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Buying a Windows Computer in 2023

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  • I'm looking for a new computer for Photo Editing, what do you recommend in 2023?
  • My computer is over 8 years old, and I just updated to the latest version of Photoshop. Now it's not working right.
  • I'm getting error messages now since I've updated to the latest version of Photoshop. Any ideas?

Not much has changed a whole lot since I last wrote my article, Buying a Computer in 2021, except for a few minor things...like the choice of Video Card is MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE CHOICE OF CPU and I will say RAM should be around 32GB or more. Other than that, pretty much everything else is the same, conversationally speaking.

First things first: As I've mentioned above, today's modern Adobe Photoshop CC relies heavily on the Video GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) and dedicated Video RAM for certain parts to function or for a performance boost. Software like Adobe Camera Raw and other tools, like Liquify and Content Aware, Lens Corrections, amongst other things need a beefy Video Card to work well. Adobe has deliberately chosen to utilize the Video GPU for performance boost and for what I call the "Fancy Tools" to work. Doing this makes sense; Video Processors only have to worry about a few things, like compiling Video and Video RAM is usually faster than your normal RAM. There is A LOT of un-tapped "Horsepower" from your Video Card and this is the same reason that Bitcoin Mining uses Video Cards and why there is such a high-demand for them. Or...in another word: Speed.

If your Video Card is not up to par, you will know right away. Sometimes, you will get an error message that Photoshop took the liberty in "disabling graphics acceleration," or weird things will start happening, like your screen flashing black to white and back again or other weird quirks and artifacts will appear. Photoshop will just not act like itself; it could be sluggish or flat-out crash on you at random times. In any case if there are Video Card Issues OR incompatible Video Card Drivers, you are SOL. Meaning, the only way to "fix" your problem is to:

  1. Un-install the current version of Adobe Photoshop CC and re-install the older version that last worked.
  2. Update your Video Card's Drivers (this is the best case scenario and is the cheapest route because it's free.)
  3. Replace your Video Card and/or Power Supply, which could cost you several hundred dollars for each and isn't worth doing on a 7+ year old PC.

See what I mean?

Unless you have a high performance / gaming PC, chances are option #2 & #3 are off the table; often cases of store-bought computers have proprietary parts / designs, which makes upgrading difficult. If you can update your Video Card and Power Supply, then you are spending on average around $800-$1000 (US Dollars) as Video Cards are still not cheap. While it's true that prices have come down from their 2020 / COVID-19 Pricing (around $1500+,) but they still can run you around $500-$700 for something decent. I'm not about to tell you to go this route, and would rather you put that money into a new computer, because quite frankly, it's usually a waste of money.


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Windows Based Computers for Photo Editing: What to look for in 2023.


Still to this day, one of the MOST asked questions that I receive, both here and FB Ask Damien, is...

"What computer do you recommend for editing photos?" or "What's a "good" computer for Photo Editing?" There are several different versions of these two questions and they are all asking or requesting the same thing: Just Tell Me What to Buy!!!!

As I've mentioned in my comment box above, not a whole lot has changed, except for a few things and even then I could totally Geek-Out which will cause your eyes to glaze over. Most of the time, if people are asking here, they just want general guidelines on what to buy, so I'm going to stick with the basics.

In 2023, this is what I recommend for a Windows Computer that will be using the current versions Adobe Photoshop CC:

  • Intel i7 or i9 CPU (AMD Ryzen Equivalent)
  • 32GB of RAM
  • 1TB Main Hard Drive
  • A Video Card that has a dedicated GPU and dedicated Video Memory of at least 8GB in size, more is better.
  • IPS-Based Display
  • Windows 10 or Windows 11

I realize that most folks today understand those terms in 2023, but I'm covering it for those who need this info:

  • CPU - This stands for Central Processing Unit. It's the "Brain" of your computer. There are different types and brands which usually determines performance on how things work. This is the #1 thing that people tend to grab onto, they know that a i7 is "better" than a i5, likewise an i9 CPU is "better/faster" than a i7. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case.

You see, software needs to be programmed to take advantage of what makes a higher-end CPU chip so fast. Photoshop is now just taking advantage of what an i7 can offer, and really doesn't utilize a Intel i9 as much as you think it would. Intel i5 CPUs are yesterday's "Affordable" Chips; they were the middle of the road and got the job done. Since the older versions of Photoshop didn't take advantage of a i7 CPU, it didn't make sense to spend the extra money. Well, now in 2023...the latest versions of Adobe Photoshop CC do take advantage of a i7's Architecture. Intel i9? Notsomuch. There is some performance boost, but not enough to spend the extra money on a i9. In fact, I'd rather folks purchase a more affordable i7 CPU and take those savings to put towards a better Video Card.

  • RAM - This stands for Random Access Memory. This type of memory is what your computer uses to do it's work in. The more you have, the better your computer functions and "Breathes" easier. 
  • Hard Drive - This is usually abbreviated to HD and is the long-term storage of your computer. Like RAM, there is no such thing as "Too Much;" the larger the capacity of your HD, the better your programs like it and the more things can be stored on the Hard Drive. A Main Hard Drive is where your Software Programs and Operating System reside. Computers can have multiple Hard Drives, both Internal and External, but we are just going to talk about the Main HD in this article. I will say in 2023, that a Main Hard Drive of 1TB in size is non-negotiable. DO NOT PURCHASE A COMPUTER / LAPTOP THAT HAS ANYTHING SMALLER THAN A 1TB HD. A 500GB is too small, a 2TB is a bit over-kill and something like s 256GB (or smaller HD,) don't make me laugh. A 1TB HD is in the "Goldilocks Zone," enough space for your OS, OS Updates and Programs, while giving you enough "Breathing Room" for your computer to work well. 

If you still are confused, I've written yet another article on this subject, titled, "All About Memory - The Difference between Hard Drives & RAM." Please, give it a read. :) Anyway...if a person purchases a computer with a small main hard drive, they will ultimately run into problems, not only from lack of storage capacity, but from an operational standpoint as well. A full HD is a sad HD. Programs will come to a screeching halt, and generate all sorts of error messages when a HD becomes low on space, especially Adobe Photoshop. With a 256GB (or smaller HD,) that capacity is MICROSCOPIC by today's standards; at those capacities, that HD is meant for the Operating System and one or two programs ONLY, forget about any data files or photos. Forget about software / OS updates. Unfortunately, with today's modern computers in 2023, a 256GB Main HD is CHEAP, manufacturers use them to keep costs low, so you will need to do your due-diligence and check out the specifications of Hard Drive Capacity for the Computer Model you are looking at.

  • Video Card - This is the device in your computer that is responsible for your Monitor to have the ability to display something.


  1. Integrated - This type of Video Card is built into the Motherboard and instead of having a dedicated chip to do Video Compiling (The 1's and 0's that make up a image,) uses the CPU chip to accomplish this task. In addition, this type of Video Card does not have its own memory but instead uses a section of the Computer's RAM in order to function.
  2. Non-Integrated - Non-Integrated can be a physical card that resides in a Expansion Slot on a Desktop Computer OR reside as part of the Motherboard, which is typically found in Laptops. The main difference with a Non-Integrated Video Card is that it has its own "Brain" called a GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) and it's own dedicated memory called "VRAM" or Video RAM. You will typically see this type of memory listed below the RAM, usually in small increments...2GB / 4G / 6GB / 8GB, etc. What trips people up is when you get to the larger capacities, like 8GB of Video RAM; which is a completely different kinds of Memory than RAM. In 2023, you want at least 8GB or more of dedicated Video RAM.

As I've mentioned above, in addition to creating a Video Signal that gives you something to see, Video Cards have under-utilized components that are FAST. This causes software developers to tap into this potential for a performance boost, and it is noticeable, not just with Photoshop. To illustrate, I recently tried out Topaz's Software, just to see how well it worked. I used both the Sharpness and De-Noise Programs. In each of their preferences, there was an option to "Use the Video Card" or to just use the CPU. I can say with complete certainty, there was a difference in performance when using the Video Card. For example, a photo that was being sharpened or de-noise was being applied took about 2 minutes for a large Panorama to complete. When I applied the same settings but used the Video Card, that same routine took roughly 30-45 seconds! So you can see the benefit to having a high-performance Video Card. It does make a difference.  

  • IPS-Based Display or In-Plane Switching Display - This is also one of those non-negotiable items. Your Computer's Display, if you are editing Photos, it needs to be IPS Based. Period. Why? IPS Screens have a better / greater viewing angle, and has better Contrast, Color and Sharpness that is more consistent from corner to corner. Which if you think about it, is kinda important when it comes to editing Photos & Video. :)  I also HIGHLY RECOMMEND a Display that has Anti-Glare Coatings or is Non-Glossy for those editing photos.
  • Windows 10 or Windows 11 - Microsoft will continue to support at least one Windows 10 release until October 14, 2025. After that date, it will no longer be supported, patched / updated. Just like Windows XP and other versions of Windows in the past. "End of LIfe" is "End of Life." So while we still have a few good years left on a very-solid Operating System with Windows 10, I would ensure that your new computer is Windows 11 capable and it should be at this point. So either buy a computer that has Windows 10 on it and be prepared to upgrade in a few years, or just get a computer with Windows 11. Keep in mind that Win 11 can be buggy, but it has gotten a lot better now than it was a few years ago. Come 2025, and you should be fine. Me personally? I'd get Windows 10 and wait to upgrade in 2025. But that's just me.
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You keep mentioning the importance of having a "Good Video Card." Any ideas on what to look for? Any recommendations?

Why actually, yes! I do! :D 

Personally, my Go-To Video Card of Choice has been the NVIDIA RTX 3070 with 8GB of Video RAM. There is a newer version of card, the NVIDIA RTX 3070 Ti, which is fine. Either will work just fine with the current versions of Photoshop, provided that you are using the NVIDIA Studio Drivers, and NOT THE DEFAULT VIDEO GAME DRIVERS. Yes, in this case it's important to use the "Studio Drivers," as they are meant for programs like Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom. Users here have reported lag and overall sluggishness in Photoshop, especially for those that use Lightroom! As soon as I had them switch over to the Studio Drivers, their problems went away.

For the average Photoshop user, there really isn't a significant reason to purchase a 3070 Ti over a 3070, but if you did want to spend a little more and get the NVIDIA RTX 3080, I'm perfectly fine with that. I will say though, the 3090 series is WAY overkill and the new 4000 Series, I would avoid. Not only are they expensive, but there seems to be all sorts of problems and bugs that need to be worked out with the NVIDIA RTX 4000 Series Cards. So I'm still going to recommend purchasing a NVIDIA 3070 or 3080 with at least 8GB of Video RAM.

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Brian! Just tell me what to buy!!

I wish I could give you an easy answer, and I do have one. Typically, you are looking for either a high-performance business computer OR a low-end Gaming Computer. Either of these types of computers should have most, if not all, my requirements. The problem is with Windows Computers is, they are hard to nail down because models change so frequently. Especially when it comes to something like a laptop, those suckers are only around for 45-60 Days, before that model is replaced by another newer model. It's insane.

Usually, I tend to recommend the Dell XPS Line of Computers as a starting point, since Dell is a World-Wide Company and whose computers are usually available. So it's a great reference point for everyone. I do realize that not everyone likes Dell computers, and that's fine, just use my recommendation as a guide and purchase a similarly equipped computer.  Easy-Peasy.

So let's start by heading to Dell's Website and taking a look at their XPS Desktop Line. We are going to use my spec recommendations above to weed out unnecessary models by selecting things in the left column.

  • Intel i7 / Intel i7K Series
  • 32GB RAM or More
  • 1TB Storage Size
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080

We are then left with two options:


These two computers are identical, except for one thing: The Version of Windows. One comes with Windows 11 Pro, while the other comes loaded with Windows 11 "Home." For the average user, Windows 11 "Home" is fine, but for Power-Users and Business Users, I'd highly recommend spending the $50 and get the "Pro." Version.

The difference between the two? The Pro Version not only has extra tools for businesses, the biggest reason to buy it is for when something in Windows breaks; the "Pro" version of the Operating System just stays out of your way. I can fix things WAAAAAAY easier with Windows Pro than I can with the "Home" edition. Home Editions want you to use Wizards and such, and make you walk through a lot of steps, for a good reason. Well, to keep support calls low. :D The "Home" edition of Windows is meant for the "Average" home user that will be calling Tech Support if there is an issue. For folks like me who have made a career in figuring things out without calling support, it's the "Pro" Version for me.

So let's start with the model that I'd choose: Dell XPS Desktop

I wouldn't make any changes to this configuration, except I would add 2 years of  ProSupport Warranty Coverage, which adds $239. At the time of this writing, there seems to be a sale going on for three years of coverage for $294 extra. It's up to you if you want 3 years of coverage or not. For me, two years is fine. So as it stands right now, as of March 28, 2023, here is how the configuration and price of the computer looks like: 


Towards the bottom, I see a monitor that I usually recommend and is perfect for Photo Editing: Dell UltraSharp 27 Monitor - U2722D.  A few things jump out at me with this Display:


You want some Anti-Glare Coatings or a Non-Glossy Display, which cuts down on reflections, and these specs:


This Display is definitely one to consider if you are buying one now.

So for roughly $2800, this is a "Windows Computer that's Good for Photo Editing."

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