Computer Recomendations

I need some advice - I am a student at Art Center - studying product design. I need to get a new computer. my current laptop is old, slow and unreliable. I want to get a computer that i will use just for work - school now and later professional. therefore i need a computer that is quick and good with design software and will grow with me and technology changes.
What kind of computer would be the best to get?
I would prefer a PC.
Money is an issue… but if you think something is really worth the extra coin… i would love to hear about it.
Should I get a desktop??? I prefer laptops - but it seems that i can get more for my money with a desktop.
PLEASE HELP.
I need to know brands and models
Thanks!

A Dell workstation like a Precision would be upgradable down the road. Laptops are not that easy to upgrade whereas desktops have a lot of room to add things later.

just make sure you get a PCI Express motherboard. AGP is dead.

A fellow designer and I have been having this same discussion lately as we are trying to get funds from our bosses for new computer hardware. Ive been doing a lot of research and I honestly think that there are only two really good computers that come premade, for anything else I would go custom.

Alienware Workstations:
http://www.alienware.com/main_creative_pro.aspx

These workstations are deadly fast compared to other machines and are fine-tuned to handle applications like 3D Studio, they give you comparisons to other machines like Dell XPS. They are expensive but you get what you pay for. I would also recommend getting one with dual processors, preferrably 64bit.

Boxx Workstations:
http://www.boxxtech.com/asp/1workstations.asp

Boxx also makes awesome machines that are built for industrial designers, 3D artists, etc. These are on par with Alienware and as such will also cost you to get one. I know several people who have these and swear by them.

if “Money is an issue…” neither Boxx nor Alienware are necessary for a student. i just built a machine for about $850 (minus tower case). incl 450W PS, ASUS m/b, P4 2.4 (will overclock to 3Ghz if needed), 1 Gb RAM, 120Gb SATA HD, DVD-R/RW, and 6600GT vidcard. and a few case fans. no doubt in my mind it will run Pro/E and Maya better than my current rig.

i upgraded another machine to a FireGL2 (formerly ~$1200 vidcard) for one off eBay for $10. runs great. and have previous card for backup.

i’ve opted to follow the tech. one year behind. suggesting a student on a budget invest in a current top-of-the-line machine is careless imo. simply unnecessary in this case. a low-budget Dell or a refurb would probably be just fine.

definitely amd athlon 64 + raid.

I don’t think it is right for anyone to make hardware recommendations without productgirl specifiying what software she plans to use.

Performance can sway one way or another when it comes to AMD vs. Intel depending on the software to be used. Some cards are also more compatible with certain modelling rendering packages.

I’m not saying that she should buy the absolute top of the line Alienware or anything, I’m just recommending brands like she asked for in the first place. I’m sure that she’s intelligent enough to look at the information and decide whether the brands I’ve recommended are within her budget and needs or if I’m wasting her time.

How about everyone answer her question by recommending brands and models like she wants instead of spouting tech jargon and lectures on responsibility. Unless you think shes too stupid to be able to do research on her own and figure it out.

Dual Opteron or Dual Xeon?
Graphics Card?

I plan to use Rhino and Flamingo mostly.

“How about everyone answer her question by recommending brands and models like she wants instead of spouting tech jargon and lectures on responsibility. Unless you think shes too stupid to be able to do research on her own and figure it out.”

why not suggest a model along w your brands? that would answer her question “brands and models”. then we could suggest to every student on a budget what to purchase.

Oh now we’re just getting silly.

I’m not trying to be an ass, just answer questions. :smiley:

ProductGirl - give me a budget and I’ll help you narrow down some specific models.

YKH - I couldn’t agree with you more, I was just trying to make the point that there are too many times when people on these forums don’t answer questions in any form but instead jump right into criticism or offer nothing useful. I’d rather start a civil conversation and actually help someone find the right information. Thats what I tried to do by giving her a few good brands to start with, then we could all contribute and steer her in the right direction.

yes. i am. but to make a point. NYDESIGNGUY is correct. suggesting anything without knowing applications is premature. best i can say is avoid AGP if you want future upgrades.

imo she most likely wont need much. flip side of Alienware maybe she could get an old PIII (mine runs Wildfire just fine). when she graduates her upgrade might only be more RAM. or a refurb’d Wildcat. not long ago that was highend stuff. all depends on whats demanded of it.

when we hear budget and application, then we can suggest brands and models. until then…

Would a workstation class computer be overkill for Rhino and Flamngo?

Would a regular desktop suffice?

I want to reduce render times.

Yikes. its getting a bit ugly on here. :slight_smile: Regardless, I really appreciate TO everyone’s help. Thanks everyone!
To answer your questions:
I know at school I will use: Alias, SolidWorks, Photoshop CS, Maya, Rhino. After school… who knows. I hope I will be doing top of the line, cutting-edge design - and I will therefore use whatever is the “best” design software avaliable (any ideas what they may be?).
My budget?? well… thats a tough one. I would like to keep it under $2000. But more importantly is that that computer will last me (meaning: won’t become obsolete) through school (2.5 years) and into my career (when hopefully someone else will be buying my hardware for me :slight_smile:). I want this to be the last computer I have to buy for at least 5-6 years.
Whatcha think?

Just curious - how do you plan on buying all that software but worry because of your limited budget for the computer itself? Even with student discounts, you’re talking about at least $1000.

She probably plans on working like some guys I know in Argentina, they buy a nice computer and use hacked copies of all their software to do work.
:confused:

I’d agree with other posts that it might be nice to know what software you plan to use after school as that can help you spend less on something optimized for just that program. On the other hand I tend to do what you have described and buy something powerful enough to handle a wide range of programs.

When I was in school I used nothing but SolidWorks, 3D Studio, AutoCAD, and Pro/E depending on if I was in a design or engineering class. Since I graduated several years ago I have had to use Catia, FormZ, and a handfull of other programs that I never would have imagined needing. Sometimes it can be good to have something with a wide range for situations like that.

Thats the main reason that I’m an advocate for getting a dual processor workstation, even if it’s an entry level one. It will most definately be able to chew through whatever you throw at it and as other people have said you can add more memory, hard drives, and better video cards as needed.

If you are unsure about what programs to buy there are plenty of threads already in here about the pros and cons of each platform. I would do a search of the job boards and see what most people are asking for. I would also check ebay for used workstations as I’ve seen some really good systems for fair prices recently. Thats my two cents, anyone else?

I agree with ykh about staying 1 year behind the trend. This way you can get very good performance for your student dollars. Dells desk-top replacement laptops are pretty good for students. I can run Solidworks 2005 pretty well on my 2 yr old Inspiron 8200 with 1 GB RAM. I have freelanced on it and it has performed. Granted I am spoiled by my $10,000 workstation at the office, but I only noticed the difference in performance after I started using the computer at work.

Laptops are pretty cool because you can lug them around with you to class and you can use them to sketch in places like libraries and coffee shops.

PS Solidworks can be pretty cheap for a Student Edition The EDU Techstore | Academic software discounts, Education software discounts | JourneyEd
After some hunting former intern here got his bonafide copy for about 70 USD

i don’t think it’s a good idea to stay one year behind unless you’re just learning and using your computer less than 2-3 hours a day for modeling programs. if you want to work 8 hrs a day design or seriously train for it you should get a good system.

i put toghether a 1 ghz amd athlon 5 years ago and used it a lot and now i have an amd 3200athlon 64 and my old system is still pretty fast for solidworks and catia.

as for dual or quad, well you can always get a quad opteron but it’s really not needed for everyday design. people usually need those things for simulation or very fast rendering. if you got the money which is gonna run you above 15k for a total kickass system then go for it, but for a starter you won’t need it.

my clients dont care how fast my computer is.

few years ago “big” corporate office i was in used Dell PIII 850 machines. two slow, small EIDE harddrives. smallish 19" monitor. no CD burner. and cheap Oxygen VX-1 videocards. probably still use them.

before that i was somewhere had SGI’s. less powerful than a PII 450. we ran Alias Studio and Pro/E on those. somehow those were just fine back then.

computing power has outstripped software needs for most things imo. for my business i have to be cost-aware.

i wont bother w RAID. dont need it. i dont capture video or back up system that way.

i wont go dual CPU again. dont need it. its nice but not necessary for occasional high-quality render.

i wont invest in latest tech bc i pay for equipment. me. if someone else was paying, i’d argue for latest greatest. but its my money. and my clients wont care. they’ll still only care about the design. not how fast my machine is.

my recommendation is build your own. simple to do.