Cheap PC alternatives for photo and video editors
While it is easy to pick from the shelf an awesome PC with lots of RAM and latest graphics card, not everybody can afford such a system. Even if you want to save some money buy building a system from components, the price tag can skyrocket. If you want to have a brand new PC, this article is not for you. I recommend you this article instead
This article is meant for those people who are really on a tight budget and need to finish their projects. While the systems I will present you cannot be considered as brand new, they will get the job done. Have you ever thought buying yourself a refurbished desktop PC? Your probably spent your last money on some gear. Maybe you bought yourself a new lens or camera. Or your PC just suffered a heart attack but you need your task to be done by time it might happen that you need a cheap alternative. Discover what is the solution in this situation.
What to look for photo and video editing
If you are a photographer who needs a PC to edit photos or a videographer to process the videos or even both you will need to make some compromises. Probably you will be using in most of the cases a Adobe software. Whether we are speaking about Photoshop, Lightroom, After Effects, Premiere Pro or other similar software here are the key components you will need to pay attention:
While in the last time the Adobe products are improving when it comes to multi-core processing, still on thing remains certain. You will need a fast processor. And by fast processor I mean a processor with high frequency. While a higher core count is advised, the frequency of the processor is crucial. I recommend a processor above 3Ghz. You can pick for that an older generation i7 processor like Intel Core i7-2600 or Core i7-3770. While these are second and third generation Intel processors they are pretty much beast even today.
Although Intel is improving the processor overall performance year by year and the manufacturing process is improved, still the performance of the older Intel processors is comparable with today’s generation i5. Which is not bad at all.
What will you get?
Depending on you budget I recommend one of the following processor models:
- Intel Core i7-2600 or better
- Intel Core i7-3770 or better
- Intel Core i4-4770 or better
Recommendation #1 – Intel Core i7-2600
This is the second generation of Intel’s Core i7 processor lineup and it is a quad core processor having a clock speed of 3.4 Ghz and a turbo clock speed of 3.8 Ghz. It has 1Mb of L2 cache memory and 8Mb of L3 cache memory at a manufacturing process of 32 nm. The processor also includes an Intel HD Graphics 2000 GPU with an 850 Mhz clock speed and 1350 Mhz Turbo speed, DX10 compatible. The TDP rating of this processor is 95W.
Recommendation #2 – Intel Core i7-3770
This is the third generation of Intel’s Core i7 processor lineup and it is a quad core processor having a clock speed of 3.4 Ghz and a turbo clock speed of 3.9 Ghz. It has 1Mb of L2 cache memory and 8Mb of L3 cache memory at a manufacturing process of 22 nm. The processor also includes an Intel HD Graphics 4000 GPU with an 650 Mhz clock speed and 1150 Mhz Turbo speed, DX11 compatibe. The TDP rating of this processor is 77W.
Recommendation #3 – Intel Core i7-4770
This is the fourth generation of Intel’s Core i7 processor lineup and it is a quad core processor having a clock speed of 3.4 Ghz and a turbo clock speed of 3.9 Ghz. It has 1Mb of L2 cache memory and 8Mb of L3 cache memory at a manufacturing process of 22 nm. The processor also includes an Intel HD Graphics 4600 GPU with an 350 Mhz clock speed and 1200 Mhz Turbo speed, DX11 compatibe. The TDP rating of this processor is 84W.
Whether we like it or not the Adobe software suite is quite memory dependent. While memory is getting cheaper and cheaper it can set you back quite a lot if you need much of it. Modern graphic stations will have up to 64 Gb of RAM which is quite a lot. After all we are speaking about cheap systems. Anyone can throw this amount of RAM in a system if he/she has the money.
By today’s standards 4Gb of RAM is the bare minimum for a PC. Therefor you will need at least 8Gb of RAM if you want to do other things along the video rendering of a video. Although we are speaking about used PC’s we will not get DDR4 memory, but DDR3. This will get the jobs done. Try to pick DDR3 memories with higher frequencies. Additionally you can upgrade to 16Gb of RAM anytime.
We all know that hard drives are no way as expensive as a few years ago. But if you budget is an important aspect you need to consider I think that at least 500Gb will be quite affordable. While a lot of people would recommend to pick a laptop instead of a desktop PC, I find laptop hard drives sluggish compared to their desktop PC counterparts. The 5400 RPM of a 2.5 inch hard drive proves to be slow compared to the 7200 RPMs of a desktop hard drive. Not to mention how slow these drives are compared to a SSD.
In the following I will present you 3 refurbished desktop PC’s. Each recommended system will feature an Intel Core i7 processor from the 2nd to the 4th generation.
This refurbished features the Core i7-2600 processor, with 1Tb of hard drive and 8Gb RAM of memory. This PC will handle with ease footage up to full-hd resolution thanks to 3.4 Ghz processor. While 4K rendering isn’t impossible, still you will need to make compromises when it comes to rendering times. You can purchase it refurbished starting from $225 on newegg.com’s website. Follow this link to reach the product.
If you think that the second generation of Intel Core i7 processor is way to old you can go with the third generation.For an additional $55 you can get
Dell Optiplex 7010 Desktop
This PC features a third generation Core i7-3770 processor. You will get a 3.4 Ghz processor. This is helped by 8 Gb of DDR 3 RAM. The storage space is 1Tb which will be plenty for your photos and videos. While it doesn’t have an integrated graphics card this can be easily updated if you will have the necessary budget. From connectivity point of view it features 4 USB 3.0 ports, 6 USB 2.0 ports and Ethernet: 10/100/1000 Mbps, Gigabit.
You can by this refurbished PC for $279.99 at newegg.com. Follow this link to find out additional information about this PC.
Going to the next generation of Intel processor will set you back even more. While spec wise we have seen that there is no big difference between 3rd and 4th generation the benchmarks tell a different story. If you want yourself a desktop PC with Intel Core i7 4th generation PC I recommend you:
HP Desktop Computer 800 G1-SFF
The last recommended PC comes from HP and features the Intel Core i7-4770 processor. While the previous 2 PCs are shipped with 1 Tb hard drives, this one has only a 500Gb storage. Although this half of the capacity, you will get instead a newer generation quad core processor. What’s the price tag? Well it is the most expensive of them all. It will set you back $382.99. Whether this investment is worth you it will be up to you to decide. You can pick this PC following this link. Even at this price range all three desktop PCs are well below the $400 limite. My personal opinion is that all three PC’s are worth the consideration.
The major benefit of the above systems is their brand name. All three are from well known manufacturers. This should be synonym with quality. After all these are business systems. So these are computers meant to be power horses.
Why haven’t I spoken about the graphics cards?
Well this question is a really good one. While graphic card are important, this component depends very much on your budget and tastes. I know that there are some fan boys out there and I could easily recommend one graphics card over the other I did not do that on purpose. While some software like After Effects will need a graphics card to use some plugins, like Trapcode Suite, Photoshop or Lightroom will work just fine with the built in GPU.
Here are some recommendations for some graphic cards you could pick up at amazon.
Just pay attention to the dimensions of the case size of these PC’s. It might happen that some graphic cards will not fit into the cases of the above systems. I recommend you to check out the dimensions of these PCs and the form factors of these cases before buying one of the above graphic cards.
In this article I presented you 3 refurbished PC’s which are below $400. Whether this investment is worth you or not is up to you. Although I use a laptop with in Intel Core i3-4000M processor to write this article and render my footage this proves to be sluggish sometimes. Therefor even I am among the people who consider such an investment worth evaluating.
Therefor I invite you to share in the comment section your opinion. Would you buy a refurbished PC if you were on a budget? Or would you try to save money for a newer PC?
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