New Computer...good brand

ZetZet Big grinsRegistered Users Posts: 77 Big grins
edited March 5, 2013 in Digital Darkroom

I think it is time to invest in a new computer. What do you recommend?
I'm a part time photographer. Just starting out. I do infants/children/family. Right now I use Elements but would eventually like to purchase full PS. Budget is about $1K.

Thank you in advance for your help.



  • RichardRichard Mildly bemused Madrid, SpainAdministrators, Vanilla Admin Posts: 19,451 moderator
    edited February 13, 2013
    Desktop or laptop? Windows or Mac? ear.gif
  • ZetZet Big grins Registered Users Posts: 77 Big grins
    edited February 13, 2013
    Laptop (would consider a tesktop if it is best). Windows. Thank you
  • RichardRichard Mildly bemused Madrid, SpainAdministrators, Vanilla Admin Posts: 19,451 moderator
    edited February 13, 2013
    I would look first at the Lenovo ThinkPad series, then at one of the higher-end Asus machines. Seems like there's not a whole lot of innovation in laptops these days--all the engineers are too busy designing tablets and cell phones.
  • ZBlackZBlack ZLB Photography Registered Users Posts: 337 Major grins
    edited February 13, 2013
    I'd also check out some of the higher end Samsung laptops. The 7 and 9 series are pretty solid. I don't know how they stack up to other for price vs performance compared to other brands.

    As others have said, Lenovo is a great choice with plenty of options.

    For 2k, and our could get a VERY beefy desktop for far less than a laptop with the same specs, but of course you lose the portability. Without spending loads on desktop monitors, 2k is a high budget and you could get an incredible machine.
  • EaracheEarache Unsharp and Oversaturated SO CALRegistered Users Posts: 3,533 Major grins
    edited February 13, 2013
    I have had good experiences with Dell laptops - less so with HP, heat dissipation problems.
    Laptops have the benefit of portability, but if hauled around are vulnerable to damage and theft, and are expensive to repair.
    In terms of processing power, display size, storage capacity, and expandability, generally speaking, you will get more for your money with a desktop system - portable power has it's cost.
    Laptops also have limited screen sizes which can really (negatively) affect the photo-editing experience - I love my Dell 23" Ultrasharp IPS monitor (connected to laptop HDMI output)
    and can't imagine having to use my 17" laptop display only.
    If you wanted to spend the entire 2K you could probably get one of each in a combination that gives the best of both worlds.
    Best of luck.

    BTW - For the type of photography you mentioned, please consider Lightroom 4 as a next step - it is much less expensive and very feature-rich for organization, editing, etc.
    Eric ~ Smugmug
  • ziggy53ziggy53 Still learnin'still lovin Super Moderators Posts: 22,330 moderator
    edited February 13, 2013
    ZBlack wrote: »
    ... For 2k, and our could get a VERY beefy desktop for far less than a laptop with the same specs, but of course you lose the portability. Without spending loads on desktop monitors, 2k is a high budget and you could get an incredible machine.

    15524779-Ti.gif I use a pair of desktop computers to handle the majority of my image processing, and then an older laptop just to show the results to customers.

    (BTW, I moved this to the "Digital Darkroom" forum where we discuss computers etc. and where you'll find other similar threads.)

    My primary desktop is a CyberPowerPC Windows "gamer" class medium sized tower, and a laptop with the same processing throughput would cost roughly twice as much. Now that Photoshop uses the GPU for some of the image processing it makes sense to have "both" a powerful CPU "and" a powerful, multi-core video card (GPU).

    I recommend at least a third-generation Intel Core i5, 4-core CPU, with around 3.4 GHz speed, and then 8 or 16GB RAM, at least a TB hard drive, and finally a mid-power nVidia video card with 1-2GB video RAM and at least a couple-hundred CUDA cores. has one that is well within your budget and should work nicely:

    CyberPowerPC Gamer Xtreme 3007 Core i7-3770K 3.5GHz Windows 8 Gaming PC

    Corsair 300R gaming case
    Microsoft Windows 8 (64-bit) operating system
    Intel Core i7-3770K 3.5 GHz quad-core processor (w/Hyper-Threading Technology)
    8 MB Intel Smart Cache, 5 GT/s DMI speed
    3.9 GHz Max Turbo Frequency
    Intel Z77 Express chipset motherboard
    16 GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3 1333 MHz memory (32 GB max)
    2 TB (1 x 2 TB) Serial ATA 6.0 Gb/s 7200RPM hard drive
    24x DVD±RW DL drive
    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 1GB PCI Express video card (Kepler, 384 CUDA Cores, 1GB RAM, 5.0 Gbps)
    Integrated 7.1-channel HD audio
    Integrated 10/100/1000 Mbps Gigabit Ethernet
    800-watt ATX power supply

    (Geeks says that they are almost out of these so if it's what you want I suggest making a decision rapidly.)

    Add an IPS 20"(ish) display, like maybe the 23" NEC MultiSync EA232WMi $259.99, and you should get rather nice performance for a very reasonable total system cost.
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
  • Dan7312Dan7312 Major grins Registered Users Posts: 1,330 Major grins
    edited February 14, 2013
    One thing to consider if you think you will be using Premiere Pro on your system to do video editing. Photoshop supports a wide range of video processors for hardware acceleration. However Premiere Pro is much more restrictive. In general on PC's it only supports a small number of NVidia cards on a PC. Premiere Pro will run with other cards but a supported video card really accelerates video processing.

    Here is the list of cards that Premiere Pro supports. Premiere checks for these specific cards and won't use those not on this list to accelerate video. You can edit the cuda_supported_cards.txt config file to add other NVidia cards, but that doesn't guarantee that they will work.

    GeForce GTX 285
    GeForce GTX 470
    GeForce GTX 570
    GeForce GTX 580
    GeForce GT 650M
    GeForce GTX 680
    Quadro CX
    Quadro FX 3700M
    Quadro FX 3800
    Quadro FX 3800M
    Quadro FX 4800
    Quadro FX 5800
    Quadro 2000
    Quadro 2000D
    Quadro 2000M
    Quadro 3000M
    Quadro 4000
    Quadro 4000M
    Quadro 5000
    Quadro 5000M
    Quadro 5010M
    Quadro 6000
    Tesla C2075
  • ZetZet Big grins Registered Users Posts: 77 Big grins
    edited February 20, 2013
    Hi. Thank you for the great advice. My budget is $1K (typo befor) I think I'm leaning more towards a desk top. I never move my current laptop when I edit. Thinking about doing over my office in the basement so that I have my area and I can be more organized now that I am getting busier.
  • jbswearjbswear Wood Turner Registered Users Posts: 167 Major grins
    edited March 4, 2013

    I'm in the camp of building to suit. For $1k, you can build an *incredibly* capable computer. Yes, it's a desktop, but if you don't mind it sitting in one spot, it'll do all you need and more. Three years ago I built a computer from the case up. I recycled the monitor, keyboard, and mouse from my old desk top to save more. I spent about $600 on a system that, if bought as a built unit, would have cost me about $3k.

    You DON'T have to know computers to build your own. It does help, though, to have a buddy that knows them. I told my friend what I wanted, and he helped me build a parts list from . Once the parts came in, I assembled it (this part is surprisingly easy). Once it was assembled, he talked me through setting it up over the phone. I live in MD and he lives in CA. When I bought my parts, they were the previous year's hot stuff, so I got great performance for a really great price.
    Semper fi,
    Brad -- Hand made pens by yours truly
  • ziggy53ziggy53 Still learnin'still lovin Super Moderators Posts: 22,330 moderator
    edited March 4, 2013
    Here's a fairly nice "big name" computer. Refurbished (probably off-lease) and warranty is through Dell (6-mo.) (A longer 3rd party warranty is available at extra cost.)

    Add the monitor I mentioned above for a decent big name system and a very reasonable total cost.

    Dell XPS 8500 (refurb)


    Desktop Specifications
    Condition Refurbished
    Operating Systems Windows 7 Home Premium 64-Bit
    Platform PC
    Memory Module Specifications
    Memory Type DDR3
    Total Memory Size 12GB
    Maximum Memory Supported 32GB
    Media Ports
    LAN Ports 1
    USB Ports (Total) 10
    HDMI Ports 1
    Processor Specifications
    Processor Brand Intel
    Processor Class Core i7
    Processor Number i7-3770
    Processor Speed 3.4GHz
    Hard Disk Drive Specifications
    Hard Drives Included 1
    Interface SATA
    Capacity 2TB
    Hard Drive Types Hard Disk Drive
    Speed 7,200RPM
    Optical Drive Specifications
    Optical Drive Class DVDRW
    Audio Specifications
    Audio Description Integrated Audio
    Audio Chipset High Definition Audio
    Channels 7.1-channel Audio Support
    Graphics Specifications
    Graphics Description Dedicated Graphics
    GPU/VPU NVIDIA GeForce GT 640
    Video Memory 1GB dedicated
    WiFi & Wireless Specifications
    WiFi Description Wireless LAN 802.11 b/g/n
    WiFi Standards Supported 802.11b
    Network Adapter Specifications
    LAN Data Transfer Rate 10/100/1000Mbps
    LAN Description Gigabit Ethernet
    LAN Interface Type RJ-45
    Mouse Specifications
    Mouse Type Included
    Connection Type USB
    Keyboard Specifications
    Keyboard Type Included
    Connection Type USB
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
  • WillCADWillCAD Grinning Buffoon Registered Users Posts: 722 Major grins
    edited March 5, 2013
    Whether you buy off the shelf or have it built custom - or build it yourself, which is easier than it sounds and a lot of fun - a desktop is the way to go for a number of compelling reasons.

    1) Upgradability. Desktop components can be upgraded one at a time over the years to extend the lifespan of the machine. Hard drives, video cards, and other accessories can be remplaced and extras can be added. Although many motherboard come with audio and networking built-in, you can also buy newer, better audio or network cards later and simply disable the built-ins. When the time comes to upgrade your CPU, you'll most likely need to buy a new motherboard, CPU, and RAM all together, but all of the other components usually transition over, so it's kind of like buying a new engine for your car; you can keep the custom interior and the sweet paint job. With most laptops, the only upgrade you can perform is to get a larger hard drive and maybe add more RAM. A few will also have replacable optical (CD/DVD) drives. But with most laptops, you're stuck with the same screen, video chipset, audio, and network equipment for the lifetime of the machine, and the only way to upgrade those components is to buy a whole new machine.

    2) Cost. Laptop components are smaller and use different voltages than desktop components (for both battery life and heat dissipation), and that makes them generally much more expensive. You'll almost always get more bang for your buck with a desktop than you will with a laptop.

    3) Screen size. If you're going photo editing, you'll probably want a bigger screen than most laptops have. You can go up to one of those monster 24" screens if you want, or you can go with a dual display for maximum real estate. Screen size is important when you're doing photo editing, where you may have lots of tool pallets open but don't want them to cover up the image you're working on. I'm no expert, but I think that desktop monitors also have better color calibration capability than laptop screens; but don't quote me on that one.

    4) Ergonomics. This one is more personal opinion than anything, but to me it's the most important. Working on a laptop requires different physical comportment than working on a desktop. With separate desktop components, you can arrange your workstation in myriad different ways to acheive the most comfortable working environment, but with a laptop, even though it's possible to plug in secondary screens and external keyboards/mice, most people don't do that and often wind up working on their laptops at the kitchen table, or with the laptop on their laps in front of the TV. This is bad for posture, and it's also a trap for photographers - move your laptop to a new location, and the lighting changes, which changes your perception of the colors on screen. It's better to set up a desktop workstation in a fixed location with consistent lighting, comfortable seating, and enough room to relax and get some work done without bending like a pretzel.

    YMMV, but that's just my take on it.
    What I said when I saw the Grand Canyon for the first time: "The wide ain't wide enough and the zoom don't zoom enough!"
  • Art ScottArt Scott Have PASSPORT will TRAVEL WICHITA, KS USARegistered Users Posts: 8,959 Major grins
    edited March 5, 2013
    Lots of good info above... ... ... I have very good luck with a self built desktop... ... I do suggest you simply google for top 10 motherboards....i put together a desktop that would have run me1500 to 2500 cost was under $600 and about 3 hours to put it I am also frugal...I buy when I find very good sales... whether local or online....most of my previous components came from Tiger and some from New Egg. It took me about 4 weeks to procure all the items for the machine.....and the instructions were very clear and precise. Do not sacrifice quiet for cooling.....I have huge fans in front and rear to pull air thru and and across all the hard drives (it holds 6 in HDD slots but i was able to fit another 4 in the slots for Cd/DVD drives and floppy slots) and a huge fan on my processor......

    My laptop came from Dell it is a Refurb and was about1/2 price of a new retail one....I wanted a larger screen so i went with a 17 inch Studio... ... It came with a 1 warranty and with 2 weeks left on the original warranty I bought an extended 3yr warranty....the warranty expires in 2015 ... it is also continually monitored by Dells Maintenance program and I get a pop up when something major is going bad, like my Hard drive is showing signs of failure and I am now looking locally for a company to do a perfect clone so I can have all my software and files ready to go when the lappy returns from Dell......also I have never had to pay for shipping to or from Dell for a repair and yes, it has been in twice for DVD writer replacement.......also with Lappys you really need a very good cooling station under the laptop...that is what was killing my DVD writer....I placed a Cooler Master with a huge fan under it and have not had any probs with over heating....This Studio 17 (1745) is actually a desktop replacement, and is not real portable due to its weight, but has traveled out for several photoshoots out of town.

    I have know several women that liked assembling things and built their own computers....

    Good Luck with your quest.
    "Genuine Fractals was, is and will always be the best solution for enlarging digital photos." ....Vincent Versace ... ... COPYRIGHT YOUR WORK ONLINE ... ... My Website

Sign In or Register to comment.