Building A Pc On A Budget

By | 25/11/2022

When you’re edifice a PC for photo editing purposes, you may remember it’s critical to go with a top-of-the-line configuration. After all, near photographers are using complex mail-processing software like Photoshop and Lightroom that tin benefit from a fast computer.

Merely even though that’due south true to a certain degree, there are a lot of misconceptions around what calculator setup you need to run software like Photoshop. You lot probably don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on a high-end gaming build with truckloads of features.

In this commodity, let me demystify facts from myths so that you neither compromise on functioning nor throw out hundreds of dollars on things that aren’t necessary. I’grand targeting the features you’ll need in club to run Adobe Photoshop smoothly, and I’m keeping the overall price nether $grand.

Note that a PC that runs Photoshop equally well every bit possible may not exist optimized for other needs similar video editing or gaming. But it will be more than adequate for other post-processing software like Lightroom, Capture One, or Luminar, with a few exceptions for features that require a loftier-stop graphics card with 4-6 GB of RAM.

Table of Contents

System Requirements

Before venturing into the actual PC build, permit us first understand what Photoshop requires to run smoothly.


Photoshop 2022 demands a 64-chip organisation and will not run on 32-bit systems. The latest iteration of Photoshop as well requires an SSE4.two or college socket arrangement. Beyond that, you’ll need a processor with clock speeds of at least 2 GHz to run Photoshop smoothly. So, any sixth-gen Intel chip or third-gen AMD Ryzen (or later on) will run without hitches.

Photoshop prefers a single core capable of higher clock speeds as opposed to multiple cores with slower clock speeds, at least in theory. Even though I volition advise an viii-core processor in this article, Photoshop can run on quad-cores or 6-core processors, provided the clock speed isn’t less than 2 GHz.

Operating System

You demand to exist on Microsoft Windows ten version 1809 or higher to run Photoshop. The update 1809 was first available in November 2018. I’m sure that’s not a problem for most of y’all out there, who are probably using the latest 21H1 version anyway. But if you lot have a legacy version of Windows, the newest Photoshop will not run.

I have found Windows Home to be more than sufficient to run Adobe’s latest creative deject. Neither Pro nor Enterprise is required.


Adobe recommends a minimum of 8 GB RAM and says 16 GB is preferable. For this PC build, I’ll be using the latter. Notwithstanding, to take advantage of the dual-channel memory module that has become a standard these days, I’ll become for two x eight GB memory modules. (A dual-channel memory motorbus is by and large faster than a single-channel memory bus, like two lanes of traffic versus 1.)

Graphics Card

Apparently, you need truckloads of loftier-cease graphics memory… right? Incorrect. When you’re selecting a graphics card for photo editing, y’all don’t really demand a summit-of-the-line graphics card like the NVIDIA GTX 3060 and tin become abroad with a less expensive model.

That said, Photoshop is complex software and it does have advantage of a dedicated graphics card for some tasks. Adobe recommends a 2 GB graphics card as the minimum requirement. While you may desire more than if you’re editing with a 4K monitor, 2 GB will be more than than sufficient if you’re working with a 1080p monitor. In any example, I’ll encompass this in more detail in the upcoming sections.

Now that you know the minimum/recommended requirements of Adobe Photoshop 2022, let me take you through the build.

AMD Ryzen 7 3800X Processor

Whether y’all build your own PC or programme to buy something pre-assembled, the CPU is the single virtually vital component. And the Intel vs AMD fence is even more ferocious than the Nikon vs Canon vs Sony one.

Intel used to be the undisputed rex in processor manufacturing. I personally remember recommending that people stay away from AMD during the Athlon days. Notwithstanding, a lot has changed since then. AMD has come a long manner in standing toe-to-toe to Intel and recently has even managed to out-perform Intel in a few segments.

For case, AMD had problems with heating and reliability during Athlon days, especially with circuitous, cadre-intensive processes. But today, especially with their Zen 2 & 3 architecture, AMD has pretty much improved on all fronts. As a upshot, the two are pretty close rivals these days in performance, price and reliability. I’ve chosen to cover AMD for the build in today’due south article.

Ryzen 7 3800X 3.9 GHz eight Core/16 Threads AM4 Processor

6 Cores Vs 8 Cores

I mentioned a moment agone that, at to the lowest degree according to Adobe, Photoshop takes advantage of single cores with higher clock speed more than than multi-cores with slower base clock speed. Yet, I take noticed a difference in loading times between half dozen core processors (Ryzen five 5600X) and an 8-cadre processor (Ryzen 7 3800X), with everything else near identical.

Even though Photoshop does not exploit multi-core processors to the fullest today, it’s quite possible that future versions will be multi-cadre dependent. Information technology’s also plausible that you’ll exist using Photoshop in conjunction with other apps open at the same time, like FastRawViewer or Nikon’south own software, that tin can do good from using multiple cores. So, I recommend getting an 8-core processor.

AMD 3800X Vs 3700X

The AMD 3800X has a base of operations clock speed of 3.9 GHz, whereas the 3700X has a base clock speed of GHz. At the fourth dimension of writing this commodity, the 3800X retails for $345, whereas the 3700X had a toll tag of $320, making the 3800X only $25 more expensive than the 3700X.

On paper, both the processors have only two differences apart from cost. First, the 3800X is 0.three GHz faster than the 3700X. 2nd, the 3700X runs at a max of 65 Watts, whereas the 3800X runs at 105 Watts. I did observe slightly faster performance on the 3800X when doing process-intensive operations like saving large files, loading, and photograph merging. Only the two are pretty similar.

It is always wise to go for the best possible CPU for a given budget. The performance departure between the 3700X and 3800X might non be huge today, but neither is the price difference. It’s worth getting the 3800X.

Wraith Prism Libation

All AMD 3rd-generation Ryzen 7 and nine processors come with a built-in Wraith Prism Cooler. Generally, when idle, the CPU cadre temperature is about five-eight°C warmer than the ambience temperature. Then if you lot choose the 3800X over the 3700X, look the core temperature to be warmer since the 3800X runs at almost forty% more maximum power than the 3700X (105W vs 65W). I live in the tropical zone, where ambience summer temperatures go over 40°C, and then this is no small business organization for me!

In my experience, even for core-intensive processes, the stock Wraith Prism works just fine. The CPU core temperatures rarely get past lxx°C, even while performing heavy-duty operations. For me, on a hot, humid twenty-four hour period, the highest CPU core temperature touched 73°C when I had to sew five 16-bit TIFF files using Photomerge with distortion correction, vignette removal, and content-aware fill transparent areas turned on.

Mostly, Photoshop, Lightroom, and other photo editing software do not demand sustained maximum CPU usage. Merely if you feel the stock CPU libation is insufficient, yous can become for a Be Quiet! Night Stone Pro 4 Air cooler instead for an additional $xc. I don’t think you need anything across that, like liquid coolers, for photo editing purposes.

MSI Magazine B550 Mortar Motherboard

Choosing a motherboard is 1 surface area where most people go wrong. Many beginners either end upwardly buying boards that aren’t compatible or finish up buying boards that they might never need. Before we go into selecting a motherboard, let me take you through a few points worth mentioning.

MSI B550 Tomahawk Motherboard

Motherboard Specification Recommendations

  • The 3800X is based on AM4 Chipset (so is the 3700X). So, offset, you lot demand an AM4 chipset motherboard.
  • Next, you need a motherboard that has preferably two (or at least one) NVMe Gen3 or Gen4 Chiliad.two SSD slots. Boards with Yard.2 slots with a cooling solution like MSI’southward Shield Frozr are better. Gen3 M.2 carte du jour slots can deal with theoretical speeds of up to 64 Gb/s, whereas the Gen3 M.2s can theoretically become to 32Gb/south.
  • If you lot accept a motherboard that supports a Gen4 M.2 slot, your motherboard could exist equipped with Gen4 PCI-Eastward slots equally well. But, of course, it always is best to go for a board with at least two PCI-East slots.
  • Y’all’ll likewise want a high-speed LAN bill of fare. Even if you lot practise not possess high-speed cyberspace, such as a ane GBPS line, information technology is improve to utilise a motherboard that supports ii.5 Gbps internet. Some of you might wonder why one would demand a LAN card in the WiFi era. When you decide to build a PC, you certainly aren’t planning to carry it around. Furthermore, with deject-based computing becoming a norm these days, most WiFi systems aren’t as secured or, in nearly cases, as fast as wired connections yet.
  • Finally, you need a motherboard that supports ane or ii HDMI slots, at least two USB-3 ports, and about half a dozen USB ports in improver to the built-in audio ports.

Motherboard Grade Factor

There are viii basic forms of motherboards depending upon their size, but simply two are widely used. The near widely used are ATX motherboards. With a dimension of 12 inches x ix.6 inches, these tin can dock 2 large graphics cards. They also have at to the lowest degree one-half a dozen SATA ports and enough USB-2 and USB-iii ports.

An alternative is a Micro-ATX form factor, which is the choice for folks who wish for a comparatively compact size without compromising on features. With a size ii.5 inches smaller than the standard ATX cabinets, this form gene is the jack of all trades. If you practice not wish to build an ultimate PC or go on upgrading with every new iteration of add-ons, a Micro-ATX cabinet is more than sufficient for most gaming and photo editing needs.

B550 Vs X570

Most people have an assumption that the X570 motherboards are far superior to the B550 – and information technology’s truthful that the X570 boards do have the edge over the B550. But for a Ryzen 7 processor, the B550 is a bang-up “value for money” pick. Now that the B550 supports Gen4 M.2s and PCIe slots, the merely major difference between the two is that the X570 supports Gen2 Ryzen processors, particularly the ones with a born graphics menu. The increase in the X570’southward VRM speed as compared to the B550 is only marginal.

If you lot are going for a Ryzen 9 processor, the X570 will be the obvious pick. Merely every bit for Ryzen 7, almost processors can work as intended with the B550 with little noticeable difference. That would exist my recommendation if you’re on a budget.

So, which motherboard to get? The MSI Tomahawk B550 is a good one that meets all the specifications mentioned above. In improver, it likewise supports AMD Crossfire. That means it can combine more one graphics card and render 3D graphics using both. The Tomahawk is a B550 motherboard with 2 PCI-e slots, 2 Gen4 M.two slots. Information technology also comes with 6 SATA ports, iii USB three.two ports, out of which one is a USB type C. And it sells for a pretty competitive price of $166.

The easy trap to autumn into is to seek out a motherboard with congenital-in WiFi and spend far more money on it. Instead, the factors that matter the most are higher VRAM, power output, and cooling efficiency. You can buy a good USB WiFi dongle for less than $x. Besides, if yous accept a 1 GBPS or faster cyberspace line, a wired connection is better than WiFi whatever twenty-four hours.

Crucial Ballistix DDR4 3200 Mhz Ram

Some other misconception among some people is that more RAM is always the best style to increment speed.

It’southward certainly true that RAM can exist a limiting factor if you don’t have enough of it. Permit us say you have four GB of RAM. Windows 10 volition eat nigh 2-ii.5 GB. If you lot have a third-political party anti-virus, which you should, it volition consume about 500 MB. Photoshop 2022 will consume about 2 GB for itself without opening whatsoever pictures. And now we’ve already exceeded the available retentiveness.

In one case yous cross virtually 80% of available memory, your PC will be noticeably slower, and as it gets closer to the 100% mark, it certainly will hang up a lot.

So, how much RAM do you lot actually need? Take a look at the analogy beneath.

Memory usage with multiple large files opened in Photoshop.

Every bit you can run across, I accept opened four images (marked reddish) in Photoshop, all of them 16-bit TIFFs. The smallest file was about 2.5 GB, and the largest was near 4.v GB. Each file had at least ten layers (marked green). Most of u.s. generally do non open that many large files simultaneously. But despite the heavy utilise, you can see that my memory usage is only 81% of the full available memory of 16 GB. (Of course, to utilize dual-aqueduct capability, I used 2×8 GB rams slotted in the 2d and the 4th slot as recommended by the manufacturer.)

Crucial Ballistix 16 GB (2x8GB) DDR4 3200 MHz RAM.

So, for most photography needs, 16 GB of RAM will be sufficient, although a bit more can be nice. You tin kickoff with 2×8 GB, and if yous have the need, you lot can add another two×8 GB in the remaining slots. That results in 32 GB of RAM, which should be more than sufficient for photography; we volition not breach 20 GB in nigh cases. If Photoshop is your most intensive plan, anything more than 32 GB of RAM will probably only be for bragging rights.

Samsung Evo 970 500 GB M.2 SSD: Primary Storage

One of the breakthroughs in PC applied science in the final ten years has been the rise of SSDs, specially M.2 storage. Conventional disks (which are equipped with heads that move mechanically) accept always hampered processing speed. For a long fourth dimension, fifty-fifty though processors and motherboards were extremely fast, the internal magnetic drives dragged them down to a level where their speeds did not brand a large difference. The M.two SSD storage lets us exploit the actual potential of our multi-cadre processors and motherboards with big VRMs.

Samsung 500 GB Evo Plus 970 Thou.ii Five-NAND SSD

With a theoretical sequential read speed of iii.five GB/s and write speed of up to three.3 GB/due south, the Samsung Evo 970 1000.2 is one of the best options available for master storage today. It has 500 GB of storage.

The idea is to shop applications and your operating system on this drive while keeping your photos and other files on a secondary hard bulldoze for speed purposes. The full of Windows, Photoshop, and Photoshop’s scratch disk leaves you with about 400 GB for other applications. (I recommend keeping at least 30% of your chief disk free.)

Seagate 2 TB Barracuda 7200 RPM SATA III 3.5″ Internal HDD: Secondary Storage

With the primary storage taking intendance of your operating system and Photoshop, y’all tin go for whatsoever basic ii TB internal hard drive to store your photos.

Seagate BarraCuda 2 TB 7200 rpm SATA 3 3.5″ internal difficult drive, for $50

An SSD of a similar size is going to be almost four or v times every bit expensive. Then until the price of SSDs comes down dramatically, I think this is even so the way to go if you’re on a budget.

Electric current motherboards concord close to a dozen SATA ports, so I personally am inclined to have multiple smaller storage drives (preferably two TB) rather than one large drive. This lets you make backups more easily in instance of a difficult bulldoze failure.

As a side note, fifty-fifty though all difficult drives neglect eventually, I take institute that internal drives similar this tend to final much longer than portable external hard drives. They’re less expensive, as well.

NVIDIA GeForce GT710 Graphics Card

Photoshop does not demand top-of-the-line half dozen GB or above graphics cards, as I have mentioned before. In fact, except for a few options, Photoshop does not need to utilise your graphics card at all. Those exceptions are shown below:

Features for which Photoshop uses GPU

Equally for GPU RAM, you can see that Photoshop will piece of work with a arrangement with anything over 1500 MB of RAM.

Photoshop 2022 GPU RAM requirements

You may think that by going with the minimum requirements, Photoshop will run but not might run simply not perform as expected. But that’s not really true. I have been using the bones $lx ZOTAC NVIDIA GeForce GT 710 for a few months now without consequence.

Zotac NVIDIA GT710 2GB Graphics card

So far, I oasis’t had any performance bug despite working with Blur Gallery, Photographic camera Raw, HDR Pro, and Photomerge, let solitary basic operations like the brush tool and smart option tools. Below are GPU memory and processor usage I measured for various operations, both basic and intensive:

GPU usage while using Blur Gallery
GPU Usage while using the brush tool
GPU usage while using CameraRAW

Let me compare the above GPU usage figures with loading a 2006 game.

A fifteen-yr-old game uses essentially more than GPU than Photoshop 2022

The Graphics Card Crisis

Initially, I never intended to buy a 2 GB low-profile graphics card. I was looking at an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 as the minimum. Still, despite three months of searching, I couldn’t observe ane either online or in a local store. The stores that had one in stock were selling them at exorbitant prices, two or three times the cost they’d ordinarily sell for.

Since the pandemic struck, semiconductor factories have been shut down. All the existing stock has been sold off in the last year and a one-half, and product hasn’t ramped all the way support nevertheless. Not to mention that demand has piled up similar crazy in the concurrently.

Add the mining demand to the gaming demand, and there is no wonder we have a GPU crunch. Information technology looks similar it will take another year for GPU prices to become back to sane levels. Even though a 4GB card like the GTX 1650 would exist a amend selection, peculiarly if you lot have a 4K monitor, you lot’ll have a difficult time finding i at all, let lone at reasonable prices.

And then, I advise going for something more basic like the GT710 until prices get to reasonable levels and just then move on to a improve GPU.

Lian Li LANCOOL Mid Tower PC Casing

For this PC build, I would recommend a mid-tower casing with at to the lowest degree three fans. The Lian Li mid-tower is equipped with two 200mm, 800 RPM fans at the front and one 120mm, 1200 RPM fan at the rear. Information technology as well has options to add two 140mm fans on the top.

I would recommend at least one fan at the top, mounted just above the CPU. With a arrangement congenital around a 105-watt processor, cooling on at least three sides becomes mandatory to keep the cadre CPU temperature inside the recommended 70°C or less. The cabinet has decent cable handling and comes with ii built-in USB-A ports and an audio port.

Mid-belfry casing with iii congenital-in fans.

Corsair CX650M 80 PLUS Brozen SMPS

At this point, we have almost everything nosotros need. The last component to add together is the SMPS.

The near important matter to consider when choosing an SMPS is the wattage. The general rule of thumb is to select an SMPS with at least twice the wattage you lot’ll need. The build I’ve discussed then far consumes about 300 W at elevation performance, including everything from the processor to the RGB fans. Then it’s best to go for a 600 watt SMPS. The following SMPS, the Corsair CX650M, is my choice.

Corsair lxxx+ 650W Bronze-certified SMPS

SMPS Ratings Explained

Ability supply ratings might seem disruptive, especially if you’re new to building PCs. An SMPS that’south rated “eighty+” and “Bronze certified” may seem like gibberish. However, it isn’t as complex as it appears.

First, allow me explain what SMPS means in the offset place. It stands for “Switch Mode Power Supply,” which literally means information technology volition describe but the amount of ability that the system demands. For case, in this PC build, the highest power usage will exist about 300 watts. And so, a 650 Westward SMPS would draw only 300 watts of ability from the board. And 80+ means that, regardless of usage, the SMPS will evangelize a minimum of 80% power efficiency.

Across that, the ratings for SMPS systems are classified every bit Aureate, Silver, Bronze, Platinum, and Titanium depending upon their efficiency. The virtually ordinarily used standards are Gold and Statuary. Statuary is more than sufficient for most consumer-grade use.

What’s the departure? A gold-certified power supply gives 90% efficiency at 20% usage, 92% efficiency at 50%, and 89% efficiency at 100% usage. A bronze-certified SMPS yields 85% efficiency at 20% usage, 88% at 50% usage, and 85% at 100% usage.

The average departure in efficiency is less than ten% across all usage ranges between Gilded and Bronze-rated SMPS, but the price differences can be substantial. Hence why I recommend the Corsair CX650M Bronze for this PC build.


Apart from the ability efficiency, SMPS are classified by the type of cable attachments they come with. This is known as modular vs non-modular.

A fully modular SMPS comes with no fixed cables attached. All cables are plug and play. On the other hand, non-modular SMPS have all the cables fastened.

A semi-modular SMPS is somewhere in between the other two. Some of the nearly of import cables similar the one that powers the motherboard, PCI slots, and a couple of hard drives come attached. The rest are detachable and can be added later depending upon the number of hard drives that you eventually add.

The Corsair CX650M SMPS is a semi-modular blueprint that gives a balance of detachable cables, which I consider ideal. It makes cable management cleaner and easier.

Criterion Results

After building the PC with the to a higher place specifications, I ran the R20 benchmark to see how well it worked. Below are the results for multi-core and single-cadre performances.

CineBench R20 Results for Multi-core operation
CineBench R20 Single core operation benchmark

Every bit you tin see from the benchmark results, this PC build performs mode above average. But how does that translate for photographers? Below are loading/processing times that I tested with Photoshop 2022:

Process Time Taken (Seconds)
Photoshop loading time (This time depends a lot on your net speed every bit well) : thirteen
Opening 16-chip TIFF (File size: two.v GB) iii.5
Photomerge five sixteen-bit TIFF Files 32
Saving 2.5 GB 16-bit TIFF 3.2
HDR Pro Preview iv 16 chip 6000×4000 resolution images 9
HDR Pro Processing 3.4
Export -> Legacy (JPG Save) Preview of 6000×4000 resolution 16-bit TIFF 8.five

Not bad! For the cost, these speeds are hard to beat, and they won’t represent a bottleneck for well-nigh photographers out there.

Below is the total cost of the build:

Component Cost
Ryzen 7 3800X 3.9 GHz 8 Core/16 Thread Processor $340
MSI Tomahawk B550 AM4 ATX Motherboard $157
Crucial 16 GB (8GB x 2) 3200 MHz DDR4 RAM $74
Samsung 500 GB 970 EVO Plus NVMe M.2 Internal SSD $80
Corsair CX650M 650 Watts 80 Plus Bronze semi modular SMPS $90
Lian Li LANCOOL 215 Mid-Tower Case $85
Zotac GeForce GT710 Graphics Card $60
Total $886

Equally you can see higher up, the total build adds up to $886 at the fourth dimension of writing this article. If yous’ve budgeted $yard, I recommend spending any leftover cash on backup storage devices if you don’t already have a practiced fill-in arrangement in place.


In this article, I have suggested a PC build that works fashion above average for photography needs. It isn’t quite an ultimate PC build like the ane we’ve written near previously, but information technology’s a very solid organisation that should concord for a minimum of 5 years.

Hopefully, even if y’all have different requirements or budget, my explanations backside each component will assist continue you informed about which choices you should get instead. And if you have whatever questions at all, please let me know in the comments section. Happy PC building!