Opinion on Which Core i7 Processor?

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums TECHNOLOGY Opinion on Which Core i7 Processor?

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    April Prey

    Hello –

    I will be a second year BLA this fall.  After my laptop crashed on me TWICE this summer (thankfully, being summer it isn’t a crisis), I’ve decided to build a desktop for the first time so I’ll have two systems. I am not the geekiest person in the world, so I’ll be getting help each step of the way from my geeky/ME partner. 


    I’m researching processors.  My laptop performed very well my first year and I was very happy with it – the main issue is reliability – its not much good if I can’t get it to boot up!  It has the Core i7-720QM so I started reading reviews of the “Sandy Bridge” second generation processors for desktops: i7 2600, i7 2600S, and i7 2600K.  Most reviewers love this series – the worst thing I could find anyone saying was that it wasn’t the best processes for extreme gamers. 


    I realize this may be a simplistic question, as the type of motherboard/chipset, video card, and other components I choose will ultimately decide the performance of the system. But does anyone have an opinion on which of the three processors would be best for the typical BLA who may run Photoshop, Illustrator and AutoCAD at the same time? 


    Or is this a prime example of splitting hairs?


    Thanking folks in advance.  Remember: I’m a geek-in-training at best so keep the responses at that level!

    Joshua Elam

    Umm, I’m running PhotoShop CS5 Extended with full GL capabilities on a 2.5 year old laptop with 2.6 Core 2 Duo.  You are talking about modern hardware, in which case anything a typical LA would throw on it will be fine.  Photoshop is not very graphic intense, it mainly takes up your memory, so make sure you get at least 4gb of that, 8 if you wanna run a lot of programs simultaneously and play it safe.  Remember, PhotoShop and AutoCAD runs on old windows XP office computers, they have legacy that requires them  to work on older hardware. 


    So honestly, I would go with the cheapest of the 3 you mentioned, I don;t think you will really notice a difference in performance.  Spend the extra money on memory, it will be more important for running Photoshop, Illustrator and AutoCAD at the same time.  Good luck with the build, hope it turns on the first time!


    If you’re looking to have Photoshop, Illustrator, and AutoCAD all running simultaneously, RAM is probably going to be your biggest limiting factor.  Get as much as you can, and use 64-bit versions of the programs — Photoshop and AutoCAD are available as 64-bit (I’m sure the rest of the Adobe CS will transition to 64-bit in time as well).  If the program is not 64-bit, then it will not be able to fully take advantage of all the ram.

    As for the processor, any i7 will run these apps simultaneously like a champ.  If you’re really looking for performance out of this rig, look for a combination of high clock speed and large L2 and L3 cache sizes.  Cache sizes can seriously improve a processor’s performance.


    Also, don’t skimp on the video card.  Whatever you do, do not settle for an Intel graphics chip.  Get either an AMD/ATI or NVIDIA card….I personally prefer NVIDIA, but either will get the job done.  There are a lot of cards out there with 1gb of memory, and I tend to look at the number of stream processors as the main deciding factor for video card purchases.


    It all depends how much money you have to drop on this machine, and if you really want to have the highest performance components out there.  Let me know if you’ve got more questions.

    Frank Varro

    It all depends on what level of graphic work you are looking at doing.  If its CAD and basic photoshop, you’ll be fine with about anything.  If your planning on doing 3D, large and multilayer photoshop, then you need more of a workhorse.  I built my own system with an i7 940 processor (quad core 2.97 Ghz) 6 Gigs of DDR3 ram, and a GeForce 470 Graphics card, and most of the time I love it, but even it bogs down on bigger 3D projects.


    Check out TomsHardware.com for reviews on specific chips, motherboards, etc.  They seem to lately be focusing on Gaming bang for the buck reviews (which isn’t going to be extremely different than high end graphic work), but they did do a review of the sandy bridge series when they first came out, including benchmarking them on things like photoshop and 3DS Max  http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/sandy-bridge-core-i7-2600k-core-i5-2500k,2833-15.html


    If your looking at a desktop, do look into building your own IF your looking fairly high end.  If your look at spending $700, then just get one off the shelf.  However, if you’re planning on getting a decently high-end rig, you can save 30-40% buy doing the build yourself and buying through places like newegg. (This rig was my first ever build, and I spent around 1600 for something that would have cost me 2400 at least)

    Jason T. Radice

    I’ve always built my own PCs until recently…namely my last PC, which I purchased in September. I ended up getting a refurb HP Elite with a Quad Core Phenom II 64 (the fastestest clock speed …they also make a six-core). It has 8 gig of RAM and a 1 TB hard drive, Blu-Ray w/ 1080p HDMI graphics card…the thing is lightning fast, althought I plan on upgrading the graphics card in a little while for a little more RAM on that.


    Anyway, the point is that I could not build even half the machine I bought for the same price. And that was before I added in the OS, let alone any other software. I have seen them with the i7 processor as well (but I prefer AMDs…I’m strange).

    I got mine from Woot.com on one of their one-day sales, but you can check http://www.dealnews.com for an aggregate of the best deals daily…sometimes you can get a brand new machine for cheap.


    First off I want to say I agree completely with everyone here with reguards to what has been said about all of the tech specs.

    I too am going into my second year of my BLA and i have a suggestion which is a personal preference and can go either way. I read you are having your ME friend help you build your computer. That is a great way to go, in reguards to POWER AND PRICE. Personally, I am a MAC user and will NEVER go back to PC again. The one sole reason is dependability. As of right now this very minute, an average mac is way safer than an average pc without virus protection. I believe this will change in the next 4-5 years or sooner, seeing as how OS X is becoming more popular, thus more prone to viruses. But as of now macs are way safer and that really can’t be contested. Here is my take on things. Being that you are a second year, I think I can speak accurately for what we will REALISTICALLY need our personal computers for and in what contex. On my MAC I have loaded AutoCAD, REVIT, PS CS5, Sketchup, and the Podium v2 rendering plugin. At most I will have SU and PS open at once. This is generally because of how I work. I start in AutoCAD, SAVE, then open SketchUP, IMPORT, then model in SU, RENDER, SAVE, then open the scene in PS and do post digital work. I am running a 2.53 ghz i5 and 4GB of RAM. This method works fine and I have had no problems. My only wish is to upgrade to 8 GB if RAM and that will cost me 400. They offer a 15″ Macbook Pro with an i7.  Which I think is perfect because of the portablilty and power. I am assuming you want to use this laptop for more than just RAW power, ie web surfing and this is my personal reccomendation. Some day, when I have the guts and money I will probably build my own PC STRICTLY for graphics and rendering. So basically, for what WE do as STUDENTS need I think a MacbookPro will be fine, but that is just me. In the professional world where rendering can be very serious and extemely time consuming i think a PC is the only viable choice.

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