You can search here and on all other AE forums for system configuration assistance. It really doesn't matter what you get, in six months you're going to to wish you had purchased something else. Look at the Adobe specs for CS4 and extrapolate from there based on your budget and need to use your Avid. Graphics cards don't matter much. RAM only helps to a certain degree. Processing speed and number of cores are chimera; you will never be happy with your machine's rendering speeds.
WAZ SA wrote:
Keeping in mind that I'm going to be running Avid Liquid.
Well, does it run on Vista 64bit? If not, then it's gonna suck and you will be stuck with XP or Vista 32bit, making any considerations regarding a "perfect" system kinda pointless. In that case you could simply buy any recent dual core/quad core/ AMD Phenom system, but never even max them out due to being stuck with 4GB RAM at most, of which AE then could use 3GB. Certainly still kinda usable for lighter stuff, but you can forget about multiprocessing and every time you realyl push the limits, you will find yourself hating your life when once more you run ouzt of memory to render some elaborate effect. Assuming you can go 64bit - Core7i + Vista 64bit + full RAM outfit (12GB/24GB). Best bang for the buck in a single processor workstation. For other processors, simply follow the guidelines laid out in the Memory and Multiprocessing help files, assuming you even want to use this feature. Similar considerations would apply, if you ever paln on using Dynamic Link. If your sole concern is interactive feedback while working, dual cores may be preferable to quad cores, as their per-core efficiency is better. Quads only really show their muscles for intense work and lots of final rendering. As one last thing: If you get a new machine and want to use MP rendring, consider upgrading to CS4. Thoise features have been considerably refined there.
Well, Milenium pointed it down: if you are stuck in 32bit world, then you'll be stuck. And if you can go on 64bit, then upgrade to CS4 to be able to __really__ take advantage of Multiprocessing. It's far far better than CS3.
Also, always keep one thing in mind, either for CS3 or CS4: Multiprocessing works find if you have more than 2gb of ram per CPU Core. So a quad core == 8gb of Ram minimum.
If you are in Windows 32bit, AE won't be able to use more than 2gb of ram per process (or 3 with boot option modification in windows) but if you go to 64bit, AE will access 4gb of ram per process, so you might consider, for heavy project, to have 3 or 4 Gb of ram per CPU core. A quad core with 16gb of ram will be ace for AE CS4.