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Thread: What specs for a photo editing build?

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    What specs for a photo editing build?

    Hi there,

    My dad has been in to photography for a while now, and he recently got an DSLR camera. He's been wanting a PC to edit the photos on, but mother won't let him on hers (apparently, photos makes it boot slower ) and I'm pretty much always on mine. She suggested that we get him one for Christmas, and I'd be willing to build but I'm only really familliar with hardware necessary for a gaming PC.

    What sort of specs does a typical, mid-range (~£450, excluding monitor, peripherals and OS) photo editing machine need? Really, it'll only be running photoshop (as well as general use). I pretty much told him desktop, not laptop as I presume a trackpad is less precise and more finickity.

    I guess there's no need for a high end GPU, but a good quantity of RAM is important? Does CPU matter much? I don't really have much of an idea.

    Thanks for the help.

    P.S.,
    I have an old Pentium 4 machine with 500MB of RAM. I think it'd be more sensible to start from scratch, but if photoshop isn't too taxing (?) would it be okay?

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    Re: What specs for a photo editing build?

    What camera are they using and are they shooting in RAW or JPEG?? What software are they using??

    I would suggest a Core i3 2100 or 2120 with 8GB of DDR3 and an SSD which should be a tad OTT but last a few years. I use a Core i3 2100,8GB of DDR3 and an SSD,and it is fine with 10MP RAW files from dSLR.

    The most important metrics are having enough RAM and disk speed. Any modern dual core,triple core or quad core CPU will do the job.

    I would also make sure you have an effective backup policy for the pictures too, and a colour accurate display is important. What is the budget for the display and peripherals??
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 21-02-2012 at 09:02 PM.


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    Re: What specs for a photo editing build?

    Monitor, CPU, RAM and disk speed are important, in that order. Cat's suggestion of an i3 2120, 8GB ram and SSD is spot on, though of course add a big storage drive (can be slow, but you'll want as many terabytes as you can afford).

    It's also nice to have USB3 support, for new card readers.

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    Re: What specs for a photo editing build?

    Quote Originally Posted by CAT-THE-FIFTH View Post
    What camera are they using and are they shooting in RAW or JPEG?? What software are they using??

    I would suggest a Core i3 2100 or 2120 with 8GB of DDR3 and an SSD which should be a tad OTT but last a few years. I use a Core i3 2100,8GB of DDR3 and an SSD,and it is fine with 10MP RAW files from dSLR.

    What is the budget for the display and peripherals??
    He has a Cannon EOS 550D, shooting in both RAW and JPEG (afaik).

    I daresay an SSD would be slighty out of budget...

    We already have a spare mouse and keyboard, old dell OEM ones. As is the monitor - it is rather old, 17" and 1280x1024. I'm not very happy about it, but a Dell Ultrasharp isn't really in budget. He's not awfully computer savvy, but I don't really want him to suffer an old TN

    I would be using integrated graphics, correct?

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    Re: What specs for a photo editing build?

    The following build uses parts from Scan. Of course if you shop around you might be able to get parts cheaper.



    You will need to add an optical drive too(Doh!) but without postage the build should be around £430. I would see how good the IGP fares initially and then you can always add a dedicated graphics card later on.

    If you want a smaller system,I would look at this Shuttle:

    http://www.scan.co.uk/products/shutt...61-socket-1155

    Pob255 has used one.

    To keep to the budget,I have used an H61 motherboard which lacks SATA3.0,which will limit the SSD performance a bit,although it will be much faster than a hard drive still. A more expensive H67 or Z68 based motherboard will add SATA3.0 although I am considering motherboards with 4 RAM slots. The M4 64GB is a reliable drive,but theoretical write speeds are not as fast as other drives using the more buggy(but supposedly now fixed) SandForce controllers.

    This Corsair SSD uses synchronous NAND unlike other similarly priced drives so is a good alternative to the M4 64GB:

    http://www.scan.co.uk/products/60gb-...-write-495mb-s

    Even,with the drop in speed with data like images it should be faster than the M4 64GB.

    This monitor uses a 6 bit(not 8 bit) IPS panel:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B...=hotukdeals-21

    It should be better than similarly priced TN panels for image editing.


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    Re: What specs for a photo editing build?

    Hmm. I was looking at something similar. I notice thought that the mobo only supports upto 1333 RAM. And I daresay he will struggle getting to grips with two storage drives! I'll have to make folders for him - photos for editing on the SSD and photo storage on the HDD.

    Is the SSD such a noticable difference? I guess it is a relatively good price.

    I think the Dell U2312HM would probably be a better idea than this old thing!

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    Re: What specs for a photo editing build?

    Quote Originally Posted by EvanJackPenn View Post
    Hmm. I was looking at something similar. I notice thought that the mobo only supports upto 1333 RAM. And I daresay he will struggle getting to grips with two storage drives! I'll have to make folders for him - photos for editing on the SSD and photo storage on the HDD.

    Is the SSD such a noticable difference? I guess it is a relatively good price.

    I think the Dell U2312HM would probably be a better idea than this old thing!
    Have a look at the Asus PA238Q too:

    http://www.techradar.com/reviews/pc-...1029629/review

    AFAIK,it uses a 10 bit LUT.

    This monitor also looks good:

    http://www.trustedreviews.com/aoc-i2...Monitor_review


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    Re: What specs for a photo editing build?

    IMHO the most important thing if he plans to actually print photos is to invest in a true 8-bit IPS panel, rather than one of the new 6-bit + dithering E-IPS models (U2312 etc.). You should be able to pick up something like a 2007WFP secondhand for a respectable price, as long as you search around a bit for one in decent condition. Though be wary that the 2007WFP itself was a 'panel lottery' between S-IPS & C-PVA.

    Though if he doesn't plan to print photos, remember that most people looking at them on their screens will not have 8-bit IPS or even IPS at all, nor will they have calibrated their monitors, so it doesn't really matter whether he is using 8-bit IPS or not! When I'm editing photos, I actually compare the finished piece on my 8-bit IPS & my 6-bit C-PVA, to see if it will actually still look decent when people other than me look at it!

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  10. #9
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    Re: What specs for a photo editing build?

    Hmm, there's a lot to consider.

    Would a caching SSD be useful as opposed to just using a primary drive SSD?

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    Re: What specs for a photo editing build?

    Sigh. I don't know why I bother posting(it seems like a waste of time). The PA238Q uses an 8 bit IPS panel and a 10 bit LUT and the cheaper monitors with the 6 bit IPS panels will be better than similarly priced ones with TN panels. The PA238Q is the cheapest monitor with an 8 bit panel. With secondhand monitors,there is a good chance the CCFLs are starting to reduce in maximum brightness too especially with ones nearly 6 years old like the 2007WFP. The quality of dithering algorithms has improved in the last few years,so even some of the monitors with 6 bit panels can be fine for image editing(although true 8 bit panels are better). Most of the monitors under £300 use 6 bit panels.

    Here are specifications lists in the build guide of many of the newer sub £300 monitor:

    http://i559.photobucket.com/albums/s...ctober2011.png

    http://i559.photobucket.com/albums/s...ctober2011.png
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 26-02-2012 at 07:44 PM.

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