• I want to thank all the members that have upgraded your accounts. I truly appreciate your support of the site monetarily. Supporting the site keeps this site up and running as a lot of work daily goes on behind the scenes. Click to Support Signs101 ...

best computer setup


New Member
Can anyone please help with advice on the best computer setup?
I will have a Roland Pro 3 delivered next week that runs with a built in RIP (Versaworks). I work mainly in Photoshop to manipulate files. I will be printing VERY large files (200 dpi 8' x 12').
I have been importing RAW digital images into Photoshop and by using Genuine Fractals, enlarging the image. Before sending to Genuine Fractals, the image is 72dpi 36" x 48", then in GF I up the resolution to 150 and the size to 96" x 144". Once that happens in Photoshop, it is totally slows down the machine.
Now, I know that my setup is ot what I should be using which is why I am asking your advice.
Here is my current setup:

Pent 4 Processor 2.8GHZ
80GB Hard Drive
XP Home

I have ordered a 1G to add to Ram which comes this week which I am sure will help a bit, but is just a bandaid until I get the right setup.

From old posts I have read that I will need 2-4G of RAM
and a 200 G hard disc
and a dual processor.

I also have a 500 G Maxtor and a 200 G Maxtor external drive.

I am not a computer whiz so I like the idea of having some type of tech support that I might not receive with a home buit machine (not my home).

Please, anyone who is happy with their system let me know your thoughts. From car wraps to very huge graphics, I will need to multi task and can't wait 6 hours for an image to process.

Let the games begin...:thankyou:


New Member
first, I would finish out your files at 100 dpi, not 150. But don't take my word for it, invest a yard of media & print 2 files side by side, with one at 150 & 1 at 100dpi.

Next, I would suggest you consider splitting 2 chores between 2 machines. The one you use now will be upgraded soon right?(are you sure you can go from 512 & add 1 gig... or will you have to remove the 512 & end up with just 1 gig?)

...well, I would get it up to 2 gigs & use it to rip & print only.

Then get a screaming new machine with 2 Dual core processors, 2 gigs ram etc. etc & use it for your design station. You will need more power designing & it will also be nice to let a dedicated computer be running your prints while you can work on a different machine.

I just ordered the following system yesterday for $3500:


  • get a dell dude.jpg
    get a dell dude.jpg
    149.7 KB · Views: 240


New Member
would those 2 machines then be connected by a network to get info fron design machine to rip machine?
I just ordered the following system yesterday for $3500:
When the new box lands do you reinstall all your applications / fonts / files etc. Or do use a migration software ? Just unpacked a new XPS 700 and it hit me now what ? hours of installs & settings


New Member
would those 2 machines then be connected by a network to get info fron design machine to rip machine?
Yes, a network attached storage (NAS) device is a form of external hard drive that is designed to be accessed from multiple computers. If you have a router (or if you get one) between your modem & your computer... you can plug multiple computers into the router AND plug a server OR a NAS in as well.This allows all your data to be stored in one place, but used by multiple workstations... which is also convenient because it's easier to set up an automated backup process for your data, if it is all in one place.

I have a server for my current data, & 2 NAS devices for my archives (10 years worth... on each. One is kept at home) My Mimaki is run from a dedicated 2.3 gig Sony Vaio w/ 1 gig of ram that runs Flexi, and does nothing else. My edge is run from another dedicated workstation... except that it runs Omega AND Signlab.... & it's "dedicated" to running 2 tasks... the print/cut Edge jobs, as well as the cut-only jobs I send to my Graphtec. I have 2 employees that work on those machines for me, but I do the designs on a third machine & save files to the server for them to import.

I will soon have a 4th computer in my showroom, it has been a plan for some time, that I will have this up at my sales counter for preparing, or accessing quotes or invoices to print for clients, as well as bringing up proofs to show on a monitor, or to print out. It will also be on the network.


New Member
When the new box lands do you reinstall all your applications / fonts / files etc. Or do use a migration software ? Just unpacked a new XPS 700 and it hit me now what ? hours of installs & settings

good question.
I just made a "Ghost" image of my 4 hard drives and store those files on 2 different external (NAS) drives. This is for the purpose of quickly reinstating the functionality of any drive in the event of a failure.

I have also read about "migration" software & hope to learn more about that.

I have reinstalled my programs so many times, the task does not seem so bad, but it is hours worth of work for sure... & getting printers, FTP programs, & email all working correctly does make me interested in a more automated solution this time, but OTOH I have been downloading various trial software & files on my design station for years... so the thought of a clean start seems like a worthwhile justification for the labor required. When the transition is complete, I will reformat & then migrate (manually or otherwise) that computer into taking the place of my dedicated Mimaki workstation.


Premium Subscriber
Good grief, you’re set for anything that comes down the pike. That is one heck of a set up. :cool1:
Why the change in your avatar ??


New Member
Don't go with two dual core processors. Photoshop is a multithreaded app. but i'm not sure about genuine fractals. It might be as it is a pro application. At most photoshop will use two cores leaving you with two other cores just sitting there costing you money and heating up your machine. And have fun trying to do anything else while genuine fractals or photoshop is enlarging something, the bottlenecks in a quad core system will still slow down anything else you would try to use the other processor for. Quad core systems are for 3d rendering apps that actually use all the cores.


New Member
wow Doug 3500 seems high,my brother inlaw just got a system like this for 1500,orderd threw Dell!!!


New Member
while I can be pretty hard headed sometimes, I like to think I can be open to change when I hear good reasoning.

I changed my user name after 2 recent threads about use of real names.

I don't have anything to hide per se... but I also don't feel that I have anything to lose in not giving out my name... so I am now just slightly more anonymous.

Animenic... I'm no computer whizz... so I've put some trust in others to help me order this system. I'm interested in what you have to tell me, because I could posibly make changes still.

Dell does also offer a "quad core" but this is not one. My understanding is that 2 dual core processors is different & that Photoshop will benefit by processing a task with one, & redrawing the screen with the other. I know this is an oversimplification... but that was my belief.

I am interested if you think the second dual core is of little or no value & why?

Pro motion, Dell does have a pretty advanced build-your-own website, so I don't really think apples & apples are going to add up to me spending double what someone else spends. There are always some negotiating opportunities & I got some money knocked off... but I imagine your brother-in-law just bought less in order to pay less. (this still doesn't rule out that I might have bought more power then I need... nah... no such thing)

Marc, you seem to have a pretty good deal there. Dual core, but only 2.4 gig processor, but 4 gigs ram. Wow... I was talked out of 4 gigs ram... but was liking the step up to 3.4 gig processor. Do other folks here think 4 gigs ram should be included for crunching large format print files?
My machine does not run the Xeon, but we are running at 3.7GHZ and 3 gigs of memory. The memory will make a huige difference with Photoshop. It is not out of the ordinary for Photoshop alone to utilize a gig of memory (depending on your settings), before it goes to the scratchdisk. If you have other apps open (I do often), you can run out of memory fast.

Mind you, I prefer to avoid scaling down as many files as possible, until storage. I can "see" better detail when applying filters, and IMO, I have better control in the "amount" applied when using the filters - BUT that is me, and I work with hi-res stuff.

Windows XP will only utilize up to 3 gigs. Vista, can utilize much much more. I think you would immediately benefit by adding more memory (or at least having 3 gigs), but you can always add more later.

The 4 mb of cache on each processor (2+2 x 2) IS nice, as is the 1066 bus. Most software is NOT written to utilize Xeons (not dual core), but the extra horsepower is just that. Never enough. Vista has some enhancements that make Xeons very useful.

Your hard drives seem to limit you some. Why would they recomend 8 mb cache, as compared to the 16 mb, which really wake up the 3.0 SATA? That I would change. I also question why they would offer a 7200 rpm hard drive on a race horse. 10000 rpm would be noticable.

Other than the hard drives and maybe a gig more memory, you have a nice machine coming. Any particular reason why you chose Dell vs. assembling your own?
I did not want to chime in on pricing , i wish i had no budget for a box but i do . I went from 3.0 ghz Pent.D /4 1gb sticks ram (which i will move 3 to the new xps 700)2 160g HD's. New box -XPS 700 3g -EX6800( would go for the QX6700 with no bgt.) Man is this thing a beast . Must weigh @ 70 lbs. What prompted the move was my XPS laptop 2.2 ghz 2 1gig sticks was ripping much faster than the box , which was only 8 months old. I don't need the fastest box out there ( seems the price increase only gets @ 10-20 sec. increase) which can live with. When you get into minuets having to wait , thats a different story. Im in @ $2400 http://www23.tomshardware.com/charts8/604-434-186.png


New Member
The 3 Gig ram limit on XPpro has been my experience as well- we tried 4 gig
but the puter only saw 3 gig of it. I often have PS and AI and Flexipro 7.6
and Wasatch soft rip open on this machine (older 3.2g P4) and design and
rip and anything else that needs doing at the same time. This machine is
dedicated to a VersaCamm SP300V BTW. Gene


New Member
There is about $1000 in on-site, next day warranties and guarantees. If his machine went down tonight, he would have another in the office by 10 am.

And does that include installing all the software for the shop again on it (non dell) or just supplying a replacement tower for a defective one. Your still going to spend hours setting the replacement up and getting it going. I go with build it myself systems locally. If it goes down due to a hardware problem I still have a same day replacement on the defective part (most the time 1 year) without paying 1000 bucks for it. Plus the same Dell box that selling for 3500 bucks cost me 40% less with probably better components in it. Of course you need to be computer savvy to do this, but its worth the savings. I also like having the option of what software's on my machine to start with. I have no need for half the dell stuff that's running in the background on a machine that's used for one purpose only. My cutter doesn't need AOL or 5.1 dolby or 80% of the other background processes dell sees fit to run.

I quess I am lucky that there is two small local places that cater to those needs in town here. They dont have the million dollar advertising budget to cover and they thrive off customer service.
I go with build it myself systems locally

For sh** and giggles, I quoted this machine out, but with 4GB memory, and slightly larger hard drives. I came out at $2400. That also includes a high-end case and power supply (very important in my book). The extra $1000 is not bad if you consider that they handle it.

They (Dell) will not handle the shop software (I would not want them to anyway), but it is a moot point because he keeps drive images and can be running in 30 minutes.

you need to be computer savvy to do this

Not like it once was. Half a brain can do it nowadays.

40% less with probably better components

In the days when Packard Bell was king, that could be considered true. Now, most manufacturers use their buying power, and comittments, to get better prices on quality components. Many learned their lesson watching the early guys go bye-bye.

Now that I have said all that. I built, upgrade and maintain my own machine. BUT, my machine cannot be readily or easily purchased from the mass producers, and it essentially exists through upgrades. For most machines and users, mass produced is just fine.

Doug did not do bad on his deal, and he does not have to mess with getting it running either.


New Member
I'd stay away from a Dell type of computer personally. If your going to go PC then you can get one custom built by a local computer guy or an online store for way less and with better name brand parts.

Before the Dell lovers jump on me.. I can explain why I feel this way.

The last few times I or people I know needed to re-format the HD you MUST have the Dell CD because they wrote the bios on the HD instead of having the BIOS on the Mother board. In some cases the Ram was sottered in the sockets as were other key components. Now this was a few years ago.. I don't know now if they are still doing the same thing or not.

I am a MAC guy anyway so I would recommend a (Two 3.0GHz Dual-Core Intel Xeon) G5.. you can add up to 16 gig of ram and have up to 3 Terabytes of HD space and 2) 30" monitors!

Oh! and you could install the Windows OS if you wanted to!