Why I Designed It How I Did: Photography Workstation

Why I Designed It How I Did: Photography Workstation

Designing the right system for the current scenario is a core element of our mantra at Top Flight Computers. If you don't get the right parts, it doesn't matter how much you spend on your computer...you'll be stuck with expensive hardware that doesn't work well with your situation.

Photography Workstation Overview

Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom are mainly single-threaded applications, so this system is built around the high-powered Intel i7-9700K CPU, making it ideal for the vast majority of Photoshop and Lightroom tasks.

If you find yourself doing a lot of export work in Lightroom, and work with lots of high-res images, you should consider upgrading the default CPU in our workstation, and maybe upgrading the memory capacity as well.

Photography Workstation Overview

System Design

This system has been configured with 8 high-speed CPU threads, 32GB of DDR4 RAM, a powerful and efficient NVIDIA video card, and multiple storage options.

This Photography Workstation performs well in applications optimized for moderately multithreaded CPUs, with moderate GPU rendering capabilities.

Let’s Do It!


We chose the i7-9700K for its very high single-core performance (beaten only by the i9-9900K).

The i7-9700K also has a very competitive multithreaded performance, which is helpful in situations that can use several CPU threads.

NOTE: Changing from an 9700K/9900K to a different, higher-end CPU, can give you access to more memory at the cost of single-core speed. Sometimes, this extra memory is worth the CPU speed hit, as it saves you from having to re-render content.

This can be very helpful when working with a very large project.

Intel i7-9700K 8-Core Processor

System Change: If you come across a need for more clock speed or more threads, you can easily upgrade to an i9-9900K with no need to change the system otherwise.

Please contact us if you have any other design questions or changes.


Phanteks PH-TC12DX Black Air Cooler

To ensure that the CPU remains cool under load, we've selected a very good aftermarket air cooler. While water cooling does cool better than air does, a big air cooler will do quite well when leaving the CPU at stock settings.

Air coolers are also more reliable, as they don't have a pump that can fail. If the fan on this air cooler fails, the system has enough internal cooling to allow you to quickly order a new fan, and finish your work.

That being said, higher-end closed-loop liquid coolers do come with very long manufacturer warranties (upwards of 7 years), so the failure rate is extremely low.

System Change: If you come across a need for more cooling capacity, you can easily upgrade to a bigger air cooler, with no need to change the system otherwise.

If you are unsure if your cooling idea will work with this case, please contact us for further review and assistance.


Because this system requires a high degree of reliability, we chose a high quality motherboard from Gigabyte.

This motherboard has excellent power delivery, a simple visual design, two PCI 3.0 slots, support for multiple M2 NVME drives, and up to 64GB of memory.

Let’s Do It!

Gigabyte Z390 AORUS Elite Motherboard

System Change: Please contact us if you have a question about a potential system upgrade being compatible with your motherboard.


Corsair Vengeance LPX 32GB DDR4-2666 Memory

We went with 32GB of Vengeance LPX memory due to the extremely high quality of the internal chips. This setup will give the user plenty of room for open applications.

Photoshop and Lightroom can both use large amounts of memory during certain operations, and with certain filters and effects enabled.

As Coffee Lake Refresh is a dual-channel DDR4-2666 platform, the system is more stable by using 2 DIMMs of DDR4-2666.

System Change: The motherboard selected supports a maximum of 64GB of memory, in a 4x16GB array. Needing more than 64GB of memory would require a motherboard change as well as a CPU change.

Please contact us if you have any other design questions or changes.


Samsung 860 EVO 500GB SSD
Samsung 970 EVO 1TB SSD
Western Digital Red 2TB HDD

The main storage SATA SSD, project/caching NVME SSD, and archival HDD were chosen for their high capacity, relatively low cost, and high reliability.

System Change: If you come across a need for more storage, you can easily upgrade to a bigger SSD or HDD, with no need to change the system otherwise.

Please contact us if you have any other design questions or changes.


The video card was chosen for its large memory capacity, ample CUDA cores, and support for 4K resolution.

This video card has a very capable aftermarket cooling solution, and will prevent any sort of thermal throttling from taking place.

We do recommend having at least a GTX 1060, as CUDA acceleration in Photoshop CC is growing as Adobe adds support.

Let’s Do It!

EVGA GTX 1060 6GB SC GAMING Video Card

System Change: If you come across a need for more graphical horsepower, you can easily upgrade your video card with no need to change the system otherwise.

Contact us if you have any other design questions or changes.


Phanteks Eclipse P400S Tempered Glass Mid-Tower Case

The case was chosen for its high build quality, room for plenty of high-end hardware, and incredible amount of cooling potential.

System Change: Reasons for changing the case can be very hard to pin point.

If you have a question about the compatibility of the case selected with an upgrade, please contact us.


We have selected a set of high-quality pressure-optimized fans to ensure sufficient airflow in the case to keep the system stable under heavy load.

Having high quality fans also means less noise, even when the fans are spinning at high RPM.

Phanteks PH-F120MP Fans

System Change: Reasons for changing the fans can be very hard to pin point.

If you have a question about the compatibility of the fans selected with an upgrade, please contact us.


EVGA SuperNOVA P2 650W Fully-Modular Power Supply

The power supply was chosen for its high build quality, ample power capacity, and respectable thermal efficiency. Upgrading the wattage will potentially make the fan run slower, creating less noise overall. A higher wattage PSU than necessary will also prolong the life of the unit, as it isn't being operated near peak load.

Using a high quality power supply means better power delivery, and cleaner power. Messy power can result in a system failure, corruption of data, or even a hardware crash.

Let’s Do It!

System Change: If you decide to upgrade any single major draw of power, you do not need to change the power supply. If you change multiple draws of power, you may need to upgrade the wattage on the power supply.

Please contact us if you have any other design questions or changes.


About Top Flight Computers

 
About Top Flight Computers
 

Top Flight Computers designs high-performance custom-built computers. We specialize in workstations, gaming computers, water cooling, and network storage solutions. We are based in Cary, North Carolina, and we ship across the USA. Check out our previous builds and our page on Facebook.

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