Thursday, March 26, 2009

New Computer

I was a foregone conclusion that by buying a Canon 5D Mk II I was going to have to get a new PC --- my 3 year old Mac Mini just couldn't run Adobe Lightroom with any degree of interactivity, and after playing with Lightroom a bit, I decided that was the software I was going to process serious photography with. I did decide to put off buying a machine until I had a significant amount of photos to process, however.

We came back from Australia, with 92GB of photographs, so now a new machine was inevitable.

Shopping around, I discovered that the lowest end machines with quad core processors (which Lightroom and Photoshop are designed to use --- to the point where if you have a dual core box and run lightroom, one of the cores just gets pegged doing apparently nothing!) are Dells, running around $600 at Dell's refurbished outlet store. The big issue with these machines is the video card. To upgrade to a video card that can dual-head, I'd have to upgrade the power supply and the video cards, which was a pain and wouldn't save very much money.

So to my surprise, the cheapest quad core machine I could get with a decent video card turned out to be HP's m9600t, which with an EPP discount came up to about $974 with a Radeon 4850 1GB video card. Dual-head wasn't something I thought about at first, but it is nice to be able to plug in either a second monitor or go with a 30" screen. The amount of memory wasn't ideal (4GB), and neither was the disk (500GB), but both are easy to add, and the machine came with Intel's latest Core i7 processor.

And no, the Mac Pro wasn't even a consideration. At $2500 even an EPP discount won't get it down to twice what the HP costs. I've long come to the conclusion that Mac fans just have a lot of money, which I guess, is what Apple counts on!

[Update: Too late for me this round, but I found another well-reviewed site, CyberPower, which sells customized, water-cooled PCs for about the same price as the HP I got with the employee discount (sans OS). It's more or less the same deal, but having a bigger power supply and water cooling does give you a bit more headroom. A reference for next time I have to buy a PC.]
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