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I currently have a Lenovo helix that I've been working on.  It has an i5 core, 4gb ram, and a 250 gb hard drive.  Up until now I've been dealing with it because it has a pen which has made Photoshop so much easier.  However I upgraded to Photoshop cc and now the pen doesn't work on photoshop and after 7 years, it's time to get an upgrade.  My question is: is there a computer brand that you prefer? Or a computer processor? I'm looking at new computers now and it's all about confusing.  In the past I've always gone with Lenovo computers, (as they can take a beating) but as they are geared towards the business side, I'm not sure that's what I should be going for and the only other brand I've tried is several HP's at work, all of which I've hated.  Currently a bit overwhelmed with all of these choices! I would like to stick with a PC.

Edited by 1234
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Yeah, 7-8 years is all you get these days when it comes to computers. You've had a good run.

Are you planning on staying with some sort of laptop or desktop? You could invest in a Wacom Tablet so you can continue using a Pen. Also, what budget do you have in mind?

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From what I understand, a desktop is cheaper? If so I'm going to go with that, I don't really need portability at the moment.  Honestly, I would like to stay low as far as budget goes, but I would also like for it to last a long time so i am willing to invest in a good computer with the hope it will last me a long time.  Maybe around $1000 canadian?

I also saw on B&H, one where you can essentially build your own pc. Not sure if that's worth looking into but I definitely have friends who have the expertise to help me out there.  

I will have to look into Wacom tablets!

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On 1/5/2020 at 11:02 PM, 1234 said:

From what I understand, a desktop is cheaper?

You betcha. And faster. And it has a stationary screen that's easier to calibrate. Lasts longer too.

Truth be told, I DO NOT RECOMMEND LAPTOPS FOR PHOTO-EDITING. But people keep asking and want to buy them, and I got tired of arguing. To really get a decent laptop for editing photos, you are looking at spending $2000-$2500. Why? Mostly it's finding a IPS-based screen. The other thing is getting a laptop that has enough space on the boot HD, and has at least 16GB of RAM, preferably 32GB. Not to mention having a video-card with it's own dedicated video memory. All of that adds up and at that point you are into a "Gaming Laptop" for those kind-of-features, not the "$500 Special" at Best Buy. 

Low on budget and lasting a long time...those are contradictory phrases in 2020. If you want something to last 7-8 years, you are going to be spending more. Period. It's always been that way. As with a lot of things, you get what you pay for. With the current US-Tariffs on China, it's a real bad time to be buying a computer. The Manufacturers have passed the Tariff Charges down to the customer. It's a $300-$500 increase from prices in 2019. So today's $700 computers are last year's $400 models and you really need to read the fine-print on the specifications going forward.

That said, you can get a decent computer for about $1000. Anything less and having it last 8 years might be pushing it, but YMMV. I used my 2009 iMac just fine until I got a Nikon D850. That caused all sorts of upgrades to my computer. Talk about expensive. Before that I shot with a D700 and then a D3s and had that replaced with a D4s. So I was stuck in 2009-2014 and my 2009 iMac worked just fine. Fast-forward a few years and I ended up spending way more money than I wanted to.

Building your own PC, it sounds romantic...but you will usually end up spending way more money in the long run. Sure, it's great to customize it and get quality components, but that costs money. Just like eating Steak at a fancy restaurant vs buying a Big Mac at McDonald's. The volume that manufactures purchase things makes the computers more affordable. Look at what you need to buy:

Power Supply (At least 500 Watts)
Motherboard (One that works with the CPU Chip you select.)
CPU Chip (Intel i7 or equivalent)
RAM (16GB at a Min / 32GB Preferred)
Video Card with it's own dedicated Video Memory (4GB Video RAM at a Minimum)
SSD Boot Drive (500GB at Min)
2nd Larger Data Drive (1TB is fine, the more the better)
Microsoft Windows Home (Windows 10 Pro is preferred)

Each time I try to Build-my-Own computer, and I have higher-requirements than most people, I end up around the $2700 mark, and I still need to buy a monitor. So if you want to go with low-end components, look at building a low-end gaming computer. That should be $800-$1000, plus the cost of the monitor.

As far as brands that I recommend, I usually tell people to look at the Dell XPS line, as they are decent for what they are. Unfortunately, prices have risen and they are putting in cheaper components to keep the costs down. Just like you don't truly get a "Gallon of Ice Cream" anymore; it's "Almost a Gallon," but still costs the same. Anyway, back to the Dell XPS series, you really need to look at the "Special Edition" to get the better quality options and it pains me to write that. A year ago, I could recommend a $800-ish system for smaller budgets and it would work well. Now...that price is at least $1349 and you still need to spend around $200 for a IPS Monitor. (See that $500 China Tariff increase?) 

At this point, see what your tech-friends can find for you. Otherwise, I'd plan on spending $1500+ in today's market for something that is decent and "lasts."

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Hmmmm, it may seem like I have to rethink my budget... I already have a monitor (benq) so that's not included in my budget...

Sorry, after looking back at the 'build your own computer' it's more of a 'choose your components type of thing'.  This is what I was looking at:


For the XPS special line, should I be looking at an i5 or an i7? My current computer is not a good one to base this decision off of as I don't know whether it's the memory or the cpu (computer says it's the cpu but at 4gb...) That's causing all of the slowness...

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Here are the current specs (1-2020) that I'm recommending for a "What's a good computer to buy?" threads:

  • Intel i7 / Intel i9 (or AMD Equivalent)
  • 16GB RAM / 32GB or more (Preferred)
  • 500GB Main SSD HD with a larger 2nd 7200 RPM 4TB HD  / 1TB Main SSD HD with a larger 2nd 7200 RPM 8TB+ HD (Preferred)
  • A video card that has is own separate and dedicated Video RAM. 4GB (Minimum) / 8GB (Preferred)
  • A power supply that has enough wattage to support the video card
  • Windows 10 Home / Windows 10 Pro (Preferred)

I'd get a i7 now as the current versions of PS CC are taking advantage of the Architecture that makes a i7 faster. Personally, I'd skip getting a i9 or AMD equivalent. Take the savings on the processor when choosing a i7 and put it towards a graphics card upgrade that has it's own dedicated video memory.

That computer at B&H does not come with any storage or operating system. You will need to purchase that separately. Personally, that computer is not for you. I realize the price-tag is small, but you are throwing money away. It's for people like me who have spare parts laying around. Honestly, the "Gaming" in the title is really pushing it. That's marketing. I would never use a computer like that for gaming. What I'd use it for? Building a Lab that has it's own server and need workstations for educational purposes. Not to do any real work.

So take the $720 price tag. Now add $215 for a 1TB m.2 drive and $100 for Windows 10 Home. So that automatically puts the cost to $1035. Not to mention you are stuck at 8GB. There isn't a way to upgrade the RAM!! So please, for the love of all that's Good-and-Green, DO NOT BUY THAT B&H COMPUTER. If you want to throw money away, I take donations. ;)

Here is a Dell XPS Configuration that meets my specs. As I have stated above, today's $700 computers are last years cheap $400 models. It's a really bad time to be buying a computer that is made in China. You are looking at spending between $1200-$1500 these days. Sorry, no way around it.

"But...but!! My Budget!! I can't afford..."

Save up for a few more months. The Tariffs aren't ending any time soon.

Screen Shot 2020-01-09 at 7.57.39 PM.png

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The memory is definitely upgradable to 64gb! I do have access to a copy of windows 10 pro so I haven't put that into the budget. I'm pretty comfortable with software, it's the hardware where I get lost.

Unfortunately those dell computers are $1500-2000 Canadian (always more expensive in the north) so I will have to wait and decide what I am doing a bit later.  But I guess my original question as far as computer brand was answered! (Dell)

Thanks for all your help! I really appreciate it

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Here is a blurb from an article that I just completed. It will be in a yet-to-be-released FAQ section that will debut in a few months:


The Dell XPS Line and why I tend to recommend them.

Just to clarify things, I receive no compensation or kick-back of any kind from any manufacturer. I'm not an Amazon or B&H affiliate and anything I link to is a direct link. So why do I always seem to recommend a Dell XPS? Because they are decent for what they are. They tend to have better components under-the-hood as compared to the consumer-grade Inspiron Line, are easily accessible world-wide, and are affordable to the majority. Basically, they are easy for me to link to and are pretty straight-forward in terms of their configurations. Not to mention I know who will be repairing the computer if things go wrong, I know what phone number you are going to call if you have a problem. That's the dirty little secret with technology, what happens when it breaks? Who is going to support it? Who is going to fix it? Where are the parts coming from? With Dell, I know they have a world-wide tech support phone number. They all have at least a 90 Day (Usually 1 year standard with enhanced options) in terms of Warranty, and I know Dell is going to supply the parts. Same thing with Apple. Apple or and Authorized Repair Center is going to fix their products and supply the parts, within reason. A 10 Year old computer might have limited parts availability as to a newer model, but if you buy a Dell or Apple, chances are someone knows what you are talking about and can source the parts. This is why I recommend them. I purchased a Dell XPS for my wife a few years back. So I put-my-money-where-my-mouth-is. When it comes time for me to add a Windows Computer in addition to my Mac, chances are I'm going with a Dell XPS.

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Thank you! I actually got a discount from a personal connection so I was able to afford the xps special edition with everything I wanted! It was still over my budget but that's fine.  So very reassuring to read that!

I had looked at that computer (I saw you mention Digital Storm in another post), I can't remember why I closed the tab but I'm pretty happy with the xps and I will be a worthy upgrade fr my current computer.

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