System Specification For A Photographer and Why It Is Important

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CASE – ZALMAN Z3 Plus Midi-Tower ATX/Micro ATX Case

I selected the Zalman case for it’s multi-purpose use to house both an ATX and Micro ATX form factor motherboard, this gave me a greater choice when choosing which motherboard was best for my client. It’s also reasonably priced and well designed.

MOTHERBOARD – MSI A88XM-E35 AMD FM2+ Micro ATX Motherboard

I selected this motherboard as it has the capacity to hold up to 32GB’s worth of RAM, 3 PCI expansion slots and 6 SATA ports meaning it’s upgradable to allow for future proofing. It has built-in 2 x USB 3.0 ports for faster data transfer between peripherals, a Gigabit Ethernet network controller for superfast networking, a built-in 7.1 surround sound audio card for listening to video audio and the correct socket for a fast AMD Athlon processor. Due to these features, I believe this motherboard was a reasonably priced option to begin the build of my clients PC.

CPU – AMD Quad-Core A10-7850K Black Edition APU, 4.0GHz

I selected this AMD Quad-Core processor running at 4.0GHz due to my clients to need for photo and video editing software which both can be demanding on processing ability when rendering the final file. This processor is extremely fast but also at a reasonable price in comparison with Intel’s high-end i7 and i5 processors which is why I settled for the AMD.

MEMORY – 8GB DDR3 1866MHz Memory (2x4GB) Kit

For similar reasoning to the processor, I choose to install 2 4GB sticks of DDR3 RAM running at 1866MHz for the clients need to edit and render photos and video. This is because media editing applications require a large memory to handle many media clips and images to all be open at the same time whilst they are merged/edited together. 4GB would have been too little and 16GB may have been excessive as its unlikely the client will be using any more demanding applications at the same time as editing.


As the client will be editing images/videos together they may need to compare one image against another so it would be ideal to have two identical screens running simultaneously creating an extended desktop. Due to this, I choose a high-end 2GB AMD Radeon graphics card that outputs via the HDMI and DVI-D interface to allow both screens to be plugged in at once. However, as the client isn’t playing advanced graphical computer games I concluded that any more than 2GB would be excessive and unnecessarily costly.

POWER SUPPLY – 500W FSP Quiet Power Supply

Due to the client’s configuration, all of the components on the computer system require no more than 500 Watts of power so it would be unnecessary to spend more on a higher wattage supply.

CPU FAN – AMD Standard CPU Cooler

The processor I have chosen comes with a standard AMD fan which has been built specifically to fit that processor, because of this it is often best to simply use the manufactures parts to ensure compatibility. Adding a water-cooled radiator/fan would be excessive, complicated and risky for this type of computer system, as it isn’t using the most powerful CPU or components it shouldn’t produce too much heat.

HARD DRIVE – 500GB SATA III, 16MB Cache Hard Drive

The client has requested to be able to store up to 6 months worth of photos on the internal storage of the computer system. Therefore I have estimated the client produces up to 10GB’s of photos on a busy week. This equates to 240GB’s every 6 months, which is just less than the capacity of the hard drive. I believe that this leaves an ample 260GB’s of free space for the operating system, applications and utilities with room to spare.

OPTICAL DRIVE – 24x DVD Writer (read/write CD & DVD)

Even though optical drives are now becoming redundant within our digital download age I felt as though the client would still appreciate a CD/DVD writer installed on their computer system. The client expressed that they currently back up to CD so they may wish to stick to this habit when archiving or sending data, due to this I have installed an optical drive at a minimal cost. I chose not to install a Blu-Ray optical drive as the client expressed no intention of being able to burn high-resolution movie video’s to disc and this would have been a costly upgraded.

AUDIO – Integrated 7.1 High Definition 8-channel Audio

Even though audio equipment was not specifically stated within the clients brief I thought it was necessary to have some form of audio output in order to be able to hear sound clips and audio attached to the wedding videos the client films. As the motherboard has an in-built 7.1 High Definition sound card this is perfectly suitable for the client’s needs as it gives them the ability to use a simple stereo system, 2.1, 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound system. In addition to this the HDMI and DVI-D interfaces on the graphics card also output sound to the attached displays. Due to all of these options, it wouldn’t be suitable for the client to install a further audio PCI card or device.

NETWORKING – Wireless USB 802.11n Up to 300Mbps PCI Card

Networking will be essential for the client’s ability to check email and browse the Internet. Whilst the motherboard includes a built-in Ethernet port that is perfectly adequate for the client’s needs I thought it would be useful to install a Wi-Fi PCI card to access wireless networks. Wi-Fi has become the popular means of networking within homes and small businesses due to its ease of access and minimal cabling needed. The Wi-Fi card will allow the client to place the computer anywhere within the building without needing to hardwire Ethernet cables to the PC. For just £12.98 I believed this was a worthwhile time-saving expense.


OPERATING SYSTEM – Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit

As the client is already familiar with a Microsoft operating system I decided to stick with Microsoft but to choose a newer version. I choose Windows 7 Professional 64 bit which is capable of running on 64-bit system architecture such as the motherboard, CPU, RAM and Graphics Card configuration. Microsoft Windows 7 is the most popular operating system with 51.22% market share, which swayed my decision to Windows 7 instead of Windows 8 as many have reported difficulty in using Microsoft’s latest operating system. Also as Windows 8 was designed to target touch screen devices and the general home user I came to the conclusion that these features may not best suit the clients business needs.

OFFICE APPLICATION – Microsoft Office Home and Business 2013

As the client has stated their requirement to access email I have chosen the Home and Business version of the Microsoft Office package as this includes the second most popular email client, Outlook with 14% of the market share just under iOS devices. With this email client, the user will be able to check, send and organise emails all within a powerful desktop application.

PHOTO EDITING APPLICATION – Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5

The client expressed their need to be able to edit photos as they currently use Microsoft Paint that comes pre-installed with most Windows operating systems. Paint isn’t a very comprehensive or suitable tool for high resolution and advanced photo editing. Due to this, I have chosen to install Adobe Photoshop LightRoom 5 which includes many of the advanced photo editing techniques included in the standalone Photoshop application however Lightroom is tailored to suit mass editing of multiple pictures, such of those as a wedding. I believe this will suit the client’s needs perfectly.


Along with photo editing capabilities, the client also expressed the need to edit videos. For this, I have installed Sony Movie Studio 13, which has replaced the popular Sony Vegas application. It offers advanced video editing capabilities for making movie clips and slideshows in an easy to understand platform at a reasonable price. Adobe’s video editing applications are much more expensive and often much more complicated. The client doesn’t seem to specialise in video editing so I thought it to be unnecessary to purchase such an advance and costly Adobe program.

SECURITY – AVG AntiVirus 2015

To protect the client’s valuable photos and work, a security system would be advisable and so I have chosen the AVG 2015 security application at just £19.99 per year. There are many free applications available but they often lack features and support that may become extremely important to the clients needs if the computer system is infected with a virus. This is a small price to pay to protect a system that the client uses as a base to run their business.


Like most users, the client has specified the need to browse the internet, although Microsoft provides a pre-installed browser called Internet Explorer into the Windows 7 operating system it isn’t very popular with just 22.3% of the market share whereas chrome holds 46.13% of the market share. Due to this result, I thought it would only be reasonable to install Google Chrome on the computer system.


MEMORY CARD READER – PNY USB 3.0 Memory Card Reader

As the client will be downloading large numbers of digital photos from a camera’s memory card I have advised towards using a high-speed USB 3.0 card reader which will connect to the USB 3.0 ports in-built to the motherboard. This will allow for much faster data rates so the client will not have to wait as long to download all of their event photos. At just £14.99 I believe this to be a good value for money time-saving device.

MONITOR – 2 x 24″ Iiyama ProLite High Spec Full HD LED Monitor -HDMI/DVI-D + Speakers

A monitor is essential for a working computer system for the client and I have chosen to install two 24 inch HD LED monitors with in-built speakers. The reason I chose two was to provide ease of use when editing two similar photos within the Adobe Lightroom software; they can be displayed simultaneously next to each other to allow for comparison. I also specified in-built speakers to release the need for an external speaker set or headphones. They are both compatible with HDMI and DVI-D which are both supported by the graphics card, the backlit LED display will save money on energy bills and the HD resolution will be perfect for editing detailed photographs. Therefore I believe these monitors are a suitable choice for the client, any higher resolution than 1080 pixels high would be excessive when the images are mainly going to be viewed on either 1080 pixel high displays or print outs.

KEYBOARD – Logitech K120 Wired Keyboard

A keyboard is also an essential peripheral for inputting data and commands into the computer however as the client didn’t specify any excessive use of the keyboard such as a journalist I’ve selected a basic wired Logitech keyboard at just £9.99. I chose to not buy a wireless keyboard as the PC isn’t mobile so there is no need to move the keyboard away from it, this means there is also no need to change batteries as its always powered via a USB port. This will be completely suitable for the client even at its low cost.

MOUSE – Microsoft 4500 Bluetrack USB Wired Mouse

Unlike the keyboard a mouse is a vital and important tool when editing detailed photos, this is why I have found an accurate Bluetrack laser mouse to enable detailed gestures from the client to the operating system and therefore editing software. This is slightly more expensive than a standard red laser mouse but I believe the client will appreciate the expense paid for a more accurate mouse.

PRINTER – Canon PIXMA All-in-One Wireless Inkjet Printer

The client stated that they print pictures using a USB 1.0 600 dpi printer, however, I believe this to be inadequate for printing highly detailed photographs. Instead, I’ve chosen this Canon PIXMA all in one wireless printer that can print photographs up to detail of 4800 x 1200 DPI, which is ample for the photographs the client wishes to produce. It also has a wireless interface which can process commands much faster than USB 1.0 and has the flexibility of being located anywhere within the Wi-Fi network range. As an additional extra the printer also offers the functionality of a scanner and copier for documents the client may want to store in digital format.

EXTERNAL STORAGE – WD 6TB My Book USB 3.0 External Hard Drive

The client specified that they currently archive photos onto CD which is a time consuming and difficult way of storing files as once burned/stored the disks are not accessible until inserted into the optical drive and their space is limited to just 700MB. As a separate storage medium, I have proposed this 6TB Western Digital USB 3.0 External Hard drive that holds enough storage to store 1.5 million photographs when sized at 4MB each. This expansive hard drive should offer future proofing for many years to come. Due to the interface being USB 3.0 this hard drive is also able to transfer data through the USB 3.0 ports built into the motherboard at much faster rates up to 5GBs per second, this will allow for a much faster-archiving process for the client.


Shortly after the proposed computer specification was sent to the client they replied with an email describing concern for the size of the internal hard drive. As shown below the client is worried that the hard drive size of 500GB is too small to store 6 months worth of photographs as they create up to 30GBs a week.

From: Helen Smith
Sent: 14 January 2015 10:32
To: Stuart
Subject: Hard Drive Size Concern

Dear Stuart,

Thank you for sending over the details of your proposed PC build based on the specification I provided, it all sounds very promising and I am extremely happy with the results except for one small concern. I currently take around 30GBs worth of images every week so I am worried that the 500GB internal hard drive may not be enough for me to store 6 months worth of photos on.

Could this be looked into again and a new specification sent through?

Many Thanks,

Helen Smith
Events Photographer


To resolve the client’s concern I have decided to change the original 500GB SATA 3 hard drive with this 2TB Seagate Barracuda SATA 3 hard drive that has a 7200 rpm and 64MB cache for £63.18. This hard drive will give the client the capacity to store both the operating system and 6 months worth of photographs with room to spare for future proofing.

With this adjustment, I believe the above specification will meet the clients needs perfectly as I have stated the thought processes and reasoning when choosing each component, software packages and peripherals. Next time I would like to receive a more thorough and detailed description of the client’s application needs so I could tailor applications to a higher specified standard for their requirements.

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