Student looking to buy new computer

I’m looking to purchase a new computer very soon and was curious what is the best way to go. I have previously bought PCs but have had wayyy too many problems with them and conisdering buying a imac or macbook…Do you think having a laptop would be better? And how much ram and everything should it have? I’m looking to put on photoshop, illustrator, sketchbook pro, and solidworks.


The answers tend to be “it depends”. Mac’s are nice if you’re willing to pay the premium since you can get OSX and Windows to run on them just fine.

If you are willing to pay that extra price (which as a student, I always find you’re piss broke 99% of the time so less money = better) then a 15 or 17" Macbook Pro would be great. I had a Macbook Pro that was given to me for work, but after all was said and done I would rather have my Tablet PC over something thats just a nicely designed laptop.

If you want serious power then I’d stick to a desktop workstation and maybe get a really cheap laptop for email/photoshop on the go type of work. Sometimes better to try and get 2 different machines for different purposes rather then one super expensive machine to try and do it all.

For ram - 2 gigs is an ideal amount. 4 gigs you probably won’t ever use, and 1 gig isn’t enough for Windows XP with high end apps running.

Me personally – I’m a PC guy and most likely always will be. As long as your machine is built solidly, then problems you’ll have tend to be due to software issues.


What tablet PC are you using or what can you recommend for tablet pc for ID who are into freelance work?

I use a Toshiba Tecra M7 - it’s their 14" version. I don’t believe many companies are selling 14" tablets anymore though.

At this point I would almost consider a well rounded laptop + a 12" Cintiq rather then the tablet PC though. $1k for the Wacom + $1k for a decent Dell laptop will give you some nice performance with the ability to sketch when you need - plus the Wacom can be used on a desktop workstation as well. Certianly a bit more costly, but as is the case with anything in the design world you’ve gotta pay to play.

I thought my best option would be to buy a tablet PC, but do they have enough memory and everything to handle photoshop, illustrator, solidworks, alias sketchbook? And what different ones are out there. I’d like to get one with a decent screen size to draw on.

I second the tecra m7 but as previously mentioned, it may not be available anymore. I think what cyber said was good advice for today, get a 12" cintiq with a laptop and you’re good to go as far as a tecra replacement.

I would recommend a tablet pc with plenty of ram, try to get dedicated video, and definately pick up a second display to plug in while at home.

I run extended desktop with two monitors. You can get a decent 20" something for under $300 now. Total cost could be around $1500.

My tablet pc runs great on the go- and I have all the desktop I need at home. Just make sure the tablet is Wacom Penabled. Wacom has a link off their site to companies still doing tablet pc’s.

good luck- let us know what you go with.

Tablet PC’s will easily have a CPU and enough ram (at least 2 gigs) for comfortably handling most work. The only potential weak links are a low resolution screen (most tablets I’ve seen are running at 1280x800 which is rather low for heavy graphical work but fine for sketching) and an integrated video card.

what are your thoughts on the modbook (apples tablet) that is going to be coming out soon?

I’m nervous about the mod book. It could be the best thing since sliced bread, but the fact that its not ACTUALLY an Apple product means I’m not sold on the software implementation, and it’s also a fixed slate, so you have no keyboard.

I’d really have to use one to give a more definitive opinion. It could be absolutely fantastic, but I have my reservations about it till I get some first hand time with it.

With that said once Apple comes out with THEIR tablet device (inevitable, just a matter of when) I’m sure it’ll be the best thing since sliced bread. Especially if it’s bundled with an operating system that natively supports multi-touch AND pen input.