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2024/2025 Desktop Questions


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Hi Brian,

I'm getting ready to start editing a higher volume of photos than I'm used to (relatively small scale school photography). I also do some interior photography and headshots/portraits. I'm on a MacBook and HATE it (slow, small, hopeless). If I had found this group sooner, I would have known better. Budget is an issue but so is my sanity, and frankly my ability to complete a job. I read your posts about buying in 2023 and the new Photoshop, but as I'm scrolling through options it looks like those video cards are already updated to newer versions. 

Obviously, I'm here because I'm not tech savvy. I know you said *sometimes* newer isn't better, but I wouldn't know. I'd be so grateful for your specific guidance. I'd like a Windows desktop that I can use primarily for Lightroom/Photoshop/Imagen...maybe some basic video editing in Capcut. Something that will hopefully last a while. And probably a 32ish inch monitor. I have a Calibrite device. I use a Canon R6 MII most of the time.

Is there a world where I can do this under $1500? Or am I going to regret not spending a little more now to have something that will last longer with all these software developments? If I have to keep clicking and waiting forever, it'll just be so disappointing. I do have a 27 inch Dell monitor that I can get by with for a minute if I need to wait on that. I usually like to buy things at Costco if I can...if they have something acceptable? Partly because of the return policy and extended warranty, but also because the limited options help me narrow things down. I'm open to going elsewhere, I just get overwhelmed. 

The person to talked me into the mac just gave awful advice. I would really really appreciate your help. 

 

 

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15 hours ago, NMH said:

Is there a world where I can do this under $1500?

Nope. :)  Sorry, you want a 32" Display AND a new Computer AND want to edit video. Realistically, I'd target around $2500-ish. Maybe a little higher, like $2700-ish. The days of buying the $999 special from Costco that is "Good Enough" are over. That was 10+ years ago, and even then those models were pushing things. It's more like 15-20 years ago you could have gotten away with the $999 Computer Package from a store like Costco. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I'd hate to see you waste money on this shit.

15 hours ago, NMH said:

I usually like to buy things at Costco if I can

I just looked on Costco's Website...I didn't see a single computer that meets your budget AND expectations. Well, that's not 100% true. You could order this one and then upgrade things, like the RAM, replace the Keyboard, etc., but I'm not overly excited with that model. I just saw the price.

In today's world, it's the choice of Video Card that is the most important thing. For me, in 2024...headed into 2025, I would be looking at a NVIDIA RTX 4070 or better, the RTX 4080 would honestly be my choice right now, but either is fine. (e.g. the RTX 4070 Ti version.)  I would not go with a NVIDIA 4060, those cards are put in so many computers because it's "almost" a 4070, right? Wrong. They are cheap. Cheap-Cheap-Cheap for the manufacturers to install. That's why you see them and the 4050 versions all over the place. Don't fall for marketing. 4070 or 4080.The 4090 is complete overkill and a waste of your money.

 

15 hours ago, NMH said:

I read your posts about buying in 2023 and the new Photoshop, but as I'm scrolling through options it looks like those video cards are already updated to newer versions. 

Yeah, that's the problem with the "Just tell me what to buy!!" posts, the information just gets outdated so quickly. Basically...it's all the same stuff, just the modern equivalents. What I would do if I were you is to rock that 27" Dell Monitor for a bit, get some money flowing from clients, THEN purchase a new Monitor. Keep in mind, you are likely replacing your calibrator as well, but try it first. IF it works...great. If it doesn't, you will know right away so plan for spending money on one, just in case. You'd be surprised on how many new Display Panel Tech has been implemented across the board. You will never win the "Catch Up" game. Anyway...

So what kind of specs are you looking for? Here is the rundown:

  • Current Intel i7 or i9 CPU
  • 64GB RAM
  • 1TB Main HD
  • NVIDIA RTX 4070 or NVIDIA RTX 4080 with at least 8GB Dedicated Video Memory. (More is always better, so if it has 12GB of Video RAM, that's awesome.)
  • Power Supply that's beefy enough to support everything, probably 750 Watts to 850 Watts.
  • Case with good airflow.
  • Windows 11

I'd also recommend installing a large internal HD for storage, or you can to the external thing for backups. Basically, you are looking at a mid-range Gaming Computer. I do like the Dell XPS Line of Desktops, and did configure one for you. Now, it's about $2500...remember, inflation is hitting EVERYTHING. The US Dollar does not go as far as it once did. Quantities are smaller for what you buy and everything from Homes to Automobiles just cost more. Here is the Dell XPS Desktop that I would buy. I did configure it with a 2 Year Onsite Warranty, and it has 64GB already, so it's not like you are going to have to run out and buy RAM. I wouldn't attempt any Video Editing with anything less than 64GB. Plug-ins with Video Editing Software eat RAM, and you need the plug-ins to do stuff.

 

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15 hours ago, NMH said:

I'm on a MacBook and HATE it (slow, small, hopeless). If I had found this group sooner, I would have known better.

Yep. Apple wants you to "Go Big or Go Home." The Apple Products that you can "Afford," are not the same ones that you "Need." Those are two very different things. In reality, you are spending more than $4000-$4600 for a "Mac that's good for Photo Editing." Either a Desktop or Laptop. Anything less and you are buying a computer that will last you software-wise for about 18 months. Why? Because Apple's products are glorified iPads; meaning there is no upgrading ANYTHING after the fact. So if you didn't buy the extra RAM and larger HD and better Video GPU at the time-of-purchase, too-bad-so-sad...you are buying a new Mac. Yes, this is done intentionally. Apple doesn't want you out of the Market for 7-8 years. I do. ;) They want you buying a new computer every 18-24 months.

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Oh man, this is SO helpful!!!! Truly, such a relief to get sound, THOROUGH advice. I think I knew the truth about the budget in my gut, so not a huge surprise. I *may* need to attempt to get through this fall season and build up the extra cash, but I'll keep a constant eye online for any great sales. The parameters you spelled out and the info on the video card help a lot. The video editing is not a deal breaker, but if I'm going for a new computer, might as well be set up properly. Printing this out and taping it on the wall next to me! I'll let you know when I make the switch...oh, that being said do you think there will be any complications changing over from mac to windows? I have all my files on an external drive attached to my mac for now (and I'm pretty sure I read in some post somewhere that you said I need to have the files I'm editing on my computer's hard drive...like, how many ways could one person go wrong?)...can I just plug the external into the new windows computer and use them that easily?

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23 hours ago, NMH said:

do you think there will be any complications changing over from mac to windows?

Yes. And no. :D

Apple makes it VERY EASY TO SWITCH FROM WINDOWS TO MAC, BUT NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND!!

There is a process and some translating software involved, and I'd HIGHLY-HIGHLY-HIGHLY recommend a clean (or new) external HD to mess with. When you get to that point, talk to me first.

23 hours ago, NMH said:

The video editing is not a deal breaker, but if I'm going for a new computer, might as well be set up properly.

Adobe's Products rely heavily on having a beefy GPU (Video Card) in 2024. In fact, the choice of Video Card IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN CHOICE OF CPU!! So regardless if you are editing Video or not, Photoshop itself is becoming a BEAST with all this AI Crap and fancy Tools / Plug-ins. Adobe needs to convince the masses to stay hooked on the Subscription Model, and the only way they can do that is if they keep adding crap. Which increases the hardware requirements of the computers / laptops that people run Photoshop on. It's a vicious cycle.

23 hours ago, NMH said:

u said I need to have the files I'm editing on my computer's hard drive...like, how many ways could one person go wrong?)...can I just plug the external into the new windows computer and use them that easily?

That's Damien who recommends that. I'm slightly different. The main reason is speed. Working off an External HD via the USB port, even if it's USB 3.0, is painfully slow. Having your images on the main HD, and then moving those images to an external for backup purposes is ideal...IF you only have USB 3.0 Ports and the space on your Main HD to store said photos. For me, I work of an external drive, but my EHD is a Big and Beefy Professional Grade HD, and I'm running it thought my Thunderbolt 3 port, which is WAAAAAY faster than a USB 3.0 port. (5Gbps vs 40Gbps.) So for me, it's like I'm working off an internal drive. That said...again, my EHD is a pro-grade HD, not a EHD that was on sale for $79.99 at a Big Box Store. In fact, here is the current model of the EHD that I have. Now, that Dell that I linked to has a USB 3.2 Type-C™ Port, which the Thunderbolt G-Drive will work with, but at half the speed, 20Gbps. If you want the full 40Gbps that TB3 provides, you will need to add a card in the expansion slot of the computer. For that, you'll need to find a local place to install one, or just contact Dell and see if you can add one. They should be about $70-ish for a Thunderbolt 3 card. 

23 hours ago, NMH said:

how many ways could one person go wrong?)...can I just plug the external into the new windows computer and use them that easily?

You would be surpised on how many folks have posted threads begging for help after they knocked their EHD off the desk. Or a Cat / Small Child to do it for them. Or a spilled drink. The possibilities of something stupid happening are endless. Hell, I had a friend who had a "flood" in their office...not water from the outside or from a river, but a busted Water Pipe in the Ceiling above their computer. Do not tempt fate by asking that rhetorical question. The Universe has a dark sense of humor. ;) 

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