Monday, February 2, 2009


SO, you have the newest camera, the baddest lens, 32 gig cards and awesome shots of whatever... Now what do you do with them? You edit them right. You upload them to your computer and you open them in photoshop and attempt to make them better. A little crop here, some dodging and burning there... But what kind of computer should you be editing on? A PC or a MAC? Laptop or Desktop? Dual core, single core, 64 bit, 32 bit, it's kind of confusing. Well lets break it down for you so you can decide for yourself.

First lets debunk this popular myth that is floating around out there. A Mac is a PC. I know that's not what those two pictured above want you to believe, but I assure you, that they are one in the same. The Mac is just a brand of PC, similar to the difference between Toshiba and Dell. The only difference is that the Mac uses it's own proprietary operation system instead of using Windows. Mac's use the same Core 2 processors that all of the others use. Now that we have that out of the way, lets talk about why so many people love Mac's for image editing. The just work. The Operating system on a Macintosh is as nice as they come. It is sleek, it isn't loaded with a bunch of extra fluff like you get with Windows, and it is geared towards the art community. The Mac OS is also made to work pretty seamlessly with most peripheral devices. You plug in your printer, or your camera, or your Wacom Tablet and they just work. No special drivers. No downloading patches, it just works. Now, don't get me wrong they do have their downsides. They don't play too well with PC's. This means that if you have a home network, you'll have to have a 3rd party software like Network Magic to connect them properly. Also if you are using it (the Mac) to connect to a VPN at your work or access company emails over the Internet, you may have some compatibility issues. The biggest downside of the Mac is price. For the very basic Macbook you will pay no less than $999.00. That is for the BASIC laptop. You won't get much done using the basic model. Not very good for heavy editing. To get a laptop from Mac with enough horsepower to run photoshop well, you will have to step up to the Macbook Pro($1999.00 minimum). The desktops aren't much better, for example the IMac(the most basic desktop offered by Mac) will set you back $1199.00 and the Mac Pro will set you back 2799.00 minimum. I say minimum because that is where they start, without upgrading anything. Now lets take a look at the Windows PC...

First of all, Windows it just the operating system. Microsoft doesn't produce any hardware so they can't control what prices are. (Apple sets a minimum price that it's retailers can sell their computers for) This is great for consumers because as new computers come out (roughly every month) retailers will place the "old" units on sale. You can pick up a Windows based PC for half the price of the minimum level Mac, with twice the hardware of the Pro level Mac. I'm not joking when I say that either. I was in the market for a new laptop and I kept my eyes open for deals at Best Buy. I picked up a 17inch Toshiba laptop with a full keyboard(including the numbers section on the right) with Three GIGS of RAM(for those who don't know the more RAM the better for $600.00. This is a steal compared to the Macs. Another example is with a desktop. I just built a desktop for a coworker a few months ago. He spent $1500.00 on everything, but he got the equivalent of a $5000.00 Mac... I won't bore you with the specs, but trust me it was loaded. Now are there downsides to the Windows PC's? Yes. I have been lucky and haven't had any problems with Vista on the Toshiba that I bought, but I know a lot of people that have had issues. The reason I haven't had many issues is probably because of my background with computers. I have a good working knowledge of the "PC". I have tweaked Vista to my liking, and made it more friendly. Since there are so many different manufacturers of Windows based computers there are literally millions if not billions of hardware configurations available. This is important to note because most problems that arise with Windows is because of compatibility issues with hardware. When you make the software and hardware like Mac does, you control everything from start to finish, making sure that everything works well together. As far as running photo editing programs, a Windows unit can do it just as well as a Mac. They run just as fast, and Photoshop preforms just as well no matter what system you use.

As far as which version to choose(laptop vs desktop), it's a toss up. You have to go with what works for you. Do you want to be stuck editing in one spot all of the time? I don't so I chose a laptop. The laptops have come a long way in the past few years and can keep up with their desktop counterparts.

When it comes to the hardware stuff, it gets a little tricky. Most of the time you can't go wrong with more Ram. So if it says that this computer has 2 or 3 or 4 Gigs of memory, you're good to go. You don't get any advantage out of going above 4 Gigs of RAM with the standard version of Windows. Processors are a whole different animal. With the processor the main thing to remember is Dual core. Dual core processors are plenty fast enough to handle the most taxing photo editing software without a problem. The only other real piece of hardware that is important when it comes to photo editing is the Video card. Video cards come in all shapes and sizes but the key for most photographers is to be sure that the computer you are buying has a separate video card. This means that the video isn't being handled by the motherboard. On the specs of the computer it should say somewhere GPU or discrete graphics card. If you don't know, ask a salesman if it has a separate graphics card, if it doesn't pass it up no matter how cheap it is. You can't process images without one.

So the choice is really yours. Do you want a computer that is more expensive but less likely to have problems? Or do you want a computer that isn't as expensive but may have a few more compatibility issues. For me it's a no brainer. I enjoy tweaking, upgrading, and working my system, so I prefer a Windows PC. Tell me what you like.

No comments:

Post a Comment