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Advice on getting new hardware

jemostrom

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Hi,
I need some advice on buying a new computer, or at least planning for buying a new computer. Currently I’m using an older Mac Mini that is solely set up for use with my photography (just a hobby). I'm using Lightroom Classic (together with the iOS CC versions) and unfortunately the computers age is starting to show.

So I've started to think about how I want to work in the next 5-10 years, should I switch to some other program (not something I'm going to discuss here), in what ways can I improve my workflow (sometimes my workflow prevents me from processing the photos in a reasonable time) and in what ways can I improve my computer (not much, it's already maxed out).

And here comes my question. I prefer using a Mac but the crazy high prices of new hardware have got me to start thinking if it's a reasonable thing to switch a computer with another OS to be my "photo computer". In term of OSes my order of preference is macOS, Linux and Windows - unfortunately I haven't found a program that runs on Linux that I like/trust/works for me. So right now I'm considering building a PC and use Lightroom just for handling my photos.

Assume that I use Lightroom, what are the important hardware aspects that I should think about when putting together such a machine?

- How important is memory - the more the better? or is there some upper limit when it doesn't matter anymore?
- What are the important features of the CPU - speed vs cores, for example?
- What about the GPU - what should I think about here?
- Disk - assuming that I run the OS on a SSD, does it work well to have the original photos stored on spinning disks (cheaper)? Or is there a huge improvement to use only SSDs (my guess that have OS + Lightroom + previews on SSDs and having the original image files on spinning disks would work well)
- Any other things I should think about?

This is not something that I'm going to do tomorrow but perhaps within the next year or so. I need to think about this carefully and also see what kind of hardware Apple releases later this year.
 

Minivini

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To prevent starting a separate thread asking a similar question, I’m sort of doing the same thing, but coming from a Windows background. And, I’m pulling the trigger in June.

I’m looking to update my old first generation Surface Pro to a new device with Thunderbolt. My hope is another tablet that I might connect to an egpu via the Thunderbolt connection.

On the other hand, with this mysterious new Photoshop on iPad thing looming out there, I’m more torn than ever. I don’t really use a proper computer for anything any longer except photo work. I do very little full Photoshop work, principally using Lightroom. Since the new iPad Pro can connect to a monitor, I’m definitely intrigued. Plus, we’re pretty much an entirely iOS household.

Thanks for any suggestions!!
 

clee01l

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I seen many years as a developer writing Windows applications. I think I know (knew?) Windows inside and out. I also ran Linux and my preferred end user version was Ubuntu.
Although I never had a problem that caused me to erase the HD and start over, I spent a lot of time tuning the OS to reasonable performance. I came tp the conclusion that Windows is too temperamental for the general consumer public to use with out a lot of frustration.
When I retired about 10 years ago, I got my first iMac, added a MBP and have iOS devices (iPhone, iPad). Nothing integrates all of your devices like Apple does with Macs and iCloud devices. I simply got tired of "dinking" with the OS settings to keep Windows running smoothly.

Most of the time I use a browser (safari), email, a word processor and an spreadsheet. I can handoff what ever I am doing between MacOS and iOS devices seamlessly. The same is pretty much true with Lightroom Classic CC and the mobile app Lightroom CC. I even run Lightroom CC on my laptop (MBP).

I've spent a lot of years here answering LR questions. Although I don't have statistics to back this up, I believe that most of the issues happen with Windows users This was especially true when LR6 was first released and Adobe did not understand how difficult the process was going to be integrating the GPU on Windows with crappy 3rd party drivers, out of date drivers and inconsistency all across the Windows spectrum with many hardware flavors and often did not work or did not work together.
If you are willing to pay the Apple tax (which is not that out of line with a comparably spec'd Windows machine), I would recommend a quad core or better Mac with a minimum of 16GB of RAM and a minimum of 512GB SSD. If you are not planning to travel with it, go for an iMac or iMac Pro, Mac Pro or Mac Mini.

If you are very computer literate and can spend lots of time "under the hood" a Windows machine with similar specs as the Macs above will work as well.

Most people are not locked into a Windows OS, and except for heavy Lightroom lifting that still requires Lightroom Classic, a tablet device will serve most folks computing requirements.
 
Last edited:

jemostrom

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On the other hand, with this mysterious new Photoshop on iPad thing looming out there, I’m more torn than ever. I don’t really use a proper computer for anything any longer except photo work. I do very little full Photoshop work, principally using Lightroom. Since the new iPad Pro can connect to a monitor, I’m definitely intrigued. Plus, we’re pretty much an entirely iOS household.
My experience from this is using the previous iPad Pro model. My setup is iPhone & iPad + MB Pro 2017 + Mini ... oldish 2013? 2014? Mini is the photo machine - running LR Classic, laptop runs LR CC same thing with iPhone/iPad. Workflow (quick description) is to import on any device which means that all photos ends up on my Mini. If have a large batch of photos I cull them on the mini, small batches on the iPad. Edits usually on the iPad, final edits/checks on Mini. This has worked well for me for the last 4-5 months but it took a while before LR and I agreed on what should happen (Adobe really want you to store all photos in the cloud).

But using the iPad as a photo station works very ... unless you want to import large batches of photos (they first need to go to the iOS photo library and from there you can import into LR, I really hope the next version iOS removes this limitation) but I usually import on laptop/mini and cull/edit on iPad.
 

jemostrom

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Most of the time I use a browser (safari), email, a word processor and an spreadsheet. I can handoff what ever I am doing between MacOS and iOS devices seamlessly. The same is pretty much true with Lightroom Classic CC and the mobile app Lightroom CC. I even run Lightroom CC on my laptop (MBP).
Yep, same as me ,,, this works very nicely. If you wander about why I'm not using my laptop instead of the mini it's because it's my work machine and they think that I should use it for work related stuff instead of photography ... silly ideas they have.
But I actually prefer editing on the iPad, and I like classic better than CC ... so I have the workflow mentioned above.

I've spent a lot of years here answering LR questions. Although I don't have statistics to back this up, I believe that most of the issues happen with Windows users This was especially true when LR6 was first released and Adobe did not understand how difficult the process was going to be integrating the GPU on Windows with crappy 3rd party drivers, out of date drivers and inconsistency all across the Windows spectrum with many hardware flavors and often did not work or did not work together.
Thanks for that insight.

If you are willing to pay the Apple tax (which is not that out of line with a comparably spec'd Windows machine), I would recommend a quad core or better Mac with a minimum of 16GB of RAM and a minimum of 512GB SSD. If you are not planning to travel with it, go for an iMac or iMac Pro, Mac Pro or Mac Mini.
This is my laptop config but I don't want to rely on that machine. I'm want to see what Apple are going to release as their "Pro lineup" this year before making any decisions.

If you are very computer literate and can spend lots of time "under the hood" a Windows machine with similar specs as the Macs above will work as well.
I do have some experience (30+ years as a computer science teacher/researcher at a university + 1-3 years as a sysadm a long time ago) but I have almost no experience from Windows. Had LR been available natively on linux - I'm talking about full support from Adobe - I would have already have had a linux based "photostation". I'm quite reserved about Windows and I'm hesitant about starting to use it as home - we're all macOS/iOS based (OK, there is a linux machine or two there also ... that gets very light use).

except for heavy Lightroom lifting the still requires Lightroom Classic, a tablet device will serve most folks computing requirements.
Yep, for daily use my iPad is perfect ... it's for these larger shoots (and the storage) I want/need a "photostation"
 

OogieM

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And here comes my question. I prefer using a Mac but the crazy high prices of new hardware have got me to start thinking if it's a reasonable thing to switch a computer with another OS to be my "photo computer". I
Apple prices are not"crazy high" if you compare Windows machines that are the same in performance. And if you already are familiar and happy with Mac I am willing to bet that you will NOT be happy or comfortable using a Windows machine. They require much more fiddling and are far more prone to problems compared to a Mac. Personally I'd look at a high end iMac if you don't need it to be portable. I'd say get the largest hard drive you can 1YB minimum for me, and the maximum memory. Such a machine should be perfectly usable for years to come. I've still got a 2006 iMac that I use regularly and my current main machine is a 2013 iMac.
 

Hal P Anderson

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Wow! 1YB. That's truly big. ;)
 

OogieM

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Wow! 1YB. That's truly big. ;)
Typo should be TB will go edit it. But hey, I can see myself filling up a petabyte drive ;)

However, I cannot edit the message once I've added a new one
 

Replytoken

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I know both OS systems have their advocates, and I started out in the computing world in 1984 on a 128k Mac and still prefer iPads for my tablet, but if you are considering new desktop/laptop hardware, you should try out a machine that you are considering with Windows 10 software. I have been using Windows machines sine 1998, and have seen the changes from OS to OS. I was a bit reluctant to move to Win10 until I bought a new laptop last year with it installed. It has been running fine and I am now ready to move my desktop over as well.

Many of us get comfortable with what we know and that can bias a decision making process. I know that I tried to use a Mac desktop last year at a friends house and found it to be incredibly frustrating as things that I could easily do on Windows did not seem that easy to me on a Mac. I would suspect that some of that is how I approach what I am doing just like a MF photographer is going to approach a shoot different that a sports photographer using a DSLR.

Choose what meets your needs, but make sure that you decide what works best. We all have our preferences, and what works well for me may or may not work for you. Seeking input is helpful, but do not let it replace a hands on experience with machines in both systems running their latest OS versions.

Good luck,

--Ken
 

clee01l

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I know that I tried to use a Mac desktop last year at a friends house and found it to be incredibly frustrating as things that I could easily do on Windows did not seem that easy to me on a Mac.
I made the transition about 10 years ago. There is a learning curve. Not because the Mac is more difficult but simply because the toolset is different. I think having experience in a Unix / LINUX environment, makes the transition easier. I am still comfortable working in a Windows environment although new Windows versions are no longer familiar. And I too run into that same frustration that you experienced but for me it is now Windows 10. I know how to do it on a Mac and earlier versions of Windows but Microsoft continues to obfuscate the Windows processes from the end user making it very frustrating to make an easy fix.
 

Replytoken

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I made the transition about 10 years ago. There is a learning curve. Not because the Mac is more difficult but simply because the toolset is different. I think having experience in a Unix / LINUX environment, makes the transition easier. I am still comfortable working in a Windows environment although new Windows versions are no longer familiar. And I too run into that same frustration that you experienced but for me it is now Windows 10. I know how to do it on a Mac and earlier versions of Windows but Microsoft continues to obfuscate the Windows processes from the end user making it very frustrating to make an easy fix.
I absolutely agree. I know that if I was on a Mac system and tried to do something on a Windows system, I would be equally frustrated or lost. Both systems have strengths and weaknesses, and we tend to adapt as needed. I have a lot of respect for many Apple products, and always encourage people to pick what works best for them. But, I also have been int he Windows world long enough to know that it sometimes gets a bad wrap for undeserved reasons. I am sure that some Apple users feel the same way about the Mac or iOS devices and I would agree. That was why I encouraged the OP to try and get some actual use time. As I said, I was pleasantly surprised by my new Win10 laptop. It was quite speedy and Win10 can be tweaked a lot to a users preferences.


--Ken
 

PhilBurton

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Wow! 1YB. That's truly big. ;)
Hal,

That would be a yottabyte, which is 1024 zetabytes. A zetabyte is 1 billion (or the binary equivalent) terabytes.

Back when, the fastest data transmission network in the world was said to a Boeing 747 air freighter stuffed full of high-density backup tapes. I never worked out if that 747 was carrying more or less than a yottabyte. :p :p

Phil
 

Hal P Anderson

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Certainly a lot less. Google tells me that that much disk storage would cost about 100 trillion dollars:

How much does a Yottabyte cost?
The One Hundred Trillion Dollars Hard Drive. A yottabyte is one septillion bytes. To save all those bytes you need a data center as big as the states of Delaware and Rhode Island. It doesn't seem like much, until they tell you the price tag: $100 trillion.Jun 7, 2010
 

PhilBurton

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Certainly a lot less. Google tells me that that much disk storage would cost about 100 trillion dollars:

How much does a Yottabyte cost?
The One Hundred Trillion Dollars Hard Drive. A yottabyte is one septillion bytes. To save all those bytes you need a data center as big as the states of Delaware and Rhode Island. It doesn't seem like much, until they tell you the price tag: $100 trillion.Jun 7, 2010
:cool2:
 

jemostrom

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Thanks, for your comments. To say that I'm most used to Mac is probably an understatement ... I've been using them since 1986, next up is unix/linux for about the same time (but not as often) and on the third place ... far behind the other two is Windows (although I wrote Windows programs for Windows version 1 ... or possible even a pre-version 1).

I'm a bit hesitant to go to Windows since it would require, as mentioned above, me to find/get a few new programs (some utility programs) but at the same time the prize of the hardware is lower ... but as also mentioned above, I wonder how big the difference is for approximately the same type of system.

But as I mentioned above, there is also the question about software and the pricing of it ... something that I need to think about. And to make things even more interesting Apple has said that they are coming out with a new Pro product line this year - which depending on the price could be an alternative.

Anyway, I'm happy that I don't need to make a quick decision but can think about this for quite some time.

Thanks for the input
 

Zenon

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Hi,
I need some advice on buying a new computer, or at least planning for buying a new computer. Currently I’m using an older Mac Mini that is solely set up for use with my photography (just a hobby). I'm using Lightroom Classic (together with the iOS CC versions) and unfortunately the computers age is starting to show.

So I've started to think about how I want to work in the next 5-10 years, should I switch to some other program (not something I'm going to discuss here), in what ways can I improve my workflow (sometimes my workflow prevents me from processing the photos in a reasonable time) and in what ways can I improve my computer (not much, it's already maxed out).

And here comes my question. I prefer using a Mac but the crazy high prices of new hardware have got me to start thinking if it's a reasonable thing to switch a computer with another OS to be my "photo computer". In term of OSes my order of preference is macOS, Linux and Windows - unfortunately I haven't found a program that runs on Linux that I like/trust/works for me. So right now I'm considering building a PC and use Lightroom just for handling my photos.

Assume that I use Lightroom, what are the important hardware aspects that I should think about when putting together such a machine?

- How important is memory - the more the better? or is there some upper limit when it doesn't matter anymore?
- What are the important features of the CPU - speed vs cores, for example?
- What about the GPU - what should I think about here?
- Disk - assuming that I run the OS on a SSD, does it work well to have the original photos stored on spinning disks (cheaper)? Or is there a huge improvement to use only SSDs (my guess that have OS + Lightroom + previews on SSDs and having the original image files on spinning disks would work well)
- Any other things I should think about?

This is not something that I'm going to do tomorrow but perhaps within the next year or so. I need to think about this carefully and also see what kind of hardware Apple releases later this year.
I'm getting a new iMac in a few months and yes they are expensive. Just from some general reading.

You should first get the best processor, then the most memory, and finally the best gpu. You should not get 32gb from Apple. Buy Apple's minimum (8gb) and then get the rest from a third party. Much less expensive that way.

I'm looking at this from Apples site. I have 512GB storage on my current 2011 iMac and only 200GB is being used. I'm getting the best video card because of all the AI stuff coming out.
  • 3.2GHz 6-core 8th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, Turbo Boost up to 4.6GHz

  • 8GB 2666MHz DDR4 memory

  • Radeon Pro Vega 20 with 4GB of HBM2 memory

  • 512GB SSD storage
 

bposner

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May 22, 2019
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About 2 years ago, after using Windows for 40 years, I decided to get serious with my photography hobby/business. With all the problems I had with Windows 10 and having a very powerful Dell system, I decided to switch to MAC after sitting with a photographer friend that used a MAC. I bought a refurbished late 2013 27" MAC directly from Apple for about 1/2 the price same configuration in a new one at the time. I never looked. I also bought the AppleCare a must if you are moving platforms. There is so much help out there on YouTube and from Apple directly. There was one article I downloaded that was called something like "I used to do this on a PC, how do I On a MAC" or something like that. I will never go back to a PC or Windows OS for working with images. It has really changed the way I post process my images. It took me about 2 weeks or so to get comfortable using the MAC. I have two other monitors hooked to it and it's a real pleasure now to work on my images. Buying a refurbished directly from Apple I think is a good way to move into the New OS, and get a 27" it's great.
 
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