A Quality Desktop for an Enthusiast Photographer and the Inscrutable World of Color Management

Jack Anders
Jack Anders
By JACK ANDERS

For the past few months, I have been seriously considering replacing my desktop computer with something significantly more powerful than my current equipment. Although my current set up is more than capable of basic word processing and access to the Internet, it falls short of optimum performance when using photo editing software such as Lightroom, Photoshop and CorelDRAW.

Like many who take up the photography hobby, they attempt to use the equipment they have and make it work as best as possible. That has been my situation for the past five years since I started photography in the digital realm.

First it was JPEG storage in a basic library, with basic manipulation and recently it is RAW files edited in Lightroom and Photoshop.

My current computer gear was the top of the line equipment when it was new. A high end Acer 64-bit gaming laptop with a 1GB graphics card, 4GB of RAM, linked to a 24-inch Dell full HD “TN” specked monitor. The laptop is now seven years old and the monitor is 10 years old.

As a Mac user for many years, I have been most impressed with the stability of Windows 7 and likewise impressed with the serviceability of the Dell monitor. When new, the Acer was running the Vista Pro operating system and after slowing to a crawl, a fresh install of OEM Windows 7 Professional 64 Bit was undertaken.

A quality PC desktop build for an enthusiast amateur photographer is only half the story -- what about the inscrutable world of color management!
A quality PC desktop build for an enthusiast amateur photographer is only half the story — what about the inscrutable world of color management!
All has run well for many years, but there are definite signs of aging appearing. The monitor has visible burn marks on the screen indicating where windows have stayed open for many hours and the HD in the laptop is starting to have some minor hiccups.

Regardless of how many times I calibrate the monitor with the Spyder hardware, the monitor is far from ideal when editing photos in any program and the speed of the computer is less than ideal with multiple programs are open.

I recently spent six hours stripping malware and other nasties from the laptop, using a combination of eight programs; consecutively. The result was a definite speed increase and it highlighted the fact that one’s main work computer should not be used for certain applications such as accessing torrent sites and other P2P services. A valuable lesson learned.

Chasing whatever speed increase I could achieve with my current set up, I followed the advice of some on the Internet and installed a dedicated USB drive to be used as a ready boost scratch drive. This was a $12 experiment for a 16GB flash drive and it has helped; albiet only when the system is up and running. After a restart, ready boost needs to learn the user’s habits all over again.

An issue one notices when running ready boost and 4GB of RAM is that the 5,400 RPM HD does not spool up as much as it did before. This indicated exactly how much memory Photoshop was using and how much it needed. It also highlighted that 4GB of RAM running large Photoshop files is far from adequate. It would appear that the more RAM the better when using Photoshop.

As an amateur, my knowledge of exactly how Photoshop and other editing suites access memory was minimal. Luckily, the information is readily available on the Internet and there are some sites dedicated to explaining the demands these programs have on computer software and hardware. Photoshop is a RAM hog and when it needs more memory, it uses part of the HD as a scratch disk. The larger the file, the larger amounts of memory the program requires and the more the HD is accessed, after available RAM has been used.

One naturally assumed Lightroom worked in a similar fashion; it is another application within the Adobe Creative Suite. Unfortunately, it does not use the HD to create a scratch disk and therefore there is no benefit installing a dedicated scratch disk for Lightroom use only.

The more I read, the more confusing everything became. One thing was obvious: my desktop and monitor needed replacing in the short term. I had been fortunate with the amount of service I received from both the laptop and the monitor. The more I learned about photography and the more I expected of my own skills in post-processing, the more it became obvious that my equipment was insufficient for my current needs and my future requirements.

After significant research, I have decided to have a PC desktop built in the near future as there is nothing available off the shelf where I live that comes close to what I need. Although I am a fan of Macs, the PC is a more cost-effective option, especially when building a unit for a specific purpose.

I will discuss the build with a local company in the near future, but at this stage I believe the following is required to ensure both Photoshop and Lightroom operate at a satisfactory level:

  • Intel I7 4770 or above
  • A minimum of 16GB of RAM — many experts believe more RAM (32GB) of lower quality RAM is better than less of slightly higher speed
  • 250 SSD for main programs and operating system
  • A minimum of 120 GB dedicated to a Photoshop scratch disk
  • A minimum of 1GB graphics card that is matched to Adobe programs in performance
  • 2 x 3TB 7,200 RPM HD running in RAID 1 (provides redundancy and back up of everything)
  • DVD optical reader/writer
  • A descent case with sufficient cooling
  • Windows 7 64-bit OS

I expect this build to cost around $2,000. Unfortunately, I reside in Thailand and computer parts and expertise are not always available and cost-effective. It has been difficult task to firstly find a company that understands my requirements and is trustworthy to install the parts I will pay for.

One interesting online report measured the access speed of a Lightroom library on both a conventional 7,200 rpm HD and an SSD. The difference in speed of access was minimal. It would appear that when accessing libraries in Lightroom, it is the program itself that dictates the speed of access and not the drive where the library is stored.

Tests indicated that machines with faster processors and more RAM were faster to open Lightroom library files than a slower machine with less RAM and a SSD installed library. The speed of the Lightroom program opening was faster when the machine had an SSD as its main HD, but it was a different case when the library files were accessed.

With the computer research over, I thought the worst was over. I had performed the research and had found a suitable company that understood the specific hardware needs of Adobe editing software. The only item remaining was a new monitor. Surely, that would be a simple process. I wanted a 27-inch monitor and one with the highest definition would be sufficient. I already owned a Spyder 4 hardware calibrater; surely this would ensure that the colors presented on the monitor would be accurate for my editing needs. My next lesson was about to start; the world of color management.

The more I read about monitors specifically designed for photography editing, the more confusing and expensive the available options seemed to be. The Internet is a wonderful tool to access information, but at times the information is conflicting and criticizes other reviews.

I am currently considering Dell UltraSharp monitors. It would appear that Dell monitors offers a medium range of quality best suited for an amateur enthusiast photographer. The model I was interested in (Dell UltraSharp U2711) is a wide gamut monitor and apparently its post calibration is quite accurate. There are conflicting reports about the matt screen coating and the inconstancy of this coating.

Unfortunately, this monitor is no longer available where I live and the next available model is the UltraSharp U2713HM. Once again, there are conflicting reports about this monitor. It is not a wide gamut monitor, but many reports indicate that post calibration the colors are quite accurate. Other reports indicate that the “blacks” are not as saturated as some other monitors and therefore this monitor may not be suitable for editing.

Eizo and NEC definitely appear to be the best monitors on the market for photographic editing, but their cost is at least twice that of monitors aimed at amateur enthusiasts. An additional issue is that both companies do not carry the high-end monitors in Thailand and they are only available via special orders with significant waiting periods.

I was hoping that those experienced in photography may have some input on a suitable monitor for my needs. My requirements are as follows:

  • A 24-inch monitor as a minimum. I would prefer a larger monitor (27-inch), but cost is a factor. As stated above, I own a Spyder 4 calibrator and therefore can calibrate any monitor using this hardware.
  • 8-bit (10-bit would be nice for future proofing) and preferably capable of sRGB and Adobe RGB. I am the first to admit that editing with Adobe RGB would increase the tonal range of monochrome shots and I enjoy shooting monochrome.
  • Wide gamut would be preferable, due to the fact of attaining the Adobe RGB color range.
  • Speakers and webcam are not important; they can be added later via third party add ons.
  • The lighting in the office where this would be used is stable. There is one fluorescent light in the center of the ceiling and therefore maybe a hood for the monitor may be a good option.
  • Cost under $800.

The more I read about monitors, the more confusing the decision-making process becomes. The Dell UltraSharp U2413 also appears a great contender, until one reads that calibration is limited to certain brands of hardware calibrators. Unfortunately, the Spyder calibrator I own is not included by Dell.

I do not claim to be an expert on computer hardware and the information above is from my own research. I am hopeful that those more experienced with post-processing may be able to assist with a choice of monitor, including specs.

Any assistance or advice would be greatly appreciated on both the Dell monitors mentioned above or any other brand of monitor that would be suitable. I am hopeful that there are more suitable mid-range models being released and that one would be ideal for my purposes.

Jack Anders is a retired aviation professional who has lived in Thailand for the past eight years. Jack is an avid amateur photographer using Micro Four Thirds Olympus cameras. He has published three ebooks on Thailand and is the admin of his own author website www.lettersfromthailand.com.


  • Noyb

    I do not envy your process for selecting a new, photo focused, computer. We’ve likely all been there and I’ve been putting it off for too many years now.

    A couple of comments, trying to respect the fact you are budget constrained and I am not.

    I’d pay more attention to people’s experience than spec sheets. Especially on monitors. There’s a good subset of imaging focused monitors that are well accepted. Some cost a fortune, some do not.

    New models/equipment does not usually mean better. It almost always means more expensive.

    My experience with the new Eco drives is poor. They do run cooler, they do consume less power, but the 7,200 rpm Hitachi’s I just installed take an eternity to spool. Sleep must be in firmware as setting the drives to not sleep has no affect. By far and away my best hdd’s for image processing are a couple of ancient ATA drives on a FireWire 800 bus. No firmware to get in the way, spool very quickly. Yes, they do suck up a lot of power and the AC adapters get replaced every few years.

    I don’t know the pricing of Apple products in your market but the new mini’ can be configured fairly cheap for a lot of performance, a small footprint. The Intel 5000 graphics support is not great for video but handles stills just fine.

    “I recently spent six hours stripping malware and other nasties from the laptop, using a combination of eight programs; consecutively. The result was a definite speed increase and it highlighted the fact that one’s main work computer should not be used for certain applications such as accessing torrent sites and other P2P services. A valuable lesson learned.”

    How many resources you suck up running anti-virus apps and cleaning out Windows is for you to decide. But its overhead and time that’s simply non-existent on Apple. I’ve run both, agree with your Win7 view but protecting yourself against malware is overhead. Especially every time you load new images on the computer.

  • As an IT Manager I have little love for Windows. As an amateur photographer (i.e. not depending on photography for a living) with tight budget limitations I use Linux. The upside is huge performance improvements. Adobe, however, does not deliver software for Linux, so it means using products such Gimp, Rawtherapee and XnView, all of which perform pretty well.

    Linux had a very strong reputation as being a geek system, but all of my laptops have only needed an automated installation from a CD to be up and running (Linux Mint 16).

    If you can get your hands on an old 4GB, or even 2GB Vista machine, it’s worth a look.

    Some processed examples: http://hairy1travels.com/hairy1travels/category/places/tenby/.

    • Wolfgang Lonien

      +1 for a Linux solution. I run Debian since years, and it runs great, even on my older 4 Core Intel (no i-something yet), which I just upgraded to 8GB of RAM. Oh, and calibration is built-in – I use my cheap ColorHug device. As for the Olympus Viewer 3 software, I have a small Win7 on VirtualBox, which also starts and stops in a few seconds – but the rest and the more “serious” editing (if you can call an amateur’s efforts “work”) is done with RawTherapee.

      Maybe you give it a try on the notebook you have already… there are Live CDs available, from which you can run a dual boot install to really try it. Costs: zero. Gained experience: could be worth a ton.

  • Andy Umbo

    People gripe about the Mac prices, but most come with print industry standard screens. I’m an e-commerce photo manager at a medium sized place, and due to the needs of the business, we all use PC’s, and really, they’re just OK, but lets face it, as a freelance photographer, I wouldn’t even consider using a PC, it’s Mac all the way. People spend lots of time and money trying to get PC screens to look like the Mac screens that are just included. The last PC I used for personal photo management was a Dell laptop running XP, and it was great and hugely stable, but the screen was not good, and once I got the software where I wanted it, I shut off all the internet stuff and used it “air-gapped” (i.e. not connected to any internet at all). It was the only way I’d use it. Again, Mac’s? No viruses. Sure there ARE Mac viruses, but I’ve never gotten any, or any malware either. BTW, if you’re really dedicated to using a computer as a digital engine for photography, then it’s “air-gapped” all the way for me. That’s why many of my compatriots have replaced PhotoShop with other programming that can be bought and not used only with an internet connection, as in “cloud” computing. Not Interested…

  • Have to largely agree with what’s commented already. A Windows setup provides a cost advantage only at first sight. A Windows setup is always a mix of different producers and solutions whereas with a Mac you buy a product that’s designed from scratch to the very end by one company with one thought in mind: easy, seamless integration and operation.

    A Mac still offers ample calibration options, generally however things work out of the box. Add the not so mysterious slowing down of Windows hardware over time. I’d only buy Windows if I’d be a gamer.

    Personally I use CleanMyMac and Onyx for system maintenance. My hardware works as smooth as on day one (knock on wood).

    Still, you’ll always be able to find deficiencies in anything. Even Apple uses third party screens and not all of them deliver exactly the same way. There is no perfect monitor calibration. Whoever claims he or she can calibrate two different monitors exactly the same way forgets about something fundamentally human: not two eyes see things exactly the same way.

  • Tony

    I use a U2412M and I’m extremely happy w the results, plus I love I can flip it to work on portrait shots. Never felt the need to calibrate and had no issues making files for gallery prints.
    16gb ram at the moment is plenty for the current versions of Adobe apps. Even 8 should b fine, and u can always add more in the long run
    Why do u need raid? It’s simpler to backup on an external, this way no need the extra cost of having someone build the system for you/maintenance.
    Also not too sure about the i7, I’m not sure adobe apps can make full use of all the tech inside. i5 might be a better/cheaper option for your needs.
    With the video card, unless u do CAD/3D modeling, anything up to 100$ is perfectly fine, Lightroom uses CPU not GPU for most of the processes.

  • Jack Anders

    Thanks for the feedback thus far.

    On the OS topic, I should probably explain a little further on why my decision has steered towards Windows over the Mac. I have used both systems extensively over the past 15 years. My previous role was predominantly CAD work using Bentley Microstation. I spent many years using PC’s at work and a 24 inch IMac at home.

    Both systems had their strengths and weaknesses. Some things with the Mac worked much smoother, but overall, I still preferred the file structure and ‘explorer’ style of windows. The Mac was more enjoyable to use, but it still had some issues with HD failures and constant issues backing up on a WD external firewire HD.

    In my own experience, the majority of problems I have observed with Windows was in the work environment with multiple systems networked and systems servers in different geographical locations.

    As with most, my budget can extend further, if there is value to be attained by spending more. After reading some comments here about new IMacs, I priced one up on the Thai Apple website. Specced to where I would like, the price comes in around $3000 USD. For that, I get a 3TB fusion drive, 16GB RAM in the 27 inch model. For back up of files, I would still need additional external HD (most probably 3TB) to match the internal HD capacity.

    For my requirements, either OS will do the job well, as long as the quality is there in the hardware components. To switch back to a Mac, I would need to purchase Lightroom, Coreldraw, Nik Software and Photoshop software again to match what I already own in PC variants.

    The virus issue on Macs (or lack thereof) is a real advantage, but I am unsure how long this advantage would last. In reality, the only reason Macs are not targeted is due to the predominant world market share using Windows and not Mac. If the Mac market share increases this would change.

    i am not loyal to one system and will change if there is a significant advantage in hardware or software. I recently traded a poorly specced and unreliable Asus laptop (8 months old) on a current Mac Book Air. The MBA’s best feature is its battery life. 12 hours and charging in one hour. It is great to use and does exactly what it is advertised to do. The trackpad is its best feature. The same applies to the iPad Air. I would have preferred a Windows tablet, but the battery life is not to the same level as the iPad and battery life is the most important aspect of any portable device.

    The comments on the HD specs, RAM and the Dell monitor are much appreciated. Why RAID? If I chose the PC desktop option, I would like to have everything inside the box. That would include 2 separate internal HD’s in RAID 1 for redundancy. Firsthand user reviews and comments are what I hope to see here.

    Thanks Dan for the advice on the programs to clean up a Mac. I had always steered clear of these in the past. I will do some more investigations.

  • Bengt Nyman

    Try a Dell M 4800, 16 GB ram, 256 GB SSD, HD screen or QHD screen, 2.8 lbs.

    • Jack Anders

      Thanks Bengt for the recommendation. I will read up on this machine.

  • Norm Peters

    Hi, Andy!

    You’re certainly a tech-savvy-enough user to understand most of what you’re trying to evaluate so you can get the best compromise between performance, affordability, and reliability. The problem you keep returning to, however, is that listening to the opinions of other equally-tech-savvy users who have experience with various combinations of software and hardware components and systems, and use them for various combinations of tasks with graphics applications, results in a perfect democracy – everybody gets heard with respect, but nobody can decide on the perfect solution to a given problem. So, everyone grumbles that their solution wasn’t adopted, and they all give up any hope of the system ever working. In the US we call that “Washington, D. C.”

    Seriously, here’s my take:

    NOTE: I know you’re in Thailand. I don’t know anything about the possible complexities you may encounter to obtain the products you choose and getting good support for them. Aside from whatever dollar costs there are for the products, the reality of buying what you decide upon may overrule all other ideas offered.

    Your software requirements will probably carry the most weight in choosing your system solution. If you rule out Mac software, you don’t completely rule out Mac hardware. See below.

    Hardware: Mac, because new ones are created by a single vendor, come with one year’s warranty, have an affordable extended warranty, and are reliable. You can deal with the seemingly-excessive cost by buying a slightly out-of-date model, with a brand-new warranty. Apple sells factory-refurbished current and recently-discontinued models, at a range of discounts. Also, other vendors like MacMall, sell new recently-discontinued models at discounts equal to or greater than Apple’s, for comparable items.

    My personal caveats with some of the newest Macs focus on the difficulty or impossibility of a user expanding them internally, so there’s the higher cost of ordering customized machines with larger internal SSDs and more RAM at Apple’s factory prices.

    I’ll discuss computer resources a bit later.

    Software: One possible solution to keeping your Windows software is to use a virtual machine product like Parallels or Fusion to enable a Mac to run a version of Windows that you prefer, and that is compatible with your Windows applications. Current versions of these virtualizers have only minor reductions of performance. The cost of a virtual software and a Windows version amount to much less than replacing all your preferred Windows software applications with Mac versions. However, if you expect that the work you will be doing in the future will need features in newer versions of the software, you’ll need to compare the cost of upgrades, and the possible need to upgrade your version of Windows. Adobe’s Creative Cloud (CC) subscription plan doesn’t restrict users to running Windows or Mac versions of their software; depending on your needs, CC may or may not be suitable. However, if Photoshop and Lightroom are the only applications you need, you can subscribe to both for around $10/month. As to being on or off the Internet, once you’re subscribed, you only need to connect and verify your paid license once in 90 days (or perhaps even longer.) Also, at this writing, there are non-subscription versions of several Adobe CS6 products still available, and Lightroom 5.

    Computer resources: You’re correct that Photoshop (PS) and Lightroom (LR) work differently with computer resources – disk space and RAM. Photoshop isn’t a memory hog, but what it does with files does require huge amounts of memory and disk space. Think of it as crowd control. Handling people issues at events – arrival, seating, re-seating for sub-meetings, reassembling, catering, etc – is significantly more demanding with larger groups than with smaller groups. Depending on what you do in PS, it has to perform similar operations on every pixel in a file, plus manage their layers, and how the tools you chose perform their tasks on the groups of pixels you select. So, a simple color 1MB snapshot file could expand to need hundreds of MBs of disk space and RAM space for the treatment you want to give it. RAM memory space is purely electronic – whatever data (pixels, tasks, operations, etc.) you command the application and hardware to do to your data (pixels, tasks, operations, etc.) happens at the fastest possible speed, as long as there’s sufficient RAM to contain it. If you run out of RAM, then the computer and the application have to divide the job into parts, and figure out which parts need to be done first, and which can be done later, then send the “do later” parts to temporary storage on the drive. Whether a mechanical spinning-disk drive, a Solid State Drive (SSD), or a hybrid of the two, there’s time spent moving the “do later” stuff out of RAM and into holding locations, perhaps also moving stuff from the disk back into RAM because it’s needed for the “do now” operations, and repeat until done. While part of the computer’s resources are moving data, other parts are trying to do the actual work – changing colors, refining edges, enlarging/reducing graphic items, moving them between layers, remembering each step and what was done so it can be undone, etc.

    Photoshop has to work this way because it’s designed to manage pixels. You need the RAM and disk space to handle several tens or hundreds of multiples of a file’s bytes to whip the pixels around. It’s that simple.

    Lightroom works differently, “non-destructively.” Unlike PS’s traditional destructive way of moving, merging, deleting, and otherwise manipulating pixels, which offered only a limited amount of go-backs or undos, when you command LR to do something to an image, although you see the operation change the image, that’s not the whole story. At the same time you see the change happening and being displayed on screen, LR writes down everything you told it to do – it saves every instruction you commanded it to do to the image. These instructions are saved in the LR catalog. It’s like a scene I remember from a movie that I can’t remember. In it, a character is playing some sport, like football, but knows nothing about it. He holds a playbook. When the ball is hiked, as he reads the playbook’s drawing, he runs, following the movements of the circle that represents him through all the twists, pivots, and buttonhooks, until he gets to a spot where he looks up and sees the ball coming right to him, so he catches it. LR’s catalog is the playbook; the image file knows nothing about how stuff is done. The image file isn’t changed by anything you do. The catalog tells the computer what to do to get that look you wanted. For a given image and the operations you perform on it, LR requires a lot less processing power, and less disk space than PS needs.

    But, we’re not done yet. You can save a PS file, reopen it, work on it more, save again, etc. In the past, you couldn’t save all the information a PS file would need to step backwards after saving, closing, and reopening. But, recent PS versions have the ability to save and undo the history of actions done to an image, even after saving and closing the file, so the destructive tradition doesn’t need to be employed. To do this, PS saves every pixel of every operation plus the instructions that describe what was done at every step of the way. Yes, multiply all those pixels a few more times and save them all, and fill your disks. LR’s instructions are saved in catalogs that take very little room on disk.

    LR can print from within itself, without changing the original file; again, it just reads the instructions on how that image should look, applies them to the displayed image, and prints that. But, to share an image file outside of LR, you need to export it to another format – PDF, JPG, DNG, PNG, TIFF, RAW, something other than it was originally. Exporting an image applies the instructions from the catalog to the file and saves it to disk – with one exception. Some files that are in formats that LR can open and display can be exported as the same format, unchanged. For example, import a JPG file, modify it, export it to something other than JPG, and the modifications will be saved in that exported file. The original is unchanged. You can also export a JPG as a JPG – if you choose a JPG export quality like low, medium, or high, the exported JPG will be smaller than the original, because you chose to lose some quality. However, if you choose to export JPG or other files as “original” quality, the exported file is the same as the original from which it was made – same size, no modifications, just a new name, perhaps new metadata – keywords, etc. – and perhaps a new location.

    OK, so, about resources and LR’s needs for a lot of RAM and disk space, even though it doesn’t use scratch disks. What’s up with that? LR just saves instructions, so…? An important major difference between LR and PS is that LR is used to manage files – sort and group them by keywords, metadata, flags, quality stars, group id color codes, etc. Not just a few, but thousands. Thousands of thousands, even. “Sally’s birthday,” “Florida 1999,” and so on, are examples of keywords that LR can search for an select files that contain them, and quickly display only the five files out of 100,000 files that match the search. PS only manages however many files you’ve opened for the current project – brings to front, sends to back, minimizes, zooms, but doesn’t search for a file with a keyword. (Note: PS can search and select in the active file for color areas that match a specified color, for layers that share a common quality, etc.)

    OK, so, how can you speed up LR? Large LR catalogs are slow in use; even though they don’t process massive files like PS, using them causes the computer to look through lots of data about lots of files. The speed of working with image files in LR does have some relationship to the sizes of the files because the computer does have to open them, read the image information and display the image. Changing the views on screen, for example, moving from photo-to-photo in Grid mode takes some resources; the smaller the grid images, the more there are on screen that need to be displayed. Changing to Full Screen view, performing edits that change the image properties, etc, all use resources. Large image files from high-quality cameras need more computer resources to be displayed, than smaller image files from point-and-shoot cameras, or cell phones. Just as in PS, the more pixels you move around, the more horsepower you need. To speed up working with PS, the solution is to have more resources, RAM and scratch disks.

    Having more RAM is the only way to increase computer resources to speed up working with LR – LR doesn’t use scratch disks. But there’s a new feature that offers an additional way to boost performance – Smart Previews! They are small low-quality copies of your image files that LR uses to perform your modifications. LR goes faster when you modify your images by working with Smart Previews, because it’s moving fewer pixels. Think of a Smart Preview as a movie stunt double who takes a fall from a horse, slogs through muck, or para-glides into a dangerous place, while the star rests in an air-conditioned trailer, sipping a cold drink, fixing makeup, etc. When you work on a Smart Preview (aka stunt image,) the actions are recorded in the catalog as always, but the actions go more quickly because the preview has fewer pixels.

    To create Smart Previews, and to apply the instructions back from the catalog to the full-quality image files, there are a few steps you need to do. I won’t describe that process here. There are lots of tutorials on Smart Previews that come up when you perform an Internet search. There are also many tutorials about improving LR’s performance that you can search for.

    I hope this is helpful.