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04/23/2020 08:35:04 PM · #1
So, my computer is about 6 or 7 years old. But I bought the best I could. But it still slow in photoshop and can't have a lot open.

What would be good specs for a semi-affordable computer? (in other words, can't afford Macs, or expensive surface)

Thanks!
04/23/2020 10:12:30 PM · #2
Are you looking for a desktop, or a laptop? If a desktop, are you wanting to replace you current monitor? What's your overall budget?
04/23/2020 11:35:45 PM · #3
Reading files from the hard disk is the biggest bottleneck with loading photos and editing components. Make sure whatever you get boots from a solid state drive and has another one for a working drive for your photos.

How much RAM is there in your current computer? Perhaps you just have a bottleneck you can clear up with newer technology. More RAM and a solid state drive might do the trick.

My configuration, though I built my own PC:

AMD Ryzen 5 3600 CPU (faster than many Intel Core i7's)
16Gb ram (Maybe even more would do you well since you use Photoshop)
120GB boot/applications SSD
500GB working drive for photos
4TB storage hard drive
AMD Radeon 550 graphics card (Low end for gaming but overkill for pushing pixels around editing photos, so nobody laugh).

I've probably got $800-1000 in parts in this machine, but some items have dropped in price since I built it.

Message edited by author 2020-04-23 23:40:03.
04/24/2020 02:42:15 PM · #4
Originally posted by Yo_Spiff:

Reading files from the hard disk is the biggest bottleneck with loading photos and editing components. Make sure whatever you get boots from a solid state drive and has another one for a working drive for your photos.

How much RAM is there in your current computer? Perhaps you just have a bottleneck you can clear up with newer technology. More RAM and a solid state drive might do the trick.

My configuration, though I built my own PC:

AMD Ryzen 5 3600 CPU (faster than many Intel Core i7's)
16Gb ram (Maybe even more would do you well since you use Photoshop)
120GB boot/applications SSD
500GB working drive for photos
4TB storage hard drive
AMD Radeon 550 graphics card (Low end for gaming but overkill for pushing pixels around editing photos, so nobody laugh).

I've probably got $800-1000 in parts in this machine, but some items have dropped in price since I built it.


Thanks, spiff! I have 16 of RAM, and I think that's part of the problem. I don't think it can go higher on this computer.

It currently is an i7, but I don't know what gen. So I was wondering if I was really going to get much better? I have an SSD for the main drive, but not for any of the other drives. The SSD is a 250 GB, but the photoshop catalog previews get HUGE. I've had them take up more than 40 GB! And that's with having NO photos on that drive.

And Kirby, I'm definitely doing a desktop. I have a BENQ 2700 monitor, in which I'm quite happy. So only looking to replace the computer.

For instance, today I was running lightroom and photoshop. Had 5 files in photoshop and it would just grind to a halt. Particularly slow when accessing NIK.
04/24/2020 02:59:17 PM · #5
Let's take a quick look at what you're working with. Open a folder, and look along the left side, where you see the quick access folders and your drives listed. There should be a listing for "This PC." Right-click on that and select Properties. What appears under processor? Also, under System Type does it say that you are running a 64-bit operating system?
04/24/2020 03:10:51 PM · #6
Originally posted by kirbic:

Let's take a quick look at what you're working with. Open a folder, and look along the left side, where you see the quick access folders and your drives listed. There should be a listing for "This PC." Right-click on that and select Properties. What appears under processor? Also, under System Type does it say that you are running a 64-bit operating system?

I can do that too if you all want a good laugh. :-)
04/24/2020 04:03:35 PM · #7
Originally posted by kirbic:

Let's take a quick look at what you're working with. Open a folder, and look along the left side, where you see the quick access folders and your drives listed. There should be a listing for "This PC." Right-click on that and select Properties. What appears under processor? Also, under System Type does it say that you are running a 64-bit operating system?


Good thinking. Another thing to do is to post a screenshot of your system performance in task manager.
do a ctrl-alt-delete and select task manager. Let it run for a few minutes while using Photoshop and take a screen grab of the processes and performance tabs. This will offer us some idea of where your bottleneck is. The startup tab would be useful as well, as it will show if lots of unnecessary things are loading in the background at bootup.
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At the bottom of the task manager page is a button for resource monitor. This will give a more detailed few of what the system is doing.

Message edited by author 2020-04-24 16:06:34.
04/24/2020 04:19:03 PM · #8
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04/24/2020 04:33:41 PM · #9
Originally posted by GeneralE:

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64 bit Win10 on 2 GB ram? I'm not laughing. I'm impressed.
04/29/2020 08:57:08 AM · #10
Sorry for the delay -- I'm appreciating the help!

I want to be able to run lightroom, photoshop and a browser without it grinding to a halt. (usually I'll have 3-5 files open in photoshop)

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04/29/2020 09:34:21 AM · #11
It does seem that your CPU is probably the biggest bottleneck. It has a benchmark score around 5300, whereas modern CPUs typically run above 15000. Some recommendations:
- Either Intel or AMD have good choices, but right now an AMD-based machine will probably give more bang for the buck
- You need a good discrete graphics card. Here, you have to make a decision if you want a card intended for graphics design work, e.g. nVidia Quadro (this is what I use) or a gaming-centrick card. Frankly, today, you may get more bang for the buck with a gaming card. Whatever you go with m make sure that your monitor supports the connection types provided on the card.
- You will want 32GB of RAM. 16GB is workable but you can run short quickly with both Ps and Lr running and multiple files open
- You will want a fast (NVMe) SSD, 500GB minimum for OS/apps
- Consider a second SSD (1TB) for caching and image storage (they are much less expensive today than even last year, I'm seeing prices below $150)
04/29/2020 11:17:04 AM · #12
I agree with Fritz. Looks like the benchmark for that CPU is about 1/3 of my Ryzen 3600. I know Lightroom and Photoshop demand a lot more ooomph than my PSP and Aftershot do, so that's probably most of the bottleneck you are seeing.

I'd say 32 GB ram and make sure your new PC is running off of solid state drives. Hard disks only for long term mass storage. SSD's have gotten pretty affordable.

At least a CPU of what I have or better. (I've always built with AMD and their Ryzen line is kicking butt right now.)
04/29/2020 01:35:58 PM · #13
Originally posted by Yo_Spiff:

I agree with Fritz. Looks like the benchmark for that CPU is about 1/3 of my Ryzen 3600. I know Lightroom and Photoshop demand a lot more ooomph than my PSP and Aftershot do, so that's probably most of the bottleneck you are seeing.

I'd say 32 GB ram and make sure your new PC is running off of solid state drives. Hard disks only for long term mass storage. SSD's have gotten pretty affordable.

At least a CPU of what I have or better. (I've always built with AMD and their Ryzen line is kicking butt right now.)


Ok -- looked up ryzen and it's all greek to me. If I talked my husband or daughter's boyfriend into building, what would be the best I could get for under say $1400?
04/29/2020 02:20:38 PM · #14
Did a little looking on my lunch hour, came up with this:
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That comes to $1108.

The one thing missing at this point is a graphics card, and you will most likely want to spend about $250 on that. That would take you close to your budget.

Message edited by author 2020-04-29 14:22:23.
04/29/2020 03:11:34 PM · #15
Originally posted by kirbic:

Did a little looking on my lunch hour, came up with this:
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That comes to $1108.

The one thing missing at this point is a graphics card, and you will most likely want to spend about $250 on that. That would take you close to your budget.

You're projecting "transferring" the OS from the current machine? Personally, I'd also want a optical (DVD-R) drive, though they are pretty cheap these days.
04/29/2020 10:43:47 PM · #16
Thanks guys,

It's a lot more complicated than it used to be.
04/29/2020 10:51:51 PM · #17
Originally posted by vawendy:

Ok -- looked up ryzen and it's all greek to me. If I talked my husband or daughter's boyfriend into building, what would be the best I could get for under say $1400?


In theory the AMD Ryzen 3, 5 & 7 are supposed to be equivalent to Intel's core i3, i5 & i7, but it's not that clear cut.

For one thing, there are successive generations becoming more powerful over time, and different models within those lines with differing speed and numbers of internal cores. My Ryzen 5/3600 benchmarks at better than twice the performance of the mobile Core i7 in the new laptop I have from work.

Benchmarks can give a better idea of what processors are superior. There are many sites that offer these and make it easy to do comparisons.

I recently joined an AMD builders group on Facebook and the 3600 that I have seems to be one of the more popular Ryzen CPU's for gamers. I paid $174 for mine in February. It would be a good starting point and then see how much slack is in the budget afterwards. Nothing wrong with Intel either. I'm just more familiar with AMD, having rolled my own since the 386/40 in the early 90's.

Message edited by author 2020-04-29 22:57:24.
04/30/2020 01:10:23 PM · #18
Originally posted by Yo_Spiff:

Originally posted by vawendy:

Ok -- looked up ryzen and it's all greek to me. If I talked my husband or daughter's boyfriend into building, what would be the best I could get for under say $1400?


In theory the AMD Ryzen 3, 5 & 7 are supposed to be equivalent to Intel's core i3, i5 & i7, but it's not that clear cut.

For one thing, there are successive generations becoming more powerful over time, and different models within those lines with differing speed and numbers of internal cores. My Ryzen 5/3600 benchmarks at better than twice the performance of the mobile Core i7 in the new laptop I have from work.

Benchmarks can give a better idea of what processors are superior. There are many sites that offer these and make it easy to do comparisons.

I recently joined an AMD builders group on Facebook and the 3600 that I have seems to be one of the more popular Ryzen CPU's for gamers. I paid $174 for mine in February. It would be a good starting point and then see how much slack is in the budget afterwards. Nothing wrong with Intel either. I'm just more familiar with AMD, having rolled my own since the 386/40 in the early 90's.


I'm not sure where to start. Mine's currently an i7, yet obviously the same as the i7s now?

I try to buy the best I can afford knowing that I'm going to keep it around for about 7 years. So I try to have it not be obsolete in a year. Is that possible with a $1100 budget?
04/30/2020 01:23:34 PM · #19
Originally posted by vawendy:



I try to buy the best I can afford knowing that I'm going to keep it around for about 7 years. So I try to have it not be obsolete in a year. Is that possible with a $1100 budget?


Yes, although at $1100 there will be some compromise. I think that this is a good time to be putting a system together, there are really good prices on components right now.
04/30/2020 08:29:23 PM · #20
Ok -- My daughter's boyfriend came up with two build possibilities for me:

Build one -- cheaper

Build two -- more expensive

The only difference is the graphics card.

What do you think? Is this a good option? Would the more expensive graphics card be better now and down the road? Or doesn't it make a difference?

Thanks!! We're getting close!
04/30/2020 08:49:45 PM · #21
I can't speak to the specific video cards. But the role the video card plays is changing. For example, Topaz AI plugins (sharpen, noise reduction, mask, resizing, ...) rely on video card ram and processing when available. When using such plugins, the extra power makes a huge impact on processing time per image. I believe the Topaz website has recommendations about video cards that work well with their products. Over the next few years it seems quite believable that newer versions of software may lean on video processors, although we never know for certain what lurks "down the road."
04/30/2020 09:06:04 PM · #22
Originally posted by bob350:

I can't speak to the specific video cards. But the role the video card plays is changing. For example, Topaz AI plugins (sharpen, noise reduction, mask, resizing, ...) rely on video card ram and processing when available. When using such plugins, the extra power makes a huge impact on processing time per image. I believe the Topaz website has recommendations about video cards that work well with their products. Over the next few years it seems quite believable that newer versions of software may lean on video processors, although we never know for certain what lurks "down the road."


Thanks! That actually was very helpful! Because my biggest issue is when I run NIK efex!
04/30/2020 09:48:54 PM · #23
If you use software like PTGui, you're going to want the better video card.
04/30/2020 09:57:38 PM · #24
Pretty much all photo-related software makes use of the GPU (video card) these days, including Ps and Lr. Lr probably uses it the least but that is changing with each major update.
05/01/2020 09:43:18 PM · #25
Huge thanks, everyone!! It's been ordered! I'm pysched!
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