Building new workstation [edit #5]

I’ve been using my powerbook since I bought it three years ago and now, finally it’s time for upgrade. My dad has lent me his Macbook a lot and going back to my own is really really boring. So, I’m building my own workstation machine. For those of you that are interested in what things I use (components etc) can continue for others I can just tell the big things: Duo 2 Core, 1TB hard drive, 4GB RAM (with space for 4GB more) and everything as silent as possible. I will dual boot Vista and Mac OS X. [Edit: System is now fully working]

My new system is specified as follows:

  • Motherboard: Intel D975XBX2
  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz (will run at 3GHz)
  • Graphic card: Asus Nvidia 7900GS dual DVI
  • Internal memory: 2x2GB 800MHz 6400
  • Hard drives: 2x Samsung 500GB 16MB Sata – total 1TB
  • Case: Lian Li “scandinavian edition” case, with ADDA 120mm fans. very silent.
  • CF reader: internal 3,5″ Lian Li CF Card reader
  • Apple keyboard – Logitech mouse.
  • OS: Apple Tiger intel – patched. (owner too) and MS Vista.

I bought everything with this in mind; as fast as possible for as little money as possible AND compatible with OS X in full speed without sacrifices.

Now, I downloaded the JaS 10.4.8 with included 10.4.9 inside – everything is now installed and running except for two things. I can’t make it say 2.4GHz in OS X, only says 1.8GHz and it’s no sound. I’m currently concentrated on fixing the sound part. Some .kext files and motherboard upgrades needed I think.

Update #2 28/7 2007:
Current Xbench is 107 (Goal: 160 when I’m done configurating).
X3F RAW loads fully in just under 5s (using Lightroom 1.1) – compared to 45s on my powerbook. :D

Update #3 29/7 2007:
Current Xbench is 137 (Goal: 160 when I’m done configurating).
I just upgraded to 10.4.10 and oala, system shows full speed (2.4GHz) and Xbench roars with an excellent 137. Now, there is still lots of things to tweak but as a “almost didn’t touch a thing” kind of installation I think it’s great. No sound still. :(

Update #4 30/7 2007:
SOUND! :D I had to use a little software called AppleHDApatcher v1.16 and cut in a string of code taken from some Linux system called STAC9227…txt

Now I have another problem that has nothing to do with OS X. I updated my BIOS (I was told to do so on some forum) and now I can’t change the multiplier setting for processor. Can’t make it faster than 2.4GHz. ehum. I want it to run at 3GHz!!! grrr

Update #5 31/7 2007:
Sound IS working but not the mic. Geekbench score: 3327

Update #6 15/2 2008:
Upgraded to 10.5.2 – now with new 9.2 kernel and graphic update. Works great.

About Carl Rytterfalk

Welcome to my blog! I'm Carl Rytterfalk, a swedish photographer who loves everything that is interesting in the world of photography. In 2002 I fell in love with the three layered Foveon sensor and has since then been an addicted user of Sigma cameras. Though I use Canon and Nikon as well. :)
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18 Responses to Building new workstation [edit #5]

  1. thieu says:

    Waw… that will be really different than a powerbook , or a macbook… :p

    Got a 2ghz macbook with 2gb of ram …

    How can you boot Os X on a station you “build” ?…

    (sorry for my english … i really don’t known if it’s correct … :)

  2. Hej Thieu,

    I had to download a fixed version of OS X, not sure Steve likes me .o do that – but I’m owner of the OS (Tiger) So I don’t feel too bad about it.

  3. thieu says:

    How much did it cost ? If you can tell… :p

    With my Core Duo 2ghz macbook with 2gb of ram i’m only at 78 in XBench … but a load you X3F Raw in 7 sec :)

    I hope we will have lots of beautiful images like you always do with this new workstation … :) i’m fan of your style and the colors of your photo …

  4. It would be something like $1300 without swedish tax. Monitor not included. Trying to find something good, big and cheap! :D

  5. spalbird says:

    5 seconds, sigh! My Mac Mini seems to be as slow as your MacBook and this eats up my spare time… I love Lightroom! Sadly it is still to early to upgrade for me…

  6. Anton says:

    Great to see you got it running alright wihtout needing to mess with the kext files. I got a bit nervous that i got you into a mess I couldn’t get you out of.

    If it gets too slow for you, you can always drop a quad core in there, they are reasonably cheap these days!

    I might just have to come around your place for an inspection!

  7. Everything works perfect except a few things. haha.. no, there is really just one thing right now. Mic input. I’m sure there is another kext for that somewhere waiting.

    An inspection is a must! I’ll put on that coffee.. :D

  8. John King says:


    I love your photos and the fact that you publish them in RAW.

    Funny how the camera manufacturers do not do this. I wonder why??

    Welcome to the real world of computing. An unsharp mask on my main workstation on a two HUNDRED MB file takes about 3-4 seconds. A mate has a G5 Apple and the same process on a 20 MB file takes some MINUTES!!

    And people wonder why I do not like Macs. I have been a computer consultant for around 35 years and a photographer for about 52 years (since I was about 8).

    I have several Olympus OMs, a Minox and a Rolleiflex 2.8F. I also have around 9,000 slides and 5,000 negs (at least some of which have some artistic merit – perhaps!). I own a Nikon Coolpix 5000 and almost never switch it from RAW or TIFF (for B&W).

    I am contemplating spending the big bucks for an SD14 but being “locked in” at such a premium price worries me a bit. The excellent colour and superb resolution (I have blown up several of the Sigma JPGs to an equivalent of 2.7×1.8 m and printed them on my Canon iP4000R and have been astonished by the results) are very convincing. I do not need a “shooting mode” for ‘My mates at the hotel on Saturday’ and have never used such things. I like to do the thinking and leave the camera to capturing the image. Do you think that I will be happy with the SD14? A big ask, I know.

    I looked at the skin tones of your fiancĂ© and was singularly un-impressed with the output from your friend’s Canon(?). I know quite a lot of people of Asian descent, and none of them have skin that resembles a bleached Viking!! What are your thoughts on skin tones?

    I am also impressed by the fact that the Sigma shows subtly graduated colour from one single pixel to the neighbouring pixels (that is, not a mosaic of additive colours) – something impossible on a Bayer sensor camera. What are your thoughts on this? Do you think that this un-remarked characteristic of the Foveon sensor is what gives it such a remarkable colour palette and rendition?

    kindest regards, john king Australia.

  9. Hi John!

    You pretty much nailed it on skin one and single pixel graduations. I agree totally and that’s also why I’m able to up size to A1/ A0 for exhibitions and everyone still think it looks beeaaauuutiiifull. ;)

    I’m quite sure that a person that can see the difference (not all can, or want to) would enjoy the SD14 even more. AND you got the workstation the power to deal with those RAW. :D My Mac (the one I built) how does that one compare to your monster? How long time did a RAW take for you to develop in Lightroom?! (from thumbnail to working image) – around 5s for me. Hackintosh style.

    Oh, one more thing! The SD14 works wonderfully as a slide scanner! (important to catch details) which I think would help your decision.

    To be honest with you, I think the SD14 should be enjoyed by everyone. You don’t need more than 1n hour or two together with me before you feel the uuuuurge to buy one. I’m sure.

    Not sure why Sigma / Foveon don’t post RAW. They should!

  10. John King says:

    Dear Carl

    I did an unsharp mask on your 26 MB image of the person emerging from the stone hut. It took a lot less than a second. The PC has been ‘UP’ for more than 2 days, and is currently running 6 invocations of IExplorer; Outlook; Google Desktop; Palm; Dragon Dictate; etc etc; as well as Photoshop CS2 with 5 of your RAW images open.

    I have a similar PC to yours: Core 2 Duo, 2 GB RAM and two 320 GB Seagate SATA drives on separate channels. I run Win XP Pro (I do not trust ANY O/S until it has been around for about 4 years!!). When I have time, I intend to revert to Win2K Pro as it is more reliable and robust than XP Pro. I wouldn’t even think about using Vista!!

    I use Coolermaster CAC T05 cases for PCs I build as they are well made, fans everywhere and will probably outlast a couple of major upgrades.

    The Seagate drives have fluid bearings (Joule bearings) and are quiet and should be extremely reliable. I locate the Windows virtual memory file on one drive, and the Photoshop virtual memory file on the other drive, on its own partition. I set the Windows swap file to Min:Max 2GB:2GB, otherwise Windows kindly fragments it for you!!

    Thanks for the advice about the SD14. We are unlikely to be able to get together anytime soon, as Australia is a bit more than just around the corner!!

    I have a Konica Minolta 5400 Scan Elite II film scanner that does a superb job – probably better than the resolution (colour & lens) of the cameras I have owned or the films I have used. Beautiful scan of an image taken with my Leica M2 and Summicron 50mm on Agfa CT18 in about 1965.

    I intend to purchase an Epson 4490 for scanning the 6×6 negs. This strategy is MUCH cheaper than buying the KM 35 mm 6×6 scanner, which cost around Aus$4,800, as against Aus$850 for the 35 mm only.

    I do not have Lightroom but the RAW image is converted instantaneously in CS2 (assuming that CS2 is already loaded). It takes about 15 seconds to load CS2 and display the RAW image for conversion, if I just double-click the image in Windows Explorer.

    I can only print up to A4, but do intend to buy an A3 printer sometime soon. I will probably go for the Canon as the quality is so much better. All this crap about prints “only” lasting for 33 years under glass is just that, IMHO. With a digital image you can always re-print (probably better than the original!) from your source file.

    That you can print up to A1/A0 speaks worlds. In the old days even the images from the Rolleiflex would start to look a bit ordinary at this sort of magnification.

    I have taken images (JPGs from the Sigma web site) and blown them up to the equivalent of 2.7 x 1.8 m. From about 1 m away, the pixelation is all but invisible. If I run it through a bicubic upsample, the resolution doesn’t improve but the pixelation becomes very un-obvious.

    kindest regards, john king Australia

  11. John King says:

    Dear Carl

    The KM Scan Elite scans at 5400 dpi in true 16 bit colour (three scan heads). ONE 35 mm slide at max res is around 210 MB plus.

    The scanner has the Kodak patented quads built in (ROC, restore old colour – necessary for Kodachrome!! not for Agfa); ICE (that works); GEM (ditto) and SHO (Shadow/Highlight enhancement). It scans directly into ProPhotoRGB colour space. It has a DMax of about 4.7 according to the independent testing. I could not recommend it too highly. I have waited all my life for a device like this!!

    The depth of field is amazing. Even slides that look like an orange peel scan with perfect edge-to-edge sharpness.

    It is USB 2 so fairly fast (at max res a scan can take a while!! like about a couple of minutes – a lot like doing almost anything on a non-Intel Mac (sorry, I just couldn’t resist.)

    In the future, I will have my slide films developed without mounting, as I have always taken great care in framing pictures, and am seriously irritated when they come back cropped (as prints) or covered up (as slides).

    kindest regards, john king Australia.

  12. John King says:

    Dear Carl

    A word of advice. DO NOT overclock your processor. 1) You void your warranty; 2) You destroy reliability.

    Reliability is the key word here. IF you need more speed, spend the money and get a faster processor.

    I suggest that overclocking is for gamers (read “idiots”); people who think that running a game with almost totally static graphics needs a supercomputer!!!!

    If you have an ASUS motherboard, allow the utilities to UNDER-clock the PC whenever it can (I note that you are using an Intel board. They almost certainly have a similar utility). Heat goes down; power consumption goes down – AND reliability goes up.

    your new Aussie mate, john.

  13. Hi John!

    I wrote a long answer that somehow got lost in a tab, or two. Sorry about that. :)

    Anyways the essens of my answer was that ok, I will wait with over-clocking. Better safe than sorry (even if I payed a little extra for good fans) But I will not go down in speed. :) That’s just.. not going to happen.

    That scanner you’re talking about, would it be possible for you to write a little review wordpress style. Something I could put here? I know that lots of photographers has slides still and they might wanna know if there is a good way for them to deal with them. If you get hold on a SD14 you could compare taking a shot and scan.

    I can see that you are a writer, so why not write! :D Use some pictures some crops and some for download. People would like it. Maybe if you have any other scanner to compare it against.

    And your computer looks like a pretty fast one. :)

  14. John King says:

    Dear Carl

    I would be happy to write a review of the KMSE II. How do I go about it? How can I upload images to your server? I do not have a web site (yet). I do have ADSL, so I can pay the local Telecom (Telstra) and have a fixed IP address and run my own web site eventually. This worries me a bit regarding security, and it may be better to pay Telstra to host a simple web page? I am a neophyte in some of these things in spite of my great expertise in other areas of computers.

    I have other scanners (basic, flat bed, for text scanning and recognition). One of them, a Mustek 1200 SPIII seems to have a 3 colour scan head and scans into a 16 bit colour space (Adobe1998) with zero adjustments (It is REALLY basic, I picked it up on a throw-out table for about Aus$50 when the other one was giving trouble). It is a parallel port job and so is also almost unbelievably slow – like ten minutes for a 16 bit scan, A4.

    kindest regards, john

  15. John King says:

    Dear Carl

    Having too many fans is like having too much good health, too much money, too much RAM or too much hard disk capacity – a contradiction in terms!

    The Coolermaster case has a 120 mm fan on the back of the case, a 120 mm fan on the power supply, an 80 mm front case fan and a 60 mm (?) fan on the graphics card. These in addition to the kilo of CPU heat sink and another fan there (you would be familiar with this one – tiny little chip and HUGE heat sink). The case front is also mesh and sponge to filter out the dust (and cat hair from the two household Gods!).

    Always mount your hard disks as low down in the case as you can; this will keep them running as cool as possible. If your case has sufficient drive bays separate the drives by having an empty bay between them for better cooling. Preferably have a front case fan blowing air over them, AND keep the air intakes clean. Put them on separate SATA channels, this will speed them up.

    My Core 2 Duo running at 2.134 GHz runs cooler and faster than my old 3.2 GHz Pentium IV. Mostly it sits on a clock rate of about 1.6 GHz.

    regards john

  16. The test: I’m not sure how to do this, but maybe it would give best and most interesting result if you could use all possible ways of getting the slide into the computer. And then compare quality from these by 100% crops – not sure if you have a digital SLR – if so, maybe try using that also?

    We should also make 100% files available for download, you can send me the file (jpeg around 10mb is ok) nobody cares for bigger files anyhow. :)

    That should make it. You can write a version and I’ll read and come with suggestions. Mail me!

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