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Motivation is a photography blog that discusses the creative aspects of photography. The posts will include thoughts about images and their interpretation, photographers and their work, technique, workflow, my ongoing projects, and perhaps even the occasional off topic rant.

Photoshop Optimized Computer I

The time has come for a new computer. I built my current computer myself about 6 or more years ago, and it is showing its age. It crashes when I generate Photoshop files with more than one smart object layer and, when I work on large files, it is frequently unable to utilize certain plug-ins that are begging for more memory. Disk space is also quite low. When I built it, if I recall correctly, I was photographing with a Canon 10D. Equipment and file sizes have certainly changed quite a bit.

The process of building that computer was fun and very educational, as it really taught me about how computer systems work and how components interact with each other in terms of compatibility. However, as much as I enjoyed it, I decided that this time I would not build it myself, simply because of free time issues. After learning the things I did during my last build, one thing was quite clear to me: I wasn't going to buy a prefab, 'mass produced' computer from Dell etc. Having seen the importance of individual components, I wanted to be able to choose exactly what goes into the box and not simply get the hard drive du jour!

I thought it might be worthwhile to write a few posts about the process of thinking through the construction of what will be my new system. I believe that this will be quite apropos to this blog since the computer is being designed specifically with the main goal of being optimized for Photoshop, with other uses being secondary.

So lets begin. First, since this time I wasn't going to be doing the building myself, I had to find a custom computer builder. I was looking for an outfit that received outstanding reviews and referrals, had great customer service, and had components that I 'believed in'. Obviously, not every custom build company will carry every component out there and, while some components had to be chosen from what the builder stocked, I wanted to make sure that they stocked what I would have used myself for the most important components.

So, what company did I come up with that filled these criteria? These guys.....Puget Custom Computers. Though I have not yet put the final order in for the computer, I can say the following: they have great reviews and a very helpful website. And when they say they try to answer inquiries within 24 hours they aren't kidding. Once you save a potential configuration you can have it reviewed by someone at Puget and begin talking about it with them. I have been having a daily 'e-mail' conversation with the person helping me out and they couldn't be more helpful or responsive. I am actually going to be giving him a call tonight for some final help in ironing out the particulars.

Like anything else in life though, it helps for you to have some background knowledge before jumping into things. For that reason, before even starting this journey, I had to do some background research on the state of computer components today.....something I have not otherwise been following very carefully. What's cutting edge, what's mainstream, what's around the corner?

Finally, I had to see if anything had changed in regards to optimizing one's computer configuration for Photoshop and Lightroom use. As it turns out, not much really has changed in that regard since I last built my own computer. Nonetheless, I thought it might also be worthwhile to provide that information in one location, as it might be a useful resource for people thinking about this issue.

I think I will close here with probable plans for two or three more posts on this subject to cover, components, Photoshop optimization, and how I put it all together. Along the way, I will provide links to some really excellent websites that provided me with a good deal of my information.