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DPChallenge Forums >> Hardware and Software >> Yet another new computer thread :)
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07/09/2020 02:43:48 PM · #1
I am finally getting around to replace my 5 years old desktop. Is now a good time to do it or is it better to wait because something better is just about to come out?

My needs:
- fast for Lightroom local editing (very slow on my current PC with CPU Intel Core i7-4790K @ 3.60GHz)
- should I benefit from more RAM (I have currently 32 GB)
- future proof as I will not want to change the PC for 5 years
- budget is flexible for the right configuration but not outrageous

I already have Samsung 860 EVO 1TB SSD, is there a better option for storage of Windows, applications and Lightroom current catalog?

What graphics card with how much memory would perform best for photography? Should I go for a gaming card like 2080? (I have now GeForce GTX 1050 Ti)

What monitor(s)? I have now two ASUS PA248Q monitors, I would like to replace them with self-calibrating monitors so that they both show the same colors. The current ones have different colors in spite of being the same model, bought at the same time and factory calibrated. I am not going to print so I am not trying to have the same colors as the printer, just have two monitors that maintain the same colors. They have to be matte as glossy screen does not work for me.

Anything else I should consider?
07/09/2020 03:24:19 PM · #2
What you already have sounds a lot better than what I just bought. Seeing those sort of specifications makes me feel that my laptop will be relegated to a second computer when/if life returns to normal.
07/09/2020 03:38:38 PM · #3
Originally posted by marnet:

... something better is just about to come out?

I've found this to be the case approximately 110% of the time ... :-(

If you want to "feel better," have a good laugh at these two still-functioning computers (no Photoshop on PC, but I use it for resizing, stitching, and HDR):
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/0-4999/1031/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1248379.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/0-4999/1031/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1248379.jpg', '/') + 1) . '   ' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/0-4999/1031/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1251241.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/0-4999/1031/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1251241.jpg', '/') + 1) . '
07/09/2020 03:43:22 PM · #4
Your old and slow PC is higher speced than the one I built a year ago and upgraded the CPU on just 4 months back. But I don't run Lightroom either.

Message edited by author 2020-07-09 15:43:47.
07/09/2020 04:45:40 PM · #5
Your CPU certainly isn't a speed demon, but it's no slouch either. You have plenty of RAM. Your graphics card could use an update, but again it's not too outdated.
If you are willing to spend in the $1500 USD range or a little more for a new box, you should be able to:
- Approximately double your CPU performance
- Approximately double your GPU performance
- Increase your hard drive throughput by about 3x to 4x (move to NVMe from SATA, use the SATA drive as a second drive)
- Increase RAM throughput by perhaps 33% (higher speed RAM)
All that would certainly improve overall performance. Whether it's worth the bill is another question!
As for your monitors, I have a suggestion: buy a hardware profiler and calibrate them. Muc cheaper than replacing them. That should get you the same colors on both displays and also ensure that you compare well to monitors used at your print house, which are certainly calibrated.
07/10/2020 12:03:00 AM · #6
Originally posted by kirbic:

Your CPU certainly isn't a speed demon, but it's no slouch either. You have plenty of RAM. Your graphics card could use an update, but again it's not too outdated.
If you are willing to spend in the $1500 USD range or a little more for a new box, you should be able to:
- Approximately double your CPU performance
- Approximately double your GPU performance
- Increase your hard drive throughput by about 3x to 4x (move to NVMe from SATA, use the SATA drive as a second drive)
- Increase RAM throughput by perhaps 33% (higher speed RAM)
All that would certainly improve overall performance. Whether it's worth the bill is another question!
As for your monitors, I have a suggestion: buy a hardware profiler and calibrate them. Muc cheaper than replacing them. That should get you the same colors on both displays and also ensure that you compare well to monitors used at your print house, which are certainly calibrated.

I remember you said last year that you are waiting Intel i9 to catch up with AMD before upgrading yourself, did you do it or are you still waiting?
07/10/2020 12:29:17 AM · #7
Originally posted by GeneralE:

Originally posted by marnet:

... something better is just about to come out?

I've found this to be the case approximately 110% of the time ... :-(

If you want to "feel better," have a good laugh at these two still-functioning computers (no Photoshop on PC, but I use it for resizing, stitching, and HDR):
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/0-4999/1031/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1248379.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/0-4999/1031/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1248379.jpg', '/') + 1) . '   ' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/0-4999/1031/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1251241.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/0-4999/1031/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1251241.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

You are legend with your computers! :)
07/10/2020 12:33:19 AM · #8
Originally posted by Yo_Spiff:

Your old and slow PC is higher speced than the one I built a year ago and upgraded the CPU on just 4 months back. But I don't run Lightroom either.

It just proves that the computers don't advance at breathtaking pace any more. I got a more expensive CPU in 2015 so that I can keep the PC longer, I didn't expect it will still be around in 2020.

So what is now the best value CPU under $1000?

Message edited by author 2020-07-10 00:33:57.
07/10/2020 09:25:19 AM · #9
Originally posted by marnet:

I remember you said last year that you are waiting Intel i9 to catch up with AMD before upgrading yourself, did you do it or are you still waiting?


Put that project on the back burner... and turned the heat down to simmer! What I am going to do later this year is update my 4-year-old laptop to something with more punch. Looking at the Lenovo X1 Extreme Gen 3 which is nearing launch, and alternatively the P-series from Lenovo. I've been impressed with the quality and reliability of what Lenovo has been putting out, going all the way back to their acquisition of the IBM Thinkpad line, of which the X- and P-series machines are direct de3scendants.
07/10/2020 09:38:17 AM · #10
Originally posted by kirbic:

Originally posted by marnet:

I remember you said last year that you are waiting Intel i9 to catch up with AMD before upgrading yourself, did you do it or are you still waiting?


Put that project on the back burner... and turned the heat down to simmer! What I am going to do later this year is update my 4-year-old laptop to something with more punch. Looking at the Lenovo X1 Extreme Gen 3 which is nearing launch, and alternatively the P-series from Lenovo. I've been impressed with the quality and reliability of what Lenovo has been putting out, going all the way back to their acquisition of the IBM Thinkpad line, of which the X- and P-series machines are direct de3scendants.


I put it on the back burner last year, I am reluctant to leave it for yet another year. I am willing to spend up to $3000 so double $1500 you mentioned earlier as I am saturated with photo equipment by now, and with covid I spend zero money on travel, eating out etc so I can afford a bit more serious and future-proof machine.

- What CPU would you choose if you were building a desktop now?
- What speed of RAM?
- Which GPU?

I can work out the rest :)
07/10/2020 09:59:39 AM · #11
I'll check with the guy that built mine and see what the specs were (I knew at the time, but have forgotten in the meantime.)

It's a gaming computer and is truly marvelous! Nice and fast. I can have a browser open with many tabs, lightroom, and I can still open 15 files in photoshop to process without really seeing and slowing.

I believe it was around $2600, and it's really sweet!
07/10/2020 10:03:24 AM · #12
Originally posted by marnet:

I put it on the back burner last year, I am reluctant to leave it for yet another year. I am willing to spend up to $3000 so double $1500 you mentioned earlier as I am saturated with photo equipment by now, and with covid I spend zero money on travel, eating out etc so I can afford a bit more serious and future-proof machine.

- What CPU would you choose if you were building a desktop now?
- What speed of RAM?
- Which GPU?

I can work out the rest :)


I did a quick look at the overall benchmark between your current CPU and what I have. My processor benchmarks a little better than twice what yours does according to Passmark. I have an AMD Ryzen 5-3600, which has 6 cores. The 3600 is (as of this discussion) often chosen as the most bang for the buck processor in the AMD line. It sells for around $175 US.

In the AMD builders group I belong to on Facebook, many of the gamers will select this over a pricier Ryzen 7. If they do go with a Ryzen 7, they will choose something a lot higher in the lineup.

I think my RAM is a little slower than what my CPU can actually handle at 2400 Mhz. I put that in when I first built my PC with a 1st generation Ryzen 1600. For my CPU I'd build with 2666 Mhz RAM now. It depends on the CPU you buy as to what memory speed will work best, but differences in performance between a few hundred Mhz you would have to measure to see. It won't be perceptible.

I'll leave it to someone else to make suggestions on GPU. I have a Radeon 5500, which is lower end these days, but plenty for the software I use. I think Photoshop can take advantage of the GPU for processing, so a better GPU may make sense. If your software can't utilize it, then you won't gain much from a high end card unless you are also a gamer. It doesn't take much to push pixels around on the screen for a still image.
07/10/2020 10:31:00 AM · #13
Thanks, Spiffy and Wendy. I had the first go and I am a bit over the budget:
https://pcpartpicker.com/list/KQzggJ

What do you think? Will it last 5 years without slowing down? Would you change anything?
07/10/2020 11:22:33 AM · #14
Originally posted by marnet:

Thanks, Spiffy and Wendy. I had the first go and I am a bit over the budget:
https://pcpartpicker.com/list/KQzggJ

What do you think? Will it last 5 years without slowing down? Would you change anything?


I think that is a killer... the real question is how much you will really gain from that many cores. You could save about $200 by going with the Ryzen 9 3900XT, which has 12 cores. The single-thread performance of the 3900XT is actually a little higher than what you have currently planned.

For the video card, I don't think you need to be that far on the bleeding edge. Personally, I would consider a workstation graphics card, like one of the Nvidia P-series cards. The P4000 runs about $788, and that is one powerful card. Comparison of the workstation cards from Nvidia is here.
07/10/2020 11:56:50 AM · #15
I checked prices of components in Switzerland and what costs $3500 in the US, costs here over $4000! So I have changed the CPU, thanks Fritz. I am still on the fence with the GPU as I might do 3D rendering in future. I also changed RAM to 2x 32GB to leave 2 slots for future expansion. I don't really need a 12TB HDD at the moment so that will help reduce the price. And I reduced SSD to 1TB (I already have SATA 1TB so maybe I put something on that).
07/10/2020 12:14:50 PM · #16
Sounds like you are converging on a solution. I think your changes are moving in the right direction. Don't know about the relative performance of the GPUs for 3D rendering, but the workstation cards are built for that type of application. Using the SATA SSD as a second drive is a good idea. if it's an M.2 drive, make sure the new motherboard will support it. If it's a 2.5" SSD with a cabled connection, then you should be good to go.

Message edited by author 2020-07-10 13:28:27.
07/10/2020 12:26:56 PM · #17
Originally posted by marnet:

I checked prices of components in Switzerland and what costs $3500 in the US, costs here over $4000! So I have changed the CPU, thanks Fritz. I am still on the fence with the GPU as I might do 3D rendering in future. I also changed RAM to 2x 32GB to leave 2 slots for future expansion. I don't really need a 12TB HDD at the moment so that will help reduce the price. And I reduced SSD to 1TB (I already have SATA 1TB so maybe I put something on that).


Go with the GPU -- Photoshop and lightroom now use it for more than just the 3D rendering.
07/10/2020 12:51:11 PM · #18
Looks like a killer system, but pricey.

The only change I would suggest is to add another SSD. Use a smaller one, maybe 250 or 500GB for Windows and applications, and a larger one for fast access to recent data files (such as the last few months of photos you are working on). Then a large Hard drive for long term storage.

The advantage is: if the Windows drive goes out you haven't lost your files. If the files drive goes out, you can still boot the computer to attempt recovery of them.

I'm also a fan of having an external dock or a bay mounted dock so you can use a bare drive as removable backup media.

Message edited by author 2020-07-10 12:51:20.
07/10/2020 01:37:59 PM · #19
Originally posted by Yo_Spiff:

Looks like a killer system, but pricey.

The only change I would suggest is to add another SSD. Use a smaller one, maybe 250 or 500GB for Windows and applications, and a larger one for fast access to recent data files (such as the last few months of photos you are working on). Then a large Hard drive for long term storage.

The advantage is: if the Windows drive goes out you haven't lost your files. If the files drive goes out, you can still boot the computer to attempt recovery of them.

I'm also a fan of having an external dock or a bay mounted dock so you can use a bare drive as removable backup media.

Thanks, Spiffy, I am going to reuse 1 TB SSD SATA I have on my current system. I have also 3x HDDs (3, 6 and 8TB) and 2x 6TB external drives for backup. I will reuse this all on the new system.

Message edited by author 2020-07-10 13:38:20.
07/11/2020 05:51:04 AM · #20
After more checking I finished with this:
https://pcpartpicker.com/list/ysqfb8

I picked smaller mid tower case, 1TB rather than 2TB SSD, stayed with 2080 Ti GPU and added a basic DVD drive. It made it under $3000.

Now I need a 4K 27"monitor, this seems to have the best reviews for photo editing:
https://www.galaxus.ch/en/s1/product/benq-sw271-27-3840-x-2160-pixels-monitors-6976590

Anyone has experience with it? Is the screen matte or glossy?

Edit - fixed the link

Message edited by author 2020-07-11 10:30:10.
07/11/2020 11:01:07 AM · #21
Originally posted by marnet:

After more checking I finished with this:
https://pcpartpicker.com/list/ysqfb8

I picked smaller mid tower case, 1TB rather than 2TB SSD, stayed with 2080 Ti GPU and added a basic DVD drive. It made it under $3000.

Now I need a 4K 27"monitor, this seems to have the best reviews for photo editing:
https://www.galaxus.ch/en/s1/product/benq-sw271-27-3840-x-2160-pixels-monitors-6976590

Anyone has experience with it? Is the screen matte or glossy?


I can't speak for that exact model, but I have a 27" Benq monitor and I love it. Mine is a matte screen. If designed for graphics I would think it would have a matte screen. I think Wendy has the same model as I do.

The resolution on that one you are buying is incredible! Mine does 2560x1440 and the text at 1:1 can almost be too small. Took me a while to get used to it.

Where are you putting the DVD drive? It doesn't look like that case has any front accessible drive bays. One of my complaints about many modern cases is a lack of drive bays you can access from the front. I like having things tidy in the case and my choices are limited these days.
07/11/2020 11:37:15 AM · #22
Originally posted by Yo_Spiff:

Originally posted by marnet:

After more checking I finished with this:
https://pcpartpicker.com/list/ysqfb8

I picked smaller mid tower case, 1TB rather than 2TB SSD, stayed with 2080 Ti GPU and added a basic DVD drive. It made it under $3000.

Now I need a 4K 27"monitor, this seems to have the best reviews for photo editing:
https://www.galaxus.ch/en/s1/product/benq-sw271-27-3840-x-2160-pixels-monitors-6976590

Anyone has experience with it? Is the screen matte or glossy?


I can't speak for that exact model, but I have a 27" Benq monitor and I love it. Mine is a matte screen. If designed for graphics I would think it would have a matte screen. I think Wendy has the same model as I do.

The resolution on that one you are buying is incredible! Mine does 2560x1440 and the text at 1:1 can almost be too small. Took me a while to get used to it.

Where are you putting the DVD drive? It doesn't look like that case has any front accessible drive bays. One of my complaints about many modern cases is a lack of drive bays you can access from the front. I like having things tidy in the case and my choices are limited these days.

Thanks for recommendation on Benq, I think I am making the right choice.

Re DVD drive, I am wondering myself, the specs say that it supports one 5.25" drive but then there is a ventilation grill on it! How do I put in the disk? I will check again.

PS Just found this:

"Toward the top, you can see the 5.25" ODD bay opening, which comes with a fan mounting bracket preinstalled with a fan as most users do not need or want an optical drive, but there is still a userbase which requires this."

I must be old-fashioned then but I thought that USB based external DVD drives had a problem with getting enough power, does USB-C solve this problem?

Message edited by author 2020-07-11 11:47:16.
07/11/2020 12:16:18 PM · #23
Originally posted by marnet:


I must be old-fashioned then but I thought that USB based external DVD drives had a problem with getting enough power, does USB-C solve this problem?

Yes, it does. The USB-C standard can carry much more power. I have a portable monitor for traveling that gets both power and signal through a USB 3 port. I also noticed your new monitor has a USB-C input.

BTW, USB-C is only a physical standard for the port, USB 3 is actually the specification that matters about how it works. It is quite confusing.
07/11/2020 12:29:04 PM · #24
Originally posted by Yo_Spiff:

Originally posted by marnet:


I must be old-fashioned then but I thought that USB based external DVD drives had a problem with getting enough power, does USB-C solve this problem?

Yes, it does. The USB-C standard can carry much more power. I have a portable monitor for traveling that gets both power and signal through a USB 3 port. I also noticed your new monitor has a USB-C input.

BTW, USB-C is only a physical standard for the port, USB 3 is actually the specification that matters about how it works. It is quite confusing.

Tell me that! I might settle for an external DVD then and won't mess around removing the fan and the fan bracket.

I will be ordering next week and when it is up and running I will report the impact on photo editing :)
07/11/2020 12:29:11 PM · #25
Originally posted by marnet:

I must be old-fashioned then but I thought that USB based external DVD drives had a problem with getting enough power, does USB-C solve this problem?

I've had a little CD/DVD writer from LG for at least a couple years which attaches to a USB2 port on 10-20 year old (at least) Macs (both tower and laptop) -- I've had problems with media but none with the drive. I think it cost less than $30 USD -- my first-generation CD-writer cost about $1000 (almost 25 years ago) ...
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