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I am moving my photo processing off of a laptop and onto a desktop with the goal of getting a nice large flat monitor. I have a couple questions before I ask the geeks at the local computer store for help.
1. Suggestions for monitors to look at? DH said "get what you want :biggrin: "
2. How do I evaluate the existing desktop to see if I need to boost any processing speed. I remember we boosted the video card a couple years ago but I want to ultimately run CS4.
Those are my questions to start
I would start with looking at your video card and see what resolutions it will support - some of the older ones will not support the new wide screen monitors in their native mode.

If your computer will not support the wide screen modes, it is probably barely going to be able to run CS4. A new system almost inevitably means Vista, etc, so . . .

To check tour video card, right click on the desktop, left click properties, left click Settings and check out the screen resolution slider.
John
If you already have a desktop or one in mind, it would help if you gave us the specs on it.
GeneVH

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CS5/LR4/Nikon D300 & D70s/Win7
John - thanks for helping. the slider is all the way to the right and below the slider it says1024 by 768 pixels. I am running hpf1503 flat panel monitor. The color quality drop down menu says highest is 32 bits. Does any of that help you know if I can upgrade the monitor?

Gene - how do I find the specifics to tell you what I have? I don't know a RAM from a byte. I only know something called the 'video card' was upgraded so I could make a slideshow. Thanks again for the help.
Angela,

I have some good news and some bad news. . .

You have a great monitor. (That's the good news).

You have a sucky video card - that’s the bad, but still good, maybe, kind of . . .

Your video card stops where most modern cards are just starting, and they have that to remain compatible with projection systems. I think (pretty positive) you need a new video card that will support the resolution of your monitor. These can be had pretty reasonably - probably less than $70.00 will do the trick, but you are starting the slippery slope of upgrades. Too powerful a video card, will require a new power system . . ., and have to pay for the installation, and . . . well you get the drift of where I am going.

There are some great deals out there on new systems that will do everything you need and are on sale now - how convenient. These kinds of changes can be done by any computer store, but watch out that they don’t oversell you on the video card - the high end ones are for gamers and those that want to watch movies and stuff.
John
To get your PC specs, right click My Computer on the desktop and then select properties. In the panel that opens up, in the lower right hand corner you will see a listing under Computer on the General tab that will tell what kind of processor, its speed, and how much RAM is installed. Then go to the Hardware tab and select the Device Manager button. In the window that opens, find the entry for Display Adapters and open that up. It will show what kind of video card is installed. We will then be able to find the specs for that card.

32 bit color is the max right now for video cards, but if the card you have cannot handle the resolution of the monitor, you will need to improvise by selecting a resolution that has the same ratio as your monitor's native resolution (not the best option as you will notice a degradation in picture quality) or upgrade your video card. For instance, my 22" wide screen monitor's native resolution is 1680x1050. LCD monitors operate best at their native resolutions. My video card at the time I purchased it was a higher end card, but by no means near the highest, and it requires its own power connector to the power supply and doesn't just draw its power from the motherboard, which is something you will need to factor into your decision. If you have a lower wattage power supply in your system, it may not be able to handle the extra load.

So, if this is an off the shelf PC, knowing the make and model would also be helpful here. PC manufacturers are notorious for only installing the minimum needed to run the machine.

I looked up the specs on the HPF1503 monitor and it's native resolution is 1024x768, so the card you have should be running it just fine. But if you are looking for a larger wide screen, one of the important things to consider is if the video card you have will handle higher resolutions to support the monitor you end up with.
GeneVH

My SmugMug
My PrestoPhoto
Now on Flickr

CS5/LR4/Nikon D300 & D70s/Win7
genevh wrote:
32 bit color is the max right now for video cards, but if the card you have cannot handle the resolution of the monitor, you will need to improvise by selecting a resolution that has the same ratio as your monitor's native resolution (not the best option as you will notice a degradation in picture quality) or upgrade your video card.


If the slider is all the way to the right and it is reading 1024x768, it isn't going to cut the mustard, or anything else for that matter. That is why I am assuming a new system is going to be required sooner than later.
John
Thank you for all the help on this.

Gene,
under My computer the following is listed
HP Pavilion
AMD Athlon XP 2800
2.08 GHz 1.00 GB of RAM

Under device manager - display adapters the video card installed is NVIDIA GeForce 6200
HP Pavilion: what model number?
AMD Athlon XP 2800: an older 32 bit processor. A bit slow by today's standards but adequate. I used to use one similar to this. I found mine to be a decent performer, but the more I got into photography and processing my pictures, I wanted more performance. I hate waiting forever for things to happen and some photo processing can be processor intensive, especially with larger files. Plus, I do have a game that I like to play from time to time and I needed the power to drive the game.
2.08 GHz : processor speed. Again, by today's standards, this is a bit slow. This still being a 32 bit processor that runs a 333 Mhz bus is a bottle neck.
1.00 GB of RAM: If your HP can handle it, I would get more RAM installed. That is the cheapest performance boost you can get.

NVIDIA GeForce 6200: an older model card no longer available. According to its tech specs, the maximum resolution it can support is 2048 × 1536 at an 85Hz dsplay refresh rate. (My monitor refreshes at 60Hz and the maximum my card can support is 2048x1536 32 bit at 60 Hz.) However, your overall performance will be limited by how fast the system can feed it video data. Video memory also plays a part. To see what your card has and is capable of, right click the desktop, choose Properties -> Settings ->Advanced. In the window that then opens, find the Adapter tab and click it. There you will also find your adapter model and some information about it, including memory. Click the List All Modes button on that tab and it will show you all the resolutions at the various bit depths and refresh rates that card is capable of. When you are done looking, hit Cancel until you exit out of the windows so no changes are made.

Now, where does this leave us after all that? To me, you have a machine that is capable, yet is going to be slow. It can handle what you plan on doing, but will not be fast at doing it. You may get frustrated waiting for things to happen during your editing process. Me, being a bit of a performance junkie, agree with John in that ultimately, a faster machine would be much better. But you would have to balance what you would like to have with what is affordable to you. I don't have the fastest of everything either, and probably never will. For my needs, I don't require that (although it would be nice) and I really don't want to spend really big $$$ on pieces parts at any given time. I'd rather spend that money on my camera gear. :bigwink: I also build my own systems, so I have the benefit of being able to upgrade the exact part of the machine I may want to at the time, although this tends to be a bit more expensive than buying an off the shelf machine. If I wanted the biggest, baddest processor my motherboard can handle, I could spend as much on that as some complete systems cost. There are trade-offs everywhere, I guess.

As an FYI, this is what I am running now:

AMD 64 X2 Dual Core, 5400+ at 2.8 Ghz
4 Gb of RAM, 3.25G recognized (a limitation of XP)
Nvidia 8600 GTS w/512M of RAM installed (soon to be discontinued if not already)
WinXP Pro, SP3, LR2.2, CS3, FF, TB

Hope this helps! :puter:
GeneVH

My SmugMug
My PrestoPhoto
Now on Flickr

CS5/LR4/Nikon D300 & D70s/Win7
Wow that's lots to think about. Let's say I go to look at a new system. What should it include if my wish list is a larger nicer monitor and the ability to run CS4? I can take that list in and see what the computer guys have to offer. Can I get a new system with XP and avoid Vista? Thanks for the help.

PS doesn't look like DH is getting his hands on my laptop that fast if it means giving up processing speed. :biggrin:
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