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I'm running it virtually problem free on both an XP machine and a Windows 7 system. I recommend 4 gigs of RAM, lots of hard drive space and the fastest computer you can afford. (Most current computers are at least dual-core systems now, so you should be fine -- but quad cores are better.) Laptops arent' a good idea. Stick with Dell or HP Pavilion.
But less important than operating system and even hardware is how well tuned and well maintained your computer is and, even more so, what you're using for source video. The program runs ideally on miniDV and HDV footage, but can be a challenge with AVCHD. Non-standard video -- like crap from inexpensive pocket camcorders like the Flip and Webbie or from a still camera -- will stop it dead in its tracks.
How about you tell us what type of video you're trying to edit and we can make recommendations from there?
Thanks for your feedback Steve... well most of my video currently comes from a "crappy" GoPRO helmet mounted camera... I am getting a GoPRO HD ( 720p and 1080p) soon but this might still fall under "crappy" vid camera category. However, I don't understand why PRE 8 would have problems with these types of input devices whereas "lowly" video editing software like Window Media Player don't.
I mostly edit action videos for upload to the web (Vimeo, YouTube, etc.) which are then shared with friends. I do like Premier Elements' features like multi-video and audio tracks editing capability which will come in handy when I edit video from two cameras recording from different point of views.
EDIT: I forgot to mention, my current machine is powered by an Intel Core 2 Quad 6600 CPU, 4 GB RAM, 3 x SATA HDD (1 drive dedicated to Premier Elements scratch files), nVIDIA GTX 260 based Graphics Card, Vista 32 Ultimate OS.
For what it's worth, I'm currently still running 7, and it's doing well. I was having a lot of odd crashes and problems in 7 until I upgraded my machine. Now I'm on new hardward (dual quad Intel) 8 GB Ram on 64 bit Vista and all my Premiere 7 problems have gone away. I purposley decided to hold off on upgrading to Win 7 and Premiere 8 for a bit because of all the problems I'm seeing people report here.
I'm getting poor performance running on a dual core 2ghz processor with 2gb RAM Win XP with fast hard drives and plenty of disk space, even after following the adobe kb optimization instructions and disabling all non-essential services, anti-virus, etc. The lack of performance config options is frustrating and I'm confounded as to why the program seems to load up its entire universe at startup. I expect it would run better with double the processor speed and RAM, but as-is the performance is poor just navigating menu options. I don't have grounds to complain about rendering speed or working with HD videos, but I expected the baseline system config would be decent for working with basic low-def video.
Steve, have you tried turning off the background processes, as in the FAQs to the right of this forum (particularly Background Rendering)? You are at the lower end of the hardware requirements (including about half as much RAM as you need) so, if you're editign anything other than miniDV, you're going to have some performance challenges. (Remember to always take the manufacturer's minimum requirements and double it for the TRUE minimums!)
BTW, have you seen my Muvipix.com post on how to get the most out of Premiere Elements 8?