Recommended Computers for Photo Editing
Selecting a computer is difficult enough, but it gets far more difficult when you need to find a computer that will not only do everyday tasks, but which will also be a good computer for photo editing.
Should you choose a Mac?
Before going any further, you need to determine what your price range is, and whether you’re going to choose Mac or Windows. If you choose Mac, expect to pay double, but expect to get a really nice machine. Several times I’ve been asked why so many photographers and graphic designers use Macs instead of Windows. There are many reasons to go Mac, but I think photographers and graphic designers often choose them because they have a much more appealing GUI (graphic user interface). Meaning… they are just prettier. You also don’t have to worry as much about viruses, they usually have great components, etc. If you’re choosing a Mac, then there really isn’t any trick to it. Just buy the most expensive that you can afford and you’ll be happy with it. It really is that simple given their simplified product line-up.
Do you need to buy a new computer for photo editing, or can you just upgrade?
That depends on so many things! My general rule is that if my computer is more than three years old, I would just sell it and invest in a new computer rather than putting your money into a sinking ship. I think that is the best money-saving option for the long run. But if your computer is still working reasonably fast but just needs an upgrade, then you might consider upgrading the amount of RAM your computer has. You can go to crucial.com and use their memory scanner to see what type of RAM you need, and then follow this easy tutorial on how to replace the ram in your computer.
Should you choose a laptop or a desktop for photo editing?
For me, it is a necessity to have a laptop at my disposal for photo editing when I’m on trips doing photography so that I can dump my memory and edit in the hotel at night; however, for me a laptop simply isn’t sufficient for doing my day-to-day work. I like to have a full desktop in the office because it is more convenient to sit down to, faster, and has a larger screen for editing photos.
Selecting a Windows computer for photo editing
If you, like me, use a Windows computer, then there are SOOO many different models available that you need to be careful that you pick a good one for photography. Photographers need a few specific things from our computers, and if you buy the wrong computer, it can really slow down your workflow.
The main things to look for are (1) a great graphics card to speed up Photoshop, (2) a fast processor to make things run fast, (3) a ton of RAM so you can run Photoshop, Lightroom, and other photo editing programs simultaneously, and (4) a gigantic hard drive to fit all your photos.
Given those criteria, I personally recommend the following computers for photo editing (and I’ve gone through A LOT OF THEM!)
Good Computer for Photo Editing
I like the HP P7-1220 desktop computer because it comes at a great price point to get 8 gigs of RAM for editing photos with multiple programs (Lightroom and Photoshop, for example) at once. Also, it’s rare to see a 1.5 Terabyte hard drive in such an inexpensive package. All in all, this is a good computer for getting started in photo editing and running Photoshop. Check it out on Amazon or look at the listing on B&H.
Better Computer for Photo Editing
For this price point, it is tough to beat the HPE H8-1220. It has 2 terabytes internal hard drive to fit A LOT of photos, 10 gigs of RAM for running multiple programs at once, and an i7 processor with a good graphics card so you can edit photos without ever waiting for the computer to load Photoshop. Seriously… this is fantastic for such a good price point. Buy it on Amazon or check this out on B&H Photo.
Best Computer for Photo Editing
The HP Z820 was just released in 2012 and is absolutely amazing! It will set you back $2,300 but if you demand the absolute fastest graphics performance for photo editing (and, of course, you have a pile of cash under the mattress), then you can’t go wrong with the HP Z820. Buy this computer on HP.com.