I hope you found the ideal PC build for you in this compilation. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment down below.
We’ve identified some key criteria to help you decide. Be sure to consider each of them carefully when you’re putting together your content creation machine. If you have any specific questions, just leave them in the comments, and we will be happy to answer what we can. We hope we have helped you a bit towards getting the right computer to suit your needs!
Content Creation PC Build
NPR 392,800.00Model: BIBIT-PC-CNT395XBrands:AMD
- AMD ryzen 9 3950X 16 core 32 Threads
- Asus ROG Strix X570-F Gaming ATX Motherboard
- 32GB 3600Mhz RGB 16GBx2 Patriot Steel Viper RGB
- PNY GEN 4 1TB SSD NVME 5600/4300Mbps
- 4TB HDD Seagate Barracuda
- NZXT H710i
- 1st Player 8550 Full Modular Power Supply 80 Plus gold
- PNY RTX 3070 8GB 3 FAN RGB
- NZXT Kraken X63Liqudic cooler RGB
Intel core i5 9600K,16GBRAM, 256GB SSD+1TB HDD, GTX 1660 Super 6GB
NPR 141,800.00Model: custom PC Build IIIBrands:
Intel Core i5 9600K With Cryorg M9i Cooler
Asrock Z390 Steel Legend
16GB G.skill 8GBX2 3200Mhz
256GB SATA + 1TB HDD
Tecware NEXUS C black 650W PSU
IGAME GTX 1660 Super 6GB 3FAN Cooling 3 Years Warranty
Presenting the Leonardo Designed for professional-level workstation applications, the Leonardo is a true powerhouse for 4K video editing, 3D modelling. We use only the very best professional grades parts like the Threadripper series, NVIDIA RTX graphics, and low latency RAM for superior performance, reliability, and longevity.
- CPUThreadripper – 3960X Upto 4.5Ghz
- MOTHERBOARDGigabyte – TRX40 Aorus Pro Wifi
- CPU COOLERNoctua – NH D15 Chromax Black
- GPUQuadro – NVidia RTX A5000 24GB
- SMPSNZXT – C850 Gold
- RAM32x2 – Gskill Ripjaws 64GB 3200
- CASEFractal Design – Meshify 2 TG
- STORAGE 1WD – Black 1TB SN850 Gen4 NVMe
- STORAGE 2WD – Blue 4TB 7200RPM
- WIFI CARDNone – None
- WATTAGE614 Watts
DIMENSIONS AND WEIGHT544mm x 248mm x 546mm (LxWxH)Weighs up to approx. 20KgFRONT AND REAR CONNECTIVITY6x USB 3.1 Gen1 Rear3x USB 3.1 Gen2 Rear1 x Type C Rear8x USB 2.0 Gen1 Rear3.5mm Headphone + Mic portsSTORAGE OPTIONS2 x 3.5″ Drive bays6x 2.5″ Drive bays2 x M.2 PCIeMEMORY OPTIONSUp to 128GB DDR4 4266MHz
1. Pick Your Motherboard and CPU
This is the heart of your computer, but fortunately, if you get a recent processor and motherboard, it’s hard to get it wrong.
The first thing to consider is the CPU as this impacts the motherboard you have to select. CPUs aren’t compatible with every motherboard. This is usually indicated on the motherboard by a reference code like Z390 or X570.
This refers to the chipset used, and by definition the CPU compatibility.
In the latest generations, you have Intel and AMD. Intel ruled the roost for an extended period, but AMD has caught up and in some cases, exceeded Intel. This changes every generation or two – by the time I’ve finished writing this, it could all be wrong.
Assuming the latest generation, at the bottom of the range you’ll find that the Intel i3 and AMD Ryzen 3 will give you similar results. Both are entry-level, but these are entry-level for home use. I’d avoid these unless you are under severe budget constraints.
Next up we have the Intel i5 and AMD Ryzen 5. This is what I consider the real entry-level for photographers. These’ll handle photo processing with ease.
In the mid-tier for photography, you’ll find Intel i7 and Ryzen 7. Now you’re starting to move into processors that will handle newer 40-80MP sensors with ease.
On the high end, you’ll find the Intel i9 and Ryzen 9 Processors. This will put you in Porsche territory as far as processors go. Superfast.
In case you’re wondering, it doesn’t stop there. There are some levels higher than that, but we’re going into the types of processors that require gold plate budgets. Intel has something called a Xeon and AMD have something called a Threadripper.
From a photo editing perspective, both would be overkill for the average photographer and substantially damage your wallet.
To put it into perspective, the Threadrippers sell for more than US$3,000 for the processor alone. The Xeon sells for over $6,000 on the upper end of the range. Good luck hiding that expenditure from your partner.
CPUs work at high heat and need constant cooling. A CPU fan or cooler helps achieve this.
When you spec up a PC for photo editing, ensure that you have a CPU cooler included. Some CPUs like AMD Ryzen include the CPU cooler. In the case of AMD, the CPU cooler is the Wraith PRISM.
The AMD supplied CPU Cooler is good. While, not the best, it’s more than up to the task so take advantage of it.
As mentioned previously, depending on the processor, your motherboard options will change. I would recommend using something like PCPartPicker to understand what motherboards you can select. However, most stores will offer some capability to build a PC through them with automatic part selection.
When looking at your motherboard, I would try to ensure the motherboard has four slots of RAM and at least one M.2 slot which is a slot used for storage. I’ll cover more on this in the RAM and storage section.
These types of decisions could add to your long term cost considerably.
2. Selecting How Much RAM You Want
RAM (Random Access Memory) is a critical part of your PC. It represents a set of high-speed memory used to store the information your computer needs at the time of processing something.
RAM has become less critical in recent years as computers move towards solid-state drives which are very similar. While solid states have mitigated the performance issues encountered due to lack of RAM, there’s still a minimum RAM to ensure that your PC performs to your expectations.
RAM is represented by three specifications: type, size and speed.
The type is represented by a DDR1, 2, 3 or 4.
Most modern-day motherboards are DDR3 or DDR4, with most modern systems now being DDR4.
Unlike other components, RAM isn’t interchangeable. I.e. DDR3 isn’t compatible with DDR4 motherboards so ensure you buy the right type.
The size will be represented in gigabytes (GB) while the speed is expressed in megahertz (MHz). The format is logical where 32GB>16GB>8GB. The higher you go, the more expensive it gets, as you would expect.
Speed also works on the basis that higher is better. That means that 3200MHz is faster (and by definition better) than 2400MHz.
Each RAM is provided in something called a DIMM module, which looks like a mini-computer card that plugs directly onto the motherboard.
Motherboards will come with up to 8 DIMM slots, usually 2 or 4 unless you’re going for really high-end systems.
Not all of these slots will be in use when you build your PC, so if you’re planning to upgrade in future, expect to use half the slots which allows you to upgrade later.
As an example, if you have four slots and you put in two 8GB DIMMs, it will leave you with 16GB and the ability to add more later.
You don’t have to add the same size DIMMs at a later stage. So in future, you could add another two 16GB or 32GB when prices on these come down. You don’t have to add RAM in pairs, but there are performance benefits to it.
At a bare minimum, if you’re working with a constrained budget, 8GB would be okay, but I would recommend going to 16GB for photography, which I would consider the true entry-level.
For those doing more substantial processing, you could upgrade to 32GB, but it’s not mandatory. 64GB is heading into the massive processing territory.
3. Choosing Your Graphics Card
In the early days of computing, graphics cards were just used for display. They helped display the image on the screen, and that’s where it ended. If you had a higher resolution screen, you needed a better card, and if you wanted to run more than one monitor, you needed a better card.
These days the graphics card is a little more complicated. At some point, someone worked out that the processor (called a GPU or Graphics Processing Unit) in the graphics card was pretty good for other things, like converting files from RAW to JPG, exporting files and creating image previews, along with several other tasks.
From there, software vendors started integrating the ability to use the graphics card for image processing. If you go into an application like Lightroom or CaptureOne, you’ll find this option in the settings.
In Lightroom, navigate to Preferences then Performance. Click the Use Graphics Processor dropdown and select Custom. Make sure that Use GPU for Display is checked.
In CaptureOne, there is an option called Hardware Accelerator and OpenCL in the General tab of settings. Ensure this is enabled.
4. What You Need for Drives/Storage
Storage isn’t complicated, but there are a few things to understand to get the best performance out of it. These are:
- Type of storage
- Connectivity method
Type of Storage
Type of storage refers to the media itself. Modern storage is most likely to be solid-state, or spindle referred to as a hard drive.
Solid-state drives are microchip-based drives, similar to a USB stick. Spindle drives are similar to CDs or DVDs in that the drive contains a number of these spindles and the content is stored on them.
Solid-state is extremely fast – in many cases more than ten times faster than spindle – making it ideal for files you’re currently working on.
It’s also much more expensive than conventional hard drives, so most photographers tend to use it sparingly. Solid-State drives are typically five times more costly than the equivalent hard drives, with that multiple being higher or lower depending on the drive size.
The way the drive connects impacts the look and performance of the drive.
Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVME) looks like a RAM module and plugs directly onto the motherboard offering exceptionally high performance.
NVME is always a form of solid-state drive although solid-state drives aren’t exclusively NVME.
A hard drive would use SATA as the maximum speed of most drives would be much lower than SATA.
What Does This Mean and What Should You Buy?
Ultimately, as a photographer, you want the best combination of speed and storage, which isn’t available in one medium.
This means buying both offer you the best outcome. I would recommend a 500GB to 1TB NVME for your operating system and current working files, and hard drives for long term storage.
In my case, I have my primary operating system and my photos that I’m currently editing on my NVME, and, after a month, I move them to external hard drives.
With an unlimited budget, you could buy only solid-state, but you will pay a premium for it.
5. Pick Your Case
A case is a case, right? Can’t be that hard?
Yes, and no. A large portion of cases these days are designed for gamers. The RGB lighting might look fantastic, but if you plan on putting the case on top of the desk, it’s the worst conceivable addition for a photographer.
The RGB lighting will change the ambient light in the room, and your screen colour will no longer be correct. So while the temptation may be to show off all that colourful RGB lighting, it’s a bad move.
If you’re planning on putting the case under the desk, then I wouldn’t worry. RGB to your heart’s content, just make sure the light doesn’t go onto the screen.
I have an RGB case as I find the ambient lighting from the box relaxing, but it sits under my desk away from everything.
What else should you consider with a case? Generally, there isn’t too much to worry about unless you’re planning on putting lots of drives in and you need to know that all of them will fit.
I run 4 x 4GB drives internally so that rules out a fair portion of cases.
The PCPartPicker website will do a good job of letting you know if the case is compatible with the number of drives you intend on buying.
6. Picking Displays
Contrary to popular belief, not all displays are created equal, and you do get what you pay for.
When you see a $3,000 screen, there’s a reason it’s $3,000. The question is more whether you need a $3,000 screen.
There are a couple of things to consider when looking at screens: size, resolution and colour accuracy. Getting the best outcome is a balance of the three based on your budget.
- Bigger = more expensive
- Higher-resolution = more expensive
- More colour accuracy = more expensive
Size is how big the monitor is, typically measured in inches. Most people buy monitors in the 27-34″ size.
While it’s great to have a big screen, it is possible to buy a display that’s too big. I’ve seen people buy 40″ screens only to find out the experience is substandard.
Right now, I’m using a 27″ screen. The 32″ was marginally more expensive but I found the 27″ screen was a far better experience.
My recommendation is to go in-store and try different sizes to see what works for you.
At the top of the range, you’ll find brands like Eizo. I’d recommend the middle of the market with brands like BenQ who offer very similar image quality to Eizo at a fraction of the cost.
If you’re constrained by budget, stay in the 27″ range.
Resolution ties closely to size, however, higher resolution in a small monitor also means you see fewer pixels due to the small size of each dot. It’s similar to an iPhone with a retina display. Having a high resolution on a tiny screen means it looks better.
There are still reasons to go larger. For example, if you want to have additional information on your screen, like post-processing tools, it’s nice to have an image that takes up 27″ with the 27″-34″ used for tools. This is common with videographers who like to have the video larger on the screen with the timeline below.
Colour accuracy is the most important. I can’t tell you how many images I’ve seen ruined by the photographer using poor quality displays that aren’t colour-correct.
Colour accuracy means the image you see on the screen is closer to what you would see when it gets printed, and what you would see on the web.
If you’ve ever wondered why people sometimes post under or overexposed photos on Facebook, this is one of the reasons why. Just having the display set too bright or too dim can create issues.
Again, colour accuracy comes at a price. If you’re shooting billboards or for Vogue, that price may be Eizo, but for most people, cheaper brands are sufficient.
Shading Hood (Nice to Have)
Shading hoods are underrated for photography. Shading hoods prevent light fall off from other light sources onto the screen which keeps your display looking more colour accurate.
Think of a window sitting to one side of your screen. The lighting colour of the window changes with the time of day outside, the weather conditions and the cloud cover. The shading hood means this won’t adversely impact the look of the photo on your screen and how you’re editing them.
Some high-end displays have built-in calibration tools. They are great, but not mandatory.
You can buy a colour calibration tool for about US$200 that will do a similar job, so I wouldn’t specifically look for a monitor with this feature unless you have a gold plated budget.
If you don’t have one, I’d recommend looking at an X-rite i1DisplayPro range.
To avoid including 20 different brands, I’ll focus on one for now and recommend that you make comparisons against these if you don’t want to consider alternatives.
- Low end – BenQ SW2700PT – $600
- Medium end – BenQ SW270C – $800
- High end 27″ – BenQ SW271 – $1,100
- High end 32″ BenQ SW321 – $2,000
- Gold plated budget EIZO ColorEdge CG319X – $5,700
7. Power Supply
Understanding what size power supply to get is nearly impossible as a novice PC builder, so it’s a good idea to use the PCPartPicker website for this purpose. When you build your PC parts, it will indicate the size of the power supply required to produce the PC.
Power supplies are important, so I would recommend going one size higher on the power supply as you’ll need to keep in mind that you may want to add more components later.
8. Operating System
If you’re building your PC, there’s only one choice really when it comes to the operating system, and that’s Windows 10.
Yes, there are Linux and other varieties of operating systems available, but Windows 10 is the most readily accessible and has the highest amount of software available.
Windows 10 Pro isn’t required with photo editing for PC, so I’d recommend just going with the Home edition.
I won’t cover specific editing applications as these have been covered in many articles on Shotkit previously. I’d recommend going here if you’re looking at preferred editing tools.
9. Additional Peripherals
If you aren’t buying a packaged PC, you’ll need to consider small accessories, so I’ll list them out:
Keyboard and mouse – Keyboards and mice are a personal choice. You get better and worse options depending on your budget. I’d recommend looking at this in-store to find one that feels right. Small things like key travel (how far the keys press down) make a big difference.
Wifi/Bluetooth card – Most motherboards will come with wifi and Bluetooth built-in. If yours doesn’t (check the specs), you’ll need to purchase one. They are cheap, under $50.
USB 3.0 Card Reader – In the past, people used internal card readers, but these days, USB 3.0 card readers are more than adequate for the task due to the speed increases.
We hope that you now know what are the best components for content creation and have a base on which to discuss with other PC builders.
No more difficult to build your PC than an all-in-one computer. All the components are pre-assembled, so there is no hassle of fitting parts together. And you won’t need any special tools either. However, you should make sure you buy a model with a discrete graphics card, as integrated ones will be poor for gaming and other power-intensive tasks.