pictures various photo shoots and not keeping them on the SD card. This is a basic external drive, but it will get the job done.

She requested an optical drive because many of her clients request burned CD copies of pictures.


CONCLUSION:

The build itself went smoothly once I figured out how the case wanted to operate. The thermals threw me for a loop, but I was able to make it work. Overall I’m very happy with the performance of the machine and I believe she will be much happier with its’ speed and photo editing ability compared to her old machine.

Questions, comments, or concerns? Post them below, in a PM, or on my Facebook page. I’m never far away from a computer and always respond!


Facebook Page

Twitter

Twitch

High Res Pictures


BENCHMARKS: using latest drivers

Cinebench

GeekBench

NovaBench

PassMark

Samsung Disk Test


Hope you enjoy!

Comments

  • 57 months ago
  • 8 points

Now, this comment depends on whether your aunt has plans to upgrade to any recent version of Photoshop, like CS4 or higher, but I wonder why the decision was made not to include a dedicated video card. Photoshop utilizes VRAM for quite a few things that a photographer and editor would use that don't necessarily include 3D. I think, pre-CS4, Photoshop did not utilize VRAM at all, but I see she got updated to Windows 8.1, so I didn't know if there were intentions to update her Adobe software as well. Even a 512Mb or 1Gb card would have given her effect-rendering speeds a boost if that might be the case.

Otherwise, the presentation of this build, and the build itself, are superb. Love the photos.

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

That was the one thing that I regret not making work in this build. I may add a card before I send her the machine actually. I know that she will be using a newer version of PS, CS4-CS6, but her computer guy will get her set up with that. Would you suggest something in the Quadro line or just a lower end GeForce?

  • 57 months ago
  • 2 points

I know that the Quadro line would work wonder for almost any photographer, but I know those can get expensive unless you found an older used one, like, the Quadro K2000. The Quadro line is supposed to be preferred for creative workstations over more gamer-oriented cards. I know my workstation computer at work has a K4000 and it's really nice. I imagine something even less powerful than that would do her just fine. Probably something like the K620 would even do.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814133560

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

I was just looking at the K620 and K420! I just hopefully don't need to move that bottom drive cage. Thanks for your help!

  • 57 months ago
  • 2 points

Sure thing!

  • 57 months ago
  • 3 points

Simply beautiful. Your builds never fail to impress me.

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks Ian! :)

  • 57 months ago
  • 2 points

Very Nice Sam :)

  • 57 months ago
  • 3 points

Thank you! :D

  • 57 months ago
  • 2 points

Great build as always Sam. Btw did you find any incovenients with the H236HLbid?

  • 57 months ago
  • 2 points

Thank you sir! The only thing that might be an inconvenience is the lack of VESA mounting. Three of these mounted side by side would look very pretty!

  • 57 months ago
  • 2 points

Indeed, a portrait setup for photo editing would be really slick. Maybe some joinery with the help of a drill?. Haha, Sam I know anyone who knows you can recognize your posts, instantly, by taking a glance of the first photo, kind of your personal mark, I know your camera work is outstanding, but I'd like to see you using different techniques , I don't know, different angles, a new background.. I just think, each of your builds have a distinct essence, so a different photography should accompanying it. Best regards ~ Handsome Squidward

  • 57 months ago
  • 2 points

I wouldn't be the one using a drill on a monitor that's for sure!

I know what you mean about the "cover photo". I do that on purpose, obviously. I know I need to get different shots, I'm just really OCD about uniformity. I'm really a novice in the world of picture taking and would love to take a class on different techniques to further improve my skills. Still just a hobby though, I take nice pictures because I really like doing it. Thanks for all the feedback :)

  • 57 months ago
  • 2 points

I Like!!

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks!!

  • 57 months ago
  • 2 points

+1 Excellent part choices. I used the same cpu, motherboard, and memory for my recent mITX video editing build.

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

Thank you! The overall performance is very impressive.

  • 57 months ago
  • 2 points

Sick photo's what kind of camera are you using?

  • 57 months ago
  • 2 points

Thanks! I'm using a Nikon D3200 with stock lens.

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

That's a whole 18.1MP more than what my Nikon D40 can do.

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

Isn't the sensor size more important than the megapixels? I'm no expert, but I thought I read that somewhere.

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

Megapixels isn't everything but my D40 is a 7 year old camera compared to the D3200 which is only 3 years old. The extra MP still helps :)

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

I definitely agree. The resolution set to Fine is around 6000x4000. I used to use a Canon T2i, which has a larger sensor, but lower megapixel count. I seemed to get better pictures from it without having to try as hard.

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

nice !

  • 57 months ago
  • 2 points

And Of corse Sammy Nails it again...

  • 57 months ago
  • 2 points

:) Thanks MLGComputers!

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

When your next live stream ganna be?

  • 57 months ago
  • 2 points

Ahh hard to say, I might have some time this weekend for some games.

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

I shall be looking foreword...

  • 57 months ago
  • 2 points

Great build, pictures and write-up as usual. Well done :)

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

Thank you kind sir! :)

  • 57 months ago
  • 2 points

Which version of Prime 95 did you use? The latest version is apparently avoided by many as it produces abnormally higher temperatures. Yes, abnormally high for a stress test. Stress tests usually will produce 10-20C more than normal heavy workload, but apparently this one produces 10-15C over other stress tests.

I have found that my 4690k runs happily in the low 60s/high 50s on it's stock cooler and stock speeds during AIDA64. Prime sent the temperatures into the wild 80s. The heat production was also 20W higher than the 88W stated by Intel. So I'd say the latest version of Prime95 is more of a CPU cooler benchmarking tool. I am generally on the side that says - well what's the point of the stress test if it's not going to put the CPU under the worst conditions possible. But that's when it comes to overclocking. At stock speeds with the stock cooler, I would say the CPU should work as intended, even if you live in Australia.

Doesn't it? I've never owned a desktop CPU for long enough to know about the impact 60-70c could have on a CPU in the long run. I've also never done any serious photo editing either. What temps do you usually get during editing, etc?

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

I am using the latest version of Prime 95 I can get my hands on. It's nice to know that those are the worst conditions possible. During all of my other benchmark tests the temps sat between 45 and 55C with the occasional jump to around 60C during some of the more intense CPU calculations.

  • 57 months ago
  • 2 points

I guess it's better to tune it down a notch now, since you won't be around to change anything later on. After all, it's not your personal rig, but for your aunt, so she won't hurt too much for that last few % of productivity. It's a good build and a nice gesture to her. I hope she enjoys it and it helps her out in her work.

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

Exactly. She lives out of state and I do not want to have to service the thing in the near future. Thank you, I think she will get a lot of good use from this, especially coming from her old computer.

  • 57 months ago
  • 2 points

+1 Very nice build.... And for those that disagree, this should be something you look at investing in.

  • 57 months ago
  • 2 points

HAHA! Thanks man!

  • 57 months ago
  • 2 points

This may sound odd, but I looked at the picture on the front page of PCPartPicker and without seeing the builder name I was like "This is a Skemble build!!!".

You have great pictures and kinda' a distinctive style which made me think that.

Nice job as always.

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

Finally someone notices my "signature cover photo"! haha I've been trying to keep a uniform look to my builds. I'm glad you noticed!

Thanks! :D

  • 57 months ago
  • 2 points

Very nice looking build.

I am aprofessional photographer who uses Adobe Lightroom for 99% of my photo editing. Photoshop is often just too complicated and resource intensive for most editing work. The beauty of Lightroom is that it does not use a GPU nor much memory for that matter. It does use the processor so more cores is better. It also benefits from having the catalog on an SSD while the files can be stored on an HDD. You can build a super Lightroom machine pretty inexspensively and put more $$ into a good monitor which is a very important component in a photo editing system.

  • 57 months ago
  • 2 points

I will have to show her Lightroom! Thanks for the tips!

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

I am editing photos right now and watching a Lightroom plug-in peg my i3 processor at near 100% . Your aunt's machine would fly with its i7.

I am working on a Hackintosh build now to speed up my photo editing workflow. Stay tuned.

  • 57 months ago
  • 2 points

I will try to remember to post some benchmarks of Lightroom when I get a chance after work. Not sure how I will get that done, but I'll try none-the-less.

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

That might be tough. I find that when I am running plug-ins like one for photo-stacking is when the CPU is engaged for longer period and that is where I experience some pretty significant wait times. Also, I have heard like I said before that the LR catalog (where all of the editing changes are stored) likes to be on a fast drive like an SSD. The actual photo files can be stored on a larger tradition drive. I can't confirm as I currently do not have an SSD on my system.

  • 57 months ago
  • 2 points

Nice clean build and the case is really pretty as well!

78 is not too hot. Slightly hotter than my 4790K (OC to 4.6ghz/71*C load) although mine is running off the Hyper 212. Still stock cooler should be perfectly fine for stock speeds.

Others probably asked this already but have you considered a dedicated GPU? Just asking cause not sure how much performance increase in photo editing a GPU would give you over the Intel HD 4600.

+1

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

Thank you vekspec! I feel a little better about the temps. They were just higher than many of my other builds and caught me off guard.

I'm going to try out Lightroom, which apparently doesn't benefit much from dedicated GPU, and possibly run some more benchmarks. Money is a little tight so I will likely just have to make this work.

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

Great build though, I'm looking to build something similar.

I would have definitely invested in a low profile cooler like the NH-li 9... for $44 the temps would be much lower and the system would be quieter.

Maybe at the expense of the HDD? With such a small unit airflow is important... Maybe storing the photos online in the cloud instead?

Love the cleanness though...

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

I didn't expect the temps to be so high otherwise I would have looked at an inexpensive low profile cooler.

The cloud may be over my Aunt's head. Heh get it? ;) But that's a valid option. I may suggest that to her even if it just means she has another backup.

Thank you!

  • 57 months ago
  • 2 points

I know that featured builds are usually suppost to be quad sli hardline custom liquid cooled overkill beasts, but, as usual, you made this rather moderate build like a work of art!

  • 57 months ago
  • 2 points

That's what I'm trying to do with every build. Make something average look good. I think the featured builds are not only for super rigs, but also interesting ones that may spark site attention or strong conversation. I actually didn't expect this build to get featured so it was a pleasant surprise!

  • 57 months ago
  • 2 points

I have a feeling the term, "skemble'd" may come into play on this site... Jus saying. You always have fantastic builds and your professional experience shines through every photo. Actually, I take that back. I don't think this kind of quality is comparable nor able to be copied. Fantastic work, from one builder to another

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

Thank you so much! I really appreciate that. I can't say I wouldn't mind having a "catch phrase" named after me!

  • 57 months ago
  • 2 points

Lian-Li knows how to make sexy cases.

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

You are very right!

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

Always a good day when a skemble build gets posted. +1 as always.

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

Haha thanks dawg ;)

How dare someone downvote a compliment on my build.

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

Do Photoshop rigs need graphics cards for rendering etc?

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

Hi Sam!

My name is Tucker and I am 16 years old, and your builds have made my love for computers even stronger! I just got done looking through your past builds.. I knew I had to comment especially when I saw the 4130 build. I love the i3 chips, they are such fantastic little processors, and I will be putting one in my first build most likely a 4150. I am truly inspired by your love of computers and you are doing everything I wish I could. I want to go into the IT field or open a computer shop after college, or just build pc's for people on the side. It's something I've dreamed of doing, but alas I am a broke high schooler with even broker parents, and rarely ever have money :/. I hope one day to be even be a tenth of the builder you are, it is so inspiring. Also your girlfriend is super talented with her paint jobs, and I love her custom build!

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

Thank you so much Diox! I'm so glad I can help and inspire you. I started very small, though still very small, I try to make my work as professional as possible, each and every time. That has been a key thing in attracting future clients. The way I see it, you either do something to the best of your ability or not at all. Build computers for family members. They already have your trust, hopefully, and are likely to give you some extra compensation for the job. I will pass on the compliments to my lady friend!

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

I told my parent's the next computer they get they should let me build it (; cause you know pre builts are over priced and I can make something of higher and better quality. The number of hours I have spent on here is probably in the hundreds or thousands, and I have never been this impressed or had my jaw hit the floor this hard per say. Such gorgeous pictures, I had to wipe up a drool puddle next to me! (sorry mom!). I've been trying to expand my ideas and talked to some family members and neighbors but to no avail. I've been applying everwhere in my town (it's a small town of 3500 people).. Thank for all these fantastic builds!

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

I hope they don't log hours. I would be embarrassed to see how many I have on here. Haha I'm glad you like my stuff. I spend a lot of time on these builds and it's nice to hear good things. I live in a town of about 1,100 people so I know exactly how you feel about the small town life.

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

I would confidently say I have as many hours as my favorite childhood game, and one that I'm playing again.. runescape lol. Although that game I must have 5,000+ hours into. Back in the summer of 2008 I played about everyday for about 12-18 hours sometimes. . and now I'm playing again lol. Still my favorite game xD.

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

I played that game a lot when I was your age. Back then it was still fairly "classic". It has changed a lot since, not always for the better.

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

I really want to like this build with the great pictures (and great builder), but I honestly feel as if a lot more could be done for the price. For example:

  • The Xeon e3-1231 v3 would have been perfect. I know you said you wanted to avoid Xeons for compatibility issues, but for a consumer marketed Xeon what kind of compatibility issues could you possibly run into? It's essentially a downclocked i7-4790 which supports ECC memory.
  • Why the z97 board with a locked processor? An H97 board would have fit specifications perfectly. I guess you could argue that it is more futureproof, being able to overclock, but then why the Lian Li case choice? Not many high-performance CPU coolers fit in that case.
  • Why a 430w semi-modular PSU for 70$? There are plenty of cheaper semi-modular PSUs, which have more wattage and are from larger manufacturers, such as Corsair or EVGA.

Sorry if this seems whiny or ignorant, just trying to provide some constructive criticism. Great looking build, I just feel like you didn't get the most for your money. +1

  • 57 months ago
  • 3 points

The problem with that specific Xeon is the lack of integrated graphics. I wanted to go Xeon, but then considered the cost of a dedicated GPU and ended up with the 4790.

I think you misread the parts list. It is actually the H97 not the Z97, I just mentioned that it had similar Z97 features.

I was really torn in the PSU department. I wanted something efficient that wasn't going to be unwieldy to cable manage. A CX 430 would have worked just fine here, but for some reason at the time of buying they were really close in price so I opted for this. I did a little research on this PSU before hand. It's Enermax's second highest line behind the Platimax.

No worries about the criticisms. After 21 builds I surely need some. I definitely get a little loose with my parts choices to make the build go a little smoother for myself. Thanks for the feedback!

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

That case looks awesome!

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

Very pretty. I like the looks of that case. Was the issues with the case in regards to the small footprint or just lack of places to hide cables in general?

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

It was a challenge due to the part where the right panel is also the motherboard tray and there aren't really any true hiding places for cables. Though it didn't end up being too bad.

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

That case is pretty!

The most important thing to photo editing is color accuracy. I'm surprised you didn't include a Dell Ultrasharp In The build.

I also wonder if undervolting and disabling turbo boost is at all necessary.

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

After making those adjustments and checking temps again, they were not necessary. I did turn turbo boost back on.

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

Another outstanding build!

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

Thank you!

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

Can this case fit a gtx 970?

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

I believe that it can. I opted for the lower drive cage to optimize the airflow. You can use the top drive cage with a support bracket to clear the space for a larger graphics card of max 11.8 inches.

  • 56 months ago
  • 1 point

3gb ram in 2003? Dang! Your aunt likes high end stuff, I see.

  • 56 months ago
  • 1 point

Well I'm pretty sure someone upgraded that for her, but yeah it's a lot for that time.

  • 55 months ago
  • 1 point

hey, skemble... I has question for you... So, my computer, the ancient thing it is(2003(yes, I do realize how ancient that is in computer years)), is starting to have problems with running games. Specifically, the colors of the game will occasionally flicker(as in the entire screen will go from the game colors to green to gray to green to blue back to game colors all within the space of a half-second). I looked at how much RAM I had via BIOS(1 gig), but wasn't too sure if that was the true cause. So, is it the RAM or the video card that is causing these problems? Or am I completely wrong, and might as well toss out the computer? I would go ahead and assume that both the RAM and video card are 2003 or older. Include consideration that I do play StarCraft/Warcraft/Age of Empires on this PC, and my mom has gotten these problems playing Mahjongg on this very same computer.

  • 55 months ago
  • 2 points

A good amount of the time, when you're getting strange display images or bad artifacts, the cause is a failing graphics card. 2003 is a tad bit old! I would personally junk it myself, but not everyone has money for computers just laying around. I would be happy to help you set up a list of parts if you were interested in something new.

  • 55 months ago
  • 2 points

Huh...Okay...Probably will just upgrade the computer instead of buying a new one, but will ask my mom to see what she wants to do! Thanks for the info.

  • 55 months ago
  • 2 points

I'll also probably look at the mobo, see what I can do first. If it ends up being really hard to find parts that are compatible, I'll definitely come back here.