Buyer's Guide 2007: Ultimate Systems
Speed through digital darkroom work with these powerful computers
If progress bars and spinning hourglasses are choking the fun out of your digital darkroom work, it may be time to upgrade your system. You can usually get a significant increase in performance by adding more RAM and a faster hard drive, but sometimes that's not enough. I've personally found that I need to replace my computer every two years or so in order to keep pace with the requirements of new software and increasingly large image files. That schedule has worked well for me, as my old computer is still new enough to fetch a sale on eBay and thereby offset some of the cost of a new system.
So, what to buy? We've picked four top computers—desktops and notebooks—for your consideration. There are obviously many other terrific systems out there, so think of these as examples of the specifications you'll want to match when selecting your system.
On the Windows side, you'll see the preparations underway for Microsoft's Windows Vista, the long-awaited update to Windows XP. Do yourself a favor and be sure the system you buy is a "Windows Vista Premium Ready PC" so that you have the best forward compatibility. Visit Microsoft's Windows Vista center at www.microsoft.com/windowsvista to learn more about the next Windows OS and review its system requirements.
For Mac enthusiasts, it's an exciting time. The transition to Intel chips is now complete, and the performance gains are significant over the former PowerPC architecture. Apple has also bumped the specs of its entire product line over the last year, with even the entry-level products offering high-performance options. The next version of Mac OS X, Leopard 10.5, is due out in a few months and promises to add significant new features, some of which can be previewed now at www.apple.com/macosx.