Need a new computer... specs?

JenR

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I'm not exactly sure where this thread should go.... Sorry if this is not the right place.

I am starting to think about retiring my 4.5 year old computer and moving into the modern age :) Does anyone have any suggestions on the specs I should be realistically looking for (RAM, processor, disk size, etc)? I have not bought a computer in so long that I don't even really know what is considered "good" anymore. I primarily want to run LR 5 and CS 5. Thanks for the help!
 

pisto1981

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ie5 or 7 with 8gig Ram if your using windows. if not, I cant help
1TB hard drive space. Maybe consider a SSD to boot from.
A nice monitor, with a calibrator
 
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JenR

JenR

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I should have mentioned that I am PC/Windows. No Macs for me! :) I have a decent monitor and calibrator, just my antique system unit needs a little sprucing up. Is 8gig RAM enough or would I really wish I had gone for 12? I am not sure how much the extra RAM would really boost performance.
 

KenC

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Depends a lot on file sizes. If you don't usually handle PS files bigger than 100-150 MB, then 8 GB should be plenty, at least for CS5 (don't know LR). If your files are much bigger than this, go for more.
 

pisto1981

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Go for 12, it wont cost much more. Or you can get 8 and if not enough, upgrade. Either way, it wont cost much more
 

gmazz

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8gigs is more than enough for simple photo editing.
 

nycphotography

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For a 4 to 5 year target life cycle...

I'd suggest:

* Intel i5 or i7 quad core.

* A decent 500w power supply (ie spend $50 to $70, not $19.95). They run quieter and last longer.

* 16GB ram. After all, 16GB is around $100 now. Make sure the motherboard supports 32GB or more.

* SSD system disk (120gb or if you're the kind to install tons of programs and keep your data in MyDocuments get a bigger one, and learn to keep your data on an separate drive)

* Two big data disks, one for data and one for backups (mine are internal, but you can get a 4TB externals for like $169 now).

* Good backup software for your system disk... an ssd will make the single most noticable difference in your responsiveness, but I find them to be flaky.

That pretty much sums it up.
 

Big Mike

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* SSD system disk (120gb or if you're the kind to install tons of programs and keep your data in MyDocuments get a bigger one, and learn to keep your data on an separate drive)
* Two big data disks, one for data and one for backups (mine are internal, but you can get a 4TB externals for like $169 now).

I'll second these points.
I bought a new machine 1 1/2 years ago...and wish that SSD drives were cheaper at the time. A 'Solid State Drive' is lighting fast...it's basically the same type of memory as our memory cards, rather than using a hard drive that has to spin etc. A guy I knew, built a new machine last year and with his SSD, he said he could turn on the computer and be on the internet in 4-7 seconds. My old computer was more like 4-7 minutes (sadly, not a joke).

The thing with SSD drives, is that they are expensive for the space you get. So typically you'll see 30-60GB at an affordable price...and 120GB is getting pretty expensive. Where as you can buy 200-300 GB standard drives for the same price or less.

So as mentioned above, the good way to do it, is to have your SSD drive and only put your operating system and programs on it. Then keep all your 'stuff' (My Documents, photos, music etc.) on a separate drive (or two).

So maybe get something with one SSD drive and two 2TB drives...and you'll have lots of speed and lots of storage space. You could use one of the big drives as your main backup...but many people like to use an external drive for backup, in case the box blows up etc.
 

TCampbell

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Buy a Mac.

I may not be particularly biased by the Canon vs. Nikon debate. But I am COMPLETELY biased in the Mac vs. PC debate.

I'd get a 27" iMac... get the higher end model (it'll have a better graphics card). Pick any amount of memory you want (memory is a snap to upgrade. My Mac has 16GB but you can get them up to 32GB these days.)

I DO HIGHLY recommend the "Fusion" drive. This is a special hard drive which is a hybrid SSD and traditional hard drive. The OS intelligently moves apps and files to the SSD if it notices you use them a lot. Stuff you hardly ever touch stays out on the traditional drive. You can get a 3TB fusion drive for $400 and in benchmarks it's extremely difficult to tell the difference between a full SSD vs. a Apple Fusion drive (except in a true SSD, you can't find one bigger than 1TB and they cost a ludicrous amount of money.)

If it were me, I'd go for the 3TB fusion drive. If you shoot a lot then you'll quickly fill a 1TB drive. You can always get external disks, but I'd probably go for the larger internal capacity before having to get external storage.

Unless you are already a Lightroom user, I'd _very_ seriously consider using Aperture instead. The two programs are roughly on par, but Aperture is significantly less expensive (Apple's software is always less expensive than it's competition.) Aperture is $79 and that license is valid for every Mac that _you_ legitimately own. Lightroom is $150 and that's a single use license only. I do use Photoshop, but it's rare. Almost everything I need to do can be done in Aperture (this is true of Lightroom as well... you'll find the vast majority of adjustments can be done in in LR and you hardly ever need to invoke Photoshop.)

I can go on and on about the reasons I will only ever recommend a Mac and (at least until something changes) wont use a PC. I do have and use a PC. I'm a power user for both platforms. But for my personal use and when it's my money, the Mac is so much better (the comparison is not close.)

If you are interested in specifics, I can have a practically unlimited number of examples.

I've helped a LOT of people with computer buying decisions. An extremely common thing I hear AFTER they've had the computer for a few weeks is "WOW! Why didn't you MAKE me do this YEARS ago!?" (I've heard that feedback at least a half dozen times.)
 

Devinhullphoto

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Buy a Mac.

I may not be particularly biased by the Canon vs. Nikon debate. But I am COMPLETELY biased in the Mac vs. PC debate.

I'd get a 27" iMac... get the higher end model (it'll have a better graphics card). Pick any amount of memory you want (memory is a snap to upgrade. My Mac has 16GB but you can get them up to 32GB these days.)

I DO HIGHLY recommend the "Fusion" drive. This is a special hard drive which is a hybrid SSD and traditional hard drive. The OS intelligently moves apps and files to the SSD if it notices you use them a lot. Stuff you hardly ever touch stays out on the traditional drive. You can get a 3TB fusion drive for $400 and in benchmarks it's extremely difficult to tell the difference between a full SSD vs. a Apple Fusion drive (except in a true SSD, you can't find one bigger than 1TB and they cost a ludicrous amount of money.)

If it were me, I'd go for the 3TB fusion drive. If you shoot a lot then you'll quickly fill a 1TB drive. You can always get external disks, but I'd probably go for the larger internal capacity before having to get external storage.

Unless you are already a Lightroom user, I'd _very_ seriously consider using Aperture instead. The two programs are roughly on par, but Aperture is significantly less expensive (Apple's software is always less expensive than it's competition.) Aperture is $79 and that license is valid for every Mac that _you_ legitimately own. Lightroom is $150 and that's a single use license only. I do use Photoshop, but it's rare. Almost everything I need to do can be done in Aperture (this is true of Lightroom as well... you'll find the vast majority of adjustments can be done in in LR and you hardly ever need to invoke Photoshop.)

I can go on and on about the reasons I will only ever recommend a Mac and (at least until something changes) wont use a PC. I do have and use a PC. I'm a power user for both platforms. But for my personal use and when it's my money, the Mac is so much better (the comparison is not close.)

If you are interested in specifics, I can have a practically unlimited number of examples.

I've helped a LOT of people with computer buying decisions. An extremely common thing I hear AFTER they've had the computer for a few weeks is "WOW! Why didn't you MAKE me do this YEARS ago!?" (I've heard that feedback at least a half dozen times.)

Smart man!
 

Devinhullphoto

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Macs are too expensive. I understand the benefits but it's a tough transition.

I'd skip the SSD because of cost and PITA of having 2 drives to keep track of. I'd go with a 1T internal drive, i7, 16GM RAM, IPS monitor, and one of these for backup...

G-Technology 4TB G-SPEED eS 4-BAY RAID Array w/ 4x 1TB 0G01867

I can see why people always say that about macs but being a graphic designer it's more than a computer. Apple always has the best branding, packaging and product design. I it wasn't the standard for my field I would still prefer it just because its so much more visually appealing over a pc.

I know that has zero to do with performance and what your looking for but that's just my personal liking.
 

jwbryson1

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Macs are too expensive. I understand the benefits but it's a tough transition.

I'd skip the SSD because of cost and PITA of having 2 drives to keep track of. I'd go with a 1T internal drive, i7, 16GM RAM, IPS monitor, and one of these for backup...

G-Technology 4TB G-SPEED eS 4-BAY RAID Array w/ 4x 1TB 0G01867

I can see why people always say that about macs but being a graphic designer it's more than a computer. Apple always has the best branding, packaging and product design. I it wasn't the standard for my field I would still prefer it just because its so much more visually appealing over a pc.

I know that has zero to do with performance and what your looking for but that's just my personal liking.


I completely understand. I just got a new PC about 6 months ago and contemplated making the transition. But I ultimately stuck with what I know...I'm sure if I ever get around the making the jump, I'll be glad that I did...:mrgreen:
 

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