Best Desktop for Editing?

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by tylerwind, Oct 28, 2015.

  1. I am in the market for a desktop to edit my photos. Money is not an issue for me so I'm looking for the best, regardless of the cost.
    I know everyone argues Mac vs. PC. Is the argument about which one you like better in general or are there real issues with photo editing specifically with one vs. the other?
    If money wasn't an issue and you wanted the best desktop available, what computer and monitor would you buy?
    Thanks in advance for your assistance!
  2. Better advice: Find the software / hardware you want to use and pick the desktop that supports it.
    MAC/PC/Linux debates usually go nowhere.
  3. Photo editing is intensive, but not extremely so; so I wouldn't drop "regardless of cost", spend a bit less and keep the remainder in my bankaccount to upgrade software and hardware with a decent frequency - in my view, it gets more value out of the total. There is no "the best", anyway, it's about finding the better compromise for your needs.
    As for getting a properly powerful desktop, it depends a bit on the software, but with the higher-end Intel CPUs, married to sufficient RAM, you'll be fine. (*) Build your own, or have it custom build. Most pre-fabricated models show compromises one way or another which would require a (near) immediate upgrade, so better customise it all from the start.
    Mac vs. PC - mostly a matter of preference which operating system you like most. A personal preference, whoever tells you one is "clearly better" is just expressing a personal opinion, no more. So, yeah, as Peter said, those debates go really nowhere.
    (*) explain in more detail what kind of editing you do, what sizes of images etc. There is a difference between what Lightroom needs to manage 24MP DSLR raw files, or a high-resolution drum scan of a medium format negative, with 25 layers in Photoshop. With more detail, it's better doable to recommend more specific specifications.
  4. Go to a Mac superstore if one is near you. They are loaded with different types of software.
  5. puget computers dot com
    they have computer builds specifically for photo processing and/or video editing...
  6. If you are using Photoshop or Lightroom they work well enough on PC or Mac; its just a matter hardware and OS preference. Personally I prefer Mac; as Macs can be set up for Mac or windows. I did that first but dropped Windows as I did not have a use for it. Win 8 was a desktop disaster Win 10 has to be better but I'd have reservations about a new OS anyway. At least Mac OS works reliably.
  7. Better advice: Find the software / hardware you want to use and pick the desktop that supports it.​
    +10,000,000. I would never advise a dedicated PC user to buy a Mac or a Mac user to buy a PC. And I'd never tell anyone to use Linux! (I jest, I jest! Sort of. And for the record I have more Linux devices than Mac/Win combined.)
    First question is: which OS/platform do you prefer? Go with that one.
    Second question is: what kind of "photo editing" are we talking about, and what kind of volume? E.g. you don't need a 12-core monster to process dSLR photos one at a time - most of the processing headroom will simply be wasted.
    Third question is: do you have other things you'll use the computer for? I do happen to have a 12-core monster, and I do happen to process photos on it, but I would never have gotten such a ridiculous machine just for photo stuff. I got it because I do numerical analysis on large datasets and the more cores I can deploy the faster my work gets done. If you have other demanding applications for the computer you want to buy (pro video, gaming, password cracking, machine learning, ... ?), then let that dictate the specs. Otherwise, any modern 4-core machine will be more than sufficient.
    Fourth question is: is there a particular application or suite of applications you like? E.g. if you know you want to use Darktable then Windows is out of the running. If you want to use the Adobe family of products then the world is your oyster.
    And I do suggest that you set a budget. Because, like cameras, when you say the words "regardless of cost" it becomes surprisingly easy to spend $30k (a top of the line Mac Pro here, a few super high-end 4k monitors there...) when $3k worth of stuff would work just as well, and possibly better.
  8. To burn money I'd get the best monitors first and splurge on Eizos. Their 4K screen sets you back $5k7 and you'll like another screen to place your tool trays on or simply enjoy reading texts and bare eyed pixel peeping. - And right here the Mac vs. PC debate might start: It seems easier to get the i1 calibration stuff running on Mac.
    I am not sure if the rest of the discussion makes a lot of sense before you specify your needs and maybe current experience. What kind of editing (software, operation, image size) hogs up which kind of current system how severely? What are you planning to do? When will you win the lottery again, to replace what you 'll buy tomorrow?
    FTR: there is of course no future proof hardware to buy, but today's 5K iMacs should in theory still be nice digital picture frames (cycling through JPGs of your keepers) 12 years from now, but might dissappoint as soon as you (the guy without dedicated special tools) have to replace the SSD / HDD inside which is likely to break during such a time frame.
    I guess I might still end building my own, replacing bits when needed even if I had unlimited funds. Almost every component deserves a google search for up to date comparsions. And no, I don't do those every 3 month.
    From my experience so far it seems important to have everything in a case thats nice to open for blowing the dust out, especially out of your GPU cooling, which seems the tiniest fan doing the hardest work.
    I wish I had read enough to be confident about water cooling for GPUs, but that technology might be on the maturity level of Fuji's early X-trans cameras. And GPUs on their own aren't entirely mature themselves right now. - They are good enough for photo editing, but even highest end ones seem 3 evolution steps / years below a really pleasant 4K gaming experience.
    How important is having a quiet machine for you?
    Are you splurging on the rest like data backup servers too? Will your current machine serve as a backup workhorse or do you need one?
    Like Wouter and Peter I don't believe you need outstanding CPUs for tweaking single 24MP shots. I'd buy 16GB of RAM right now for a mainboard that can take 32GB. But I don't drumscan the heck out of LF film and haven't learned working with countless layers.
    SSDs seem nice, but I'd stick to moderate sizes for them; no more than 256GB for the system, another one to hold your current project + HDDs for data storage.
  9. If money was not an issue I'd probably save most of the money for future upgrades and splurge on accessories. Desk that raises and lowers so you can switch between working seated and standing, yep. Network attached storage box with RAID 1 redundancy over at least a gigabit wired network so all machines can access it, of course. Epson's latest 17 inch-wide printer for printing photos in quantity without using roll paper, obviously. A Colormunki portable spectrophotometer so I can make custom paper profiles, yes please. $100+ keyboard with mechanical keyswitches for nice, accurate clicky typing, that would be nice. A Wacom Cintiq for editing directly on the image instead of using a mouse, I would sure like to try it. A well secured little Linux box that can give you services when your away from the studio like an FTP server to upload images to with a Eyefi tethered to you phone (probably stored on the NAS box), that sounds kinda awesome. A Nikon Coolscan 9000, or even more expensive a Flextight unit, for scanning film, how about 2 for spare parts. A multi-spectrum viewing booth, could come in handy. An actual physical darkroom, oh God do I want it!
  10. I run Lightroom 5, Photoshop Elements 12 (photos) and Premiere Elements (video processing) at the same time with no delays. Some of my images are 200mb (from scanned slides). I have a Dell computer running Windows 8.1 with Intel I7 3.4gb speed and 24gb RAM (probably double RAM what I need) and 256GB SSD. I can't comment on MAC vs. Windows since I never used MAC. RAM and SSD really speeds things up. So that's where I'd spend the money.
    I have also have a NEC PA242W 2k monitor with the Spectraview II calibration puck. But I haven't printed much so for now so I really comment on it's value. 4k is nice but for an UHDTV. Not sure if it makes sense for a monitor. But you said money is no issue, so I guess it would be nice. But only if the model has accurate color.
    Good luck in whatever you decide.
  11. If money is truly not a factor, then don't fool around getting random opinions! Hire an expert to research and suggest the best solution that's tailored to how you work!
    (When I see questions posed like this, I always suspect someone is doing it for the purpose of entertainment or starting arguments.)
  12. Also, when people say quad core they mean Core i5 or i7, not
    an Atom based Celeron or Pentium, and not anything AMD
    like an Athlon (that could change with Zen if a company-
    saving miracle happens).

    Also keep in mind there are still many programs that depend
    mostly on the speed of a single process. For these a 6 or 8
    core machine may actually be slower as each core had a
    lower clock.
  13. I have a 2 processor 12 core AMD Opteron. It goes like stink, but otherwise a waste of cores. You really only need two cores as most software does not really take advantage of it. I'm not sure why you have something against AMD.
  14. B and H Photo sells computer systems tailored for photo processing, capturing etc. If you call them and explain what you're running and your needs, they will provide good info regarding your needs.
  15. To get more technical than is really needed here: right now AMD chips use a module design which pairs integer ALUs and other parts to run a thread together and has them share an FPU that does the heavy math. Almost anything recent that AMD calls a quad core is going to be a low end chip with effectively only 2 cores when it comes to serious math. Also Intel has been pumping so much money into process and chip design for more than a decade that AMD just can't match. At this point core-for-core even the lowly Pentium Anniversary edition beats AMD's best in single core benchmarks and the I3's beat them in multi-threaded work. The stall in process technology at 28nm hit everybody but Intel very hard, and the Bulldozer design put AMD off it's game for non-server chips for the years it takes to develop a complete overhaul.
  16. there's no big deal in switching between macs and PCs. The user interfaces are very similar. There are a few differences but not difficult. I'm never sure of how to handle "what's the best" questions. Kind of depends on what you're doing. There are many PCs and Macs they are very powerful. Best monitors probably Eizos and NECs. What level of use are you going to use? Get one with good components, a modern fast quad core CPU and lots of ram with SSD drives and extra drives for storage. There's no one answer to this question.
  17. Dear All-Thanks so much for all the responses and information. Please allow me to share a bit more in an effort to get more specific advice. I will freely admit that a lot of this talk is over my head at this point but I want to learn about it. Most all responses are helpful.
    First of all, just because I CAN buy anything doesn't mean that I want to waste as much money as I can. There is no monitor or computer out there that I can't afford but I still want the best machine for me for the best price. A fool and his money soon part so while I have money, I do desire to be smart with it. My point is saying that was so that I didn't get a bunch of responses about what is best "for the money." In general, I want to know what is the best period and then I'll work backwards from there and see if something makes more sense factoring in money. My point was I can afford the best and am not shopping for the cheapest option I can get by with.
    I have sold my photography in the past but do not do anything with photography for a living. With that said, whether I am buying tools, trucks, machines, or anything else I typically buy professional grade items because they are better and I am able to afford them.
    I shoot photos with a Canon 5D Mark III. I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 40,000 of them in my collection.
    As for editing experience, don't laugh, but I have little to none. I have used photoshop only briefly. I had planned to use Photoshop and Lightroom for my needs. Up until this point, I have sold my photographs pretty much straight out of the camera using the bundled Canon software. I have some great pictures and I know they have more potential which is why I want to learn the digital editing side of photography now.
    Despite being new, I don't want anything with "training wheels." I hate having to upgrade anything--I want to buy what I will ultimately need and use from the start. So I don't want to buy a better monitor or more powerful computer "when I need it." I would rather start by buying high quality and grow into it.
    With regards to setting a budget, my very ignorant expectation was to spend around 3K-5K. If I can get everything I need for less then great! Likewise, if there is a better machine and more bang for my buck spending more, I'm open to that as well. After doing a little research I don't think I would go much over 6K or so unless I was convinced there was a compelling reason.
  18. Thanks for all the responses! While some of them are over my head, they are very educational and most all of them have been helpful. I fully realize there is not one answer to my question--there is always going to be a subjective component and opinion. But, if you hear enough folks who know what they are talking about debate something, you'll learn and figure out what is best for you.
    Alan Klein-That is a great tip! I like working with B&H so will give them a call.
    Alan Cox-With all due respect, your response is ridiculous. I rarely hire "experts" because in general, it is hard to find a true expert. I prefer to become an expert myself and make my own decisions, which is what I am doing on this forum and other places. I fix my own cars, renovate my own homes, research applicable tax laws, etc. If one is intelligent and dedicated, you would be shocked how often you can become your own expert. The suggestion that I am taking my priceless time to stimulate a debate among internet strangers is simply asinine. Every time I buy anything I get on chatrooms and ask what is the best without considering money--there is always someone that says "pay someone to do it for you." I may be ignorant to start, but I research things and do everything myself so I am be certain it is done correctly.
  19. Lastly, without getting into the Mac vs. PC war, you guys have answered my question. I know there would never be an agreed upon answer but what I wanted to know is could either do the job and it sounds like the answer is yes and which I choose is a matter of personal preference. I have a Mac laptop and can use it but am more comfortable with a PC, so I would probably lean that way. I just wanted to make sure that there wasn't a unanimous decision among the pros on which to use. It sounds like there are a good number of professionals using each system--if one were superior the results would be skewed in favor of that machine.
  20. I just did a Google search for best photo editing PC. One interesting company is Puget sound that recommend what they call a Genesis I. Very high spec, Xeon quad core, etc etc. more than you probably need it has a 512 SSD, where you would park your Operating system and your programs and it has a 2 TB internal drive for data. It pretty expensive, about $3200 but it looks sick. People will get on and tell you could build this yourself, but if you want a power house and want it ready to go that looks above and beyond. That's their recommended photo system. I've never heard of them before.
    Than there's Dells, like the XPS series 7500 or 7800, like at the components. Also HPs,
    And then there's the iMac 5K retina screen, and you can get a 2nd Nec or Eizo monitor. Or like a lot of us do, a Macbook Pro 15" and an external monitor.
    All these are good.
  21. It is not just the processor. A key to image processing and the use of many plug-ins is the video card. Be sure to compare the video cards in the systems you are considering.
  22. Just about any modern dedicated video card with 1 or 2GB of memory on them will run photo processing. Its not as big a deal as it would be for video editing. But yes, look to see that whatever you get has a decent video card.
  23. Have a look at this video which may be a good introduction to what is typical.
  24. Tyler, too bad you didn't share this new information with us to begin with. We all responded to the information you provided at the time. So I could only guess about your motives in stating "money is not a factor". It seems now that was not totally true, and your updated inquiry makes more sense. Hope your new machine works out.

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