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LCD flat panel display...
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rjlittlefield



Joined: 06 May 2005
Posts: 727
Location: Richland, WA, USA

PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2006 9:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Quick" is the key for that non-data drive.

The Raptor drive that Mike mentions is the very same disk that I use. I described it as "10,000 RPM 73 GB", but Mike's number is correct, it's actually 74 GB. It's from Western Digital, the model number is WD740GD, and you'll have no trouble finding it on the web. You also won't get confused by the competition -- as far as I can tell, there isn't any.

I did do some serious measurements when I installed that drive, and the improvement was shocking -- much more than I had expected based on the 10,000 vs 7200 RPM spindle speeds. What I had overlooked was the head speed -- the Raptor drive's head movement is almost twice as fast as typical drives.

If I were upgrading today, that Dell configuration you quote would look pretty good except that I would definitely swap in a Raptor drive (WD740GD) to replace that 80 GB system drive.

I actually did buy such a system last summer (for my college kid -- enough power to run big simulations...and games, I suspect).

I asked Dell to configure the system with Raptor as the boot disk, but they most apologetically refused -- reason unknown, but neither the sales rep nor his supervisor could find a way to task engineering to do the job.

So, I had Dell build it with a single big (slow) drive, bought a Raptor from sombody else, and the very first thing I did after confirming that the system worked was to clone all the content from Dell's drive onto the Raptor and swap to boot off the Raptor.

This was not much trouble, and we still had the Dell drive with all of their software installed in case of warranty issues, but it did require being comfortable with disk swapping and cloning. If you're not already there, then I'd agree that making friends with some local computer guys would be time well spent.

Mike's dead-on about the effects of partitioning a hard drive. It's a lot more likely to hurt than to help.

The big issue for Photoshop is to have separate physical disks for scratch and data, and for the scratch disk to be quick -- use the Raptor for that.

I'll disagree with part of Carl's advice and recommend that everything except your data goes on the quick drive. There's not usually much O/S or application loading that happens at the same time as Photoshop scratch access, and you want all of them to be quick in their own time. Data access is mostly streaming to large files, so head speed doesn't matter there.

You have my sympathies, Tom, in wading through all this information. But that bright spot is the light at the end of the tunnel. You're gonna be so happy with a modern machine that you'll hardly be able to stand it.

--Rik
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MikeBinOKlahoma



Joined: 20 Nov 2004
Posts: 1491
Location: Umm....Could it be Oklahoma?

PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2006 4:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I concur with the other comments that two drives are sufficient if you don't mind restoring your programs (which can be quite a pain) and data (which can be more of a pain) after a big systems crash.
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(reposts on this site of my images for critique or instruction are welcome)
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rjlittlefield



Joined: 06 May 2005
Posts: 727
Location: Richland, WA, USA

PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2006 6:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds like we're converging on a concensus.

Two working drives, plus lots of backup. External USB's work great for backup, and it's even better if you have the discipline to disconnect them when not in use.

BTW, the Acronis True Image that I use is an image-based backup. It backs up everything including the applications and Windows registry. Bare-metal restore from the backups requires a few mouseclicks and brings up a system that is indistinguishable from the original. They also allow the backups to be mounted as a file system, so you can access individual files in the backups. True Image version 8, which is what I run, is not perfect but is by far the best backup software that I know. They're now selling version 9, but I have no experience with that. If you're not happy having your data backed up in a proprietary format, there's also the option to use Acronis to back up your system drive and ordinary copies to back up your data. The Acronis backups are just files. They can be placed wherever you like in a file system hierarchy, coexisting with other ordinary files.

--Rik
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MikeBinOKlahoma



Joined: 20 Nov 2004
Posts: 1491
Location: Umm....Could it be Oklahoma?

PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2006 6:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tom is awfully quiet....Of course, he may just be out taking great photographs today instead of sitting staring at glowing phosphors! But Tom, if you decide you don't want to mess with the Raptor drive, your computer will still work, and Rik, Carl, and I will all still speak to you! Smile

But I do feel the speed increase is worth it if you can manage it.
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(reposts on this site of my images for critique or instruction are welcome)
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twebster
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Joined: 19 Apr 2004
Posts: 1518
Location: Phoenix "Valley of the Sun", Arizona, USA

PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2006 10:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi ya' guys, Very Happy

I assure you, my silence was nothing personal. I had to work overtime today to make up for Memorial Day off. Why does work have to get in the way of all of the important things in life. Very Happy

Is XP very unstable? I've had Windows 2000 running on another computer continuously for 6 years without a hitch. OK, I'll be pricing out building a new system. Yeah, I used to build computers, too. I just got to catch up on the new technology.

I'll keep everybody's suggestions in mind while I price out the components for a new system. If I build a new system it will probably have SATA drives. I just can't find anything smaller than 80GB. Seems sort of a waste to load XP all by itself on an 80GB hard drive. Oh well. We'll see what I come up with. Very Happy

Thanks y'all, you've been greatly helpful, my friends. Very Happy
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rjlittlefield



Joined: 06 May 2005
Posts: 727
Location: Richland, WA, USA

PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2006 10:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

All my machines run XP. It's rumored to be more stable than Windows 2000 was. It's definitely not as stable as Unix, and of course it depends on how many weird things you do with it. My office machines run for weeks without rebooting. My home machines get rebooted maybe twice a week, typically to clear a problem with VPN (Virtual Private Network) connecting to work.

The disk configuration is just a matter of how you decide to spend your time and money. I ran with one ordinary disk for years before deciding to try adding a Raptor for the system disk. The improvement was so significant that it's now my standard recommendation. But I was happy for all those years before I had it.

--Rik
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Carl_Constantine



Joined: 21 May 2006
Posts: 55
Location: Victoria, BC, Canada

PostPosted: Wed May 31, 2006 8:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

XP with Service Pak 2 is pretty stable. Make sure you install Anti-virus and anti-spyware tools as well as a good hardware router and maybe a good software firewall (the built in one in XP isn't bad but there are better tools like AVG [anti-virus] with firewall or ZoneAlarm. Don't use NORTON at all. It's a pig and will slow down even the fastest machine).

The specs on your machine are fine, though I'm not overly enamoured with Dell. Yes they are pretty cheap, but they are cheap if you get my point (not much for Quality in a Dell IMHO). Also, if something goes wrong, you got to send it back to Dell if there's no service rep in your area. I'd stick to a local supplier like your local Computer Troublesooter (look at www.comptroub.com for one in your area) and show him/her the specs you want. Then you get a local service person when something goes awry. (Yes, Shameless plug for my company but the principle is still sound).
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