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Thread: Need advice on what kind of computer to get . . .

  1. #1

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    Need advice on what kind of computer to get . . .

    Need advice on what kind of computer would be best to get. My computer is old and is on its last leg, I really need a new one but am confused about what kind to get. I use lightroom software and would like something that would hold alot of photos, and I do use the internet quite frequently, I need something that when I am using lightroom the computer does not slow way down. If possible I would like an all-in-one or a laptop. I am not really knowledgable on the computer language, so please send me some recommendations. Price range is between 600 and 700. Thanks for your help.

    Kathy

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    Re: Need advice on what kind of computer to get . . .

    Hi Kathy.

    If you do get a laptop the angle of the opened lid is going to play a big part in how your images will turn out. I have this problem when traveling but thanks to a poster here have that issue fixed.

    Whenever I use the laptop for editing first thing I do is tilt the lid so that the black and white inner squares on this image a both visible. Pretty simple eh?

    Need advice on what kind of computer to get . . .

    Now onto selection. Assuming Windows ideally you should be looking for -

    i7 cpu,
    Expandable internal memory - 16gig will be more then fine
    High resolution screen able to display at 1920 or higher. I find 1920 to be just fine.
    Graphics card that does not share memory with the computer ie graphics handled by a component separate from the system board. Ideally one that has 1gig or more of internal memory.
    Storage - you have 2 choices you can opt for speed and get a SSD drive but pretty expensive and not loads of space or just a normal drive which is less expensive but has loads of space. You will also want a much bigger external drive for offloading your data (or you could burn that to dvd).

    Price - the wider the screen the more expensive it will get. If you have an external monitor by all means get a laptop with a narrower screen size. Just connect the external to the laptop. Make sure the laptop does have a connector that allows that.

    Recommendations - none. There are just too many models out there to give a good recommendation. Just follow the specs listed and narrow it down to whatever your budget will bear.

    Mine here is now about a year of so old and probably already replaced. It is an ASUS N53 series with the above specs. ASUS warranties are much longer then the standard ones and they are very good with service. Never ever had a hiccup with their laptops and have owned many.

    Hope this helps.

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Need advice on what kind of computer to get . . .

    Hi Kathy – I’m a firm believer in desktops for image editing, mostly because the screen is larger and brighter than anything you will ever find on a laptop. Laptops are made to be portable, so a lot of the costs are driven to provide light weight and long battery life, so you will find that these are the key parameters that laptops are built to. This means they tend to scrimp on memory (RAM), processor speed (power) and screen brightness.
    That being said, a low end laptop will likely cost you less that a low end desktop. The advantage of a desktop tends to be expandability and potential future upgrades. The good news is that image editing takes relatively little processor power, so just about any machine will do.
    Regardless of which way you go, for the money you are looking to spend you are not going to get anything made by Apple.

    • You should look for an Intel i3 (i5 or i7) processor or an AMD A8 or A10 processor. AMD machines are likely going to be a bit less expensive than Intel ones.

    • Minimum of 6GB RAM, preferably 8GB

    • 750GB hard drive or larger

    • 24” screen of you are going to a desktop machine, at least 24-bit and should handle the sRBG colour space.

    • Pretty well any built in graphics card will do, but it should be OpenGL 2 compatible. Add in cards with a minimum of 512MB of RAM or higher would be okay.

    • Pretty well any new machine is going to come with Windows 8, 64-bit. If there are any old Windows 7 32-bit machines around, do not go for these, but Windows 7-64 bit would be good.
    Brands really don’t matter…

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    Re: Need advice on what kind of computer to get . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by Bobobird View Post

    Now onto selection. Assuming Windows ideally you should be looking for -

    i7 cpu,
    Expandable internal memory - 16gig will be more then fine
    High resolution screen able to display at 1920 or higher. I find 1920 to be just fine.
    Graphics card that does not share memory with the computer ie graphics handled by a component separate from the system board. Ideally one that has 1gig or more of internal memory.
    Storage - you have 2 choices you can opt for speed and get a SSD drive but pretty expensive and not loads of space or just a normal drive which is less expensive but has loads of space. You will also want a much bigger external drive for offloading your data (or you could burn that to dvd).
    I'm afraid that that configuration - nice as it would be - will well and truly blow your budget.

    An i7 processor is like a V8 engine in a car and an i5 is like a V6. You don't NEED a V8 for what you want, but it will give the PC a longer useful life - so "better value" long term, but more expensive up front.

    RAM is the single best thing you can add for performance. 16GB would be fantastic, but again, it'll blow the budget -- 8GN will be more than enough.

    1920 x 1080 screen resolution is pretty much the "norm" these days. More is better, but again, more expensive and not really justified.

    Shared graphics memory is fine. Yes, it does chew up system memory, but even 7GB is plenty for a solid system - even for power users.

    SSD drives (solid state) drives are incredible. A newer technology allows one to use a conventional "slow" hard drive, but to cache it with a small (typically 60GB or 240GB SSD) for only $100 to $200 more) WELL WORTH THE EXTRA DOLLARS.

    Burning to DVD is pretty much a dead art now for source files -- they're just too darn big - I'd be lucky to get even 200 RAW images onto a DVD. A couple of external drives is probably the "best bang for your bucks".

    With regards to laptops - pretty useless for serious image editing - especially the cheap ones.

    PS: Someone will be along in a minute to tell you how great Macs are - they'll say "the just work better" - they'll say "they've used both" or "they've switched over and greatly prefer the Mac" ... don't believe a word of it

    Marshmellow time

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    Re: Need advice on what kind of computer to get . . .

    i have been using my macbook pro 15" and does just fine, i done research and asked alot about it, and they all pretty much said it is a great device for photography and video work. And it is my own personnel preference. As Colin said that some one will be along about Macs, and im not the type to convince you about macs, its a personnel preference, i also used windows and they are great aswell. So you can go either way. I do how ever suggest you look into all options available to you, and go from that.

    Mac vs Windows is the same thing as Canon Vs Nikon.

    And since your budget is around $700 i would recomend a desktop, mainly due to the fact that you can later on upgrade the inside of your desktop over time to your specific needs and the fact it is easier done on desktops rather than laptops. So if it was me in that situation i would get a decent desktop and screen package and update later on to my needs

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    Re: Need advice on what kind of computer to get . . .

    Some valid points made but the 2 that most matter are RAM and the graphics capability. Skimp on either and you would wish you had'nt bought the darn thing in the first place. Both are dirt cheap if you go with a desktop so no reason not to.

    There is a difference between a Corolla and a Skoda. Both will get you where you want (eventually).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bobobird View Post
    Some valid points made but the 2 that most matter are RAM and the graphics capability. Skimp on either and you would wish you had'nt bought the darn thing in the first place. Both are dirt cheap if you go with a desktop so no reason not to.

    There is a difference between a Corolla and a Skoda. Both will get you where you want (eventually).
    Hi Bobo,

    In terms of RAM, "Yes and No" - it all depends on how much RAM the program & data require at the time for what's being done. I've "only" got 8GB on my home machine, and I regularly have 50 to 100 images open in ACR or 10 to 20 images open in Photoshop - and it still doesn't use all of the RAM - so adding more doesn't give any benefit (and I have history states set to 1000).

    Fast graphics cards are only needed for games and/or video production - Photo processing doesn't require anything special (even onboard is fine).

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    Re: Need advice on what kind of computer to get . . .

    Kathy,

    Start out by writing down the system requirements (RAM, Operating system) for your editing software, printer, scanner, and any other additions you want to keep when upgrading.

    Check your local newspaper to see what systems are advertised, write down those that are compatible with your current system, and narrow the choices down to what is most appealing.

    Check online for additional systems (from the manufacturer chosen) that may not have been advertised.

    A few things to consider if you choose a Windows based system, make sure your equipment is compatible or there are drivers available or you may end up replacing the printer or scanner. I had a similar issue when I upgraded to Windows 7 but eventually found a suitable driver for my printer. My scanner didn't fair so well, so I ended up purchasing a new one. Granted, both my printer and scanner were at least six years old and the cost of replacing was just a few hundred.

    Beware of laptops or desktops that use Windows 8, the interface has changed and it is designed for users with touch screen monitors. I don't see many new laptops offered with XP and this Operating system will be outdated very soon, so your only option is to work with Windows 7 unless you are familiar with touch screen technology. By the way, the issues with compatible equipment will just as likely be an issue with Windows 8 as well.

  9. #9
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    Some mentioned purchasing 16GB of RAM and another person said 8GB would be enough,
    Neither person asked what OS you are using
    For arguments sake let us assume the OP has a 32bit OS, In this case both recommendations are incorrect because of the memory addressing limitations of 32bit addresses, it can not physically map more than 4GB of RAM.

    Onbaord graphics and separate graphics were also recommended,
    Again this is a moot point unless the OP is planning on playing games on the computer.
    Most onbaord chipsets these days will be more than sufficient for LR editing, watching videos and general computer work. Even an onbaord dx10 chipset will play games anyway but not at blistering resolutions or frame rates.

    The OP needs to make a list starting with what OS they will be using and wether they want a laptop or desktop machine,
    From here you can then decide upon the hardware needed and then build a quality desktop system based around the OS and the hardware needed or choose a laptop to suit your needs.

  10. #10
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    Re: Need advice on what kind of computer to get . . .

    MAC's are all very nice, but for the price a windows equivalent will be cheaper. so stick with widows (i have a top of the range MAC which i run windows on!) but manfred is right youll get more for your money out of a desk top as well. heres my recommendation.

    intel i5 more than enough processor for what you will need.
    8gb RAM (its nice to have it expandable if possible)
    Hard disk storage dont worry about huge quantities your system will work quicker if you get a smaller solid state drive to edit and then use an external normal rotary drive for long term storage. this can be added when you run out of room, these are very cheap now days and can run to 100 terra bites!!! or even more...
    1920 screens are normal and good enough.

    the best advice would be to find some body local that you trust who knows a little bit about computers and go to your local store and look at the options within your price range.

    good luck!!

  11. #11
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    Re: Need advice on what kind of computer to get . . .

    For the CPU stick with AMD, best bang for the buck, been using one for years. I build my own systems so can only tell you what you can get for the $600-$700 if someone like me would build you one. I would never buy a store computer from places like Wal-Mart, Best Buy if I can help it and the reason not to buy a store computer is easy; the only thing that is easy with a computer bought from a store is that you only need to plug in the cables outside the case and start the computer. As long as everything is going fine there should be no problems with a computer from the store; however, the moment something starts to go wrong the problems start.

    The computers from the store have usually the minimal power supply and other parts are not the best neither. The manufacturer tries to save as much money as possible by using the cheapest parts in the computer possible; the quality of the computer will not be that great compared to one you can built at home.

    Some of the computers from the store seem to have a nice set up; thus they seem like something you would want to buy. The problem is that for some of these computer the warranty only exists if the computer case will never be opened; not even cleaning up the case from dust is allowed. Other problems that might occur are the bad temperature control; not enough fans to bring fresh air inside or the CPU cooler might not be the best possible. The weakest link is always the graphic card, rarely you will have enjoyable time to use it for playing games if you do.

    In short, the computers from the stores seem to have good offers; however, they have more than enough problems coming with them. Also I found in a store computer the manufacturer loads it up with a lot of software you will never use and most are only trial versions so when the time runs out you have to pay to keep using it. Manufacturer load these computer up so you think you getting more for your money but you really not.

  12. #12

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    Re: Need advice on what kind of computer to get . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark von Kanel View Post
    M
    the best advice would be to find some body local that you trust who knows a little bit about computers and go to your local store and look at the options within your price range.

    good luck!!
    That is the best piece of advice so far.

  13. #13
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    Re: Need advice on what kind of computer to get . . .

    Kathy I check and for $461.94 you could build you a computer that would fit your needs and last many years, you would need to add in the cost of the OS and whatever programs you use but still save money. Let me say that building a computer is not that hard, if you can screw in a light bulb then you can build a computer, there are tons of on line videos that will take you step by step in doing this. Here one from where I always buy my parts from.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPIXAtNGGCw

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    Re: Need advice on what kind of computer to get . . .

    Hi Cathy,

    With computers there is one rule that applies - buy the most expensive one you can afford. You should be able to get yourself a very decent Core i3 or i5 socket 1155 ddr3 system with 3MB cache and DMI BUS with 4GB ram running at around 3.2GHz and a LED screen with Windows 8 for $600-700. A graphics card is optional, on board graphics is good enough for us amateurs. The speed of data processing is determined by CACHE and BUS.

    My fastest computer is a Core 2 Duo running at 2.33 GHz with 2GB Ram running Windows 7 Ultimate 64-Bit and I have never had a problem downloading images. If I am going to get myself a 24MP or higher res camera I will have to add RAM.

    Desktop is still cheaper than laptop.

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