Look for a computer that has Win7 x64, Home Premium at least. 8 Gb of RAM is very good -- make sure the computer allows adding more RAM (either empty memory slots or the ability to change out the RAM to higher capacity sticks). As time goes by, you can then add more RAM as circumstances permit. Get at least a Dual Core processor, speed around 2GHz or so is OK. A video card with a decent amount of dedicated memory.
All those specs are fairly standard these days, so the good news is that you really can't go wrong. Given that basic configuration, spend as much money as you can budget to gain better performing hardware in each category.
The most amazing performance increase you can obtain is to get a Solid State Drive (SSD) or drives instead of a disk drive. My notebook came with a HDD which crashed a few months ago, and I replaced it with a pair of internal SSDs. Overall the system is 10x faster. Unfortunately, that performance comes at a great cost -- SSDs are about 5-6 times more expensive than HDDs.
Thanks for your informative reply. I've read so much that it gets to a point you don't know what to do!
I've been looking at the following tonight:
Intel 2nd generation core i5-2400 Processor, 3.10GHz with 6mb of cache
NVIDA GeForce GT 520 graphics card with up to 4095MB memory - discrete type
1TB 7200rppm SATA HD
How does this sound?
Nah, it's no good...you'd better have them send it to me instead!
You won't go wrong with it. Make sure the RAM can be increased if necessary in a year or two, as I mentioned.
The only thing I question is the HDD and you'll have to tell me what kind of work you want to do on the computer. Any video editing? How many photos will you be cataloging in PSE? 4,000? 24,000? 84,000? I really like to have at least two drives -- one for program files and the other for everything else (images, temp files, etc.). That gives better access times for data, is more secure (if a single HDD crashes, you're up the creek if it's the only drive in your system). So, my bias is to have a relatively small SSD (about 96Gb) as the primary drive for program files and a larger drive for all the data and temp files.
You had me worried there for a minute!!
My main work will be with elements 10. Some web site design (if I can find a good program for that - but that's another story...), Family Tree Maker and of course surfing the web.
I try to move my pictures to an external hard drive where I have about 4,000 pictures right now. I'll have to check about if I can increase the memory cause it doesn't say anything about it which they usually will mention a upgradable amount.
Yeah, it sounds like you really don't need that huge 1Tb drive. See if you can get a deal by substituting a pair of smaller internal drives for that big one.
When you get close enough to a decision, you'll be well served to talk to a representative of the place you're going to buy from and tell them your intended usage and ask their opinion for configuration options.
I have absolutely no relationship with PCConnection.com, other than being a satisfied customer for over 10 years. They have a pre-sales phone line, and I can vouch for their after purchase support (returns, etc.) as being outstanding. Just my two cents.
Also make sure it's 64-bit.
Message was edited by: photodrawken to add comment.