How much or how little to spend is up to the individuals ability to pay for it.
I have three computers plus a laptop, the oldest is 2005 mode (Dual Opteron 285)l followed by a 2007 (Intel Quadcore Extreeme) and the latest, well, the build started at the end of 2010, but is still a work in progress... Its definately in the "Over the Top" catagory, but its how I want it to be for the work I do.
I get frustrated sitting and waiting... therefor I decided back then, after having done a large shoot in the Australian Outback for two government bodies, with a fellow photographer. I back then spend 2 month, across three computers, not including my latest computer, working day and night (almost), turning out panos, HDR, focus stacking etc.... well over 200GB of raw files. Some of these pano's back then would take all night to process,using both APG and PTGui, Photoshop and Bridge as the main applications.
The job got alot bigger then what had originally been the intention, but some of us live for our art and will not compromise - ok, I try to live up to it :-)
anyway, I decided back then, that it would be cheaper to build a monster computer, that could handle most tasks, from making pano's to photo editing (retouching), now I like to work with layers so some of these pano's do tend to get very big in file size, however, i didn't want that to hold me back. Unfortunately i doubt its really possible to build something where it can handle everything and anything.
The bigger the build, the more components you add to this equation, the more likely it is for things to go wrong, and sometime you think that getting one thing will make a huge difference only to find that i won't and then you are off to the drawing board, trying to solve that issue.
2x Xeon X5650 @ 2.66Ghz, and when I replace the memory, it will be clocked at 4.3Ghz, 96GB of ECC ram,
cooled Noctua 14 heatsinks, whisper quiet
bootdisk 4x Intel 520 120GB
Scratch disk 8x Intel 520 120GB
Data Disk 8x 2TB Seagate SV35
All disks are RAID-0
Currently using the onboard raid controller and two IBM/LSI M1015/9240-8i raid controllers the two IBM are Softraid and so is the onboard one.
However, these are soon to be replaced with an Areca 1882ix 24 channel with 4GB cache and Battery backup, not sure if should go with just one or get two
This the also offers me the opportunity to increase the RAID arrays and therefor also the speed, but I will also experience that I may hit the ceiling of how fast I can transfer data over the PCIe x8, i think its 4GB/sec
as for graphics card, I am only using an ASUS GTX-460 1GB, at the moment this seems sufficient till the applications can make better use of it, as I have 7 PCIe slots, 4 of them x16 I have plenty of room for expansion
Currently most of this is housed in a LIAN LI 2120 case, particualar for this size mainboard which is frightningly large!!!
and powered by Antec 1200w power supply
Now I expect that if I add more hard drives and potentially more graphics cards as they can be utilised, I will also add a second power supply to run in parallel.
I have made some mistakes along the way, thats partly because I have been a cheapskate, the Seagate harddrives are not very well suited for this task, cheap and nasty..and I have lost some of the disks, but luckily i had it backed up. they need to go to a NAS or some backup unit, and replaced with better drives, more like enterprise class, which obviously means more $$$, secondly I assumed that because my 48GB of ram would let me overclock, that by adding another 48GB would just make it just as fast and I would be set, but thats not the case. I need to replace all 96GB to something better, so that I can get the overclock back up again, currently its only running at 3Ghz and I am wanting to reach 4.3Ghz it was before with the original 48GB, note this means, I have to go out and spend more on RAM, and I will probably take a loss on the old RAM....anyone interested in 12x 8GB Kingston DDR3 1333 ECC ram sticks...i'll do you a good deal ;-)
Apart from getting it setup, I haven't had many problems with the system, a couple of crashes over the past 1 1/2 year I have had it... you must all be surprised that a Windows 7 x64 machine is not crashing more often then this.... I know.... I am disappointed too, because my 2005 machine with Windows XP x64 has only crashed 4 times in 7 years
obviously none of this came in cheaply, but it was just over half price of the most expensive Mac Pro and still much faster.... and yes, I have thought of installing a Hackingtos on it, to see how OS X performs at 4Ghz :-)
all the best
PS: none of this is obviously worthless without skill and good workflow.... and I am still learning
Last edited by tived on Fri Jul 27, 2012 2:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.