Best Computer for Photography?

Discussion in 'Graphics Programs and Photo Gallery' started by Vautrin, Jan 13, 2009.

  1. Vautrin
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    Vautrin Active Member

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    So I have a really old laptop and it just doesn't cut it for my photographs anymore. I do a lot of post processing (panos, hdrs, and the real computing hog, hdr panos) and I want something more powerful.

    I want to spend no more than 1,000 EUR, although maybe I could spend a little more if necessary.

    I'm looking for a desktop.

    On the one hand I could just get a stock iMac for that price.

    But I was thinking maybe it would make more sense to get a quad core processor with lots of RAM. Then later on I could upgrade my graphics card / storage...

    Any suggestions? And any Europeans know a good place to get a computer?

    Dan
  2. usayit
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    usayit Well-Known Member

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    The short answer is to get the most you can afford. I would focus on loading up on RAM and getting a good monitor. Do not forget about a strategy to backup your files. This is true regardless of your choice of O/S; Windows or Mac.
  3. Vautrin
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    Vautrin Active Member

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    Well maybe I should rephrase my question. For 1000 EUR I could get the basic iMac. The pluses are it's a mac so I'd have things like Aperature, plus macs are sweet. The down side is I'd be stuck with the configuration I get in the imac for all of its useful life.

    Or I could get a PC desktop. But since they're upgradable I could get the best motherboard I could afford with dual processors and then upgrade the graphics card and RAM down the line. I'd have something much more powerful today and in a years time I'd have something much more powerful then the mac. And dual quad core processors would speed up my panos quite a bit I think...

    But it wouldn't be a mac!
  4. usayit
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    usayit Well-Known Member

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    And the reason why I am keeping it vague is because this forum has had dozens of PC versus Mac threads... that end up in flames.

    I am a mac user... I've got a dual G5 fully loaded. It is old. It is still a competent machine. It still is my main workstation.

    I also have a single Windows box... It has been replaced a few times and it works fine. The cost of incrementally replacing it probably equals that of the G5.

    I also have a Hackintosh... running on a netbook. I like it... it travels with me. It is tiny... Runs LR2 just fine except for the small display.

    My work laptop is a G4 PowerBook...

    My point is... you make a decision on Mac versus PC (only you can decide). Then purchase as much as you can afford. Either will work just fine. My personal preference just happens to be Mac (extending from being a UNIX/Linux guy). If you are a MAC person, ignore Windows options and just choose a mac. If you are a windows person, just ignore MAC options and choose a PC.


    BTw.... I much prefer LR2. You should download a free 30 day trial and see if you like it. LR2 will run on either Mac or Windows.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2009
  5. Flash Harry
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    Flash Harry New Member

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    Find a computer shop (smallish dealer) and buy the components then build your own, its easy and for the money you have should get a top spec system, there's loads of build guides on the net. H
  6. Lostbox
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    Lostbox New Member

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    I use both, not starting a debate, but I do find mac better, It comes preloaded with software I find useful, such as iweb, I personally prefer the way they work, and in my opinion they last longer without slowing down like I have found my PC does.

    But on the other hand PC are cheaper, but with a cheap PC you get cheap slower parts, you may get loads of RAM but it will actually run slower than better quality stuff.

    So it does really depend on what you prefer using, I don't think any one can answer that question.
  7. Flash Harry
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    Flash Harry New Member

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    PC's slow down due to the rubbish collected from the net and fragmentation, a good drive cleaner and regular defrag will keep your box up to speed, I last formatted 3 years back use the tools for cleaning, antispyware and regular defrag and have no speed issues on this pc. H
  8. patrickt
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    patrickt New Member

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    I don't feel qualified to build a computer so I hired a tech to help me. I pick my components. Some components, such as my DVD drives, don't concern me much. I go with price. Some, such as hard drives, do concern me so I set performance specs. Some, such as processor and motherboard are a major concern so I spec a specific item.
  9. xtort-
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    xtort- New Member

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    I've been working with computers for quite a while now, and can offer the following advice:

    1) get a mac.
    OR, if you can't afford a mac:

    1) Build your own PC. Never buy from a manufacturer. They cut every corner they can, and you end up with a useless computer much quicker than you normally would.
    2) Before installing Windows XP (NEVER vista, or even windows 7 (doesn't do anything more than hog more resources)), partition your hard drive. 1st partition should have about 20-30 gigs, and contain program installs only. The next partition is where you will save all your music, documents, photos, etc.
    3) Every 6 months-1 year, as required, wipe that first partition, and reinstall windows. Windows gets crapped up as it gets used. There is no disk cleaner, virus scanner, ad blocker, etc, that will fix your computer like a fresh install of windows will.

    You don't need any more than 2 gigs of ram unless you are doing something really strange. Instead of buying 4 gigs of decent RAM, get 2 gigs of the fastest stuff your motherboard can handle. You DO need a fast SATA drive. You DO need a good graphics card.

    The best computer you can buy is the one you build yourself- or have a small computer store build for you, as suggested above.
  10. CrazyCanuck
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    CrazyCanuck New Member

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    Im sorry Xtort, but the never install Vista and every six months reinstall the OS really struck a nerve with me.

    lets start on Vista, Vista is more secure than XP (for the time being) has quite a few useful features (start menu search, widgets, etc), but yes, it requires a few more resources.

    Next reinstalling the OS every 6 months, pure rubbish. I have desktop that I built up in 2002, and have not reinstalled XP since then. All that one needs to do, is not let spyware build up, virus' or other bloatware. Also, clearing the internet cache on occasion helps, defragging, and not installing/uninstalling programs a bunch of times.
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2009
  11. usayit
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    usayit Well-Known Member

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    You do have a different approach but I disagree with the 2gb memory. I HIGHLY recommend pushing for as much memory as you can possible stuff into a box. Graphics programs are memory bound.. Their demand increases
    * as your library gets more complex in Lightroom
    * as you do more complex editing in photoshop (layers lots of layers for example)
    * as the camera's sensors grow and produce larger files
    * as Microsoft keeps releasing new Windows Versions the trend is more memory.
    * as you start to work on multiple files at the same time (cards too if you go multiple monitors).
    .. Just to name a few..

    You will see performance improvements with faster processors and more of them BUT the improvements are far less dramatic. The applications are not CPU bound and many are not optimized for multiple CPUs (especially quads).

    This is similar to the power hungry video processing folks.... Load up on memory. Even on older machines, you should consider maxing out memory before jumping to a new machine.

    As for drives, your work drive should be fast (eSATA fast rpm). Drives used for archiving don't necessarily have to be (USB 2.0 externals)
  12. usayit
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    usayit Well-Known Member

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    I always see this "it does for ME" or "it doesn't for me" arguments in these threads. Face it... there are those that (for whatever reason) have problems with MAC OS X and other don't. There are those that (for whatever reason) have problems with Windows and others don't.

    What exactly are you trying to say here when you (single individual) are generalizing your experiences over the general public of millions of users? You are right and everyone else is doing something wrong? if so, then you should start a consulting company and fix everyone's problems....

    People post that they need to reinstall the OS often... Lots of people do. Take it is. I for one work in an mix environment of servers. Windows servers do get refreshed more often than any of our UNIX, Linux, nor our one MAC server. Just stating my experiences but not discounting others that might counter mine. Calling someone's different experiences/observations 'rubbish" is certainly not a productive post... is it?
  13. AlexColeman
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    AlexColeman New Member

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    I can't really contribute, I picked something far above the price point, the Mac Pro would be the best option, Macbook Pro, next best.
  14. Jaszek
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    Jaszek New Member

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    I buit my own pc:ASUS p5k premium motherboard, 4gb of ram(forgot the speed), core 2 duo 2.6 ghz, 680watt power supply, geforce 8400gs, and a lot of hard drives (60 internal, 120 internal, 320 internal, 120 external, 1TB external) and it runs Photoshop cs4, lightroom, kaspersky antivirus, and a lot more programs without a problem. Last time I reformated was about a month ago because I was playing around the internet and got a virus which I dodn't feel like scanning for.
  15. wagaboo
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    wagaboo New Member

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    you havent format in 6 yrs....WOW I'd shoot that box...lol.jk but vista IS a resource hog and always WILL be,a good xp pc with around 2 gigs of fast ram a good vid card and good monitor theres no debating it that Vista is a pig even with alot of ram. Just try xp then vista on the same pc and you'll see the difference. I have made many cd's of my own copy of xp and slim-lined it down to use just 128mb of ram and my cs3 SMOKES on that pc. I have built many pc's from scratch (figure of speach) and if vista wasnt a problem then why windows 7 ?
    I have been a beta tester since win98 and all my contacts say the same Cool it on the eye candy it takes to much resources.
    If you buy a vista pc and want to try XP then make sure all drivers are on a cd for xp as well as yer system disc for vista.
  16. Dwig
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    Dwig New Member

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    Don't blow your budget on the basic machine. DO NOT delay purchasing more and better hard drives. Make a fast second hard drive part of your basic purchase, preferably a Firewire. In general, RAM and drive performance as both as important as processor speed. Anyway, good fast HDs are relatively inexpensive.

    All this is particularily critical if you are using Photoshop and demand decent performance. You want PS's scratch disk to be separate piece of hardware from the drive your OS uses.

    On the Mac/Windows front, I'm rather neutral when it comes to photographic software. Neither is better than the other; some people just prefer one "style" over the other.

    As to the "reinstall Windows every 6 months" issue, you only need to do that if you don't know how to use Windows. One big issue with Windows is "bloteware" and the biggest offender that you are likely to encounter is Windows Update. Learn how to clean out the substantial collection of downloaded update packages that aren't needed after they've been run and much of the problem goes away. That, a good malware protection suite, and avoidance of Internet Explorer (I recommend Opera instead, but Firefox is also good stuff) will cure most ills.

    On the Windows side, I would vote to avoid Vista for performance reasons. Its a resource hog. If you buy a Windows machine it will probably come with Vista, just be sure it comes with the "downgrade to XP" option. Word has it that when Windows 7 is released, it will offer a downgrade to XP also (interestingly, not a downgrade to Vista).
  17. wagaboo
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    wagaboo New Member

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    Actually its an upgrade to 7 on new pc's that still have vista until ALL new pc's have 7 , Im a beta tester.
    PS:: I agree on Opera its not bloatware what so ever, FF is good but imo its bootup time is slower than opera and IE.
  18. Vautrin
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    Vautrin Active Member

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    So I actually went ahead and bought a quad core, 4gb ram, 2 hard drives computer. BUT it came with vista. Any suggestions on speeding it up? I've never seen a computer take 2GB of memory just when i boot up...
  19. Jaszek
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    Jaszek New Member

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    install XP :D. Make sure you find all the drivers before hand. If you cant find them i say go for the 7 beta, if you can still download it. If you want I can provide you with a key (don't worry mods, I got them from micosoft during the free beta test B4 for people that wont make it, I wont charge for them....or will I? <dramatic chimpmunk> no illegal activity here :p). Vista drivers work on 7 (or did, I got rid of it couple months back)
  20. DeadPixel
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    DeadPixel New Member

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    Most important - good monitor.
    With slow pc you still can work...
    but with bad monitor you are like half blind ;)

    .... as about operating system - my choice would be Windows XP.
    Windows Vista uses more resources and can affect on a work speed.

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