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Looking for the right computer Answered

   8 years ago, my dad bought me a computer. It was decent enough, and served me well through school. It did however break down a lot, and over the years my computer(s) have gone through numerous iterations and fixes in an attempt to keep them working. With all the Frankensteining going on, very little (if any) of my original computer is left. These days even wiping the hard disks doesn't fix all the problems.
So I find myself in the market for a new machine with very little contemporary knowledge of what to get.
And here's where you come in: what does Instructables recommend (specific pieces of equipment if possible) in terms of hardware and computer specs?

Usage: I'm a graphic artist focused more on the 2-D side of things; I need enough power and memory to work in large sizes( 40 MB multi-layer images with dimensions well over 10,000 x 10,000 pixels are not that uncommon, and working with a few of these at once will sometimes be necessary) and remain stable 24/7. The computer needs to be able to multitask, at the very least running windows explorer, firefox (tab addict), fireworks, a basic text editor, and a media player simultaneously.  It has to have at least a couple hundred gigs of space, and be able to display and edit large video files as well.

I've got a couple thousand dollars handy, and can save for more if necessary; I just need a good machine that'll perform to expectations and remain error-free for as long as possible.

So, Instructables, any suggestions?


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11 years ago

1. I could charge several thousand as a consulting fee and spend only around a thousand for a high-end computer.

Kidding aside,  what software do you use for your graphics work - proprietary or which operating system does it work under (windows, mac, linux, something else)?  What is the current machine that you have (CPU, speed, RAM, hard disk space).  Is business reliability (hardwarewise and backup systems) a concern.  Are you looking at a standalone PC or a workstation/server configuration?  8 years ago is a lot of dog years for computing.

Be sure to consider getting a larger display monitor(single or multiple) to do your work. 

If you can be more specific on what is running on the machine, we could be of better help.


Reply 11 years ago

And then the resulting computer may not even be right for me. Exactly why I'm asking on the internet, caitlinsdad. :)

I use Macromedia (now Adobe) Fireworks for the majority of my 2-D work, Firefox for web browsing, Windows Media Player for audio, a variety of players for video, Open Office, Microsoft Works, Adobe Acrobat, Vector Magic and Skype.  I also use Milkshape 3-D, Inkscape, Macromedia Flash, BitTorrent and occasionally Photoshop Elements for the brushes. I am willing, however, to change all those programs except for Fireworks (which I'm willing to upgrade from MX to CS4 if necessary, even though Adobe's versions have all of the bad things about Photoshop in addition to the problems with Fireworks.) and Firefox. I'm also not parting with my Wacom tablet, though upgrades are always good in that department.

Auto backups would probably be a good idea, but as of yet I don't have any systems in place.

Windows XP
AMD Athlon 64 3400+
Processor Speed: 2,400.00 MHz Max
Memory: 1.50 GB
ASUSTek Computer INC. model Salmon 1.04
ATI Radeon HD 2600 Series AGP

I am currently using one computer, though I have used two in the past. Either one or two computers is fine with me, and I don't need them to be linked to any other computers as I work from home. I'm fine with one monitor, but two might be a bit of an improvement. I'm using an old CRT monitor, but as it's 40 x 30 cm (15.7''  x 11.8'') and using a 1280 x 1024 resolution it's a nice size. Find it has more accurate colours than the LCD monitors I've seen, too.

Thank you for taking the time to reply.


Reply 11 years ago

Sounds like you want a nice multi-monitor graphics workstation setup.  You can mix and match monitors in a dual setup so maybe adding an LCD might not be bad to just display the other utility programs running.   I do not know how well an LCD can be calibrated to true colors.

You probably want to shop for something similar to a "gaming" rig but won't necessarily use the extreme capabilities of the higher end graphics card.

Processor speed and bulked up RAM (2 - 4 GB) are important to rev up the rendering work.  There are now dual core and quad core chips, essentially double CPUs running.  Take your pick of AMD or Intel. 

You could budget for an external harddrive or have onboard RAID drives configured for your data redundancy.

I don't know what kind of computer tech support you need/use but getting a name brand like Dell or HP might be the right choice.  You could build one since your requirements are not out of the ordinary.

But to get you up to date, more powerful technology is available at a cheaper price than when you got your first system.  Look at dual or quad core CPUs running at 3 GHz or faster, DDR2 ram at 2-4 gb, DVD burners and harddrives 500 gigabytes - 1 terabyte on SATA bus instead of slower IDE bus.  RAID capability on the motherboard, PCI-express video cards instead of AGP.  If  Windows XP plays well with all of the apps you use now, it may not be wise to go Windows 7 if you do not want to troubleshoot anything if things don't migrate well.,

Anyway, www.techimo.com has always been a good source of info for me and you can look at www.techbargains.com for good deals or www.newegg.com
for component parts.  Good luck.


11 years ago

Hmm, in just comparing your machine to the one I purchased just a year or 3 ago, yours is already faster than mine, the only difference I can see on the downside is mine has an AMD Athlon 64  3700+ processor.
Yours has a faster processor speed,  you have .5 mb more ram etc. (although the model name sounds fishy "Salmon" - sorry, I couldn't resist). 

I don't have the fastest machine out there, for sure.  It suffices for what I need to do, but as you say, it sounds like it may not be "up to snuff" for your purposes.  Sadly, as much as I see come in and out of the computer room where I work, I can't really recommend a machine for durability. Too often, businesses are serenaded into buying particular machines by price wars, rather then reliability. 

It might be best to find as many persons as you can to get as many bits of advice that you can, in order to have a wide variety of things to think about (and as I type here in the wee hours of the morning, I realized that is what THIS post is about....so I will stop my rambling).  Sorry.