Choosing the Best Desktop Computer for Photography

Last Updated: July 26, 2017

The field of photography has grown by leaps and bounds as technology has taken the editing of photos from the darkroom to the computer in your living room. Choosing the best computer for photography editing may seem like a daunting task due to the plethora of brands, high-tech options, and overall complexity faced when shopping.

With so many choices and features available, it can be confusing to understand what components are essential for a photographer. We’ve done the hard work for you and rounded up our top 4 desktop choices for photo editing along with a helpful buying guide.

At a Glance: Our Top 4 Photo Editing Desktop Computer Picks

Buyer's Guide to Desktop Computers for Photo Editing

Clean Desktop with iMac

The first step is to think about how you will use your desktop. For example, a photography student has different needs than someone who has a wedding photography business. Once you have an understanding of the photo editing features you’ll be using most consistently then you can find a machine that aligns with those needs.

Advantages for Choosing a Desktop

There has never been so many platforms available for your photo editing needs as there are currently on the market. A wide variety of the best photo editing laptops, tablets, desktops, and handheld devices can make it difficult to decide which type of equipment to use. A desktop computer has many advantages including:

  • Desktops are more powerful and have more storage space than laptops or tablets.
  • You’ll never have to worry about your battery running out.
  • Desktops are customizable. You can swap out monitors, add different drives, and configure it specifically to your personal needs
  • Desktops are easier to work at for long periods of time since you won’t be hunching painfully over a screen.
  • Dollar for dollar, a desktop offers more bang for your buck as opposed to a tablet, laptop, or handheld.

Important Features

When deciding which desktop to purchase, it is imperative to understand the different types of hardware that are incorporated into them.

CPU: This component is the driving force behind the desktop, and it determines the amount of computing power that it is capable of using.

Because photo editing will likely require you to run several programs or processes simultaneously, you should look for an option with multiple cores. Multiple cores on central processing units will allow you to multitask no matter how intensive the tasks are for the computer.

RAM: RAM, or random access memory, is another key component necessary for photo editing software like Photoshop. Software programs and photograph files require a significant amount of RAM to function quickly and efficiently.

The more RAM your desktop has, the faster it can work and the more information it can store. You will need to find a computer with at least 4 GB of RAM to ensure your files are stored safely and your software is running correctly. You can also add on more RAM if needed.

Graphics Card: Graphics cards aren’t just for gaming computers. The graphics card is essential for onscreen drawing and 3-dimensional images. When editing images and photos, it’s crucial to have the best graphics card that you can reasonably afford and that will work in sync with your processor.

Storage: Storage on your desktop is essential for having the space to save images, software, and other important files. While photo images do not take up as much space as other media like movies, for example, it’s nice to ensure you have the ability to store whatever files you might want. You may also want to backup your files on a cloud storage system just to be safe.

What to Look for in a Desktop for Photo Editing

Computer setup of a photographer

When looking for a desktop to use for editing photos and images, there are many essential factors to consider.

It’s important to choose a model that has a fast, multicore processor, plenty of RAM, sophisticated graphics, multiple USB ports for uploading images and printing, a disk drive that allows you to transfer images to or from a disk, a high-resolution monitor, and plenty of storage space.

Depending on your budget and preferences you can choose an all-in-one that comes with the computer, monitor, keyboard, mouse, and everything you need, or you can purchase items separately.

Selecting items separately from one another can be more expensive, but allows you to build your system perfectly suited to your specified needs.

Operating Systems

The operating system is the heart of your desktop computer. It manages your hardware, software, files, memory, connected devices, and allows you to interact with the computer and programs. The three most common operating systems are MAC OS X, Windows, and Chrome OS.

Mac OS X: Mac computers run on the MAC OS X system. It features an elegant, easy to use interface. These models are traditionally more expensive than other brands. They have a large following of dedicated users.

Windows: Windows has been around for a long time, and most people are pretty familiar with it. It’s easy to use and easy to troubleshoot any problems that may arise. The most recent update features a streamlined file management system, a new task manager, and some terrific built-in apps.

Chrome OS: Chrome OS is exclusive to the Chromebox desktop computer line. It utilizes custom apps and programs that are cloud based instead of traditional software programs. This system is ideal for casual editing use, but may not be up for more demanding photo editing work.

Ports and Connectivity

Your desktop will come with ports installed that allows you to connect devices, transfer files, and much more. Some common types of ports are:

  • HDMI: The HDMI port lets you plug in a monitor or even a TV to your desktop.
  • USB 2.0: The USB 2.0 connects external drives, devices like digital cameras, controllers for gaming, your smartphone, music players, and other accessories.
  • USB 3.0: The USB 3.0 allows you to transfer data faster than USB 2.0, but this is only able to be used with USB 3.0 devices.
  • Media card slots: This is a must for photographers. This port allows you to transfer photos from your digital camera or camcorder at lightening fast speeds.

Our Top 4 Best Desktop Computers for Photo Editing

1. HP Pavilion 24-b010 All-In-One

HP Pavilion All-In-One

Pros

  • Extremely Well Priced
  • Fast Processor
  • Comes with Monitor & Windows 10
  • Quiet, Energy Efficient

Cons

  • Some Users May Not Like Touch Screen

The HP Pavilion All-In-One has everything you need to edit and create stunning images. It includes 8GB expandable memory, 1TB hard drive, AMD A9 processor, a 23.8-inch touchscreen monitor, and it includes wireless/Bluetooth capabilities.

It comes installed with Windows 10 and includes AMD Radeon R5 graphics, which enables up to 4,333 MB total graphics memory. It also arrives with the keyboard and mouse. This set up saves on space since all the components are built into the monitor.

The HP All-In-One is a fantastic choice for any photographer. The graphics and visuals are stellar, and there’s no need to be forced to spend extra money on accessories since everything is included in the box. It’s quiet, energy efficient, and HP is a reliable and trustworthy brand.

The option to use a mouse or a touch screen in addition to excellent visuals make this a perfect addition to your photography arsenal. It makes editing a breeze and is fun to use. It’s also great for a variety of other applications like streaming movies thanks to the excellent screen.

2. Apple iMac MC508LL

Apple iMac

Pros

  • Great Graphics, Fast Processor
  • Moderately Priced
  • Comes With Everything You Need
  • Quiet, Energy Efficient

Cons

  • Not Compatible with Windows or Chrome OS

The Apple iMac is an all-in-one system featuring an Intel Core i3 processor. It comes with a 21.5 inch widescreen monitor, an Apple wireless keyboard, and a Magic Mouse. This model runs on the Mac OS x 10.6 Snow Leopard operating system.

The iMac is a good option for photographers preferring Apple products who are wanting an all-in-one system that runs on the Mac operating system. This desktop is fast and efficient. It has lovely graphics, allowing you to quickly and professionally edit images.

3. CyberpowerPC Gamer Ultra

CyberPowerPC Gaming Desktop

Pros

  • Excellent Graphics Card
  • 1TB Storage Capacity
  • AMD Processor
  • Moderately Priced

Cons

  • Fan Can Be Noisy
  • Doesn't Come With Monitor

Don’t let the name fool you. The CyberpowerPC Gamer Ultra is not just for games. This desktop features a powerful AMD Multicore processor enabling it to allow editing of photos with ease.

It has an excellent graphics card which offers a significant visual performance boost to make your photos pop.

The Gamer Ultra does not come with a monitor but is capable of connecting to multiple monitors which could be extremely helpful when editing large amounts of photos and videos.

The advanced graphics and high-resolution capability alone make the CyberpowerPC Gamer Ultra an excellent choice for photographers.

It’s sleek, attractive, and arrives with a keyboard and mouse. It is moderately priced and comes with Windows 10 already installed. It’s also quiet, energy efficient, and backed by lifetime technical support.

This model is a great choice for photographers that need stunning graphics and visuals to edit with.

4. ASUS CHROMEBOX-M004U Desktop & Logitech Wireless Combo MK270 with Keyboard and Mouse

Asus Chromebox

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Fast Processor & Great Graphics
  • 4 USB 3.0 Ports & SD Card Capability

Cons

  • Runs on Chrome OS
  • Must Purchase Monitor Seperately

The ASUS Chromebox Desktop includes a keyboard and mouse. This model features an Intel processor and Intel HD graphics, allowing you to edit photos with ease and flair. You will need to purchase a monitor separately. This choice also has less RAM than other options, which means you may want to upgrade to more memory.

The ASUS Chromebox is a great choice for photographers that want to use the Chrome operating system. It is inexpensive and has excellent graphic capabilities. It works quickly and efficiently as well. You can use SD cards with it, it has wireless internet capabilities, and four USB 3.0 ports. Since this model has been fitted with these higher tech specs, it will last a long time as technology with USB 3.0 potentially expands.

Conclusion

In closing, the world of desktop computers has heard the call from photographers for better options in assisting them to edit their images. Each of the four options we have highlighted can be a great addition to your current set up. Our overall winner is the HP Pavilion All-In-One.

The HP All-In-One steals the show thanks to its excellent price, the fact that everything you need comes right in the box, and it has some amazing high-tech features. It is user-friendly and loaded with stunning graphics and astonishing visuals.

With 8GB of Ram and 1TB of hard drive space, you won’t need to worry about memory or storage. It is preloaded with Windows 10 and includes a DVD writer so you can create disks l with images and videos.

It’s quiet, saves on space, and will allow you to edit images with precision and speed. For these reasons, the HP Pavilion All-In-One has our vote for the best desktop for editing photos.

Photo Editing Desktop Buyer's Guide
Photo Editing Desktop Buyer's Guide
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