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 9.8%
  • iPad

    Votes: 1 2.4%
  • Macbook Pro

    Votes: 1 2.4%
  • New iMac 27" 5k (late 2019)

    Votes: 7 17.1%
  • Custom build PC

    Votes: 28 68.3%

  • Total voters
    41
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@MonikaO after a few day’s I’m already used to the case and light. I like it best with red or orange lights (completely off looks strange).

I’m not a huge gamer myself but did try World of Warships (which I like to play on iPad from time to time) and it’s quite impressive on the highest settings and a 27” screen.
 
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I'll may try to upgrade my system soon (it's from 2013).
How is Lightroom Classic on your system? Is it really fast?

I'll probably download the PugetBench to have an idea of how much an upgrade will speed up my system.
(I'm talking about upgrade but I'll keep some drives and my case at best...)
 
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@SojiOkita Lightroom Classic CC is realy fast on the new system. No lag on any editing tasks, but it's hard to explain how fast "fast" is. Using the PugetBench software will give you a good idea of performance. I would also recommend reading this article.

I do still feel that Lightroom is not well-built software. Running it on the new system the software feels fast but in some places, it gives the impression that it is not at fast as you would expect on a system with this kind of performance. As an example; LR seems to re-render parts of the interface when you switching from the library to develop module, the switching isn't slow but it makes it feel a bit slow(er). Strangely the system is hardly working at all (between 3%-13% CPU load) so it's just the software.
But I digress, it is a bit nitpicking, the editing is flawless.

Regarding drives: I have loaded the original images on the 2 TB spinning drive (7200 rpm) and this sometimes is only slightly slower when scrolling trough the complete library with all images vs all originals on the M.2 SSD. The difference is hardly noticeable and no difference when editing. Where you store your originals has obviously little to do with raw disk speed as the 2T disk has 160MB/s vs 3480 MB/s read speed on the M.2 SSD. So I would definitely recommend reusing your current disks.
 
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@SojiOkita Lightroom Classic CC is realy fast on the new system. No lag on any editing tasks, but it's hard to explain how fast "fast" is. Using the PugetBench software will give you a good idea of performance. I would also recommend reading this article.
Thanks for the link.
I'm quite surprised they advise a standard SSD for the system, and a NVMe SSD for the project files.
I'll probably put the catalog and previews on the same SSD as the system, though.

I do still feel that Lightroom is not well-built software.
When I use it during several hours, I sometimes have to close it and restart it in order to restore part of the performance.
It's the only soft for which I have to do this (it's also the only soft I use long hours and that really needs performance).

Regarding drives: I have loaded the original images on the 2 TB spinning drive (7200 rpm) and this sometimes is only slightly slower when scrolling trough the complete library with all images vs all originals on the M.2 SSD. The difference is hardly noticeable and no difference when editing. Where you store your originals has obviously little to do with raw disk speed as the 2T disk has 160MB/s vs 3480 MB/s read speed on the M.2 SSD. So I would definitely recommend reusing your current disks.
I'll probably just buy one M.2 SSD for the system. I already have 2 on my current computer, that I'll keep (at least one of them, the other being is 7 years old and only 240 Gb).
I also have 2 internal HDD (one for pictures & videos, the other ones for automatic backups).
I would have loved a "100% SSD" system, because they are silent, but even if the prices went down, that's still too expensive.
 

AmritR

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I’m reading people are using harddrive’s in their pc. Which by the way is perfectly fine, just make a backup every now and then.

Two years ago I made a different setup. I only have one m.2 ssd in my pc, and a moved all data to a NAS with raid 1. So two HD’s are an exact copy of each other. The used NAS also supports btfrs scrubbing.
And every few months make a backup of the NAS with an external HD.
( all HD’s from HGST)

This way data storage is disconnected from your pc, no noisy HD’s in a PC under your table, but in a NAS some where else in your house or garage. You’ll be surprised how much noise even fairly quite HD’s still make.
You can easily access your pics from whatever pc, laptop, mac, ipad you are using, and reinstalling a OS or a new pc has little impact.
Also nice if you have a lot of digital music, and are using a music steamer.

I don’t know how this would work out for video. Then you might need more local storage, and move end results to the NAS
 
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This way data storage is disconnected from your pc, no noisy HD’s in a PC under your table, but in a NAS some where else in your house or garage. You’ll be surprised how much noise even fairly quite HD’s still make.
Yes. I'll think of that when I'll have a quick network at home (which is not the case yet, I'm on wifi).
However, I think local drives will always be quicker than drives on a NAS, even for accessing my pictures in Lightroom.
The day I have a proper network... I'll probably move away my internal "backup drive" in the NAS (the one I use for incremental backups every day).
 
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I'll probably just buy one M.2 SSD for the system.
Yes, that's also my current setup, one M.2 SSD for Windows and all programs (including the catalog, cache and previews). Currently my images would still fit this disk but I will need more room in the future, so opted to start using the spinning disk as performance is hardly impacted.

I would have loved a "100% SSD" system, because they are silent, but even if the prices went down, that's still too expensive.
Large SSD's are still quite expensive and the improvement in speed would be hardly noticeable. So for me, the spinning disk for the originals is fine right now. Maybe in the future, when the catalog out grows the HDD I will add an SSD for storing more current work and keep the spinning disk for older photos.

This way data storage is disconnected from your pc, no noisy HD’s in a PC under your table, but in a NAS some where else in your house or garage.
That is a nice solution! It would be nice to quite down the system even more, but due to the glass panels (adds quite a bit of weight) the HDD noise is well contained within the case.
I do have an external disk hooked up to my router which acts as a second backup (third being Backblaze), and that disk is noisy but nicely tucked away in a closet.
 

Darmok N Jalad

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I actually don’t use my NVMe drive for Windows, as a standard SATA SSD is more than fast enough for the OS and general programs. I use the NVMe drive to hold my active photo library and my active Steam library.
 

davidzvi

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Even so the SSD I'm using is a lot faster than the HDD I use for mass storage.

Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
 
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The SSD is certainly faster, but Lightroom doesn't use the original files very much so the performance is not limited by raw disk speed when editing. Although the SSD will be faster on importing large amounts of photos vs regular HDD.
 

BosseBe

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Even so the SSD I'm using is a lot faster than the HDD I use for mass storage.

View attachment 803075
May I guess that the drives above are:
Upper left M2.SSD PCI-E3
Upper Right SATA SSD
Lower Left HDD 5400 RPM
Lower Right HDD 7200 RPM

The new M2.SSDs with PCI-E4 seems to be twice as fast as PCI-E3, so that could well make an impact on speed in processing as now the speed actually equals the memory speed.
So my take from this is that a M2.SSD PCI-E4 for system/cache and really fast RAM (3200 or above) should be optimal for the processing part.
For culling and loading lots of pictures you might need a M2.SSD PCI-E3 or PCI-E4 to speed it up.
Maybe a solution is to have new pictures on a M2.SSD and then move them to storage after first culling/processing?
 
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So my take from this is that an M2.SSD PCI-E4 for system/cache and really fast RAM (3200 or above) should be optimal for the processing part.
For culling and loading lots of pictures you might need an M2.SSD PCI-E3 or PCI-E4 to speed it up.
Maybe a solution is to have new pictures on a M2.SSD and then move them to storage after first culling/processing?
From my testing and the information I read it is best to have LR and the cache on a fast disk (SSD but M.2 SSD would be best). The testing by Puget systems shows that this (and indeed fast ram up to 16 gb) does help performance.

For storing the originals I found only a very slight performance difference when using the regular HDD (72.000 rpm) vs the M.2 SSD (did a test with a catalog of 27k images)
It is a bit of an edge case but when you have a fairly large catalog and you scroll directly from first to the final image (no 1-1 previews generated) some previews take a fraction longer to appear when all originals are on the HDD vs all on the M.2 SSD. So there is a slight effect on browsing images. But in daily use, this isn't noticeable at all (and when you have a large collection of images not worth the additional expense IMHO).

When editing it doesn't seem to matter for LR where the originals are stored. But it would be interesting to test your strategy for import/culling. So doing the import, culling (and processing, as it's not hurting performance either) on a faster disk and then moving it over to long term storage on the slower disk.

I will test a large import tomorrow or the day after and report back!
 
Last edited:

davidzvi

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May I guess that the drives above are:
Upper left M2.SSD PCI-E3
Upper Right SATA SSD
Lower Left HDD 5400 RPM
Lower Right HDD 7200 RPM
......
Well the top two are easy. 1 out of 2 on the bottom.

Drive on the bottom left:
WD Se WD2000F9YZ 2TB 7200 RPM 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Enterprise Hard Drive
I had a pair of these in a RAID 1 configuration through the end of 2018 while I was still actively working on client images. Once I was done with that I separated them and broke the array, I don't need that overhead anymore. A step up from the original WD Reds, but not quite the WD RE drives, kind of like the Red Pros (7200 rpm, 5 yr warranty, ...; but they weren't out when I bought these.)

Drive on the Bottom right:
HGST 10TB Deskstar 7200 rpm 256MB Cache SATA III 3.5" Internal NAS Drive Kit
Mass storage for images, videos, music, etc
 
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Small but nice update regarding LR Classic CC (9.2) for anyone looking at a new editing system:

GPU Accelerated Editing for Lens Correction and Transform
Expanding on our GPU support, we have added full GPU acceleration for Lens Correction and Transform adjustments.
Shows that Adobe is pushing more editing tasks to the GPU vs relying on CPU.
 
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When editing it doesn't seem to matter for LR where the originals are stored. But it would be interesting to test your strategy for import/culling. So doing the import, culling (and processing, as it's not hurting performance either) on a faster disk and then moving it over to long term storage on the slower disk.

I will test a large import tomorrow or the day after and report back!
Quick update (I'm not completely done testing) but my preliminary results show that it does help when you browse the catalog when the original images are stored on a fast disk.

It seems that LR (unknowingly to me) had generated previews on the 27k catalog. Turning the previews off definitely introduces noticeable lag in generating the small previews in the library (browsing the total catalog).

I am comparing a 7200 RPM HDD (160mb/s) vs M.2 SSD (3480 mb/s). And there is definitely a difference in performance browsing images. In my opinion it still isn't worth the investment in M.2 SSD's when you need to store terabytes of images. But it does supports @BosseBe suggestion. Using a fast SSD for the catalog, cache and original files you are currently working on (moving them to the HDD when you are done).
Another option is to generate previews (which are stored on the faster disk) but I don't expect this to be faster than having the originals on the faster disk for culling and processing.

I don't know how much difference a regular SSD would make compared to the spinning disk and M.2 SSD (could be a more price conscious option vs M.2 or upgrade over a spinning disk for long term storage).

Deleting the previews didn't impact editing (having the originals on the slower HDD). So having the originals on a spinning disk seems only to impacting the rendering of the small library view previews (and I expect importing).

I want to check two additional scenarios, smaller ~1k catalog originals on spinning disk vs M.2 SSD and import speed via LR onto spinning disk vs M.2 SSD.
 
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