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Photography Question 
Susan M. Reynolds
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/4/2007

Adobe Photoshop CS4

What is your advice on the requirements for purchasing a new PC to run Adobe Photoshop CS4. I need specifics as I am having one built and I know nothing about computers.
Does anyone have any advice? I am running CS3 Extended on an old 2004 HP Pavillion that has been upgraded several times. But it is time for new everything! Please someone out there help me! Thanks!

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3/5/2009 12:11:56 AM

Bob D. Hall
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/15/2002
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  Look at the CS4 box or look it up on the web. They will give you minimum requirements for running CS4. Just remember this is minimum requirement. The more RAM memory you have the faster and smoother it will run. You should have a fast, powerful processor chip also. Hard Drive space is important for storing lots of photos (250 gig or more),
CS4 is fantastic, you will enjoy it.

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3/5/2009 5:30:02 AM

Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
  Hello Susan,
When I went to buy a new desktop PC in late 2007, I asked for one with XP as I didn't want Vista. I was told I had to get one with Vista. Almost out of spite I said I'll take a MAC instead and bought a 24" IMAC. I had always been a Windows user and had a small learning curve to get through but now over a year later, there is no way I will ever buy a Windows PC again.
Unless you are really reliant on Windows programs (and you can use parallels to run Windows apps) you should consider a MAC.
I use Photoshop CS3/Bridge/ACR, Corel Painter X w/Wacom tablet and all other programs I run are so fast and it is a real joy to work on my images. The 24" screen is beautiful and calibrates easily with Spyder2.
There is a reason so many photographers, artists, musicians etc.. use MACs - they rock...
My .02

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3/5/2009 6:09:20 AM

Susan M. Reynolds
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/4/2007
  Thank you for your input. I have heard that MACs are hard to learn as I've always had a PC. I already find it hard to learn Photoshop CS3 and thought maybe learning a MAC on top of adding the new CS4 wouldl be a bit much, but your answer seems to say you like the MAC so much better than the PC! Maybe I should brave it out and give it a try???

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3/5/2009 10:55:03 PM

Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
  Hi Susan,
Another thing is that I dont have the constant updates that I seemed to get daily with Windows.
The learning curve for MAC is way easier than learning Photoshop and my biggest problem is that I tried to treat it like a PC in configurations and managing the PC, the MACs are much simpler and require much less management.
One thing to consider is that if you already have purchased CS4 for Windows, you will need to transfer that license for a MAC version. The way that Photoshop loads onto the MAC is also different (way better IMO). Then again, you can get parallels that will run MAC & Windows applications but I chose not to go this route and the only Windows related program I am running is Office (Word/Excel) for MAC.
Like I said, it was a small learning curve getting my mind thinking like a MAC instead of a PC but I will be a MAC user form now on.
The 24" screen is beautiful & the speed is fantastic. I have 2GB RAM and that has been all I have needed unlike the Vista OS that needs almost 2GB just to run Vista.
my .02,

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3/6/2009 7:25:03 AM

Richard Lynch
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/12/2005
  "I have heard that MACs are hard to learn"...

...that is the first time I've heard that! Usually Mac is considered the easier operating system. You may have a few little hitches, but learning the Mac OS will likely not be any more difficult than learning Vista would be.

I've been a Mac user for 22 years, and a Windows user for about 18...I am a Mac owner by choice, but honestly don't see so much difference in them these days -- until you get to configuring. The shortcut keys are different...and you can run Windows on a Mac but not vice versa -- so a Mac can give you the best of both. Macs also tend to be more configurable with hardware (e.g., accepting and recognizing more physical RAM in a standard box).

While it is getting dated, I have an article about my ultimate system here:

Building the Ultimate Image Editing Computer

The information is still accurate though the specs need to be beefier.

What I ended up buying about a year ago was a Mac Pro Intel Mac running OS10.5 with 9GB RAM, 4 internal hard drives, and dual quadcore processors...That and a 30" Cinema Display. That is more than most people will really need, but it is an occupational hazard. I run Windows XP on the system so I can access PC versions of Adobe applications. I got as much RAM as I did so I could push 4GB to Windows and still have 5 dedicated to the Mac OS.

RAM limitations currently on PC would be a reason I would tend to go to Mac, but be careful...If your Photoshop license is for PC, you won't just be able to install it on Mac, and even if you do install Windows on your Mac, you will have issues with the Windows operating system recognizing more than 4GB of RAM -- so you'd not get any benefit. Also, my Mac came out of the box with 4 hard drive bays, and I set up a 2-drive RAID, dedicated scratch drive, and separate system drive. Nice to have this kind of out-of-the-box capability.

As you are building from scratch, you need to make an honest evaluation of what you need or you can spend ridiculous amounts of money (my Mac Pro cost $4300, and that was a 50% discount from the price on the Apple site). Is working with the digital darkroom a business? Have you made significant investment in software for PC? How many images do you process a week? Is there a budget you have to work with?

Photoshop was made to use everything you throw at it, and it is a voracious power monger. If you really consider the switch to Mac, compare 'comparable' systems in cost and function. Most important: get what you need -- not what someone else does ;-)

I hope that helps!

Richard Lynch

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3/10/2009 5:47:46 AM

Richard Lynch
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/12/2005
  There was another discussion not too long ago about mac configuration...see here:

Keep in mind macs tend to run a little more than PCs...

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3/10/2009 5:58:50 AM

Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
  Funny Richard,
I did struggle just a bit when I 1st got my MAC because after years of using a PC, I kept trying to think like a PC until I realized I was over-thinking and trying to manage things that were already managed for me. It is almost like its too simple but I had to unlearn what I had learned (using my yoda voice) on the PC for approaching the MAC.
The 30" Cinema screen and your Ultimate system is the ultimate system. Maybe someday but I still have the 5D Mark II I am currently saving for. I am still very happy with my 24" IMAC as it is faster and easier than anything I have used before.
Its kinda like ignorance is bliss because if I actually worked with the Ultimate system, I would know what I am missing and possibly wouldn't enjoy my IMAC as much knowing it is out there :o)
Adobe will transfer your PC Photoshop license to a MAC version - here is a link..

I had CS2 when I switched to MAC & thought about transferring but I decided to keep my PC CS2 and bought CS3 for MAC since I was going to upgrade anyway.
Susan, since you already have CS4, check out the link for how to transfer.


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3/10/2009 6:33:06 AM

Richard Lynch
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/12/2005
That iMac is a great machine. Notice I didn't say 'little' or some other demeaning term. The iMac is super...I had them get one at the day job for interns...I got a 20" iMac for the family a few years ago and it is the reason I became confident enough to part with my CRT monitors and go with the Cinema Display.

You may not be missing much, as I have special needs from doing my writing and teaching on both platforms. Luckily I beta test for Adobe, so while I have 14 product licenses running (7 each on Mac and PC), I've been able to keep the costs to a minimum. If not for those things I might be happily running on a 24" iMac...


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3/10/2009 6:59:32 AM

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