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Purchasing a PC for a photographer. Need help!

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defwhig    0

Hey guys,

I'm looking to purchase my mother a new PC to use mainly for photo editing (I'm fairly certain she use Photoshop with Lightroom). She'd also be using it for surfing the Internet, and doing a little office documentation. I really can't believe what she's able to accomplish with what she has now! Her computer is terrible. My question is; What are the key factors to look for in a PC to use for photo editing? Hardware, OS, and storage wise.

Thanks!

I know that I should get her a Mac, but she would literally strangle me if I forced her to relearn new hardware, and repurchase all of her software. :)

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PsYcHoKiLLa    2,589

2 words, Processor and Memory. Both as fast as possible, anything else is secondary but you might consider getting her a nice touch tablet to go with it, you can pick up loads of cheaper ones on ebay.

A top of the range i5 will probably suffice to be honest, i7s are really for high end gaming.

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max22    93

Get at least the i5 2600k with Hyper-threading. Make sure it has it because this will make a big difference in those kind of tasks. If possible put at least 16 GB of ram in the system.

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Open Minded    988

i5 or i7 (if budget allows) for the CPU. I'd also get an SSD. I built a 1366 socket i7 with 2 SSDs in a RAID 0 for a friend that does a lot of Photoshop. He said it made a huge difference coming from a Q6600.

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Andre    9

Hyperthreading is only good if you are doing a lot of heavy encoding work, which photography or anything Photoshop or Lightroom is not.

i5 2500k will be more than enough

8GB or 16GB RAM

SSD for OS and applications and an HDD for storage

@Open Minded

Sorry, but SSD in RAID0 for Photoshop is a waste of money and doesn't make any difference at all. Reading PSD files from one SSD compared to one HDD doesn't make any significant difference whatsoever, let alone 2 SSDs in RAID0. Even having scratch file on SSD doesn't make that much of a difference. Simply because Photoshop relies heavily on RAM. And while it still uses scratch files to write to in case memory fills up, it rarely needs to read from it if you have 16 or even 32 GB of RAM.

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Coolicer    20

Get at least the i5 2600k with Hyper-threading. Make sure it has it because this will make a big difference in those kind of tasks. If possible put at least 16 GB of ram in the system.

Rather buy an AMD Bulldozer than trying to use HyperThreading. My mom is also a heavy photoshop user. She's a stock photographer and works with 21MP raw files.

She's been running Vista for like 3-4 years now with 4GB of ram and an AMD Phenom I 96xx (can't remember) but she's reluctant to have her system reinstalled.

I'm waiting for the Piledriver revision of Bulldozer to upgrade her computer bigtime (I'm anticipating heavy multithreading use in Photoshop plus she's always busy with too many things at the same time).

So the requirements would be:

Get a very good fast processor. I would advise against HyperThreading, so a top of the line core i5 would be fine altough right now my perference would be the x6 Phenoms or the FX8150. Especially since the Bulldozer supports fast DDR3.

Lots of RAM. This is easily the most important part. Since Photoshop will try to load all the open files into the memory and what doesn't fit will go into a scratch-storage (usually the pagefile). So lots of fast memory is nice (I'd go with 16GB) and configure photoshop to use that memory.

An extra, fast HDD would be handy for a scratch disc. So if you have a decent budget get something like a WD Raptor of around 80GB or so. If not, get a WD Black Caviar disc. Don't use an SSD for this since the disc will do lots of writing.

Don't neglect the System disc as well, and a smallish SSD would be a massive boost to productivity (30GB should be enough for Windows with a bunch of programs and Photoshop, just move the pagefile, Browser temp files and windows temp to a real HDD to maximise the space and prolong the life of the SSD)

Also, get a cheapish mid-segment GPU. Photoshop uses OpenGL hardware acceleration for its interface and tasks like rotating/zooming/moving/rendering the picture.

What's your budget? Which (web)shop are you going to use? And what is her old hardware? (You can save money by reusing some old components like system case, CD/DVD-rom, HDD's for storage)

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Coolicer    20

Hyperthreading is only good if you are doing a lot of heavy encoding work, which photography or anything Photoshop or Lightroom is not.

i5 2500k will be more than enough

8GB or 16GB RAM

SSD for OS and applications and an HDD for storage

@Open Minded

Sorry, but SSD in RAID0 for Photoshop is a waste of money and doesn't make any difference at all. Reading PSD files from one SSD compared to one HDD doesn't make any significant difference whatsoever, let alone 2 SSDs in RAID0. Even having scratch file on SSD doesn't make that much of a difference. Simply because Photoshop relies heavily on RAM. And while it still uses scratch files to write to in case memory fills up, it rarely needs to read from it if you have 16 or even 32 GB of RAM.

Well, it's kind of hard to determine how much RAM and Scratch space she would need since we don't know how she works. My recommendations too, are based on my mothers working practices. It just hurts my soul to see how people abuse their computers.

My mother would open a whole batch of RAW files and work on them one-by-one while they're open. Imagine this batch being around 30x 21MP Canon-RAW files. Plus lots of heavy sites open in Firefox and some other large applications like MS Outlook. 32GB would be nice, but not with current prices for such DDR chips. There are however motherboards for SandyBridge with LOTS of RAM slots. 6 if I remember correctly (for 2x Triple-Channel I guess), so such a motherboard could be a solution.

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Open Minded    988

@Open Minded

Sorry, but SSD in RAID0 for Photoshop is a waste of money and doesn't make any difference at all. Reading PSD files from one SSD compared to one HDD doesn't make any significant difference whatsoever, let alone 2 SSDs in RAID0. Even having scratch file on SSD doesn't make that much of a difference. Simply because Photoshop relies heavily on RAM. And while it still uses scratch files to write to in case memory fills up, it rarely needs to read from it if you have 16 or even 32 GB of RAM.

The last part of what I said should have been a clue I was mostly talking about the CPU-

He said it made a huge difference coming from a Q6600.

Also, there is a difference when photos load from the SSD array and not the mechanical drives. He's a photographer and told me the images he uses are big. I don't know much about the pics, only the HW specs and what he tells me. So you're not calling my buddy a liar, are you? ;)

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crazzy88ss    65

SSD are over hyped for now unless you got way too much money or you're a super nerd.

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stevember    138

SSD are over hyped for now unless you got way too much money or you're a super nerd.

You are incorrect on so many levels.

Another person with little or no experience of them. People need to stop listening to the ones without them and listen to the ones that use them.

I highly recommend an SSD drive for the OS and programs, making it RAID 0 is a pretty pointless exercise, of course it would be slightly faster loading a massive file but this is where more money than sense comes in.

It's pretty simple:

Fast CPU

Plenty of RAM

Decent motherboard (a known make it does not have to be expensive)

Decent power supply (often overlooked)

SSD drive OS and programs, large drive for storage.

I would also be tempted to invest in NAS drive because their photos would be important.

But, with all this said photoshop is not something new, it is possible to run it on a $500/?300 machine, it is just a little slower and not so nice to use. I have seen people turn out amazing things on a pile of crap, and vice versa.

At the end of the day it comes down to the user.

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crazzy88ss    65

Fine then, go ahead and recommend a SSD to somebody who won't even know what a SSD is, nor will they be able to tell the difference between a system running a SDD vs a platter drive.

I run everything off of an "old fashioned" 7200rpm drive w/ no issues. Saving 1.4 seconds on some random function doesn't mean jack squat in my day.

And my point about being a super nerd still stands, as they only seem to be ones that defend them as the end all and be all of hardware. This is the photo forum, not the "gain a few points on your benchmarks" forum.

I may not know as much about hardware as some, but I do know people and they just want something that works for a good price. I don't htink SSD fills that need yet.

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remus_lupin    10

I agree with crazzy, go with an HDD, unfortunately prices have gone up significantly due to floods, but they are still "way" cheaper than SSDs... Especially because you need a lot of space to hold photos (assuming you are shooting RAW).

In terms of RAM people have been saying as much as 16GB (and I see you mentioned 32GB), I PERSONALLY feel that is a bit over the top. But I mean with prices today, RAM is dirt cheap, so it's easy I guess to say "why not". Even then I would still say you won't need more than 12GB, 8GB is even fine. NOTE, maybe it would be better to get 16 or 32, idk because I don't work with photoshop in particular, I guess more really can make a difference, and it would future proof it I guess. I personally use Lightroom.

My one system has 8GB, the other 12GB, both are more than adequate for my needs, that being said they both have i7's.

Make sure there is some sort of backup!!!! That's where the benefit of HDD's come in (cheap for additional storage).

Other than that most people on here have given great advice. Best of luck.

OH GET A GOOD MONITOR.

You don't want her making adjustments only to print them out and realize it's nothing like what she was seeing. There are monitor calibrators from brands such as spyder. I am in no way recommending them because I have no idea how well they work. I am sure there are people on here who know a lot more about them then me.

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stevember    138

Fine then, go ahead and recommend a SSD to somebody who won't even know what a SSD is, nor will they be able to tell the difference between a system running a SDD vs a platter drive.

I run everything off of an "old fashioned" 7200rpm drive w/ no issues. Saving 1.4 seconds on some random function doesn't mean jack squat in my day.

And my point about being a super nerd still stands, as they only seem to be ones that defend them as the end all and be all of hardware. This is the photo forum, not the "gain a few points on your benchmarks" forum.

I may not know as much about hardware as some, but I do know people and they just want something that works for a good price. I don't htink SSD fills that need yet.

Anybody that is able to witness the difference between a machine with an SSD drive and without would clearly see the difference immediately, they do not need to know what an SSD drive is.

If you have no experience of them please stop recommending against them.

While I boot my machine, load several programs start-up photo shop and start editing, could you pour me a cup of tea while you're waiting for yours please, appreciated.

You have a powerful Mac, if you through an SSD drive in that it would blow your mind.

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