by Mike McNamee Published 01/08/2010
10. For processors, the Intel Core i5 can now be had for around £150 and is the fastest thing since sliced bread, apart from the more expensive Core i7 (at around £350 a pop). There was a time when the clock speed of a processor gave you a bit of a clue to its speed. Going from Corei5 to Core i7 doubles the cost for a speed increase of about 10% so you wonder if it is worth it. A good alternative to the Core i5/7s are the Xeon processors which are up to 6-core in design.
11. McNamee's Law still holds true (almost) which is that the latest version of Photoshop always takes about 12 seconds to open on a current, sensibly priced computer.
So what should you buy? Desk top machinesWell you get as much as ever for your money and despite the advertising hype most well-made and specified machines will perform all the operations that a photographer could wish for in reasonable times. There is a growing issue that as camera chip sizes get larger and DSLR HD video becomes popular, more computing power is needed. In truth though it is the hard drive and hard drive arrangement that might need beefing up. Laptops remain just that, things that you sit on your lap. Unless you like a crick in your neck, a bench-mounted desk top unit with a full-size screen (or two) and a full-size keyboard remains the most sensible choice. Computers, sadly , have not got more reliable and so your back-up strategy and disking arrangement is as important as ever - always have your data on at least two drives and DVDs as well. Do not store any critical data on your computer desktop, if you do, so you stand a chance of losing it if you have a failure or corruption of your operating system. A sound working model might comprise the following:
Intel Core i5 750 Quad Core or a XEON Quad Core.
To suit the other components but with an ability to expand the RAM with at least two slots spare. 2x2GB of RAM to make 4GB or 2x3GB to make 6GB if you are operating a 64-bit system and Photoshop makes sense.
For Photoshop a top-end graphics card is not an essential but it must be capable of operating the Open GL facility of CS4 or CS5 as a minimum.
A 500GB drive is adequate for your system 'C' drive and will not encourage storing more than currently needed files (eg the current wedding and perhaps the one before that). A second drive of 1.5-2TB should be installed for data storage which can be in the same machine but which must NOT be a partition of the 'C' drive. An alternative is 2x1TB it depends on how many files and their size for your typical shoot.
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