The Best Desktops for Photo Editing [August 2020]

Anyone who works in virtually any visual creative field knows that there are only certain types of computers that have the processing power and graphics abilities to get the job done right. Whether you work as a salaried photo editor for National Geographic or a freelance Photoshop guru for a variety of print and online publications, every professional visual artist need the right machine in order to bring out the best from both photos and videos in a variety of environments and mediums.

Of course, you could invest in a MacBook Pro and spend over three-thousand dollars in order to get all the bells and whistles you need, but unless you travel on a regular basis and need your computer for other pro-level tasks, you’d be throwing away a lot of your money. In fact, it’s possible to land a desktop computer that can provide all if not more of the processing and graphics power you need at a fraction of the price, and there are a variety of HD monitors that you can pick from in order to ensure that the accuracy of your edits is unparalleled when it comes to both quality and style.

In fact, even if you do most of your edits on a laptop, it’s important to be able to compare the final result on a desktop using a slightly different processor and graphics card, in order to ensure that your work translates properly on different machines. So if you’re interested in either beginning or furthering a career having anything to do with graphic design or photo editing, here are some of the best desktop computers money can buy.

What to Look For in a Desktop

If you’re buying a desktop with photo editing in mind, it’s important to know what you’re looking for before you go in. Not all desktops are created equal, and even if something seems like a good deal, it might be missing out on a key component to make your photo editing experience truly shine. There are four areas you need to keep an eye out for when shopping for a desktop, though depending on how often you edit photos, your needs may change.

  • CPU: It’s important to know what to look for in modern processors. The majority of computers sold today are powered by Intel CPUs, though AMD is making a major comeback with their Ryzen line of processors. Photoshop and similar photo editing tools primarily use your computer’s CPU for most of their tasks, so this is truly the most important on our list. Keep an eye out for at least a 9th-gen Intel Core i5 processor in your desktop, though a Core i7 or Core i9 will serve you better. On the AMD side, look for a third-gen Ryzen 5 at minimum, though the Ryzen 7 or Ryzen 9 will serve you better.
  • RAM: In 2020, applications and operating systems have become more memory-hungry than ever, and that includes Photoshop. If you’re looking to edit photos, you’ll need a desktop with at least 16GB of RAM, and if you can afford it, you may want to consider stepping up to 32GB.
  • Hard Drive: Obviously, having a large drive to store your photos is a necessity for anyone looking for a desktop perfect for Photoshop. However, a lot of cheaper and older desktop PCs still rely on older disk-based hard drives that can slow down your performance when editing. When you shop for a new desktop, you’re looking for something with an SSD in it. Unlike traditional disk-based hard drives, SSDs use integrated circuits without moving parts, which means they’re generally considered more reliable. They also give your laptop a huge speed boost in day-to-day performance. Unfortunately, SSDs still tend to run more expensive for less storage than traditional hard drives, but if you can find a desktop that uses both SSDs and HDDs, you’re far better off than just relying on a HDD by itself.
  • GPU: Although photo editing primarily relies on your CPU, your computer’s graphics card shouldn’t be overlooked, especially for anyone looking to edit videos in addition to photos. Most users will be satisfied with either an integrated GPU, but the graphics card inside your computer can really assist when performing heavy tasks that the CPU might be too weak on its own to handle. For that reason, it’s important not to ignore the strength of your GPU when building or buying a computer.

Remember, although buying a computer can save a lot of time, if you’re up for a challenge, you can also build your own desktop. With that said, these are our top desktops for editing

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