Need to Build a New Computer

Hey everyone. I was tasked with identifying the required components to build a new Course Development computer.  I am asking for input on components to sustain Articulate Storyline, Audacity, iClone, Vegas Movie Studio, Captivate 6, etc.  I am having problems with my computer locking up in the middle of a course slide design.

Specifically:

Processor, Video, Audio, Memory type/size

I am not an IT guy so I am not sure what components will work best.  I was given a computer replacement recommendation in another post for a Dell Precision M6600 Mobile Workstation, but work willnot authorize me to have a laptop style computer and the components in this computer are not the same for a desktop computer.

Any specific details that you found to work best, please share.  My bet is my company will not approve the top of the line, but I don't want to give them the minimum requirements only either.

Thanks for your help.

Jerry

18 Replies
Bob S

Hi Jerry,

One of the true techies here might want to chime in, but here is my advice for you...

Of the programs you've listed, iClone and Vegas are going to be the ones that you will want to have some horsepower for. My suggestion is to go the Vegas forums and seek suggestions there too. Whatever you get that runs Vegas well (especially for AVHCD editing!) is going to be way way more than enough to run Articulate or other e-learning authoring tools easily.

One other note, at least in the past it seems that Vegas played nicer with NVidia than it did with Radeon video cards. Both work mind you, but the render times were always faster with the equivalent NVidia card. That may have changed but don't be surprised if you hear advice around that point.

Finally, if you are doing video editing and 3d modeling, you may want to think about storage. That stuff eats up storage space fast; especially if you need to keep generational or alternate copies too. So consider investing in an external drive to at least archive some of that stuff. Note: In you are in a corporate environment, shared network drives can work but the transfer times are often painfully slow with files that size.

And of course, the standard advice is to get all the RAM you can stuff into the box with a shoehorn! 

Hope some of this helps,

Bob

Jerry South

Thanks Bob.  My computer locks up while using Storyline and Audacity as well.  I gues those programs are strong enough to overpower it as well.  My IT guy said to close down as many programs as possible and to clear my cache frequently and that should take care of my problem....Didn't help a bit.  My computer programs crashed within 5 minutes after following those instructions.

Jerry

Alan Landers

Hi Jerry,

I do all my stuff at home.  I have a i5 quad core processor with 16 gigs of RAM and a high end-graphics card with 2 gigs of RAM on it (from what I've read and how my system works, I don't feel the need to upgrade the processor).  I have 2, 1.5TB external HDs and an internal 1TB HD.  I use the internal HD to house software programs and save my resource files on one external drive and use the other one for works in progress/projects.  I also have a backup service in the Cloud where I store my finished products and back up the two external drives.  I can do just about anything I want and have no problems.

I have the highest cable broadband service my provider has (I hate waiting for downloads and the files I upload are very big).  I have a 10" graphics tablet for working with Photoshop and a high-end IPS monitor (I could have used a smaller one - I didn't need the big one).  I know that I don't have to have high end graphics for the web, but I'm doing some HD quality work and want a monitor that gives me the best detail I can afford.

My system cost about $2,400including the speakers, head phones, mic (if you're doing voice overs, you'll want a good mic).

I know this isn't too terribly technical, with detailed specs and all, but it gives you an idea of what works without any problems.

Alan

Alan Landers

Jerry,

Funny you should ask about the sound card.  I never worried too much about it.  My concern was for the quality of speakers and the mic.  I use Audacity to edit the audio (get rid of all the mouth clicks, umms, uhs, etc.).  I can improve the quality of sound with it and it's free.  Works well for the stuff I do.  BTW, I hang up a bunch of heavy material around the room when I'm recording.  I use Bamboo too.

Chris  Glass

I just built a friend an i7 computer with 8 Gb of RAM and a decent video card for about $1,000. This is plenty of hardware for what you are doing.  I have give you all the parts that you can use to built your computer but is this something that you can build yourself or is there someone that can build it for you?

Let me know and I will build you out a list and send it to you. Even my i5 laptop works great with Storyline and the Adobe Web Design at the same time....I just hate the little amount of screen I have...I wish I can buy a 27' for all the work I am doing.....I can only dream.

Let me know and I will build you a list. 

Garry Hargreaves

Hi Jerry,

I agree with Bob, Alan and Chris comments:

CPU: Anything = > (equal to or greater than) an 3rd generation, i5 Intel processor , 3.2 GHz or faster.  I like the i7

RAM: Anything = > 8 MB of RAM DDR3 – in one stick as apposed to 2 x 4Mb sticks of RAM (I stick helps solves any timing issues)

Hard Drive: = > If you want spend a little more buy a 128GB SSD HD for your operating system and a 1TB Data, = > 7200 rpm, Drive (cheap these days).  If not 1TB will do

Video Card: = > 1GB of RAM - Late model ATI Radeon or nVIDIA. I have a late model ATI HD  74XX or better, but I like nVIDIA GeForce better because the drivers are better and updated more often.  Make sure the video card has both a DVI and VGA outputs (standard these days) This will alow you to run two monitors
Monitors: buy 2 x LED 22" monitors - run an extended desktop. Use two screens at the same time - excellent

DVD Recorder / Drive: - standard these days

Motherboards:  All late model boards are good these days - I like anything ASUS, or Gigabyte 

Sound card:  This is dependent on your sound requirements = > I like 5:1 Sound Blaster, however the integrated sound card chip sets are good these days also.

Operating System: I like Win Pro 7, (64bit) not a fan of Win 8 yet because you can’t run more than two windows on the same screen at the same time (its called windows for a reason)

Memory Card reader – cheap

WiFi Wireless LAN on board - cheap

Bob's right, iClone and Vegas are the only really taxing apps you run.  SL runs on lower spec than above

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Before you spend $$ - maybe this will help fix your exisitng PC and address the "computer locking up in the middle of a course slide design".   Some people have a range of apps that start every time they start their machine and sometimes this can cause problems.

No guarantees, however this may help you SL crashes

Step 1: Left Click on the Start Button
Step 2: Left Click on the Control Panel
Step 3: Under the "System and Security" heading > Left Click on "Find and Fix Problems"

Step 4: You should get a "Troubleshoot computer problems" heading and a subheading "System and Security"
Step 5: Left Click on "Check for performance issues'

Step 6: You should get a heading "Performance" Left Click on "Advanced" you should a tick next to "Apply repairs Automatically'
Step 7: Left Click the "Next" button after a short time you should see a "Start System Configuration" Left Click that button

I had up tp 27 automatic plugins - Under the "Start Up" tab, UNTICK the Startup Services you dont need.  I only left the antivirus protection ticked.  -  No guarantees, I hopes it helps

 

No guarantees, but this may help you.

cheers

Garry

Jerry South

Alan - I was not sure if the sound card really mattered in the development process that much.  I am not sure what I have now, but I know the courses I have created thus far are good and Audacity really helps a lot!  I like the Bamboo pad for tweaking the fine details of a photo.  It is much easier to use the pen than trying to manipulate the mouse.

Chris - I would love a list of parts if you have the time.  Company policy dictates I supply a list of requirements to my IT department and they will get what I need... as the budget allows of course. Thank you!

Garry - Thank you for the help and component recommendations.  I tried the start-up process this morning, hopefully this will help.  I had a bunch of stuff running in there as well; didn't count, but it was probably close to 20 items.  I am not sure which of them are mandated by IT, but I shut off the ones I know for sure are not needed.  We will see if this helps.

You guys are AWESOME!!!  Question for you all.... Do you do course design from home as independent contractors or are you on the books with a company as I am?  I was looking at going out on my own, but not sure how to drum up business, so I have not taken the leap yet....also do not have the capital to purchase the software myself.

Jerry

Chris  Glass

Jerry, is there a maximum amount that you have in purchasing a computer or can we just make a list and you will say this is what I need to do my job?

Funny you ask that questions. Right now, I am doing things on the side but it is more for building my portfolio. I am a Technology Administrator at a school and would love going into more of the development aspect. I have done a couple of things for the school in this area but they are just not ready yet for custom course development. 

I do not know how people feel about this but if your work as the software, do you feel that you can use the software for your side business? Can you create some small modules as "testing out the features" and put them in your profile to start your business until you are able to get the money for the software yourself. I am just thinking out loud here. 

Jerry South

Chris

Right now I have no dollar limit established, but I am betting my IT will just buy the minimum to get by.  I know for a fact they wiill not buy top of the line or I would not be having this issue. LOL

Great idea about building small training snip-its and using them myself until I can get the cash.  I already used up my 30-day free trials...I had a friend recommend I just keep re-registering with a new email address every 30 days, but I personally have an integrity issue with that idea.

I really like building courses as well, but am still learning the ropes.  I watch all the turorials, hints and tricks I can to help develop my skills.  I have the software I use down pretty good, but I could use some work in the details...actually removing the details. I have a tendancy to go way to deep into the subject matter.  Small peices would help not only build my portfolio but develop my brevity skills.

My Masters is in Educational Technology, specifically for helping schools inprove their technology use or incorporate technology where they currently have none.  I.E. taking a virtual trip to France and doing a live chat with a school in France for example instead of just reading about it in their history or language classes.  I have set up Wiki pages with a chat or blog posting section, to help classes interact with a subject out of school hours and the teacher can answer questions via the page on the weekends.  (you have to have a teacher willing to do this though).

There were no openings in our local school district so I had to persue other job markets.

Alan Landers

Hi Jerry,

Thank you for your kind comments.  Hope I was helpful.

I am independent now, been a consultant for over 15 years in total specializing in OD and Training.  Now, that I'm back into consulting, I'm specializing in helping trainers and training departments.  My new website should be up next week.

I work from home and have made a large investment in technology, software, and services (photos, graphics, templates, etc.).  BTW, I teach a workshop entitled Becoming a Consultant through the Institute of Management Consultants.  No schedule for 2013 as of yet.

Good luck to you,

Alan

Rich Johnstun

I've posted it a few times, but if you need some mobility, I'm very pleased with my Dell M660 Mobile Workstation.

http://www.dell.com/us/enterprise/p/precision-m6600/pd

Don't be confused and think it's a laptop, at 9 lbs it's not what I would call easily portable which is why they don't call it a laptop. I'm running 16gb of RAM on the Win7 Platform. I have no issues running Vegas Pro, AfterEffects or anything in the Adobe Master Collection. When I'm working at my normal workstation I have it docked and connect to a couple of larger displays. Depending on what video option you go for, it can run 3 external displays while undocked or 5 while docked. 

It's a pretty rock solid solution for the price.

Bruce Graham

Jerry South said:

Do you do course design from home as independent contractors or are you on the books with a company as I am?  I was looking at going out on my own, but not sure how to drum up business, so I have not taken the leap yet....also do not have the capital to purchase the software myself.


Hi Jerry,

The two threads you probably want to wade through to help answer this, (and give loads of hints and tips) are:

http://community.articulate.com/forums/t/16452.aspx and http://community.articulate.com/forums/t/14115.aspx

Bottom line - don't leap until you know how to

Best to develop a fledgling business while you have a "real" job, and you figure out what you can offer, and who is buying.

Never develop courses using software that someone else owns - you have to find another way.

Do not invest a huge amount in a microphone - what is much more important is the environment in which you record, and learning to speak rather than talk.

http://community.articulate.com/forums/t/9482.aspx?PageIndex=1 is a great thread on mics, and this might help you in terms of recording, (ironically, my sound levels are all over the place which is somewhat awkward!!)

Bruce

Jonathon Miller

Bruce Graham said:

Jerry South said:

Do you do course design from home as independent contractors or are you on the books with a company as I am? I was looking at going out on my own, but not sure how to drum up business, so I have not taken the leap yet....also do not have the capital to purchase the software myself.


Hi Jerry,

The two threads you probably want to wade through to help answer this, (and give loads of hints and tips) are:

http://community.articulate.com/forums/t/16452.aspx and http://community.articulate.com/forums/t/14115.aspx

Bottom line - don't leap until you know how to

Best to develop a fledgling business while you have a "real" job, and you figure out what you can offer, and who is buying.

Never develop courses using software that someone else owns - you have to find another way.

Do not invest a huge amount in a microphone - what is much more important is the environment in which you record, and learning to speak rather than talk.

http://community.articulate.com/forums/t/9482.aspx?PageIndex=1 is a great thread on mics, and this might help you in terms of recording, (ironically, my sound levels are all over the place which is somewhat awkward!!)

Bruce


Such excellent advice Bruce. One other thing to be aware of; double check with you employer to be sure you are not in breech of any kind confidentiality or no compete clauses.

Alan Landers

I've been on my own for over 25 years. It's been great and it's been tough. 6 things to make it and do well:

1) have a great, right-priced product - people have to see what you do and say: "great! I want one" or "can you do that for me?" there are tons of people out there who do this stuff... yours has to be at or near the top and reasonably priced (for you and the client)

2) have a way to showcase your great product - there are many ways to do this. the links provided offer some good ideas. I share my work with friends and in selected blogs/websites. most of my business comes through referrals and former clients.

3) become a generalist so you can take advantage of opportunities that arise - I am skilled in several authoring programs, I do more than instructional design, I provide "solutions" not simply "training" or "eLearning".

4) commit - there's an old Chinese saying that translated goes something like: "be what you say you are". that means be what you say you are 100%, to the fullest extent possible. commit and stick to it.

5) know your stuff and share your knowledge - this goes along with "being what you say you are". people, especially potential clients. they like very smart people who can do what they can't (maybe they can, but don't have the time or maybe they don't know how). share your knowledge/skills (it makes clients happy and establishes you as an expert)

6) be nice - don't showoff, don't be high falootin', help others, etc. I got a lot of jobs just because people liked me. I always remember that there are tons of people who are smarter than me and the person with whom I am speaking may be one of them.

If you take each one of these and stretch it to the maximum extent possible. You will do well, perhaps thrive.

Bruce Graham

Alan Landers said:

I've been on my own for over 25 years. It's been great and it's been tough. 6 things to make it and do well:

1) have a great, right-priced product - people have to see what you do and say: "great! I want one" or "can you do that for me?" there are tons of people out there who do this stuff... yours has to be at or near the top and reasonably priced (for you and the client)

2) have a way to showcase your great product - there are many ways to do this. the links provided offer some good ideas. I share my work with friends and in selected blogs/websites. most of my business comes through referrals and former clients.

3) become a generalist so you can take advantage of opportunities that arise - I am skilled in several authoring programs, I do more than instructional design, I provide "solutions" not simply "training" or "eLearning".

4) commit - there's an old Chinese saying that translated goes something like: "be what you say you are". that means be what you say you are 100%, to the fullest extent possible. commit and stick to it.

5) know your stuff and share your knowledge - this goes along with "being what you say you are". people, especially potential clients. they like very smart people who can do what they can't (maybe they can, but don't have the time or maybe they don't know how). share your knowledge/skills (it makes clients happy and establishes you as an expert)

6) be nice - don't showoff, don't be high falootin', help others, etc. I got a lot of jobs just because people liked me. I always remember that there are tons of people who are smarter than me and the person with whom I am speaking may be one of them.

If you take each one of these and stretch it to the maximum extent possible. You will do well, perhaps thrive.

Beautifully put.