2014 desktop computer upgrade

After four years, it finally looks like it’s time to upgrade my desktop machine.  For most things, the machine is fine, but when it comes to processing images in Lightroom, the delay involved in rendering each image (4-5 seconds per 16MP raw file) has started to be annoying.  The hope is that by jumping forward 3 processor generations, and doing some modest overclocking, I can get that down by 40-50%.

The great thing about building your own system, aside from the fact that your may actually enjoy the process of assembling it (as I do), is that you can get pretty much exactly what I want, hardware-wise.  This is particularly helpful for me because the alternative would be to buy from Apple since I run MacOS X.  Apple makes slick computers, no question about it, but they also force you to pay for additional stuff you wouldn’t otherwise get, in addition to the usual Apple markup, like a fancy graphics card where none is needed.

The machine I’m building (full specs below) will just about equal a current generation top-of-the-line $2000 iMac in the applications I use.  But because I can reuse many of the components from my existing desktop (starting with the monitor), the cost of the upgrade is going to be less than $500.  Plus I can probably sell off my old motherboard and processor for around $250, further shrinking the net cost.  The case, power supply, disks, wireless card and monitor are all being reused in the new build.

List of components.  Starred items are those I already have.

Type Item Price Comments
Intel Core i5 4670K $240 4 cores at 3.4GHZ, with a boost up to 3.8GHZ, and easy overclocking. The 4770K is modestly faster (100MHZ) and offers HyperThreading, but for $80 less, the 4670K is the bargain.
Cooler* Arctic Freezer Pro 7 $25 Quieter and more effective than the stock cooler.
Motherboard (Intel Z87)


$125 One of the easiest motherboards to get OS X running on, and supports overlocking. Chose micro ATX over ATX to save space.

Power Supply*
(400W ATX)

Corsair CMPSU-400CX 400W $50 80 Plus Certified. Was running it for 4 years previously with no issues.
Case* Antec 300 ATX case $60 Not particularly small, but very easy to add hard drives and PCI cards to.
Memory (8GB) G.Skill Ripjaws X 8GB 1866MHZ DDR3 module $80 1866MHZ is probably unnecessary but I hope to overclock
Hard Disk* (2TB) Hitachi HGST 2TB 5400RPM HDD $125 Would get a 3TB drive if starting from scratch
SSD (240GB)* Corsair Force GS 240GB SATA III SSD $200 Would get the Samsung EVO 250GB model if starting from scratch
Video None   Integrated graphics are fine for desktop applications, including Lightroom and Photoshop
Wireless* (802.11abg) Apple Airport BCM94321MC Card + ‘Mini PCI-E to PCI-E Wireless Card w/ 3 Antennas’ $15 An old Apple Airport card from eBay, plus a $10 PCIe adapter (generic) work out-of-the-box
Keyboard and mouse* Logitech MK200 USB keyboard and mouse $25 Decent if unexceptional
(24″ IPS LCD)*
HP ZR2440w Widescreen IPS display $300 IPS and lack of a glossy covering make this an excellent display for editing images
(from scratch)
$1245   If all components were purchased today
(bought now)
$445   The components I need to buy (don’t already have)

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