Intel i7 Photoshop/Lightroom Workstation - Part Two

Sorry for the lack of posts the past few days.  I, along with my lovely assistant HA, spent them doing computer stuff and getting my new i7 machine built. I thought I'd share a couple of photos and some observations of the process for those that are interested.

I'm still installing everything and testing and whatnot, but at first glance, this thing is FAST. I've overclocked the processor from it's nominal speed of 2.66GHz up to 3.6GHz. So basically it's faster than the $1000 high-end processor at stock speeds. I could go higher, in fact it seemed stable at 3.8 and even 4.0, but I decided I'd rather back off and give it some room to breathe. I ran prime95 for a while on it and with all 8 cores (4 real cores, each split in 2 by hyper-threading) the temperatures max out a little below 80 degrees.  That's hot, but absolute worst case scenario and there were no crashes or blue screens or anything like that.  And this is with 12GB of ram installed.  Had to reseat the heatsink and reapply thermal paste a couple of times to get the right amount and the right placement, as this is still a black art, people come up with completely contradictory advise on the online forums at and others.

With the case all closed up, the fan on the power supply really speeds up to try to deal with the heat buildup. It's a small case and I'm installing 2 more fans when they come tomorrow. One 92mm to push air into the front and over the hard drives, and another 120mm in the back to expel the air by the cpu cooler.  Also, I think I can lower the CPU voltage a bit and still keep it stable.  I'll play with that this week.

I've got three hard drives in there right now. A little WD Velociraptor as a boot drive and a couple of Seagate 1.5TB drives in a raid 1 array for storage. All of them are mounted in elastic bands as you can see in the photo.  The Antec Solo case I used comes with the bands stock, the only one I know of. It's a silent pc dorky person trick to keep the drive vibrations from amplifying through the case.

Last night and today I moved my images from my old arrays to the new one by mounting one drive of each of the old arrays in my eSATA dock.  Very handy and relatively quick (still took hours, it is a TRILLION bytes afterall.  That's 1,000,000,000,000 bytes).  I had a bit of a scare when one of the drives died while transferring.  Just locked up and won't do much but click now. Luckily I had the other drive from the raid pair, and was able to get everything off of that one. Both were the 1TB seagate drives which have a firmware issue.  Looking up there serial numbers on the Seagate site showed that they both have the problem.  I had no idea, very scary timebomb.  This is to say, "Go back up your images, right now!"

So now it's time to use it for a while and see how it drives.  By the way, anyone who was thinking of building their own machine based on my previous posts and just got scared reading this, I was overclocking and doing fancy things to squeeze performance out of the system. A stock system would have none of that craziness and would still be very fast. More to come.