Build new or rebuild existing workstation??

Hewlett-packard / Hp xw8400 workstation
February 18, 2012 at 22:10:30
Specs: Windows 7 Ultimate, 1.995 GHz / 8191 MB
To upgrade or start from scratch??

I have an extremely reliable, but fairly slow, XW 8400 Workstation. Made some changes over the years, but it's over 5 years old. Here is a basic parts list:

- Xeon E5335 2.0 processor

- 8G RAM - DDR2 PC2-5300 Fully Buffered (whatever that means) DDR2-667 memory - four 2G sticks (Crucial)

- Three WD Caviar Black 2TB (3GB/s) HDD in a "hardware" RAID-5 array - through a RocketRaid 1740 card

- Two Crucial 128GB m4 SSD (SATA 6gb/s) in a RAID-0 array - for boot drive / program drive only

- GTX 465 video card

- Two SyncMaster 2333HD monitors

- Renesas USB 3.0 card

- OCZ ZX series 1250W modular power supply

- BD ROM drive

- BD RW drive

- WIn 7 Ultimate

I use the computer constantly - about 16 hours a day. I use the computer to run Adobe Master Collection 5.5, Studio 14 Ultimate, and various video ripping / burning programs, QuickBooks 2012 Enterprise Edition and Office 2010.

I have some kind of card that records cable tv, which I'd like to install, I know it's by Hauppauge, but I haven't played with it much. I also intend to add a few monitors, as I want to link a basic surveillance system into the computer.

I do have a slot for an addition Xeon processor, and I'm told I can hold up to 192G of memory.

I have a NAS setup and I back the computer up regularly; to date, I have never needed to recover any data.

If I start from scratch, what parts can I re-use in the new computer? Some people say start from scratch - I'll have warranty and the latest technology. Well, I've never had to use warranty, so that doesn't seem like a valid argument. I have researched the Z800 Workstation, and the Asus X79 based Workstation; I like them both, but they are expensive!

If I do keep the current system, how can I speed it up dramatically? I do a decent amount of multitasking - but this thing takes forever to do the most basic video rendering.

I'm new to the site, so if I've posted improperly or incorrectly, I do apologize.

I am hoping someone can point me in the right direction; I've been told this forum is the best place to get such assistance.


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February 19, 2012 at 09:50:13
The adobe seems to be the critical element. The rig may be improved if you start with a clean reload of the OS. Take time to limit any un-needed software or consider running dual boots or virtual machines for extra stuff like ripping. Because it is a workstation it is more likely that speed for the sake of speed was not the target.

If after a clean reload of the OS and tweaks to reduce cruft you still find it too slow then consider a core i7. But be sure you know how to tweak for adobe. There are some very specific tricks.

Even the addition of a scratch disk and a speedboost flash may help. I doubt any other improvement would help.

A Pit Bull is like a gun you can pet. And there is no safety on it.

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February 19, 2012 at 10:16:54
Rendering is so cpu intensive that it should be run on a separate machine.

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February 19, 2012 at 18:47:27
Oddly enough I just did a clean install with win 7 ultimate. The machine came with XP Pro. It definitely made a huge difference.
I know nothing about tweaking, scratch disks, etc. I am basically self taught. If you had a particular site or download in mind, I'm all ears!
I can dedicate this workstation to adobe and build a new desktop for business purposes. If I do that, would the second Xeon processor be a big improvement - or a waste of over $600? That's what the second CPU kit with fan, etc is selling for.
What parts from my list can I remove and what should I leave? I've pretty much decided to build my own desktop, and some of the parts are expensive!
Thanks again.

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February 19, 2012 at 20:14:54
I came across these recently. I hope they help.
The i7-2600K overclocked appears to be a good choice for Photoshop as I expect the near future i7-3770K Ivy Bridge should be as well. As far as the second Xeon processor, the extra 4 cores should help, but the speed is still rather slow at 2GHz. A new system with SATA III (6Gb/s) with an SSD drive for OS and Photoshop, another SSD exclusively for a scratch disk, a fast hard drive for storage, and 16GB to 32GB of 1600DDR3 RAM you could build a really fast Photoshop machine. The 2600K is often overclocked to near or over 5GHz but many run it 24/7 at around 4.5GHz very stable with reasonable air cooling and since it is not a server/workstation motherboard or CPU or even special memory, you would be in a much more reasonable price range... Something to think about.

You have to be a little bit crazy to keep you from going insane.

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