Seeking advice on purchasing a new PC

Hello heroes,

As the subject line suggests, I'm in the market for a new PC.

Since starting doing some freelance work I've always used a laptop, but I've had it for a few years now and am starting to notice some real performance issues.

As well as using Articulate, I'm also an Adobe Premiere user. What are the ideal specs for a new PC for this sort of work?

I want the best I can afford, but I don't want to waste money on additional gumpf that I don't need.

Any advice much appreciated,


18 Replies
TechDiva 95

Hi Jade,

I've always had good luck with Dell computers. We're been in business since 1999 with two Dell Dimension 8400 PCs (that are fully functiona and optimally running today).After researching, one of the main reasons I decided to go Dell was the ability to customize and expand the system as my demands increased, and their flexible payment plan. In 2009 we expanded to include three of Dell's high-performance XPS PCs and the performance has been great.

My suggestion would be to invest in as much hard drive (at least 1TB) and memory as you can afford now. And if you really want and splurge item I suggest a dual monitor graphics card. Using dual monitors is incredibly useful during course development and monitor prices are dropping. Hope this quick note helps.

Ellen Zimmerman

Personally, I prefer a Mac with Parallels to run those Windows only programs. I would get as much RAM as you can afford if you are running high end products. Your laptop will last you longer that way. I'm on my 5th year with my MacBook Pro and it still does great. But, I bought the most RAM available and had the option to upgrade when additional RAM became more reasonable.

The only issue I'm starting to have is that I want more screen "real estate". I work on several things at once so I have windows open and want to see more of them. I'm going to pick up an external screen for home because I love the portability with my 13 inch.

Hard drive space just depends on how much you really plan to keep on it. I use cloud storage more and more but the programs are on the laptop. (Articulate files have to stay local anyway.)

Happy shopping!

Vicki Kunkel

Just to echo what the others have said:  dual--or triple--monitors is a must, especially if you are doing any 3D animations to include in your program.  I use one screen for the actual course development, one screen for SME documents, and one screen for graphics and animations. 

As far as the computers:  I have had everything from Dell to Sony to Samsung and pretty much everything in between over the years.  All of them have performance issues, all of them lock up, all of them crash.  As others have said, get as much hard drive and RAM as you can afford. 

And, to your point, I tend to agree that no laptop can handle high-end animations and graphics without regular crashes.  Having said that, I like the portabilitiy of a laptop, so I continue to put up with the crashes.

I have not had any experience with Macs, but it is something I have toyed around with for some time now.  With the introduction of Storyline (and output to iOS), I may give a Mac a try, as more and more clients are requesting products for the iPad.

Good luck in your search!   Let us know what you end up getting.

Rich Johnstun

What is your budget?

I'm currently running the CS5 Master Suite (including Premier and AfterEffects)

I'm using a Dell Precision M6600 mobile work station. It's a "sorta" laptop. It's portable in terms of I can put it in my backpack, but weighing in at 9lbs, you don't just tuck it under your arm (hence why they call it a mobile workstation instead of a laptop I guess).

Aside from the size, I can't say enough good things about this box. I'm running three displays at my desk at work (it will support 3 displays when not connected to a docking station or 5 when it is).  When I'm mobile the 17" 1080p capable display is nice, but I also run my iPad as an external display (it's nice to have someplace to park your tool pallets. It will support up to 32gb of ram and has multiple hard drive bays.  When I went from my old Dell Latitude to this, my video rendering times were cut by 70%.  Since time is money, it's pretty easy to justify the cost.

I personally don't bother with large hard drives in my workstations anymore. I use external, cloud and network storage for everything except stuff I'm currently working on. That way my workstation is just housing my applications...if it crashes, I've still got all my data other places.

Sheila Bulthuis

Rich – Thanks for sharing about your “mobile workstation,” I’ve been thinking about replacing my laptop and that looks like it might be a great option.  I usually only “travel” with mine when I want to work in our living room instead of my home office, so the weight wouldn’t be an issue for me.  J  Have you had any problems at all with it?

Vicki – I have a 17” Dell (not as awesome as Rich’s!) and I found a Targus case for  it – but not rolling.  It’s pretty ugly/industrial-looking, but it does let me lug the thing around when I need to.

Rich Johnstun

@Steve: I didn't get the multi touch display. It looked cool, but I couldn't think of a serious application (espically given the added cost). I'm integrating my iPad with my laptop more and more and I still find that when I'm doing that I rarely jump to the touch screen for an interface when I'm teathered to my PC.

@Vicki: I'm a backpack guy so I've got an Ogio backpack that I carry it in.  They have a bunch of different ones including ones that are roller bags as well as backpacks. I'm a geeky dude who has mavel comics figures on his desk, so I can get away with the rockin' the back pack

Rich Johnstun

I've had it for about 3 months now with 0 issues. I'm running Win7 64-bit and I bumped the RAM to 16gb. It's so wonderful to have Outlook, Chrome, Photoshop, Premier (or Vegas), AfterEffects and PowerPoint (Articulate) all running at the same time with no performance issues. I'm ridiculously happy with it