Build a $2,000 CS5 Desktop

ExtremeTech by Dan Evans and Matt Murray

When you think of Adobe's Creative Suite software, "inexpensive" is not the first word that comes to mind. Its flagship (and most famous) app, Photoshop, can cost from $699 to $999 to buy new—and that's just by itself. The collections of various apps (also bought new) run from $1,299 for the relatively modest Design Standard to $2,599 for the everything-and-the-kitchen-sink Master Collection. True, you can save hundreds of dollars if you're upgrading from previous versions. But any way you look at it, outfitting yourself with all these industry-leading programs won't be cheap. And if you need to upgrade your computer to make the most of them, that's going to bust your bankroll a different way, right?

Not necessarily. Some advances over the last year have made faster and more efficient computers possible for less money than you may have thought possible even 18 months ago. This isn't to say that putting together a system that can blow through any Creative Suite 5 (CS5) app with ease will be a wallet-friendly process. Especially if you're into high-level video-editing and movie-making, it won't be—for video-related reasons we'll get into in a while. But for less than $2,000, you can assemble a professional-level system that can handle almost anything you and CS5 can throw at it.

It's important to note that this system build will not be as powerful (or, consequently, as expensive) as the Ultimate CS4 Machine from a year ago—though the components we've picked will be pretty close in terms of performance. This is because we're taking full advantage of the backend work Adobe has done to make full use of current technology. Increased support for 64-bit CPU integration and even a new 64-bit playback engine for Premiere Pro will benefit almost everyone, as will improved multithreading support across the suite. And if you're big on the Production Premium apps (Premiere Pro, After Effects, OnLocation, and so on), Adobe's expanded support for hardware acceleration will make a huge difference in how quickly you're able to work. read more...

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