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Andrew
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I used to subscribe to your printed newsletter "The 37th Frame" via Luminous-Landscape many years ago. As a software engineer, I am mostly a PC/Windows guy, but now own a 15" MBP w/8GB as well for work. To me, it's all about not wanting to wait for big RAW files to be loaded, processed, and saved back to disk as TIFFs or updated RAW files. This means maximum CPU speed (since most software still don't take real advantage of multiple CPU cores and threads), maximum RAM, and fastest possible disk access. Of course a high quality IPS monitor and a proper backup strategy are crucial. My thoughts: 1) Get the fastest CPU speed i5/i7 system that you can afford. A Mac Mini is not necessarily the best choice. It's just that it's the smallest and cheapest Mac available. 2) Get 8GB RAM. It makes a serious difference over 4GB if you open multiple apps or process large files in Photoshop. 3) Use a SSD as the boot drive for very fast startup time. But be very careful what brand/model you buy. Either OWC Mercury or OCZ Vertex 2 (SandForce controller-based) are the best choices. Do not buy the overpriced, underperforming Apple (Toshiba) SSD. 4) Skip 1.5TB drives. Use a 2TB Hitachi 7K2000 for storage with another 2TB drive for external backup. And consider off-site backup in case of fire/tornado/natural disaster. 5) Consider NEC PA271 or 2490/2690 monitors over the Apple or Viewsonic brands. By all accounts, they have the best image quality and are much cheaper than Eizo/LaCie. 6) Read Lloyd Chamber's website on how to pick a system for photography-related computing: http://macperformanceguide.com/index_topics.html 7) Consider that if you go to an iMac, you are putting all your eggs in one basket. If the monitor fails, you are offline until the entire system is fixed. 8) As a power user, I am not all that seduced by Macs. They are elegantly designed, small, and light, but you pay a significant price premium without getting the fastest or latest hardware. For serious photo processing, I prefer to custom build an Intel Core i7-based Windows PC, using best of breed parts/components, and overclocking the system to 3.8-4.0Ghz, but this does take technical hardware and software proficiency.
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Sep 29, 2010