Suggest a PC for photo editing on a very limited budget

Discussion in 'Beginner Questions' started by aaron_lucas, Aug 31, 2015.

  1. Hello!

    I am on a very tight budget. My budget is around $175 - $200 for CPU and montherboard combo. I wont be creating a workflow. I would
    pick a single picture in RAW and edit using either Photoshop or Lightroom or similar software. Is i3 processor enough for my need? I
    know it won't be super fast, but I dont want it to be sluggish so that I have to wait after every command. Please help.

  2. SCL


    Do you already have an older PC and are you planning to upgrade, or is this a totally new purchase? I'm still using an 8 yr old Dell, Windows XP, and 2 GB of memory, and it is fine for photo editing in PS, Lightroom & Gimp. What is really important is to ensure you have as much memory as you can afford or your processor can handle.
  3. FreeBSD or a Linux distro might
    help. When you're running
    Windows, you'll be running about
    75 programs at a time just to
    keep the OS up. Other major
    brands are not much better. The
    thing to do with a *nix system
    like FreeBSD is to cut down on
    running what you don't need. As
    you might imagine, thee's a
    learning curve. It can be steep.
  4. I have spent a day with i3 desktop editing images in photoshop cs5.5, there were no apparent lagging visible. I have not tried current desktop i5 or i7 though, so cannot really compare. However, if You have limited budget, I would put most of the money into motherboard and rest into Pentium or Celeron series processor.
  5. Still running LR6/CS4 on a 7 yr old Core Duo system with 8 GB RAM and Windows 8.1. Could be faster I guess but it suffices. I reserve time consuming jobs for moments when I can do something else.
  6. A Core i3 with 4 or 8GB should do the trick just fine. Windows 10 is fairly lightweight, which helps. Lightroom isn't the fastest program I have ever seen, but on this hardware it should be fine, and if I'm not mistaken, LR6 should be faster. Do take care to get the 64-bits version of Windows, as more and more programs are 64-bits only (including Lightroom and CaptureOne, which is worth considering too).
    By the way, if you use Lightroom, you will be creating a workflow - LR doesn't exactly do "single image editing", it always works via a catalog. And this is not a bad habit to get into. There is no real advantage working one single image at a time rather than the workflow approach of LR/C1 (it also doesn't cut down system requirements in any meaningfull way). Being able to copy over edits from one image to another saves loads of time at times.
    When you're running Windows, you'll be running about 75 programs at a time just to keep the OS up​
    In Linux/Unix/FreeBSD, you have a similar amount of 'daemons' working in the background - it is no different. Similar to Linux ecc, there is benefit in tweaking Windows a bit to reduce the background stuff and cut down to the essentials, same learning curve though (and equally steep). I'm not saying there are no advantages to the Unix-side of things, but this isn't one of them, in my view.
    Nonetheless, Linux can be an option. I've tried Darktable on a Linux distribution; it's a nice program, modelled much after Lightroom, and good results. But it's not particularly fast (compared to LR5.7 on the same PC on Win7). The other big contender on Linux is RawTherapee, also a pretty neat package, and also not impressively fast.
  7. Excuse me, but it is much different. Per user, I will run less than 20 processes. A full count of "lsof" will bring back less than 2500 of everything.
    I routinely pick up old Windows machines and outfit them with lighter installations using Unix. It's not the same. In these kinds of installations, the user is in charge. Picking what to put on there is the tough part. Running an X11-based, lightweight system is not nearly close to the computing overhead in contemporary commercial operating systems. Graphics are expensive (in computations), but it doesn't take the latest everything to handle a picture or two. Handling 2000 at a time: that would be a different story.

    This particular box I'm on now is over 10 years old. It's working just fine under FreeBSD 10. When I picked it up off the side of the road it was loaded with XP. Its neighbor, also found on the side of the road, had a copy of Windows 98 on it before I refitted it. Computer after computer, time and again: a user would struggle to make it through the most basic functions. Refitted with a simple Unix installation, normally free except for the time it takes to compile and build and learn: that same computer will once again be able to perform common tasks.
    The OP's got a budget of under $250. Just what Windows system is he going to buy? My recommendation, take it or leave it, is to spend nothing. Maybe you can find a system on the side of the road, too. Maybe someone will just flat out give you an old computer. Scrap together whatever you can. Load it up with FreeBSD or Linux and use Gimp. It works for a lot of people.
    Save your money for supporting your photo habit somehow else. For a picture or two, you don't need to spend anything. But, to make something out of nothing, you will have to get smarter, more savvy, about your choices. Purchasing your budget to death will just lead to a dead end. Make more pictures instead. Good luck.

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