Photographers have to deal with lots of files and if you have a big camera shooting raw (such as the Canon 5D s-r) you have to manage a lot of data. As a result, it is helpful to have a Photoshop Computer, a computer with sufficient speed and capacity to use with Photoshop and its many actions and plugins.
If you are considering getting a new computer, let me share my experience. Mine was having issues and I decided it had to be replaced. I started with a big mistake. I thought so many people seem to like Apple that I went to the store and got the best Mac Book Pro they offer. A very expensive mistake that was…I thought I would have good support by going to the store (wrong). I thought it would be fast and capable. It crashed Lightroom as soon as I tried to download a day’s shooting of 350 raw images…so not so fast and capable either. Just overwhelmed by the size of the task. Turns out it works for tethered capture and I guess if you are patient you could get it to work for most tasks, but it just did not have the juice to really manage Photoshop.
So, the choice was Mac Pro (desktop) or build a new PC. The PC cost was a small fraction of the cost of the Mac. The tower is much larger on the desk, but otherwise, they function similarly. It really is a no brainer to choose a PC. So much better for the cost.
What did I build for a Photoshop computer? I used a full size Cooler Master case and am XFX Pro power supply. Newegg is the on line store that can supply you with all components. Whoever is building your computer for you will be familiar with them.
The motherboard is by Asus. I used the X99-A because it had the capacity for the amount of memory and the processor I wanted. The processor is an Intel i7 that is a 6 core processor. Photoshop makes use of up to 6 cores (getting a 12 core is not better than 6 for this purpose to my understanding). I can say that a 6 core is darn quick and capable.
If you look at the picture of the guts of the computer, you’ll see the red memory cards (8 of them with a total of 64 Gigabytes of RAM) on either side of the cooling fan that sits over the processor. 64 gigs of memory is key to really fast Photoshop processing. Sure, you can do it with less, but memory is cheap. Fill up the motherboard.
I am not a gamer. I don’t play computer games, so my video card is just average. Gamers need big fancy video cards to render 3D games and lots of cooling for that card. A simple video card will work for this system…if you spend $200 or more it will be fine I’m sure. Not the main issue for Photoshop.
Any mouse and keyboard will work, and an Intuos Wacom tablet is useful for Photoshop input. Get a mouse that fits your hand size.
The monitors are what allow you to see the photos. You don’t want to process on a monitor that shows colors incorrectly. Mine are NEC Multisync LCD 2490WUXi2, and I highly recommend the higher end NEC monitors. Colors are rendered so well…I like them so much better than a standard computer monitor. I would never go back to 1 monitor after a number of years using 2. I have Bridge open on one and Photoshop on the other…compositing could not be simpler.
Find a shop that can build the computer. In Spokane, Perfection PC is a reasonable choice…they have done well for me. James, Donald, Shane and Ryan are names you’ll soon learn.
Components will be outdated in no time in the computer world. If you want to build one right now, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will give you exact parts, but the idea is to leave Costco and Best Buy behind and build a professional tool that will serve you for years. If you have a good builder, they will know if the parts I list here are still the best.