Need help - New Build for Heavy Illustrator use

Mihaly Barna

Jan 11, 2016
Hello, Toms

I'm seeking your advice regarding a new PC build, that will be able to smoothly handle huge files (up to 5-6gb) in Illustrator.

We are currently using iMacs, that are able to handle most of the simpler files, but in a certain field we are working with huge files, usually 3-4 gb, but sometimes even bigger than that. It takes, like, 15 minutes to perform even the most basic tasks, when working on these files.

We decided to get a new PC only to perform these demanding tasks, but I don't know exactly, which components Illustrator takes most advantage of. Should I get the best CPU possible, or is the GPU more important? Or put in 250gb RAM and the fastest SSDs? Maybe there's a sweetspot for everything?

Our budget is something of the cost of a good iMac, something like 3000 euro, but the price needs to contain a screen as well. Something like a 1440p 28inch screen (4k is welcome too, but not essential) - doesn't need to be color calibrated.

A few components that seem like a good choice:

CPU: Intel i7 - 6800k / Intel i7 - 6850k
CPU cooler: Corsair H100i v2
GPU: GTX 1070 / 1080 or QUADRO m4000 (need opinion on these cards - which is meant better for the job?)
MEMORY: Corsair Vengeance LPX ddr4 3000MHz CL15 - 2x 16gb or 4x 16gb
MOTHERBOARD: ASRock x99 Extreme4
SSD: Intel 540s Series 480gb SATA3 M.2 80mm tlc
HDD: 2x WD blue 1TB
PSU: Super Flower Leadex GOLD 750W 80 Plus Gold


We're located in Transylvania - Romania, and the PC with the components in the PCPartPicker list costs 2500 euros here. It's kind of the most expensive we are willing to go.


- Should I opt for the 6core CPUs, or get the beefiest 4 core one? Do Illustrator and Photoshop take advantage of multiple cores?
- Regarding the GPU I don't know if Quadro cards make big difference compared to the better priced GTX cards - that's one of the big questions here. And also if they have any use when working in Illustrator. I read some articles about GPU aided graphics in Illustrator, but want to know if it's worth spending big money on GPU in my case?
- If you have some thoughts or insights, if something is miserably failed on the list, or doesnt get along, please, tell me. If you have a good idea, or a completely different way you would build up this Pc don't hesitate to tell me.

Thank you!
Illustrator CC (2017) system requirements and language versions

Intel Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon 64 processor
Microsoft Windows 7 with Service Pack 1, Windows 8.1, or Windows 10
1 GB of RAM (3 GB recommended) for 32 bit; 2 GB of RAM (8 GB recommended) for 64 bit
2 GB of available hard-disk space for installation; additional free space required during installation (cannot install on removable flash storage devices)
1024 x 768 display (1280 x 800 recommended)
To view Illustrator in HiDPI mode, your monitor must support a resolution of 1920 x 1080 or more.
OpenGL 4.x
To use the new Touch workspace in Illustrator, you must have a touch-screen-enabled tablet/monitor running Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 (Microsoft Surface Pro 3 recommended).
Optional: To use GPU Performance: an Intel, NVIDIA, or AMD video adapter from those listed below (medium/high-end recommended); 1 GB of VRAM (2 GB recommended); and latest drivers for optimal performance


Graphics processor-powered features are not supported on 32-bit Windows platforms.

The following video adapter series support the new Windows GPU Performance features in Illustrator:


NVIDIA Quadro K Series
NVIDIA Quadro 6xxx
NVIDIA Quadro 5xxx
NVIDIA Quadro 4xxx
NVIDIA Quadro 2xxx
NVIDIA Quadro 2xxxD
NVIDIA Quadro 6xx
NVIDIA GeForce GTX Series (4xx, 5xx, 6xx, 7xx, 9xx, Titan)
NVIDIA Quadro M Series
NVIDIA Quadro P Series

Important: Microsoft Windows may not detect the availability of the latest device drivers for NVIDIA GPU cards. Get the latest GPU card device drivers:

- Quadro series
- Other series


Intel HD Graphics 4600 Series
Intel HD Graphics 5000 Series
Intel Iris Graphics 5000 Series
Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5000 Series
Intel HD Graphics 6000 Series
Intel Iris Graphics 6000 Series

The following series are supported only on Windows 8 or later:

AMD Radeon R9 Series Graphics
AMD Radeon R7 Series Graphics
AMD Radeon HD 7000 Series Graphics
AMD Radeon HD 8000 Series Graphics
AMD FirePro V Series Graphics
AMD FirePro W Series Graphics



Ensure that you have the latest GPU card drivers installed. See Illustrator GPU Performance | Driver Updates.

Internet connection and registration are necessary for required software activation, validation of subscriptions, and access to online services.*

Good read...

PCPP Romania is not available, hence prices are in Dutch version, with enough headroom to adjust the price gap. This should be the kind of etup you should be looking for.

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

CPU: AMD RYZEN 7 1800X 3.6GHz 8-Core Processor (€559.00 @ Amazon Deutschland)
CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-D15S 82.5 CFM CPU Cooler (€79.90 @ Amazon Deutschland)
Motherboard: Asus CROSSHAIR VI HERO ATX AM4 Motherboard (€295.18 @ Amazon Deutschland)
Memory: G.Skill TridentZ 32GB (2 x 16GB) DDR4-3200 Memory (€160.93 @ Amazon Deutschland)
Storage: Samsung 960 Evo 500GB M.2-2280 Solid State Drive (€250.74 @ Mindfactory)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 2TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive (€79.83 @ Mindfactory)
Video Card: Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1080 8GB G1 Gaming Video Card (€565.80 @ Mindfactory)
Case: Cooler Master MasterBox 5 (Black) ATX Mid Tower Case (€68.50 @ Amazon Deutschland)
Power Supply: SeaSonic S12II 620W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply (€73.43 @ Amazon Deutschland)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 10 Home OEM 64-bit (€103.85 @ Mindfactory)
Wireless Network Adapter: TP-Link TL-WDN4800 PCI-Express x1 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi Adapter (€40.87 @ Mindfactory)
Monitor: Samsung U28E590D 28.0" 3840x2160 60Hz Monitor (€358.92 @ Amazon Deutschland)
Keyboard: Logitech MK120 Wired Slim Keyboard w/Optical Mouse (€26.40 @ Amazon Deutschland)
Total: €2663.35
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2017-03-15 11:10 CET+0100

Mihaly Barna

Jan 11, 2016
Hey, Hellfire13

Thank you for taking the time to answer me.

I see you swapped the CPU to the Ryzen. I completely forgot to check out the AMD offering. Didn't read up on the Ryzen chips yet. Took this time to get to know it a little. It seems to be a decent chip indeed, but people seem to keep a safe distance from it yet, for it being a new architecture. Everyone says it's great, but they are still going to buy Intel chips.
I lost touch with AMD when they had this high core count, and insanely high frequencies (like 10 cores and 5GHz - cca 2012) compared to the Intel chips, but still got owned. So even if i heard about the Ryzen release I kinda ignored it - but I'm rather surprised now.

Since I'm spending company money here, I want to make sure that it is going to be a nice machine for the next 4-5 years to come, and that it will run smoothly, and stable.
Do you in any way think this setup is going to be an overkill? Or, more importantly, will it perform seriously better than a comparably priced iMac? Could you take an educated guess, like a percentage it would be better than a new iMac in the same price range?
I kinda feel the need to explain why I want to move away from Apple.
The problems you are talking about are Cross CCX throughput, Windows Scheduler issues, and single core IPC discrepancy and Memory controller issues, which are all affecting gaming on that chip and gaming only. For non gaming use, Ryzen has marveled for office use compared to similar Intel chips at double the price.
Read all about it in detail with review links, benchmarks on popular official apps, etc over here....

Our inhouse review here...,4951-12.html

You can still run MAC OS on it, details are here...

Comparing the specs here... we can safely say that it will outperform the imacs in every way possible and bury it by miles. It is a bit overkill according to my opinion and if you want to save money you can go for the R7 1700/1700X which will save you some money. But having said that, this will last you much longer than scaled down machines and will ofcourse outperform them.

Mihaly Barna

Jan 11, 2016
You sure gave me some nice reading for the afternoon. I'm gonna burry myself into these reviews for the rest of the day, and place an order tomorrow - likely with the Ryzen setup. :)

Thank you very much for your input! You have been a great help!

Take care, and regards,
Buna Mihaly Barna,

We use Adobe CS6 and over time are changing our attitude towards hardware. In the past we have always had Xeon /ECC / Quadro systems with more cores- 6, 8, 12, and 16, for CPU-rendering but Adobe graphic design programs are terrible in multi-threading. They run on one core and some are not even very good at hyper-threading of one core and six and eight core processors are wasted.

See the excellent articles on the Puget systems site for Photoshop, After Effects, and Lightroom. Then, read the specifications of the systems they sell for those applications- 4-core i7's with the fastest possible single-thread (single-core) performance and the GTX 1080, the fastest GTX GPU. The memory bandwidth and amount is important but extremely fast drives are not apparently as important as once loaded- the swaps are all between CPU and RAM. For the GPU, I would prefer the new Quadro P2000 5GB, which performs better than a Quadro M4000 for half the price and supports much higher anti-aliasing and 30-bit colour- better colour matching and colour correction.

Here is an idea based on the 4-core with the highest single-thread performance, the i7-7700K 4.2 .4.5GHz, using Partpicker DE. This has liquid cooling, 64GB of RAM,and the case is especially chosen for being very quiet.

We were interested in the recent release of the Ryzen 7 series as the performance promised was so very good for a bargain price. But, so far, the average results are a warning about new technology: the Passmark single-thread rating for the i7-7700K is 2597 and for Ryzen 7 1800X is only 1960.. Oddly, every time I look, the 1800X is doing worse. At first it was 2119. No doubt this will improve, but I think there are memory compatibility problems. We will have another look when the Ryzen 5- 6-cores are avaialable.

The Illustrator Transylvania Express_15.3.17

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

CPU: Intel Core i7-7700K 4.2GHz Quad-Core Processor (€368.95 @ Mindfactory)
CPU Cooler: Corsair H60 54.0 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler (€82.84 @ Mindfactory)
Motherboard: Asus PRIME Z270-A ATX LGA1151 Motherboard (€169.41 @ Mindfactory)
Memory: Corsair Vengeance LPX 64GB (4 x 16GB) DDR4-2666 Memory (€477.86 @ Amazon Deutschland)
Storage: Samsung 960 Evo 500GB M.2-2280 Solid State Drive (€250.74 @ Mindfactory)
Storage: Western Digital BLACK SERIES 2TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive (€138.91 @ Mindfactory)
Video Card: Quadro P2000 5GB 160-bit > Available end of March 2017 (about €500)
___Video Card Alternate: Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1080 8GB G1 Gaming Video Card (€565.70 @ Mindfactory)
Case: Thermaltake Suppressor F51 ATX Mid Tower Case (€110.89 @ Amazon Deutschland)
Power Supply: SeaSonic 650W 80+ Gold Certified ATX Power Supply (€94.33 @ Mindfactory)
Optical Drive: LG BH16NS55.AUAR10B Blu-Ray/DVD/CD Writer (€69.22 @ Amazon Deutschland)
Operating System: Microsoft
Windows 7 Pro SP1 DE 64-bit
(€152.94 @ Mindfactory)
Total: about €2420 or €2481.79 with GTX 1080

Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2017-03-15 12:10 CET+0100

This system would have very good performance in 3D applications as well. -If you ever need Solidworks!



CAD / 3D Modeling / Graphic Design:

HP z420 (2015) (Rev 3) > Xeon E5-1660 v2 (6-core @ 3.7 / 4.0GHz) / 32GB DDR3 -1866 ECC RAM / Quadro K4200 (4GB) / Samsung SM951 M.2 256GB AHCI + Intel 730 480GB (9SSDSC2BP480G4R5) + Western Digital Black WD1003FZEX 1TB> M-Audio 192 sound card + Logitech z2300 2.1 speakers > 600W PSU> > Windows 7 Professional 64-bit >> 2X Dell Ultrasharp U2715H (2560 X 1440)
[ Passmark Rating = 5581 > CPU= 14046 / 2D= 838 / 3D= 4694 / Mem= 2777 / Disk= 11559] [6.12.16]
[Cinebench R15 > CPU = 1031cb / Single Core = 142 cb / OpenGL= 127.39 fps / MP Ratio = 7.24x] 3.2.17
[FryBench: 3:24 /Efficiency 2177.13] 3.11.17

Analysis / Simulation / Rendering:

HP z620 (2012) (Rev 3) 2X Xeon E5-2690 (8-core @ 2.9 / 3.8GHz) / 64GB DDR3-1600 ECC reg) / Quadro K2200 (4GB) + Tesla M2090 (6GB) / HP Z Turbo Drive (256GB) + Samsung 850 Evo 250GB + Seagate Constellation ES.3 (1TB) / Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium PCIe sound card + Logitech z313 2.1 speakers / 800W / Windows 7 Professional 64-bit > > HP 2711x (27" 1980 X 1080)
[ Passmark System Rating= 5675 / CPU= 22625 / 2D= 815 / 3D = 3580 / Mem = 2522 / Disk = 12640 ] 9.25.16
[ Cinebench R15: CPU = 2209 cb / Single core 130 cb / OpenGL= 119.23 fps / MP Ratio 16.84x] 10.31.16


welcome :)

Mihaly Barna

Jan 11, 2016
Hello bambiboom,

I took way too much to write an answer, and I'm sorry for that!
It took me so much, because I was in quite the dilemma - go AMD or Intel?
Well I made up my mind and after bunch of research, I decided to go with the Intel setup, and get as high single core performance as possible. So it is the 7700k backed by a kraken x61. I chose the Kraken because it seems to be the best AIO closed loop liquid cooler in the affordable range, and it sure will be able to handle a slight overclock - say 4600 MHz.

I used the MoBo you put into the build. Strangely its one of the cheapest components of them all - which isn't the problem of course. I'm interested if it will handle the overclock? I know nearly nothing about mobos.

Further you can see the build we are ready to order:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

CPU: Intel Core i7-7700 3.6GHz Quad-Core Processor ($299.99 @ SuperBiiz)
CPU Cooler: NZXT Kraken X61 106.1 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler ($113.99 @ NCIX US)
Motherboard: Asus PRIME Z270-A ATX LGA1151 Motherboard ($158.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Memory: Corsair Vengeance LPX 32GB (2 x 16GB) DDR4-3000 Memory ($238.97 @ Jet)
Storage: Samsung 850 EVO-Series 250GB 2.5" Solid State Drive ($99.88 @ OutletPC)
Storage: Samsung 850 EVO-Series 250GB 2.5" Solid State Drive ($99.88 @ OutletPC)
Storage: Western Digital BLACK SERIES 2TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($123.88 @ OutletPC)
Video Card: Zotac GeForce GTX 1080 8GB AMP! Edition Video Card ($560.71 @ Amazon)
Case: Fractal Design Define R5 Blackout Edition ATX Mid Tower Case ($109.99 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: SeaSonic PRIME Gold 650W 80+ Gold Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply ($114.90 @ SuperBiiz)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 10 Pro OEM 64-bit ($99.99 @ Amazon)
Monitor: Dell P2715Q 27.0" 3840x2160 60Hz Monitor ($539.99 @ Amazon)
Total: $2561.16
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2017-03-17 03:25 EDT-0400

The setup above costs 2950 Eur - ordered from a single retailer.

I would like to ask you to take a quic look at the build, and check if everything fits together.
We will use the SSDs in RAID0 to run the aplications and the OS, the HDD for archiving. Don't need a 2nd HDD because we will back up data monthly to external HDDs.
We plan to use SATA3 SSD because they cost way less than PCI M.2 SSDs, and will likely outperform a single PCI M.2.
We will go for 32gb in the beginning, and setup additional 32gb if we need to - which i highly doubt.
The Quadro P2000 is not yet available in Romania so we will stick with the GTX.

Does it seem okay to you? You recommended Win 7 Pro. Does Win 10 pro lack anything, or has issues?

PS: the The "Illustrator Transylvania Express_15.3.17" is so badass, we might actually name this beauty that ^^ - you are awesome.

I just discovered I could get Samsung 960 series EVO 250 gb PCI Express M.2 for slightly more than the SATA3 SSDs. Should I go for them?

The heaviest workload for us is when we are working on 3-4gb big files in illustrator, consisting millions of points of vectors, hq bitmaps and multiple effects. The aim of this build mainly would be to be able to handle these type of files quickly and smoothly.

Mihaly Barna,

I would first mention that the ASUS Prime Z270 was chosen by the CPU ratings in Passmark Performance Test system results. In the Passmark baselines, the very highest CPU scores for the i7-7700K were achieved by the ASUS Maximus IX series (15392) , but that motherboard is among the most expensive. So, part of the decision had to be for the cost. But the ASUS Prime Z270 for half the cost of the Maximus also produced some of the highest results: a CPU ratings @ 5.0Ghz from 14681 to 14756 which indicates a single-thread rating of 3689.<Wow! So, the Prime Z270 seemed a good cost to performance value and fit into the budget.

The NZXT Kraken X61 has a very good thermal performance, but a number of review comments suggest that some units have unusual noise levels.

The choice of the boot drive is a bit complicated. On some level, so much of content creation work involves the files being loaded into RAM for very fast CPU to RAM swaps. So, after loading the drive is involved only in saving and opening new files or libraries. Over time, I've started to think that that the best drive solution is to have a large SSD - 500GB or larger-with two partitions, one for the OS /Programs, and the other for files. In the main office system, all the projects files since 1994 are a total of 71GB, so the main modeling system has an Intel 730 480GB with 200GB, 200GB, and 80GB partitions. The third partition is for a system image that can quickly restore the OS and Programs, the other system has a 256GB M.2 and the files are kept on a Samsung 850 Evo 250GB SATA. Despite the 256GB M.2 having a Passmsark disk rating of 13460 and the Intel 730 rating is 4794, the difference in any disk function is not noticeable. The starting time for the Intel 730 system is about 8 seconds slower, but it also has 30GB more programs. I think that is because the limitation is in the CPU: the Intel 730 system is 3.7/4.0GHz to the M.2 system's 2.9 /3.8GHz.

A RAID 0 on mechanical drives is a bit dangerous on a workstation as the data is divided between the two drives and failure of one drive mean the loss of everything. An analytical rebuild of the RAID 0 could take days. Our server has 300GB SAS 15K drives drives and a RAID 1- a much simpler- rebuild still takes 14 hours. If the system is running on a RAID 0, have a system image for a quick restore. A RAID 0 of SATA SSD's can be very good, but will not nearly approach the M.2. and the two 850 Evos are much more expensive than a single M.2. Two 850 Evo 250GB cost $200 in the US and in RAID 0 will provide a total of 250GB disk space, whereas a single, non-RAID Samsung 960 Evo 256GB- the same amount of storage- costs only $130. Plus, I'm quite certain the single 960 Evo will have both much better performance and reliability than a RAID 0. On Crystal Disk, the Samsung 850 Evo 250 GB in RAID 0 is: Sequential Write =1028 /Seq Read: 968. For a single 960 Evo the Seq. Write is 2322 / Seq Read: 1857.

It is probably better after all to use Windows 10. Intel is already stopping any support of Kaby Lake processors on Windows 7, and MS will also be discontinuing all Windows 7 support in 2020. So yes, may as well use Windows 10.

An interesting project. Let us know how it works.



Jun 21, 2018
Illsutartor does not need a super computer capabilities to work, you just need a fine GPU + a solid ssd, here is my suggestion:

GPU: GTX 1070 / 1080 or QUADRO m4000
MEMORY: 16gb
SSD: Intel

Good luck.