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Short pointers for new desktop

MikeZMikeZ Member
edited January 2014 in home
Hey all...

So it is time for a new desktop. Several years of just being able to do what I need have come to an end. Workload is increasing and I can not deal with a slower computer anymore. As always, there are budget restrictions. I have 1,000 at most to spend on a new unit. I have read many posts here over the months.

I guess what I am looking for is a few pointers as a short guide. I know ram is a must. I am looking at no less than 16g. Processor- thinking i4770? Video card-no idea! OS win 7 if possible. Internal storage? I use only external for any raw files and internal for OS and CS6 and LR5. Other than that, I am really lost and have minimal computer tech savvy. When I was savvy, zip disks were cool! ;)

Building vs buying? Brain says build. Time and reality say buy and work the crap out of for two years.

A lot to ask, for the money, I know. I put glass purchases on hold for a while. I have most of the G glass that I need now and will rent what I have to so that I can be more efficient on the back end.

So, since everyone here is great and helpful I thought I would just drop this question out and see what comes back. I do not expect anyone to spend a great deal of time on this but a few pointers may help.


  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited January 2014
    Actually, many people put store in their faith in RAM.

    I personally don't, I think the best bit of kit especially for photography is getting a damn good motherboard, Processor and video card.

    Of course RAM is important but it's the processing capability, especially in imaging, that's needed.

    Normally I would say get it built, but with $1000 to spend, that's nigh on impossible, as a really good spec machine built would run you around $2000+

    So, here is one that has really good specs, AND RAM up the whaazooo. (16G Upgradeable to 32G which means a good M/Board slots availability and will suit 32G:


    It's really good value and as I said, great specs for the price. Make that GREAT Specs as I am impressed for that price. Fantastic Processor @ 3.4Ghz.

    It has a great Processor, M/board, and a top Graphics Card, plenty of onboard cache of 4G. Really tops.

    Hunt around first, do your homework.

    Trev. (Good hunting Mike)

  • TrevTrev Moderator
    As to the OS, yep, totally agree, try to get a W7 if you can, but, if you do get an off-shelf buy like above, it's all pre-loaded anyway (W8) and it should be ready to 'plug 'n play'. Hopefully! :)
  • MikeZMikeZ Member
    edited January 2014
    Thanks so much Trev! That does look like a sweet unit. I have never stumbled across that one. I may have given up too early while hunting..lol... It is a pain to have to go to best buy and the have nothing to look at in person that is even close! Guess that is how things are going in the amazon age!

    I may have to look into a better monitor in the near future as well...

    Thanks again so much!
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    Yeah Mike, for sure.

    I think that even if you bought the exact same components as that system then had it built, you could add at least $500+ for the 'custom build' since companies like HP/Dell/Asus/Toshiba can buy massively in bulk and mass produce them for that price.

    I used to build my own, but the last 2 systems I had built by a very reputable computer store, simply because of warranty, plus I looked for a store that specialises in 'gaming' since the kids in there know their stuff and you can be guaranteed a great build, and cheaper and faster then getting the components yourself and time doing it.
  • I think your last post may have sold me on this unit or similar. Do you think there is a need for a separate ssd for windows to run on? Have you had any experience with windows 8 and it's issues?
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited January 2014
    Glad you asked re separate drive for OS.

    I noticed there is a spare bay in the specs, however, if you buy the system, it's already preloaded on the 1 drive in it.

    I **personally** would get a second drive, and have that as your 'Data' drive. You would have to get someone to separate out 'My Document' and 'My Pictures' to put them onto a second drive, leaving only the OS on a totally separate drive.

    But (always a 'but) to get the OS onto an SSD would mean having to buy it, clone/mirror it all to the new SSD installed, reformat the already installed drive; then still separating out the 'My Document' and 'My Pictures' back to the previous drive.

    Costs money. All up I'd say around the $400-$500 mark, as a guesstimate. (going on Australian Prices)

    Why don't you call them, see if they can 'customise' it a bit further for you from the get go.

    If you do go the separate OS drive route, do make sure you get at **least** 250G drive, don't be talked in anyone saying 'Oh a 150G is all you need for an OS drive'

    That's totally rubbish, just from my own personal experience, I had a fast WD 140G 10,000 rpm VelociRaptor Drive for the OS and that was mirrored to a second one as an OS backup, then I had 2 1Tb WD Raptors, 1 for Data and the other as a BackUp.

    Thought I was fine, well sure, initially I was, after loading W7 and all the programs I had 95G left on the OS.

    After 2 years, I was down to 2-3G of space left, not because of loading programs, the total programs were only 9G, the rest was because of Microsoft's Updates, they slowly over time consumed the space.

    So I installed a Samsung 250G SSD drive, cloned my OS onto it and good to go.

    At the same time I also installed WD's 1 Tb 10,000 rpm VelociRaptors New Generation (2 times faster than the previous versions I had) for my 'DATA' & 'BACK-UP'.

    If you do get an OS/separate drives, make sure you have good back-ups on external drives.

    Another thing, in the specs of that PC, it has Liquid Cooling, there's around $120 worth anyway.

  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited January 2014
    As to the 2nd part of the question. W8

    I have only had a play with W8 on mate's system. He hated it, but after a while managed to get the 'Start/Task Bar' looking as W7. I also hated the big blocky squares on the desktop with the 'Apps'.

    It's a bloody PC, not a Mac, (no, not bashing Macs) and I want it to remain/acting like a PC.

    Now, supposedly it's a lot 'lighter' running, cannot vouch for that, and anyone knowledgeable may answer, but not for the 'features' please, just using it if they come from W7.
    Personally I am not interested in 'features' I want a damn fast system, no bells, no whistles, just plain barebones speed.

    The guys that built my last system, when I was upgrading the Harddrives I asked about W8, the 1 owner LOVED W8, the other and the tech guy were Pro W7 over W8, but they did admit it appeared to have a lighter footprint on background Processes running, they just had to get it to act like W7 on numerous occasions as clients want the 'latest stuff' when buying a new system, but then realised it was 'not like my old system, change it'.

    The thing is, it's personal, many many do now of course use W8, and hopefully the upgrades to it are now making a lots of programs compatible, that was a key issue when first launched.

    I would not let that hold you back Mike, I'd still get that, or similar, system W8 or not, if in the market.

  • My understanding is that Windows 8 was designed with the touchscreen in mind and the trend toward huge monitors. With Windows 8.1 you can configure for the Windows 7 interface.
  • TrevTrev Moderator

    Thanks hoyaterp for that info, appreciated, that should put Mike's mind at rest. :)

    I forgot they had an upgrade to W8.1 after many complaints, good to know re W7 interface.
  • Hi Mike!

    I just received this EXACT system today!!! I will be firing it up tomorrow and loading all my software. I'm not a very techy person. However, I am excited to see this machine run. It's an upgrade from the Envy that was nothing but headaches!! I value all of Trev's input and insight on this product. I'm feeling hopeful that it will suit my needs.

    Good luck on your purchase!

  • oh, Envy Vision is what I had.
  • Thanks Trev, Wink, and Hoyaterp... All great info and very much appreciated! I did see the water cooling and the 600w power supply. Nice touches I think. I really don't think I can afford to do the ssd with my budget. It would be a home run if I could.

    Let me know what you think Wink. Also tell us if there is a lot of junk software pre installed.
  • TrevTrev Moderator

    I was just talking to Jen/'Wink' and she tells me she is very happy with the new system she got above. [She is in the US]

    She has loaded PS CS6, and it only takes 3 seconds now to open, much faster than the previous one and that's on a normal 7200 rpm SATA drive.

    Jen is going to post further info re system, getting Workspaces/Actions/ToolPresets and Plug-Ins transferred over to it in the near future, but for all intents and purposes, system is great.
  • Wink11Wink11 Member
    edited August 2014
    Hi Mike,

    I have to say I'm very happy w/ it so far. A success for sure!! HP always has a bunch of junk pre installed. I will be having a computer friend working on it further tomorrow to clean it up. Some of this stuff is over my head. I'll keep you posted.

    As Trev stated, it's much smoother and very fast. :) I've followed the detailed instructions on the other thread regarding moving fonts and actions...HUGE help and had me back up and running w/o missing a beat. All my Workspaces/Actions/ToolPresets PLUS my Plug-Ins all worked transferring via Trev's method in these threads. Make sure to check them out when you get your new machine. Definitely a time saver!!

    Mike, so far so good. I would recommend it.

    Trev, once again, thank you for your details and instructions. You really are a wonderful support and I appreciate your time.

  • Thanks Jen and Trev! Jen did you do the ssd or regular hard drive?
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    Mike, she running the 'As Is' purchase, nothing added/extra.
  • I see that I misread your comment stating it WAS a 7200 sata... thanks....I haven't found anything really close to this online. Esp with the watercooler and the ability / room to upgrade components later. I found similar wannabes that didnt even have windows installed for $ 900.

  • TrevTrev Moderator

    I guess then you have your new PC?

  • I am almost certain! Are there usbs on the front? Sounds silly but my desk setup requires them there ....for the wires for the ext hard drives, the tablet, and the spyder.
  • Wink11Wink11 Member
    edited February 2014
    Mike, there are some in the back and 2 on the top front.

    Hope this helps.
  • Ok thanks! That should handle a drive and the lexar reader. I imagine I can get a longer usb or an extension if need be.

    Is the fan loud? Seems to be a complaint with some hp units... I hate reading reviews. So much anxiety! :-)
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    I have a similar set up Mike, 2 front top of Case, but I also added a USB 'cage' which plugs into the Motherboard at back for 4 extra USB 3.0 slots, and I have my Calibrator, Card reader attached to back, bit of a pain in the butt, however the leads are long enough. My system's USB slots on front are USB 2.0 unfortunately since case is around 2 1/2 years old.

    With the new one:


    4 USB 3.0; 6 USB 2.0; 1 HDMI; 1 optical audio out; 1 headphone; 1 microphone

    Hopefully they are USB 3.0 on the front.

    Jen, what color are the USB's on the front. Black/Grey or Blue. If Blue, they are USB 3.0 ports.
    It is a common standard that USB ports are colored blue to distinguish them from USB 2.0 since they look the same in size, shape.
  • MikeZMikeZ Member
    edited February 2014
    Ya I am looking forward to usb 3. At least to try anyway. I have four usb2 up front now which is actually really nice. Four more in back.
  • Mike, the fan is unnoticeable. VERY quiet.

    Trev, they are blue. They face backwards on the top. It's annoying but the only thing so far that I'm not crazy about.

    Mike, your profile picture is lovely!! What a cutie.
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    USB 3.0 ports, excellent.

    Jen, get an USB3.0 Card Reader and you can download the files really super fast from your CF card.
    I now have one attached to an USB3.0 port, triple the download speed at least.
  • MikeZMikeZ Member
    edited February 2014
    Thank you very much! I have a newer one just not on my tablet. It is on my site though. She is truly one of the best posing models I have had and just turned 5 hahah! I can't get grown people to do what she does on her own! I had no prep time for this shot. She was playing and sat right in front of me in perfectly unplanned window light. Point, snap and she was gone...lol...

    Backwards you say...hmmm...must be something to do with the unit being geared toward gaming...

    I can not wait to use my lexar reader with usb3 as intended!
  • MikeZMikeZ Member
    edited February 2014
    Trev, I dont really see much spec info on this page. Any thoughts on these? I am ordering something today so just a last check... http://www.dell.com/us/p/desktops#!cid=all-in-one-desktops&facets=188144~0~12672846,135390~0~16387358,228279~0~17497923,153558~0~8739391&p=1

    And for the HP is that the 4770k or just 4770. My understanding is that the 4770k is the best all around even compared to some newer model numbers in that line up. Looks like it is just the 4770. Will I even be able to tell??? Sigh...I feel like ttl vs ap priorty vs. manual vs. invs sq law all over again!!!
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited February 2014


    Apart from what you saw, no. You'd need to make up your own mind.

    Regarding the Processor, on that link just states 4770:

    4th Generation Intel® Core™ i7-4770 Processor (8M Cache, 3.4 GHz)

    You should just contact them, I see they have live chat or phone/email for any other stuff you need to know.


  • So here is what it is going to be for me. I am having HP build a Phoenix Envy 810-130qe. Which is their numbering for a built unit. The 810-160 is an on the shelf unit ready to ship. For all intents and purposes the same unit. It will have a 2tb sata, 10 usbs (still only 2 usb 3s) same water cooled processor and graphics card/audio setup. 16g ram and the addition of a blu ray player dvd drive. (Don't really need that but it is the only way they will do it.)

    The long and short of it is that by doing it this way they will honor a 15% online coupon and that saves me almost $200. So it will be worth the weeks wait!

  • TrevTrev Moderator

    Excellent Mike, glad to see it's sorted. :)

    Do let us know obviously when it's set up and your thoughts which I know you would have done anyway, but for anyone else out there considering the same price range new machine it would be handy for your 'review' of it.


  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited February 2014
    Just noticed when I went to the search results a 'Customize & Buy' button, saw they had the 4770K Processor as an option Mike. Lots other stuff in there also.


    hmmmm, just 'built' a spec one I would do [4770K Processor, extra RAM, SSD for OS, 2 x 2Tb 7200 rpm SATA drives] and come out to $1984, close to the $2000 I initially said a custom one would cost, pretty good value though.

  • Good estimate on your part! I will let you know how it works! Thanks again to everyone!
  • MikeZMikeZ Member
    Well its here!! installing programs as we speak... very quiet and seems really quick. Update soon!
  • MikeZMikeZ Member
    edited May 2014
    So, it's been a little while using this new pc...

    What I have to say is that I basically moved from a riding on brontosaurus to driving a Ferrari!! It goes from start up to ready to use in about 25 or so seconds. All of my programs and CS6, Camera Raw/Bridge are just blazing. It is nearly silent. The water cooler makes the slightest buzz. If that is my complaint-I am an idiot!

    Windows 8 is different for me... I have it set to start up to the desktop and not the Windows 8 crap screen. It came with a fair amount of junk ware that I'll never use. But not an annoying amount. I got rid of a bunch but it is so fast I probably wont even bother with the rest...lol... a system check shows with Bridge/ CS6 running im using about 5% of the ram available. I did use the God mode to find things nicely!

    The dvd burn is very quick as is the file transfer with USB 3.

    I am getting a jittery pointer with my pen tablet which Wacom can't seem to calm down...not too happy about that! Could be W8, I guess.

    Overall I am so happy! It has cut loads of time off my work!

    Thanks to everyone for all the input!!
  • TrevTrev Moderator

    Good to hear, thanks for the update.

  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited May 2014

    On a side note, the 'God Mode' Mike alluded to gives you complete access to ALL the hidden stuff inside the system from changing desktop, Security, folders, etc. etc. tons of stuff that you have to search for separately.

    Here is what you do.

    1] First open Windows 8’s “File Explorer” and set the ‘View” options to “File name extensions” and “Hidden items”, you should see the extensions and be able to see the hidden stuff.

    2] Creating the 'God Mode'. This is only a name, you can change it to anything you like but you must have the name you give it separated by a . (dot) then the code. It creates a folder on the desktop so when you click it you get a load of stuff you can easily change.

    3] First, copy this string of Text/Code, do NOT include spaces on ends only the stuff in bold:

    choice of file name here.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}

    Obviously you will type in the name of your choice first then the .Code (don't forget the . dot)

    Here is what I put for this screen shot below:

    Trev's Control Panel.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}

    4] Now on the Desktop, right click, New/Folder, a new folder should now be created and the text highlighted, just paste in your name/code and hit enter. You now have access to all the controls in the one place and the icon will change from yellow folder to a blue icon as seen in this screenshot.

    image image


    and here is what you can access when you merely double click to open that folder. (on my system there are 274 items I can change).


  • MikeZMikeZ Member
    this lil shortcut makes things so much faster!
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