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The Doctor Jan 2, 2003 10:45 PM

Prosumer Computer
We all know that there are Prosumer cameras. I have a friend who uses Photoshop 7 and complains that his computer is too slow. His camera is a Canon G-3. He also has a G-2. His current computer is a Pentium 3, 800, with 256 Ram and windows 98. He is going to upgrade to Windows XP Professional and wants to know what people in this group would like to have in a computer if they were to compare the computer to a Prosumer camera. Have fun and let me know what your choices would be. Thanks and Peace.

BillDrew Jan 3, 2003 12:21 AM

There are some good reasons to upgrade to Windows XP, but speed isn't one of them. A faster hard drive and more memory would be a better use of about the same amount of money if speed is the only issue.

Something simple like defraging the hard drive might help as well.

koruvs Jan 3, 2003 12:44 AM

I agree with BillDrew, faster hardware is the answer...and if you still want a faster, more stable OS try Linux :-)

lwhitney Jan 3, 2003 1:52 AM

1) Don't get less than 512MB RAM
2) Get the fastest CPU you can afford
3) Don't waste money on the largest hard drive available, unless you specifically know you need it.
4) Don't waste money on a the most expensive "3D" video card, it won't help (but check for dual monitor support)
5) Don't be cheap choosing a monitor.

I'm recommending you optimize for CPU because that is most often the bottle neck with PS7.

On a related note, while AMD is a fine CPU (I have one) Adobe's optimizations benefit the Pentium4 more than they do an equivalent AMD processor.

Don't try to "build" your own computer unless you are very knowledgeable on the subject, just give Dell or someone else with good support the money and you'll have less hassels.

I hope some of this is helpful to you, good luck.

eric s Jan 3, 2003 9:19 AM

On the subject of multi-monitor support. Now adays many cards that have both a standard CRT montor connector and a DVI connector can use them both at once in a multi-monitor setup. DVI stands for Digital Video Interface (I think) and it's used to connect to LCD monitors. Many (but not all) graphics cards which have a DVI port come with an adaptor which will allow you to connect a standard CRT monitor. And some of the cheaper cards don't include the connector.

Even if you can't hook up two CRT montors, I would bet you could still use a LCD & CRT monitor as a multi-monitor setup.

As for getting the fastest CPU you can afford. This will raise the price of the computer quite a lot. I'm not argueing that you wouldn't benefit from doing that. Just that the newest Intel (and AMD) processors are not cost effective in the amount extra you pay for that bit more power.


p.s. I read (I believe in EE Times) that there is a predicted memory glut (in DDR SDRAM) for 2003. That should help push prices even lower. We can only hope!

lg Jan 3, 2003 9:31 AM

Minor points that probably will be overlooked...
You've gotten good advice above, and I'm sure there are others with far more expertise than me who can best advise you on the subject. However, they might overlook a few practical points, so here they are:

    voxmagna Jan 3, 2003 10:01 AM

    Hey guys, lets put pc spec into perspective. lwhitney is spot on, although he didn't spec the OS.

    Unless you're employed running a workstation and image processing all day, think real! I shoot pics, and spend a few percent of my time working on them, any more and I'm a pc Geek not a photographer, I prefer to concentrate on the capture skills!

    As well as a quick Athlon, I've still got a DX2 dynosaur, tweaked for AMD133, 128Mb ram, local bus architecture supporting HD cache card and graphics adaptor, each with dedicated CPU's and ram.

    The thing that pushes your old pc hardware out of scope is the OS, loading lots of memory resident apps. and connectivity interfacing. OK on my old machine, my DOS is lighting, Windows 98 is OK 'cos I thought about the hardware at the time. BUT I can still download from my cam, move and store files to and from a local network, do basic editing/viewing and upload on an internet dialup service. Some things like applying effects and multi tasking are now just too slow - hence new pc for faster CPU and memory.

    Eddie J Jan 3, 2003 10:09 AM

    Upgrading to WinXP is a very good idea for stability alone but it will probably be slower than Win98 on the system you describe above, unless you disable a lot of the 'fancy' features in it (which I have done with mine).

    Ideally, for serious image editing on a PC running WinXP you want to following hardware:
    • At least AthlonXP 1800+
    • 512MB DDR RAM
    • 7200rpm Hard Drive
    • 19" monitor (depending on budget)
    • Graphics tablet (Wacom Graphire2 seems good value)
    The way prices are at the moment, upgrading the core of a PC really isn't that expensive, and for uses like image editing it makes such a difference that it is worth doing if budget allows.


    geof Jan 3, 2003 11:23 AM

    Hey Doc,
    i am running a P4 2.2gig with 1gig ram and a 64mb video card, and it only chugs in p-shop when i am running images upwards of 400-600 meg files: very nice...
    But given the choice, SCSI, SCSI, SCSI is the way to go, hands down!
    :?: By the way, what exactly IS a PROSUMER camera? Does it actually exist, or is it a sympathetic marketing term to make people feel that the extra money they spend on digital equipment is justified by elevatng them from the common consumer folk? :P

    voxmagna Jan 3, 2003 11:24 AM

    Yep, I've always gone the route of motherboard upgrades for cpu and interconnectivity improvements. But I respect the buy-from-Dell advice 'cos you have a warranty, and are not left to do your own testing/benchmarking to convince an oem part supplier his bit is faulty!

    PS, on the Dynosaur, I thought Win95 to 98SE had slowed a bit, so it's best left. Anyway, you forget all the little tweaks you had to do if you mess things up - like those SB32 sound card interrupt conflicts.

    I think pro-sumer is a term for the consumer cam with an addon pro bit - like a microdrive made by Fuji, which they can do cheap anyway. Or it might be a sporty cam strap with PRO in it. Or it might have been reviewed by a PRO (no offence Steve!). It makes the cam different and fashionable for a higher price tag. Like GT,GTX, XL, XXL, Custom and go faster Starsky stripes etc on cars.

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