How to build a PC for photographers

The ideal PC for digital photography minimizes workflow hassles while maximizing performance and capacity. Here's what to look for.

By Loyd Case, PC World |  Hardware, PCs

Storage begins with the flash memory cards you use in your camera. Recent developments in flash memory storage technology have afforded us products with very high-speed data rates. The fastest 1000x CompactFlash cards can move data off the card at roughly 120MB per second. The fastest SD Cards are now capable of read speeds up to 95 MBps. Write speeds are slower--closer to 70 MBps for the fastest CompactFlash cards, and only in those cameras with high-speed controllers.

But lets not get too concerned about the write speeds of flash memory cards for our photographers PC. Its moving data from the card to your PC that can become a bottleneck in the workflow. If you have a 32GB flash memory card packed with 350 45MB RAW images, moving them off the card is an exercise in patience with a USB 2.0 reader. Ideally, youll want a USB 3.0 reader connected to a USB 3.0 port. I own a US Robotics USB 3.0 reader that works reasonably well.

PC Storage Guidelines

Where do you put all those photographs? Whatever you do, dont store them on the boot drive if you can avoid it. At a minimum, youll want two drives in your PC. Currently, I have a single, 512GB solid-state drive as my boot drive. A half-terabyte is enough to hold all my applications, as well. My secondary drive is a single 2TB, 7200-rpm Seagate Barracuda XT. If youre concerned about data integrity, you might want a RAID 1 array for your secondary drive, which holds all the Windows user folders, including photo storage. (RAID mirrors two physical drives. You get only half the space, but each volume is a duplicate of the other, preserving your data if one drive fails. Remember, though, that even RAID 1 is no substitute for a good backup plan.)

I need to hammer home two key points when it comes to desktop PC storage for photographers:


Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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