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Things to Consider When Buying a New Computer

Aug 7, 2021 | Gear Reviews | 0 comments

There are so many things to consider. As photographers, there are some things to keep in mind to make sure that your editing programs and post-processing run as efficiently as possible.

Whether you are shopping for a PC or a Mac, these tips can help you make the best decision for your budget.

1. A Fast Processor (CPU)

  • One of the most important things to help your computer run as quickly as possible is a fast processor. (also called a Central Processing Unit, or CPU.)
  • There are so many CPU chips available from both Intel and AMD. Generally, Intel chips are known to be faster and better for your post-processing needs.
  • Looking for a new computer just to use the internet? For slightly lighter tasks, using an AMD processor may be fine for you. So it’s a little lighter on your wallet.
  • Another thing to keep in mind is choosing a multi-core processor.
  • A multi-core processor means that the computer can work on multiple tasks at the same time instead of waiting for a task to finish before starting another. It can increase your computer’s overall speed by running separate cores at the same time.
  • I love being able to run Lightroom and Photoshop at the same time without any hesitation from my computer.
  • Don’t forget to check which processor you are using now. Make sure you are upgrading from your current processor to get the best speeds and performance on your new computer.

2. The Amount of Memory (RAM)

  • RAM refers to how much memory your computer has and this is often confused with hard drive space.
  • RAM actually works right with your processor and makes a difference with the speed and performance of your computer too. Just like your processor, you should get as much RAM as you can for your budget.
  • You can see how much memory your current computer is using by opening the Task Manager on a PC or the Activity Monitor on a Mac. A great reference to help decide how much memory you will need is to see what you are currently using.
  • If your available memory is less than 25%, you need to install a riser.
  • The operating system you are using can also affect how quickly your computer is using your RAM.
  • Add the most RAM you can afford. I would recommend at least 8-16GB minimum.

3. Graphics Card (GPU)

  • Your graphics card is a processor that is optimized for your images and videos on your computer.
  • It works right alongside your processor – in fact, your processor sends information to the graphics card. The graphics card also has it’s own RAM that it uses to perform all of the graphics-related rendering and calculations.
  • Using a great graphics card can also help the speed of your computer, especially with your post processing. Just like your CPU, there are many options available and graphic cards can be pricey.
  • For post-processing, I would recommend at least a mid-level graphics card. Remember to check which card you are currently using so that you make sure that you are upgrading with your new computer.

4. Computer Monitor

  • If you aren’t buying an all-in-one computer like an iMac, you will also need a computer monitor.
  • I would recommend first determining the size you want and purchasing the largest monitor you can afford.
  • There is nothing worse than regretting that you purchased a monitor that is too small.
  • There are so many styles available: 4K, curved, touchscreen, ultra widescreen, etc.
  • I would recommend actually sitting in front of the ones you are considering to see if the screen is a great fit.
  • Make sure that you can tilt and position it just right; because chances are that you will be looking at it a lot.
  • I would also recommend getting a monitor that works specifically with your graphics card. This will keep the response time on your monitor fast. Looking for something that has a response time of 5 milliseconds or less is a great place to start.
  • For accurate color, you will also want to make sure that the monitor has a color gamut larger than sRGB and at least has the ability to change the color temperature on the monitor’s menu. The higher resolution you can get, the better.

5. Hard Drive Space

  • Hard drive space is important but it’s easily expandable with external hard drives.
  • Getting enough space so that your apps/programs can run quickly is important but don’t worry about maxing out your budget with hard drive space.
  • The type of hard drive you choose can also affect your computer’s speed. A solid state hard drive (SSD) will give you the fastest speeds because there are no moving parts inside.
  • The information on a solid state drive is stored in microchips, whereas on a regular hard drive there is a spinning disk with a mechanical arm with a read/write head.
  • You can also choose a fusion drive that combines both types of drives and is a great value for the price.

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