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david_taurus83

PC build for processing

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Has anyone on here got experience with self built PC's? I've read a few times now that gaming PC/laptops are best due to their processing power and graphics cards. There seems to be plenty of online help and tutorials for first time PC builders and I'm not afraid to tackle something like this. It would never be used for gaming so graphics wouldn't need to be top of the range but would still need to be decent. I'm mainly interested in the high processing power and plenty of RAM. I would ideally connect it to the TV in the living room and process my images from the comfort of the sofa using a wireless mouse! So in a nutshell, I'm looking at a gaming spec PC without the need for gaming! Will mainly be used for pre and post processing with Pixinsight.

 

I have had my current laptop now for over 6 years. Its i5 with 8Gb ram. Its ok for casual use, Autocad at work etc.. But it's been trying to generate a master bias in Pixinsight now for the last half hour!

 

Any tips, links, approx costs, general advice etc much appreciated!

 

David

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Has your pc got a SSD or HDD ,  having a SSD does make a world of difference ,I5 with 8gb is sufficient maybe your hdd letting you down 

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Posted (edited)

SSD in the laptop but due to storage space and the ridiculous amount of data Pixinsight generates i have started to use an external HDD. But even if everything is on the SSD it is still doggedly slow.

 

Edit: to clarify, I've upgraded the RAM to max 8gb long ago and installed 250gb SSD. Huge difference to start up time over standard HDD yes, but Pixinsight seems to be maxing it out.

Edited by david_taurus83

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Most processing and rendering would rely on the cpu mostly i think, so I don't think you would need a beefy gpu. I do occasionally do some video editing in premier pro and that's primarily work for the cpu, and the same goes for stacking images in deep sky stacker.
In your case I would think you core I5 is propably a 4th gen or something, so an 8th gen I5 quad-core together with 16 gigs of ram would do a great job I think. As for which graphics card, a GTX 1050 or even a 1040 would do a good job, but don't quote me on the graphics card.

If you want me to, I could do some other testing if I have the software you are interested in using with the pc (I don't have PI however).

I hope someone on here who has actually built their own pc can actually help you more than I could.

I hope  I could help just a little!

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What operating system are you using? as the specs you quoted look reasonably ok.

Alan

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2 minutes ago, Alien 13 said:

What operating system are you using? as the specs you quoted look reasonably ok.

Alan

I use windows. I don't actually have a pc myself, and that's also why I mentioned that someone who has actually built their own pc for the same purpose would probably be more helpful, but I do have a pc with the following specs:

Core I7-8750k hexacore 8th gen

16 gigabyte of ddr4 ram

Nvidia gtx 1060 with 6gb ddr4 dedicated ram.

256gb ssd

1080p display(probably not so important here)

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3 minutes ago, Alien 13 said:

What operating system are you using? as the specs you quoted look reasonably ok.

Alan

As Alan askes as well your task manager is using all 8bg of it

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Standard questions are

1. Budget

2. Do you have a monitor 

3. Any other specific software other than Pixinsigt, photoshop?

4. OS wise win10 pro from softwaregeeks is £20, have used several copies from them without problems, cant understand how come MS haven't shut them down if they are illegal.

I would still add use a monitor, you more likely to be able to calibrate it than a TV. Last off the shelf PC I purchased was about 20 years ago, been building my own since.

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1 minute ago, JonC said:

Standard questions are

1. Budget

2. Do you have a monitor 

3. Any other specific software other than Pixinsigt, photoshop?

4. OS wise win10 pro from softwaregeeks is £20, have used several copies from them without problems, cant understand how come MS haven't shut them down if they are illegal.

I would still add use a monitor, you more likely to be able to calibrate it than a TV. Last off the shelf PC I purchased was about 20 years ago, been building my own since.

Sounds like you can probably do much more help here than I can:-) I will listen here as well

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One thing that you could never do, is, process images from the sofa. Day or Night!

You need to be 'close'.

I use what Victor uses.

Rich

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Current laptop specs:

Acer Aspire 5750 with Windows 7

Intel Core i5-2450M CPU 2.50GHz

8Gb ram

250Gb SSD

Intel HD Graphics Family

 

As mentioned above, all 8Gb of RAM is used when running Pixinsight!

 

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1 hour ago, david_taurus83 said:

Any tips, links, approx costs, general advice etc much appreciated!

I've built a couple of desktop PCs in my time, including the one I'm now typing this on. It's really not very difficult, just a question of mounting a few things in a box and plugging all the bits together! Probably the hardest part is deciding what bits to get in the first place. This PC is about 6 years old, so I'm not very 'current', and was built for processing photo images. To that end I wanted a fast PC with plenty of RAM, and one that wasn't too noisy. I used an Asus P8P67-MPro motherboard and an i7-2600K 3.4gHz Intel processor (Sandy Bridge), along with 16GB of RAM, an SSD hard drive, and Win7 OS. Although others may say otherwise, I found that despite building it myself it cost about as much as a ready built one, but I didn't stint on the component quality and I could configure it as I wanted. The graphics card is only 1GB, but it is naturally cooled so doesn't add any extra noise. More applications make use of a GPU, so you might want to plan for the future. It may be tempting to use the fastest ICs available, but the price tends to rise steeply for top end, so probably aim for a spec a little below, unless you've money to burn :smile:.

I don't use PI, but as an astro imager with an Alt-Az mount it was customary to run off at least a couple of hundred frames taken with a 16MB DSLR, so the processing workload is high. I have used both DSS and AstroArt to stack the frames, and StarTools to process, and I've not found the processing time to be excessive. The machine is not overclocked either.

Good luck with your project, it's an interesting exercise and you get to find out a lot about PCs along the way.

Ian

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I have been looking into this myself recently, and came to the following conclusion:

AMD Ryzen £200 - £300 cpu is the way to go. Pixinsight benchmarks seem to back this up.

16GB of RAM is also good, although with RAM prices you might be OK with 8GB. Depends on how many images you try to stack at once.

SSD is also advised, speeds up swap files and file transfers. I was thinking about going down the M.2 SSD route. More speed.

I also came to the conclusion that a 21:9 monitor would be advantageous, I never felt that a single 16:9 monitor had enough screen real-estate for image comparison. 

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43 minutes ago, JonC said:

Standard questions are

1. Budget

2. Do you have a monitor 

3. Any other specific software other than Pixinsigt, photoshop?

4. OS wise win10 pro from softwaregeeks is £20, have used several copies from them without problems, cant understand how come MS haven't shut them down if they are illegal.

I would still add use a monitor, you more likely to be able to calibrate it than a TV. Last off the shelf PC I purchased was about 20 years ago, been building my own since.

1. No idea where to start tbh. Not looking for the cheapest possible but not looking to spend ££££ either! I'll throw I figure out there of £500/£700 to start with. Am I underestimating the cost?? Not going to rush out and buy bits tomorrow but I'd like to start researching and earmarking parts for a complete build by Christmas. I've pretty much got everything Astro covered (for now, he says!😆) so I can start saving for bits to cover this.

 

2. No monitor. I was hoping I could simply hook it up to my 42" 4k Panasonic tv via an HDMI port like I do the laptop for watching movies. If I needed a monitor to initially set it up I could borrow one from the office at work but was planning to ultimately stick it behind the TV in the living room and use when free..

 

3. No other processing software other than DSS and PI. Don't have PS. Did try Startools but couldn't get on with it. As well, it was very slow on current laptop.

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Posted (edited)
40 minutes ago, david_taurus83 said:

No idea where to start tbh. Not looking for the cheapest possible but not looking to spend ££££ either! I'll throw I figure out there of £500/£700 to start with. Am I underestimating the cost?? 

Have a look at https://www.cclonline.com. I've bought a lot of bits there, and it'll give you some idea of component costs. Start with the processor, that's the most expensive single item. SSDs are also pricey, so you might want to consider using 2 drives, a smaller SSD for the OS and programs, and an HDD for all the data.

40 minutes ago, david_taurus83 said:

No monitor. I was hoping I could simply hook it up to my 42" 4k Panasonic tv

It's useful to calibrate your monitor so as to get your colours right, pretty much imperative for photo processing though perhaps less so for astro images. A quality monitor is easier in this regard. Still, it is worth a try.

Ian

Edited by The Admiral

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, david_taurus83 said:

1. No idea where to start tbh. Not looking for the cheapest possible but not looking to spend ££££ either! I'll throw I figure out there of £500/£700 to start with. Am I underestimating the cost?? Not going to rush out and buy bits tomorrow but I'd like to start researching and earmarking parts for a complete build by Christmas. I've pretty much got everything Astro covered (for now, he says!😆) so I can start saving for bits to cover this.

 

2. No monitor. I was hoping I could simply hook it up to my 42" 4k Panasonic tv via an HDMI port like I do the laptop for watching movies. If I needed a monitor to initially set it up I could borrow one from the office at work but was planning to ultimately stick it behind the TV in the living room and use when free..

 

3. No other processing software other than DSS and PI. Don't have PS. Did try Startools but couldn't get on with it. As well, it was very slow on current laptop.

Spotted this mobo/cpu/ram + SSD bundle being discussed on computer forum. Hopefully link works. 

https://www.overclockers.co.uk/amd-promo-bundle-amd-ryzen-5-2600-gigabyte-x370-gaming-3-team-group-ram-free-240gb-ssd-bu-01f-am.html#configurable

 

You could use that as a base and add the other bit, random selection

 

Palit GeForce GTX 1050Ti StormX 4096MB PCI-Express GDDR5 Graphics Card

Stock Code GX-03T-PL 

£149.99*

 

AMD Promo Bundle - AMD Ryzen 5 2600, Gigabyte X370-Gaming 3, Team Group RAM *FREE 240GB SSD*

Stock Code BU-01F-AM

 

£428.96*

 

 

Seasonic Focus Plus 550W 80 Plus Gold Modular Power Supply

Stock Code CA-05P-SS

£79.99*

 

Corsair Carbide Series SPEC-05 Midi Tower Gaming Case - Black (CC-9011138-WW)

Stock Code CA-23Z-CS

£52.99*

 

£723.63

 

I would probably add a high capacity starage hard drive, would be another £60ish for a Toshiba.

Edited by JonC
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Its hard deciding on PC specs but for compatibility on all software I would go Intel/Nvidia every time. might not always be the fastest on a Friday afternoon in the third week of the month but always works.

Alan

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I was under the impression that the code writers of PI had stated that they were looking at using the power of the GPU in future releases to speed up processing images. So I would check this out as it would be a mistake to use a less powerful GPU in your build if that is the case. CPU, GPU, memory and if possible M2 drive would be my thoughts. Money just grows on trees.... er doesn't it?

 

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9 hours ago, JonC said:

Spotted this mobo/cpu/ram + SSD bundle being discussed on computer forum. Hopefully link works. 

https://www.overclockers.co.uk/amd-promo-bundle-amd-ryzen-5-2600-gigabyte-x370-gaming-3-team-group-ram-free-240gb-ssd-bu-01f-am.html#configurable

You could use that as a base and add the other bit, random selection

Palit GeForce GTX 1050Ti StormX 4096MB PCI-Express GDDR5 Graphics Card

Stock Code GX-03T-PL 

£149.99*

AMD Promo Bundle - AMD Ryzen 5 2600, Gigabyte X370-Gaming 3, Team Group RAM *FREE 240GB SSD*

Stock Code BU-01F-AM

£428.96*

 

 Seasonic Focus Plus 550W 80 Plus Gold Modular Power Supply

Stock Code CA-05P-SS

£79.99*

Corsair Carbide Series SPEC-05 Midi Tower Gaming Case - Black (CC-9011138-WW)

Stock Code CA-23Z-CS

£52.99*

£723.63

I would probably add a high capacity starage hard drive, would be another £60ish for a Toshiba.

Then again, CCL have a top spec (non gaming) PC for not much more, ready assembled (https://www.cclonline.com/pc/home-pcs/nova-pro/nova-pro-ultimate/). They also do cheaper versions. It's not a recommendation, but it gives you an idea of what can be had for your money. Nothing comes cheap.

It would probably be useful for folk who run PI without problem to provide their machine specs so that you can see what to aim for. I can't help there I'm afraid.

Ian

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, Physopto said:

I was under the impression that the code writers of PI had stated that they were looking at using the power of the GPU in future releases to speed up processing images. So I would check this out as it would be a mistake to use a less powerful GPU in your build if that is the case. CPU, GPU, memory and if possible M2 drive would be my thoughts. Money just grows on trees.... er doesn't it?

This would be a real bonus. The amount of time my GTX1060 sits idle with all that processing power available is criminal!

In response to the OPs question, here are my observations:

Deep Sky Stacker - Uses all 8 cores of my i7-945 at 3.99GHZ (overclocked), flat out whilst stacking. Temps only kept in check by water-cooling 😀

11 hours ago, david_taurus83 said:

Did try Startools but couldn't get on with it. As well, it was very slow on current laptop. 

Startools - EATS RAM! I upgraded to 12MB (triple channel) and tightened up the timings, processing time reduced significantly.

Upgraded to SSD's - this made a big difference to file access times and improved overall processing times.

To summarise - CPU & RAM would be my main interests if spec'ing a processing PC, with an eye on SSD's to imporove read/write times. Graphics cards are easily upgradable, so if you have no plans on gaming, then starting out with a lower end card would be OK, so long as it can make use of your monitors native resolution. Finally, @Alien 13 makes a very good point, Intel & NVidia will seee you right with minimal hassle.

Edited by parallaxerr

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7 minutes ago, parallaxerr said:

Deep Sky Stacker - Uses all 8 cores of my i7-945 at 3.99GHZ (overclocked), flat out whilst stacking. Temps only kept in check by water-cooling 😀

I guess this would happen whatever the machine spec. The big question surely is how long it takes to process images.

Ian

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Very true Ian. The overclocking does reduce processing times, the trade off being temperature.

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9 minutes ago, parallaxerr said:

Very true Ian. The overclocking does reduce processing times, the trade off being temperature.

So how long does stacking take?

Ian

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2 minutes ago, The Admiral said:

So how long does stacking take?

Ian

Oh, now you're asking. I did time it back in my Alt/Az imaging days, which as you say, puts high demand on the system due to the number of subs. I can't remember the exact values and obviously it depends on the images being processed. The lower number of 600s subs I use now seem to process faster than the dozens of 30s subs.

I did a batch upgrade of RAM, SSD's and overclocking all at the same time and I would confidently say the stacking times reduced by at least 50%. Like I say, the CPU is screaming away at max chat and circa 70°C, not uncommon for a clocked i7-945. DSS was never really the main issue for me though, Startools was, which often ran out of memory, now resolved with the 12GB.

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Here's my 101 level guide to building a Gaming level PC.

 

1. Start with the processor that you want.

In your case, as you are talking about running Astro software, I'd bias the system towards excellent CPU and data storage, but at the same time, don't completely neglect the graphics (I'll come back to this later on)

An I5 is ok to start with, however an I7 will allow hyperthreading, so those 4 cores will become 8 logical cores - as image processing is a similar workload on each core, you'll benefit greatly from this.   The newer chips have 6 cores instead of 4, so you'll get more bang for your money.   Also there's a new class of I9 processor been added to the line up.

Get the best chip you can take a careful look at the prices and you'll most likely find a point when the cost goes silly crazy, it's a dimishing return, so I've always stayed on the cheap side of that and haven't once regretted that choice.

 

2. Mainboard.

Not all mainboards are equal.  This is where you need to really do your homework.  Now that you've picked your processor, find the boards that are compatible.  There will be a range of mainboards.  The cheapest boards will have compromises to keep the cost down.  I'd suggest avoiding these and go for a better mainboard.   My current desktop is a few years old now, and is based on an MSI Gaming 5 mainboard.  At the time this was a mid range board, and offered alot of great features.  Simple rule of thumb here is to try and avoid on board graphics.

 

3. Memory.

After you choose your mainboard, you'll know the amount of ram and the spec of the ram that you can get.  If you have 4 slots on the mainboard.  I'd suggest filling 2 of them to begin with and make sure that you hit 1/2 the total capacity of the mainboard ram wise.   i.e. if you can have 32Gb of ram, get 16GB of the best ram that you can for the mainboard.    Be careful when choosing the ram chips to make sure that they are compatible with the mainboard.

 

4. Storage.

People says that HDD's are dead.  No so.  but let's start with an SSD, get the biggest and fastest one that you can affort.   I've got a 512Gb one in my desktop, this is for the software to be installed.  Not for data.   For the Data, this is where the old failful HDD's come in.  I've got a 3TB drive in my PC, which is great for storing images that i'm working on ect.

 

5. Graphics

At the moment, there's bascially three classes of graphics.

Intel - These tend to be the on board graphics that you get on some mainboards.   They're ok for business level usage.   I've got this on my Astro laptop, and it's fine for image capture, but I don't do processing with it.

NVidia/AMD - These are the two brands for gaming graphics.  However, not all of their cards are equal.

 

Currently, I think the 1080 is the current series of the NVidia chips (this changes quickly, so I could be out of date already)  There's several versions of the boards available, and it's worth taking a close look at the spec.   Firstly, theres the GT and the GTX ranges,  the GT is more generalised, whilst the GTX are aimed more for gamers.    That said.... There's power in the GPU.    modern software like PhotoShop makes use of the GPU when performing some of the filtering etc.  So whilst you may not think it the most critical part of the system.   It's still work making sure that you have enough GPU power to suit your needs.   If you overspec your GPU, it will last alot longer before you need to consider an expensive replacement.

 

6. power

Make sure that you get a good quality power supply.  This will be the difference between lots of Blue screens and a nice smooth experience.

 

7. cooling.

Getting a big powerful processor that you want to make work.   Spend that £100 and get a water cooling setup for it.  I can highly recommend the Corsair h100i.   I have this on my PC and after my experience with it.  I'll never go back to air cooled.   It makes a huge difference, even though I don't overclock the CPU.  It give the CPU a change to run at full power without overheating.

 

8 case.

The case is all important.  A modern case can accommodate the radiator for the CPU cooler water unit.  They also have space for cable management, this means that you can get most of the cables out of site.  Makes for a cleaner setup, which more importantly allows air to flow around the Graphics card.  This let's it cool better.    Combined with the water cooling, your system should run extremely nicely.

 

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