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Technical Help & Discussion => Windows PCs & Software: Help, News & Discussion => Topic started by: GillE on February 11, 2019, 21:13

Title: New PC For Image Processing?
Post by: GillE on February 11, 2019, 21:13
My PC isn't very old but it struggles for speed when opening certain programs and processing images.  I'd like to improve its performance or, if that is not possible, find an alternative.  The trouble is that I don't understand modern computer component specifications - is an AMD Athlon X4 860 Quad Core Processor 3.70 GHz CPU any good?  It's what I'm using now.  I also have 8Gb RAM, the computer operates 64 bit Windows 10 and my motherboard is an ASUSTeK A68HM-Plus.

Any guidance would be much appreciated  :) .
Title: Re: New PC For Image Processing?
Post by: Simon on February 11, 2019, 21:46
I'm not very up to date on modern specs either,.Gill, but I found upgrading the hard drive on my old Windows 7 Desktop to a SSD gave it a new lease of life.  It now boots up in around 40 seconds, rather than 4 minutes, and programs do open and run more expeditiously.  I believe I documented the process on here somewhere, so I will try and find it for you.
Title: Re: New PC For Image Processing?
Post by: Simon on February 11, 2019, 21:57
I can't find the thread on here, Gill, but I found what I had written elsewhere, if this helps:

I purchased a Crucial 120Gb SSD drive, which came with instructions on how to migrate an existing system to the new drive, using the Acronis clone tool.  As I already have Acronis on board for backups, I didn't need to install Crucial's version, so used the Clone tool as instructed to clone my existing C drive to the new SSD.  The clone job took about 18 minutes, which worried me, as I thought it was going to take much longer for an 80Gb drive, but I thought I'd go with it and see what happened, as all I needed to do then was physically swap the current hard drive for the new SSD.  Had it all gone to pot, I would have still had the original drive which I could have popped back in, plus I had a backup on a separate backup drive, so I had nothing to lose, really, as all of my data was on other drives, and the C drive only had Windows and programs on it.

So, with trepidation, after exchanging the drives, I fired up the machine, and within about 20 seconds, my desktop appeared as normal, and everything seems to be working as it should.  I'm struggling to believe it was all that simple, but now I have a much faster booting machine, with about 45Gb of space on my C drive, compared to about 4Gb which I had before.  So, all in all, I'm quite pleased with myself, and it was all done before lunch!   :D
Title: Re: New PC For Image Processing?
Post by: daveeb on February 12, 2019, 10:52
My PC isn't very old but it struggles for speed when opening certain programs and processing images.  I'd like to improve its performance or, if that is not possible, find an alternative.  The trouble is that I don't understand modern computer component specifications - is an AMD Athlon X4 860 Quad Core Processor 3.70 GHz CPU any good?  It's what I'm using now.  I also have 8Gb RAM, the computer operates 64 bit Windows 10 and my motherboard is an ASUSTeK A68HM-Plus.

Any guidance would be much appreciated  :) .

I'd have to agree with Simon as it's the only easily upgradeable item and would definitely speed things up. The CPU is quite old and slow compared to what's on offer now and probably accounts for the slowness.
You don't need more memory and the newest CPU's possibly wouldn't be compatible with the motherboard, would be a lot of hassle, and wouldn't really be cost effective.
Title: Re: New PC For Image Processing?
Post by: GillE on February 12, 2019, 16:26
Many thanks for your help, Simon and Dave.

I'm more than a little peeved to find out my processor isn't up to snuff - eBuyer told me it would be more than adequate when I bought the computer from them two years ago.  Perhaps a SSD would be a good upgrade but since modern graphics programs tend to use the CPU very heavily, I'm now veering towards the idea of a new PC with a decent processor and an in-built SSD.

What sort of processor should I be looking for, and where should I buy it?  I'm reluctant to deal with eBuyer again.  I understand graphics programs work better on single thread CPUs (whatever they might be!) which means AMD chips might not be as good as Intel... but I'm woefully out of my depth here.
Title: Re: New PC For Image Processing?
Post by: Simon on February 12, 2019, 18:09
I've had dealings with https://www.cclonline.com/ previously and not had any problems.  I purchased my Windows 10 laptop from them (when it was Windows 8.1), and it's still going strong after about 5 years. 

They have a good range of components, and if you were minded too you can actually build your own PC, but I think you'll find that the descriptions will be more than adequate to help you find what you want.  Of course, it's all depends on your budget, and the more CPU power you want, obviously, the more the overall package is likely to cost.

I hesitate to actually recommend anything myself, as I'm just as out of the loop as you probably are, Gill, but maybe a phone call to them might be worthwhile?

I think eBuyer are more or less an Argos type store, rather than specialists, so I personally wouldn't look at them if I wanted to buy anything too specialised.
Title: Re: New PC For Image Processing?
Post by: Simon on February 12, 2019, 18:23
Just a further thought, but it may be worth investing in a good quality, high end graphics card, if the work you want to do is particularly graphics intensive.  That may be something a gaming machine could offer.
Title: Re: New PC For Image Processing?
Post by: daveeb on February 12, 2019, 20:51
Just a further thought, but it may be worth investing in a good quality, high end graphics card, if the work you want to do is particularly graphics intensive.  That may be something a gaming machine could offer.
I think graphics programs tend to use the CPU rather than the gfx card Simon, tho' I'm happy to stand corrected, I haven't been clued up properly since the windows XP days.
You would have to research the motherboard Gill and see what it is capable of accepting. There could be bios issues in that the chip isn't compatible with the bios on the mobo (or doesn't physically fit).
I don't know how much of an issue money is, but I got my last laptop at pcspecialist about 4 years ago and its been amazing. Still super fast. if you posted on their forum with your list of requirements and budget they are very helpful and would post up a "build" for you. Even if you don't intend to buy anything new it would give you an idea of what was needed.
Title: Re: New PC For Image Processing?
Post by: Simon on February 12, 2019, 21:01
I'm happy to stand corrected too, Dave.  ;D
Title: Re: New PC For Image Processing?
Post by: GillE on February 13, 2019, 00:09
I think graphics programs tend to use the CPU rather than the gfx card Simon, tho' I'm happy to stand corrected, I haven't been clued up properly since the windows XP days.
You would have to research the motherboard Gill and see what it is capable of accepting. There could be bios issues in that the chip isn't compatible with the bios on the mobo (or doesn't physically fit).
I don't know how much of an issue money is, but I got my last laptop at pcspecialist about 4 years ago and its been amazing. Still super fast. if you posted on their forum with your list of requirements and budget they are very helpful and would post up a "build" for you. Even if you don't intend to buy anything new it would give you an idea of what was needed.

That's my understanding of graphics cards too, Dave.  My current PC is a PCSpecialist machine and I like your idea of asking their advice before I take any further action.

 :)
Title: Re: New PC For Image Processing?
Post by: Simon on February 14, 2019, 00:42
Gosh, it's Sod's Law, isn't it?  Having just said my laptop is still going strong after 5 years, it's just gone kaput, and it looks like I'm going to have to reset it and reinstall all my programs, which is a real pain in the arse.  I have multiple backups of the PC, because that's my main work station and has everything on it. The laptop was basically just for browsing and emails and other sorts of casual stuff, so I never bothered to back it up.   :facepalm:
Title: Re: New PC For Image Processing?
Post by: daveeb on February 14, 2019, 10:32
Gosh, it's Sod's Law, isn't it?  Having just said my laptop is still going strong after 5 years, it's just gone kaput, and it looks like I'm going to have to reset it and reinstall all my programs, which is a real pain in the arse.  I have multiple backups of the PC, because that's my main work station and has everything on it. The laptop was basically just for browsing and emails and other sorts of casual stuff, so I never bothered to back it up.   :facepalm:

It would be pretty quick apart from the windoze updates  :ack:
Title: Re: New PC For Image Processing?
Post by: Simon on February 14, 2019, 12:19
What a pain this is!  I've now got to set the machine up practically as new, without the actual benefits of having a new machine!  All of my data has been saved but all of my programs have been removed, so it's like starting again, and you tend to forget how many tweaks and changes you've made over the years when it all suddenly disappears.
Title: Re: New PC For Image Processing?
Post by: daveeb on February 14, 2019, 13:24
What a pain this is!  I've now got to set the machine up practically as new, without the actual benefits of having a new machine!  All of my data has been saved but all of my programs have been removed, so it's like starting again, and you tend to forget how many tweaks and changes you've made over the years when it all suddenly disappears.

Are you properly re-installing the OS ? i.e. scrubbing the drive and starting again  :dunno:
Title: Re: New PC For Image Processing?
Post by: Simon on February 14, 2019, 13:35
No. There's a recovery option to reinstall Windows without touching personal data.  I knew it would wipe programs, but it's still a pain to have to reinstall everything.  Unfortunately, all other avenues had failed, including system restore, and startup repair options. The worry is, I don't really know what happened, as the PC started up fine, then it rebooted while I wasn't looking and that's when the trouble started.  I'm assuming it was an update that went wrong.
Title: Re: New PC For Image Processing?
Post by: daveeb on February 14, 2019, 15:24
No. There's a recovery option to reinstall Windows without touching personal data.  I knew it would wipe programs, but it's still a pain to have to reinstall everything.  Unfortunately, all other avenues had failed, including system restore, and startup repair options. The worry is, I don't really know what happened, as the PC started up fine, then it rebooted while I wasn't looking and that's when the trouble started.  I'm assuming it was an update that went wrong.

Couldn't you put the drive in an external caddy to get your data off, then start again i.e. format the disc then load an up to date iso (i think you can get up to date ones from microshaft providing you have a licence...but I could be very wrong  :blush:). That way at least you should get a speedier system without all the accumulated junk.

Alternatively is there not a way to roll back updates (assuming that's the cause) ?
Title: Re: New PC For Image Processing?
Post by: GillE on February 14, 2019, 16:30
That's rotten, Simon - you have my sympathy.

I've looked at the PC Specialist website and found that I can't upgrade my CPU.  Before I splash out on a new pooter (the one that meets my requirements would probably cost in the region of 1.5K  :aarrgh:)  I might try reinstalling my OS and all my software to see if that speeds things up.  All I need to do is find a spare weekend...
Title: Re: New PC For Image Processing?
Post by: Simon on February 14, 2019, 17:06
Couldn't you put the drive in an external caddy to get your data off, then start again i.e. format the disc then load an up to date iso (i think you can get up to date ones from microshaft providing you have a licence...but I could be very wrong  :blush:). That way at least you should get a speedier system without all the accumulated junk.

Alternatively is there not a way to roll back updates (assuming that's the cause) ?

I believe I now have a "clean" OS, Dave, with only the default programs installed so far.  The only data that was saved is stuff like music, pictures, downloads, etc, nothing to do with the actual OS.  With regards rolling back, I did try System Restore and also rolling back to the previous OS version, neither of which worked.  The computer couldn't even repair the startup process so whatever happened did a pretty good job of screwing it up. 

That's rotten, Simon - you have my sympathy.

I've looked at the PC Specialist website and found that I can't upgrade my CPU.  Before I splash out on a new pooter (the one that meets my requirements would probably cost in the region of 1.5K  :aarrgh:)  I might try reinstalling my OS and all my software to see if that speeds things up.  All I need to do is find a spare weekend...

Sorry to have hijacked your thread, Gill.  I still think, in your case, it might be worth looking at upgrading your current C drive to an SSD, if it isn't already.  That might be a cheapish stopgap until you really need to replace your current machine, which should really have given you more than two years service. 
Title: Re: New PC For Image Processing?
Post by: daveeb on February 14, 2019, 17:41
It's a collectors item...a pc related thread on pcpals  :laugh:
Title: Re: New PC For Image Processing?
Post by: Simon on February 14, 2019, 18:16
 ;D
Title: Re: New PC For Image Processing?
Post by: GillE on February 14, 2019, 19:44
An SSD it is then  :thumb: .  I'm just so nervous about installing it - but at least you guys will be here to offer support.  :)
Title: Re: New PC For Image Processing?
Post by: Simon on February 14, 2019, 20:03
One thing I would point out, Gill, is that my C drive contained Windows and programs only, which probably made the transition a little easier.  The fact that my data was safe on a separate drive was somewhat reassuring.

If your Windows installation isn't separate to your data, then I think it is still possible to migrate to an SSD, but it potentially may not be quite as straightforward as swapping one drive for the other.
Title: Re: New PC For Image Processing?
Post by: daveeb on February 14, 2019, 20:24
An SSD it is then  :thumb: .  I'm just so nervous about installing it - but at least you guys will be here to offer support.  :)

 :blush:
I didn't realise how bad it was Gill  ;D
I suspect the hardest bit will be opening it up, it all depends how deep in you have to go to get to the drive. I seem to remember that if the hard drive isn't recognised then you may have to turn off the windows 10 secure boot (uefi) and use the older legacy bios.
The pcspecialist bods (the actual company) may send you some info if you ring them...they do offer free lifetime support on all their pc's, i'd be inclined to take them up on it.

edit...i've been assuming all along it's a laptop, but if it's a desktop then the job will be a lot easier.
Title: Re: New PC For Image Processing?
Post by: GillE on February 14, 2019, 20:26
I've just ordered a Crucial CT500MX500SSD1 500 GB 2.5 Inch 7 mm M x 500 SATA Solid State Drive with 9.5 mm Adapter (https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0786QNS9B/ref=pe_3187911_185740111_TE_item) and mounting kit from Amazon.  Before I migrate to it I'll copy all my data to a backup external HDD.

My pooter is a desktop  :) .
Title: Re: New PC For Image Processing?
Post by: daveeb on February 15, 2019, 10:36
I've just ordered a Crucial CT500MX500SSD1 500 GB 2.5 Inch 7 mm M x 500 SATA Solid State Drive with 9.5 mm Adapter (https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0786QNS9B/ref=pe_3187911_185740111_TE_item) and mounting kit from Amazon.  Before I migrate to it I'll copy all my data to a backup external HDD.

My pooter is a desktop  :) .

Good news, should be relatively easy to install.  :thumbs:
Title: Re: New PC For Image Processing?
Post by: Simon on February 15, 2019, 11:46
That's the brand I used.  The instructions are very clear, and they provide you with the backup utility as well.
Title: Re: New PC For Image Processing?
Post by: GillE on March 13, 2019, 15:57
My SSD has just arrived and the online video says I need a SATA to USB cable to clone my HDD.  I don't have one of these.  Is there a way around using such a cable?
Title: Re: New PC For Image Processing?
Post by: Simon on March 13, 2019, 17:01
Did they not supply one, Gill?  My SSD was a Crucial, and I'm pretty sure they gave me the cable, otherwise I don't know where else it would have come from.

If you're stuck, PM me your address and I'd be happy to send you mine.
Title: Re: New PC For Image Processing?
Post by: Simon on March 13, 2019, 17:09
Actually, apologies, I lied.  I've just check the order and I bought the cables separately:

Sabrent 3.5-Inch to x2 SSD / 2.5-Inch Internal Hard Drive Mounting Kit [SATA and Power Cables included] (BK-HDCC) https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B015MSJ1DG/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_CJtICb72EC5DW

Sabrent USB 3.0 to SSD / 2.5-Inch SATA Hard Drive Adapter [Optimized For SSD, Support UASP SATA III] (EC-SSHD) https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B011M8YACM/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_4JtICb7A3859P
Title: Re: New PC For Image Processing?
Post by: GillE on March 13, 2019, 19:07
Ooooh, you tinker  ;) !  I have the same mounting kit as you, including the SATA and power cables - could I use those to connect the drives and clone without a USB to SATA cable?

(I'm expecting the answer to be, "No", otherwise you wouldn't have bought the USB to SATA cable.)
Title: Re: New PC For Image Processing?
Post by: Simon on March 13, 2019, 19:12
I've got to be honest, it was December 2017 when I did my upgrade and I can't quite remember now what the SATA to USB was for, but logically, I guess it's so that the clone can be done before removing the existing hard drive.  Doesn't the new SSD connect via SATA?  So, you need the lead to connect the new SSD via USB to do the initial clone. 
Title: Re: New PC For Image Processing?
Post by: Simon on March 13, 2019, 19:17
I see what you're saying though.  Could you install the new SSD and connect it to the old hard drive via SATA, then do the clone?  To that, I'm afraid I don't know the answer.  All I know is, I would have used the simplest and least risky method.
Title: Re: New PC For Image Processing?
Post by: Simon on March 13, 2019, 19:19
I'm just adding things as I recall them here, but another reason I probably used the USB method is that I don't have any spare internal SATA ports, so I couldn't have connected both drives internally at the same time.
Title: Re: New PC For Image Processing?
Post by: GillE on March 22, 2019, 18:36
SSD fitted successfully  :) .

The system does seem faster.  When I started programs such as the Gimp and Affinity Photo before, I almost had time to put on a brew while they loaded.  They're much quicker now.

I'll wait a little while, then format my redundant HHD and use it for data storage.

Title: Re: New PC For Image Processing?
Post by: Simon on March 22, 2019, 19:45
Well done!  I'm glad it all went well.   :thumb:
Title: Re: New PC For Image Processing?
Post by: GillE on March 22, 2019, 20:07
Actually, it didn't!  At first I couldn't clone the HDD so I 'chatted' to the online Crucial helpline in order to sort things out.  The representative couldn't have been more helpful and we managed to figure out that the brand new USB3 to SATA cable I bought on eBay wasn't working.  Grrrr.  (It only cost a couple of quid so it's not worth following up.)  Anyway, I was able to mount the SSD in my pooter and clone directly.

Now that the cloning has succeeded, I've formatted the old HDD  :nerves: and directed all my data links (such as Documents, Pictures, Music, Video and Downloads) to it.  I do a lot of reading and writing to data as I'm working on it, so I think it's best to keep my data off the HHD as much as possible in order to prolong its life.

Thank you to all at PC Pals who have helped me through this procedure, especially Simon.
Title: Re: New PC For Image Processing?
Post by: Simon on March 22, 2019, 21:12
How old is the old hard drive, Gill?  If it's more than about 5-6 years old, I'd be a little cautious of storing anything too valuable on it, as it's probably been worked quite hard as a system drive, and they can give out.  I have no doubt that you already backup your essential files, but as HDDs are relatively cheap, I'd consider replacing it in due course, as it would be easy enough just to transfer the data from it to a new HDD, while it's still in good working order.  :)
Title: Re: New PC For Image Processing?
Post by: GillE on March 22, 2019, 22:55
It's only a couple of years old, little used compared to some HDDS, and I have all the important data backed up.  Seventeen external HDDs... I take my back ups seriously!

Title: Re: New PC For Image Processing?
Post by: Simon on March 22, 2019, 23:53
Seventeen?!  :o  You must have backups of backups of backups!   :laugh:
Title: Re: New PC For Image Processing?
Post by: GillE on March 23, 2019, 01:30
Errrr.... Eighteen.  I've just found another that was lost under some egg trays.  :blush:

You wouldn't believe the number of television programmes and films I've recorded/downloaded over the years!