Question Photo/Video Build in Small Form Factor


Mar 15, 2011
I just realized that my current computer is already 7 years old, which went by fast. I've been editing and working primarily on an XPS15 right now, but my tower is still used occasionally, but it's running a Xeon E3-1245v2 on an MSI H77MA-G43 with 16GB Corsair with a couple 128GB SSDs, one HDD, and two external HDDs.

It's getting close to becoming time to upgrade, but since building the new home with a very industrial/minimalist looking office, I was to keep the form factor smaller to not be so obtrusive. I know this limits me somewhat with certain features, but I'm okay with that.

So, here it goes:

1. What YOUR PC will be used for. That means what types of tasks you'll be performing.

This will be used for photo editing and video work. I currently shoot on a 6d/70d, but plan to upgrade to the EOSr or R5 down the road, so file sizes are going to increase significantly. The only professional work I do right now is real estate photography, but I shoot and edit a fair amount even for personal work. I do NOT game. This will be used for 95% video/photo/graphic work (AE, LR, PS, Premiere, and Illustrator), and 5% regular computer usage (word, internet browsing, etc.).

2. What YOUR budget is. A price range is acceptable as long as it's not more than a 20% spread


3. What country YOU will be buying YOUR parts from.


4. IF you're buying parts OUTSIDE the US, please post a link to the vendor you'll be buying from.
We can't be expected to scour the internet on your behalf, chasing down deals in your specific country... Again, help us, help YOU.

5. IF YOU have a brand preference. That means, are you an Intel-Fanboy, AMD-Fanboy, ATI-Fanboy, nVidia-Fanboy, Seagate-Fanboy, WD-Fanboy, etc.

I don't. I want the best bang for my money. I don't need the best of the best, but I want something that is dependable, and upgradeable. I like getting 5+ years out of a system.

6. If YOU intend on using any of YOUR current parts, and if so, what those parts are.

I will probably keep all of my disk drives for now, primarily my two 128GB SSDs even if I use them just for scratch disks. I do want to try a NVMe drive as my OS/apps drive this time around if budget allows. I also have my Asus ProArt IPS monitor, and I will reuse my keyboard and mouse obviously.

7. IF YOU plan on overclocking or run the system at default speeds.


8. What resolution, not monitor size, will you be using?

Right now it's 1900x1200 on the ProArt, but I want to add a secondary display that I wouldn't mind being 4K for a preview monitor.

9. WHEN do you plan to build it?
Note that it is usually not cost or time effective to choose your build more than a month before you actually plan to be using it.

Probably in the next month or so.

10. Do you need to purchase any software to go with the system, such as Windows or Blu Ray playback software?

Nope, I'm good there as well.


Apr 13, 2012
Hey man...looks like you were a member way back when like me. Things have seemed to slow down quite a bit in the Forums since I last built my pc in 2012. I have a similar build thread going and haven't gotten a bite. I've done some pretty extensive research on parts, looking to build a smaller pc, and tend to keep my pcs for a while too. I think what I'm planning would fit your needs and budget pretty darn well.

Things to keep in mind that I have recently found out:

1) ITX mobos are a bit hard to come by right now. Same for PSUs in general.
2) Storage plenty of options. But, IMHO those 2 128GB SSDs are not worth it anymore. You have a decent budget, never skimp on drive space. I'm moving on from 256 GB SSD it's just too small for its own good (has become a management issue even with a 1TB backup drive). I would grab a 1TB NVME of your choice. If you want the lastest & greatest gen4 NVME you will need a x570 mobo. B450 will be fine if you are good with Gen3 NVME.
3) 32GB of Ram should be your sweet spot. No less then 16gb. For Ryzen (i.e. 3700x) DDR-3600 C16 is the sweet spot, but 3200 is almost as good and will due nicely.
4) 8 cores / 16 threads no less. For what you are doing and will be doing a 3700x is your best value. If you want a bit more 3900x.
5) Microcenter has some great prices and will match Amazon & Newegg. Also, give 5% off if you use their store credit card (even after a price match).

Hope this helps. I figured I would share since I am in the midst of basically building a "similar" pc. I am sure someone will say he could get a 3600 or 3600x and save $100, but he going to keep the PC for at least 5 years (kept his last for 7) and 2 more cores/4 more threads is worth the $100 difference easily. 16GB of ram vs 32GB is also worth the $70 IMO.
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No Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
I have a Ryzen R5 3600, and I'm a fairly price-sensitive user (but Ryzen is so worth it). It's just that the step between 6C/12T, and 8C/16T, is nearly almost double the price ($172 to $298 @ Newegg), so I declined to get the 3700X. If I get anything "bigger", I'll get a 3900X, as it has double the mining throughput, due to double-sized L3 cache compared to 3600 and 3700X.

If you're getting a Microcenter in-store discount and/or mobo combo, that might change the equation slightly. (Sometimes, Newegg has some good combos too, make sure to check those out if you're buying from Newegg.)

I concur on the 32GB of RAM. I'm a power-user when it comes to browsing, and my record so far in terms of number of tabs in my Firefox Nightly web browser, is over 3,000. 32GB handles it well. 16GB, not so much.

I also concur, go NVMe or go home, and go with AT LEAST 1TB, if not 2TB, if the increase isn't too exorbitant.
(I'm running 2x 1TB in RAID-0, only because I got a good deal on them "open-box", and I backup my rig daily anyways.)

For PCI-E 3.0 x4 NVMe, the HP EX950 2TB is a decent choice, and the Corsair MP600, I believe, for PCI-E 4.0 x4 NVMe. That, and Sabrent has a number of drives, the Rocket, Rocket 4.0 (PCI-E 4.0 support), and the Rocket Q, which is QLC like the Intel 660p that I'm using.

WD Black NVMe and Samsung EVO 970 Plus are both still PCI-E 3.0 x4 NVMe SSDs, they don't have a PCI-E 4.0 offering yet. They are the "pricey" PCI-E 3.0 options, but perform well. Kind of like the BWM/Lexus of NVMe SSDs.


Mar 15, 2011
Thanks everyone. What about a dedicated graphics card? I'm using the integrated graphics on my chipset now, and it handles most things alright, but I'm worried once I bump up to 4k editing (even with proxies) along with starting to do more motion graphics, that I should have a dedicate GPU.


Apr 13, 2012
Re: dedicated/discrete GPU

That is definitely getting into a more technical question. I have no idea of the demands of the program, nor am I a graphic designer, or if that particular program can be "accelerated" or benefited by a GPU. Maybe if you gave a list of any specific programs you plan to be using (i.e. Photoshop, Premier, Lightwave, Autocad, Revit) someone with more expertise in the area can chime in.

However, with that considered you will need a discrete GPU if you upgrade to AMD/Ryzen as the processors you would want (i.e. 3600, 3700x, 3900x) do not have iGPUs (integrated).


Senior member
Sep 8, 2011
Nvidia cards have an advantage over AMD with Adobe products if you use CUDA.

For large data sizes, stick with an SSD like a Samsung 970 Pro. Sabrent and a lot of other drives tank in write performance once their caches fill up, while the 970 Pro keeps a consistent transfer rate.