Gigabytes, Gigabits… Megahertz, Schmegahertz…


New PC Needed…  To Buy or to Build ???


So there I sat, with almost a thousand images to review, sort, cull and prepare for proofing. Adobe’s Photoshop Lightroom to the rescue – or so I thought.

First, the images from the five Compact Flash memory cards (8GB each) took what seemed like forever to upload to my hard drives. This was due in part to the fact that my USB connections were the 2.0 version and not the newer and snappier 3.0 version. The second problem was the computer itself. I have been using a Dell machine with Windows Vista 32 bit. Yes, you read correctly – 32 bit Vista. This thing can only recognize 4GB of RAM, of which Photoshop and Lightroom would use just about every available morsel. Lightroom (3.6) would drag while in the develop panel, and certain functions in Photoshop CS5 would just cause it to crash.

A few days and nights of waiting, rebooting and pure frustration went by, and I decided it was time to look into upgrading my setup. I checked out a few of the big name manufacturers and found out that a PC with the type of performance capabilities I was after would cost upwards of $4,000 or more. And one trip to the old red fruit website showed me a system that would run me about $5,600, no way!!! This was money that I didn’t want to part with, as I planned on upgrading to Lightroom 4 as well at Photoshop CS6. And I knew that the old Dell just isn’t up to the task of running LR4.

After talking to a few friends about my dilemma, they suggested that I go custom and build my own computer. The idea of doing this was quite intimidating at first, but I decided to look into it. After a few days of watching online videos and surfing a couple of “techie” message boards, I was convinced that I could do this. So I then started to dig deeper into the component choices and tried to figure out what I needed to construct a machine with the ability to run the various applications that I currently use as well as some that I may use in the future. This period went on for over a week until I verified that all of the components I had selected were going to “play nice” with one another.

So the time had come for me to load up a shopping cart (or two) and click the order button. Oh my, what have I done? Am I really going to be able to put this all together and will it actually turn on when I press the power button? So from the time I clicked to confirm my order, I crammed two more days of videos and articles into my brain. And when the UPS truck stopped at the house I was all charged up and ready to start tinkering. I opened the packages and pulled out all of the boxes only to feel overwhelmed once again. This looked tougher in person, but I have always been good at following directions. And that’s exactly what I did. Word for word and step by step, I slowly went through and put everything together.

Looks like a computer store puked on my table


The Moment of Truth…


After connecting the last of the power and data cables, it was time to attach the monitor and keyboard and fire it up. I pressed the power button and watched in amazement as the fans started spinning and the monitor lit up with the motherboard’s logo. I had actually built a computer and it worked. I followed the instructions to get into the motherboard’s BIOS settings and verified that all the hard drives, RAM modules and the graphics card were detected and functioning properly. So far, so good. Next up was the installation of Windows 7. I inserted the disc and watched as the operating system was installed. One of the cool things about going the route of building my own system is that there isn’t a ton of unnecessary and useless programs known as “bloatware” hogging up hard drive space and system resources. This is a clean install… A blank slate…

Bad Cell Phone Picture

Next I installed the drivers for the graphics card and the motherboard. This was as simple as inserting a CD into the drive and again, following instructions. Next up was a system restart. After shutting the system down and restarting it to make sure that everything was working just fine, I clicked on the My Computer icon and ran the Windows Experience evaluation to check out the system’s score. It scored a 7.6 out of a possible 7.9 which is more than double the score on the old Vista machine that I’ve been using. If I wanted to bring the score up even higher, it would only require me to “overclock” the processor a little bit. But I’m more than happy with how fast this beast is, and don’t feel that I need to push it.


Now I have a computer with tons of storage, memory and processor power that will hopefully keep me waiting less and working more efficiently. There’s tons of room for expansion as there is room for 4 more hard drives, another 16GB or RAM and multiple 5.25″ drive bays and PCI slots.

Aside from saving well over $2,500 on the system, one of the best benefits is the warranty. When you purchase a complete system you generally get a one-year warranty unless you purchase a costly extension. By building it myself each component carries its own warranty, with the shortest period being two years and the longest a whopping seven years.

So don’t go buy, give building a try. Here’s a list of the components that I chose to build my system. Hopefully I have been of some help if you’re thinking about a new computer.


Case:                              Rosewill Thor (huge gaming case with 4 fans for awesome cooling)

Motherboard:              ASUS Z77 Sabertooth

CPU (processor):        Intel Core i5-3570K Ivy Bridge 3.4GHz

Power Supply:             Corsair HX750  750 Watts

Solid State Drive:       Crucial M4  128GB (for operating system and image editing programs)

Hard Drive:                 Western Digital 1TB Caviar Black (storage and all other programs)

CD/DVD Drive:          ASUS  DRW-24B1ST

Graphics Card:           EVGA Superclocked GTX560  2GB

RAM Memory:            G-Skill 16GB  2×8  (room for 16GB more)

CPU Cooler:                Cooler Master  Hyper 212 EVO

Operating System:     Windows 7 Professional 64 bit


Thanks for stopping by, and I promise more photos and less words in the next posting.

Check back to see a few wedding images that I am going to process on the new computer this week.




  1. Mary Mac July 21, 2012 at 7:39 PM #

    Wow, I”m impressed! My tech guy keeps telling me to let him build me a system, maybe I will. I love your pictures,too. Good eye.

    • Rich July 28, 2012 at 1:06 AM #

      Go for it Mary… You’ll save a ton of money over the big brand names, and have way better performance. Thanks for the compliment also…

  2. Tim B. July 3, 2012 at 9:58 PM #

    Sounds like a killer system you’ve put together. So you’re booting off of an SSD? How quickly does it get you to your desktop?

    • Rich July 3, 2012 at 11:36 PM #

      Hi Tim… Yes I have the operating system on the solid state drive along with Photoshop and Lightroom. From the time I press the power button, I’m at the Windows login screen in about 12-15 seconds.