Photography Spec PC?

Discussion in 'Photography Forums' started by Dony, Aug 24, 2013.

  1. Dony

    Dony
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    My PC is 5-6 yrs old now and is becoming a bit of a pain to use. So I've decided it's time to upgrade.

    Given that all I do on a PC is either basic photo editing (LR3), and web browsing, I've decided to have one custom built rather than an off the shelf model. This is where I'd like your advice.

    I've done some research and know I should be looking at at least an i5 quad core processor, 8GB RAM, and at least 1TB of memory. Other things such as which motherboard, graphic cards, SSD drives etc are where I'm getting confused.

    Below are the specs of a PC I've "built". Would this be enough for my requirements? Is there anything there that I don't need, or anything that should be included?

    Intel i5 3470 Quad Core,
    . 1155 Asus P8B75-M LX Motherboard,
    . 8GB DDR3 Kingston 1333 (2 x 4Gb),
    . Integrated Sound Card,
    . Manufacturer Supplied Cooler,
    . DVD+/- RW - 22X Samsung SATA,
    . 1000GB S-ATAIII Hard Drive 6.0Gb/s,
    . 1000GB S-ATAIII Hard Drive 6.0Gb/s,
    . 52-In-1 Internal Card Reader,
    . 18.5 Inch Cougar Extreme widescreen,
    . Xigmatek Asgard Tower Case - Black No PSU,
    . Powercool 650W High Efficiency Black PSU,
    . Windows 7 Home premium 64 bit,
    . No Software,
    . X,
    . No Mouse Required,
    . 12 Months Warranty

    Total Price £575.00 which is at the top of my budget. I don't need a monitor, keyboard or mouse.

    What spec's do you guys have (without losing the will to live when trying to upload and edit photo's)?

    This is the link I used to build the PC.
    photography PC socket 1155 i3 i5 i7 - Cougar Extreme
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2013
  2. Peakoverload

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    Personally I wouldn't buy that Asus motherboard. Asus are okay, I've used quite a lot of their motherboards but I've always found them that they were cheap for a reason. Also the B75 chipset that the Asus board uses isn't that good. In my opinion you would be far better getting the Gigabyte board as it uses the better Z77 chipset which supports faster bus speeds.

    If you can afford it I'd also suggest upgrading to an i7 CPU. The i5 is good and will do all you need but the i7 is just better.

    I'd also suggest upgrading your RAM to 16GB (2x8GB - not a single DIMM) as, well, you can't have too much memory and 8GB is really the minimum you need.

    I don't know how much PC knowledge you have but you would be better off building it yourself and being able to pick whatever components you want rather than what one company can supply. There's nothing wrong with what they are offering, it sounds reasonably good, just that you have more options open to you if you know how to and are comfortable with building it yourself.
     
  3. Dony

    Dony
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    Unfortunately I've never done anything like a PC build before and wouldn't know where to start. I'm hoping to get someone local to build it for me rather than use one of these sites, though their configurators have been very useful.

    Making the changes you've suggested adds almost £200 onto my original price which is too much for me at the moment. They are, however, changes that I could make say 2 yrs down the line. I might go for the better mother board now if the consenus is it's much better than the one I've chosen.

    From what I've read, i7 seems the minimum requirements when it comes to video editing and more professional photo editing, neither of which I'll be doing so I'm hoping i5 will be enough. Same with using 8GB ram. Again, if the general feeling is I'd be better off with these upgrades now I'll need to have a budget re-think.
     
  4. Dony

    Dony
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    Does anyone want to share their PC spec's on the thread?
    How does your PC handle uploading and editing pic on PS / LR?

    As it stands now, my LR will crash if I'm uploading too many pics, or in editing things will be dreadfully slow. The reason for my upgrade is to eradicate this, but I'd like to see how others get on with higher spec'ed machines than my current PC.
     
  5. Ugg10

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    Couple of other things to consider -

    Swap one of the 1Tb internal drives to a 1Tb USB3 external drive (or if you have a MB with an esata porton the back, even better, external esata drive) for backups - if you have two drives as speced they will almost certainly be of the same make and from the same batch, if there are any issues you will loose your main and your back up at the same time, same can be said for issues with the other bits in the box causing disk errors. Best to have two types and makes of drive, one possibly located off site i.e. do a weekly/monthly backup on the external and put it in your desk draw at work if possible.

    Also look at getting a 128GB or 256GB SSD for your operating system and working area, this will speed things up quite a bit. Once done editing, copy the photos to your main drive.

    Always worth looking at the Dell outlet, I've bought two laptops and a desktop from there and got really good deals. need to keep going back as stock changes pretty quickly. Typically you save about 30% on retail on there.



    Hope this helps.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2013
  6. Jammyb

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    Have a look at some of the motherboard+CPU+memory bundles some sites do.

    Unfortunately any configurator type site tends to get very expensive very quickly. Whereas if you look yourself you'll see the difference between a 1tb and 2tb HDD for example is fairly low.

    Think you're on the right track. As above I'd really try and fit in an SSD, I make do with a 128gb and it makes a huge difference to the perceived speed of the PC.

    I think 8gb RAM is ok if you've just got lightroom open.
     
  7. Bl4ckGryph0n

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    I agree I'd add an SSD for the OS and Apps...128GB should be plenty...A 18.5" screen is a bit dubious size wise I would say for a desktop. I looked it up and it is cheap...But it's own website doesn't even have its native resolution or what it is made from etc...To me the screen is one of the most important items when you talk about a photo spec pc....

    CPU etc you'd be fine...I build a PC for my inlaws and used Asus board (I like them, my Sabertooth has been running for years as have two others that I can't recall the name off but they are doing 24x7 server duties) with just a Intel Celeron and it is flying through their photos....
     
  8. biccies

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    Hi Dony.
    When reading the advice above, I'd ask you to remember your usage. Are you ever going to be diving into your BIOS or motherboard settings and tweaking voltages and clock times? Are you going to notice the difference between the B75 and the Z77 chipset? I'd hazard a guess at the answer to those questions being "no".
    I've built my last few computers and I always find my self going down the kit snobbery route.
    In my machine I have 16gb of RAM, but only because it was on special offer. I also have an SSD for my operating system, which I would highly recommend if you're comfortable enough and have the knowledge of how to setup your OS this way.
    Your setup looks good, I would question the need for a touch-screen monitor (especially if you're installing Windows 7) as the last time I looked the touch-screen adds quite a cost. I suspect you'd be better to go for a larger and better quality screen for photo editing.
    My machine is over a year old now, but as you've requested some specs, here they are:

    Asus P8Z68-V (gen 3)
    Intel Core i5-2500K 3.30GHz
    Corsair Vengeance 16GB (4x4GB) 1600MHz
    OCZ ZX Series 850W
    Asus GeForce GTX 560Ti
    OCZ Agility 3 120gb SSD (for OS)
    Additional Storage (already had from previous PC) 1tb HDD and 250GB

    I'm currently considering a 3TB HDD to supplement the above.
    It's also very good advice offered by Ugg10 in terms of those hard drives being from the same batch. I'd consider buying two different makes. Unless you want the portability I'd stay away from external drives as they're more prone to problems.

    Hope that helps!
     
  9. Dony

    Dony
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    Thanks for all the replies.

    I don't know why I left the screen in there as I don't need one just now. I have an IBM ThinkVision screen and it's easily the best computer screen in my house for viewing pics so I'll stick with it.

    Been reading up this morning on SSD drives and judging by the responses I think I'll be including it.

    Good point about the 2 drives...I'll make sure one is external.
     
  10. simonblue

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    My pc quite low spec but i find it does everything i need,again it depend on the file sizes and how much pp youre doing.

    An old intel quad core 5gb of ram but as i said dont do much pp its mainly used for viewing and storing.

    :)
     
  11. Dony

    Dony
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    I'm currently running a Pentium 4 with 992MB RAM :blush:
     
  12. simonblue

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    Yep you could do with an upgrade :)
     
  13. 12harry

    12harry
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    Ugg10 Post#5 - the logic of buying two identical drives is that it is almost impossible for them to fail at the same time, this means that the platters of the failed drive "could" be read from the others' electronics. For this reason buying two identical drive (but kept separately and using different power sources), makes a lot of sense.

    Dony: - I don't see a Graphics card listed . . . avoid integrated graphics if ever you want high performance, as some rendering can be done with the Graphics card.
    Also, the PSU might be a little underpowered...check one a bit higher, provided it has a quiet fan.
    (Noisy fans can be a pain.).
    Also I note the audio is "integrated" - this is unlikely to be a issue as audio is low-bandwidth.
    I didn't understand your software choice.

    Good luck
     
  14. Ugg10

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    12harry - my point was (conrary to what to you said, maybe a "not" missed out somewhere) that two drives from the same manufacturing batch are more likely to fail in similar modes after similar usage time therefore if you need two drives get them from different manufacturers. And as you say if there are issues due to power supply failure etc. then your second comment is correct. My final point was to keep them physically apart just in case of fire/burglary/flood etc.

    Good spot on the PSU, 600W+ is a good start to look at.
     
  15. Bl4ckGryph0n

    Bl4ckGryph0n
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    If my MacBook Air is anything to go by...The HD5000 integrated graphics on it are absolutely flying...Superfast with both internal and external monitors unto 2550x1600 dimensions, superb OpenGL performance in tools like Aperture and Motion (video graphics real time 3D rendering) which are fully OpenGL coded...I don't play games, but for photography and video it is fantastic...
     
  16. xmb

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    Why not consider switching to Apple and get a Mac Mini for about £460 for the i5 model? Your LR3 will have come with a Mac installation disk so no problems there. just maybe add some extra memory to the base 4GB of the Mini.

    I am sure you will find switching to Mac easy and enjoy the benefits OS X brings. Simple things like when you plug in a USB external hard drive it will ask if you want to use this for Time Machine backups. Say yes and your whole machine is backed up, with incremental backups occurring in the background automatically. Should the Mac Mini HDD go belly up you can restore the Time Machine backup easily and almost automatically. Noting in Windows works this well and reliably.
     
  17. Dony

    Dony
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    I didn't include a graphics card as I thought these were intended more for gaming machines, something I will never use the PC for.

    As for the PSU, I thought my choice of 650W was over-specc'ed. Can you suggest one without breaking the bank?

    I didn't include any software (MS Office) in the build.

    I'm a bit confused. As above I've included a PSU with 650W. Is the one I've chosen not up to the task?
     
  18. Dony

    Dony
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    I hadn't considered a MAC as I thought it would blow my budget. If it's not the case, then I'll do some research into the Mac Mini.
     
  19. xmb

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    The Mac mini would seem to be an ideal machine for you. With the added benefit of near silent computing and you could also consider switching to Aperture from Light Room, rather than upgrading from LR 3, as Aperture only costs £55 from the Apple App Store. (Less if you get some discounted iTunes vouchers.)

    Try to pop into a local Apple store and have a play with a Mac Mini as I am sure yo will be more tempted to switch after a good demonstration. I don't know of anyone I suggest to switch having any regrets.
     
  20. Jammyb

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    Mac mini might not be a bad shout considering your requirements and lack of technical knowledge.

    Certainly likely to be more reliable/less hassle than a custom build PC

    You need to spec a higher rated PSU to power the GFX card you don't need :facepalm:
     
  21. thedude

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    Your screen isn't good enough for photo editing. Maybe the best in your house but you can get far better. The screen is the most important part. The pc is actually secondary and upgrading to s faster one just makes editing quicker
     
  22. 12harry

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    There you have it, Dony. Maybe a Mac after a try. (take some RAW files to play with, maybe get a print too - can't be bad, eh? ).

    PSU may be sufficient, my point was about silence - you could buy a larger one for +£20 and it would have a slower big fan, & it won't be running as hot as the components are designed for full-load running. (My own PC suffered a loud fan but I couldn't hear this at the Computer Fair the replacement was much better. (That was the snag of a Case with PSU, but you have choice open).
    Screen - yes vitally important, but you can use a decent TV if your PC has a graphics-card with HDMI o/p.....this saves an ever-so expensive monitor and you can see quite a lot on a 40" HD TV (but you need an every-day monitor . . . when the kids/Misses demand TV.).

    Finally, you might not want it now - - - but many stills photographers are doing movies . . . either as moving stills "Ken Barnes" effect oft seen on TV - or to show their studio set-up prior to the shoot itself . . . since Club-members can now watch via digital projectors (don't you?), the leap to Movies is something like a "Cultural One" - but you might want to express yourself by way of a Cartoon, if you have the pencil-skills and then a higher-spec PC will be very welcome.
    Yr Quad-core is fine, it's the Graphics area for me . . . and "integrated graphics" in particular - why pay for it on the MBO and have to disable it? I-G is popular with Budget PCs for WP, emails, Internet where power is unnecessary.
    +However, compared with 5-years ago, yr Spec is way ahead....

    Consider also that PCs are relatively cheap+easy to upgrade, change parts, etc...I don't believe Macs are so, - being aimed at media-types whose computing knowledge falls short. (in general terms). . . . However, another Poster suggested you weren't techy - and frankly even if you are, it's far less hassle getting the Shop to build your PC - since the onus is on them to make all parts work as one. But check that all the SATA Ports work - My MBO allowed only 4/6 until I upgraded the Registry (nightmare!)...and even now limits HDD to 2Tb - Huh!
    - If you've built PC beforehand, then go ahead...otherwise DON'T is my advice.-

    Make sure your MBO/PC case has enough spare slots for cards: PCI and PCI express, as well as at least two extra HDDs and maybe a SSD (which speeds booting mainly, but are expensive per Gb). For this yr PSU needs spare connectors, but note SATA drives don't use the 4-pin Molex still common. If you can afford it, go for a BlueRay burner - maybe £40 more than the DVD in yr List, but you never know.

    Ugg10, thanks,
    . . . . but surely with HDD being ultra-reliable these days, they don't fail at some determined time? The MTBF is entirely random* and unless you have good back-ups/RAID/etc. how will OP get his last files back if the thing stops? At least with one working in reserve a "Recovery Co" can play with the electronic boards after all the "working drive" is fully copied to one/two of a new pair.
    Having two the same also lets you see if one is not working correctly as subtle differences should show more quickly - but without that comparison folks will say "My XXX-brand - just doesn't run as fast"
    I guess it's a personal choice, but when funds allow, I will always buy two from one box...
    Concur re storage . . . indeed I'm non too keen on these caddy-less arrangements, since the drive is quite vulnerable while handled. Much prefer a metal-caddy although price made me buy a set of 4 plastic ones..... with fans that are definitely noisy .... at Boot-up they make more noise than a trapped rat (there's a thought!).

    * other than event-led disasters, lightning, plague, fire, flood etc. but then I live on a hill 200 ft above sea-level . . . . PSU's do fail, but probably fall to zero since they have in-built protection . . . . Oh dear paranoia, I fear that too.

    Good Luck, All.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2013
  23. Dony

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    I know I can get a much better (more expensive) screen, but it is not a priority for me at the moment.

    I will upgrade at some stage, but the PC is what I've ear-marked my budget for at present. Keep an eye out for the "What screen" thread sometime in the near future though.
     
  24. Johnmcl7

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    I'm not sure if you're being sarcastic but there's something very wrong if you need 8GB ram for the OS and Lightroom. Even when running Lightroom at full tilt while Vegas does an AVCHD render, couple of VM's and browsers my 8GB machine doesn't run out of memory - it does page a lot of memory as any NT6 system does but it doesn't need that memory.

    A 650W PSU is complete overkill unless you're planning to put a top end graphics card in there and other high power devices. I ran my last PC with an SSD, HDD, two optical drives, a top end graphics card, PCI-E sound, PCI-E wifi and all six ram slots used on a 380W PSU and never had any issues with it as it was a decent quality PSU.

    I'd agree with the advice of having the second hard drive external as it means you can do a backup and keep the drive separate from the PC so if it gets nicked or there's a power surge the data on the external drive will be safe.

    If I was building a photography PC my main focus would be getting a high quality screen as that's what will make the biggest difference. I don't find Lightroom or PSE are that heavy on resources, they're not heavily multithreaded so they don't use many cores even if available. Having a screen which offers accurate colours is extremely important particularly as many of the standard monitors these days are meant to look as flashy as possible so they have very bright backlighting and overly vibrant colours which even when toned down are not accurate for photo work.

    John
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2013
  25. KyleS1

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    I'm running a 6 year old PC with LR4 with no issues whatsoever. It is better spec'd than the OP;s current one, but you certainly do not need these high specs for LR3.
    Mine is a 2.6ghz dual core with 4gb ram, and it is plenty fast enough. I think you can get away with a much cheaper base unit and then upgrade your monitor all within your budget.
     
  26. KyleS1

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  27. Member 79251

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    I run a 3ghz dual core with 16gb ram :D
     
  28. FlyingShrapnel

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    i run an i5 (2 physical cores and hyper threading, forgotten the model, 3210M iirc) in my laptop with 8GB ram and nvidia 630M, coupled with an SSD as OS/programs drive i find it plenty fast, the whole thing boots in 20 seconds from pressing the power button and lightroom loads in about 5 seconds (i have a massive catalogue of photos :D )

    correct me if I am wrong but I think, the real bottle neck for speed in lightroom is the drive read/write speed more than anything? I edit off my conventional hard drive and i didnt see a huge speed increase in applying effects/filters/loading the actual image from lightroom running off an SSD vs lightroom running off a conventional drive, export speeds are much better though but i suspect that is down to writing to a different drive from the cache

    so if i were you i would get an i5, use onboard graphcis till that becomes the bottleneck (in video editing or whatever), an SSD for OS/program and spend the savings on a decent monitor in the future :)

    EDIT: actually, there might be a noticeable difference between my on board Intel 4000HD and the dedicated nvidia card, i could have a look tonight
     
  29. Member 79251

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    I went SSD a while ago and I will never go back.

    From camera to computer seems to be the bottleneck for me.
     
  30. FlyingShrapnel

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    i had a play with LR, switching between Intel 4000HD and nvidia 630M and couldnt notice a difference. but if i switched between power modes on my laptop, ie changing CPU settings then it was noticeably quicker in high performance mode. so i think its safe to say LR is mainly CPU driven :smashin:
     

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