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This 2005 Windows XP machine is going down hill fast. I'm looking for input as to suggestions for a Windows 7 machine (not confident in Windows 8 yet). Please advise as to processor, memory, storage, graphics, and other recommendations for an amatuer photographer who prefers use of Lightroom, Photoshop Elements (at times), and might upgrade to full Adobe Photoshop at a later date.
Thank you for your input and Merry Christmas.
Without knowing the specs of your current machine it's almost impossible to offer rational reasoned advice. It could be that all you need is a new GFX card, or a bit more memory and to format your HDDs installing Win7.
If the 2005 machine was high-spec then there's probably not going to be too much real-world performance difference between upgrading it and getting a new consumer-grade i7 or i5 box. BenchMark utilities will show huge differences but that most likely will NOT be realized in LR, CaptureOne, or PS type apps.
Although consumer grade machines like that can be had for (600 to 800) peanuts these days something like a used GFX card and a new PSU to support it may only run $150 total.
It's only in recent times that's I've mostly just used my machines for still image processing. In the past my main gig was 3D CG rendering of complex scenes, scene creation (animation), and also 3D model building. Toward those tasks it's always proven true that pro grade workstations actually end up being cheaper in the long run. Xeon based pre-built "Workstation" grade boxes from Apple, HP, IBM, DELL, SGI, Intergraph, Boxx, or the alike at $2k to $6k last 3 to 5 times longer and don't seem to suffer anywhere near the breakage or ever become "bogged down" like consumer grade boxes do with use over time. They're faster, steadier, can handle volume and extreme use in adverse conditions, and they additionally run much much quieter! They're also more sanely and cleverly designed so that user upgrades and mods are as easy as π (pi).
http://www.boxxtech.com/Media/Default/Spec%20Sheets/W4025_SpecSheet_v5_review.pdf (usually overpriced but (used to be) worth it for the service package)
http://www.dell.com/us/enterprise/p/precision-t5600/pd $1479 Most reasonable and also great service!
and so on...