What computer do YOU use?
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    What computer do YOU use?

    As artists, I want to know what kind of laptop computers you would recommend for someone going into their freshman year at an art college as an illustration or animation major. My parents already know they are getting one for me but haven't decided what kind and I wouldn't want them to get one that has so much more than I need and is so expensive.
    People have suggested that I get a Macbook Pro since it's reliable and has most of what I need without me having to install a ton of software after my purchase. Others have suggested that I get a Dell laptop.
    But I want to hear what artists think would be best. Thank you!

    EDIT: Just to make it clear (I should have done this sooner) I'll be using my computer mainly for illustration and I doubt I would use it for animation...at least not in the near future. I may use some modeling programs too but I wont really get into animation. So considering that illustration is priority, would a desktop still be preferred over a laptop?

    Last edited by jackpot_anjr90; May 20th, 2009 at 07:49 PM.
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    Generally, you need a good amount of RAM, lots of space on your hard-drive, and a good processor-speed - those are the primary things.(graphics card is not so important because they all support basic 2d resolutions etc. It is important IF you are messing with 3d - in that case i would suggest a strong ATI card..)

    Sorry but i'm not working with laptops so my knowledge on the issue is not so up-to date.

    Corel.

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    Unless you really need a laptop, you should go with a desktop.

    Cheaper and better.

    If you're making animation, you're gonna need a lot of grunt to run the software. Aftereffects, etc.

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    Unless you really need the mobility for other classes, desktops really are better for doing digital art-- mostly because you can get a good monitor that you can actually calibrate so the colors appear right. Laptop screens aren't really very adjustable and if you're doing digital art on them it can be a real pain matching up print-outs with what you have on the screen.

    For laptops, I don't recommend a Dell-- I've heard some pretty bad stories about peoples' experiences. I myself have a Toshiba, 15.4" screen, 2GB RAM, 1.5 GHz processor, which works great except that the battery life is kind of non-existent. :/

    Basically, any machine that has a good processor, 1-2GB+ of RAM, and a decent amount of hard-drive space (not a problem, you can get a TERABYTE of space for something like $100 or a little more now). If you know someone with computer expertise you can actually set up a really good desktop for probably $500 or so that will beat out any pre-built you can get. If you want a laptop, I suggest going to a place like TigerDirect or Fry's (or newegg) that will give you closer to 'wholesale' prices while still selling decent machines.

    (Or you could buy a Mac. Personally I find them overpriced, but it's up to you.)

    If you do get a PC or PC laptop, I will say this: do what you can to install XP on it instead of Vista. It's not as much a problem with desktops, but new laptops are sometimes lacking drivers XP needs and so the installation process can be... tricky. But definitely worth it. Get a geek friend to do it if you have to. Vista is an evil bitch and a pain to work with. It also sucks your RAM like nothing else. :/ Like I said, my laptop had 2 GB of RAM and with Vista it was crawling, which is just not right.

    (Or just wait until Windows 7 comes out)

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    I use a HP laptop that I got for about $600 and I'm satisfied with the performance for painting, surfing, and average gaming. Most new laptops come with Windows Vista installed so be sure the laptop has 4 gig or more memory...Windows Vista won't run well at anything below that.

    If you are going to do animation...I'd recommend a desktop with some serious power or one of those expensive gaming laptops that can cost thousands of dollars.

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    I wouldnt recommend Dell computers I had one and had nothing but trouble with it, the motherboard stopped working after a month. So I took out the cpu, ram and hard drive out bought a few new parts including a new motherboard and case and built a cutom PC and sold it. My neighbour is who is a Computer Technician gets about an average of 4 Dell PCs a month to repair. He dosent recommend them either. My latest custom PC the one I am using now has 8gigabytes of DD2 Ram800mhz an intel Q6600 quadcore cpu overclocked to 3ghz a 500GB HDD and a Geforce 8800GTX I dont really play games as much as I used to. But it runs all of my digital art programs perfectly. If you are going to buy a PC I would recommend building one with decent hardware. But if you are after a laptop I would say buy a Sony Vaio which are very reliable and probably the best brand out there. Just make sure it has a lot of ram and a fast cpu. Im no expert about Macs (I have never used one) but I hear they are quite good too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DemonMick View Post
    8gigabytes of DD2 Ram800mhz
    8 GB of RAM?! what operating system do you have? - i don't think any of the OS can recognize so much RAM(maybe vista 64bit, but i'm not sure).

    To the original poster - about RAM: i would suggest that when you buy your motherboard (if you'll end up with desktops nevertheless) make sure it has some DDR3 slots as well because DDR3 prices are going to drop soon and then you'll be able to use DDR3 instead of getting stuck with 2. Just my opinion...

    Corel.

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    Just to make it clear (I should have done this sooner) I'll be using my computer mainly for illustration and I doubt I would use it for animation...at least not in the near future. I may use some modeling programs too but I wont really get into animation. So considering that illustration is priority, would a desktop still be preferred over a laptop?
    I was strongly considering a Macbook Pro but if the display causes colors to be a little off then it might not be the best choice. Aside from that possible downer, would it be worth it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by jackpot_anjr90 View Post
    So considering that illustration is priority, would a desktop still be preferred over a laptop?
    A desktop is always preferable over a laptop. Only get a laptop if you absolutely MUST have portability. If you have no need to carry a computer around with you, then desktops are cheaper, faster, easier to upgrade and easier to fix.

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    ^

    Dude speaks truth. Unless you MUST have a laptop a desktop will always stomp all over it performance wise for half the price.

    Edit: to clarify, desktop manufacturers don't have to worry about space, weight, style, heating etc. It's a big, ugly well cooled lump of a box that sits under your desk plugged into an infinite power supply so they can concentrate on things like raw number crunching performance and value for money..

    Last edited by Flake; May 20th, 2009 at 08:27 PM.
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    I see...all this information is very useful
    So I guess my next question is this. What kind of desktop would you recommend and what kind of laptop would you recommend? I'm not sure if I 100% need the mobility of a laptop yet so knowing the best of both worlds would be good for now.

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    Fast processor and as much RAM as your OS of choice can talk to. (note: fast not fastest . That extra x mhz often costs a stupid amount of cash, go for about 80% up the current tech tree..)

    Brands and manufacturers are not worth mentioning as they all do custom builds with 1000 variations.

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    Well from what "I" know is that photoshop is more CPU based rather than RAM. Try to get a good quad core with 4 gigs of ram and ur set.

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    So would it be best to go for a custom build?
    And even though all the brands have so many variations for custom builds, are there any brands that are more reliable than others (I know this is subjective but I want to hear your opinions)?
    I'm not looking for the BEST but I want to have what I need and I want it to work smoothly. If it has enough hdd space, runs what I'll need it to run, and displays color correctly, that's good enough for me as of now.

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    Yes, custom builds are by far the best. If you buy a pre-built box it's usually clogged with a bunch of random and completely useless programs that you have to delete anyway.

    I can't say anything about brands, though... I've been using custom-built computers for years, put together by my dad or my friends, not from any company. I've heard really varied things about Dells, though, so I would avoid them. Macs tend to be very hard to customize, more expensive, and if they break you are so screwed because you Apple won't let anybody fix their computers except Apple. :/

    As the others have said. Get something with a decent hard drive (200GB or more is fairly standard), 2+ GB of RAM (more if you're forced to deal with Vista), a good processor, and you'll probably be set.

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    The only "budget" custom builder I trust is http://www.ibuypower.com

    They probably charge only about $100 for labor, prices are almost the same if you were to build it yourself.

    for $700 you can get an i7 (that's experimental 8 cores of cpu for you) with 4 gigs of ram.

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    Since you're not really sure what you will eventually be using it for, my suggestion is to choose a really nice IPS panel monitor. Then get a budget system. After a couple years at school you will get a better idea of what you want to focus on and then you will have a better idea of what you need. Instead of spending your budget on processor cores you may not need, you will have a good monitor that is important for anyone using their computer for artwork.

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    Thats right 8GB

    Quote Originally Posted by corel View Post
    8 GB of RAM?! what operating system do you have? - i don't think any of the OS can recognize so much RAM(maybe vista 64bit, but i'm not sure).

    To the original poster - about RAM: i would suggest that when you buy your motherboard (if you'll end up with desktops nevertheless) make sure it has some DDR3 slots as well because DDR3 prices are going to drop soon and then you'll be able to use DDR3 instead of getting stuck with 2. Just my opinion...

    Corel.
    Yes 8GB

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    You'd probably not need it but you can get 8Gb ram supported on a Macbook pro and up to 32 Gb ram on a Macpro (desktop).

    tensai


    check the Tensai Tokyo Sketch Thread (Sketchbook)

    check the Tensai Cityscapes Thread (Finally Finished)

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    Yeah the most a 64bit operating system can support is over 100GB of ram but a 32bit can only support 3.5GB The reason I have 8GB is because I dont want to upgrade for a long time.

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    lol 8GB on a MAC book cost as much as a decent PC.

    In any case let me correct some of my fellows here about photoshop. Depending on what version of it you're using and I recommend CS4, the requirements will change. Since CS2 PS has always required a decent amount of RAM say about 3 GB for normal users and around 6- whatever amount for high end users. CS4 is by far the fastest and requires the use of a good GPU to run. I'm sort of an extreem user. I've got a Corei7 965 with 12GB of Dominator RAM running at 1600MHZ...and SLI GTX285's....CS$ runs like a dream and Zbrush like dream on butter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brashen View Post
    lol 8GB on a MAC book cost as much as a decent PC.

    In any case let me correct some of my fellows here about photoshop. Depending on what version of it you're using and I recommend CS4, the requirements will change. Since CS2 PS has always required a decent amount of RAM say about 3 GB for normal users and around 6- whatever amount for high end users. CS4 is by far the fastest and requires the use of a good GPU to run. I'm sort of an extreem user. I've got a Corei7 965 with 12GB of Dominator RAM running at 1600MHZ...and SLI GTX285's....CS$ runs like a dream and Zbrush like dream on butter.
    Damn Ps cs2 needs 3 gigs ro run good, damn no wonder i lag so much on big canvas cuz i have 512mb

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    HunterKiller_ is offline Registered User Level 15 Gladiator: Spartacus' Hoplomachi
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brashen View Post
    12GB of Dominator RAM


    According to benchmark tests, a PC with over 6gigs of RAM will see very little improvement in performance, whether it be 8gigs or 36gigs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brashen View Post
    lol 8GB on a MAC book cost as much as a decent PC.

    In any case let me correct some of my fellows here about photoshop. Depending on what version of it you're using and I recommend CS4, the requirements will change. Since CS2 PS has always required a decent amount of RAM say about 3 GB for normal users and around 6- whatever amount for high end users. CS4 is by far the fastest and requires the use of a good GPU to run. I'm sort of an extreem user. I've got a Corei7 965 with 12GB of Dominator RAM running at 1600MHZ...and SLI GTX285's....CS$ runs like a dream and Zbrush like dream on butter.
    I disagree-- as I said, I'm running 2 GB of RAM on my laptop and it handles Photoshop (I have both CS2 and CS4 on my computer) just fine. The only time I've had an issue was when I tried to paint extremely large canvases (20" x 12" at 400dpi) and then it has a tendency to lag. But recently while working on my website I was running both DreamWeaver and Photoshop CS4 at the same time, plus the internet, Media Player, and a few other files, and there was no trouble at all.

    However, if you're running Vista or something, this may not be so. I'm still on XP, and if you really need 3GB+ to run simple Photoshop, I would blame Vista and not Photoshop. That OS eats RAM like crazy. o_O

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    1) 8 gigs of RAM = never need more in your lifetime. 2 Gigs is just fine (DDR2 at least). @ 8 gigs, your RAM will outlive you most likely.
    2)Quad Core for just animation and "etc." programs is excessive. If the programs you want require Dual Core, you'll need Dual Core but probably not Quad Core. Albiet you can never have too much power.
    3) Do NOT get a Dell Laptop because I know their desktops are designed only for use with Dell parts. Their laptops might be the same way.
    4) Unfortunately Vista is standard, to my knowledge, for laptops - you're going to have trouble with it. Make sure any programs you want are compatible with Vista.
    5)Newegg.com will probably have some sweet deals for laptops at reasonable prices. Keep in mind, laptops and desktops are not cheap. Doesnt matter what kind you get (unless its a sideshow bob special).

    6) You'll probably want a bigger HD - 300 GB is always a good amount of space - and I think its pretty standard nowadays. I'm no expert on Laptops, but know this - the most powerful laptop cannot compare to a good powerful desktop.

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