Assemble your own photo editing computer. We’ll show you how to pick its parts

Nobody wants to spend all day editing 20 photos. But many people struggle with precisely this problem. The reason is simple—a slow and outdated computer. So take a look at how to put together the right computer for your photo editing.

It’s clear that everyone has different demands and options when buying their photo computer. Thus we’ll provide three systems that will please you with their price, size, or top performance. For all three, editing your photos in Zoner Photo Studio X will be a snap.

A Basic Photo Editing Computer—The Worker Ant

Choose this system if you don’t have a lot of extra cash, but you want the best performance you can get. You’ll acquire good components, even though naturally you have to count on certain compromises—for example in terms of their size. But on the other hand, you won’t have to waste money on miniaturization.

Your computer’s speed will come from an inexpensive, but fairly powerful Intel Pentium G4600 from the Kaby Lake processor generation. It contains two physical cores with a frequency of 3.6 GHz, with a total of four threads, and Intel HD 630 integrated graphics.

We suggest an ASUS Prime B250M-K, although it’s truly basic—don’t expect any unnecessary features. You’ll connect everything you need to it, but not much more. So your main restriction in the future may be the number of PCI Express expansion slots and memory slots.

ASUS Prime B250M-K. Source: Asus

In a basic photo editing computer, you can make do with 8GB of DDR4 Patriot 2133 MHz memory with CL15. Although it may seem that 8GB isn’t much today, you don’t need to worry that it won’t be enough. If you’re not planning to run lots of demanding applications at once, you won’t run into any trouble.

For your data storage, take advantage of the time-tested combination of a smaller SSD and a larger HDD. While the first of these guarantees quick booting and swifter photo editing, you can use the second for your photo archive. So for the SSD, reach for a Samsung EVO 850 with a capacity of 250 GB, and use a 1TB Seagate Barracuda as your larger storage.

You also need a case that supports the mATX motherboard format, a good-quality power supply, and a fan to cool the case.

Power supply Be quiet! PURE POWER 10 400W. Source: Be quiet!

The monitor is an important part of the system. Naturally you can also make do with the one you have already, but for completeness we’ll include one in our system. The right monitor is one that’s large enough and has at least Full HD resolution and an IPS panel. These parameters guarantee to you that you’ll see everything on the monitor well, even from inferior viewing angles.

And since you’re assembling your system from scratch, naturally don’t forget to buy Windows.

You can find all of these components in the table below and upgrade them at any time.

Component typeSpecific exampleApproximate price
ProcessorIntel Pentium G4600$87
MotherboardASUS Prime B250M-K$80
MemoryPatriot 8GB DDR4 2133Mhz CL15 Signature Line$71
Main disk (SSD)Samsung 850 EVO 250GB$100
Storage diskSeagate Barracuda 1TB$50
PC caseZalman T1 PLUS Micro ATX Mini Tower$35
Power supplyEVGA 430 W1$40
FanARCTIC F12 Silent$10
Monitor25″ AOC Q2577PWQ$250
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home 64-bit$116
Total price with monitor$839
Total price without monitor$589

Compact Photo PC—When Every Inch Counts

You can also squeeze a photo-editing computer into the popular Intel NUC format—a small, space-saving computer. But you’ll pay extra for this miniaturization.

Keep in mind meanwhile that this is more of a basic model, in which you’ll lose your second disk. So it pays to compensate for this drawback with a larger SSD. The combination of a fast SSD for the M.2 slot and a larger hard disk would add considerably to this system’s price.

Component typeSpecific exampleApproximate price
Mini computer
with CPU
Intel NUC 7i5BNH$360
MemoryPatriot Signature Line 8GB PC4-17000 DDR4 2133MHz CL15 SODIMM$70
Disk (SSD)Samsung 850 EVO 500GB$160
Monitor25″ AOC Q2577PWQ$250
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home 64-bit$116
Overall price with monitor$956
Overall price without monitor$706

The Ideal Photo Editing Computer—When Money Is No Object

Have some extra cash and want hefty performance? With the system below, you can handle even a large number of photos or complicated retouching comfortably and quickly. Naturally if you can do this and you’re willing to reach into your pockets (or more likely your piggybank), many options open up to you for editing your photos even faster.

This applies for example for the motherboard, where you can pay extra for a board with the Intel Z270 chipset, which lets you overclock your processor.

You can also work with a separate graphics card. However, at present these are overpriced due to their use in mining virtual currency (such as Bitcoin and Etherium).

Of course if you’ll be planning to also use the computer for gaming or video editing, that’s another matter. In that case go ahead and add a top nVidia card to your computer; it just makes sense. But keep in mind that you’ll be adding a lot to your system’s cost.

Component typeSpecific exampleApproximate price
ProcessorIntel Core i5-7600K$240
CoolerARCTIC Freezer 13$30
MotherboardMSI B250 PC MATE$80
MemoryKingston HyperX FURY Black 16GB Kit 2400MHz DDR4$185
Main disk (SSD)Samsung 960 EVO 250GB$125
Storage diskSeagate Barracuda 3TB$90
PC CaseThermaltake V3 Black Edition SECC$54
Power supplyEVGA 500 BQ$70
Fan (x2)ARCTIC F12 Silent$20
Monitor25″ AOC Q2577PWQ$250
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home 64-bit$116
Total price with monitor$1,260
Total price without monitor$1,010

There Are Many Ways

Naturally you can also edit photos with less powerful systems than what we’ve offered here. But it may turn out to take significantly more time. At the same time, even similarly powerful but cheaper parts can guarantee you good performance.

Primary storage Kingston HyperX Fury DDR4. Source: HyperX

In our photo editing computer variants, we’ve worked with components that we have good experience with, or where we’ve tried them and know that ZPS X runs smoothly enough on them.

Naturally we know that components are always changing and so you needs to keep an eye on the market. We’ll be updating this article periodically for you so that it reflects the latest technologies.

Remember that components can differ slightly in their builds from different manufacturers, and so before purchasing from your supplier, make sure they are compatible. If you’re not feeling brave enough to assemble a computer on your own, ask a store to do so. There are a variety of PC stores that will provide this service for a reasonable fee, or sometimes even for free.

Last updated 10. October 2017

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Author: Joseph Halicek

I’ve been forging marketing plans for Zoner Photo Studio since 2013. In my photography I concentrate on portraiture, but I also like to experiment. You can find my work on Zonerama.

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