I'm pretty sure most optical drives will work with Vista unless there is something unusual about it - they just load a generic windows driver. Its a good idea to check on you scanner though.
An OEM copy of an OS later down the road (say if you went 32 or got the precision with XP x64 to Vista x64) is $150 or less. Only disadvantage of OEM is you can't legally transfer it to a new system but a new system from one of these vendors will be OEM anyways...
Narlus, an easy way to check for Vista 64 compatibility is to just type "<name of program> vista 64" into Google. There are a lot of different compatibility pages and a lot of different forums that have people talking about whether or not a program is compatible.
I only found one utility in my whole system that wasn't compatible on the new OS... and a few people ran it with no problems, I just haven't tried it yet.
Dell isn't going to sell an workstation unless it comes with drivers for all the equipment installed in the box, so its no problem. Wow64 works in XP x64 too. There is actually slightly more x64 driver support for XP than Vista because its older but it doesn't take too much more resources for a company to update them for Vista for most pieces of hardware.
Tim, I understand your sensory overload, there are a lot of options. It's really not as complex as it seems, though.
Look, you've never laid out a budget here. The Velocity config you laid out looks nice, I'd jump on that in a second. If it's not in the price range, though, you need to post up a price. If you want to save some money on that config, knock off the Raptor drive and use something like Open Office instead of spending an extra $200 on MS Office. That's $350 off the top of the system and pays for most of your RAID setup. You don't want to penny-pinch too much on a setup to support your photography anyway.
There's a lot of crap floating around about Vista 64, but the reality is that, unless you're using esoteric or legacy applications, your stuff is going to work just fine. Plus, it's easy to check - spend 5 minutes punching searches into Google and you'll have all of your answers.
Go with Vista Business for downgrade rights in case you want XP back, which covers your bases... and on the off chance that you'll ever need to join it to a domain. Other than that... Just don't overthink it. Pick a vendor - probably stick with Velocity - and configure for your price range. If you need to knock a little money off, I made two suggestions above and you could scale the processor back, too. Sometimes aftermarket video cards are cheaper than stock upgrades as well, so you might be able to drop down to the lowest level video card and pick up another one from NewEgg.
Don't forget the precisions are even nicer real professional level hardware and the CPU isn't that much slower than the Velocity plus you get the 3 years on site warranty included in the price and you get more instant gratification since they just ship you something they have sitting in a warehouse...
alright, chopping the 10K HD and MS Office has my price down to $1650 or so on the Velocity rig. that looks pretty good, and i can set up my eSATA RAID thing later (i've got externals going now that can suffice for now, just worried about the RAID/MoBo thing josh mentioned...i hate config'ing that crap).
Sounds good. The Velocity has a $50 off coupon on it that expires Sunday. Call to confirm they have that quad core in stock for certain. Seems like a good option if you can't swing the precision T5400.
This T3400 is more affordable and has the higher end X38 chipset but would not be as high performance as the Z35 in your config but it does have the 3 year warranty and North American phone support:
For slightly less money, you can go with the Core 2 duo E8400 which is based on the same 45nm technology and has a faster clock speed. Based on the adobe article, you gain little to no advantage going to 64-bit processing. If you stick with a 32-bit OS, 4GB of ram may also be excessive. I would recommend that you start with 2GB. And if you are sticking with one graphics card, I suggest that you get someone slightly more powerful. At a glance, I do not believe that your motherboard supports SLI (which you may not need). Also, the new standard the PCI is PCI Express 2, which I blieve is not supported by the motherboard on the spec.
If you build your own system and go with some of my recommendations, I estimate that all the parts and OS combined would cost around $1500.
Tim we already covered that stuff. If you are working with large image files 64-bit OS gives significant photoshop benefits regardless of the fact its not yet designed for 64-bit OS. From your friend's KB article:
If you have more than 4 GB (to 6 GB), then the RAM above 4 GB is used by the operating system as a cache for the Photoshop scratch disk data. Data that previously was written directly to the hard disk by Photoshop is now cached in this high RAM before being written to the hard disk by the operating system. If you are working with files large enough to take advantage of these extra 2 GB of RAM, the RAM cache can speed performance of Photoshop. Additionally, in Windows Vista 64-bit, processing very large images is much faster if your computer has large amounts of RAM (6-8 GB).
SLI is for gaming and CS3 has very limited GPU acceleration support - image display and pressure sensitive brush acceleration, so there is zero need on that front at the present, don't upgrade your GPU - its a waste:
Instead of relying on the Central Processor Unit (CPU) for the graphics processing, some Graphics Processor Units (GPUs) are capable of providing faster graphics rendering. Where a GPU type card is detected, checking the Enable 3D Acceleration box will improve the image display performance. The 3D support will also improve the performance of the brushes. When using a pressure sensitive pen, the brushes response will feel much more sensitive and responsive.
For CS3 I don't so much think the quad core gives much advantage but maybe for future versions it will and it does give significant advantages in some other applications. If you are buying for CS3 performance right now a higher clock Wolfdale dual core will be faster and cheaper.
Dell sells the T3400 with the 8X00 series Wolfdale too.
GPU based computing (stream computing) will probably be more important in future in certain types of computing tasks, but GPU change every 6 months so there is no reason to buy a decent one right now. Buy the latest GPU when there are applications you use that actually use them significantly.
The highest GPU you might need is the 8500 GT ($75 or less for the better DDR3 version) if you aren't gaming/3D/some video editing apps. The 8500GT offers H.264 decoding acceleration which is good for watching lots of videos on you PC if you do that sort of stuff...
PROCESSOR Intel® Core2 Q6600 Quad-Core (8MB L2 cache,2.4GHz,1066FSB)
OPERATING SYSTEM Genuine Windows Vista® Home Premium with Digital Cable Support
MEMORY 4GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz - 4 DIMMs
HARD DRIVE 320GB - 7200RPM, SATA 3.0Gb/s, 16MB Cache
OPTICAL DRIVE Single Drive: 16X CD/DVD burner (DVD+/-RW) w/double layer write capability
MONITORS No Monitor
VIDEO CARD ATI Radeon HD 2400 PRO 128MB
SOUND CARD Integrated 7.1 Channel Audio
KEYBOARD Dell USB Keyboard
MOUSE Dell Optical USB Mouse
FLOPPY & MEDIA READER No Floppy Drive or Media Reader Included
WI-FI AND MODEM No Modem Requested
Dell doesn't sell 64 bit OS with their consumer or regular business computers unless you are an large corporate or edu customer - you need a precision workstation if you want x64.
Which line is that PC from? I would get a 8X00 series dual core Wolfdale if you are trying to save money and the new 45nm Quad Core (not the old Q6600) if you are going for long term usage (the performance of the system will increase as OS and applications get optimized for SSE4 and multicore.
Dell Precision workstations are tested and certified by a host of professional application companies including Adobe.
FYI Dell will not provide support for x64 on anything but precision workstations and their servers...
Any of the three should be good options. So are you going for raw CS3 speed now (E8500) or all around performance (Q9450)?
The Velocity has Vista SP1 preinstalled, so you should be aware you might have growing pains to contend with in certain configurations but since you will have brand new hardware you probably won't have issues. You will be an early adopter of SP1.