Buyer's Guide 2008: Ultimate Systems
Upgrade the core of your digital darkroom for a faster, smoother photography workflow
Built to Order?
It might be tempting to buy a computer off the retail shelf-everything is ready to go home with you and you can start playing right away. But if you can wait a little bit longer, buying online can be a better choice. Computers sold at big-box retailers are usually configured for the casual home user who wants to check e-mail, surf the web and maybe watch a movie. The system that hits mass appeal may not have the best specs for photography and actually may be priced high for the value of what you get.
When you buy online, you have easy access to customizations and options that you may not be able to get if you buy your new computer in person. You can remove features that you don't need and use that money instead to add things that you do need, like RAM, a bigger hard drive or a faster processor. Depending on the manufacturer, some options are available only with built-to-order machines. If you don't need your new computer today, you're probably better off with a custom configuration.
Apple's aluminum and glass desktop packs some terrific features into a sleek design just a few inches thick. Available in two screen sizes, 20 inches and 24 inches, both models can be configured with up to 4 GB of RAM. Hard-drive configurations vary depending on the model you select and top out at 1 TB (terabyte, or 1,000 GB). Another nice feature of the iMac is that next-generation WiFi and Bluetooth are standard equipment.
|Screen Size:||20 inches|
2 GHz Intel
|Video Card:||ATI Radeon HD 2400 XT (128 MB)|
|Hard Drive:||250 GB, 7200 rpm|
|Optical Drive:||SuperDrive (CD/DVD Double Layer burner)|
|Ports:||1-FireWire 800; 1-FireWire 400; 3-USB 2.0; Mini-DVI out|
|Networking:||10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet; 820.11n WiFi; Bluetooth|
|List Price:||$1,199 (as configured)|