Computer Purchase Help

Hi everyone. I am really not very techy like not at all. So I have no understanding of the amount of RAM, processing blah blah blah but I want to buy a computer.

This is what I want to do with it.

- Articulate

- Adobe CS5

- Office

- not cost a million dollars.

I am looking for a respectable cost effective Laptop preferably that will allow me to play with some design tool and learn how to use them also i need to be able to access the internet at a respectable rate so I can interact with all you folks at home.This will more then likely be a b-day gift (i turn 29 for the second time) for me from the hubby (who is less techy and way cheap) in June.

Again I am really not techy at all and if you go on a tirade about techy stuff I will be lost and frustrated. I need the Dummies version please.

Thanks in advance for all your help!

14 Replies
Steve Flowers

The Adobe suite runs really well on Mac. Arguably better on Mac than on PC, but I wouldn't have statistics to back that up Since you need to run Articulate I would recommend a PC. If you buy a Mac you'll need to buy a virtual machine + a microsoft OS license and get everything running (extra $$$ and a pain). Plus a mac will come with a significant premium (you pay for a little luxury and "status" - which isn't always good status:))

Since you're looking at laptops you'll want to consider two things (aside from the power of the machine) these are:

  • Size / weight (this usually correlates to the size of the screen)
  • Battery life (also tightly correlated to size in most cases - larger laptops = less battery life)

If you aren't concerned about the size / weight of the laptop (i.e., you're going to use it at your desktop most of the time anyway) I'd go with a 17" model. If you plan to use it while traveling away from a power plug and are a little concerned about weight, a 15" model isn't a bad choice.

We recently went shopping for a new laptop for my wife. She's actually really happy with the 17" HP she picked up for around $800. The lowest price you're likely to find for a 17" laptop is around $599. But this will come with cutrate components and less ram than you'll find in a model for just a few hundred more.

No need to spend more than $1k for what you're needs seem to be. I'd go with a 17" with 4 to 6gig of ram if I were you. Windows is going to eat up over a gig of that so you'll need the extra to run your media development apps. Here's a model that fits the bill. Incidentally, this is nearly identical to the one we picked up for my wife. has it for a little less. You should be able to find something like this for around $800. You can find them cheaper but consider display quality, memory, processor speed, and graphics processor before going with a cut rate system.

Gerry Wasiluk

Well, Steve, excellent thoughts.

Now I won't tell you the price of a new Dell XPS 17 3D with 64-bit Win7, top Sandy Bridge processor, 16-gig of RAM, 256GB SSD, etc., that I was looking at last night . . . . 

Might have to go into hock for that one . . .     . . .  the proverbial "champagne taste on a beet budget."

Phil Corriveau

Gerry Wasiluk said:

Now I won't tell you the price of a new Dell XPS 17 3D with 64-bit Win7, top Sandy Bridge processor, 16-gig of RAM, 256GB SSD, etc., that I was looking at last night . . . .

LOL Gerry!  As tempting as the new i7 may be, I still need to eat (I guess my wife and son do too) 

Steve's suggestion is a good one...a zippy machine with plenty of memory and disk space at a fair price.  I will say that if you're going to run processor-intensive apps like some found in Adobe CS5, you definitely don't want to skimp on the PC.  BTW, whatever machine you get, it will handle any internet speed you can throw at it...any bottleneck will be from your internet service provider.

Phil Corriveau

On paper, this Sony model looks pretty comparable to what Steve suggested.  It has less memory (4GB instead of 6...which is still plenty), but a slightly faster processor.

All things being equal, IMO I prefer the HP brand over Sony for quality/durability reasons, but if I had a bunch of Sony points, I would definitely go with the Sony.

One footnote:  I notice that both of these units come the 64-bit version of Windows 7--which is fine.  But you'll need to install the 32-bit version of MS Office so that Articulate Presenter will work.

Jovon  Towns

With a computer I imagine the brain

Short Term Memory, Or Current Usage Memory "RAM" Random Access Memory

Long Term Memory, Or Stored Until You Need Memory "Hard-drive"

The Processor, is like the mind utilizing the memory-- how fast it's capable of processing or understanding info...

The Processors you find are AMD and Intel

Intel is by popular demand and AMD has something to prove... Both make great product

AMD tends to be more bang for your buck, but I know people that will only buy Intel, no matter what.

To me , Intel does a better job keeping the technical jargon down on processor titles so I'll explain those based on your need...

I3 is like two minds working together. Sharing the load... For "RAM" I'll stick with 6gbs so you have more multitasking ability, CS5 takes up tons of RAM

Your best choice is the I5 processor with 6GBs keep an eye out for graphics tho mine are integrated basic, but this is my business CPU only, so pretty graphics doesn't matter

I7 is overkill, save your money, the I5 is powerful enough with 6GBS

What I have is a Asus Bamboo with Intel's 15 processor 2.67ghz turbo boost\ like 4 brains on Red Bull.... It was under 900 for sure I put it on my Best Buy Card "18 months" no interest.

Chantelle N

I was looking at this thread to help me with my other thread

Jovon, you helped make me feel good about the specs I've been looking at (i5 vs i7, etc.)

Zara, I would say the advice you've gotten here is pretty much on par. You can look at my other post about the Sony Vaio EA I'm looking at (it's 14" but they have other series larger) if you want, but what I've got it priced at is still a bit over 1k.

Sheila Bulthuis

Zara, I'm so glad you asked this, it reminded me that I need to start looking for a new computer!  I love my Dell 17" laptop, but it's time to start looking for a replacement...  I think this time I might get something smaller and lighter, but get a nice big monitor to use at my desk.  In any case, I am at least as non-techie as you are, so everyone's replies were really helpful for me! 

Samudra Bhuyan

Hey guys.

Just saw this thread and thought I would weigh in since I just bought a laptop 3 days ago, but I dont know how relevant my observations are over there in North America (Im from India)

I just bought a Lenovo V series 14" laptop. It came for around $720 (but laptops are traditionally more expensive here in India than in the US.)

It has an i3 processor and 3GB RAM. And this is absolutely more than enough to run CS5 as well as MS Office (I havent bought Articulate, so dont know about that... but I dont think it is half as hardware intensive as Adobe CS5) And the damn thing is SO light! Just perfect for those afternoons when I want to go work at that coffee shop around the corner!

Over the past few years, I have gravitated to the opinion that the average life of a laptop is probably going to be around 2.5 - 3 years... and by that time your laptop would have become "unrepairable". Also, the premium you pay right now for that extra bit of performance is just not worth it IMHO, because by the time the software that NEEDS that kind of performance is developed, it is time to upgrade anyways!

I thought I would add my $0.02 since Zara mentioned cost is a factor.