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Best desktop computer + monitor setup for a translator (Aug 2014)
Thread poster: Hans Geluk

Hans Geluk  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:18
Member (2013)
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
Aug 25, 2014

Dear colleagues,

My question is related to the ideal computer + screens for translators. This topic comes up every now and then, but the available posts are now (partially) outdated. First of all, I would like to state that I already have a decent laptop, that I am using right now with a second monitor attached to it.

COMPUTER:

I am looking to buy a new desktop PC that I will use as my primary computer. I already have quite some idea about the specs, but would like some advice for in case I am overlooking something. I would look into a PC with the following specifications:

Some options that might fit the bill:

- Asus M51AC
- Lenovo M93p
- HP Z230

I saw that at the top end, there are the gaming pc's. Would it be advisable to go for such powerful machines? In the end, I don't need to work too much with graphics and video.

MONITORS:

I will use CAT tools for some, but not for all of my translations. But anyway I like the idea of one screen with the source text only, and the other as a workspace. I read some of the other posts on monitors, and I believe the following setup would do:

With regards to brands, I read very good reviews on the NEC MultiSync monitors, which are intended for business use rather than for gaming etc. Can someone give me some advice on this setup and maybe on the best brands that won't break the bank?

Many thanks in advance for your advice!


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:18
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Monitor Aug 25, 2014

I can't say anything about PCs because I use Macs.

However when it comes to monitors, I recently did a lot of work investigating what would be the best one for doing translation, on which it would be possible to display two pages side-by-side, and most particularly, that was not shiny, and would not make my eyes tired.

I spent almost a year reading reviews all over the place, and thinking, and eventually I came across this one http://www.macworld.co.uk/review/displays/benq-gw2760hs-27-inch-monitor-review-outstanding-quality-price-3465425/

I was amazed by the review, and didn't believe it at first, so I kept on thinking for a while longer, and then, since this monitor, which seemed to be so very good and yet cost so much less than the top-of-the-range Apple monitor I was thinking I might have to buy, did a web search to find where I could get it cheapest, and ordered one. The best deal I found was from Amazon UK at £167.99 with free delivery.

And I have to say that, after the inevitable fiddling about at the beginning with settings and so on, I am absolutely delighted with this monitor. I would warmly recommend it to any translator. The only (very small) downside is that, unlike many other monitors, it doesn't include a USB hub. But that's no problem, because I simply bought a powered USB hub separately, which cost me just a few pennies more.

This monitor, of course, works with PC or Mac.

P.S.: the cost of equipment such as this is deductible from your taxable income.

[Edited at 2014-08-25 13:43 GMT]


 

Josephine Cassar  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:18
Member (2012)
Italian to English
+ ...
Windows 7 Aug 25, 2014

I don't think windows 7 is available any more. I hate Windows 8. We have a 23" computer but I do not like it-15.6 makes a huge difference from 15, but have not tried 17". I find i.5 is enough but some agencies' programmes are not compatible with Macs, I find. Much as I would like to buy a Mac sometime, that puts me off.

 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:18
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Curiosity Aug 25, 2014

Josephine Cassar wrote:

some agencies' programmes are not compatible with Macs, I find.


Just out of curiosity(and off topic): what programmes are those?


 

Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:18
Member
English to French
Mine is fit for purpose Aug 25, 2014

I chose about 2 years ago a box already assembled: i5 2.8 GHz (quad-core?), RAM 4GB, optical HDD and dual head video card, Windows 7 64 bits.
I used to build mine to suit my requirements, until I found out that those no-name middle-range office computers handle TM databases, datamining and CAT tools reasonably well for my needs. I must admit that now I can't be bothered with RAM response times, MoBo bus speeds and chipset numbers.
There are many alternatives available in the 400-600 euro range (CPU box only), so there was no need to make such purchase complicated.

When it starts to get slow, I will double the RAM size, reformat and be covered for another couple of years.

My UPS is self-standing (Merlin Gérin 625W), and I archive on a (home-based) RAID NAS.

I also came to the conclusion that a good chair, a good keyboard, good screens and a good working environment are more important than blazing-fast, hard-core gamer, water-cooled, 2-slot-video-carded units. Unless you play when idle, that is.

Philippe


 

Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 17:18
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
Monitors Aug 25, 2014

a backup power supply for power cuts

You are not running a server - a UPS is rarely actually worth the investment even for workstations, as long as you are in the habit of saving your work.

I find a 1920x1080 single monitor setup quite fine - though I don't actually have enough space in my room for a second monitor. But having to turn your head instead of just your eyeballs can become a pain.

I saw that at the top end, there are the gaming pc's. Would it be advisable to go for such powerful machines? In the end, I don't need to work too much with graphics and video.

No - but major retailers may not offer sufficiently powerful PCs for non-gamers. In this day and age even a $200 graphics card is overkill - if you need more than that, you should already know that you do.

MONITORS:

For work purposes, it doesn't matter. A word processing environment has no requirements on color quality or response time and little distinguishes the worst possible monitor out there from the best, as long as it meets minimum standards on view angle and brightness. Now if you intend to use it for some play as well, then the situation's different.

It's worth noting that 19" monitors these days pretty much cost the same as 24" ones. Unless you have a specific need for it, you might as well go for a 2x24" setup.

Just out of curiosity(and off topic): what programmes are those?

At least one agency I work with has a website that requires a Windows-specific authentication method. And then there are a few that have in-house CAT tools.


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:18
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Raid Aug 25, 2014

Philippe Etienne wrote:

..... I archive on a (home-based) RAID NAS.



The trouble with that is that if any one of the hard drives in your RAID fails, you've probably lost everything because the data is spread at random across all the drives.


 

Hans Geluk  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:18
Member (2013)
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Good advice! Aug 25, 2014

Thank you all for your excellent advice!

Tom in London wrote:

I recently did a lot of work investigating what would be the best one for doing translation, on which it would be possible to display two pages side-by-side, and most particularly, that was not shiny, and would not make my eyes tired.

I spent almost a year reading reviews all over the place, and thinking, and eventually I came across this one http://www.macworld.co.uk/review/displays/benq-gw2760hs-27-inch-monitor-review-outstanding-quality-price-3465425/


I hoped to find one of 1200 pixels high, to enjoy a little bit more of workspace. Also, 27" may be a bit big (my workspace is not so large). But I hadn't yet seen the BenQ screens. The BenQ BL2411PT may be a good one for me: https://pcmonitors.info/reviews/benq-bl2411pt/. About £200 on Amazon. No HDMI though (which would be useful to connect my laptop now and then).

Josephine Cassar wrote:

I don't think windows 7 is available any more.


I think nowadays you can install windows 7 through a rule of Microsoft that allows you to revert from Windows 8 to Windows 7. Many manufacturers already do that for you.

Philippe Etienne wrote:

I chose about 2 years ago a box already assembled: i5 2.8 GHz (quad-core?), RAM 4GB, optical HDD and dual head video card, Windows 7 64 bits.
...
When it starts to get slow, I will double the RAM size, reformat and be covered for another couple of years.

My UPS is self-standing (Merlin Gérin 625W), and I archive on a (home-based) RAID NAS.

I also came to the conclusion that a good chair, a good keyboard, good screens and a good working environment are more important than blazing-fast, hard-core gamer, water-cooled, 2-slot-video-carded units. Unless you play when idle, that is.


I agree with you. I think I'll go for a good assembled PC, and in case a UPS is not included, I can buy it separately. Agree on the importance of a good working environments, and I would add decent lighting to what you mention. And no, I'm not a gamer!

Lincoln Hui wrote:
You are not running a server - a UPS is rarely actually worth the investment even for workstations, as long as you are in the habit of saving your work.

I find a 1920x1080 single monitor setup quite fine - though I don't actually have enough space in my room for a second monitor. But having to turn your head instead of just your eyeballs can become a pain.
...
It's worth noting that 19" monitors these days pretty much cost the same as 24" ones. Unless you have a specific need for it, you might as well go for a 2x24" setup.


- You may be right about the UPS, and in Barcelona (where I move next month) we almost never have any power cuts.
- I thought it would be good for the eyes to have two screens, so you disconnect from one for a second to look to the other one... but maybe that's a very personal feeling.
- I will measure my desk again and think about a 2x24" setup too!


[Edited at 2014-08-25 14:38 GMT]


 

Emma Goldsmith  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:18
Member (2010)
Spanish to English
USB hubs and reasons for having UPS Aug 25, 2014

Tom in London wrote:

The only (very small) downside is that, unlike many other monitors, it doesn't include a USB hub. But that's no problem, because I simply bought a powered USB hub separately, which cost me just a few pennies more.


Tom, please can you explain what you need a USB hub for on a monitor?
I've got a powered USB hub (3.0) that cost about €40. I use it to extend the 2 rather limited USB sockets on my laptop, but I don't know why it would be useful for a monitor.

Lincoln Hui wrote:

a backup power supply for power cuts

You are not running a server - a UPS is rarely actually worth the investment even for workstations, as long as you are in the habit of saving your work.

When I had a desktop I used a UPS , not because of the risk of losing work, but to stop the machine switching off (and starting up again) when there were very brief power cuts (we often get a power cut lasting just a few seconds where I live).

This is a good reason for working on a laptop.


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:18
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Explanation Aug 25, 2014

Emma Goldsmith wrote:

Tom, please can you explain what you need a USB hub for on a monitor?


You don't actually need one, but a powered USB hub built into a monitor is a handy thing to have.

I find you can never have enough USB ports.

My powered USB hub has seven ports, and cost £6.49 from eBay

icon_smile.gificon_smile.gificon_smile.gif

[Edited at 2014-08-25 15:29 GMT]


 

Hans Geluk  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:18
Member (2013)
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
UPS Aug 25, 2014

Emma Goldsmith wrote:
When I had a desktop I used a UPS , not because of the risk of losing work, but to stop the machine switching off (and starting up again) when there were very brief power cuts (we often get a power cut lasting just a few seconds where I live).
This is a good reason for working on a laptop.


Thanks Emma. You might be right. Actually, in Barcelona we do not have power cuts so often, but when they occur, they are almost always of the 1-2 second type. I also want to have two computers, because if one breaks down I must be able to continue working. And laptops probably last shorter if used 8 hours a day than desktops. So I may want to go for a desktop PC anyway.

If so, a UPS (separate, or included as in the ASUS) may be a good idea. They aren't too expensive (about €100 for a pretty decent one on Amazon.es or Fnac, e.g. http://www.fnac.es/APC-SAI-550VA-330W-de-8-tomas-Regleta-protectora-Regleta-SAI/a382553). But does someone have any idea on their power use? Is it like having a powerful lamp on 24x7? Or do they use minimum power when charged?


 

Tina Vonhof
Canada
Local time: 03:18
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Two monitors Aug 25, 2014

I have two 22-inch Samsung monitors placed at a slight angle and I'm very pleased with them. It's so much easier to see your source and target files side by side. I would not want to have a smaller screen for the source file. Usually these are PDFs, not always perfectly legible, and they need enlarging to read them comfortably. There is also enough room to have a dictionary or search engine open on either of the screens to quickly switch from the document to one of those.

 

Hans Geluk  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:18
Member (2013)
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
19" (5:4 display) vs. 22" (16:9 display) Aug 25, 2014

Tina Vonhof wrote:
I have two 22-inch Samsung monitors placed at a slight angle and I'm very pleased with them. It's so much easier to see your source and target files side by side. I would not want to have a smaller screen for the source file. Usually these are PDFs, not always perfectly legible, and they need enlarging to read them comfortably. There is also enough room to have a dictionary or search engine open on either of the screens to quickly switch from the document to one of those.


Hi Tina, thanks for sharing! This sounds like a very good setup, and similar to the recommended 2x24" setup of Lincoln Hui.
I guess your 22" screens are 16:9 (so, 1920x1080p). If so, the effective screen size is 49cm x 27cm, and in portrait mode you will have an effective width of 27cm and spare space above/below the document.
Weird enough, a 19" screen at 5:4 (1280x1024p) is wider: 38cm x 30cm, and an A4 document (Word, PDF) does fit neatly in that space.

I have not found larger 5:4 displays, so if I want to avoid a wide screen for my portrait monitor, I may be stuck with 19" as the largest possible size.

(Source of screen sizes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Display_size).


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:18
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Why not? Aug 25, 2014

Tina Vonhof wrote:

I have two 22-inch Samsung monitors placed at a slight angle and I'm very pleased with them. It's so much easier to see your source and target files side by side. I would not want to have a smaller screen for the source file. Usually these are PDFs, not always perfectly legible, and they need enlarging to read them comfortably. There is also enough room to have a dictionary or search engine open on either of the screens to quickly switch from the document to one of those.





Why not just use a wide screen, such as the one I described above? That's one less cable, one less power supply, reduced desk space, and no turning left and right as though watching a tennis match.

[Edited at 2014-08-25 17:20 GMT]


 

Orrin Cummins  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 18:18
Japanese to English
+ ...
I'm going with this Aug 25, 2014

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

CPU: Intel Core i5-4690K 3.5GHz Quad-Core Processor ($224.99 @ NCIX US)
CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-D14 65.0 CFM CPU Cooler ($71.98 @ OutletPC)
Motherboard: ASRock Z97 EXTREME6 ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($149.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: G.Skill Trident X 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($169.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung XP941 Series 128GB M.2-2280 Solid State Drive
Video Card: MSI GeForce GTX 760 2GB TWIN FROZR Video Card ($234.99 @ Micro Center)
Case: NZXT Phantom (Black) ATX Full Tower Case ($119.98 @ OutletPC)
Power Supply: Corsair Professional 850W 80+ Gold Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply ($109.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: LG GH24NSB0 DVD/CD Writer ($13.99 @ Newegg)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($84.98 @ OutletPC)
Monitor: Dell U2412M 60Hz 24.0" Monitor ($252.00 @ Newegg)
Total: $1432.88


 
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