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  • Computer advice
  • I’m looking to buy a new computer for my wife who is starting in a new photography business. She’ll be using PS CS6 for processing software.

    My first thoughts are to get a 27″ imac (spec below) and use an ipad to show clients her portfolio through icloud. Just wondering if anyone can give good advice if I can cut back on this spec ot whether a 17″ macbook pro would be a better bet?

    Any advise appreciated.

    3.4GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7
    16GB 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM – 4x4GB
    2TB Serial ATA Drive
    AMD Radeon HD 6970M 2GB GDDR5
    Apple Magic Mouse
    Apple Keyboard with Numeric Keypad (British) & User’s Guide (English)
    Accessory Kit


    17in is huge, expensive and not that portable. maybe better off with a 13 or quad core 15in and a proper screen like an eizo (depending on how colour critical the kind of photography she is doing)
    i wouldn’t use i-cloud but one of the portfolio apps for photographers, there’s numerous ones out there and are usually customisable.


    17″ MacBookPro is a poor buy IMO. It’s silly money, and not very portable. Also, despite the high resolution, it’s still “only” a 17″ screen, so isn’t that great for working on when stationary.

    27″ iMac will be a much better bet. Do you need to spend that much though? Personally, I think you’d be fine going for a lower specced model, with an i5 processor. I also think that for now you’d get away with 8GB of RAM, though I suppose RAM is cheap (not from Apple though it’s not!) so you might as well put 16 in.


    If your handy build her a hackintosh, that’s what I did.

    I built the equivalent of an intel Xeon Mac Pro with a dell IPS panel ( which is the only panel type you should be working with for photography) for around £800

    Rock stable, fast & cheap

    I would not advise buying an iMac. You know what they say about all your eggs in one basket!

    I’m not handy so a home build is not an option.

    Are there any other ‘off the shelf’ options I should be considering?

    Premier Icon CountZero

    I would not advise buying an iMac. You know what they say about all your eggs in one basket!

    Care to enlighten us on that? Do you mean that if anything goes wrong you are without a computer?. Well, if you’re using a tower and separate screen, then if the tower dies you’re screwed anyway.
    What you could try looking at is a high-spec Mini into a quality monitor, that way you could maybe pick up a secondhand Mini cheap, mirror the software and have it as a backup. My Mini was one of the last of the previous model to the current one, which I had modded with the optical drive removed and a second HDD installed, bringing it up to 1.1Tb, and an extra 2Gb RAM put in for free, so it has 4Gb. Stick an outboard optical writer on it, and a 4Tb My Book RAID for backup, you’d have a neat little set up, maybe with a second monitor for keeping all the tools and such on, for a nice uncluttered working desktop.


    In short, the notion that Apple make the best ‘graphics’ machines about is no longer the case. Yes, they are good, but so are Windows machines these days.

    Macbook Pro – laptop screen is a pain to edit on. Been there, and bought a 24″ monitor which was sooo much better.

    Imac : I’d hold off at the moment. the current spec hasn’t changed since May 2011 and is effectively a year old already. Intel has just released the Ivy Bridge system hardware and its only a matter of time before Apple update the iMac to make use of that new hardware.

    Imac also has glossy screen, so where you place it may become and issue on what it reflects. Also, *strongly* suggest you read up on the types of monitors that you can get ( IPS, 6, 8, 10bit ) … especially if you’re wife is looking to make a business from it where accurate colour matters and to look at colour calibration.

    A single HDD is putting a lot of eggs into one basket, and for large files, there is plenty of arguments for photoshop to perform better by having use of a secondary drive which is can use as a scratch disk to dump and read data from when working on large files. As I understand it, its not thaty easy to simply slot in a second drive into it.

    Regarding the latest version of photoshop CS6, there is a lot of talk about its new Mercury graphics engine and how it makes use of the computers graphics card to churn the data. An iMac generally has graphcis based on mobile / laptop hardware. A desktop graphics card is generally significantly more powerful for the same product family. ( Have a look here: )

    If you’re worried about the whole windows versus apple reliability thing, personally I’ve found both Vista and Windows 7 to be extremely reliable operating systems and (touch wood) no viruses with Windows Defender installed. (free)

    Personally, whilst I had been long considering a switch to Apple and a lower end 27″ iMac recently, having looked at actual performance figures of my current windows PC compared to an iMac, I wouldn’t actually be gaining much in terms of performace. I could spend a lot less and upgrade just my RAM and HDD. The system runs CS5.5 well without hiccup.

    Personally, I’d wait and see what the new iMac’s offer, but who knows when they’ll actually be announced, and when they do compare that to what you can get from a windows setup.

    As for recommending a PC … difficult one. I’ve liked Dells for the last number of years, and the T3500 is a workstation machine. Its designed to be a system running for long periods … so in some cases, performance is sacrificed for reliability. Whilst I may have added a better graphics card immediately after I bought it, it says something that even after 3 years … its still able to run the latest software smoothly.

    If you’re wife is really into creating a business, then that may be something to consider.

    You’re probably wondering: I have a 3 year old Dell T3500:
    Xeon W3820 Quad Core 2.6Ghz (i7)
    6Gb RAM
    nVidia GTX 260 graphcis card
    A few hard drives
    24″ Dell monitor 2407WFP
    I use photoshop regularly, but its hobby, not professional work.

    Rather than the iMac, I’m considering simply upping the RAM and getting a second monitor or larger one to create more working space.

    Premier Icon simon_g

    If you are going iMac, buy the minimum memory config and put it in yourself (there’s a door at the bottom, you just slot them in). They’ll actually take 32GB (4x8GB modules) and memory of that density is getting cheaper – just bought 2x8GB ones for mine for about £80.

    I’d be more inclined to go with the powerful desktop route, it’ll make lighter work of the editing and management and iPads are great for taking to meet people and showing off portfolio stuff – can just hand it over and let them flick through, zoom in, etc which is cumbersome at best on a laptop.

    Personally I think the base 27″ makes a better buy, the better CPU and graphics chipset isn’t going to be a huge help. Going for the SSD option will make a bigger difference, but the Apple option is silly money.

    Premier Icon molgrips

    17in is huge, expensive and not that portable

    I would also not recommend a laptop for this job, but I wouldn’t say 17″ is not very portable. I carried my 18.4″ HP laptop around for ages, didn’t bother me at all. Didn’t find it overly heavy.

    Finding a bag for it was a right pain, although plenty of 17″ bags around.


    I would also not recommend a laptop for this job, but I wouldn’t say 17″ is not very portable. I carried my 18.4″ HP laptop around for ages, didn’t bother me at all. Didn’t find it overly heavy.

    i guess it depends on how much other gear you have to travel with. and how much you have to carry it around with you.

    i travel with kit all the time so will save weight and go for the more portable option all the time, those hp 18in laptops are nearly 9lb i’ll stick to a 4.5lb 13in. (and a carbon/magnesium weight weenie tripod 😀 )

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