Have you reviewed the best options for photographers (like me) who use large files (RAW files) and memory/processor hogs (Lightroom) for post-processing applications--any recommendations for powerful, yet value-based, off-the-shelf desktop (non-MAC) computer purchase? Thanks!
Reviews, not so much. When you are putting together a professional workstation you do need to look at processor and memory requirements, and drive type and size.
So a big difference if you say you need 16GB of memory vs 128GB of memory. Or need a 6 core CPU vs a 24 core CPU.
When it comes to professional work, value is more or less your budget. A budge oriented workstation, is the best you can get with the money you have.
All that said, for an OEM machine I like Dell Precision towers myself. Anything is basically possible. From truly ludicrous amounts of memory, multiple GPUs, NVMe storage, RAID arrays, multiple CPUs with high core counts, etc. All on an upgradeable platform. You can get similar things from HP and Lenovo.
My experience of Lightroom is that it's not wonderfully multi-threaded (it doesn't load all the cores on my i7-4790K), and oddly doesn't strain my CPU that much (it's doing something, but none of the cores reach 100% load). In terms of storage, an SSD for the OS, Lightroom and (maybe) catalogue, and HDD for photos (raw files will be sequential reads, and HDDs will manage 100-175MB/s for that, which should be more than fast enough).
Not too difficult to put together a Ryzen 7 or i7 consumer grade system with 16GB of memory. There should be hundreds of OEM PCs to pick from.
Not usually going to find K sku CPUs outside of boutique and 'gaming' builders though. If that is what you are after, pick from amongst those.
Ryzen 7 with its 8 cores and 16 threads will help with multi-threaded tasks, but will hurt you if your program relies on single threads. There Intel is still quite a bit faster. IPC difference between your i7-4790k and a recent 8th or 9th gen CPU is only going to amount to about 20% and that is with overclocking on both. Now an i7-8700k does reach 6 cores and 12 threads, so you have a slight improvement there.
Storage recommendation for any workload involving large files would be to have an NVMe boot drive for the OS and the application, a second NVMe drive for your working files, and some sort of bulk storage. If speed is somewhat important it can be a large 2TB SATA SSD or just some large6-8TB hard drives.
You can still do something similar with a Dell Precision, just have to pick the options you want.
Storage recommendation for any workload involving large files would be to have an NVMe boot drive for the OS and the application, a second NVMe drive for your working files, and some sort of bulk storage
If I were splitting OS and "scratch" across drives, I'd go the other way around, and stick the OS/application on a SATA SSD, and "scratch" on NVMe (on the basis that once the OS & Lightroom is loaded you won't be touching it much, but "scratch" you will). There again, I'd just get a 500GB/1TB Samsung 970 and stick both on it, as they're not that expensive (<< £200 for the 500GB, ~ £200 for the 1TB).
I would add that camera files aren't that large - the 45MP .NEF files from a Nikon D850 are in the 45-95MB range.
To me an 970 Evo is fine for the OS and application. I was talking about a second NVMe drive for a working disk, mostly so each drive has its own cache and trim functions can happen more frequently. Not sure I would want it to be TLC at that point. Maybe an older Samsung Pro with MLC so that all the constant re-writes don't trash it prematurely. But that would be just playing safe. If this computer is used for work, then the drives would be considered consumable parts. Backups, always backups.
Still, can't really say much more without a budget. The workstations we have at work are $10,000 plus at the low end, and truly ludicrous at the high end. We've replaced most of our fixed workstations with high end mobile workstations for convenience sake (Thanks Intel, finally more than 4 cores). The big boys play on the clustered servers for their work, so they can get away with cheaper ultrabooks and external monitors.
Hmm, black Friday approaches as well. Might be some decent offerings soon. Though usually only low end or undesirable stuff gets discounted.
Thanks to you all--I'm a relative novice (despite my age=75 this mo.) at the details of current hardware. BUT you have given me excellent direction and points with which I can at least concentrate some decisions as they fit my budget. Happy holidays to you all and thanks again. Now it's time for me to get to work!