Should I pay more for a computer with extra RAM?

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September 15, 2014 at 10:30 am  •  Posted in Q&A by  •  0 Comments

Now that I own a 24-megapixel camera, I am planning to buy a new desktop PC with large monitor and hope to pay about $800; in a pinch, I could afford $1000. Should I pay extra for 8 GB of RAM instead of the more typical 4 GB? If I do so, that will make the computer faster, right?
—Lawrence H.

Upgrading a new PC with extra RAM (virtual memory) can help boost performance with huge files, Lawrence, especially when displaying several large images at 100% magnification or running several programs at the same time. Of course, you’ll also want a fast processor. Let’s look at the Dell brand strictly for comparison purposes.  The Inspiron 23 5000 Series Touch with a Full HD touch-screen monitor includes one model ($750) equipped with an Pentium Processor (Dual Core) and 4 GB of RAM. For an extra $100, however, another model offers a faster Intel Core i3 Processor as well as 8 GB of RAM. The slightly higher price will get you more speed and better performance when editing large image files.

While I was editing dozens of 36-megapixel files during my tests of the Nikon D810, a great deal of RAM was certainly useful. However, the fast processor was also very beneficial. © 2014 Peter K. Burian

While I was editing dozens of 36-megapixel files during my tests of the Nikon D810, a great deal of RAM was certainly useful. However, the fast processor was also very beneficial. © 2014 Peter K. Burian

Since your budget can handle $950, the third model (also with 8 GB of RAM) would be preferable (if you decide on the Dell brand), since it uses the even faster Intel Core i5 Processor. Of course, other excellent brands of PCs—and monitors—are also available. (Check out this Q&A: Can you recommend a computer monitor that’s ideal for digital imaging?) Some machines are equipped with an even faster Intel Core i7 Processor and 16 GB of RAM; I own a PC of this type, and it’s perfect for editing 36-MP images and Full HD video clips. Of course, you may not find a highly rated PC with those specs for $1000.

The prices for computers with fast processors and 8 GB of RAM have dropped over the years, making it possible to buy such a PC, with a large monitor, for $1000. In addition to Dell, there are many other highly rated brands, of course, not only in computers but also monitors. Photo Courtesy of Dell Canada

The prices for computers with fast processors and 8 GB of RAM have dropped over the years, making it possible to buy such a PC, with a large monitor, for $1000. In addition to Dell, there are many other highly rated brands, of course, not only in computers but also monitors. Photo Courtesy of Dell Canada

I recommend visiting a well-stocked computer retail store and discussing your needs with the staff. If your budget restricts you to 8 GB of RAM at this time, look for a PC that allows for adding RAM (at least 8 GB) later, since you may eventually want to upgrade. Also ask them to recommend one with a graphics card that’s optimized for digital imaging. After narrowing the field to several machines and monitors, find reviews of those models with a Google search and choose the most highly rated. This extra effort will definitely pay off.

 

 

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