A hardware refresh

Sunday, October 7th, 2012 at 11:18pm

Four and a half years ago I upgraded my home Windows desktop. Since then I had added RAM, switched to Windows 7 and replaced the hard drives, however it was still the same computer and was perfectly fine for most of my needs.

But not all, so for a while I had been thinking it was time for an upgrade.

One example of a frustration was the delay of around 10 seconds when loading an image for editing in Lightroom. This was only made worse by my upgrade to the Canon 7D earlier in the year, instead of loading a 10MB RAW file, it now had to load a 20MB raw file. I had been monitoring the disk and CPU usage, and it was clear that this activity was CPU bound.

Given this and some other specific performance issues (plus the feeling that after four years it was due) on Friday I bit the bullet and picked up a replacement motherboard, CPU, RAM and power supply to put in my existing case with my existing hard drives.

So far I have only described a like for like swap of components, with the biggest change having multiple monitor output built into the motherboard. There was one other change which has possibly given the greatest performance improvement: adding an SSD to the mix.

In order to best use the SSD (but without any automatic cache type usage) I changed where I store my data. On the SSD I have:

  • Windows
  • Firefox profile (with its browsing cache)
  • Lightroom catalogue (and its cache) and my “todo” photos.

With this setup Windows only takes a few seconds to load, Firefox loads almost instantly, and (most importantly) opening Lightroom and editing photos is now quick with the 10 second delay gone. Hopefully this will last me for another four years.

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