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If you were creating a great photo computer, what would i...
  
 
billsamuels
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · If you were creating a great photo computer, what would it be?


My 7 year old AMD Quad processor computer w/ Windows 10 is showing signs of major hardware failure. I took it to a computer fix-it guy who I know does good work and it's obvious that I should start thinking "new computer" now so that I don't get stuck w/o one.

I have two newer hard drives, one SSD and one huge WD that I would probably move, and my son is giving up his super gaming video card because I just got him the newest greatest $500 card (he paid for half of it and it was his 16th birthday - it's cheaper than buying him a car!). So I would like to get a computer that perhaps is bare-bones and I can add to (video card, h/d).

The main thing is that I really want a computer that will really kick-butt for processing photos. I have a real nice NEC photo-monitor and an Adobe subscription to Photoshop and Lightroom so I will probably need a system that can handle a lot open at the same time (my current computer runs out of RAM now and I have 8 now).

Any ideas of what would be a good photographer's computer, how much RAM would be either sufficient or more than sufficient, and where I could put in my own h/d and video cards? I don't have the personal knowledge to build a computer from scratch, but I was thinking about buying one that has the main brains (motherboard, processor, etc) and then I can add to it, or if there is something that is just a kick-butt photographer's computer, then I guess I would just scrap all the parts and go to that.

Thanks!!!



Apr 14, 2017 at 07:43 PM
15Bit
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · If you were creating a great photo computer, what would it be?


My personal choice right now would be an i7-7700K with 32GB DDR2400 (or faster if it can be had for the same money), and a Samsung Pro M.2 SSD (512GB) to boot from. Keep your old SSD for scratch / photoshop temp.

Some folk will suggest a new AMD Ryzen 7, which is also an excellent choice. For general workstation applications it is the better choice, but photoshop and LR don't scale as well with CPU core counts as a lot of CAD, rendering etc packages. The i7 seems to be faster on a per core basis (at the same clock speed) and spins up to a faster clock speed too (quite a lot faster if you overclock). So for photoediting the i7 remains faster (though in fairness, it's not a difference you will notice without a stopwatch). There is also the risk of early adoption on the Ryzen - they are still ironing out the bugs and sorting the software optimisations.

For a longer discussion (sans Ryzen), which includes PSU's and peripherals, i would suggest you read through the threads that Ben started up last year.

http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1467604/0




Apr 14, 2017 at 08:57 PM
newhaven
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · If you were creating a great photo computer, what would it be?


I built using these components earlier this year.
Intel i7-7700
G.Skill 32GB DDR2400
Samsung 960 EVO 500MB M.2
Asus Maximus IX Hero
Seasonic Prime Titanium 650
Gigabyte GTX 1060
Noctua NH-D15S



Apr 15, 2017 at 01:39 PM
melcat
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · If you were creating a great photo computer, what would it be?


I have a souped up quad Xeon Mac Pro (the old cheesegrater style).

I have found 12GB memory to be enough to run Photoshop, Bridge and some other things without paging. I don't usually have more than 4 layers but I do edit in 16 bit and I sometimes handle large TIFF scans. I'd get 16GB, maybe 32GB for future-proofing.

I changed the system drive to an SSD and it was a huge improvement. I don't use and don't believe you need a second SSD for "scratch" if you have enough RAM, as the system should not be paging much. And bear in mind the SATA interface on my machine is the old style with less throughput than the newer ones.

I use a pair of 7200rpm hard drives, mirrored using Apple's software RAID, for photo files. This has less latency and more reliability than a single drive. I don't know whether Windows has this feature, but if it doesn't, I'd consider an external Thunderbolt 3 RAID enclosure for the user files. That means using an Intel and not an AMD CPU.

You want a decent GPU. The 1GB of graphics memory I have is enough for Photoshop on Mac, but I've read Windows doesn't manage it as efficiently so this might not be a good guide.

Edited on Apr 16, 2017 at 02:28 AM · View previous versions



Apr 15, 2017 at 02:11 PM
pburke
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · If you were creating a great photo computer, what would it be?


i7 or AMD Ryzen - jury is still out what I'd choose, but the value seems to be higher with the new AMD chips. I'd want a motherboard with the ability to put at least 32GB, better 64GB or RAM on it, connectors for SSD right on the board. GPU would not have to be too massive, but it has to drive two 4K monitors, and I think you need to get something around $200 for it with a lot more than 1GB of graphics memory

boot drive Samsung EVO NAND 500GB, and a second SSD for temp files and fast workspace. Rest of storage would be a pair of mirrored 10TB spinning drives, or just single drives and a good backup plan (I use crashplan), provided you have a fast internet connection for uploads.

I work with large multi-image stitches on an older i7 with 16GB RAM and an old 2GB video card (GTX470) right now and it can get quite sluggish. also, complex camera raw tweaked files do take a while to open, and I could probably use a faster CPU, however, my 7 year old system running on SSDs is still pretty good. Just I can't do 4K monitors wit the video card I have right now (saves me buying one, though )

You don't need a second SSD for scratch, but even Bridge reads and writes so much crap that pointing the Bridge cache at an SSD is a good idea (if you use Bridge, obviously). I prefer to keep all that junk off the boot drive, because over the last two or three versions of Windows, if there was one thing I learned, it is that the longer you use the OS, the larger it gets. A boot drive that looks huge today will be too small in 5 years, and those are the tough drives to replace. My Win7 120GB is almost full, and I have almost nothing on that disk but some apps and the OS. So today, a 500GB is probably ok for 5 years, but if the price is right on a big sale day, just get a 1000GB SSD and then you can run everything off the boot drive including caches for browsers and temp space.




Apr 15, 2017 at 02:28 PM
melcat
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · If you were creating a great photo computer, what would it be?


Just to be clear—temp files, Bridge's caches, and all Photoshop's and Bridge's program and library files should all run on the SSD, not a spinning disc. I didn't mention it explicitly because on Mac all this stuff ends up under the user's "home" directory, which is normally on the system drive. If Windows does it differently, you should use the preferences in Bridge and Photoshop to move this stuff to the SSD.

Like Mac, Windows caches recently read files in memory. So if you have enough RAM, all the little files Photoshop uses (like lens profiles) don't have to be retrieved from the SSD but are already in memory.



Apr 15, 2017 at 03:13 PM
billsamuels
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · If you were creating a great photo computer, what would it be?



pburke wrote:
i7 or AMD Ryzen - jury is still out what I'd choose, but the value seems to be higher with the new AMD chips. I'd want a motherboard with the ability to put at least 32GB, better 64GB or RAM on it, connectors for SSD right on the board.


Wow, thanks for the advice, everything makes great sense to me but I really wasn't sure how to put it all together. And I would have assumed an I-5 would be powerful enough but it sounds like everyone is saying I-7 which I think of as being more for high action gaming and not stagnant photos that we can stare hours at perfecting every little millimeters of skin tone or barn blemishes.
Unfortunately the current set up which has plenty of room in storage except for RAM, is an old computer; it's not worth fixing.

How would using my son's graphics card work? It's a NIVIA GTX 650? It has 1gb of RAM.





Apr 15, 2017 at 08:18 PM
DGC1
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · If you were creating a great photo computer, what would it be?


iMac


Apr 15, 2017 at 08:50 PM
15Bit
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · If you were creating a great photo computer, what would it be?


billsamuels wrote:
Wow, thanks for the advice, everything makes great sense to me but I really wasn't sure how to put it all together. And I would have assumed an I-5 would be powerful enough but it sounds like everyone is saying I-7 which I think of as being more for high action gaming and not stagnant photos that we can stare hours at perfecting every little millimeters of skin tone or barn blemishes.
Unfortunately the current set up which has plenty of room in storage except for RAM, is an old computer; it's not worth fixing.

How would using my son's graphics
...Show more


Ahh, now come the compromises....

You did give the impression that we were not on a budget here.

So, once we begin to compromise an i5 is a logical option. And so long as you are happy to overclock an i5-7600K is an excellent value compromise, because few applications really get serious speed-ups from hyperthreading and it will clock up to the same speeds as an i7-7700K. It is a compromise that i made myself when i built my current PC. If you are not willing to overclock, an i5 is a slightly less attractive proposition because the i5-7600K runs at 3.8GHz (with 4.2GHz turbo) whilst the i7-7700K runs at 4.2Ghz (with 4.5Ghz turbo). Compared to what you have now, a standard i5-7600K is going to feel bloody fast though.

The GTX-650 is an OK card, but it's not an amazing performer. It won't give you amazing speed-up in LR or PS, but then i have a GTX-970 and it doesn't seem to give amazing speed-up either. The GTX-650 should be better than the onboard graphics on the i7 / i5 though.

It's interesting that you think of photos as "stagnant" in computing terms, as it is not the case in modern processing software. For LR in particular, the image you see is realtime rendered from the RAW file with all the edits you have made. Everytime you move a slider, it re-renders. This is very computationally demanding and really hits the CPU hard.



Apr 15, 2017 at 09:29 PM
billsamuels
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · If you were creating a great photo computer, what would it be?




pburke wrote:
i7 or AMD Ryzen - jury is still out what I'd choose, but the value seems to be higher with the new AMD chips. I'd want a motherboard with the ability to put at least 32GB, better 64GB or RAM on it, connectors for SSD right on the board. GPU would not have to be too massive, but it has to drive two 4K monitors, and I think you need to get something around $200 for it with a lot more than 1GB of graphics memory

boot drive Samsung EVO NAND 500GB, and a second SSD for temp files and fast
...Show more
Your two gb video card depresses me. I was hoping that my sons card would work great with the newer gaming speed but it sounds like yours is much like the one he has and it's slow. On the other hand I use a GTX 150 so way behind the times!



Apr 16, 2017 at 02:14 AM
 

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melcat
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · If you were creating a great photo computer, what would it be?


It's not just the amount of graphics memory but the number of processing units (hundreds or thousands) and the graphics operations it supports that makes a difference. And it very much does make a difference. It's not so much running the monitor, as you don't have a high res one, but the fact that Photoshop uses the GPU for parallel floating point computations.

When I changed the stock nVidia GT120 (around 40% less capable than your GTX 150) for a much better GPU (ATI Radeon HD 5870) Photoshop got a lot faster doing things like noise reduction, sharpening etc.. Nothing else on the machine had changed. As Adobe have added code to use the GPU instead of the CPU Photoshop has actually got faster.

I don't know whether larger images benefit from more shaders and GPU memory, but assuming they do, my modestly sized TIFFs might work well on the GPU I have while pburke's large stitches are causing problems with his much more capable unit. That's why we're also telling you what sort of images we make. Given that you have a card on hand, I'd first try it in the new build. If it's laggy working the sliders or slow doing sharpening then go out and buy a modern card (and overbuy, because software makers are constantly finding new ways to use the GPU and you do have an Adobe subscription).

Also bear in mind that graphics cards run hot and have fans and therefore aren't the longest-lasting item in a computer.



Apr 16, 2017 at 02:53 AM
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · If you were creating a great photo computer, what would it be?


This is not complete. Just a look at what I consider important.

1: Monitors - dual and the best you can afford.

2: 'Best' GPU you can afford - ballpark of a GTX-960 or 1070.

3: Connectivity speed - for external Thunderbolt or USB C NAS; Synology or QNAP.

4: Motherboard - top shelf Intel Z170 or Z270.

5: CPU - do your homework.

6: M.2 SSD boot drive.

7: Internal SSD's.

8: RAM 32 or 64GB.

9: Great PSU.

On and on...





Apr 16, 2017 at 07:28 AM
ontime
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · If you were creating a great photo computer, what would it be?


A cluster of Pascal Titan X's. Photoshop can use those right?


Apr 16, 2017 at 03:57 PM
melcat
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · If you were creating a great photo computer, what would it be?


High end GPUs like GTX-1080s or Pascal are for things like 3D animation, 4K video editing and big data analysis. They're not needed for good Photoshop performance. After all, most current desktops, all normal laptops, and every Mac lacks them and people use Photoshop on those kinds of machines.


Apr 17, 2017 at 05:35 AM
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · If you were creating a great photo computer, what would it be?


PC companies like HP and Lenovo are buying components for a third of what you will pay from anywhere buying things piecemeal. The only exception is RAM where I buy a single module with the computer and then add more modules. Right now it would be a 16GB RAM module.

Lenovo provides the most options with its tower computers and you can select the CPU, optical drives, SSD capacity, and even the size of the power supply (important for power hungry graphics cards). What I like about Lenovo is their great customer support which is based in the USA and not in India and they have the best OEM keyboards by far, better even than the ones from Apple.

Towers from Lenovo and HP also can come with RAID1 enabled in the hardware so I can have a primary operating system drive and then two drive set up for RAID1 for my data files so I have all my data automatically backed up onto two drives.

Lenovo also sells business class computers with Windows 7 Pro 64-bit installed along with an anytime Windows 10 upgrade when you decide to give control 100% over to Microsoft. Having worked professionally with Microsoft operating systems since 1982 I am not about to go to Windows 10 in this lifetime.



Apr 17, 2017 at 09:43 PM
kosin
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · If you were creating a great photo computer, what would it be?


billsamuels wrote:
The main thing is that I really want a computer that will really kick-butt for processing photos.

Thanks!!!


In this case pick the fastest (GHz) processor you can afford. At the moment, both Ps and Lr, do not take advantage of the number of cores but the speed of a core. Even GPUs aren't fully utilized. I'm not sure about Lr but Ps uses GPU only for limited number of filters and other gimmicks not used in regular photo processing. The rest is processed by a CPU.

As for the boot drive, I would go with a PCIe based SSD, something like this one: http://amzn.to/2onVpI5



Apr 18, 2017 at 01:04 AM
melcat
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · If you were creating a great photo computer, what would it be?


kosin wrote:
I'm not sure about Lr but Ps uses GPU only for limited number of filters and other gimmicks not used in regular photo processing.


https://helpx.adobe.com/photoshop/kb/photoshop-cc-gpu-card-faq.html

Noise reduction and sharpening in Camera Raw, and preview scaling in Bridge, are pretty core functionality for photography use of Photoshop.

I strongly suspect that list to be incomplete. Based on my own experience, the on-screen scaling in Photoshop (i.e., with the mouse wheel or the magnifying tool) and simple unsharp masking (as opposed to the "Smart Sharpening" mentioned in the link) both sped up a lot after upgrading the GPU.



Apr 18, 2017 at 08:27 AM
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · If you were creating a great photo computer, what would it be?


Ideal for me (does not exist & hence I make do with a 6-core MAC pro cylinder + a 32 inch 4k monitor):

17 inch laptop with a 1 TB SSD & a 4K screen, lightweight similar to a 15 inch MAC book pro, with maybe 32 gig RAM (but 16 would do if no choice). Reason for a 4k screen - high resolution helps a lot when photo editing as 1:1 viewing for sharpness/noise reduction does not need a lot of zooming in. Reason for 17 inch laptop - ideally you want to be connected to an external 32 inch 4k/5k monitor while editing - however sometimes it is convenient to move around in the house or outside and work on the laptop monitor.



Apr 18, 2017 at 08:56 AM
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · If you were creating a great photo computer, what would it be?


All this talk of buying the fastest, most powerful CPU/GPU seems silly if you're only looking for a great photography machine.

I use a mid-2010 (yes, it's 6-˝ years old) 2.93GHz Core i7 iMac 27" and run Capture One Pro 10 software with no problem. I have 32GB RAM with an internal 1TB HDD and two external Firewire 800 HDDs. The COP library is stored on the internal drive with all referenced files on one of the external drives.

This setup loads images in less than a second (24MP Sony a900 RAW camera files that I convert to 16bit TIFFs for Silver Efex Pro), so I don't know how much faster it needs to be.

All that other stuff only gets you additional speed for switching apps and booting the computer, but for editing and processing still photos, any computer currently on the market will probably serve you well enough. (Personally, I'd recommend the 27" 5K iMac if you want something right now, but Apple has said—in unprecedented comments on future products—that they are working on "professional-level" iMacs for later this year.)



Apr 20, 2017 at 01:22 PM
Oscarsmadness
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · If you were creating a great photo computer, what would it be?


Some components make more of a difference than others. I would prioritize this way,

1. SSD. Get one known for performance and reliability. The Samsung SSDs are solid, as are the Crucial MX300. Whether or not you go with SATA or PCIe based storage could be splitting hairs depending on your uses. The price between the two is night and day though - PCIe costs twice more. If you want a second drive, just get what makes you happy for that second drive.

2. CPU. Get one with a high clock speed. Having more than four cores/four threads may be nice for some applications, but LR doesn't take good advantage of the extra cores. LR will benefit from a higher clock speed.

3. RAM doesn't matter as long as you're getting DDR4. Throw as much RAM at the computer as you want to spend money on. I installed 16 GB in mine and I haven't run out of RAM yet. When it had 8GB, I did have issues...

4. Graphics card doesn't matter either as long as it was made within the last year or two. As long as the ports on the GPU match what you need for your monitor, you're fine. It's safe for me to say that all recent GPUs can output in 4K, in case you need that. And color calibration is a process that is independent of the GPU, so don't worry about that. If you're doing 3D or video work then GPU choice will matter. If you're sticking with stills, it's not worth fussing over.

I personally use a BPX PCIe SSD with a Intel i5-6600K with 16GB DDR4 RAM and an Nvidia GTX1050ti. Apart from the PCIe drive, it's a very middle-of-the-road computer, and it kicks ass. My computer sits on the BIOS screen longer than Windows takes to load. In all, it takes 20 seconds to boot, and once I'm in, everything is just about instantaneous.



Apr 20, 2017 at 10:49 PM
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