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Old Mar 31, 2003, 5:22 AM   #11
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Default What PC specs are recommended

What are the Minimum & Maximum Computer specs you think are required for editing large photos & movies.
eg; what speed processor,

How much RAM, do you notice a big improvment in speed from say 1GB to 2.0GB. what is the cutoff in RAM, there must be a limit where more just doesnt speed things up anymore, or doesnt stop your computer freezing up.

What graphics card is recommended.
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Old Mar 31, 2003, 6:50 AM   #12
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As a laptop owner I'd recommend a PC. The LCD resolution simply isn't as good as a PC monitor in most (if not all) cases. As a result you'll see distortion on images that simply dosn't exist on a good monitor.

I'm comparing a Packard Bell laptop LCD with my work Compaq V70 monitor.
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Old Mar 31, 2003, 9:55 AM   #13
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These answers assume you're need fall into the "average". I'll comment on the other end at the bottom. You ask about editing "movies" as well as photos. I have no experience with movie editing. I bet that trumps all photo editing needs and the answer becomes "as much ram and processor paired with the fastest disk you can buy".

Minimum processor:
To me, this is a question based on cost, not performance. Almost anything you can buy now will be fast enough for average photo editing use. Sure, if you are a pro and your time is money then you buy dual processor systems with all the best parts. But for the average person even a fast Celeron processor (over 1Ghz now) is very fast.

Minimum ram:
I'm not a photoshop user. but all I've heard is that it wants a steady diet of ram. I would bet that 512MB would be enough for most people, maybe 256 would be good enough? If you have a computer now, there is good software either built in or free which can help you monitor the amount of ram you are using. Try editing some pictures and then check you ram. If you have XP or Windows NT, use the task monitor. If you don't, down load "task info" from:

Last I knew it was shareware, so you could try it out and see if you find it useful. I know I did.

Suggested Graphics card:
Most AGP cards will work quite well. What you need is something which has very good 2D graphics performace. The problem is that 3-D graphics are all the rage in the graphics card market... that is what is pushing sales. Most cards from ATI will do a fine job. Personally, I prefer Nvidia based cards (they make the chip, not the card.) Either way, I wouldn't buy a $20 special, but unless you really need it I wouldn't spend over $150.

When time is money and saving 4 seconds per picture make all the difference, then you buy the biggest, baddest computer you can get. When you have 100's if not 1000's of pictures to process at a time, and each picture is 8MB in size (or more) then speed matters. But most people take pictures as JPGs, which are much smaller. Even with Photoshops inefficient use of memory, I doubt editing a jpg uses much memory.

I spent about $1,000 building my own machine with all custom parts and I'm very happy. 1.8G Athlon XP based system with the fastest EIDE hard disk I could find and 512Gig ram. I am very happy with the system. I'm sure I don't even make it work up a sweat. My old 300Mhz Celeron was 3 years old when I replaced it, so I was in need of an upgrade. Of course, I use this to work from home as well.... so I had a good excuse to buy a powerful system (to me, anyways.)
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Old Mar 31, 2003, 10:24 AM   #14
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Default Re: What PC specs are recommended

Originally Posted by jasvall
What are the Minimum & Maximum Computer specs you think are required for editing large photos & movies.
eg; what speed processor,

How much RAM, do you notice a big improvment in speed from say 1GB to 2.0GB. what is the cutoff in RAM, there must be a limit where more just doesnt speed things up anymore, or doesnt stop your computer freezing up.

What graphics card is recommended.
Computer specs are an ever increasing limbo bar...what is maximum today is minimum tomorrow. When I started doing desktop video I was using a 7MHz Amiga and it worked perfectly. My first PC for desktop video was a Pentium233 because that was the fastest CPU available then at $1000 (just for the chip). I'm now using a Pentium-III/1000 with no probs, but you always want more.

The biggest worry should be your hard drive though...you need one that can keep up to the computer with dropping frames and doesn't go into reclibration right when you are capturing.

Again when I started on the PC 64meg was the recommended...these days more is better (as long as your motherboard can handle it). I do fine with 256meg, but you should really have more.

Graphics card isn't too important as you don't need the performance (unlike games). All the current cards should be able to do video-overlay, and they all have adjustments for gamma, etc.

Your capture card for video is something that is important. You can get $50 cheapies that hook up via USB and tuner cards which can capture video (both of which are low-res and drop frames), all the way up to dedicated capture cards which can capture (and output) broadcast quality. This is something you have to see how much quality you need (my capture card when I bought it a few years ago was $1500, yes I needed the high quality).

OS you choose is also important if you don't want it to crash...IOW don't pick a Windows 9x or ME OS.
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Old Mar 31, 2003, 11:46 AM   #15
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Default Laptops are great for portable digital darkroom!!

As an owner of a Dell Inspiron 8200 P-4 2.4ghz, 512mb DDR RAM laptop with Geforce 4 64mb video card and running Windows XP Pro, I can say having a laptop is great to have when you go out for a photo shoot. My laptop LCD is a 15" UXGA type, meaning its ultra sharp and has more vivid colors than the conventional LCD screens. So it really depends on the LCD. There are different types.

When I do any final touch ups using photoshop 7, I connect a 21' viewsonic CRT with to my laptop to compare colors, and the colors are very close. So it really depends on the type of LCD you have.

Laptops can be very useful for digital photos.
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Old Mar 31, 2003, 10:58 PM   #16
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I would have to agree and say that todays lcd screens on laptops are much better then they were a couple of years ago. I think the quality is getting close to regular crt monitors. Like someone mentioned before you can plug your laptop into a monitor if needed If you are getting a pc you probably should get a intel 2gig or amd 2100+ atleast since the price of those old cpus are cheap now. You could probably get a motherboard with a 2gig intel with 515 ram for around than 300 When it comes to 2d quality some guys swear that matrox video cards are the best, even though i am happy with my ati 8500.
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Old Apr 26, 2003, 3:34 AM   #17
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Over a year ago, I went to 512MB's in a desktop (from 256) and saw a rather large improvement. Mainly when opening multiple large images in image editing software. If you have XP, and want to edit photos, I wouldn't settle for anything less than 512MB. Ram is pretty cheap... If you are into games, there are games out there that actually benefit greatly from 1GB of RAM... Sim City 4 is one of them.

LCD's are GREATLY improved over what was out there just a couple years ago. Not all LCD's are created equal, you need to look at response time, contrast, brightness, etc. I have a UXGA on my Dell 8100 which is very nice, but has been surpased by their "Enhanced UXGA".

Graphics Cards - For standard 2D only jobs, Matrox is the undisputed leader. Their latest card attempted to push them into the 3d market, but it never lived up to the hype... however, it would give good enough 3D performance with the exceptional 2D that Matrox is known for.

I have never liked NVidia cards... there are too many manufacterers of their cards, and they are not all good. There is a large difference in 2d quality between the brands.

IMO, ATI has the best mix of 2d and 3d quality (not to mention the fastest 3d card now too). I buy "Built by ATI" cards to ensure quality. It has also been my experience that ATI cards show much better color than those from NVidia... however, because there are so many people making the NVidia cards, there may be one out there that rivals the color and 2d ability of an ATI card.

As for processor... anything you buy today will be plenty. If money is of no object, I would recomend the new Hyper-Threading CPU's from Intel. They operate as 2 processors in WinXP and 2000, so programs like Photoshop benefit greatly from this. I think over at tomshardware.com, they had a 3.06Ghz Hyperthreading CPU vs an overclocked 3.6Ghz P4... The 3.06 HT beat out the 3.6 in multi tasking, and in programs like Photoshop.

Hard Drive. I would suggest a Western Digital Special Edition drive with 8MB of cache. AFAIK, it is still one of the fastest on the market. Watch out buying Hard Drives these days as the minimum warrantee has dropped to 1 yr instead of 3. A couple companies offer the 3 yr warrantee ontheir top of the line drives. The WD SE drives have a 3 yr warrantee, and they also allow you to upgrade to 3yrs on drive that don't come with the longer warrantee.

Hard drive speed is important... especially when you consider the range in speeds. You don't want to get stuck with an older HD with 25MB transfer per sec when they are well over 50MBps on the new drives.
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