While Windows PCs can be built from scratch by intrepid users, not everyone has the wherewithal or inclination to wield a screwdriver and juggle a motherboard. That’s where Cerise comes in. The firm offers custom built PCs specced for the serious demands of photo and video editors. They use high-end components designed to withstand the rigors of professional use.
We had the opportunity to test a PC optimized for photo editing. Our configuration included a 4GHz Intel Core i7 quad-core processor selected, our source said, because “programs for image editing like Photoshop are not that highly multithreaded so a CPU which has a higher frequency with less cores as opposed to a lower frequency with more cores will give the fastest results.”
We were also outfitted with 16GB of Crucial DD3 SDRAM, a 480GB SSD for the OS and applications, a speedy 500GB Samsung 850 EVO SSD drive for editing and a 3.5-inch 2TB WD hard drive for file storage. For a video card, we had a PNY Quadro (K620) 2GB 128-bit card capable of supporting three monitors (though we only ran a single HD monitor in this test). The system ran Windows 10 Professional.
There were 12 (count ’em) USB ports–two at the top of the tower, four in the front and six in the back. The integrated USB 3.0 card reader, also accessible at the front of the tower, supports UHS-1 SD cards.
What We Liked
Simply put, editing photos in Lightroom and Photoshop was a joy using the Cerise PC. We had grown wearily accustomed to opening Photoshop, waiting for it to load, waiting for Lightroom imports/exports to trudge toward completion and waiting for images to process on our 2012 Mac. The Cerise, by contrast, operated with eye-popping speed. Exporting 70 DNG images in Lightroom to 300 DPI JPEGs took roughly 60 seconds. Transferring 11.6GB worth of DNGs and MP4 video files from an SD card to the storage drive took one minute and 50 seconds, and under a minute to transfer between the hard drive and editing SSD. There were no lags. Obviously over time as files accrue, the blazing performance we experienced will decrease–though our source at Cerise said restoring from a disk image (made when you first receive your PC) will help restore much of the computer’s original speed. That said, we only loaded a few applications (Photoshop, Lightroom, Quicktime, etc.) and not the full suite of programs you’re likely to dump onto your PC throughout the course of its life–though we’re confident this beast can take what you’re dishing.
Even though our PC wasn’t specced for video, we had no trouble playing back two 2.7K videos simultaneously while also making exposure edits to DNG still images in Camera RAW.
The PC stayed relatively quiet and cool even during heavy use. In a completely quiet office or studio, you can detect a low hum but nothing egregious and in a studio with any other human activity (or a moderately noisy HVAC) you’ll never hear it. While the industrial design isn’t esthetically compelling (more below), the aluminum housing is fairly robust and the back compartments can be unscrewed with relative ease to add more drives if you were so inclined.
Another critical value is the hand-holding you’ll get from the company before and after you order. According to our source, the company spends an average of an hour on the phone with customers to fully understand their needs and outfit the PC to meet them. You can also custom build your PC on the Cerise site, but given the price you’re better off opting for a phone consultation. For those who need a high-level of computer performance without touching a screwdriver and eSATA cable, it’s a welcome option. You also get lifetime tech support.
What We Didn’t
While it’s unreasonable to think a custom PC would be inexpensive, we were surprised that Wi-Fi cards aren’t standard but instead cost an extra $45 (or more). Given that you’re easily paying north of $2,500 for the most basic of Cerise workstation PCs, Wi-Fi really should be standard.
Finally, and while this is by no means a decisive criteria, the PC itself is esthetically bland. It’s your average black tower, unassuming even by the relatively modest design standards of PC desktops and workstations. The tower is tall enough that if you’re sitting down, you may not be able to reach the power button at the top. (Not that a little exercise wouldn’t do us all some good.) It’s also large enough that you won’t be inclined to move it around all that much once it’s situated on your desk.
There’s no question that photographers on the Windows platform could benefit from a Cerise PC. It’s a well built, well-equipped PC that will deliver the performance you need for editing large RAW files and working with professional imaging software.
And as for its bland look, we’re reminded of what Han Solo told an incredulous Luke Skywaker when the later first saw the Millennium Falcon: “she may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts.”