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11-13-2017, 11:32 AM   #1
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Minimum computer requirements? Suggestions.

I may be getting a new desktop computer and monitor this Holiday season. What are your suggestions for the minimum specs in regards to using photo editing software? Looking for ideas or recommendations for what speed and generation processor, RAM, hard drive, graphics, etc and what I should look for in a monitor also. I know very little about computers. It doesn't need to be the fastest and greatest, but something that will be adequate and hopefully frustration free. Like many, I don't want to put more dollars into it than necessary, but will spend what is necessary. Just want to avoid over buying. My current desk top is probably at least 6-7 years old or more.

11-13-2017, 11:37 AM - 1 Like   #2
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What is your budget?
What other tasks you do on the computer?
Gaming?
Which softwares do you use most?
---
Budget for the monitor?
Any spesific needs? both for pc and monitor.
11-13-2017, 11:53 AM   #3
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What ever you get, get a SSD (solid state drive) , it will speed up your processing and file transfers immensely.
11-13-2017, 11:57 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Cipher Quote
What ever you get, get a SSD (solid state drive) , it will speed up your processing and file transfers immensely.
+1 on SSD advice. But no need to push for M.2 NVME, bit overkill and most apps can't utilize it.

11-13-2017, 12:17 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Blackwolfe Quote
I may be getting a new desktop computer and monitor this Holiday season. What are your suggestions for the minimum specs in regards to using photo editing software? Looking for ideas or recommendations for what speed and generation processor, RAM, hard drive, graphics, etc and what I should look for in a monitor also. I know very little about computers. It doesn't need to be the fastest and greatest, but something that will be adequate and hopefully frustration free. Like many, I don't want to put more dollars into it than necessary, but will spend what is necessary. Just want to avoid over buying. My current desk top is probably at least 6-7 years old or more.
I made a detail post on this topic here:
What REALLY matters in computer hardware? - PentaxForums.com

You don't have to go overboard, and even computers that are 3 or 4 years old right now are close to what the latest hardware can offer. Computers in the $500-700 range should fit the bill nicely.

The SSD (for the OS drive) is by far the biggest factor.

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11-13-2017, 02:21 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
Computers in the $500-700 range should fit the bill nicely
You can probably do better than that. First of all you do not absolutely need an SSD. Consider that a nice to have, but not essential. SSDs are still quite expensive compared to regular hard disk drives. Focus on processer, RAM and display. The CPU should be minimum 2-cores @ 3G, RAM 4 GB (8G is better), a 1920x1080 (widescreen, full HD) display.

You should be able to do a fairly decent refurb business desktop + new display for US$400 or less.

Here is one example (out of literally dozens available from various online retailers):

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=61125&CatId=2627

Last edited by dsmithhfx; 11-13-2017 at 02:30 PM.
11-13-2017, 02:35 PM - 1 Like   #7
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I have friends who are heavily into computers and was given the advice to get a good monitor before thinking about what computer to get. You can have a really great computer with lots of power but if you don't have a good monitor you will not take full benefit of the computer. I purchased an ASUS ProArt monitor and only run a Mini Mac. The monitor is factory calibrated and you get a printout with the monitor showing the calibrations made at the factory. The skin tones are amazing. The Mini Mac has an i7 processor, with 8 gig or memory, but the video card certainly isn't anything to write home about when talking about performance and I would not suggest it for gaming, however the colours are excellent and there is sufficient power for photo editing.
11-13-2017, 02:56 PM - 2 Likes   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by dsmithhfx Quote
You can probably do better than that. First of all you do not absolutely need an SSD. Consider that a nice to have, but not essential. SSDs are still quite expensive compared to regular hard disk drives. Focus on processer, RAM and display. The CPU should be minimum 2-cores @ 3G, RAM 4 GB (8G is better), a 1920x1080 (widescreen, full HD) display.
I disagree, the SSD is the single best upgrade you can make. You can get a 128Gb SSD for 50 bucks these days. Pair that with a $50 1Tb hard drive for photo storage and you'll be in business. Getting a good value for your money may require you to install the SSD yourself, though, as OEMs generally do overcharge for hardware. If you do go down the HDD route on a lower-end computer, never install third-party antivirus software (i.e. mcafee or norton) as they can bring the machine to a standstill. Some argue that these are themselves viruses

4Gb of RAM is also severely crippling, and while it's cheap, I wouldn't call it economical. You actually get better value for your money by getting a 8Gb or 16Gb stick.

Fortunately the two upgrades above can be made to just about any PC without extensive technical knowledge.

Also, all CPUs these days are multicore- even the cheapest $40 Celeron. For Photoshop use I recommend a quad-core i5, or better, just because you're going to have several programs running at once, and the extra cores can help speed up background web browsing and so on. i5's are not terribly expensive either, whereas the benefit for paying close to double for an i7 is comparatively small.

This is actually a pretty good suggestion, since it has the i5 and 8gb. Just buy the $50 SSD, clone the hard drive drive onto it, and swap the two before firing it up and it'll feel very snappy.

If you want to be even more fancy, a dGPU like the GTX 750 Ti is an amazingly good value for what you get and will further improve performance when using a high screen resolution. It can also speed up certain image processing tasks. Really easy to drop in, too, as it's quite small.


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11-13-2017, 03:27 PM   #9
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An SSD is a great upgrade to an existing machine as you can keep your existing HD for storage. But if you are buying new consider an SSD very carefully. Unless you are spending a considerable sum, the SSD you buy will typically be only 256 - 512 GB (even an aftermarket 2TB SSD frpom Crucial will cost $550). For the computer to be useful, you probably will then need an external hard drive - which is not always real fast - for your photo files.

When I bought my iMac I chose a 3TB Fusion Drive which combines 128GB of SSD with a conventional hard drive. Some electronic wizardry apparently "learns" what programs and files should be kept at hand in the SSD, making the thing pretty darn fast - although not as fast as a pure SSD. But the cost on my iMac for 3TB of Fusion Drive storage was the same as a 512GB SSD. For me, the external hard drive is used strictly as a backup.

I don't know if any PCs have an equivalent of Mac's Fusion Drive, but if you are looking at a Windows machine, I recommend you see if something similar is an option.

Whatever you choose, I wish you the best with it.
11-13-2017, 03:49 PM   #10
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My desktop has reached almost 10 years old. I built it then using the best I could buy, but it’s way past overdue for replacement.

So, for $499 I ordered a Lenovo 510a. Which has the AMD quad core, 12 gig ram and a 1tb hard drive. As stated above, I’ll order an SSD drive for my programs, and use the 1tb drive for photos.
11-13-2017, 03:56 PM   #11
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Check out pre-owned HP Elite book 8570w (W is important). These laptops are built for military spec. These are Mobile workstations made to replace desktops.
Intel i7 Quad-core 16RAM 500gb hard-drive

Typical price on ebay or craigslist is 400$
11-13-2017, 04:25 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by G.E.Zekai Quote
What is your budget?
What other tasks you do on the computer?
Gaming?
Which softwares do you use most?
---
Budget for the monitor?
And to G.E.Zekai Iʻd add, do you do any video editing and if so, how much? I am not a Windows user, but can give you advice from the Mac world. So for Mac here's a minimum desktop solution, moderate longer term solution, ultimate iMac, and pro Apple recommendation:

Minimum: 21.5" Retina 4K display iMac 3GHz quad core Intel Core i5 8GB of 2400MHz DDR4 memory 1TB Fusion Drive Radeon Pro 555 with 2GB of VRAM
Moderate: 27" Retina 5K display iMac 4.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 32GB 2400MHz DDR memory 2TB Fusion Drive Radeon Pro 580 with 8GB VRAM
Ultimate: 27" Retina 5K display iMac Pro 18 core processor 128GB of 2666MHz DDR4 ECC memory 4TB SSD Drive Radeon Pro Vega 64 16GB of HBM2 VRAM
Pro Apple: Dual 27" LG 5K display with Mac Pro Intel Xeon E5 with 30MB L3 cache and Turbo Boost up to 3.9GHz 64GB 1866MHz DDR3 ECC memory Dual AMD FirePro D700 graphics processors with 6GB of GDDR5 VRAM and 1TB SSD

Last edited by Alex645; 11-14-2017 at 09:10 PM. Reason: added details of range of Apple desktop options
11-13-2017, 04:41 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by dsmithhfx Quote
First of all you do not absolutely need an SSD. Consider that a nice to have, but not essential. SSDs are still quite expensive compared to regular hard disk drives. Focus on processor, RAM and display.
I disagree with that. The SSD is critical for image processing. Single best upgrade I ever made and practically the only upgrade I've ever made that showed instant and dramatic improvement.

To the OP, it does depend somewhat on your needs and what software you are going to use. For example Lightroom still makes only minimal use of a graphics card and that poorly. So if you are using LR, save your money from the graphics card and get a faster processor or more memory. You can always add a graphics card later.

Here is one site that has done some real world research: Recommended Hardware for Adobe Lightroom - Puget Systems They build systems for graphics professionals and have the only real world info I have come across specific to Adobe software. If you are going to run some other software then only general recommendations can be made:

- Fast i7 processor, number of cores depends on the software used. i7 8700K is a good start. For Lightroom processor speed is more important than cores but other software might be different.
- Minimum of 16gb of RAM, 32gb if possible if you plan on doing anything else at the same time. I usually have multiple browser tabs open and find 32gb useful, but for Lightroom or Photoshop alone 16gb is fine.
- 256 or 512gb SSD for the boot drive, or larger depending on your budget.
- fast 2 to 4 tb 7200rpm HD for image storage
- Dell Ultrasharp monitor or equivalent. Unless you plan on using a 4k monitor which is likely overkill but again depends on your software and needs
- My workstation is an intel i7 3770 @3.4ghz, 32gb RAM, 512gb SSD for the boot drive, a 4tb drive for image storage and a pair of 27" Dell Ultrasharps. I find it works well with Lightroom and Photoshop. YMMV of course.
11-13-2017, 05:51 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
The SSD is critical for image processing
It's a good thing that no one even heard of image processing until the SSD came along then, isn't it!

The nice thing about it is, you can start just fine without an SSD, and, if you still feel you can't live without one, you can add it later. With 8GB of RAM, you aren't going to notice any benefit after an image is loaded. Think of it this way: your cpu is going to sit idle for long periods while you decide stuff and go deal with interruptions and distractions, then you are going to tell it to execute various instructions in short bursts. Do you really think it's going to matter to you if the processing takes 4-seconds instead of 2? Unless you are some kind of maniac with a stopwatch, probably not.

Last edited by dsmithhfx; 11-13-2017 at 05:56 PM.
11-13-2017, 06:06 PM - 2 Likes   #15
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Get the best you can afford, but have a minimum of a 256gb ssd for the OS and programs, another 3tb for storage, and try to get either an i7 or Ryzen processor. Also, minimum of 8gb ram, 16 is better. Don't listen to people who tell you to go for a system that is the equivalent of 5 year old tech.
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