How important is a graphics card for photo editing

salomaoabdala

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I´m building a pc only for editing photos , and this is what I have now : http://pcpartpicker.com/p/1Q0Np
but will I need a good graphics card for photo editing like a gtx770? I cant afford the 700dollars quadro . can I go with a cheaper graphics card like a gtx 760? Do i need a good graphics card or not?
 

TBC1

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A $2540.60 build for photo editing??? (I'd say a build for $600 is enough). Also, a $80 gpu would be highly adequate for photo editing (the integrated graphics on the cpu could probably even do it).
 

Retrowire

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Graphics cards are more essential for rendering 3D models and graphics. When it comes down to photography and editing, you really just want a graphics card that can output HD or DVI video, and a monitor that can handle one of those.

My honest answer to you is that if you're not looking to do any hardcore gaming anytime soon, you will not need that graphics card. That card is a powerhouse. In fact, regarding photo editing and the proper video outputs you would need, you may not even need a graphics card. You could get along just fine with a motherboard that has built in HDMI output and a CPU with good integrated graphics.

And looking at your pcpartpicker setup, I can honestly say that you could build that computer without that $450 gpu and have a perfectly fine photo editing/photography machine.

If you want a build that can do wonders for photography, do hardcore gaming if you want, do just about anything you need, maybe you should look at my build. It only cost me around $800 and I don't think you'd have a problem with saving money.

Here's my build as an example: http://pcpartpicker.com/b/ArK
 

TBC1

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Here's a build that would do photo editing just fine -

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i3-4130 3.4GHz Dual-Core Processor ($119.99 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: ASRock H81M-ITX Mini ITX LGA1150 Motherboard ($71.97 @ Newegg)
Memory: Mushkin Blackline 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($62.99 @ NCIX US)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 2TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($84.99 @ NCIX US)
Video Card: MSI Radeon HD 7790 1GB Video Card ($104.99 @ Amazon)
Case: BitFenix Prodigy (Black) Mini ITX Tower Case ($59.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Corsair Builder 430W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($39.00 @ Amazon)
Optical Drive: LG UH12NS30 Blu-Ray Reader, DVD/CD Writer ($49.21 @ Outlet PC)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($87.99 @ NCIX US)
Total: $681.12
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-10-17 20:10 EDT-0400)
 

Retrowire

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TBC1 has done an excellent service with this recommendation.

You could also trim a few dollars off by only purchasing one stick of 4gb RAM as well. 8gb's are good standard these days, but certainly not necessary for a photo editing build.
 

salomaoabdala

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Thx guys, but I'm not looking to build such a cheap pc, firstly because I'm a professional photographer and thats my job, second because I use IMacs and I'm only building a pc if that pc can beat the shit out of the Imac. So , big SSDs , big RAM and i7 will help ALOT in photo editing when u are editing a RAW photo, and i7 will do wonders when rendering the photo and the 32gb RAM will kill for multitasking! But thx, I'm just going to buy the cheapest 760 and thats fine!!
 

Retrowire

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I know you want to build a computer to rival the physical build of a modern iMac but it's entirely not necessary.

A far cheaper computer could render a high definition photo just as good and better (depending on the users skill) than a top dollar iMac.

To put it simply, my 800 dollar computer can render a photo better than or equal to a 3000 dollar iMac computer.

I know it's your decision in the end, but I hate to see someone throw so much money away because they think they need a sports car just to drive down to the convenience store every sunday.

I mean, looking at your build, you've got a liquid cooling unit for your CPU, your processor will never get hot enough for this to serve it's purpose, you're only editing photos. 32 gb of ram for multitasking? Even hardcore gamers can't multitask enough to utilize that much RAM. Why do we keep using gaming as a reference? Because it is one of the most intensive things that commercial computers have to handle, the graphics card has to render polygons, vertices, lighting, 3d effects, 2d effects, physics, etc. All a graphics card has to do for Photoshop is render and map pixels onto a 2d plain, maybe add a lighting effect here and there and that is ALL. The graphics card you want to purchase will be sitting inside of this computer moaning to itself, "Why the heck am I here?"

It's honestly just kind of frustrating that you come into a tech support forum, ask for help, then disregard all of the advice given to you, heck, TBC1 even went out of his way to build you a custom build that would serve your purposes greatly and save you over a thousand bucks.

Please, I beg of you, take my word on this, I graduated college with a digital filmmaking degree, a medium that is more computationally intensive than photography. I worked alongside photographers. If your computer is more than a filmmaker would need, then it is WAY more than a photographer would need. We only want to help you, if you're honestly just building a computer for photography then save your money or donate it to a charity and save some childrens lives. If you're just pulling our legs, then just buy the thing with the works and all the bells and whistles.

I just can't let this one go without giving this advice. THINK OF THE CHILDREN.
 

TBC1

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Well said!

 

salomaoabdala

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Thx bro, u guys r really Mod edit: Lets keep the language family friendly shall we. awesome trying to help me , just to explain: I'm not the photographer, that person is my cousin , he asked me to build a pc for him(I thought it would be hard to explain here so I just said that was me haha) and he kinda said: give me at least 8gb ram, 2tb hdd , and I need it to be faster than the Imac( he explained to me that he bought the new Imac top line and didnt liked it, because it was too slow on loading cs6 effects and he coulndt edit RAW images from his camera (canon 5d mark3) so he had to use jpeg.
He wanted a pc that can render raw images in cs6 and do awesome in lightroom too.
What should be the build then?

 

Retrowire

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I'm going to have to refer you back to TBC1's recommendation for that.

 

HDII

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I don't mean to be the guy that bursts the rooms bubble but when we are talking about TRUE photo editing of large multi layer high resolution professional files [not your iPhone's snapshots to simply remove red eye] today's software can easily push high end i5/i7 CPUs to a solid burn, fill 32GB of RAM and hit a good sized PF, and be waiting on dual Mushkin Chronos SSDs in RAID 0.

Order of importance when looking to build a PROFESSIONAL photo editing and design rig:
1. RAM - Quantity over speed/latency, the more the better and dual channel at a min. Target 16GB+ depending upon your/his budget.
2. Storage access speed - Make sure you have at least one high performing SSD large enough to handle the OS, photo and design apps, plus current project media size. Figure the latter ~ 18MB / layer / image and projects could range 50 to 250 photos on average depending upon what he is shooting and a light 4 layer final you want to allocate at least 18GB for project work. The app suites can get quite large too plus all the filter add-ons so make sure you have a good idea of which he uses. Also, he will need intermediary drive for his project pipeline and completed portfolios before archival...rotational disk like a WD Black 1TB should be fine...all over SATAIII of course [you can run the WD over SATA II if needed]. Although, if money is no object, go for one of the 1 to 4GBps [yes, capital B for byte not bit] PCIe attached SSDs or throw two Mushkins in RAID 0...fair warning keep the Samsung SSD family out of RAID. I have the Mushkin Chronos minipcie in RAID 0 on my laptop and am well over 1GBps for both reads and writes with I/O through the roof.
3. CPU - Most of today's photo apps hit the CPU way harder than GPU. Actually Photoshop only recently started pegging GPUs at all and only for rotation/orientation and zoom tasks. Look for mid-grade 4th gen i5 or better here.
4. GPU - Mid grade run of the mill is okay unless he likes to game too. You may even be able to get away with the Intel HD 4600 that comes standard and add a separate card later if needed.
5. MB / Case / Interface Cards - Best if you find out how he likes to transfer his data of his media into the PC and off the PC onto his backup. Network gigabit to NAS, USB 3.0, Thunderbolt, FireWire 800 legacy support, etc. If he shoots in studio and uses a wireless SD card in his camera, get 802.11ac for sure and a corresponding router. Try to port out front depending upon how he connects.
6. OS - This is a given provided the specs we are talking about but absolutely NEEDS TO BE a 64bit OS. As much of a non-Mac OS gent I am, they are damn good at this stuff.
7. Monitor - I put this last only because the good stuff is so expensive and probably way out of budget. NTM bleeding edge tech like CMYK monitors are the way to go if you/he can afford one. If not, try to find a decent 99% RGB coverage LED LCD using a mix of LED colors to cover the spectrum. The latter runs $700-$1200 as I type this. If he can afford this, all his photo friends will be drawling at his setup.

I just built the below for my sister who is a pro photographer but on a tight budget to replace her old Mac Pro. PS the new Mac Pro coming soon is pretty badass but way more than I spent on the below. I would call this a mid range pro photo editor.

- MB - GIGABYTE GA-Z87M-D3H
- CPU - i5 4670 OCed
- RAM - CORSAIR Vengeance LP 4 x 8GB
- GPU - HIS iCooler H775FS2G Radeon HD 7750 2GB OCed [Here like the CPU look for better GPU over more VRAM]
- SSD - Single Samsung Evo 250GB
- HDD - WD Caviar Black 1TB
- Well ventilated and uber quiet case
- Dual BluRay burners for client portfolio delivery
- Interfaces - FireWire 800 for her old external HDD, USB 3.0 front and back, eSATA also front and back
- 10ft 9pin FireWire cable so she doesn't have to crawl behind her desk to plug in her external HDD each time she wants to run a backup
- OS - Some version of Mac OS lion or cheetah or something LOL

Hope this helps. Cheers!
 

salomaoabdala

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ok bro, this is by far the best answer ever! ahah lice ever, I´m sorry but I already selected the best answer, but this is definetly the ONE! haha thx, really

 

Ankur Jyoti

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This solution is really helpful. Thanks.
 

Retrowire

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Wow, another user thought HDII's answer was the best?

Oh well. Probably the same kind of people that will buy the latest iPad because Apple made a nifty commercial about it. WHO KNOWS WHAT IT DOES, ITS MORE POWERFULL

Where's the guy that made the point about how ridculous 2 blu ray burners for giving data to clients was? How many clients have bluray or can accept that data? How many hi def photos would one need to take to HAVE TO USE A BLU RAY?

This thread is ridiculous. Can the mods destroy it so no more innocent souls are misled by this nonsense?
 

backlash13

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What's ridiculous is that you think you know better. Have you even done photo processing? Ever heard of Lightroom, Aperture or Photoshop?

A lot of what HDII said is great advice for a photo processing machine. It needs grunt hence top end CPU, lots of RAM, an IPS monitor for true color representation, fast HDD.. the list goes on.

If you're a pro photographer and by pro I mean you make you living through photography only then you may well be working for some big client where time is of the essence for some jobs--gruntie machine and speedy media delivery may be the difference of thousands of dollars for those tight and unreasonable deadlines. Also, big presumption to say that clients can't accept BR media.

So before you shoot your mouth off, why don't you consider the fact that something outside your knowledge may well be right?
 

Retrowire

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Because it's wrong. It is unnecessary. Call me presumptious for questioning the Blu ray thing, but I can call you the same for assuming that clients could regularly accept that type of media. So before you shoot your mouth off, maybe read my previous posts so that you could understand that I know what I'm talking about.

Fact is, I've posted reason as to why that huge expensive rig is totally ludicrous, and nobody has really backed it up with why it's a good idea. No one.

Aperture, Lightroom and Photoshop do not require a computer of that power, and you do not require a expensive top class monitor for great color representation. Fast HDD? Why? Is the client waiting over your shoulder while your read and write files?

I'm certain that you can't be serious, but if you are, then I'll just leave my post from before here to again, clarify why this is all wrong.

"I know you want to build a computer to rival the physical build of a modern iMac but it's entirely not necessary.

A far cheaper computer could render a high definition photo just as good and better (depending on the users skill) than a top dollar iMac.

To put it simply, my 800 dollar computer can render a photo better than or equal to a 3000 dollar iMac computer.

I know it's your decision in the end, but I hate to see someone throw so much money away because they think they need a sports car just to drive down to the convenience store every sunday.

I mean, looking at your build, you've got a liquid cooling unit for your CPU, your processor will never get hot enough for this to serve it's purpose, you're only editing photos. 32 gb of ram for multitasking? Even hardcore gamers can't multitask enough to utilize that much RAM. Why do we keep using gaming as a reference? Because it is one of the most intensive things that commercial computers have to handle, the graphics card has to render polygons, vertices, lighting, 3d effects, 2d effects, physics, etc. All a graphics card has to do for Photoshop is render and map pixels onto a 2d plain, maybe add a lighting effect here and there and that is ALL. The graphics card you want to purchase will be sitting inside of this computer moaning to itself, "Why the heck am I here?"

It's honestly just kind of frustrating that you come into a tech support forum, ask for help, then disregard all of the advice given to you, heck, TBC1 even went out of his way to build you a custom build that would serve your purposes greatly and save you over a thousand bucks.

Please, I beg of you, take my word on this, I graduated college with a digital filmmaking degree, a medium that is more computationally intensive than photography. I worked alongside photographers. If your computer is more than a filmmaker would need, then it is WAY more than a photographer would need. We only want to help you, if you're honestly just building a computer for photography then save your money or donate it to a charity and save some childrens lives. If you're just pulling our legs, then just buy the thing with the works and all the bells and whistles.

I just can't let this one go without giving this advice. THINK OF THE CHILDREN."
 

backlash13

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Okay, let me break it down for you and see if you still disagree.

The CPU doesn't need to the the fastest/most expensive but having one that is at the higher end and latest generation helps. When you're processing photos, you're not just using the one application sometimes. There's multi-tasking of other activities (other tools, browser, FTP etc). Not to mention the actual processing of RAW files in an application like LR on first load can cause your desktop to grind to a crawl. HDII suggested an i5.. why do feel that it's ridiculous given how reasonably priced it is?

The abovementioned software will eat up as much RAM as it can now that we have RAW files that are much larger due to the good old MP wars. Why would you dismiss 32GB when loading large files in LR, Aperture (soon to be defunct) and PS chews up whatever it needs to. Have you seen what happens when you do a big shoot (event such as a wedding) and then try to load up all the images in Library mode in LR? What about when you batch manipulate EXIF? Or batch process multiple large RAW files?

The GPU. Since PS now offloads to GPU vs CPU, having a decent one obviously helps. Again, IMHO, doesn't need to be top of the line but latest tech and support helps. The one HDII suggested cost a little bit over $100.. is that ridiculous to you?

It's incredible that you question why it's worth having a fast HDD. It's like I'm explaining the obvious but since you refuse to see it, I'll explain it. Ignoring your facetious remark about client over your shoulder.. it's processing time. You, who says you've completed(?) a digital film degree, should know the frustration of sitting there waiting for files to be copied, moved, accessed. Try copying multiple SD and CF cards that have 32GB or 64GB(+) of photos on each. How about backup? Archiving to other drives?

With the interfaces HDII suggested as well as the BR drives, if you're working with professional agencies (note the plural) they may very well have/need to utilises those interfaces/media at some point. I didn't presume anything. My point about the BR media was that one time you need it and it saves your reputation or gets you more work, it might have been worth the investment. Your blanket statement dismisses it entirely.

What HDII has suggested isn't overly expensive. Could it be cheaper? Sure. But for what the OP asked for, it's a suitable answer.

It's not that you don't sound like you know what you're talking about, it reads like you're upset that no one is taking it on-board. Just because your answer wasn't chosen as the best or responded positively to, doesn't mean it wasn't taken into consideration. Rather than having a big cry about it and calling for the mods to destroy the thread just because your feelings are hurt, why not let HDII take some credit for sound and useful advice?
 

Retrowire

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OK, I'm glad to see we agree on the main point here.

It could all be cheaper.

Disregard my statement about the HDD. I'll let that one go, even though really, how fast do you need it to be? Can't wait a few seconds to save some cash?

I'll still stand by the 2 Blu ray drives being a ridiculous statement though. Again, how many photos is a client going to want that could fill even one blu ray disc?
 

toyftw

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Hi - If you are a prof & this PC is contributing to your livelihood, then I agree, don't go cheap!
However, a couple of things to realize/consider.
For photo editing, the CPU is more important than a high end GPU. In that regard, you've made the right choice,
an i7. You don't need the "k", but if it's only $20 or so more than why not.

And, even tho you don't need 32g of RAM, it's also not a bad choice given what you'll be doing. I'm just a hobby photo'er and I've got a lot of individual photo files in the 60mb to 100mb range. However, purch
a set of 4x8g RAM and not two - 2x8g sets. A set of 4 will have been tested and found to work well together.

Since you will not be gaming there is no need for liquid cooling, get a top flite air cooling solution like
the Noctua DH U12s or DH 14.

Realistically, you don't need to purch xtra fans(maybe 1) given how many that case comes with already.

If you are going to use that spin type hdd for photo storage, I suggest that you upgrade form the barracuda series, to the Constellation series. All mechanical hdd's will fail eventually, but with an enterprise version form either
Seagate (Constellation) or WD you should get quite a bit more longevity.

Get Win 8.1pro vs Win 8, same price.

As for GPU, even tho you don't need a high end, I'd get at least the gtx 760, to keep your build
more balanced than goin cheap on GPU.

 

7Seasphoto

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Tagging on to this discussion with a more general video card question. I hope that is alright. I've built my own computer before so I'm following the thread. This time around I'm looking more at a video card for photography. I purchased a new monitor (Asus ProArt) but am lost about which connector is the most important. So, my new monitor has DP, HDMI, DVI and VGA ports. What is the priority in selecting a graphics card? DP? HDMI? I'd like to stay below $100 and hopefully in the nvidia family. Thanks, sorry to hijack the thread. :)
 

toyftw

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Hi - You would be much better served by opening your own thread.
 

oxiide

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Photoshop does have some limited CUDA support for some specific and obscure tasks (certain blur and liquify filters, I think), but a system with a solid Core i3-i7 processor will probably already be fast enough to do everything you need in a matter of seconds. Any gaming-series Geforce card would probably provide way more CUDA processing capability than you'd ever need.

Edit: Did not notice how old this thread was, sorry!
 

Molykote

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I am by no means a computer building expert, but came across this thread by accident. I went from a mid grade i5 + 16GB (Dell XPS) to an i7-4790K +32GB (self built) and the difference was pretty astonishing using CS6 and DxO 9 for my 22MP Canon 5D3 files (a little under 30MB in RAW form). The same Samsung SSD was used in both computers.

I bought a mid grade graphics card as an upgrade from the crappy but adequate HD6450 that came in my Dell ($150 in my new machine, but I was told that it would be of minimal significance). For perspective I removed the video card and did some operations without it (integrated graphics on an Asus Z97-A). The speed seemed nearly the same, so I'd imagine that the "don't overkill the graphics card" advice was solid.

I won't get involved in the "OMG 2 Bluray drives" discussion. However, with regard to processing speed I would absolutely recommend the extra CPU power and RAM... especially if you're dealing with a small incremental cost. Running the DxO PRIME denoising function on an 18MP RAW file (Canon 7D) would take 7+ minutes on my i5/16GB setup. On my i7/32GB setup the same file took about 2.5 minutes. I'm only an amateur, but I'd imagine even a part time professional would justify the full cost of the machine I just built ($1500 + recycled SSD + recycled 1TB platter used for post processing photo storage only). I do recognize that my DxO prime example might be extreme (and by no means necessary for every photo), but the long processing times of this function do at least help to demonstrate the improvements under "full throttle" processing conditions. How much intense editing one does on a particular photo is case specific (and possibly hard to predict - since I try to take a photo that needs minimal editing whenever possible!).
 

Gerff

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You should NEVER just run a single stick of RAM, Modern RAM and hardware is meant for running your RAM in dual channel. You could go with 4GB, BUT do it with 2 2GB sticks, not a single 4GB.
 

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