Computers & Peripherals

Processing the Data

The finest professional photography gear doesn’t amount to much if you can’t similarly process & view your images with the best computer & monitor system you can afford. Since all of photography ultimately boils down to what we will see, our selection of what monitor to use is, quite literally, everything. It’s where the rubber meets the road.

But it’s not just the monitor that’s vital, mind you; it’s also the process, our workflow. Our technical & visual experience in “the darkroom” (now Lightroom 🙂 ) is just as important as our camera & lens choices are in the field. These additional elements are enhanced by the motherboardthe graphics card, the sound card (for video), as well as expediting our workflow with as much RAM as we can get in there.

Utilizing a high-end, color-calibrated monitor allows me to see all the colors and tones of nature accurately … and deploying only top-shelf hardware allows me to process all of my high-res files with a quick & seamless workflow. That said, here is my current setup:

^ Professional Desktop Powerhouse ^

The Finest System Possible

This is my second “full computer build” from scratch. With an eternal asterisk in place (*), namely that technology advances daily, I am confident that (as of 10/26/2020) this is pretty close to as fine a desktop as is possible to create today. I’ve studied the options available, I’m familiar with what’s out there, and “cost” is not an obstacle.  Every single component is top-shelf.  My first custom build workstation (which was put together in 2015) is still quite capable—so I expect this system to remain eminently capable 10 years from now, if not longer:

* NEC MultiSync PA311D 31″ Color Critical UHD (4096 x 2160, true 4K) Display (w/ SpectraView Engine & Color Calibration) ~ Review
* Lian Li PC-O11 “Razer Edition” Dynamic Mid-Tower Case
>>>> Corsair HXi Series HX1200i 1200W 80 Plus Platinum Certified PSU ATX Power Supply
>>>> ASUS ROG Maximus XII Extreme LGA 1200 E-ATX Motherboard
>>>> Intel® Core™ i9-10900K 3.7 GHz Ten-Core LGA 1200 10th Gen Processor
>>>> Corsair iCUE H150i ELITE CAPELLIX Liquid CPU Cooler (Radiator + 3 Fans)
>>>> Lian Li 120mm Bora-Digital RBG Fans [3-Fans Pack, Space Grey (x2 = 6 Fans total)]
>>>> Crucial Ballistix RGB 64GB (x2) Kit DDR4-3200 Desktop Gaming Memory (2 Kits = 4 32GB Cards = 128 GB RAM)
>>>> NVIDIA Titan RTX 24GB Graphics Card
>>>> Creative Labs Sound Blaster AE-9
>>>> Samsung 860 EVO SATA 2.5″ SSD 1TB (C-Drive)
>>>> Western Digital 14TB Ultrastar (x2) 7200 rpm SATA 3.5″ Internal Data Center HDD (x2 for 28TB of Storage)
>>>> Logitech Z906 5.1 THX- & Dolby-Certified Surround-Sound Speaker System
>>>> Windows 10 Professional (64-bit)
>>>> Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard
>>>> Razer DeathAdder V2 Gaming Mouse
>>>> Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) (MU-MIMO)

^ Vacation Home Desktop ^

Decent Specs for a Second System

This was was my first completely-customized effort and it still runs like a champ. I put this system together back in 2015, and it has continued to serve me well to this day. However, for processing 4K video, its outdated specs have gotten to be too slow for daily usage. That said, while no longer optimal today “for everything,” this elder build still remains perfectly usable for most “normal” applications.

* NEC PA242W-BK-SV 24″ Professional Wide Gamut HD (1920 x 1200) LED Monitor (w/ SpectraView Engine & Color Calibration)
* NZXT S340 “Razer Edition” Mid-Tower Chassis
>>>> Corsair HXi Series HX850i 850W 80 Plus Platinum Certified PSU ATX Power Supply
>>>> MSI Z97 GAMING 5 ATX Gaming Motherboard
>>>> Intel® Core™ i7-4790 CPU 3.6 GHz 4th Gen Processor
>>>> Crucial 32GB 240-Pin DIMM DDR3 PC3-12800 Memory
>>>> MSI GeForce GTX 960 Gaming 4G Graphics Card
>>>> ASUS Essence STX II PCI Express Sound Card
>>>> Western Digital 2 TB 7200rpm Internal Drive
>>>> Western Digital 3TB Internal Drive
>>>> Plextor PX-891SAF-Plus Blu-ray Burner
>>>> Creative Labs GigaWorks T20 Series II Speakers
>>>> Windows 10 Professional (64-bit)
>>>> Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard
>>>> Microsoft Pro IntelliMouse
>>>> 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi

Travel Laptop

Optimized for Photography

While no laptop will ever compare to a full powerhouse desktop system, it’s still important to have true Adobe RGB color, and decent specs, if you’re going to be processing images while on vacation or on the go. When a desktop is not available, this is a very capable substitute.

* Dell XPS 15 9570 Adobe RGB Laptop
* 15.6″ UHD+ (3840 x 2400) InfinityEdge Touch Anti-Reflective 500-Nit Display
>>>> Intel® Core™ i7-10750H 3.2 GHz 7th Gen Processor
>>>> Crucial 32GB DDR4-2933MHz, 2x16G
>>>> NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 1650 Ti 4GB GDDR6 Graphics Card
>>>> X-Rite i1Display Pro Color-Calibration Device
>>>> 1TB M.2 PCIe NVMe Solid State Drive
>>>> Windows 10 Professional (64-bit)
>>>> Microsoft Pro IntelliMouse
>>>> Killer Wi-Fi 6 AX1650 (2×2), Bluetooth 5.0


Important extras

The following peripherals are all detachable, and mobile, and therefore assist me both at the home office as well as when traveling.

* Epson Perfection V600 Photo Scanner
* Wacom Intuos Pro – Medium
* Rode NT-USB USB Microphone
* Western Digital 10TB External Drive
* Lexar Professional Workflow XR2 Card Reader for 2nd Generation XQD Cards