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Thread: New computer - desktop PC, laptop or Mac?

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    Registered User Lynn's Avatar
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    New computer - desktop PC, laptop or Mac?

    My Windows laptop is over 5 years old and either needs a decent upgrade (its got 1GB RAM and Windows XP etc) or its time to just move to a new machine.

    Looking at options I want to include Mac into the shortlist. Not a MacBook Pro as they are just too expensive, and I'd want a sep keyboard and monitor anyway, but maybe an iMac.

    I'll be using it for photoediting, surfing, some word processing etc. Will be running LR4 and poss Photoshop (when I can afford it!). I have no clue about Macs at all so that plus price is a good reason to stay PC but maybe now is a good time to change...

    So - stay PC or go Mac?

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    Re: New computer - desktop PC, laptop or Mac?

    I had to make the same decision about a year ago
    I stayed with a PC for 4 reasons
    A Mac was more expensive than the equivalent Dell PC ( I bought a Precision T7500)
    Some, not all, of my software was not cross platform, so buying new Mac software would be even more expense
    A program I was thinking of using for future project, would not run on a mac
    I would have to learn a new operating system

    If you want run LR4 and CS5 together you need not less than 8 GB RAM, I use 12 but 24 would be better
    Last edited by philsmove; 10th-March-2012 at 07:54 PM.

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    Registered User Lynn's Avatar
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    Re: New computer - desktop PC, laptop or Mac?

    I was running CS5 and LR3 on 1GB RAM - but the CS5 was just a trial version and it expired - it wasn't the fastest but it ran ok. LR3 is sometimes a bit sluggish, other times its ok, but it does run into problems when exporting from the raw file to jpeg - more than about 5 at a time and it overheats and shuts down!

    Mac is more expensive - but I don't mind paying a bit more if I can justify it.
    I need new software anyway. Though I'd need something that would read Word files as have a lot of those.
    I'm going to have a look at some to see what I think of the OS and how easy it would be to pick up...

    May stay PC - not decided yet!

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    Re: New computer - desktop PC, laptop or Mac?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynn View Post
    I was running CS5 and LR3 on 1GB RAM - but the CS5 was just a trial version and it expired - it wasn't the fastest but it ran ok. LR3 is sometimes a bit sluggish, other times its ok, but it does run into problems when exporting from the raw file to jpeg - more than about 5 at a time and it overheats and shuts down!
    Pretty much my experience
    If you have 1000+ images from a shoot to edit, 12 GB of RAM means you can get the job done in a sensible amount of time

    overheating, on a laptop, can be reduced if you sit it on a fan base

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    Re: New computer - desktop PC, laptop or Mac?

    I think I said this to you in person, but if you decide to stick with PC, get the very best motherboard/CPU/RAM combination you can afford, and a nice powerful PSU. Everything else is pretty optional, except possibly a big high-resolution monitor if you're doing lots of photo editing. My desktop has an Intel i5 2500K CPU which does its own on-board graphics, and even fairly demanding games run just fine on it with no separate graphics card installed.

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    philsmove (11th-March-2012)

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    Re: New computer - desktop PC, laptop or Mac?

    Hmm. If you plan on gaming, get a dedicated 3d graphics card. Especially if you buy a laptop. If you're not planning on gaming, onboard graphics is fine.

    Don't neglect your hard disk. There are two types these days:
    - solid state (known as SSDs). These are very expensive but are very fast
    - spinning disks (sometimes referred to as 'spindle' drives). These vary wildly in price, and a lot of computer manufacturers put cheap ones in to keep total system cost down.

    The problem with a cheap hard drive is that almost everything you do on a PC (or Mac) accesses the hard drive. A cheap one will be slow to respond, which means it will take longer to boot up, take longer to load applications, and take longer to do things like loading pictures into LR/PS.

    So my current laptop has two
    - one very fast SSD hosting Windows and applications, so that they load fast
    - one large 7200rpm spindle drive which stores all my data

    Ideally I'd have used SSDs throughout but that would've added around 800 to the cost of the system.

    But trust me, spending a lot of money on a fancy new computer with its whizzie graphics and state of the art CPU and masses of RAM leaves you really frustrated when you're waiting several seconds for the hard disk to provide the data needed to fill that RAM. Just do the maths: A 7200rpm drive with a sustained read rate of around 1Gbit/s will take a whole minute to read 8 Gigabytes of data. That's not a directly valid comparison (for many reasons) but highlights the impact hard disks can have.

    But PC or Mac? Which one do you know how to use, do you already own software for, will support the software you plan to acquire in the future? If it's still a dead heat after that, which gives the best return? Macs more than a couple of months after their initial release date tend to cost more than an equivalent spec PC, but also tend to have higher resale value. Do you ever sell your old computers? Don't compare cheap build PCs with cheap components against Macs, make sure it's a like-for-like comparison. Factor in screen size, resolution, viewing angle. Do you absolutely need multitouch on your trackpad (if you buy a laptop) or do you disable them anyway (like me). Do you want to support a company that has higher profit margins than any of their competitors, and that seeks to lock down and control the systems it sells?

    Above all, are you a pretentious twat with a superiority complex that absolutely must demonstrate their individuality by buying a fashionable brand? Note that answering this requires a level of self-awareness many people lack; as a quick and easy check look in your handbag/pocket: Is there an iPhone?

    (ok, ignore that last one )

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    Re: New computer - desktop PC, laptop or Mac?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynn View Post
    So - stay PC or go Mac?
    I vote Mac. I use a PC at work (Windows 7), and a plethora of OSX machines at home, and it's such a pleasure to come back to the Mac each time.

    If in doubt, find a Mac-based friend, and spend a few hours with one so you know what you're getting into.

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    Re: New computer - desktop PC, laptop or Mac?

    Quote Originally Posted by cederic View Post
    Above all, are you a pretentious twat with a superiority complex that absolutely must demonstrate their individuality by buying a fashionable brand? Note that answering this requires a level of self-awareness many people lack; as a quick and easy check look in your handbag/pocket: Is there an iPhone?
    I have to bite here. Just can't help myself... (sorry) - yes, I have an iPhone. And a Macbook Pro. And two home-built OSX machines. Does that make me a pretentious twat with a superiority complex? Personally, I think it's a bit simpler than that - I know what I like.

    Most iPhone users that I've met have them for the same reason as myself - because we find them a joy to use. I've never found another phone I could say that about.

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    Re: New computer - desktop PC, laptop or Mac?

    I did say to ignore that bit

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    Re: New computer - desktop PC, laptop or Mac?

    Quote Originally Posted by CheesyRobMan View Post
    I think I said this to you in person, but if you decide to stick with PC, get the very best motherboard/CPU/RAM combination you can afford, and a nice powerful PSU. Everything else is pretty optional, except possibly a big high-resolution monitor if you're doing lots of photo editing. My desktop has an Intel i5 2500K CPU which does its own on-board graphics, and even fairly demanding games run just fine on it with no separate graphics card installed.
    Opinions on what defines "fairly demanding games" will vary, but in absolute terms the i5 GPU is pretty weak. Tomshardware ranks it roughly equal to a Nvidia 9400GT; for comparison the "midrange" Nvidia 460GT costs around 100 and has a fill rate 9 times higher.

    On t'other hand, doesn't sound like Lynn will be playing a lot of games; I know Photoshop (and the other Adobe products) has some level of GPU acceleration but I don't think it's particularly worth worrying about GPU performance on that basis. For Photoshop I suspect a 2600K will be a decent upgrade over a 2500K, and the price differential isn't much.

    My understanding is Photoshop et al. are pretty memory hungry, so it would probably be worth getting 16GB of RAM (it's only 50 quid or so), although I work professionally with 4K film and have managed fine on less than half that (but custom software, so mileage may vary).

    The other thing I'd say is that the only real reason to worry about the PSU is if you're planning to put a high end GPU in the machine. The latest Intel chips really don't use much power, and any decent PSU will be fine.

    I agree with Cederic; if you have the spare money, an SSD for the OS and the actual image software will be a very nice speed boost for day-to-day use. Be aware that it won't speed things up if you, say, need to unsharp mask 2000 images. But your machine will boot faster and your apps will start a lot more quickly.

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    Registered User Lynn's Avatar
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    Re: New computer - desktop PC, laptop or Mac?

    Thanks guys - though I'll admit to not understanding some of what has been said... *blonde*

    No gaming. At all. Word processing, photoediting (mostly in Lightroom), email and internet. Probably some iPlayer etc and webinars. The photo editing is the most important and a good, large monitor (at least 21") is key.

    I want something that I don't have to go away and make a cup of tea while it starts up, that won't overheat and switch off all the time. (And yes, I have my laptop on a cooling pad - its only 1GB and struggles with LR). I want a desktop or else a laptop with a good additional monitor. I know that means spending some money - whether its PC or Mac.

    No I don't have an iPhone. I have a hand me down Sony Ericsson K800i that's about 5 years old, that I've been using for over 4 years without changing or upgrading. It works, it does what I need so no reason to change it. My laptop doesn't do what I need - hence time to change it. Computers and phones are tools for a purpose - you get what suits the purpose. And my interest in Macs isn't because of any pretentions... to be honest its all come from from hearing personal experiences of Mac users who do a lot of photo editing/design work.
    Last edited by Lynn; 12th-March-2012 at 01:32 AM.

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    Re: New computer - desktop PC, laptop or Mac?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynn View Post
    Thanks guys - though I'll admit to not understanding some of what has been said...

    .
    This is one advantage of a Mac and I think one reason so many graphic people use them

    You dont need to understand all the technical specification and options when ordering a PC

    Instead you simply pop along to you apple store with a student ( to get a student discount ) and say I want a i Mac

    If you are heading down the professional photographer road go for the 27 inch

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    Re: New computer - desktop PC, laptop or Mac?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynn View Post
    Thanks guys - though I'll admit to not understanding some of what has been said... *blonde*


    I want something that I don't have to go away and make a cup of tea while it starts up, that .
    Simple don't turn it off in the first place

    just set some sensible power saving options

    Phil Law on CS5 "More Ram means fewer cup of tea" this is especially true if you want to stitch big panos together

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    Re: New computer - desktop PC, laptop or Mac?

    Quote Originally Posted by cederic View Post
    So my current laptop has two
    - one very fast SSD hosting Windows and applications, so that they load fast
    - one large 7200rpm spindle drive which stores all my data
    even if you dont go for a SSD, with CS5, it will work a lot faster, if the program is on a separate drive, to your Photographs and data

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    Re: New computer - desktop PC, laptop or Mac?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynn View Post
    or else a laptop with a good additional monitor..
    Asking a laptop to run CS5 and LR4 and and an external monitor, is not going to help your overheating problems

    beware the graphics card on many laptops will not run a large external monitor at its highest resolution

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    Re: New computer - desktop PC, laptop or Mac?

    Quote Originally Posted by cederic View Post
    Above all, are you a pretentious twat with a superiority complex that absolutely must demonstrate their individuality by buying a fashionable brand? Note that answering this requires a level of self-awareness many people lack; as a quick and easy check look in your handbag/pocket: Is there an iPhone?

    (ok, ignore that last one )
    At last someone who is telling us self-actualised superior beings what computer to buy. And it seems I've been getting it wrong. Perhaps I'm not as superior as I first thought

    Or possibly, just possibly, it's because I'm not pretentious. In no way am I pretending to be superior ....

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    Registered User Lynn's Avatar
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    Re: New computer - desktop PC, laptop or Mac?

    So - a desktop - either PC or iMac is probably going to be best.

    Phil, I'm currently making my 1GB RAM, 5+ year old Acer laptop run LR3, with raw files on an external hard drive and an external LG monitor - and maybe that's why its getting a bit overheated?

    And I agree, the simplicity of just buying a Mac, without having to know all the techinical stuff, is appealing.! There is an overwhelming amount of choice with PC specs and if you get it wrong in terms of one or more of the elements you need - ok it may not be expensive to change the part that's not up to spec but you need to learn so much stuff or find someone who does. (Eg - I didn't know a graphics card might not be up to getting the most out of an external monitor.)

    When I talk to PC owners - they all tell me totally different things about what I need, what is best. And in terms and language that leaves me bewildered. (And I can grasp certain geeky things, I'm not totally blonde!)

    When I talk to Mac owners - they all tell me how much they enjoy using their machine.

    It is making me think...

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    Re: New computer - desktop PC, laptop or Mac?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynn View Post

    When I talk to PC owners - they all tell me totally different things about what I need, what is best. And in terms and language that leaves me bewildered. ...
    Manly because they are not photographers, wont have tried to edit a wedding shoot, using LR4, remove the things that should not be in the photo, using CS5, then upload the results to a web site, all after drinking too much champagne at the reception

    Just over a year ago I bought a refurbished Dell from

    http://www.lamicro.co.uk/


    Dual 5520 2.26Ghz 8M Processors
    DVD Rom
    12Gb Ram
    SATA Controller
    1 x 250Gb SAS Hard Drive
    2 x 1Tb SATA Hard Drive
    nVidia FX1800 Graphics Card

    under 1500
    I all ready had a Dell 30" monitor, CS5, MS Office and LR3

    editing photos is quick and easy
    I only have wait if I am stitching a very big Pano

    if you are buying all new software and dont have a monitor. Then an i Mac 27" might be cheaper

    I am told when running CS5 Macs do not need as much RAM as a PC
    Last edited by philsmove; 12th-March-2012 at 02:00 PM.

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    Omnipresent Administrator Franck's Avatar
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    Re: New computer - desktop PC, laptop or Mac?

    I'll tip in for a mac too (no surprise there).

    Reading all the technical advice above for pcs, reminds me why I'm so happy to have a mac... Yes I get to choose the size of my screen (11 inch for the macbook air - 27 for the iMac) and I can add a bit more ram if I'm planning intensive tasks, but overall, any new mac will be able to handle what you expect to do, and will be much faster and fun / easy to use than your old pc was.

    As for Microsoft office, you can download OpenOffice ( www.openoffice.org ) or LibreOffice for free, they are free alternatives to Microsoft, and just fine for most users.

    Software for the mac used to be more expensive / rare or simply difficult to get, but with the Mac App Store, things have changed significantly and you can get amazing software easily and very cheap!

    Finally, many people have started to use the iPad as a word processing, email, internet browsing machine and now with the new iPhoto and photoshop for iPad, you can edit photos in ways that are incredible, so it might be worth checking as a cheaper alternative to a laptop, if you travel...

    My ideal setup, depending on funds would be an iMac (24' is great, but 27' is amazing), you can boost the ram cheaper by buying it from www.crucial.co.uk (instead of ordering it from Apple) and it's easy to fit in; and an iPad, the new one with the retina display has only just been announced, and looks very promising for graphic / photo editing. If you're concerned about the keyboard, for typing long documents, you can add a cheap bluetooth keyboard and turn your iPad into a small, powerful laptop!
    Franck.

    There's an A.P.P. for that!

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    Re: New computer - desktop PC, laptop or Mac?

    Quote Originally Posted by Franck View Post
    I'll tip in for a mac too (no surprise there).

    now with the new iPhoto and photoshop for iPad, you can edit photos in ways that are incredible, !

    iphoto may be fine for many people , but will not work with RAW files, it converts them to jpegs and in doing so, throws away a lot of data, essential critical post production and high quality printing. For accurate post production, there are really only two choices, Lightroom or Aperture, Aperture is fine if you do your final tweaking in CS5 other wise, the only professional option is Lightroom
    Last edited by philsmove; 12th-March-2012 at 03:17 PM.

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