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Processor upgrade or Ram upgrade?

by robcnet4 / April 2, 2007 5:39 AM PDT

I use my computer primarily for graphic design software such as Photoshop, Maya, After Effects, and other similar programs. There seems to be some slowness when running some of these programs, especially when rendering.

I am currently running a Intel Server Board SE7505VB2 with a dual 2.8 533 MHz L2 512kb config with 2g of RAM. The Intel specs on this product indicate that I could upgrade to several different processors, such as 3.2 MHz options. Could someone more knowledgeable that me tell me the fastest proc that I could upgrade to with this Server Board (too many options and very confusing to me) and if there would in fact be a noticable difference? Or, would I be better off adding additional RAM? My board can facilitate up to 8G. Would there be a noticable difference to 4G, or beyond to 8G, or am I wasting cash?

Thank you in advance for your thoughts

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Or how about...
by steve749 / April 2, 2007 6:39 AM PDT

A video card upgrade? I wonder what kind of video card your computer has as this is what is doing the rendering and it may be where the bottleneck is and as such could use the upgrade rather than the other areas.

I also think you mean 3.2 GHz as I don't think there was ever a 3.2 MHz processor made.

Just an idea,

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I would concur
by jackson dougless / April 2, 2007 7:17 AM PDT

Not only would I agree with a new video card likely being a more useful upgrade, but specifically the workstation lines from nVidia and ATI.

ATI's FireGL and nVidia's QuadraFX cards are probably what you want. They come with special drivers that are designed specifically to speed up operations in programs like Photoshop. The drawbacks will be they're not really optimized for general purpose gaming sorts of tasks, and they're expensive.

And as an aside for the other poster, one of the first chips Intel ever mass produced was clocked at about 4.8MHz, so I'm sure there was a 3.2MHz chip made during the development phase, before they got it up to it's blistering 4.8MHz. Between Intel, TI, Motorola, DEC, and all the other companies producing chips way back when, SOMEONE probably made a 3.2MHz chip, or very close.

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Oops, sorry then...
by steve749 / April 2, 2007 7:37 AM PDT
In reply to: I would concur

I'm thinking back to the days of the 386 when you had 25 MHz or better for the clock speed and forgot that I'm not that familiar with what came before them.


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recommend new workstation
by ramarc / April 2, 2007 8:55 AM PDT

all of the apps you mentioned are very cpu intensive and all will benefit most from a cpu upgrade. however, a 3.2ghz xeon will only give you a 10-15% improvement at best and run at least $700. current dual/quad core cpus such as an amd opeteron or core2duo will *significantly* outperform the old xeons that are compatibile with your setup. considering an hp xw4400 is about $1200, it's a better way to spend your money.

only maya could benefit from a 3d workstation card like a quadro and it will only speed up interactive manipulations, not final renders.

as for ram, 4gb is a good start but you'll need a 64-bit os to take full advantage of it.

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by colbox98 / April 3, 2007 2:47 AM PDT

I agree with the idea that you are probably better off upgrading to a new machine. By the time you spent money on new CPU's, RAM, and video card, to make marginal gains, you would probably be better off putting that money towards a new machine. You did not mention what operating system you are using, but that would have some effect on your options for upgrading as well.

If you are dead set on upgrading, I would probably look at your video card and RAM first. These traditionally give you the most bang for the buck. Depending on your operating system you may not be able to take advantage of more then 4GB or RAM even though your board may support more. You could upgrade your CPU's and you would get a little better performance, but you are going to be spending a premium for the minimal increase.

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Additional information
by robcnet4 / April 3, 2007 5:20 AM PDT

Thank you for all your input, it is greatly appreciated. Yes that was a typo on the 3.2 MHz.

I have done quite a lot of work upgrading components and the case, so I am not sure I want to toss it and get a new computer. I guess I am looking for the most economical upgrades. So maybe that would be sticking with the cpu's and upgrading the RAM to 4G.

As far as the OS, I am currently running Windows 2000. I am thinking up updating the OS to Windows XP. My graphics card is a Nvidia Quadro FX 1000. Let me know if you have some more suggestions based on this new information. Thank you again.

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I have an additional thought, I do AV editing.
by TechX86 / April 3, 2007 3:14 PM PDT
In reply to: Additional information

What type of hard drives? SCSI, SATA, PATA (IDE Standard)?

Your system is not the top of hardware, but the specs, suggest a rather great running machine.

Runing XP as your OS, may or may not make a difference using the same hardware. I have seen XP perform better (and worse) with the same hardware over other versions of Windows.

Hard drives make a difference in system speed. The best balance of price to performance, are the SATA hard drives with an 8MB or 16MB Cache. The SATA Controllers and hard drives would give you an extra
10-15% in boosting your capture and render speeds. It also helps to use two independent hard drives, one for Windows, and one for your AV work during capture and render. The reason for this configuration is due to the windows "virtual memory" usage on the Windows drive.

SCSI controllers and drives, are still a little better than SATA; however the controller cards and the SCSI drives also cost "just little more" too.

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Hard drive information.
by robcnet4 / April 3, 2007 5:32 PM PDT

Thank you for your input. My server board provides embedded dual Serial ATA channels using the Silicon Image 3112A PCI-to-Serial ATA Controller. It can control individual drives or a RAID config. It is currently set to individual drives.

I have two Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 SATA 3.0 Gb/s 250=GB hard drives with 8-mb cache buffer each.My SATA controller only facilitates 150 Gb/s data transfer, so if I wanted to take advantage of the 3.0 Gb/s I would have to get a different controller.

Here is the catch, and likely part of the problem.I only have one of the above drives running, because my OS is running on the original Seagate 80 G hard drive that came with the computer. This drive is thrashed because I got to box from a studio that I used to work with. So yes, I need to install the os on the new 250g drive and toss the 80g, however I have been procrastinating because I don't know if I should upgrade to XP and what other changes I should also make at that time as mentioned in above posts.Just so I understand correctly,when reinstalling the AV and Anim software, you would suggest installing it to the non OS drive? Let me know if you have any follow up comments? Thank you so much for your time

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