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Do yourself and your kid a favour:
1. At least get a quad core.
2. At least get a 1+ GB nVidia video card, so you can use MPE when you upgrade to CS5.
3. Get at least 1 or 2 additional 7200 RPM disks. Samsung 320 GB F4 for OS/programs and 1 or 2 F3's for instance.
4. Consider upping the memory to 12 GB.
5. Consider Win7-64 Pro instead of Home.
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Back on the hardware page where you started this, "look up" to Hardware Guidance -- Look here first, it's the best way to start
Click and read all of the articles
You really MUST have a minimum of TWO hard drives for video editing
Read Harm on drive setup http://forums.adobe.com/thread/662972?tstart=0
- click the embedded picture in Harm's message to enlarge to reading size
- you need AT LEAST 2 drives for video editing, 3 is better
- some HD formats work better with (require) RAID
NEVER, EVER use Partitions!!!
Read Hunt on Partitions http://forums.adobe.com/thread/650708?tstart=0
A link with many ideas about computer setup http://forums.adobe.com/thread/436215?tstart=0
Since Elements is 32bit there is no advantage to having more than 6 Gig of ram
Since Elements does NOT do hardware video acceleration using the video card, the less expensive ATI card is OK
Since Elements does NOT use dual video cards for anything, you only need one ATI card
For HD video you absolutely need the i7-750 quad core
More on Trying to use only ONE Hard Drive for Video Editing
You are a music conductor, with a baton that you use to point to various parts of the orchestra... this is like Windows pointing to various parts of the hard drive to do Windows housekeeping or to load program segments for various functions
Now, at the same time and with the same hand... while still using the baton to conduct the orchestra... pick up a bow and play a fiddle... this would be doing something with your video file at the same time as all the other work
You as a person cannot do both at the same time with the same hand
A computer is a LITTLE better, in that it can switch from one kind of task to another very quickly... but not quickly enough for easy video editing
One hard drive is not as good as two which is not as good as three
Thanks for the input.
I do have an external SATA drive, and my home network runs backups automatically, so I'm not concerned about backups at this point. If any of the prebuilt hardware configurations offer an eSATA port, that will be a preference for me, and I will connect the eSATA drive as a second drive.
Very interesting comments regarding the choice of video cards!
Get an nVidia powered card like the GTX460 or GTS450 in case you/your son "outgrows" Elements and decides to use a better tool (CS5). Having used both I can say Premier Pro CS5 is more stable and faster. There are student editions of Adobe software.
>student editions of Adobe software
Absolutely!!! - at about 80% off MSRP
Don't know if this is within your budget but you could get a turn key system set up & tuned for exactly what your son wants to do. That way he can spend his time actually shooting and editing and not futzing with a computer.