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We need more Power Captain
A post for photo/computer geeks

Because every minute less behind the computer is one more out in the field taking pictures ... or having a life

Partly it has to do with the 45MB files from the Nikon D800 ... but the time to ready a picture in a develop module in Lightroom is unbearably slow.
I have my previews and the software on a super fast fusionIO drive so the library module is fine. But when you're in develop mode it's accessing the HDD (and it hits the CPU hard) and it's taking anywhere from 17-40 seconds to ready the image before I'm allowed to start editing.
I don't recall having this problem a week ago... so perhaps something is wrong with the computer right now. (I'm doing a lot of time tests to figure it out)

CPU = Render time
Also export/preview times have significantly increased because of the larger file size. And they tax my system so much I have to pretty much stop doing everything but play on the internet when it's exporting (like right now)

New System
BUT... basically I've sold my backup/intern computer and I'm ready for a new system. AND... they just released the new IVY BRIDGE CPUs if I'm not mistaken.

Calling all Geeks
So for you people who study this stuff a lot let's figure out what the very best computer would be for a photo editor using lightroom and processing tons of files and big files at that.
If your build is more specific to PS6 or Video editing let us know as well. But I'm looking more LR4 specific.
And I know storage speed is very crucial but we're looking at the whole system.

Let's go with the newest top of the line Ivy bridge CPU

//We also need//
Ram (possibly a bunch for a good ram drive)
Storage HDDs and SSDs for both high speed performance and many TBs of space
Case Power supply, CPU cooler
Video card (multiple monitors 2-3)
Mouse and keyboard

Isn't it about TIME
So let's say I work on a wedding where I've selected 500 pictures to edit at the best speeds i'm getting today 17second wait that's 141 minutes of just waiting time not counting delays when enabling and using the high resource functions of the brush ... Just waiting. That's 2hrs20 minutes of the day just waiting. (On a good day presently)
Then export/render time takes a significant chunk as well (that you may or may not do while sleeping or doing other things)
We build a system that cuts that in half plus speeds up your responsiveness in editing and we're saving possibly hours per photoshoot (big or small shoots)
And for those full time event photographers that edit thousands of pictures per month that's way too much time and time = money.
So it makes sense to spend 2-3k on the fastest computer possible.

Mac vs PC
Hey I'll do what I need to do but no unsubstanted rhetoric... bring me the times and real speeds and I'll go where it makes sense. But I'm going PC for now because I don't need pretty... I need power. (Oh and my fusionIO drive doesn't work on Mac)

Perfect System
This post is for all of us people that need to save time on our editing and want to geek out a bit.
So let's work together to make the perfect system.
Brandon Larkin's profile photoJef Oliver's profile photoRyan MacLean's profile photoSheldon Marumoto's profile photo
+Scott Jarvie I have some thoughts on this but am not at home at present so need to do some research first - will get back to you shortly...
+John LeFebvre I invite you to do some research and share your ideas with us either on the show or on a post here which we could talk about on the show.

BTW if you know a particularly geeky photo person who loves researching this sort of stuff... TAG THEM in this post so we have the best minds on this problem :)
Render time falls on ram too I believe. Lightroom (well, adobe products in general) loves doing things in memory.
+Jef Oliver may not be a geeky photo person, but he's pretty familiar with Adobe products vs computer performance. Maybe he can weigh in.
If you're looking for the best bang for your buck - I'd recommend cyberpowerpc. You can configure a huge variety of specs there, they build it, and you get a machine with a decent warranty at a great price. When we're not buying Boxx setups we go through cyberpowerpc.

Snagging a decent sized SSD for your OS and core software drive is going to make a huge difference for you. We're Photoshop (not LR) users so YMMV, but with my old HDD setup Photoshop took about a minute or two to open... new SSD system it takes 4 seconds.

I'd have one or two internal HDDs for storage and backup, but I'd also go with external storage ala a +Drobo or Synology setup.

Make sure you plan on a strong cooling system for this beast of a computer too, though I'd avoid the gimmick of liquid cooling. I had a liquid cooling system in my current machine and the water pump just went out on it a week ago after only a year. Never thought I'd say the words "the water pump on my computer went out". Anyway from what I can tell, traditional cooling methods work just as well.

Also, snag a solid graphics card, go +NVIDIA Quaddro if you can swing it in the budget, otherwise the ATI Radeons are pretty good... just be sure to grab at least 2Gb of GPU with whatever you choose.

A last note about RAM, higher speeds do make a difference, so if you're choosing between 32Gb at 1300hz vs 24Gb at 2000hz... go with the higher speed. PS can't utilize more than 12Gb at a time right now anyway... not sure what LRs capabilities max out at.

There's my $0.08 (adjusted for inflation)
+Scott Jarvie Good question! I have always wondered about this - "they" always say the "Mac" is best for rendering, processing, etc. but I have never been convinced. Nothing against Apple but some of the high end Intel processors are amazingly fast and powerful!

I am curious about the top-of-the-line Intel or other PC processors versus Macs...
I'm hosting a party today but I'll try to get into this later :)
Oh and my last setup (that is pretty much like what I described above) ran about $1800 - $2100 if memory serves.
Ex-computer nerd here... haven't kept up much on the latest tech, I just try to keep my computer updated so I can keep up with Adobe products, lol.

I have an i7 3.4 sandy bridge and 16gig, I don't seem to have any issues with lag time moving from library to develop. It's pretty fast and I've been working with 45mb files via my Mark 2.

I might be just talking out of my ass, of course, the only thing I have to compare to is a ill-bought laptop that couldn't handle anything over 20mb so maybe i'm just looking through rose colored eyes.

I heard the Ivory bridge is a very fast and competent CPU though, can't wait to hear more about it.
+Dave Cox maybe we need you on the panel to talk the PS vein of the discussion where GPU comes much more into play than in Lightroom and where you can get away with putting your working files on an SSD easier than others who have crazy amounts of GBs we need to be working on frequently.

+Chris Sewell wanna put together a wishlist computer on Newegg to share?
I have an I7-950, 12GB DDR3 1600 ram, a crucial m4 sata3 SSD, 2 2tb 7200rpm hdds in raid 0, 2 nvidia gtx-465 cards in sli and its all air cooled (without overclocking air cooling is just fine with a quality case, quality paste and a room that's temp doesnt get hot. I can handle Photoshop, Lightroom and photomatix at the same time without my computer breaking a sweat.
And to compare prices my build, less the monitors, should be doable for under 1600
+Scott Jarvie Would love to but I'm headed out the door to the Asparagus Festival in Stockton LOL. If we do it tomorrow, I'm in!
+Scott Jarvie afaik there is no reason to put the working files on the SSD. Lightroom does all of that in memory for the most part. Having a decent speed HDD is fine for that.
Chris, I put the catalog on a striped PCIe SSD and have found there to be a great benefit in loading previews, personally.
+Ryan MacLean yep I'm doing the same thing with previews on a PCIe drive and that part is pretty snappy for me.

But in develop it's accessing stuff from the actual drive so I'm not sure how much HDD vs. CPU vs. Memory combo is coming into play in the develop module.
Imo an ivy bridge CPU is also overkill. A fair priced I7-920 should be plenty. Go for the best you can afford but focus on ram and storage imo. And you don't need to go crazy with 24GB+ either. 12 is plenty. Go for speed at that point.

Always remember though. The better your build now, the longer before you /need/ to upgrade it.
Contemplating a jump to d800 (just a bit) and this is what I am dreading 40mb files... So any Mac config suggestions for Aperture or Lightroom are welcome - just based on real facts of course. Will follow what the configs are on the PC side of the fence but will not jump there.
+Chris Sewell I'm gonna disagree... the type of computer you're saying is pretty much what I already have and it's just not fast enough for the D800 files. It seemed fine back with the D700 stuff. But I can't spend my time waiting on files to get ready to edit... i need to jump into the editing quicker.

I don't need good enough... I need to save my time with the fastest.
I don't need cheap ... I need to make a smart business move where I value my time the most.
I'm mobile atm so can't type much. Try 77mb raws if you shoot 14bit uncompressed like me. I'm about to delve into this topic today with my D800E files. I'll probably be able to join you in a bit. There is a whole science of raw files that I've been studying. A lot of what y'all are discussing doesn't make a difference. we'll chat. 
Right. Building a supercomputer is great. But if you're not working with 40mb files a $3000 machine is overkill. If we are only talking about a computer to handle the d800 then yeah, I'd upgrade mine for sure. A d7000? Mine is plenty.
It's funny I'm seeing this post now because 2 days ago my DIMMs failed and I was forced to swap out my 4GB sticks for an old set of ram. Running LR4 on just 2GB of ancient ram isn't fun. As a matter of fact I'm now on G+ because I gave up trying to edit anything.

Why ivy bridge in particular? You might be served just as well by a sandy bridge chip which I'm assuming will be cheaper. The extra money could go towards more ram or a bigger ssd.
+Ryan MacLean understandable... but there's no way I'm going back to LR3 I just use way too much of the features of 4 ... so I have to find a solution that speeds up the slower LR4

+Al Ebnereza well I won't be available until later tonight anyway. not until about 5pm my time. so 7pm your time.

Maybe that gives +Dave Veffer and +Dave Cox time to be done with their things as well. I don't mind going even later as well.

+Al Ebnereza do you have the D800e yet to test times?
+Gary Koh I'm. So. Sorry. 2gb? That's not cool man, hope you bump up soon.
Here's a question - why Intel? AMD has always been the go to CPU for heavy duty processing & rendering. Why not something like 6x AMD Phenom(tm) II X6 1090T Processor, run a 64bit OS and ramp up the RAM to at least 8GB. While my photos clock in an a "mere" 25-30MB ea., I'm also running Ubuntu Linux - so when I use lightroom it's in a virtual machine (Windows 7 using only 4GB of RAM)...but it works. While a decent graphics card can help (AMD bought ATI for a reason), RAM & CPU power are where ye take it on the chin! Get a decent case too - airflow and lack o' noise are crucial - I'm partial to Antec (I have a Sonata "piano black currently) - a bit more money than a $40 off-the-shelf case, but easy to work with (adding/changing drive for example), VERY quiet, runs cool...

A strong word o' advice in any regard - go to a "local computer shop" if ye can - put some research into that will save ye loads o' doubloons and probably make ye an excellent connection for future upgrades, service, whatever. PLUS, ye can get what ye need/want in a computer - not what someone else put in it already. It'll likely be more reliable too.
Yes I do. and 7 is fine.

and FYI for EVERYONE: 45mb/77mb file is NOT what the software/CPU/memory/hd is dealing with. You are now dealing with approximately 1.2-1.7GB of 16-bit demosaiced data per image when editing. Keep that in mind. More on this later :)
Scott, test one thing in the meantime;

Create a small test catalog, convert all images in it to DNG. test loading/editing time. 
+Scott Jarvie Here's something similar to my workstation which incorporates Ivy Bridge:

Total cost around $2400 all in. Expand for juicy details.

- Intel Core i7-3770K Ivy Bridge 3.5GHz (3.9GHz Turbo) LGA 1155 77W Quad-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 4000 BX80637I73770K

- ASUS P8Z77-V LGA 1155 Intel Z77 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

- Fractal Design Define XL Titanium Grey w/ USB 3.0 ATX Full Tower Silent PC Computer Case

- OCZ RevoDrive 3 series RVD3-FHPX4-240G PCI-E 240GB PCI-Express 2.0 x4 MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

- 2x RAID1 Seagate Barracuda ST3000DM001 3TB 7200 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

- PNY VCQFX1800-PCIE-PB Quadro FX 1800 768MB 192-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 Workstation Video Card

- 2x G.SKILL Ripjaws Z Series 32GB (4 x 8GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL10Q-32GBZL

- SeaSonic X750 Gold 750W ATX12V V2.3/EPS 12V V2.91 SLI Ready 80 PLUS GOLD Certified Full Modular Active PFC Power Supply

64GB of RAM might seem like a lot at this point, but I use RAM drives for PS, and will continue to do so.
I've put in redundant 3TB drives. If you need more, keep adding them in pairs and use the Antec PSU calculator ( to figure out what size PSU it will require.
+John Swallow Take a look at tests. The AMD CPUs, even ones with 6 cores, are outdone time and time again by the Intel ones. My Core i5 2500k (which has 4 physical cores) keeps pace or outdoes the processor you mentioned in most every test. i7 processors like the one Scott listed have 4 physical cores with hyperthreading, creating 4 more virtual cores, and outperform every AMD chip on the market. AMD goes for higher clocks and more cores, Intel pushes for better performance for their speeds and cores.

Don't get me wrong, AMD is great and quite a bit cheaper to get nearly as good performance in many instances, but for higher performance and not taking cost into account, Intel wins hands down.
I got a Hackintosh with an i7 2600K OC'ed to 4Ghz and Lightroom 4 flies with the D800's Raw files ;)
Brandon you're right for the most part, but I'll chime in because I own all three of those procs, and the i5 trounces them all when it comes to PS and LR.
+Ryan MacLean Yeah, because PS and LR don't take advantage of any of the hyperthreading technology of the i7, and the performance of the i5 per core defeats the AMD chips hands down.
+Brandon Larkin on some levels that may be true, but AMD has always led in Multi-threaded performance (ie. programs that can actually use all that power) - that's why it's been behind rendering intesive places like I.L.M., LucasArts, Henson...
and the thread falls apart..... smh.
Since it sounds like CPU is going to be a large bottleneck, you may want to consider ponying up for a dual CPU server motherboard. It's a bit more expensive, but sending 12, 16, or even 32 cores of processing power at your tasks may be worth it, depending on how well your software can multithread. Another advantage is that you can find motherboards supporting quad-channel RAM. While Intel is pretty solid and has awesome server boards, AMD can offer CPUs with more cores.

Of course, this kind of rig would demand SSDs for your main work drives, and probably a good RAID array for your magnetic drives. Thankfully, the high-end boards often have decent controllers built-in. You could also consider setting up SSDs in a RAID for even more performance. Intel is a good choice in SSDs since most of them have similar read and write performance. Cheap SSDs lack good write performance and aren't worth the investment.

Another thing: do NOT cheap out on your power supply, especially with this kind of high-end hardware. Cheap ones tend to have fluctuations in the voltage and amperage that, over time, can damage hardware. You're probably going to want in the range of a 700W model, and anything under $80 is probably going to be suspect. The big thing to look for is how many amps the power supply can deliver on the +12V line.
Yup! :)

No, everyone just got lost in recommending gaming machines to scott. This does not address the core of the problem, which is having Lightroom perform better with larger RAW files. +Scott Jarvie's current machine is no slouch. I will be making a post on what happens to large(r) raw files in LR when the data is being read. Just blindly throwing newer toys at the problem, without understanding the core behavior that is causing his slowdowns is, well, ignorant. No offense to anyone :)
for those wondering a big part of the new computer is that I've sold my old old one and so I have nothing right now for an intern... so that's part of it.

The other big part is I'd like to use the new SATA 6gb drives so i need a motherboard with the new sata speeds.

Also they are talking about how the z77 bridge system helps out even the sata ports.

I also have usb3 memory card readers with no usb3 connectors.
Not to mention the SSDs i'm getting are sata6/gb

Let's see what else? New motherboards can handle faster speed ram. And ram disks seem a cool thing.
+Scott Jarvie Remember that they only way you are going to get 6 GB/s speeds out of SATA is through SSDs. Physical hard drives can't saturate that level of throughput, and you won't see any difference between a 3 GB/s model or a 6 GB/s model (someone please correct me if I am wrong).

In relating the earlier discussion of processors, Lightroom is not very well threaded to take advantage of hyperthreading that I know of. Photoshop CS6, I believe, is better in this regard (and will use your graphics chips, as well).

I believe that you will benefit from a Z77 chipset due to its ability to use the HD 4000 graphics in the Ivy Bridge processor as well as using any dedicated graphics that you have in the system.
Brandon, the cache on larger HDDs (2TB+) should burst to speeds over 3GB/s on small file transfers.
The Z77 motherboards also support Intel's Smart Response caching, although I'm not sure how useful it will be as far as Lightroom developing is concerned. I suspect not very, unless it's the second time you've developed the same image. :P However, it might be worth it to dedicate a portion of a larger drive, or even a smaller drive to the SRT cache.
+Sheldon Marumoto I'd say no. Best business decision means at some point it doesn't become cost effective... but time is more valuable than money for a full time event photographers. So I'm figuring 2-3k (not counting monitors)
Time=Money, so it all evens out.
I would definitely recommend going with a Z77 board and an i7-3770K, no question. Something like an ASUS P8Z77-V LE or Deluxe would probably fit your needs and allow for future expansion as they have USB3 and eSATA ports.
What SSDs are you getting, out of curiosity?
+Scott Jarvie , I posted a Supermicro 6 core Ivy Bridge workstation above that should fit the bill, and comes in just under 3k. Substitute your on-the-way FusionIO for the OCZ drive I have listed.
One thing I might recommend on the HDDs (since they tend to be a choke point due to their slower speeds) would be to get 4 x 2 TB or 3 TB and put them in a RAID 0 array to help increase speed.
+Brandon Larkin - I might have to disagree with you on the HDD setup, basically for one reason: failure tolerance. Now, it depends on what Scott plans to put in his Fusion IO, and where the actual data will reside, but I do not recommend a RAID 0 system for any data that you absolutely, positively want to keep forever. Scott, can you give any more information as to for what you are using your FusionIO, and where the main image store of your system will be? Thank you.
+Sheldon Marumoto I know RAID 0 has no failure tolerance, I am thinking of this as a speed assist with the presence of a backup system being in place. Another option to increase performance would be running a RAID 1+0 with 4 drives, so you would have 2 RAID 0 arrays mirroring each other.
+Scott Jarvie - Also, will this system be pulling double duty as an... ahem... entertainment platform? Or do you already have an adequate BF3 rig?
+Brandon Larkin and +Sheldon Marumoto, as +Chris Sewell mentioned above, the develop module mostly has to deal with loading things from the catalog to RAM. I've had no issues storing 1TB+ images on a ZFS NFS share with a local PCIe-based catalog and gobs of memory.
TBH here, just having an SSD on the OS and having pictures on spinning media will speed up operations significantly since your OS and programs will be loading libraries and components faster.

Second, picture editing is not processor intensive. It is clock cycle intensive. So having a "fast" processor will not benefit you as much as having a processor with "more threads". (This is why +Chris Sewell's i7-930 works great. 8 open threads.)

RAM speed is a good thing that people have brought up here. It is much better to have faster RAM. Find what the max speed your board can handle is, and get the most you can get at that speed.

Back to storage. There are several misconceptions on storage out there. Some of which are even brought up here. RAID 0 systems will not load a picture any faster than a single hard drive. That is pure placebo. The reason for this? You can't load a picture into memory faster than your processor can read it in. And faster processors do not mean faster reads. This goes back to clock cycles.

Like I said earlier, just having an SSD for your OS will give you significantly better load times. Having an SSD for your picture storage isn't a bad thing either. But it really isn't necessary. A properly setup system with a SSD as main, and a fast magnetic drive behind it can be just as performant as a system that is on SSD's only. While storage can be a bottleneck, it isn't your only bottleneck. You should invest more attention into properly tuning and picking your hardware. A motherboard with properly setup communication buses. A good chipset with tested SATA performance. (Not all chipsets are the same here.)
have you considered overclocking? you could get that 3.5 to 5ghz easily if you use a phase change cooling system. I guarantee if you setup two high end machines side by side one normal and other you overclock and cool it with phase change your times will nearly be cut in half!
+Jef Oliver, photo editing is all sorts of processor intensive. Yes, having more threads generally helps, but only to a certain degree. Usually with today's CPUs, having a faster clock speed will generally benefit you more than having more cores/threads.

RAM speed won't make that much of a difference beyond 1600 MHz and can easily double or triple in cost for each 100-200 MHz of additional speed. I would recommend getting 32GB of 1600 MHz, low latency RAM like this:

And yes, while loading photos does depend on CPUs, that doesn't mean that CPUs are the limiting factor. When loading a 40+ MB file the storage device is definitely going to be the limiting factor, in which case switching from a single hard drive to a RAID 0 (or 5 or whatever) array WILL improve the load time. Obviously, going to an SSD would improve it even more.

That being sad, you summarized the performance issues nicely in that there can be many different bottleneck throughout the process and looking into the specific bottlenecks for actions within Lightroom will be the best thing to do. Adobe has a page with some basics here:

Ian Lyons has some more good info (and benchmarks) on his blog:
I'm out on the road for a few hours but tuning in to read the thread. But can't comment too

Presently fusionio pcie drive is storing about 100gbs of LR catalogs plus previews and the install of lr4 an that's all.

And if you're wondering at the moment I have an ssd drive for the OS and a seperate 32gb ssd for a cache drive

And speed tests are presently showing a 50% drop in speed between d700 and d800 files. Obviously I'll keep doing tests
+1 on SSD for the OS, Raid 0 for HDs Sata3 and Overclocking. Also, adding 25-50GB cache for LR previews helps a lot to save time.
+Russ Creech, you're a gift! After a quick search through Ian's blog, I noticed that he mentioned 4.1RC1. A quick trip to the labs found me this RC2:
A few tests later, I can confirm that this is in fact much faster on "modern" systems, and restored "acceptable" 3.5-era speed to my backup systems. Added bonus: point curves and edit in external apps are both back.

So, here's a preliminary build,

Some explanations:
CPU: i7-3770K Ivy Bridge - Non-optional. The man said this is what he wants, it's what he wants. :D

Mobo: Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD5H - This mobo has made the review rounds and appears to be a solid Z77 solution. There are others that have more features, but most if not all of those are gamer-oriented and the additional features are less important than rock-solid stability and durability.

Memory: Ripjaws X Series 32GB - A lot of RAM was requested, and this is the maximum amount that a Z77 board will handle. Memory speed and latency usually don't make a significant difference in real-world speed, but I spec'ed CAS latency 9 memory for just a little extra boost.

PSU: Corsair Professional Series HX750 - This PSU has received nearly universal acclaim as a solid, quiet, and absolutely reliable and well-built PSU. Never skimp on your PSU. Ever.

Case: Corsair Obsidian Series 800D - This is a monster of a case. Large, roomy and easy to work with. Some say, too large. However, it also has a professional look and feel, rather than a plasticky gamer look. If a smaller case is desired, consider the Obsidian 650.

Video card: VisionTek Radeon HD 7850 - Because all work and no play makes Scott a dull boy. :D

Storage: This is where it gets dicey, but I went with the following:
SSD: Samsung 830 256GB - Screaming fast, and high capacity. Use this for your OS, and reserve 64GB for Intel's SRT disk caching.

Hard drives: Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB - As many of these as wanted/needed. RAID 0 if you think it might help, (it probably won't), but always, always, always have a backup solution if you do.

This comes in at about 2K, at least, with only 1 HD. Some experimentation might be called for with RAID or how to utilize current/past SSD's, but with SSD prices currently what they are, using enough of them to hold entire catalogs worth of data is probably not cost effective (not to mention you'll run out of SATA ports). Something to consider might be to use the HD's as archival storage, and get multiple Samsung 830's for images that are currently being worked on. Unfortunately, much larger than 256GB and you're talking about taking up a third or more of your 3K target just for a single drive.

All thoughts/comments welcome. ^_^
+Scott Jarvie A few comments from someone who reviews the hardware being discussed...
Motherboard, you mentioned having USB 3.0 gear. Great. Go for a board with the Z77 chipset and Intel controllers. They are much more reliable (compatible) than most Z68's which use 3rd party USB controllers.
CPU, without doubt go Intel. I don't use LR but if its anything like PS then you benefit far more from the Intel chips than AMD. A lot of it is down to the clock speed used, get the fastest i7 you can and it will be significantly faster than the fastest AMD.
CPU 2, Ivy Bridge CPUs are pretty much identical in performance to the same speed Sandy Bridge. They do run a little hotter, which isnt an issue with a decent quiet cooler but you do benefit on Ivy Bridge/Z77 from the ability to run faster memory more easily... like 2133MHz kits of memory will run great with just a quick edit of the BIOS settings to enable XMP (sets all the settings for you).

An SSD will benefit the all round responsiveness of the OS and load times too. I too would suggest you go for one (OCZ Vertex 4 or Vertex 3) and make sure you update the firmware to the latest version before you start using it. Have a 2nd drive (or two) for storage and as has been suggested mechanical is fine.

The next version of PS uses GPU acceleration well from what I have read so it might also happen on LR too. NVIDIA are still working through releasing their current generation cards so there isn't a midrange model available from the 600 series yet. No point in going for the mad expensive 680, so maybe consider something like a Radeon 7850 which will use the PCIe 3.0 bandwidth of that Z77 board and CPU (really thinking about futureproofing on this aspect).

If I were building a system today (for your needs) it would probably be 3770K, Corsair 2133 Memory, ASUS Z77 Motherboard, OCZ SSD. Really you can substitute the memory for Kingston etc fine, the motherboard for Gigabyte/MSI or the SSD for Corsair, Intel etc... depending on deals.

What you do with regards to volume of memory, everyone else can debate that as I have no idea what LR uses. 16GB would be a base point for a futureproof system though.
Couple of further comments. If you are going for a good quality SATA3 SSD, ignore Intel SRT. It is meant to benefit people who buy smaller, cheaper slower SSDs to combine with mechanical drives.

Also ignore Lucid Virtu (just dont install the driver). It just complicates the system build and any decent GPU outperforms it anyway.

PCIe SSDs have some compatibility issues. They need to be specifically supported by motherboards normally. Thats fine if you want to investigate what boards work with what cards but a good SSD and plenty of RAM is probably the simpler solution.

And yes, a decent quality PSU is a must. Something like Corsair's models which have 5yr warranty for a reason. (Usually they are rebrands of Seasonic who are also worth considering) Anything 650-900w should be fine... 1000w if you must but be aware that your power use wont be anywhere near that. And modular PSUs will make the overall system more tidy with less cables to worry about.
+Stuart Davidson PCIe SSDs should be fine in all major motherboards as long as you don't plan to boot from them. Just make sure they have the PCIe lanes required and VROOOOM.
+Ryan MacLean The Revodrive 3 sitting unseen in a PCIe slot by the ASRock X79 Extreme 9 to my right wishes to disagree ;) Its friend the Revodrive X2 which causes bluescreens in the Intel X79SI wishes to then +1 the comment.
I guess ASRock and Intel motherboards are more popular than I thought?
I can vouch for Gigabyte, Asus and Supermicro, personally
But you're right, OCZ has a pretty good whack of threads for the more esoteric brands/boards.
The FusionIO is supported by Supermicro, HP and (if I recall correctly) Dells.
Not sure of sales numbers but with ASRock essentially being part of ASUS for a while (as well as winning loads of awards) and Intel selling boards because of the brand I would think they are both significant players.

Essentially though, for Scott's needs I would think we are aiming for a system that gets built and works right away with minimal down time. That to me says "traditional" SSD rather than PCIe... unless of course someone has some tests which show the PCIe drive really benefiting LR because the Revodrive 3 is awesome, without doubt, but only for Scott if it benefits LR.
Haha, no problem!
Scott's got the FusionIO with a 100GB catalog on it. I use the Revos personally on 3 systems with catalogs that are about half that size.
I wasn't knocking the brands, I simply haven't been a systems integrator for a while, and generally have deployed HP and Dell workstations (Supermicro at home, in case you didn't catch the bias) for the past 5 years, so your comments aren't falling on deaf ears!
Until I finally get back to Japan my net connection is too slow, but I'm in the middle of researching a new build for myself. I can send you my plans. I've build nearly 30+ from scratch so I have a general idea ;).

Short answer without any linking, an SSD will make the largest improvement. I have zero hiccups on 2G of RAM for my 3Ds and it is entirely due to the SSD. My next build will be busy around Ivy Bridge + new SSD + 16G of RAM w/ current video card Nvidia 460GTX.
Just want to mention that I agree with a lot of the things +Stuart Davidson is saying. Plus I also have had issues with the Revo.
LOL, and I just noticed I used a 2011 platform above. Fixed!
+Scott Jarvie have you considered storing the catalog and previews on separate drives to increase performance throughput? It may be that you are reaching some sort of drive and/or interface limit, and if it is trying to create previews whilst reading the catalog, then that's a lot of data across one interface - a second drive there could increase your performance - in theory at least.
+Scott Jarvie I went through this when I got the 80 Mpix Phase one... stripped OCZ 4 SSD's (2x 480 GB), the fastest processor you can get and at very least 16GB ram, and that is my laptop.

For storage I use a Pegasus R6 when at the office and 1.5Tb external disks with the Seagate Thunderbolt external interface (takes naked drives)

I got rid of my desktop Mac Pro, waiting for thunderbolt...
I'm back home... who's around to do our brain dump hangout photo-computer-geek show? :)
I'm kind of around. Depends on if my wife comes downstairs or not :)
I'm around, but since I got the chipset wrong I can only imagine what bonehead snafus I'd come up with!
I think on the hour means 9EST
+Scott Jarvie late to the party, but look at really fast RAM with tight timings and lots of it. For this reason I prefer Sandy Bridge E because LGA 2011 boards can take 8 sticks of RAM and you can get most of your files out of swap which should speed you up substantially.
Looks like a great system, Scott. Have fun in the build! ^_^
Looks like you got a great build out of the conversation, glad I could provide some input in the time I was online.
That is a killer rig. A couple of thoughts...if you want a bigger hard drive than the 3 TB, you can buy an external Seagate drive and crack the case and slap it in your system. This is the one I used (I like to keep all my iTunes media organized on one drive): Second, I've heard great things about the new GTX 6XX cards from nVidia, so it may be worth looking at them (though they're all on backorder). Happy building! I love that new computer smell!
+Scott Jarvie Looks good. Make sure you grab the latest Crucial firmware and flash before you install the OS. Older versions have a bug where you hit a certain amount of up-time and it causes constant reboots, pretty much on the hour every hour. The firmware will be marked on the drive label and you want 0309 or 000F (the latest which can be downloaded from here, choose your drive from the dropdown on the right)
I would avoid crucial ssds for performance; use OCZ vertex 4.
k I'll keep that in mind about the OCZ
This list points out that the Samsung 830 256 has about a 15% price premium over the Corsair m4, but it outperforms the m4 by about 20%.
If for whatever reason you do decide to go the Mac route and you have Lion running - people have complained about the virtual memory performance problems in it (and Snow Leopard). Turns out you can disable it and run fine if you have enough RAM, but still....
Make sure you don't skimp on the power supply, either. Either a 750W or a 1000W will suffice for you, but it will depend on how many things you have plugged in your case.
The Ivy Bridge should never use more than 100W, even when overclocked. If you put together an office workstation with an "ok" (non/old game) AMD 7750 graphics card and average HDDs, a 400W PSU (good quality, NOT, I REPEAT, NOT HANTOL !) should be plenty.

For GAMING it's a COMPLETE other story. The graphics card Nvidia GTX 690 uses 300W... And with some motherboards you can connect up to three 690's. But that would be rediculously fast. And you could need a 1500W supply. You need to be rich/stupid to get this rig.
+Lars Vargstrand Thanks for the info. I figured I didn't need 850 but it was a good Power supply. I did get a pretty nice 7770 video card that needs some extra power and I often max out my HDDs so I just went on the safe side. Not sure how many watts I'd need for board, cpu, lots of fans, and 6-8Hdds so I just went with a mid-high number.
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