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Thread: Sourcing new computer (Probably for UK members)

  1. #1
    davidedric's Avatar
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    Sourcing new computer (Probably for UK members)

    Sometime in the next few months I'm going to pension off my VISTA 32 bit machine and upgrade.

    I think that I have a pretty good idea of what I want in the new machine, but not sure where best to source it.

    I could go for one of the major retailers (My last three have been Dell, and they have been OK), look on-line for an independent builder and seller, or head down to my local PC build and repair shop (they've been there over 20 years) and talk to them.

    Any suggestions? (remembering I'm in the UK)

    Thanks,

    Dave

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    Re: Sourcing new computer (Probably for UK members)

    We use a lot of Dells at work and rarely have any trouble with them, however we do buy the more expensive Optiplex models.
    I have an HP at home and it's lasted 4 years so far and still going well - I tend to buy my home PC in a tower case so I can easily add/upgrade later.
    I would personally only use a local PC builder if I could be assured that they will use good quality branded parts - it's too easy these days to put together a system with cheap components that might only last a couple of years.
    I've considered building my own PC in the past (using good quality components), but when costed out it's not really been any cheaper than an HP or Dell.

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    Re: Sourcing new computer (Probably for UK members)

    Dave

    I have used ITC Sales several times and they normally deliver the next day. Dell factory seconds / cancelled orders are a speciality. Stock changes all the time so if you have an eye on a particular machine / spec then keep an eye on the site.

    http://www.itcsales.co.uk/

    Geoff

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    Re: Sourcing new computer (Probably for UK members)

    I went for a PC builder called Chillblast rather than the majors. Their product was reviewed against others and came out well on top for quality. Not the most expensive either.

    http://www.chillblast.com/

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    Re: Sourcing new computer (Probably for UK members)

    I have recently ordered a pre-built 3XS system from Scan computers:

    http://3xs.scan.co.uk/

    Service was good, they provided advice on suitable products for upgrades and the machine arrived within 2 days of order. I was able to change monitor, RAM and upgrade to an SSD. All of which you should consider for a photo processing machine. I think the cost of the build is 15 over the total cost of all the components. They are worth a look.

    Alex

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    Re: Sourcing new computer (Probably for UK members)

    Have a look a CCL Computers:
    http://www.cclonline.com/

    They are my first port of call.

    Ken

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    Re: Sourcing new computer (Probably for UK members)

    My last computer was assembled by Daw Computers http://www.dawcomputers.co.uk/

    They gave me a good deal on a mix of standard items arranged to specifically suit my requirements. It looks as though they are fairly close to you, Dave.

    But there are numerous companies offering various forms of 'bespoke' equipment.

    My current internet computer is an upgrade which was assembled by a friend who 'dabbles' in this sort of thing.

    My main photo computer is never connected to the internet. Something which proved to be essential recently when I was attacked by a form of Ransomware and had to format the computer then start again.

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    Re: Sourcing new computer (Probably for UK members)

    There is an eBook: Building Your Own High-Performance Computer that is very helpful. It was written by a photographer and Photoshop user. Every computer component referenced in the book can be purchased from Amazon UK. Even if you don't actually build your own computer, the book provides insight into hardware and software.

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    Re: Sourcing new computer (Probably for UK members)

    It is very easy (and satisfying) to build your own computer at home. We have done this twice. The last time was a year ago when my then 14 year old son built a high end powerful gaming computer under my supervision (for safety). It easily outperforms his Dell Alienware gaming computer at his mother's house and was a great learning experience for him and for me.

    The reason for outpermance was we were able to select top notch components so that the price ended up similar to the Dell but spec was much higher. This extended to multi fan case, water cooling systems, high end video cards (dual), high end motherboard , high end chip, SSD drive (highly recommended for photo handling) and an excellent screen. It is remarkably easy to do, including set up, overclocking if required and software installation. I should add that I am a businessman not an IT person. I really recommend this route, which is MUCH easier than you might think. There are loads of on-line resources to help. Indeed I am in the UK and if you want to ring me up I will help!

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    Re: Sourcing new computer (Probably for UK members)

    Hi Dave,

    I ve just gone through this (5 month ago), i considered building my own, but once id priced up the components it worked out at 100 saving over having it built by a local supplier so i had him do it for me, and if it goes wrong then i get to take it back to him.

    I cant stress the importance enough that you think about this carefully before you order.

    This is the spec that i chose with the suppliers recommendations and my input

    AMD MB with i5 quad core processor, the vendor said i7 would be overkill i can over clock if i want to but i dont, i can also upgrade the chip if i want.

    16MB RAM upgradable to 64

    250 GB ssd for current photo catalog, operating system and software (speeds loading up considerably)

    12TB HDD expandable to 45 TB (assumes 3TB drives) configured raid 5 for redundant backup for all of my older catalogs (i only keep current years on my ssd) thinking about this that means my current pics arnt backed up so i need to think about this.....

    Windows 7 ultimate (avoid windows 8 its optimized for touch screens and personally i dont get on with it, you might though, but at least you have the choice...)

    Monitor, be vary careful here, if you do or intend to print get one at least with an ips panel, dell do a nice one along with NEC and ezio but they are expensive, my 27 inch NEC cost 850 but its worth every penny and of course smaller versions are cheaper.

    I think i got it right for me any way, its totally upgradable and so i think it will be with me for a long time and as things develop i can just replace the bits that need it rather than the whole machine, but ive said that before..... Its a bit of a beast though size wise, but you cant have everything i suppose!

    Hope that helps
    Last edited by Mark von Kanel; 27th March 2013 at 10:46 AM.

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    Re: Sourcing new computer (Probably for UK members)

    Like others have mentioned I would seriously consider building your own. It is not difficult and is very rewarding. If you understand what specs you want in a computer you should not have any trouble sourcing all the parts.

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    Re: Sourcing new computer (Probably for UK members)

    Dave, off-shelf-computers are built for the masses who have no high demand specific use for it. Routine home accounting/email/social networking or business use that is limited to work-applicable capabilities. Building your own wasn't one of your initial choices so I'll assume you are like many of us and just don't want to take that route. First off I'd have to say that if you haven't, you need to educate yourself on what you need in a PC. Things like processor speed and memory size are basic but other considerations may need some research. Unless you are also into gaming, the video card need not be a high performance model taking some of your money. On the other hand, if you plan on using a top end display will the video card even support anything over 8 bit processing. SSD's provide an astounding speed of data transfer but some have concerns about the longevity of read-write numbers. They are also more expensive which may draw $$$ from another option. etc, etc, etc. Once you have a good understanding of the basics my suggestion would be to grab a couple of coffees and some pastries and go talk to the guy at the local repair shop. There's a reason he's been around for 20 years and will be able to provide you a system that is specific to you and your future upgrades.

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    Re: Sourcing new computer (Probably for UK members)

    Hi,

    Thanks very much for all the ideas.

    I hadn't considered building my own, but though I think I do have the necessary skills / knowledge (I'm happy enough swapping boards, disks, memory etc, and I did once design and install my own central heating), for me the stress factor would outweigh the satisfaction - so I'm not going down that route (call me a wimp if you like )

    I think my best bet would be to use one of the non-major suppliers suggested. I think I know what I want included, and so long as I can see the actual components being used I will let someone else take the strain of the build (and have someone to go back to if something goes amiss).

    I'll also talk to the local guy, and see what he has to say.

    I don't change desktop very often, so I tend to over-spec and make sure I have upgradability and plenty of slots. (I also have a very big desk - so space isn't a problem )

    I already have a decent IPS monitor, so at least I don't have that to buy.

    I suspect that my biggest problem may be finding drivers for my Coolscan slide scanner.

    Thanks again,

    Dave

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    Re: Sourcing new computer (Probably for UK members)

    The only issue to watch out for in some manufacturers (and Dell was infamous for this) used some proprietary components, like power supplies, that tied you to them for (expensive)repairs.

    As others have stated, computers are made for the hypothetical target user and unless your needs and the model being offered are a good match, buying off-the-shelf may or may not be a good match.

    If you are looking purely at PP work the demands, the areas where you might want to look at something "special" would some of be the areas that Andrew has already covered:

    A good quality IPS display; and in my view, the largest one you can afford. I personally went to a dual display machine a number of years ago; the IPS screen is my screen where I do the editing, but I park all the menus and other things that could clutter my main screen on a smaller, cheap TN screen. If you go this way, you will need a video card that can handle two screens.

    I would certainly not go to another 32-bit machine; 64-bit is the only way to go. These machines can address a large amount of memory and don't have to swap RAM to your hard drive every time you have a couple of applications open. Speaking of RAM, I would not go with less than 8GB; I run my machine with 16 GB. I also do a lot of video editing, so this has higher machine requirements than just PP work.

    Storage is another consideration. As a base, I have a two-disk machine; one for the operating system and software and a second, larger one for data storage. This is partially driven by my video editing requirements, the software simply runs faster when it is not competing with read / ride cycles on the main drive, but also lets me pull out a clean data disk, should something happen to the main drive.

    I also use a RAID type disk on my home network to store a backup of all of my images and video files. The reason for the RAID technology is that it protects against a single hard disk failure. In an oversimplified way of looking at things, a RAID unit has two hard disks and all data is stored independently on both disks. Should there ever be a hard disk failure; all I have to do is replace it with another disk and my data is protected.

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    Re: Sourcing new computer (Probably for UK members)

    Thanks, Manfred,

    I would certainly not go to another 32-bit machine; 64-bit is the only way to go
    Yes, I am definitely going 64-bit, and had in mind 16Gb of RAM

    Storage is another consideration
    I had planned an SSD for software. I currently have RAID 1 disks on my desk top. However, I worry that after a couple of years, if one drive goes I may not be able to re-establish the RAID array unless I can get hold of an identical drive. I suppose that may suggest buying a spare up front - or am I worrying needlessly? I also have a 1Tb external disk, which I would plan on porting over.

    Dave

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    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Sourcing new computer (Probably for UK members)

    Quote Originally Posted by davidedric View Post
    However, I worry that after a couple of years, if one drive goes I may not be able to re-establish the RAID array unless I can get hold of an identical drive. I suppose that may suggest buying a spare up front - or am I worrying needlessly? I also have a 1Tb external disk, which I would plan on porting over.
    That is a bit of a worry for me as well, which is why I said "RAID type". What I actually use is a Data Robotics Drobo-FS, which does not require identical disks; it's not a true RAID, but I don't have to worry about mismatched disks. I had two hard disks fail over the past year (under warranty), about 6 months apart and I just popped in the replacements as soon as they arrived. The Drobo churned for a few hours and redundancy was restored.

    http://www.drobo.com/products/profes...o-fs/index.php

  17. #17
    davidedric's Avatar
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    Re: Sourcing new computer (Probably for UK members)

    Thanks for all your suggestions from a few weeks ago. I researched all the options, and have just ordered a Chillblast Fusion Photo Lite with (hopefully) enough umph to keep me going for a while since I specc'd it up a bit (250Gb SSD, 2Tb mirrored disks, etc) and could still order with Windows 7. (Sorry Adrian wimped out on the self build)

    Thanks again,

    Dave

  18. #18
    davidedric's Avatar
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    Re: Sourcing new computer (Probably for UK members)

    Just thinking, and reading a few threads here and elsewhere. A big plus with the independent I chose, and I would hope others, is absolutely no "bloatware". Just what I ordered. No more and no less. Excellent!

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