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DPChallenge Forums >> Hardware and Software >> New pc for editing purposes only - please advise
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08/09/2017 10:35:33 AM · #1
At the moment I'm editing my images on a Acer Aspire laptop with Intel Core i3, 6 GB DDR3 memory and onboard Intel HD Graphic. The software I use is Lightroom 5, Photoshop Elements 12 and NIK Collection software. It was OK when I had my Nikon D7000 camera, but with my D800 I have much bigger RAW files (up to 35 MB)and processing time has increased enormously. Besides that, working on a 15.6" screen is not really great. I had my laptop connected to a 24" screen, but you don't get more workspace, it's only bigger and with the increased size also less sharp than I would like.

One of my options is to go for another PC (the other one is upgrading my laptop). But which one. Of course I could go for a desktop pc with a seperate screen, but that would not be my first option, another laptop might give me more processing speed but limitations in screen size, so maybe I should go with a all-in-one pc.

Looking around there's a lot of choice in brands: Dell, Acer, HP, Lenovo and of course Apple. And in screen sizes: 21,24 and 27 inch (and unfortunately where I live there are not many retailers, so comparing screens for example is difficult). I more and more start thinking of the Apple iMac Core i5 8GB 1TB 3.4Ghz 21.5 Inch With Retina 4K Display. Why? First of all that display, it's beautiful (I did see that one at a retailer); second because the name Apple has when it comes to photo editing; Third, to get rid of Microsoft Windows, I really dislike anything that has Microsoft written on it; or should I go for one of the Windows machines anyway?

So, do you think this is a good choice? Or is it wiser to go for a larger (non 4K) display? Is the working space on a 21" 4K screen larger than that on a 24" or 27" normal display?
Will 8GB memory be sufficient in the future? I'm not sure yet whether I will go for a newer Photoshop Elements package or make the move the Adobe CC (£10 a month doesn't seem much, but I'm not a guy who always want the newest versions - I really can work with older versions as well). More importantly is that I still can use the NIK Collection Software with my new package.

I know that with all-in-one pc's you need to make sure that your configuration choices are made when buying the pc because you can't update it later. Memory and harddisk will be the two main focus point and of course also the processors and graphic card are important.

A lot of thoughts, I hope you can help me make up my mind. When you do, please keep in mind there's a limit to what I can spend and want to spend (up to £1300). But any advice will be welcome. Thank you all!
08/09/2017 10:37:20 AM · #2
My next workstation will be an Apple Macbook Pro. Just less headache and photo processing on an Apple is second to none.
08/09/2017 10:44:24 AM · #3
Originally posted by Kroburg:

Will 8GB memory be sufficient in the future?

16GB would probably be a safer choice if you plan to use this machine for more than a year or two -- "they" keep raising the requirements all the time ...
08/09/2017 01:47:34 PM · #4
I can probably give you some good data points for consideration...
I edit with Lr CC and Ps CC on two machines. One is a modern i7 laptop (Lenovo Yoga 710-15IKB) running Win10:
- Low end of the i7 range; it uses the 7500U chip which is only two cores
- 16GB of RAM
- 256GB M.2 SSD (fast, but a little small)
- nVidia 940M discrete graphics
- 15.6", 4K touch screen
The above machine handles the RAW files from the Canon 5D Mk IV reasonably well, but it is no speed demon. I usually import, then let Lr do its thing generating 1:1 previews while I do something else. Then editing is reasonably quick. I really have no qualms with Ps performance on this machine, even with pretty large, multi-layer files.

My other machine is a home-built desktop, again running Win10:
- i7-7700K
- 32GB of RAM
- 400GB Intel NVME SSD (extremely fast, 400MB/s plus read/write)
- nVidia K1200 graphics card
- Water cooled
- 27" high bit depth monitor, 2560x1440 resolution
This machine is a lot faster for heavy editing than the laptop, but the monitor is a carryover from my last build, and I'd really like to be running 4K at that size. Graphics card can handle it, no problem.

As far as Mac vs. PC, there is no question that the Apple hardware is really good hardware. Mac OS is also a very good OS, but Win10 is also, without a doubt an excellent OS, stable and full-featured.
Cost of Apple hardware is perhaps a little more than a Wintel box fro equivalent specs, but really not all that big a difference. It really comes down to preferences.
One thing I don't like about Apple is the closed ecosystem. Limited choices for upgrading components, limited interface compatibility, limited software choices. Not as big a deal as it used to be, frankly, but still a consideration. They also have a tendency to use a heavy hand in controlling the user experience... that's OK if you want something that just works and is rather intuitive, but not so great if you want to tweak and customize. Horses for courses.
Unless you need all of the power and I/O flexibility of a desktop, a modern laptop should meet your needs. You will wind up spending some money, however, to get good performance. I would consider my laptop a minimum spec for editing work, and it prices out around $1150.
08/10/2017 07:40:43 AM · #5
Originally posted by K3Master:

My next workstation will be an Apple Macbook Pro. Just less headache and photo processing on an Apple is second to none.


Originally posted by kirbic:

Unless you need all of the power and I/O flexibility of a desktop, a modern laptop should meet your needs.


I agree with you that in terms of processing power and speed a modern laptop will be sufficient to do my editing. The only thing that remains is the relative small display you're working with. So, is there a way to attach a large screen to your laptop and get more resolution/pixels or will the attached screen always display the same as can be seen on the laptop screen? Because when that's the case, I'll be opting for another system, most probably a all-in-one pc.

Therefore my question, has anyone of you some experience with these kind of computers.
08/10/2017 07:57:03 AM · #6
Kees, I use a Macbook Pro that offers a thunderbolt socket that you can attach a monitor too. The video card in my Laptop is capable of resolving higher than my screen so you will have no issues there mate.

If you decide to go that route then invite me up for the week and I'll set it all up for you. You have my number if you wish to discus your options you are most welcome to call me for a chat.
08/10/2017 08:19:58 AM · #7
Any good modern laptop with discrete graphics should be able to drive an external monitor. Even my Yoga, which because of the form factor has very limited I/O (two USB 3.0 ports, no wired network port...) has an HDMI out. It can drive an external monitor up to 4K resolution.
09/02/2017 12:07:35 AM · #8
Most Laptops in the $600-$1000 range will have either a display port or HDMI out and they make adapters to work with almost all configurations. I work in IT and have a cabinet full of strange cables. Kirbic is spot on with his post. There is no difference except in the quality of the components between Apple and a Windows based PC except the OS. Windows 10 in all practical applications has more options available then Sierra. If you spend dollar for dollar I feel you get more for your money out of a Windows Based PC. Apple has become stagnant in that every few years you have no choice but to replace the system or you hit a literal dead end on software support. Microsoft has been good to support their older OS's for a longer period of time. Far beyond the life of most hardware. I run a i7 quad 2600k second gen intel overclocked at 4.5 ghz on all 4 cores. 32 GB of ddr3 memory 256 GB intel ssd 24 TB SATA raid array for storage 2 r9 290x 4 GB video cars Crossfires and have everything running off my 55 inch LED Samsung. I still have two 27 inch desk monitors but seldom use them. Operation from cold boot in 4 seconds flat. I also have Apple products due to I support them at work. I have about one of each. They have the most issues with business application on an NTFS server platform. Tend to take more time to setup and hardware failure issues are a nightmare to deal with. God forbid you loose an icloud password! Yet my boss has the latest MacBook with everything but the glowing apple.... HEHEHE he was not happy about Apple not putting it on the latest models. Two weeks after he got it he requested VMware Fusion and Win10....... I will say the Mac runs natively WIndows very good. but why buy a mac just to run windows Right now take a look at ASUS laptops. They manufacture 60 percent of all branded motherboards for the big box names. They have their own line and produce a well build computer. I have been using their products for 18 years. Stay away from Microsoft Surface anything and all in one systems. They generate far too much heat and have a very limited life span. Hope this helps. PS build it on newegg and get what you want not what they put in a box!
09/03/2017 09:57:00 AM · #9
Originally posted by kirbic:

Any good modern laptop with discrete graphics should be able to drive an external monitor. Even my Yoga, which because of the form factor has very limited I/O (two USB 3.0 ports, no wired network port...) has an HDMI out. It can drive an external monitor up to 4K resolution.


Hell, my ~6 year old ASUS that I don't even use any more has an HDMI port and can run two displays.
09/03/2017 10:24:12 AM · #10
Originally posted by kirbic:

Any good modern laptop with discrete graphics should be able to drive an external monitor. Even my Yoga, which because of the form factor has very limited I/O (two USB 3.0 ports, no wired network port...) has an HDMI out. It can drive an external monitor up to 4K resolution.


You have a computer that practices Yoga? Would love to see it in action! ;-)
09/03/2017 10:29:49 AM · #11
I have the gaming computer 17" MSi. It's been great!!! I think it's about4/5 years old...still sings n brings me coffee...I have mine hooked up to a large monitor and keyboard. Unfortunately I don't remember my spects but it's been a great machine
09/03/2017 10:32:44 AM · #12
Originally posted by Ja-9:

I have the gaming computer 17" MSi. It's been great!!! I think it's about 4/5 years old...still sings n brings me coffee...I have mine hooked up at home to a large monitor and keyboard. Unfortunately I don't remember my spects but it's been a great machine


ETA: it has the speed (for gaming) that I need to edit my pictures and the video cards were/are amazing.
09/03/2017 08:28:25 PM · #13
Originally posted by Ja-9:

Originally posted by Ja-9:

I have the gaming computer 17" MSi. It's been great!!! I think it's about 4/5 years old...still sings n brings me coffee...I have mine hooked up at home to a large monitor and keyboard. Unfortunately I don't remember my spects but it's been a great machine


ETA: it has the speed (for gaming) that I need to edit my pictures and the video cards were/are amazing.


Bought one of those for my daughter last Christmas, it is a nice mid range gaming machine. I used it for editing while on vacation and I found it very snappy.
09/03/2017 08:46:29 PM · #14
Originally posted by FromDaRock:

Originally posted by Ja-9:

Originally posted by Ja-9:

I have the gaming computer 17" MSi. It's been great!!! I think it's about 4/5 years old...still sings n brings me coffee...I have mine hooked up at home to a large monitor and keyboard. Unfortunately I don't remember my spects but it's been a great machine


ETA: it has the speed (for gaming) that I need to edit my pictures and the video cards were/are amazing.


Bought one of those for my daughter last Christmas, it is a nice mid range gaming machine. I used it for editing while on vacation and I found it very snappy.


It certainly hums!!!!
09/03/2017 08:57:01 PM · #15
Ha! I'm still editing on the dual core athlon I built 8 years ago. (Corel PSP doesn't demand as much oomph as the Adobe products, so it has held up well) I am going to be putting a new system together soon, so I am interested in what the consensus is on specs.
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