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What should I consider for a new computer

Joined
Apr 17, 2021
Messages
5
Lightroom Version
classic , latest
Operating System
  1. Windows 10
I would like to get a new computer and as Lightroom is the most demanding software I use, I would like to optimise the money I spend. What is generally the most limiting factor? CPU (clock or cores), GPU, RAM size, RAM speed, disc speed (read / write)? Don't need a brand - as I am aiming to fill a small form-factor barebone, but more of a most important list. Thanks.
 
Joined
Dec 7, 2007
Messages
2,391
Location
Puget Sound
Lightroom Experience
Intermediate
Lightroom Version
Classic
Welcome to the forum. The three that are usually mentioned are CPU, RAM and disk speed, as you have called out above. For RAM, you probably want 32-64GB. You could probably do with 16-24GB, but 32GB should probably serve you well. You want your main disc to be fast, and NVMe drives are typically what folks consider. Depending on how large your image collection is will somewhat determine the drive(s) you want to use for file storage. SSD drives of all flavors start to get quite expensive when you are looking at drives above 2-4TB. At that point, a fast platter drive is probably recommended for storing your images in conjunction with your primary drive. A current generation multi-core CPU is recommended, and the recommendations vary with who you ask. Puget Systems has a lot of articles on its blog about hardware recommended for LR. Here is a link to their current recommendations: Recommended System: Recommended Systems for Adobe Lightroom Classic . Search their blog for additional detailed articles.

Good luck,

--Ken
 
Joined
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Location
West Sussex, UK
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Lightroom Version
I think you've also got to throw GPU into the mix nowadays, Ken.
 

PhilBurton

Lightroom enthusiast (but still learning)
Premium Classic Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2015
Messages
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California, USA
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Are you planning to buy your system from a custom build shop? If so, you will need to pay attention to all the components you choose, starting with the CPU and motherboard. Case choice will also be important for you. People in this forum will be happy to advise you on brands and choices.

Puget Systems is a well-respected custom build shop, and they even have designs optimized for Lightroom (and Photoshop). However, they tend to be pricey.

In case you haven't heard, there is a world-wide shortage of GPU cards, with scalpers charging 2-3X the MSRP or RRP. This shortage is widely blamed on crypto currency (e.g. Bitcoin) "miners," who are buying large quantities of GPU cards to "mint" more crpto coins. The custom shop may have an arrangement with NVidia or AMD to get preferential supply, compared with the open market.
 
Joined
Dec 7, 2007
Messages
2,391
Location
Puget Sound
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I think you've also got to throw GPU into the mix nowadays, Ken.
Very True. I am still cranking along on a PC with integrated graphics, so a GPU tends to slip my mind. I should know better as I have taken an interest in video, and a GPU is a must for doing any significant work.

Thanks,

--Ken
 
Joined
Apr 17, 2021
Messages
5
Thank you for these very helpful replies. I plan to put things together myself. Not done the research so far, but I am thinking of using something like an Intel NUC as a place to start. Having a spec priority list in mind for the research helps to keep cost at bay.

How relevant is a strong GPU? My impression for the very old LR versions (5 and lower) was that the GPU was not very crucial for the overall speed. Did this change? Small form factors are not exactly made with graphic cards in mind. So, if this is crucial I might need to reconsider the place to start.

Just for some background: I am a returning LR user. I switched to Capture One from LR6 - mainly due to performance issues. Right now, everything looks very familiar - but there are quite some changes I try to catch up with.
 

GregJ

Member
Joined
Jul 11, 2011
Messages
91
Location
San Antonio, TX
Lightroom Experience
Power User
Lightroom Version
Classic
I would like to get a new computer and as Lightroom is the most demanding software I use, I would like to optimize the money I spend. What is generally the most limiting factor? CPU (clock or cores), GPU, RAM size, RAM speed, disc speed (read / write)? Don't need a brand - as I am aiming to fill a small form-factor barebone, but more of a most important list. Thanks.
This is a loaded question but very interesting. I gather from this that you are going to build your own rig. If that is the case, get Maximum PC now and read the last 6 issues. Are you a computer or IT guy? Have you built before? Are you a gamer? (I think not). Go to pcpartpicker and read the discussion boards and start building a PC and try different configurations. You must decide how much you will spend. Do you want mid-level or cutting edge?
Educate yourself on the latest top intel CPU vs AMD. AMD is winning right now in many ways if you are building a PC. I built 6 months ago with the new top intel chip (i9 10900) which I regret. But Intel is counterattacking AMD with a new top-end chip for PC builds, but so is AMD. I would go AMD. Educate yourself. If you tell me how much you want to spend, I could maybe take the time to tell you what parts to get.
Know this though, even if you spend 5,000 dollars building a rig like I did, whatever you build will not be cutting-edge in 6 months.
Any PC you buy are build that costs over 1600 bucks is going to fly with LR. No worries. These new computers are so fast and LR is not problem. Huge files (like my GFX 100) are no problem. Don't use any spinning HDDs. Put your OS and programs on a 1 TB PCIe 4.0 (not 3) M.2 SSD and your files on a big sata SSD (mine is 8TB but 4 should be enough).
Also know what is happening in the GPU world. The new Nvidia 3080 family of GPUs demolish all previous GPUs but they are very hard to get.
Decide on a CPU & GPU and please do AIO water cooling. Easy to do and cheap.
It is almost as cheap to buy a pre-built PC from one of the big makers like Dell or one of the gaming pc companies as it is to build right now because of all the part shortages. Oh and the case..... Go read Maximum PC now.....
 
Joined
Apr 17, 2021
Messages
5
This is a loaded question but very interesting. I gather from this that you are going to build your own rig. If that is the case, get Maximum PC now and read the last 6 issues. Are you a computer or IT guy? Have you built before? Are you a gamer? (I think not). Go to pcpartpicker and read the discussion boards and start building a PC and try different configurations. You must decide how much you will spend. Do you want mid-level or cutting edge?
Educate yourself on the latest top intel CPU vs AMD. AMD is winning right now in many ways if you are building a PC. I built 6 months ago with the new top intel chip (i9 10900) which I regret. But Intel is counterattacking AMD with a new top-end chip for PC builds, but so is AMD. I would go AMD. Educate yourself. If you tell me how much you want to spend, I could maybe take the time to tell you what parts to get.
Know this though, even if you spend 5,000 dollars building a rig like I did, whatever you build will not be cutting-edge in 6 months.
Any PC you buy are build that costs over 1600 bucks is going to fly with LR. No worries. These new computers are so fast and LR is not problem. Huge files (like my GFX 100) are no problem. Don't use any spinning HDDs. Put your OS and programs on a 1 TB PCIe 4.0 (not 3) M.2 SSD and your files on a big sata SSD (mine is 8TB but 4 should be enough).
Also know what is happening in the GPU world. The new Nvidia 3080 family of GPUs demolish all previous GPUs but they are very hard to get.
Decide on a CPU & GPU and please do AIO water cooling. Easy to do and cheap.
It is almost as cheap to buy a pre-built PC from one of the big makers like Dell or one of the gaming pc companies as it is to build right now because of all the part shortages. Oh and the case..... Go read Maximum PC now.....
Thanks GregJ - much appreciated. Don't care too much about cutting edge. I am kind of a minimal kind of guy - and tend to upgrade over time. However, I still want to get a decent performance for LR (the most demanding application on this rig). E.g. I have no need for a dedicated graphics card - however, if LR really profits substantially then I might divert some funds towards a better GPU -- or should I better invest this money into a higher end CPU? I have no fixed budget and is more defined by getting the best bang for the buck.
 

GregJ

Member
Joined
Jul 11, 2011
Messages
91
Location
San Antonio, TX
Lightroom Experience
Power User
Lightroom Version
Classic
Thanks GregJ - much appreciated. Don't care too much about cutting edge. I am kind of a minimal kind of guy - and tend to upgrade over time. However, I still want to get a decent performance for LR (the most demanding application on this rig). E.g. I have no need for a dedicated graphics card - however, if LR really profits substantially then I might divert some funds towards a better GPU -- or should I better invest this money into a higher end CPU? I have no fixed budget and is more defined by getting the best bang for the buck.
You must do this.... Subscribe now to Maximum PC and read the last 4 issues. You must get a GPU. Crazy not too, even though the newest chips are going to have a big jump in integrated graphics capability. But no ... gte a GPU.
Go read the April addition of Mx PC right now and look at the page 97 and 98. Pick the AMD or Intel rig and build it. Build the "Turbo" rig at 2,7042 bucks. Or go one step down and build the "Mid Range" rig for 1,582. But the problem is GPUs. Hard to get now, even the old 2080 family. Look for the new. In the Feb issue of MaxPC, read the article about the world chip shortage and the article about the big GPU shortage right now. The new RTX 30 series of great cards are impossible to get unless you buy a pore-built PC right now. Look at the adds for pre-builds in MaxPC or cruise on Dell or Lenovo....
Remember, the monitor is critical. You need a 4K IPS 32 inch "pro" monitor. That is the biggest mistake digital photographers make. You need an IPS and big "pro" color calibrated high color gamut 4K monitor - not a gaming monitor since you are not a gamer.
 
Joined
Mar 29, 2015
Messages
718
Lightroom Experience
Intermediate
Lightroom Version
Classic
Something I keep in mind now is trying to future proof my next purchase. This means looking at new software I may be interested in and it's requirements. For example, will you use another tool like Topaz or Luminar in the future?
 
Joined
Apr 17, 2021
Messages
5
Something I keep in mind now is trying to future proof my next purchase. This means looking at new software I may be interested in and it's requirements. For example, will you use another tool like Topaz or Luminar in the future?
Future proofing by buying more capacity then what I need never quite worked out for me with computers. I did that alot in the past - but in the last years, I switched to a strategy that focuses on flexibility to upgrades what I really need. This is also the reason why I go with a semi-own built where I can control what goes into the box.
 
Joined
Mar 29, 2015
Messages
718
Lightroom Experience
Intermediate
Lightroom Version
Classic
This is also the reason why I go with a semi-own built where I can control what goes into the box
This is where it can get tricky. I lived through a number of problems because my Dell computer had an onboard RAID controller that Intel decided to end-of-life. Even though all tests showed it was fine, the numerous problems were fixed by replacing the hard drive.

There is also the issue, if you go Windows, with the more discrete components, the more issues you may encounter with validity of drivers.
 

PhilBurton

Lightroom enthusiast (but still learning)
Premium Classic Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2015
Messages
2,506
Location
California, USA
Lightroom Experience
Intermediate
Lightroom Version
Classic
This is a loaded question but very interesting. I gather from this that you are going to build your own rig. If that is the case, get Maximum PC now and read the last 6 issues. Are you a computer or IT guy? Have you built before? Are you a gamer? (I think not). Go to pcpartpicker and read the discussion boards and start building a PC and try different configurations. You must decide how much you will spend. Do you want mid-level or cutting edge?
Educate yourself on the latest top intel CPU vs AMD. AMD is winning right now in many ways if you are building a PC. I built 6 months ago with the new top intel chip (i9 10900) which I regret. But Intel is counterattacking AMD with a new top-end chip for PC builds, but so is AMD. I would go AMD. Educate yourself. If you tell me how much you want to spend, I could maybe take the time to tell you what parts to get.
Know this though, even if you spend 5,000 dollars building a rig like I did, whatever you build will not be cutting-edge in 6 months.
Any PC you buy are build that costs over 1600 bucks is going to fly with LR. No worries. These new computers are so fast and LR is not problem. Huge files (like my GFX 100) are no problem. Don't use any spinning HDDs. Put your OS and programs on a 1 TB PCIe 4.0 (not 3) M.2 SSD and your files on a big sata SSD (mine is 8TB but 4 should be enough).
Also know what is happening in the GPU world. The new Nvidia 3080 family of GPUs demolish all previous GPUs but they are very hard to get.
Decide on a CPU & GPU and please do AIO water cooling. Easy to do and cheap.
It is almost as cheap to buy a pre-built PC from one of the big makers like Dell or one of the gaming pc companies as it is to build right now because of all the part shortages. Oh and the case..... Go read Maximum PC now.....
The product reviews on Newegg are also a great source of information, much more so than Amazon and more sophisticated.

If you really want to go in deep, try this forum www.hardforum.com.
 
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