....driven up the wall !!!

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by Livnius, Jan 16, 2013.

  1. Livnius

    Livnius Super Moderator

    Jul 7, 2011
    Melbourne. Australia
    Joe
    Hi guys. I'm in need of your collective assistance here.

    Been busy this last week sorting and processing a whole bunch of images i took over my summer break and it hasn't been a pleasing process. Don't get me wrong, I really do enjoy the PP aspect of photography, but, my laptop has been driving me up the wall, so much so that its performance has taken the enjoyment out of the PP for me and I have decided to look at alternatives.

    FYI...most of my casual Internet surfing/emailing etc i now do on my iPad 3 over a high speed cable broadband connection and the experience is a lot more fun than my laptop ever was, my laptop now collects dust and is only used for processing my images. Problem is, it's a few years old now and besides, it always had overheating issues....all HP's of this particular model had the same issue. So these days I can't do more than a half hour at a time before the machine goes into emergency shut down to cool off...and what it does in that half hour it does painfully slow anyways, actually it's OK with most things but things like some of the NIK software plugins...especially the sharpener struggles. I am fed up with making the slightest adjustment and then having to wait for the machine to churn it over....only to NOT like the adjustment and then make another...and so it goes....over and over. I've had enough. I want a machine that makes my sorting and processing the smooth, efficient and enjoyable process it should be.

    Now I'm wondering....is a desktop my best bet ?
    I don't mind losing the portability as my iPad serves as my casual Internet device that I use whilst watching the football on my couch. Do I get more bang for my buck with a desktop ? ....I'm talking pure photographic processing power.
    Note....I have a nice 24" Dell UltraSharp already so that aspect of the cost is covered. Pleas note that I don't care for 3D gaming ability or any of those other extras.

    Also....when I look at a machine, what is *THE* key to processing power ?
    RAM ? A special high speed drive ? A certain graphics card ?
    Please understand that I know VERY little about these computer things hence my very basic terminology and request for assistance.

    Sorry about the long post guys....any and all help will be much appreciated.

    Joe. :thumbup:
     
  2. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    Hmmm...

    I think any new desktop will greatly improve your experience by a very large factor. You don't have to spend that much money to have a much better experience.

    Having said that, RAM is one key. 8GB is super cheap, and you should plan on that at a minimum. A standard desktop drive will be just fine. Get a large one, of course. There are ways to increase processing by using an external drive ALONG with an internal one, if you have a fast external drive port (like eSATA), but I've never bothered with it myself.

    A good graphics card is key. You'll likely be happier with a discreet graphics card over an on-board graphics card (one that uses shared system memory is inferior to an independent card with it's own memory).

    So, a desktop with any modern processor, 8GB RAM and a discreet graphics card will scream along, compared with what you have now. You can spend a lot more on higher-end processors and even faster graphics cards to "future proof" your PC (i.e. so it's still fast 2 years down the road). That is up to you, but it's not necessary at the moment to see big gains.

    Did I mention to get 8GB RAM yet?
     
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  3. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    SoCal
    I am very happy with my iMac desktop (all-in-one). I know you already have a monitor, but I haven't any problem running CS6 and Aperture. I'm not a techie, but RAM is the first component to consider when looking for processing speed.

    I've never had a problem with any of my Apple computers. I do a lot of my processing on my Mac Book Pro in the living room as opposed to the iMac from the office. I'm running both CS6 and Aperture on the Mac Book without a hiccup.

    Gary
     
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  4. hkpzee

    hkpzee Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 5, 2011
    Hong Kong
    Patrick
    IMHO, due to the processing power required by the software such as CS6 and LR4 these days, laptop just can't make the cut anymore. I recently replaced my 5-year old HP desktop with a custom-built one with photo and video processing in mind, and the set-up has been working great for me so far. Here is a summary of my set-up (Mind you I might have gone for the overkill here, so the whole thing is not cheap at all @ ~US$1,500, but I think is worth every penny of it):
    - CPU - Intel Core i7 (Ivy Bridge)
    - RAM - I think I have 16MB (2x 8MB L3), but am not too sure
    - GPU - AMD Radeon HK 7850 (I was told that Radeon produces more accurate color than GeForce GPUs, and 7850 is the lowest model needed if you do a lot of video editing. Otherwise, a 7750 might do, as the 7850 is quite expensive)
    - 256GB SSD drive - as the C: Drive for storing programs (loads faster than traditional disk drive, but again, a 128GB SSD drive might do, and obviously costs less)
    - 2 2TB high-speed disk drives - as the D: Drive for documents/files/photos storage, with RAID 1 for redundancy (automatic sync between the 2 drives). Storage is cheap, so it definitely worths maxing out on the storage space
    - Invest in a quality silent fan. It allows you to keep the computer on for a long time (no need to go for water cooling, as it takes up space, and requires more maintenance care)

    I don't know about Australia, but in HK, it is really convenient to find someone to custom build a desktop for you. For the same set-up, a branded desktop would cost at least 70% more... The good thing about a custom-built desktop is that you can upgrade any component you wish at a later date without having to replace the whole thing...

    BTW, this set-up is intended to last me at least 3+ years...
     
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  5. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    SoCal
    I'm running the same CPU and RAM in my Mac Book.
     
  6. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    It sounds like you just need more RAM more than anything else. Whether you keep your existing laptop or get a new desktop, as long as you dump in more RAM you should be good, judging by your issues. Remember that you'll need to be running a 64-bit operating system before you can use more than 4GB of RAM, so if you're still at 32-bit you'll need to reinstall your OS at 64-bit.

    All my computers are at least "a few years old" and factory spec, and I run all the Adobe multimedia software on them, from image editing to vector illustration to page layout to motion graphics to video editing to sound mixing. What kind of HP do you have, if I may ask?
     
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  7. Bokeh Diem

    Bokeh Diem Mu-43 Top Veteran

    655
    Mar 14, 2010
    Toronto
    Hello Livnius;

    Desktop PC for sure.

    Get a new i7 microprocessor on a monster motherboard, add 16Gigs of frontal lobe Ram, an other 8Gigs on an Nvidia GTE650 HDMI 1.4 video card, all wrapped up in a new PC with 2 hard drives and an external unit for backup, and some archival media, and you are on your way. Oh, and a new monitor... the current crop of 27" WQHD monitors from Asus, Samsung etc running 2500x1440 will finish it off perfectly. You will begin to see shades of black again.

    Prepare to part with $2500-3000. You will never regret it though.

    I just fired mine up for the first time tonight and I am in shock. My photos do not look as I remembered them. They have presence, clarity, gradation, contrast, detail, colour fidelity. All this because of a frigging computer upgrade (and I was running 1080P before with a half decent Radeon video card).

    This set up could last you ten years.

    Specs:
    *Intel Core i7-3770K socket 1155, 3.5Ghz, 8Mb L3 cache, 22nm Gen 3
    *Corsair Carbide 400R mid tower case
    *Asus internal DVD writer
    *Seagate Barracuda SATA 6.0Gb/sec 1TB 64MB cache main drive unit
    *Asus Sabertooth Z77 Socket 1155 Intel Chipset Dual Channell DDR3 1866 Mhz, 3x PCI-Express x16|GLAN, 4x SATA 3.0 Gb/sec, 2X SATA 6.0 Gb/sec, 4X USB 3.0, 4X USB 2.0, Display Port/HDMI, ATX
    *Corsair Enthusiast Series TX850 V2 850W 80PLUS Bronzer Certified Power Supply
    * 2XCorsair Vengeance 8GB DDR3 CL9 DIMMs
    *Samsung 840 Series 250Gb 2.5: SATA Solid State Drive
    Asus GTX650 NVIDIA GeForce 928 Mghx cloxk 5400 Mhx memory PCI 3.0 Express, D-Sub, Dual DVI, HDMI video card
    *Windows 7 Home Premium

    Cheers, Bokeh Diem

    PS.. hkpzee's setup is similar with bigger hard drives.... but you get the picture. Make sure you get lots of cooling... I am running three fans, two in, one out. And the motherboard is designed to reject heat also.
     
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  8. LeoS

    LeoS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    517
    Aug 6, 2012
    I have a macbook air with core i7, and with the LR4 catalog on SSD it's blazing fast...

    @OP: Here are the roles of the components that you mentioned:

    HDD: Where your applications (Lightroom, browser, email client, etc) and data (photos, thumbnails, etc) resides when they're not running.

    *HDD is generally the slowest part of your system (next to your internet connection). There is a balancing act between size\capacity:price:portability here. If you can afford it, go with SSD (solid state disk) and everything will fly. Me, I put my Lightroom Catalog on my SSD and put the rest of my lightroom library on external drive. I generate and cache the preview on recent albums and those I'm working on so I get the benefit of SSD on them.

    Memory: Where your application and data are loaded when you run them. 8GB should be enough if you don't run things in the background, but since memory are cheap I'd recommend going 16GB; then you can open dozens of browser tabs in the background and your photo editor won't crap.

    *When your computer does not have enough memory to hold all the running apps and data, your OS will try to offload some of the data back to the harddrive (which is much slower than the memory). This leads to constant back-and-forth passing of data between them, which is called 'memory trashing' and a REALLY bad performance hit.

    CPU: The brain that does the calculation when things are being read and processed. Doing modification to your images (changing contrast, filters, etc) is done by the CPU. Modern CPU comes with multiple core, so one (or more) can work together to do your graphical biddings, while other core(s) can take care of your background apps (email, browser, etc) so things are running smooth.

    *I think the current generation of CPUs (core i5, i7) are more than enough to handle most people's basic post processing (unless you do multi-layer stuffs on photoshop).

    IMHO, YMMV, YOLO

    EDIT: Graphic cards with huge rams are really useful for 3D games and editing huge graphic projects (usually on photoshop). They don't affect photo editing software that much and they cost a boatload of money which you won't enjoy (unless you game or do heavy ps editing). If you got extra cash, I'd spend that on large monitor with wide color gamut and to color calibrate it.
     
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  9. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Dara
    First thing is memory. Having more than enough won't help you, but having less will hurt a lot. 8GB is a good spot.

    Second thing is a fast hard drive. Disk I/O is orders of magnitude slower than everything else, so a solid state drive makes a huge difference. I'd suggest going with 2 disks - a 128GB SSD for your OS and current images, and then a big hard drive (speed not as important) for everything else. Plus a device to backup to, since hard drives (and SSDs) do unfortunately fail.

    Third key parameter is the processor. Type, as much as speed is important. Intel's Core i-series are better, even at lower clocks, then Pentium Gs or AMDs. 4 cores is plenty - paying for 6 or 8 is a waste with current (and likely future) software.

    Graphics card is fairly unimportant. The cheapest discrete NVidia card is more than enough. Even the integrated graphics are fine for photo processing. Lightroom, Capture, NIK and comparable software make no use of graphics acceleration at this point...
     
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  10. Livnius

    Livnius Super Moderator

    Jul 7, 2011
    Melbourne. Australia
    Joe
    Ned..... It's a DV7.
    I believe it's specs are OK, just...and yep, 64bit....but this particular model has a known overheating issue so perhaps 2 yrs of this has taken its toll ??

    Btw....I believe it's got 8mb RAM.
     
  11. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    SoCal
    Then vacuum it out, probably has dust in all the vents. Get a cooling pad, a metal one.

    G
     
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  12. redalien

    redalien Mu-43 Regular

    135
    Aug 23, 2012
    Tamas
    Since you said you are not much of a computer geek I assume you don't want to mess around with custom builds, so here are 2 options I think would work just fine. I don't know your budget so I just picked one of the lowest cost Asus that I would get if I wanted to buy a desktop, or if money is not a problem then I would go for the Lenovo.

    One thing I do recommend is to get rid of bloat ware before you do anything else if you purchase any computer. A clean install of OS is the most efficient.

    Newegg.com - ASUS CM1831-US-3AD Desktop PC AMD FX-Series FX-8120(3.1GHz) 8GB DDR3 2TB HDD Capacity ATI Radeon 3000 IGP Windows 7 Home Premium 64-Bit

    Newegg.com - lenovo K410 (57308564) Desktop PC Intel Core i7 3770(3.40GHz) 8GB DDR3 2TB HDD Capacity NVIDIA GeForce GT 620 1GB Windows 8
     
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  13. snkenai

    snkenai Mu-43 Top Veteran

    523
    Sep 5, 2010
    I'm only running pentium D, 2Gig ram, 1gig vidio, 200Gig HD, and CS2. Runs fine, but would like more horse power (Greed, is never satisfied). Although I don't do a lot of real heavy PP, I do, do some raw, and basic tweeking.
     
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  14. rcky

    rcky Mu-43 Regular

    61
    Apr 6, 2011
    Washington state
    IMHO, I would consider a nice easily upgradable desktop + running some thing like Splashtop Remote on the iPad
     
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  15. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    I'm with Gary on this one. An HP dv7 with 8GB RAM should not have these kind of problems. You should clean out your vents and always keep the laptop elevated off the surface. Never leave a laptop running flat on the desk with no air flowing underneath. Especially an HP. ;) Some cooling pads also have USB powered fans built in.
     
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  16. hkpzee

    hkpzee Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 5, 2011
    Hong Kong
    Patrick
    If you ended up deciding to get a branded desktop, I would stay away from HP because you cannot get a clean installation of the OS onto the computer. HP always modify the Window OS to run on their machines...
     
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  17. Livnius

    Livnius Super Moderator

    Jul 7, 2011
    Melbourne. Australia
    Joe
    Guys thanks...I'm better informed now that's for sure, atleast I now know where the ballpark is.

    Gary. I will give it a clean out and a fan pad to keep it ticking over a little better in the mean time.

    Redalien. Thanks man....I have set aside a budget of $1500 AU....not sure exactly how far that gets me buying a system here since I haven't shopped for a pc/laptop in atleast 2 yrs....now I'm armed with a basic idea of what spec sheet to aim for I will soon see how far $1500 gets me.



    FWIW....I use a Western Digital 1TB external eSata drive as my storage and working space for my images....the drive ticks over just nicely, it's the mother ship that's the problem I suspect...my uneducated guess that's its native drive which houses all my working software etc is still wearing acid wash denim.
     
  18. LeoS

    LeoS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    517
    Aug 6, 2012
    dv7 looks like a powerhouse that can still compete with current offerings especially in our use. I'm guessing the OS may also be bogged down by spamware type background-running apps that get installed alongside games/downloads.

    A fresh reinstall of Windows may do more on your particular case than any hardware upgrade.

    This is also the reason I like OSX better than windows, because they're simpler easier to maintain (no need for antivirus or defrag) and they generally don't need reinstalls unlike Windows...
     
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  19. BAXTING

    BAXTING Mu-43 Top Veteran

    806
    Aug 5, 2012
    Los Angeles SFV, CA
    Bradley
    I have a 15.6 Dell Inspiron with 6GB RAM and i5 and 600GB HD. This is my personal/travel laptop and I've had no trouble working on images with it. When at home I have it plugged into another screen since I am usually running several image editing programs at once. It works great with all my programs and doesn't start to lag until there is about 400MB worth of images open.

    This was $600-$700USD MSRP about two years ago. I think you would be fine with a laptop if that's your gig so long as you know exactly what your getting. You will pay more for a laptop that has the same specs as a desktop PC, it just comes down to what you want.

    At this point I couldn't go back to a desktop for personal use since I have one at the office and absolutely love the portability of the laptop while traveling for work or leisure. I've used it several times to process images from my hotel room while away and was glad I had it with me.

    8GB seems like a good place to start and yes unfortunately if you buy new, the more you spend now the cooler it will be in 6-12 months :biggrin:
     
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  20. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    SoCal
    Hey Joe, I'm running a Zalman, metal casing and twin cooling fans. Even with the fans off the metal will conduct significant heat away from the computer.