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09-02-2021, 06:07 PM   #1
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Questions / Recommendations for a new windows desktop workstation

An update to my original post. I decided to get a new custom build workstation. CPUsolutions were extremely helpful, working with me to get what I needed for my 2k budget. We had to switch components several times and eventually came upon the perfect build for my needs. I received the new system and it far exceeds my expectations for photo editing and raw development. I appreciate all the suggestions and comments from everyone as it gave me a guideline for the minimum system requirements to request.

500 gb ssd for the operating system
1 tb ssd for storage and workflow
64gb ram

Here is the system I settled on.


I apologize if this has be covered previously, just point me to the thread I missed. Thanks everyone in advance.

I cannot afford to go Apple both financially and by way of switching to a new operating system since I have been working with Windows since 1994. At this point in my life it is not an option for me.

The system I bought about 5 years ago (specs below) has done me well. I added more ram for 32 gb plus a better graphics card. However, it still bogs down when using Lightroom and Photoshop / Affinity Photo to the point of being frustrating and unproductive. I shoot RAW and batch process / x-rite color correct a few hundred images at a time for ebay sales. I need a system that will just work and take care of me for the next five years that will allow me to do more than one task without needing a hand crank to help. (continued below)

CybertronPC Borg-Q Gaming Desktop - AMD FX-4300 3.8GHz Quad-Core, NVIDIA GeForce GT 710, 8GB DDR3 Memory, 1TB HDD, DVD±RW, Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64-bit
System: AMD FX-4300 3.80GHz Quad-Core | AMD 760G Chipset | 8GB DDR3 | 1TB HDD | Genuine Windows 10 Home 64-Bit Pre-Installed Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GT 710 1GB Video Card | 24X DVD±RW Dual-Layer Drive | Audio: 7.1 Channel | Gigabit LAN | Keyboard and Mouse Expansion Bays/Slots Total(Free): 3(2) Ext. 5.25" | 4(3) Int. 3.5/2.5" | 1(1) PCI | 1(1) PCI-E x1 | 1(0) PCI-E x16 | 2(1) DIMM 240P
Connectivity: 4x USB 3.0 | 2x USB 2.0 | 1x RJ-45 Network Ethernet 10/100/1000 | Audio | 1x HDMI | 1x DVI | 1x VGAChassis: Apevia X-Sniper 2 Gaming Mid-Tower w/450 Watt Power Supply

This site has some great recommended hardware and specifications for a photo editing workstation.
Best Computer for Photo Editing [2021 Guide]

My limit is about 2 grand plus or minus and I don't want to make the wrong choice, even if I need to spend a little more. Please share any recommendations or suggestions on brands and out of the box solutions that you may have experience with. I don't shoot video, but may like to go with a 4k screen at some point and solid state hard drive for work and storage. CPU Solutions offers some possible workstations. Will they do the job and what will I need add to make it so. Buy Computer Servers & PC Workstations | CPU Solutions
Following is a condensed version of the recommendations. Quite overwhelming.

CPU Recommendations
AMD Ryzen 5900X, 12-Core $549
AMD Ryzen 5800X, 8-Core $449
Intel i9 10900K, 10-Core $550
Intel i7 10700K, 8-Core
Budget Pick: AMD Ryzen 3600, 6-Core

Programs like Photoshop and Lightroom deliver the best performance when they’re paired with generalist processors, like the Ryzen 9 5900x or the Intel i9 10900K.

An entry-level GPU won’t be much of a bottleneck with sub-4k monitors, but you’ll need to spend more if you’re planning to invest in high-resolution displays.

GPU Recommendations

Nvidia RTX 3080
Nvidia RTX 3070
Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti
Nvidia RTX 1660 Super
AMD Radeon RX5700
AMD Radeon RX5700 XT
Budget Pick: Nvidia GTX 1660Ti

In our RAM for Video Editing guide, Alex recommends 32GB (or more) of RAM for videographers who have a tendency to multi-task. The same goes for photo editing.

RAM Recommendations

Corsair LPX Vengeance 16GB DDR4 3200Mhz
Corsair LPX Vengeance 32GB DDR4 3200Mhz
Corsair LPX Vengeance 64GB DDR4 3200Mhz

If you’re handling photos in volume, though — shooting full-time, shooting stock photography, or supporting multiple photographers — I’ll always recommend a multi-SSD configuration with an HDD for archiving, right out of the gate.

For the ultimate performance, you can even consider an NVMe SSD. These are a bit more expensive than regular (SATA) SSDs, but many times faster. Finding The Best NVMe SSDs: Value, Speed, Optane, and more

Monitors wide gamut ?
Best Monitor for Graphic Design, Video Editing & 3D Animation (Updated)

If you want to go with only a single Monitor you should consider a larger one, with a high resolution that will fit both your Software Interface and your Footage on the same screen, without having to switch between maximizing or expanding different areas of your Software all the time.

Going 27” or larger with a WQHD Resolution or even 4k Resolution would be recommended in this case.

The best Monitor for creative and visually demanding work should have the following features:

Panel Type: IPS Panel
Surface Finish: Matte Reflection
Color Accuracy: Adobe RGB and sRGB should be as high as possible percentage-wise
Color depth: 8bit for most, go 10bit Color Depth if you know you can make use of it
Size: at least 24” at Full-HD Resolution, the larger the Monitor the higher the Resolution should be
Contrast: static contrast ratio of at least 500:1, better 1000:1 (not dynamic contrast!)
Brightness: Depends on the brightness of your work environment, but good specs are between 300 – 350 cd/m²
Refresh Rate: 60Hz Refresh Rate for most. If your Work entails high-speed footage or game-design, go 100Hz, 120Hz or 144Hz
Multiple Monitors & Type: I recommend at least two Flat, Standard-sized Monitors over Ultra-Wides or Curved Monitors for professional work
Additional Features: If you need them: Pivot, USB / Audio Connectors, Multiple Display Connectors such as HDMI, DVI, VGA, Display Port, VESA Monitor Arm Mount Capability, Speakers

Specific Monitor Recommendations

Best Allrounder: Dell UltraSharp UP2716D, 27″
For serious color work: Eizo ColorEdge CG2420, 24″
Extreme Budget: Philips 276E8VJSB
4K + Color Accuracy: ASUS ProArt PA329Q
Color-Accurate QHD: BenQ SW271 27”

Photographers tend to work with a lot more external data, which inevitably means messing with card readers, USB hubs, NAS enclosures, network bridges, and the like.Choosing a larger and/or less aesthetic case that has more I/O ports, or specifically integrating a high-speed hub into your base build plan, can be a good idea.

Case Recommendations

Mid-Tower (Standard-Sized Build)

Phanteks Enthoo Pro ATX Mid Tower Case
Corsair Carbide Series 200R ATX Mid Tower Case
Corsair Carbide Series 275Q ATX Mid Tower Case

PSU Recommendations

550W: Corsair CX Series CX550 550W ATX 2.4 Power Supply
760W: Corsair Professional Series Platinum AX760 760W Power Supply
1000W: be quiet! Straight Power 11 1000W ATX 2.4 Power Supply

Last edited by FlyingEagle; 10-18-2021 at 08:47 AM. Reason: Update and outcome
09-02-2021, 06:57 PM - 1 Like   #2
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Did you try to evaluate why your computer is so slow? It does not look that old. Start Task Manager and during your workflow look at which processes take most of CPU. If it is indeed image processing applications takes up to 100 % of CPU you may need for upgrade, but maybe something else takes your preciouses resources.
09-02-2021, 07:36 PM   #3
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With the parts you have listed. I don’t see how you can get below $2000. You haven’t even included a mother board. The video cards with the exception of the 1660 are all around $900 plus. The graphic cards are also scarce. So don’t expect to find any deals.

I’ve been looking at upgrading also. The systems I’ve been looking at are all around the $2000 mark without graphic cards.

Last edited by steve_k; 09-02-2021 at 07:46 PM.
09-02-2021, 07:37 PM - 2 Likes   #4
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how about getting a SSD drive; this should also help your old system; be careful with high res monitors that really slows down processing

09-02-2021, 07:43 PM - 1 Like   #5
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@bwgv001 is entirely correct - your issue is with using an HDD!
Buy yourself a Samsung Evo SSD!

PCPartPicker Part List:

CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600 3.6 GHz 6-Core Processor ($287.99 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: Gigabyte B550 GAMING X ATX AM4 Motherboard ($124.99 @ Amazon)
Memory: Corsair Vengeance LPX 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) DDR4-3200 CL16 Memory ($77.98 @ Amazon)
Storage: Samsung 860 Evo 500 GB 2.5" Solid State Drive ($139.00 @ Amazon)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda Compute 2 TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($49.99 @ Amazon)
Video Card: MSI GeForce GTX 1650 SUPER 4 GB GAMING X Video Card ($491.00 @ Amazon)
Case: Corsair 100R ATX Mid Tower Case ($46.29 @ Amazon)
Power Supply: Corsair CV 550 W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply ($57.69 @ Amazon)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 10 Home OEM 64-bit ($108.78 @ Other World Computing)
Total: $1383.71
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2021-09-02 22:55 EDT-0400

Last edited by FozzFoster; 09-02-2021 at 08:09 PM.
09-02-2021, 08:22 PM - 2 Likes   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by bwgv001 Quote
how about getting a SSD drive; this should also help your old system; be careful with high res monitors that really slows down processing
YES! (as FozzFoster agrees) Try just that (SSD drive(s)) and see how your (fairly potent looking system) does. I have at least 5 TB of SSD in my system and none of those old-fashioned spinning things. Even more important, if your MoBo supports it, get an NVMe card for your C: drive and wherever you have the files you are working on. That cut my boot time to a few seconds for Windows 10 Pro (transfer speeds approach 500-600 MBs). $100 or so for 1 TB with a bit of searching.
09-02-2021, 10:57 PM - 1 Like   #7
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Like they say: your hard drive is the bottleneck in your system and SSD drives are much, much faster.

09-03-2021, 03:18 AM - 1 Like   #8
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As everyone else has indicated, try upgrading your existing system to one or more SSDs before you invest in a new PC. That HDD is undoubtedly a major bottleneck in your setup. An SSD for your OS and apps will give you a huge performance boost, then you can use your HDD for data storage. Even better would be a second SSD for your data too, as photo loading and export times will be drastically reduced. You can always repurpose your existing HDD for archival or backup duties The Samsung EVO drives are very good; something like the 860 EVO would be fine, and is inexpensive... but I can also recommend the Crucial MX500 which is a little bit cheaper and offers very similar performance.

Also, make sure you don't have lots of unnecessary software and background processes running. If necessary, do a fresh installation of Windows 10, and only install applications you really need. Watch out for anti-virus/malware software, as that can slow things down a lot. I use Windows Defender, coupled with a non-administrator user account and uBlock Origin / Privacy Badger browser add-ins.

Lastly, you might consider upgrading your CPU to an AMD FX6300 or 8300 with six or eight cores respectively. You won't see any difference in single-thread performance, but when running multi-threaded applications or performing multiple parallel tasks, you'll definitely notice an improvement. A used / tested FX8300 should only cost around $80, and it's an easy drop-in replacement for the FX4300.

Last edited by BigMackCam; 09-03-2021 at 05:21 AM.
09-03-2021, 04:49 AM - 1 Like   #9
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+ 1 SSD

I just quickly looked up the benchmark for your AMD cpu, which dates from 2012. On passmark its only 2,998 cpu score relative performance (for comparison, the current top end cpus are up around 87,000!). I was using a core-2 quad system until 18 months ago, and your complaints are just what i would have said about that system. Your cpu is quite a bit newer and 50% better than the core-2 quad in mine but nevertheless i would tend to put it in the same ballpark - it's old, way down performance wise compared to anything more recent. I bought a lenovo thinkcentre box off ebay for a hundred £* ($130 ish) - core i7 260, benchmark almost 3x that of the old core-2 quad. The difference is considerable, indeed I have no speed/processing issues with this.

I have more than once added up doing a build vs shopping around for a box, and each time I have concluded doing a build doesn't save anything/much and isn't worth the bother (apart from simple things like upgrading graphics, RAM, or perhaps the cpu). I suggest you shop around for good spec box on ebay with a higher end i5 or i7, (or AMD equiv, but for a long while AMD really lagged intel until their ryzen cpu's came out) and higher end motherboard. The MB is also a significant factor in the higher performance of more recent boxes - better integrated, faster data transmision between the chips. The main thing indicating chip generation is the socket type. The lenovo is a socket 1155 (2011) = 2nd gen i7. Fastest i7 cpu of this gen is the i7 3770k, 6428 score. Actually the suceeding socket 1150 and 1151 cpu's aren't particularly faster (up to ~9000+), you need to jump to socket 1151v2 (2017), 6th gen I think, to get the next big leap. In any case searching by socket type is a good way to go.

Which ever way, you will have the hassle of migrating your data. Note that as long as you have at least a win 7 coa, there is no need to pay for win 10 see here.

One tech point with regards to the mobo. i always make sure there are 4 slots for memory sticks, and ideally min 6 SATA connections (easy to use them all up otherwise with dvd drive , bluetooth drive , couple of hard drives..)

At the end of the day, while ssd, more RAM etc helps it's the cpu that does the processing heavy lifting and is the primary speed factor. But I can suggest you don't need to spend anything like 2G! And for my ebay pics I use an old Lumix G1 + kit lens or pentax + 28mm or 50mm on a tripod, crop and adjust ooc jpg's in faststone, the old PC did all that easily.

* + 40 for a 400gb SSD, s/h but under warranty, +30 for matching set of quality 4gb DIMMS, plus some time adding more Hard disk slots. I can add that the upgrade was prompted primarily by a mobo fault and the need to have a zoom compliant system, which core-2 isn't.

Last edited by marcusBMG; 09-03-2021 at 08:57 AM.
09-03-2021, 05:45 AM - 2 Likes   #10
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The best bang for the buck is getting a SSD. about 2 years ago I built a new machine and used M2 drives for the primary drives in it. Before that my previous machine (used for 7 years) had SATA SSDs and while much faster than old spinning HDDs but even those don't hold a candle to the PCIe connected M2 drives. Processor and memory speeds haven't increased much although with AMD you can get some great logical core counts that with properly optimized programs offer a large speed up.

Graphics cards are probably the next best bang for the buck but only if your software can use the advanced processing features and also you can't be disk IO bound for there to be any real benefit. I don't go with the ultra high end cards but get good mid range cards with a good amount of memory on them. My current card has 4GB of RAM and was nothing special 2 years ago but it will drive 3 4k monitors without issue.

In your position I would look to getting a SSD and wait out the chip shortage. There is limited availability of computer components and prices are rising because of that low supply combined with high demand.

One other thing I did when I built my current computer was the old one became a NAS (runs trueNAS) with 24TB of useable redundant storage. This allows me to move data off of my main computer keeping plenty of free space so that big bulk reads and writes locally can happen quickly hopefully making the most of the cache on the M2 drives with large sequential reads and writes with limited seeking to other areas of the disk.
09-03-2021, 06:51 AM   #11
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You're doing a lot more image processing than many of us with your astronomical photography MossyRocks. Whats the spec of your PC?
09-03-2021, 06:59 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by MossyRocks Quote
but even those don't hold a candle to the PCIe connected M2 drives.
Although I agree entirely and obviously that M.2 NVMe drives are faster than SATA SSD.... but for most applications we are talking lightening vs greased lightening.
The only substantially appreciable difference in having an M.2 is when you are moving MASSIVE file libraries from one M.2 NVMe to another M.2 NVMe drive.
Everything else with an M.2 NVMe PCIe (loading windows, loading applications, accessing files) is nearly the same as SATA SSD (and may not be worth the additional costs):
09-03-2021, 07:05 AM - 1 Like   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by FozzFoster Quote
Although I agree entirely and obviously that M.2 NVMe drives are faster than SATA SSD.... but for most applications we are talking lightening vs greased lightening.
I recently upgraded an old Lenovo box with 7200rpm HDD to a decent SATA III SSD. Even though the bandwidth is limited by the machine's older SATA II interface, the difference in performance is amazing...
09-03-2021, 07:13 AM - 1 Like   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
7200rpm HDD
HDD definitely still has it's place for mass storage. Especially the 7200 rpm (a must for an HDD)
But for a boot drive (starting up computer, starting up applications) you definitely want SSD.
I've built all my computers with a regular SATA III SSD.
One of my friends asked me to help build him a computer and he wanted to go M.2.
Sure no problem let's do it.
---no appreciable difference in boot when compared to my 1st gen Ryzen with an 'old school' SATA SSD.
but then, being upset that there was no real speed difference... he went and built a second computer.
This time with PCIe 4.0 NVMe (and supported mobo and cpu).
Still no real speed differences in boot
09-03-2021, 07:31 AM - 1 Like   #15

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QuoteOriginally posted by FlyingEagle Quote
I shoot RAW and batch process / x-rite color correct a few hundred images at a time for ebay sales.
Not sure if it's an option for you, but you could try using a lower resolution camera so the images are faster to process. I see a very noticeable difference between 16mp (Pana gx1) and 36mp (K1ii).

Maybe not appealing since you like your Win computer, but another free option is to try Linux and a free editor, at least you can try it without extra cost and it should be a bit lighter on your computer. I'm using Linux with darktable and (I believe) a lower spec computer (i5, 16gb ram, gtx 1060), and there's no problem to batch process and do something else like a browser.

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