Desktop for photography editing

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RonE1958

Member
Supporting Member
I read somewhere recently, that as you expand your photography interest, and editing that you will need to expand and upgrade your 'old' desktop. Im a novice in both photography and PC's. Any advice on a desktop, laptop or tablet that can support Lightroom or any other editing tool.
Thanks
Ron
 

StefanSC

Well-known member
Get something with AMD Ryzen 5 or 7, at least 32GB RAM, at least 1 TB NVME SSD and something like a Nvidia RTX 3060 or 3070 (for those pesky AI software like DXO PureRaw and Topaz Denoize).
 

Woodyg3

Well-known member
Supporting Member
This might be helpful:


I'd look at the requirements of all the software you plan to use, of course.
 

bleirer

Well-known member
Supporting Member

Replytoken

Well-known member
First set a budget for your equipment upgrade. Solutions can range from approximately $1000-3500 USD, not including a monitor. Next, will you be shooting a lot of video? If so, then your hardware requirements are going to rule out a lot at the bottom end of that range. LR Classic minimally likes a fast CPU, lots of RAM, fast drives, and an adequate GPU solution. I would suggest to continue with what you have as long as it is adequate and not too outdated. Then you can figure out what equipment you may want to consider within your budget. And know that a 45MP sensor is going to generate larger files than a 20+MP sensor. If you are not shooting with a high resolution body, your files will be easier to manage and post process. This hobby can absorb as much money as you can throw at it if you are not careful, and not all expenses result in greater satisfaction.

Good luck,

--Ken
 

Calson

Well-known member
The advantage of a desktop is being able to upgrade portions later and being able to use the best monitor and keyboard for your purposes. I have upgraded the video card and added a 10GB Ethernet card to my desktop along with a Corsair backlit keyboard and a Black Magic Design Speed Editor keyboard.

There are also a different class of Windows laptops know as "mobile workstations" that have more powerful (and power hungry) components as they are for use where one can plug in to house current. The company Connection.com sells ones from HP and Lenovo, both companies that rival Apple in post sale support. With HP business class computers one gets a 3-year onsite warranty with their tower and other "business class" computers at no extra cost.

With the forced move to Windows 11 that is taking place I would give serious consideration to an Apple Mac Pro 16" laptop. It has a far superior operating system and hardware than with Wintel computers, and the operating system is much better designed to minimize user problems. I have been using Windows computers since the first version was released in 1985, and Windows 10 is no more reliable than what I was using 27 years ago. For example, once a week I need to manually shut down the print spooler and restart it to be able to print. I still have nearly 2 GB of junk "Delvery Optimization Files" that I need to manually delete using Disk Cleanup at least once a month. With my Windows computers I need to regularly run a Registry cleanup application and check for spyware and Trojans and other malware as the design of Windows makes it highly vulnerable to hackers.
 

Rixpx

Member
The advantage of a desktop is being able to upgrade portions later and being able to use the best monitor and keyboard for your purposes. I have upgraded the video card and added a 10GB Ethernet card to my desktop along with a Corsair backlit keyboard and a Black Magic Design Speed Editor keyboard.

There are also a different class of Windows laptops know as "mobile workstations" that have more powerful (and power hungry) components as they are for use where one can plug in to house current. The company Connection.com sells ones from HP and Lenovo, both companies that rival Apple in post sale support. With HP business class computers one gets a 3-year onsite warranty with their tower and other "business class" computers at no extra cost.

With the forced move to Windows 11 that is taking place I would give serious consideration to an Apple Mac Pro 16" laptop. It has a far superior operating system and hardware than with Wintel computers, and the operating system is much better designed to minimize user problems. I have been using Windows computers since the first version was released in 1985, and Windows 10 is no more reliable than what I was using 27 years ago. For example, once a week I need to manually shut down the print spooler and restart it to be able to print. I still have nearly 2 GB of junk "Delvery Optimization Files" that I need to manually delete using Disk Cleanup at least once a month. With my Windows computers I need to regularly run a Registry cleanup application and check for spyware and Trojans and other malware as the design of Windows makes it highly vulnerable to hackers.
I second that recommendation. I switched from windows to Mac about 12 years ago. I used to think that Mac users were a fanboy cult, but from my experience, Macs just work without all the clutter.

Definitely get a a1TB SSD and at least 32megs of RAM.
 

EricBowles

Moderator
Supporting Member
I read somewhere recently, that as you expand your photography interest, and editing that you will need to expand and upgrade your 'old' desktop. Im a novice in both photography and PC's. Any advice on a desktop, laptop or tablet that can support Lightroom or any other editing tool.
Thanks
Ron
I use a laptop - it provides portability and better fits my lifestyle. I have not had a desktop computer in more than 25 years. As mentioned above, it's easier to upgrade portions of a desktop system as it ages or your needs change. A desktop probably has a useful life of 5 years or so while a laptop has a useful life of 3-4 years. Technology changes - as hardware gets faster the programs that use hardware evolve and place more demands on older systems.

My current laptop is a Dell XPS 15 9500 with an Intel i7 processor, 1 TB solid state hard drive and 32 GB of RAM. The key features that I have that drove up the price were an AdobeRGB monitor, the solid state drive, and an upgraded Nvidia video card. As a novice, you could choose something with lower specs and be fine - but it depends on your budget.

For photos a 1 TB hard drive is useful and should accommodate your needs for several years. You probably could live with 500 GB if you don't take a lot of photos, but at some point you will need a larger drive as well as external backup storage.
You want a reasonably fast processor - not the fastest but reasonably so. For a desktop you get more bang for your buck on processors.
You need at least 32 GB of RAM for Windows - probably 64GB for Mac.
 

IainD

Well-known member
The new Apple silicon processors are running unified memory . I have not tried this but reports are that 32Gb of unified memory will run like a lot more in the old type. Maybe not 64, but pretty quick. Also less power consumption and less heat production. A reasonable Mac might be a good option and the prices of Apple and PC are more comparable these days. I use Mac and have very few complaints about them
 

Alistair

Active member
The advantage of a desktop is being able to upgrade portions later and being able to use the best monitor and keyboard for your purposes. I have upgraded the video card and added a 10GB Ethernet card to my desktop along with a Corsair backlit keyboard and a Black Magic Design Speed Editor keyboard.

There are also a different class of Windows laptops know as "mobile workstations" that have more powerful (and power hungry) components as they are for use where one can plug in to house current. The company Connection.com sells ones from HP and Lenovo, both companies that rival Apple in post sale support. With HP business class computers one gets a 3-year onsite warranty with their tower and other "business class" computers at no extra cost.

With the forced move to Windows 11 that is taking place I would give serious consideration to an Apple Mac Pro 16" laptop. It has a far superior operating system and hardware than with Wintel computers, and the operating system is much better designed to minimize user problems. I have been using Windows computers since the first version was released in 1985, and Windows 10 is no more reliable than what I was using 27 years ago. For example, once a week I need to manually shut down the print spooler and restart it to be able to print. I still have nearly 2 GB of junk "Delvery Optimization Files" that I need to manually delete using Disk Cleanup at least once a month. With my Windows computers I need to regularly run a Registry cleanup application and check for spyware and Trojans and other malware as the design of Windows makes it highly vulnerable to hackers.
I don't know how you manage to have problems with Windows. Sound like you are fiddling around too much. Just leave the blessed thing alone and use it. I ran small business server and a bunch of Win 10 desktops and laptops, many with remote access. It all just works great and is cheap as chips to run. Problems only occur when staff start screwing around with their computers. I used to run a couple of Apples for precious staff members that claimed they simply had to use Apple but the computers were expensive and a bigger PIA than the staff so I got rid of both.
That said, I have now sold the business and am looking for a personal video editing build and it is no longer a business decision. Whilst the Apple OS irritates the heck out of me, Apple have smashed it out of the park with their new silicon. Especially when they introduce 3nm architecture later in the year.
Even their current 5nm M2 chips in a £5,000 spec laptop runs Da Vinci Resolve as well as a monster Windows build. So I may have to swallow a dead rat yet.
 

Midway

Member
I have built my own Windows based PC's for years and while I may have saved some over purchasing a custom PC, it was not significant. When I was shooting professional sports I would build a new workstation about every 3 years. Image files kept getting bigger, my image library and storage/backup requirements kept growing, editing programs got more processor intensive, and even though I also had a day job, competition to deliver quality in a short time got more important. I used a MacBook Pro in the field so no bias either way for me but I enjoyed the hobby of building a PC, picking the absolute best components and knowing my PC was about as good as I could get. There is value in support when purchasing a prebuilt but I've found I could get the support I needed from the hardware and software companies when I could isolate the issue and I have been able to so far and have had very few failures.

I would like to build a new one, it has been since December 2016, but supply chain and high-end video cards, motherboards and processors are still too high priced and difficult to source. My MacBook Pro was just as old and I just received a new M2 Max MacBook Pro and plan on using it as my main photo and video editing machine, essentially a desktop replacement. I had planned on building a new windows machine when sourcing top end PC parts got easier and premium prices stabilized but no urgency now that I have the M2 Max. I might have also considered a custom PC due to their better ability to source the best components if I didn’t decide on a new Mac. Puget Systems, local to me, comes to mind, not sure if they are still highly recommended or not and I assume there are other custom PC builders.

Puget Systems recommended workstations for Adobe Lightroom Classic.



Outdated now but main components of my December 2016 build; Even this old system might be overkill for some.

Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-6850K CPU @ 3.60GHz 3.60 GHz

ASUS ROG Rampage V Edition 10 LGA2011 Motherboard for Intel i7 X-Series w/5-way optimization DDR4 M.2 U.2 USB 3.1

64 GB of G.Skill Trident Z DDR4 Memory

2 ea. Samsung SSD 850 Pro 1 TB and 4 ea. 6 TB WD hard drives

EVGA GeForce GTX Ti 1080 Founders Edition Graphics Card



Previous workstations take on archive duty with copies of important files, moved to my wife’s office and used in a basement office with large format printer.
 
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Replytoken

Well-known member
Puget Systems, local to me, comes to mind, not sure if they are still highly recommended or not and I assume there are other custom PC builders.
Puget Systems is often cited when discussing LR classic performance and hardware selection on two other forums where I post. And I know several folks in these forums that have been happy with their systems. My challenge is that they are beyond my budget as their systems start over $3k. In another forum, a member recommended a couple of other local options for consideration - Dr. PC Fix in Redmond and Seattle Built PC's. I am not familiar with either company, but I believe they have products available for under $3k to consider.

--Ken
 
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Midway

Member
Puget systems is often cited when discussing LR classic performance and hardware selection on two other forums where I post. And I know several folks in these forums that have been happy with their systems. My challenge is that they are beyond my budget as their systems start over $3k. In another forum, a member recommended a couple of other local options for consideration - Dr. PC Fix in Redmond and Seattle Built PC's. I am not familiar with either company, but I believe they have products available for under $3k to consider.

--Ken
Nice to know there are other options. I'll see how the new M2 Max MacBook Pro handles editing. I'm sure I will build a new Windows workstation on my own someday. I can reuse many of my existing components. It never seems to save much money but it is fun to build it myself. Thanks.
 

Calson

Well-known member
Another consideration is the speed of the USB ports provided. I have a HP Z4 tower that I bought in 2020 and it has four USB 3.0 ports. For $140 I was able to add a PCIe card to the computer and gain four USB 3.2/3.1 Gen 2 ports with 4x the data throughput. I noticed how long it was taking to move my Z9 files off the CFexpress card onto the computer and this is going to be an ever present situation with the Z9 files. It would be even worse with the Sony A7R files.

A key drawback with the Apple computers is the limited options for upgrading without having to buy a new computer. I am not at all inclined to spend $9,000 for an entry level Mac Pro tower computer.

What I like about the HP tower computers is that they are considered business class machines and so include a 3-year onsite service warranty that can be extended for 5 more years for only $62.40. I had a problem with one tower computer and phoned tech support on Saturday and on Monday a tech showed up at my house with a replacement part. Can't beat that for service.
 

Andrew Lamberson

Well-known member
Supporting Member
I am a Windows person, but I have to admit I would be very interested in a really decked-out Mac mini. Clicking all the upgrade buttons takes you to over $2k but it is not hard to spend the same on a decked-out Windows machine.

I have a BenQ SW270C Photographer 27" and it is fantastic. I have an inexpensive 27" Best Buy monitor sitting beside it for the internet, taking classes and watching how-to videos. I back up to a 3 TB external hard drive, and all "final" images also go to a cloud backup.

Good luck!
 

Marco74

Well-known member
The new Apple machine with an M2 core looks very interesting at a reasonable price.
Also, the day you decide to change it, Apple computers hold the market well and are easy to resell.
My friend uses that Apple Air M1 to process his photos when travelling, and it has enough power if you don't use too many layers on Photoshop.
I'm still using the Mac Studio with M1Max, which is very fast but expensive.

Don't forget to keep one part of your budget for a good quality monitor.
For me, have not sens to have a potent computer with a mediocre monitor.
In the end, if you cannot see the colour correctly, the result will always be mediocre, if not worse.
 

MartyD

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Some general comments.

Solid State Drives are the fastest, NVMe Gen 4 the fastest of M.2 SSDs. A solid state drive is about 5X faster than a mechanical drive, a Gen 4 NVMe SSD is about 10X faster than a regular SSD. This translates to improved performance when any disk transaction occurs. This includes operations like booting the computer, launching applications, and saving and opening files. The downside is that NVMe drives are the most expensive. A 2 TB NVMe might cost $200 when a 10 TB mechanical drive cost about $200. The cost of NVMe drive above 4 TB are very expensive. At some point as your photography catalog grows you will find yourself have a combination of storage, running the OS and applications on a SSD and having your photo catalog on some type of storage likely including mechanical drives. It is also possible to take an existing PC and give it new life by replacing an internal hard drive with a solid state drive, I have done that a number of times.

Having enough memory is important to give the OS room to run as well as room for applications to run. It is possible to run an OS and many applications with less than adequate memory but the OS will then use disk storage as temporary storage moving data in and out of RAM which will really slow down processing. It is important to have enough memory to handle the OS, all applications you may be running concurrently, and room for the content you are editing. You can often get a little more life out of a computer by simply increasing the memory.

Central Processing Units (CPU) and Graphics Processing Units (GPU) handle the processing. When editing images and video the applications utilize the GPU to remove the graphics processing load from the CPU. The more advanced editing you are doing the more you will see the benefit of a GPU. Not every application can utilize a GPU and not all of the operations in something like Lightroom or Photoshop can utilize the GPU. It is good to have enough CPU power and enough GPU power to handle the task. Many consumer laptops and desktop computers have integrated graphics which means the CPU is handling the graphics processing. This is not an issue when using Word or Excel but can have a big impact when using Lightroom or Photoshop. You can also add a reasonably priced GPU to a desktop without one to significantly improve image processing.

When I find that a computer is struggling I like to watch the task manager in Windows while processing. It will show CPU, Memory, Disk, Network, and GPU utilization values. It helps to see where the computer configuration is lacking.
 

Anjin San

Well-known member
Supporting Member
I see you've got plenty of recs for Windows based machines…if you're more of a macOS person then pretty much any of the M1 or M2 Apple silicon machines has plenty of cpu for LR and PS. Just make sure you get 16 GB of RAM minimum…that's not really enough for a Windows based machine but because of the way Apple's chips treat memory that's plenty for LR/PS even with 50 MP images and realistically also just fine for 4K video.

Laptop or desktop…there are pros and cons for both…and I have both with most PP done on the main Mac Studio in the house with an MBP for on the road use…but that's mostly because I run a home server anyway for print/file/whatever sharing and I was replacing an Intel iMac. If I didn't need the server…or if I had a NAS that could take on those rules…I would stick with the laptop and an external monitor/keyboard/mouse for use at home and keep the majority of my images out on an external drive that I did not have on the road, but with Smart Previews in LR I could still get usable images on the road if I needed them for the blog or whatever.

If you went with the desktop…then the Studio is probably overkill but by the time you bump up the new M2 Mini to equivalent RAM/drive space it's getting pretty close in price to the base Studio and you get more ports and 10GB ethernet on the Studio if that's important to you.

And generally speaking…I was a sysadmin in my working life and did a lot of Windows computer support…you'll get a longer usable life out of a Mac than out of a Windows machine. You can also almost always get a cheaper Windows box than a Mac with seemingly equivalent specs but like in many things you get what you pay for and Apple doesn't aim at the lowest price user in their marketing. They tend to use higher quality components and aim at a user less price sensitive…and then there's macOS which IMO as the former Windows sysadmin is simply easier overall to manage and configure and use.
 
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