In the second of our posts on building a great PC for editing photos, professional wildlife photographer Richard Peters discusses memory, video cards and storage options. If you have any questions on Richard’s recommendations, or just need some buying advice, get in touch with us.
Random Access Memory (RAM) is a form of computer storage used by programs on a computer. Rather than things like photos and music on your hard drive, data on RAM is only stored temporarily by whatever programmes you are using. The more RAM a computer has, the easier it is for it to run multiple programs and carry out complex tasks. As this is what you’ll be doing when editing photos, a good amount of RAM is very important. At the moment, RAM is relatively cheap, so I’d recommend getting as much as you can afford. 8GB is a comfortable minimum for this kind of computer and the tasks that it will have to do, but adding another 8GB will help future proof the machine and won’t add much to the total overall cost.
The video card is responsible for displaying everything on the computer, sending the signal directly to the monitor. While some motherboards come with built-in video cards they’re not quite enough for the needs of modern photographer. While you don’t need something quite as powerful as a dedicated gaming graphics card, a standalone card will improve performance and allow you to take advantage of multiple monitors. I’d recommend Asus GeForce GTS 450, as it is half the price of other cards, but will still meet your needs for photography. With many DLSRs now supporting HD video recording, you may want to move in to video editing, in which case a more powerful card would be worthwhile, if you’re prepared to pay the additional cost.
Not a component to be over looked, storage is vital. As with memory, storage is now quite cheap, and you should get as much as you can afford. Photo files are getting bigger as camera technology improves, so you can never have enough storage. Internal hard drives like this Seagate 2TB drive are more than big enough for your needs. However, it shouldn’t stop there, as hard drives do fail. A serious failure can mean the loss of all your photos, flushing years of work down the drain. To guard against this, you can use external drives, networked attached storage, or even online storage (or all three if you’re really paranoid) to back up your data.
In the third and final post of the series, Richard will look at accessories, software and monitors, giving his advice on each component. He’ll also cover the basic components you’ll need, including the computer case and power supply. You can view the previous post in the series here.