building my own computer?
Im thinking its time to look into getting a new machine. My current one is a hand-me-down from a friend thats worked great until recently its been having start up issues and crashing. My budget is pretty slim and Im not much of a tech geek. Im thinking I can research how to build my own computer to save me some cash.

All I need is something that can run Photoshop (CS6 most likely depending on what I can pira... I mean purchase) so 8GB of ram at the least? Im currently using one monitor but Im thinking of getting a dual setup. It looks like AMD cpus and graphics cards would be the most affordable and work just as good as intel and Nvidia products? I still need to do a lot more research on all this stuff. If anyone could give me some pointers or advice on avoiding common nooby mistakes I would love you forever.

I can't guarantee I can help you with specific component suggestions for a desktop build as it has been a while since i built my last system. I use mobile workstations now and couldn't be bothered building my own anymore. It's pretty easy as long as you make sure the components are all compatible with each other and the OS you will be getting. First step though, you need to tell people your budget.

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I dont want to spend any more than 600 USD. How cheap do you think I could go and still have a decent machine for digital painting? I already have 2 monitors I can use. The dual monitor thing isnt totally needed though for me.

I recommend a laptop over a pc but I dont think you need 8gb ram for just photoshop although its good for really high renders. But for digital painting I guess 4-8 but even 2gb is fine, that handles digital painting, and buy a cintiq well lol sorry this what im going for. :P nah up 2 u

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Im definitely going with a desktop and I dont think a cintiq is quite within my budget :) From what I gather the main things I should decide on first is the processor and video card. Would these be sufficient or overkill for my needs?

I dont want something that would just barely run photoshop and a few web browser tabs at the same time but not something thats way more than I need. Something in the middle.

A desktop doesn't have to make concessions with components that laptops have to so I think those two you picked, while I don't really know the details and the component market anymore, seem more than powerful enough to do what you want. Start adding components and if you need to compromise then you can reevaluate your choices later.

This site makes finding and combining parts for your system easy:
Found this article, quite recent that seems right up your alley. The $600 system they put together seems quite good:
And another few $600 build for a gaming pc rig:

Gaming PC focused builds (even on budget) will tend to be well suited for an artists workstation, as they emphasise performance and graphics which is what you want. When getting my next laptop many of the top contenders are gaming focused machines, or the "mobile workstation" class.

You might want to do a quick search for off the shelf $600 dollar boxes just to compare specs. For the most part however, you'll find they probably use integrated or shitty video cards because they are built just for light use and your average user probably wouldn't notice.

General notes:
Definitely put the money into the CPU, RAM and Graphics Card. I think the graphics card is more important if you are doing 3D or gaming. I don't think 2D work is actually as resource intensive. But yeah it is still worth getting the best you can.

For the RAM, I would go with 4GB at a minimum. 8 GB if you can stretch it. I think anything below that would be already scraping too low for what you want, especially if you intend to paint while multitasking (streaming music, livestreaming etc etc)

The hard drive can also become a bottleneck, so a 7200rpm speed spin drive is desirable, and if you can find a really good deal on a small SSD (solid state drive, maybe second hand) for your OS and apps it will really improve the overall speed of your boot times and file and application operations, but it is not necessary to run what you want just fine.
If you plan ahead you can always upgrade. Think about the future and if you think you will add components and upgrade as time goes on, make sure you factor this into the choice of the tower itself and the motherboard chipset just to see if something new is coming online and how that might affect future components. For example if you wanted to get on board with the new Haswell Intel chips in the future that boast a lot less power usage and additional graphics prcessing, you would need to have a totally different mobo. Of course Haswell is probably better for laptops and gamers so it's not much point in your case. I'd just say make sure your mobo has enough slots for a good upgrade of RAM. Upto 32GB would be nice if you want a boost to performance relatively cheaply. :)

To give you some idea of running speeds. I was using until recently a 7 year old Dell XPS m1530 "gaming" laptop. I maxxed out the RAM at the time: 2.4GHz, 4GB RAM, 128MB graphics card, and I was painting 4000+ px canvases just fine. It did however stutter when also trying to screencast and stream music at the same time, which ruled out livestreaming for me. Another factor was that I ditched Windows and wasn't using Photoshop. The system started running really slow almost to the point of ridiculousness a couple of years ago. I transitioned to Ubuntu and I could magically use the machine again faster than before and got 2 more years out of it with no decrease in performance until it was stolen. Probably could have pushed it another year. Goes to show what a resource dog Windows actually is over time.

Hope that helps

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I just saw an article in the latest ImagineFX magazine about custom building your machine for digital painting artists. Might be worth checking out at your local book store.

Thanks monkeybread for all the help! Im not in any hurry to get it but Im just planning ahead of time and trying to get everything out of my current computer. I'll still have to stack putting some money away for awhile till I can afford it. And thanks meat I might have to go check that out.

So in case anyone is curious Im thinking this build will more than suite my needs.

I went over my original budget but I have a bit more cash to spend than I thought. I have a monitor, a tower and a couple old optical drives Im planning on using. The tower has three 12V 2.88W fans so I hope that will work. Im still toying with the idea of getting this i5 haswell instead the AMD fx 6300

And heres what the tower looks like.

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