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Best PCs for Photo Editing (9 Picks for 2020, Desktops & AIOs)

Which is the Best PC for Photo Editing in 2020?

Photo editing is the final stage in photography where the RAW images shot by you out in the field transform into shareable JPEGs. This is the stage where the images assume the final vision of the photographer. And to do that you need the best pc for photo editing you can get. Here are a list of what I consider the best PCs for photo editing in 2020:

Desktop PC

Best AIO Mac / Windows

Best Desktop PC Options

CyberPowerPC Gamer Master Desktop Computer

CYBERPOWERPC Gamer Master Gaming PC, AMD Ryzen 7 3700X 3.6GHz, NVIDIA GeForce RTX...
The CyberPowerPC Gamer Master Desktop Computer

The CyberPowerPC Gamer Master is powered by a Ryzen 3.6 GHz AMD Ryzen 7 3700X 8-core processor.

Multi-threading

The cores have two virtual / logical cores. That means they each handle two threads as warranted by the application. In total the 8 cores can handle 16 threads.

Other Specs

The system comes with 16 gigs of RAM, and is paired with the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 Super graphics card. The system comes with 240 GB SSD storage plus a 2 TB 7200 rpm hard drive.

Why do I need the higher specs?

The specs of this system are slightly on the higher side. For plain Lightroom work you will not need to use the systems at 100%. But when editing on Photoshop especially when using resource hogging tools like Camera RAW or Blur Gallery or Smart Sharpen the higher specs will be useful for a smooth performance. Add to that any future video editing tasks you may wish to take upon yourself.

CYBERPOWERPC Gamer Master Gaming PC, AMD Ryzen 7 3700X 3.6GHz, NVIDIA GeForce RTX...
  • System: AMD Ryzen 7 3700x 3. 6GHz 8-Core | AMD B450 Chipset | 16GB DDR4 | 240GB SSD | 2TB HDD | Genuine Windows 10 Home...
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 Super 8GB Video Card | 1x HDMI | 2x DisplayPort
  • Connectivity: 6 x USB 3. 1 | 2 x USB 2. 0 | 1x RJ-45 Network Ethernet 10/100/1000 | 802. 11AC Wi-Fi | Audio: 7. 1 Channel |...
  • Special Feature: Tempered Glass Side Case Panel | Custom ARGB case Lighting | RGB 7 Colors Gaming mouse
  • : 1 Year Parts & Labor | Free Lifetime Tech Support

MSI Trident X Plus Gaming Desktop

MSI Trident X Plus 9SF-054US High-End Small Form Factor PC Intel Core i9-9900K RTX...
MSI Trident X Plus Gaming Desktop

Both the 3.2 GHz Intel Core i7-8700 Six-Core processor and the 3.2 GHz Intel Core i7-8700K Six-Core processor have very similar real world performance. They are both capable of hyper-threading (hyper threading denotes where each physical core is capable of splitting into two virtual cores, and that allows them to handle additional processes).

3.2 GHz Intel Core i7-8700 Six-Core vs 3.2 GHz Intel Core i7-8700K Six-Core

The difference in price is just a few dollars and the base clock speed is 3.2 GHz as compared to the K’s 3.7 GHz. So, in terms of RAW processing power there wouldn’t be too much of a difference. You save some extra cash and some extra heat as the K generates more heat during max load.

Justification: Do I need the MSI Trident X Plus?

We say again, for Lightroom you don’t need the K. The basic 3.2 GHz Intel Core i7-8700 Six-Core processor is more than enough for your requirements. You would also be able to run Photoshop with some degree of satisfaction depending on your preferred tools of editing. The only reason you would want to fork more money for something like a Core i9 or an AMD Ryzen 9 SoC would be because of future diversification into video editing or generating time-lapse and or hyper-lapse sequences. These are resource hogging applications are the best places where you can expect that your virtual cores capable of running extra threads to come in handy.

Related Post: Best Computers for Video Editing

About the stock cooler

Now a word about the stock cooler of the 3.2 GHz Intel Core i7-8700 Six-Core processor. The stock cooler on the 3.2 GHz Intel Core i7-8700 Six-Core processor isn’t the best. So, heat generation would be an issue. A better cooler would be in order if you would like to run resource hungry applications.

Other Specs

The other specs of the PC are 16 GB of DDR4 memory, 256 GB NVMe SSD plus a 2 TB normal HDD storage, and a MSI GeForce RTX 2080 VENTUS 8G GPU.  This would have been higher on our list of the best pc for photo editing, but for the stock cooler. Nevertheless, this is a good option if you choose a better cooler for more resource hogging applications.

MSI Trident X Plus 9SF-054US High-End Small Form Factor PC Intel Core i9-9900K RTX...
  • Type: small form Factor PC With Mini-ITX MB | Operating System: Win 10 Pro
  • Processor: Intel Core i9-9900KF Processor 8 Cores 3.6-5.0 GHz 16M Cache
  • Graphics: NVIDIA RTX 2080Ti 11G OC w/true-to-life Ray Tracing Technology
  • Memory: 32GB DDR4 2666MHz (16GB x 2), 2 x U-DIMM DDR4 2400MHz, Max 32GB | Storage: 512GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD (512GB x1) + 2TB...
  • Special Features: real-time Ray tracing | Tempered Glass Side panel | RGB Case Lighting | dedicated cooling Chambers for GPU,...

Dell Alienware Aurora R8 Gaming desktop PC

2019_Dell Alienware Desktop R8 256GB+1TB 2070-R9 (1TB SSD)
Dell Alienware Aurora R8 Gaming desktop PC

And going with the same argument with which we concluded the previous paragraph we recommend the Dell Alienware Aurora R8. Another 3.2 GHz Intel Core i7 8th Gen SoC with 6 physical cores.

More cores are better!

The basic thumb-rule in high end PCs is that more the cores you have the better that PC is at multi-tasking. And believe you me when I say this, gaming PCs are the best when it comes to editing photos as well as videos. That is why we have includes the Dell Alienware Aurora R8 as one of the best PCs for photo editing.

Armed with a 3.2 GHz Intel Core i7-8700 six core chip and with the power to multi-thread and therefore handle 12 threads at a time. One of the major advantages of investing in a proper gaming PC is the cooling mechanism. The Aurora R8 comes with an optional liquid cooling system. That basically means this monster is designed to handle demanding games, or in our case work with even the most demanding tools in Photoshop.

Other Specs

The other specs of the R8 are – 16 GB DDR4, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 graphics with 8 GB GDDR6 memory. There are twin storage options inside. One is the fast 256 GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD and the other is a 1 TB 7200 rpm hard drive. The best thing about the Aurora R8 is that the tower gives you tool less access. So scalability is easy and is a definite advantage. One of the best pc for photo editing if you are on the Windows platform.

2019_Dell Alienware Desktop R8 256GB+1TB 2070-R9 (1TB SSD)
  • 9th Gen Intel Core i7 9700 (8-Core, 12MB Cache, up to 4.7GHz with Intel Turbo Boost Technology)
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 8GB GDDR6 (OC Ready)
  • 16GB Dual Channel DDR4 at 2666MHz; up to 64GB (additional memory sold separately)
  • 1TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD
  • Windows 10 Home 64bit English

HP OMEN Obelisk Desktop Computer

OMEN by HP Obelisk Gaming Desktop Computer, 9th Generation Intel Core i9-9900K...
The HP OMEN Obelisk Desktop Computer

If the configurations do not make sense the name should be a giveaway. The Obelisk is powered by a Core i7-9700K 8 core processor. The chip does not support multi-threading so only 8 threads are supported. The base clock speed of the chip is 3.6 GHz. But it can be tweaked to 4.9 GHz using Intel’s Turbo Boost 2.0 technology.

Other Specs

The other specifications of the PC include 16 GB of DDR4 RAM, a NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 GPU with 8 GB DDR6 VRAM and 512 GB of PCIe M.2 SSD storage. NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 is faster and more efficient than the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 that we discussed above.

Although this comparison is strictly in terms of gaming performance and against established benchmarks in that segment, it is safe to assume that the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 would be the better choice for video editing. For purely photo editing purposes, which we are concerned with, the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 is more than enough.

OMEN by HP Obelisk Gaming Desktop Computer, 9th Generation Intel Core i9-9900K...
  • Hyper-realistic graphics: NVIDIA(R) GeForce(R) RTX 2080 SUPER (8 GB GDDR6 dedicated memory). Enjoy new levels of gaming...
  • Cutting-edge gaming performance: Geared with the latest hardware and easy to upgrade, so you can crush the latest and most...
  • Ultra-fast processor: 9th Generation Intel Core i9-9900K Processor, 8-core, 3.60 GHz
  • HP OMEN command center: Included software lets you customize RGB lighting, prioritize gaming network traffic, and stream your...
  • Solid state drive and memory: 1 TB PCIe(R) NVMe(TM) M.2 Solid State Drive and HyperX(R) 32 GB DDR4-2666 SDRAM (upgradable to...

MSI Trident 3 Desktop Computer

MSI Trident 3 9SI-447US Small Form Factor Gaming Desktop, Intel Core i7-9700F, NVIDIA...
MSI Trident 3 Desktop Computer

The MSI Trident is a VR ready computer. It is powered by a 3.0 GHz Intel Core i7 9th Gen Eight-Core processor which is paired with a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti (6GB GDDR6). The CPU does not support hyper threading. Also there is no bundled cooler with the CPU which means you will need to purchase that separately.

Related Post: Best External Hard Drives for Photographers

Other Specs

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti is a reasonably powerful mid-range GPU and the 3 GHz Intel Core i7 9th Gen Eight-Core processor combination makes for a potent combination. For photo editing the combination gives you smooth results when using resource hogging tools on Photoshop.

The internal memory of the PC is 16 GB DDR4. VRAM is 6 GB GDDR6. Internal storage is 512 GB NVMe PCIe SSD. Definitely one of the best pc for photo editing if you are on a budget.

MSI Trident 3 9SI-447US Small Form Factor Gaming Desktop, Intel Core i7-9700F, NVIDIA...
  • System: Intel Core i7-9700f 3.0GHz 8-Core | Intel H310 Chipset | 16GB DDR4 | 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD | Windows 10 Home
  • Graphics: NVIDIA geforce gtx 1660 Ti 6G GDDR6 | 1x HDMI | 1x DisplayPort | 1x DVI
  • Connectivity: 4 x USB 3.1 | 4 x USB 2.0 | 1x RJ-45 Network Ethernet 10/100/1000 | 802.11AC Wi-Fi | Audio: 5.1 Channel |...
  • Special Features: proprietary thermal Kit Included | DS4200 keyboard | clutch GM10 mouse
  • Warranty: 1 Year Parts & Labor Warranty

Best AIO Mac / Windows for Photo Editing

Apple 27” iMac with Retina 5K Display (Mid 2017)

Apple_iMac 27 Inch Retina 5K Display Desktop Computer Advanced Bundle (MNE92LL/A -...
Apple iMac 27 Inch Retina 5K Display Desktop Computer

You can’t leave an iMac out of any discussion to do with photo or video editing. Or for that matter anything to do with visual content creation. Because an iMac has one of the best calibrated displays in the market straight out of the box. It’s a visual content creator’s absolute delight. The problem is a 2019 edition iMac costs in excess of $5K. Yes, at that price you do get the entire setup and not just the tower, but the amount is significant.

Thus, we decided to pick some budget options which are 2017 releases. Slightly cheaper but equally useful regardless.

This all in one unit is a mid-2017 edition. But don’t take it lightly. Under the hood the 27” iMac is a powerful tool in the right hands. Powering the iMac is powered by a 3.4 GHz Intel Core i5 Quad-Core processor. The processor can be overclocked to a maximum of 3.8 GHz.

Display

Being an AIO unit the iMac comes with a display unit as well. The 27” display has a resolution of 5K. A 5120 x 2880 this is a Retina Display. The maximum brightness of the screen is 500 CD/m².

Other Specs

8 GB of DDR4 RAM makes up for the built-in storage. The iMac gets a 1 TB Fusion Drive as its main storage. Graphics is supported by the AMD Radeon Pro 570 Graphics card with an integrated 4GB of memory.

Apple_iMac 27 Inch Retina 5K Display Desktop Computer Advanced Bundle (MNE92LL/A -...
  • Apple_iMac 27 Inch, 3.4 GHz Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 1TB Fusion Drive, Silver | SanDisk 32GB Cruzer Glide USB Flash Drive |...
  • 3.4 GHz Intel Core i5 Quad-Core - 8GB of DDR4 RAM | 1TB Fusion Drive
  • 27" 5120 x 2880 IPS Retina 5K Display - AMD Radeon Pro 570 Graphics Card (4GB)
  • UHS-II SDXC Card Reader - Thunderbolt 3 | USB 3.0 Type-A
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi | Bluetooth 4.2 - 1 x Gigabit Ethernet Port - Magic-Keyboard 2 & Magic-Mouse 2 Included

Apple iMac 21.5” (Mid 2017)

While we absolutely adore a large bright and high resolution display, the same may not be within the budget of most photographers. Especially when you consider upgrading to the Mac platform. Thus many photographers would have to remain contended with a slightly smaller screen. Something like a 21.5” display.

Powering the iMac 21.5” is a 7th Gen Kaby Lake 2.3 GHz Intel Core i5 Dual-Core processor. The processor can be overclocked to a maximum of 3.6 GHz. The 21.5” is practical and should be enough for editing images in full scale. The only thing is it does not offer 4K resolution. It offers full HD resolution only.

Other Specs

Internal memory is 16 GB DDR4. Graphics is powered by an Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640 chipset. This particular configuration comes with a 256 GB SSD storage.

Check Price

Microsoft Surface Studio 2 28”

Microsoft Surface Studio 2 (Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, 1TB) - Newest Version
The Microsoft Surface Studio 2 28”

The Microsoft Surface Studio 2 is an All-in-One desktop unit designed keeping in mind the visual content creator. Photographers and video editors. With a stand design that lets you push the display all the way to your work desk to work like a flat piece of paper for maximum editing convenience.

We recently did a review of the Surface Studio 2 where we pitted it against the Lenovo Yoga A940. The USP of these two computers are that they both feature a large high resolution display. The Surface Studio 2 is a very highly rated system, ideal for users who prefer a large palette that is capable of displaying their high-res images in almost 1:1 scale. The 28” display of the Surface Studio 2 has a resolution of 4500 x 3000 dots.

Specs

The power of the Surface Studio 2 comes from a 2.9 GHz Intel Core i7 – 7820HQ processor paired with 16 GB of DDR4 RAM. Graphics is powered by NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 GPU with 6 GB GDDR5 VRAM. Storage is entirely solid state drive. This particular iteration of the Surface Studio 2 comes with 1 TB SSD unit. Overall this is our preferred choice as the best pc for photo editing in the A-i-O segment.

Touch

A large 28” display that also supports touch. Multi-touch to be precise. There is nothing that gives more pleasure. Because when you are using the Surface Pen to edit your images, you can also pinch to zoom in and out and do much more than that using the fingers of your other hand.

HP Pavilion 27” All-in-One Computer

HP Pavilion 27-inch All-in-One Computer, Intel Core i7-8700T, NVIDIA GeForce GTX...
The HP Pavilion 27” All-in-One Computer

There are multiple iterations / versions of the HP Pavilion 27” A-I-O unit. This particular version is powered by an Intel Core i7-8700T 6-Core CPU. The base clock speed of the CPU is 2.4 GHz but the same can be overclocked up to a maximum of 4 GHz.

Display

The large 27” display offers a resolution of 2560 x 1440. This is a IPS WLED – backlit micro-edge monitor.

Related Post: Best Laptops for Photo Editing (12 Laptops Compared)

Other Specs

Internal memory of the system is composed of 16GB DDR4 RAM. Graphics of the system is powered by a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 GPU with 4 GB of GDDR5 VRAM. Storage of the system is comprised of 256 GB NVMe PCIe M.2 SSD. As a secondary storage unit a 2 TB SATA drive is also included. The SSD becomes your primary storage which stores the applications and the operating system for quick boot. The image and video files get stored in the SATA drive.

HP Pavilion 27-inch All-in-One Computer, Intel Core i7-8700T, NVIDIA GeForce GTX...
  • The perfect home computer: with an industry-leading Processor and up to 16 GB of RAM, your family can surf, stream, work and...
  • 8th Generation intel(r) Processor: 8th Generation intel(r) core(tm) i7-8700T Processor, 6-Core, 2.40GHz
  • Beautiful graphics: nvidia(r) geforce(r) GTX 1050 (4 GB GDDR5 dedicated memory). power everything from the latest games to...
  • Integrated monitor and audio: 10-point touch-enabled 27" Diagonal widescreen QHD (2560 x 1440) IPS WLED-backlit micro-edge...
  • Hard Drive and memory: 2 TB 5400Rpm SATA hard drive + 256 GB pcie(r) nvme(tm) M.2 Solid State Drive and 16 GB DDR4-2666 SDRAM
Why are the best PCs for Photo editing essentially gaming PCs?

Gaming PCs come with configuration which are optimized for better performance even when playing some of the most demanding games. They come with powerful dedicated GPU, SSD storage and higher RAM. Each of these, inadvertently, also help run Photoshop and other editing tools faster and more efficiently.

Does Photoshop benefit from a better Graphics processor?

Yes, it does. There are some tools in Photoshop which won’t even work without a GPU that is unsupported. Thus, if you are working with 3D, or doing Smooth Brush resizing and your GPU isn’t supported the tools won’t work at all. In addition, when working with Camera RAW, or using one of the blur gallery tools you would definitely find a fast GPU helping you get a much smoother working experience than when using a slower or outdated GPU.

AMD Ryzen vs Intel Core: Which One Should I Choose?

AMD Ryzen powered PCs have come along in leaps and bounds and today’s Ryzen 9 powered systems are ahead of their Intel Core i9 processors in terms of RAW power. With 12 cores and multi-threading possible on them allows the Ryzen 9 to handle 24 processes as compared to only 16 that are capable on the 8-core Core i9 processors from Intel.

Minimum Specs for a Photo Editing Desktop

(RAM, CPU, Storage, Graphics Cards)

Looking for the best desktop for photography? The criterions for buying a desktop to edit your photos and videos involve more than just a high display resolution. It requires the ability to multi-task handling several editing applications at the same time without any visible lag time. Finally, it also requires a large display with a high resolution.

Resolution

High resolution is imperative both from the point of view of image editing as well as video editing. A higher resolution ensures that you can view an image in a large format without the image getting pixilated. When editing video you can get a larger view of the timeline.

Processing Power

Intel’s Core i7 is a good place to start. With the latest 8th Generation processor now available, it would be a nice way to future-proof your investment; at least for the next few years. Technically, you can still run Photoshop and Lightroom on an older Core i5 processor, but you wouldn’t like the experience nor have the patience to edit a large number of RAW files after a while.

Speed

Speed is the operative word here. And for that, you need the latest processors with a high number of cores. You don’t have to go crazy and buy the latest 12-core Intel Core i9 processor, as the processor alone will set you back by a thousand bucks. A six to eight core is sufficient for photo and video editing.

Still on the subject of speed, ideally, the best desktop for photography is the one that comes with a high-speed RAM, preferably 32 gigs of it.

Graphics Processor & Connectivity

You also need a decent graphics processor unit. Plus, the ability mount several connectivity ports such as HDMI, USB 3.1 and the ability to mount SD cards. You need the ability to mount both SD, SDHC and SDXC cards.

Storage is a highly debated topic. There is a clear line of demarcation between users who prefer to have a high storage. They would want to store as many of their RAW images right on the computer itself. Then there are the other types of users who prefer to store as much as possible to an external (offline) storage unit. Storing a huge number of RAW files to a cloud storage can be quite expensive. It is better to store them to two or more external storages in a RAID 1 architecture. That way all the drives would be available for accessing of data at any time.

Going by this logic, even a small 256 GB SSD drive would be enough as the primary storage unit on a computer. You can always back up your RAW and JPEG files to the external storage unit as and when necessary.
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the best desktop for photography.


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