How do I chose a good budget desktop computer?

Started Nov 14, 2012 | Questions thread
Jen Yates Senior Member • Posts: 1,414
Re: How do I chose a good budget desktop computer?

Okay, let me start with picking holes in FNorman's response (Sorry dude)

You don't NEED a 1TB hard drive. You've only currently got 60GB of photos and I would imagine that it would take you quite a while (maybe beyond the life of the PC?) to get to say 500GB. Much better to get a storage drive that will be big enough for a few years (Might still be 1TB) and a larger backup drive.

4GB of RAM will be fine for what you're doing. Get 8GB and room to expand if you can but don't let that decision force your hand at this time. If your photo editing grows into more of a hobby and you use more advanced software and start doing a lot more complex processing then you can go up from 4GB if you need to.

Now I've got that out of the way:

Yes, it sounds like a basic entry level PC will suit you down to the ground. I'm a PC & Mac person myself so I'd recommend a Mac Mini. It's small, energy efficient, powerful, low cost (for the performance), reliable and will require a lot less week to week maintenance and patching. It's also a lot more secure, but you'll still be able to infect it will malware if you try hard enough

You'll be able to run picasa and still have the option of using the more advanced software (Lightroom, Photoshop etc) should you want to in the future.

A mac mini will also hold it's value very well, so should you want to grow your hobby in 2/3 years you can sell the mini and upgrade. PCs do not hold their value well at all!

But... an entry level mac will likely cost you more than an entry level Dell. Maybe the Mac will perform better, but it all depends on what Dell you get and what offers they are doing at the time.

If your experience of PCs is of things being a little quirky at times, software updates arrive frequently and take a while at times, it being a little intuitive at times... then I can honestly say that OSX is better in all respects. It's different though, so if you're not the person who is able to pick up new things quickly then sticking with windows may be best. Nothing wrong with running windows, sure many will say it's not as good as OSX but if it runs the software you need and doesn't delete your work then it's fine in my books!

But... Windows 8 is probably a bigger change from Windows 7 than OSX is!

Last thing to say:

Make sure you have a backup system. Again OSX is set up for this out of the box, plug in an external drive and it'll ask you whether you want to use it as a Time Machine backup drive. Once you've clicked yes you'll have hourly backups.

If you're not familiar with OSX then do have a look at Apple's website where they have good info on switching from windows. You'll hear a lot of hate from the haters and you'll hear praise from the fans. You'll also hear the praise from normal people who used to use PCs and who are now fans.

You need to make up your mind on the Windows 7 / Windows 8 / OSX front first and then look at hardware.

Edit: Like many here I have a powerful machine, a top of the range retina macbook pro. The work I do (software development) requires a fast beast but if I was only doing what you were doing I would get by with a 4GB RAM mini.

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