Recommendations for a new photo editing computer (+ info on system performance)

Which option would be your pick?

  • Refurbished iMac 27" 5k (late 2015)

    Votes: 4 10.0%
  • iPad

    Votes: 1 2.5%
  • Macbook Pro

    Votes: 1 2.5%
  • New iMac 27" 5k (late 2019)

    Votes: 6 15.0%
  • Custom build PC

    Votes: 28 70.0%

  • Total voters
    40
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@Darmok N Jalad thanks for your reply. As the pre-config system is considerably cheaper I am looking at how to get closer in price with the separate components (as I can pick brands I like).

I will update my parts list with your recommendations and see how it compares to the pre-build system.

EDIT: still the custom build system is considerably more expensive vs the pre-build Ryzen 9 system. I guess I have made up my mind. Just going to check if it would be possible to switch the case in the pre-build package (as it is build to order by the store).
 
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Darmok N Jalad

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@Darmok N Jalad thanks for your reply. As the pre-config system is considerably cheaper I am looking at how to get closer in price with the separate components (as I can pick brands I like).

I will update my parts list with your recommendations and see how it compares to the pre-build system.

EDIT: still the custom build system is considerably more expensive vs the pre-build Ryzen 9 system. I guess I have made up my mind. Just going to check if it would be possible to switch the case in the pre-build package (as it is build to order by the store).
You can probably turn off all the LEDs in the prebuilt if you want. If you orient your case in a certain way on/under your desk, you would also not have to look at the window. I have a windowed case with LEDs, so I don’t mind the look. :)

Do you have more specific specs on the prebuilt machine? It might be cheaper due to lesser components, though I guess some of your cost differences could be based on where you live. We have some great places to buy components here in the US—I don’t know if you are as fortunate where you are.
 
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I have just ordered the pre-build machine which was on discount, price difference was just to big for me to justify building a system myself.

I went with:
  • AMD Ryzen 9 x3900 - be quite Dark Rock 4 cooler
  • Motherboard unknown, but based on the specified ports I expect GIGABYTE AORUS X570 AORUS ELITE
  • Crosair 16 GB DDR4-3200
  • Gigabyte NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 6gb
  • Crosair 960 GB M.2 SSD & 2 TB 2 TB 7200RPM HD (brand unknown)
  • 650 watt power supply
  • Decently looking case (not my first pick but with the RGB fan leds turned off it's actually not bad, will get a nice place under the desk ;) )
A custom build system would offer a brand choice per individual part but for me that's not a reason to spend +26% premium (comparing based on the same specifications).

I called them about the parts they use and it's all the same a-brand parts as they sell as components but a OEM version or just specific parts that they can buy in bulk to reach a better price overal.

Next up... monitor
 
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Just to recap back to my openingspost.. a new iMac with all bells and whistles to get it as close as possible to the performance of my final pick would be 80% more expensive and quite a bit less powerful based on test I have read (as the iMac comes with a screen I did subtract €1000,- of the final price of the iMac. Feels reasonable as this amount wil also get you a very nice screen for a pc).
 

Darmok N Jalad

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I’m sure what you got will do just fine. I guess if you really don’t care for the case they used, you can probably just buy a new case and move it all over. They likely used standard parts. Monitors can be tricky, for sure. I have a 27” LG 4K display that I really like, but the sky is the limit here as well!
 
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I guess if you really don’t care for the case they used, you can probably just buy a new case and move it all over.
Yes, that was also the option they offered if I really would like a different case. The case is fine though (good airflow), I'm just not the biggest fan of the transparent panels.

I did look in to monitors from Benq and had the SW2700PT, SW270c and SW271 on ,my shortlist. I did go for the SW270c which has some pros (more modern design, USB-C more consistent color uniformity, beter controls) and cons (hard to reach SD card reader, less height adjustments, bigger desk footprint) over it's predecessor SW2700PT so it was a close call. The 4k resolution of the Benq SW271 is not really something I need, and the price increase would be substantial.
 
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The new system is up and running. Now finalizing the setup (and turn the case LED's all the way down).

Checked the unknown parts of the pre-build system and they didn't cheap out on the parts. All parts are well-matched and from reputable brands. The system is also running very quiet, fan noise is barely noticeable which is nice.

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Thanks again for all the feedback and suggestions!
 

Darmok N Jalad

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Glad it worked out for you! And yes, the trend these days is more fans, but slow/quiet ones. It doesn't make for a silent system, but it produces a nice white noise that you easily adjust to.
 

BosseBe

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Congratulations on your workstation!
Are you going to run any performance tests on it?
If so I would be interested to hear the results.
I did a small test on my own workstation (about 8 years old AMD 8350, I think I mentioned it in an earlier post), I did some basic adjustments on a 10 dark and noisy pictures (16Mbit from G85) and added Prime noise reduction in DxO PL3, then I converted all to JPEG at 100% quality and size. It took about 3minutes 55 seconds to complete.
IIRC you use LR + PS, but if you could do a similar test it would be interesting.
 
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I found a automatic test of Puget systems for Lightroom (which they use to evaluate the performance of there systems). From the Puget site:

Our Lightroom Classic benchmark looks at performance with three sets of images for both "active" and "passive" tasks. The image sets include 500x images from the following cameras:
  • Canon EOS 5D Mark III - 22MP .CR2
  • Sony a7r III - 42MP .ARW
  • Nikon D850 - 45MP .NEF

The following tasks are tested:

Active Tasks:
  • Library Module Loupe Scroll (The time it takes between hitting the right arrow ey and the next image displaying on screen)
  • Develop Module Loupe Scroll (The time it takes between hitting the right arrow ey and the next image displaying on screen)
  • Library to Develop Switch (The time between hitting the Devlope panel button and when Lightroom actually switches)
  • Develop Module Auto WB & Tone (How long the image takes to update after applying the Auto Tone and White Balance)
  • Develop Module Brush Lag (When using the spot heal tool, how quickly can you move the brush before it significantly lags)

Passive Tasks:
  • Import 500x Images (Add from location, minimal previews, do not generate Smart Previews)
  • Build 500x Smart Previews (Default settings)
  • Photo Merge Panorama (Time to create a panorama of 6 images using default settings [Ctrl-M])
  • Photo Merge HDR (Time to create an HDR of 6 images using default settings [Ctrl-H])
  • Export 50x JPEG (Time to export 50 images to JPEG [60 quality] with the longest side being 3840 pixels. Auto Tone and W/B applied)
  • Convert to DNG 50x Images (Time to convert to DNG [dng, Camera Raw 11.2 and later, medium size, embed fast load data])
I will run the test (as my LR is still empty) and will post the results.
 

Darmok N Jalad

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I'm also very happy with the monitor. It became a possibility as the total price of the PC system came in way less than a reasonably fast (but still not nearly as powerful as the PC build) iMac.
Yeah, the iMac is a great unit, but AMD is currently offering more net CPU power for the money right now. Apple should consider using Ryzen CPUs so they can push beyond their current offerings. They shouldn’t even be selling quad core desktops anymore, IMO.
 
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The results are in!

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The score used in this benchmark is based on the performance relative to a reference system with the following specifications:
  • Intel Core i9 9900K 8 Core
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 8GB
  • 64GB of RAM
  • Samsung 960 Pro 1TB
  • Windows 10 (1903)
  • Adobe Lighroom Classic CC 2019 (ver. 8.4)
  • Overall Score: 1000 (11% faster)
  • Active Tasks Score: 100 (3% faster)
  • Passive Tasks Score: 100 (20% faster)
Interesting enough it's only a few points (19 to be specific) lower than the results Puget Systems has for their own Ryzen 9 x3900 system (see spoiler for the detailed results. But that's still very decent as that system has 64GB RAM and a NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti 11GB. The RAM seems less of a "bottleneck", LR didn't run out of RAM on my test. Which shows as the "active tasks" score ( is even beter than the Puget test systems). But overall I guess having a +$1000 GPU in the Puget System did help the performance just a bit (vs the mid-range GPU in my system).

The Ryzen 9 x3900 12 core test system specs:
  • AMD Ryzen 9 3900X, Noctua NH-U12S cooler
  • Gigabyte X570 AORUS ULTRA (more highend version of the motherboard in my system)
  • 4x DDR4-2933 16GB (64GB total)
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti 11GB
  • Samsung 960 Pro 1TB SSD

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Darmok N Jalad

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LR and PS are strange programs anyway when it comes to leveraging hardware. More CPU threads is really handy on large imports, as each thread can go to work on making a 1:1 preview. The GPU steps in on some of the editing, zooming, and exporting, but even that only shows marginal returns on investment as you go up in hardware. That's why the 12C/24T 3900X is a really good choice for post processing, it just sees more work than the GPU does. The RTX 2080 would be overkill here, but great for games. I'd also be surprised to see either program run out the 16GB of RAM unless you edit really, really large files. Of the 16GB of RAM I have in my system, half of it is currently free--it's not even in a standby state, where frequently used programs are cached. 32GB+ RAM is for the folks who want to run 3 VMs at the same time. :)
 
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Agreed, hopefully Adobe will slowly rebuild the software to take advantage of the extra cores when editing. Although it is more than fast enough already, nice to finally see edits appearing real-time on screen. I did prefer the additional cores of the x3900 over the Ryzen 7 mostly to be future proof but the difference right now would be hardly noticeable I guess.

The GPU (RTX 2060) was included in the pre-build system and does speed up " Enhanced details" in LR significantly but from what I read a Geforce GTX 6gb is almost as fast for all other tasks (I had the GTX in my initial parts list but as the pre-build system came with the RTX so I'm not complaining).
 
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robcee

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Agreed, hopefully Adobe will slowly rebuild the software to take advantage of the extra cores when editing. Although it is more than fast enough already, nice to finally see edits appearing real-time on screen. I did prefer the additional cores of the x3900 over the Ryzen 7 mostly to be future proof but the difference right now would be hardly noticeable I guess.
I'd like to think so, but many algorithms don't lend themselves well to parallel processing. GPU acceleration may be more of a performance gain than parallelization in a lot of cases.
 

wjiang

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I'd like to think so, but many algorithms don't lend themselves well to parallel processing. GPU acceleration may be more of a performance gain than parallelization in a lot of cases.
GPUs on the whole are even more parallel than CPUs, with thousands of special compute cores rather than fewer generalised ALUs. They can only speed up very specialised operations.
 
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MonikaO

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Gratz on your new setup @roelwillems , it looks pretty good :)
I really like the case with the red light.
I myself am big on gaming (WOW- FF14- Guidlwars2 ect) so need a good gaming Pc.
Its doing great for editing too :)
 
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