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I'm running 64-bit Windows 7 and have had zero problems. It's running on the best hardware I've ever owned which runs Windows - a MacBook Pro running Boot Camp. I have several Windows-based Adobe programs with plug-ins and Sony Vegas for video editing which I have not wanted to replace with the Mac version.

8GB of memory has been enough for my uses.


The days of 64-bit compatibility problems are pretty much over, but if you are using any really old software, there may still be issues. I only use a few of the applications you mention, so I can't speak to each one. I think it's past time for people to jump to 64-bit (and if you want more than 4GB of memory, you have no choice).

I've never paid the premium for ECC memory, and have never regretted it. I recommend you save your money.

How many applications do you run concurrently? 8GB is fine for most things, but if you want to run all of those apps at the same time, more would be better. There's no downside to having more, other then the extra cost.

4-monitors is mostly for gaming, especially for flight sims.

You didn't ask for it, but I'm gonna mention it anyway. I recently switched from Windows to a MacBook Pro (bear with me, this isn't going where you might think). I certainly don't regret making the switch, but my reasons were mostly to do with wanting something different. I don't consider it the life changer that some Mac fanboys claim it to be. It's no more stable than my Win7 laptop, it doesn't allow me to do things I couldn't do before, it just does things in a different way. I'm happy with my switch to Mac because it's a fresh, new environment for me, but if you're happy with Windows, stick with it, it works and Win7 is a good OS.



More RAM is usually a good thing. I'd consider 16GB or even 32. RAM is generally cheap and photo/desktop publish apps use a lot of it.

Go with non-ECC. ECC is not something to worry about for your use. The best thing you can do to protect yourself and your data is to backup often.

The max RAM supported varies by the version of Windows 7. http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa366778(v=vs.85).aspx has a chart called Physical Memory Limits you may wish to examine.


Regarding memory, before you invest in an additional 8GB of RAM, seriously consider an SSD to replace your internal hard drive. The slowest operation performed by your computer is moving things on and off your hard drive (which includes virtual memory). That's one of the reasons people buy more RAM in the first place -- to minimize the amount of time reading from/writing to the disk.

The price point has remained pretty stable for the past 6 months -- around $2 per GB. That's not cheap compared to a hard drive, but it provides a pretty serious bang-for-buck. You're going to want to get one large enough for your OS, applications, possibly your PS scratch disk, etc. That probably means at least a 120GB drive. But you can put the rest of your digital "stuff" on an external drive (which you're probably doing already, anyway) so you don't have to spring for an even larger SSD.

Here are some links where you can learn more:



Ignore the fact that both these links are Mac-oriented. The same rules apply to Windows, too, of course.



ECC is a type of memory that ensures data integrity through supplemental checks. It would certainly be useful for you, but it’s complicated to find the right motheboard for it. Either get professional help, or use non-ECC and you should enjoy the same reliability you do now.

I doubt that you would benefit from having more than 8 GB of memory, but then memory is cheap these days. I recommend that you get 8 GB and make sure that you can add more later. I have 6 GB, use many programs simultaneously, work with 12 megapixel images and have almost never seen more than 50% usage (on a different operating system, so I don’t know if this would be the case for Windows + Photoshop).

Finaly, if you care about performance, nothing will give you more of a boost than getting an SSD instead of a hard disk. If you decide to get one, ask someone very knowledgeable, because some SSDs will give you nothing but trouble. I have an Intel SSD and I’m very happy with it.

Good luck!


Most of what I would say is already said. I will also recommend an SSD for your boot drive and apps. Huge performance gains to be had there.

More than 8GB RAM would likely only be useful for video editing or working with crazy huge panoramas. If you have an SSD, swapping to disk isn't nearly the performance hit it used to be, anyway.

My only other recommendation would be to buy from a reputable PC manufacturer. Building your own machine is for serious enthusiasts only. Way less hassle and easier support to buy it as a turnkey system.

I will also agree that Apple hardware runs Windows very well and is of high quality, but unless you want to run OSX at least some of the time, there are better options.

Vince Binder

Win-7 64bit - very good, not quite as stable as OS X - but so close as to be irrelevant.

Check your peripherals for drivers before going that route you should be able to find 64bit drivers for everything you care about.
Epson drivers are available - if you have some old scanner - you might be out of luck, if it were me I'd just replace what ever I couldn't get a driver for.

Even stitching you probably won't need more than 16GB ram, but for video you may find it beneficial. ECC probably not worth the extra cost.

QUAD screens - I could see as a software development environment, where one screen is used for man pages (documentation) one for notes, one main screen for editing and another for running tests - but geez.

R.E. Solid State Drives - be a bit careful, the drives sold by Other World Computing are excellent - some of the others out there are less so.

I've been building my own PCs for a while, it's a bit of a pain at times, but generally pretty straight forward. Easier since you use NAS - you don't have to worry about configuring internal RAID arrays. I'm not sure who I'd trust in terms of buying a complete machine - not HP, don't know if Dell is still any good - it's all about customer service. Building it yourself probably won't save you much money - the real point is to be able to pick the exact components you want - good for gamers, probably not a big deal for anyone else. On the other hand if you build it, you probably know how to fix it.

Neil Enns

Most everyone here has covered it, but one additional point: if you use Lightroom and you care about performance, it takes three drives: SSD for your boot/application drive, a second drive (regular spinning platters) for catalog/thumbnails, and a third (regular spinning) for the actual image files.

For the record, my PC has a 128GB SSD main drive (that's really all you need), a couple of additional storage drives (1TB each), 16GB of RAM, and a CPU that's two years old and I forget what it is. The whole thing runs Windows 7 64-bit with zero compatibility or stability issues.


Darren Henderson

Based on Brooks’ 'The Plunge' blog post, I can see that he’s already picked up a rather nice new computer system, but I thought I'd take a moment to share some of my experiences from the week just gone. The mainstay of my description comes from having updating my older Quad Core computer (circa early 2007) from Windows XP 32-bit to Windows 7 64-bit. Since Brooks purchased new computer hardware as a complete Dell system, he won’t experience any of the internal hardware driver issues related to Win7 64-bit’s compatibility with older components. However, as some of the other commenter’s have noted, older external devices can be the source of 64-bit driver compatibility issues (e.g. scanners, printers, UPS, webcams, etc.).

On the topic of scanners, Photoshop CS5 installs as both a 64-bit and a 32-bit version, but only the 32-bit version of Photoshop supports ‘Import’ scanning via 32-bit TWAIN drivers. No big deal as, the scanner manufacturers typically have stand alone applications for scanning outside of the Photoshop environment. Furthermore, Adobe seems to be discouraging scanning within Photoshop, because it sometimes leads to Photoshop crashing.

With the dual installation of Photoshop 32-bit & 64-bit, I’ve already come up against a couple of instances where 32-bit Photoshop plug-ins/filters can only be accessed if they’re installed and run under the 32-bit version of Photoshop. A slight inconvenience, but at least Adobe provided backwards compatibility for things like 32-bit filters with the dual installation of Photoshop on a 64-bit OS.

Having bypassed the Vista offering entirely, I discovered before my upgrade that the implementation of Type 1 PostScript fonts under Win7 64-bit is as simple as a right-click ‘Install’ direct from the .PFM file. Under Windows XP I’d long used Adobe’s now obsolete Type Manager Deluxe v4.1 to implement PostScript fonts, but since Type Manager Deluxe uses a 16-bit installer there is no use for and no way to get 16-bit installers to run on a 64-bit OS.

The only other area of contention in my transition from XP 32-bit to Win7 64-bit revolved around ‘Windows Explorer’ shell extensions. Put simply, under a 64-bit OS ‘Windows Explorer’ is a 64-bit application, so older 32-bit right-click shell extension no longer work.

Malcolm Raggett

64-bit Windows 7 is great. Why? Photoshop runs out of steam in 4Gb RAM with large image files but works great in 8Gb; Premiere Pro CS5 is now ONLY available as 64-bit.

I haven't found a 32-bit app that doesn't work in 64-bit Win7, but check that drivers for your peripherals are all available for Win7-64.

ECC RAM is not really necessary for desktop PC stuff. Mainly for servers, unless you really must have the best at any price.

4 monitors only if you don't want to flick between windows or you need multiple windows available at a glance.

Lightroom, Photoshop and Office apps running simultaneously run happily in 8Gb of RAM for me, so I haven't found the need for more than 8Gb (yet).

upvc windows

3 years to change a PC is reasonable. Technology have advanced while prices have gone down a lot in that span.

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