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Desktop computer: which one is best?
Thread poster: hollycrichton

hollycrichton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:48
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
Jun 9, 2015

I'm translating full time and would like to buy my first PC desk top computer. I work with Trados Studio 2014. Some people have told me Dell is a good brand name, but what do you professional translators think?

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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:48
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
I've had good experiences with Dell Jun 9, 2015

hollycrichton wrote:
Some people have told me Dell is a good brand name, but what do you professional translators think?

Dell is usually good value, but be careful of the options. The base price tends to be low, but if you start adding bits and pieces the price goes up very quickly. I have bought Dell machines for members of my family in the past and they have performed and lasted well.

Whatever brand you buy, get something with a small form factor. I bought a tower PC case about 10 years ago and while the internals have changed over time the case itself is so large that it's been getting in the way since day one.

Regards
Dan


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:48
Member
English to French
Any mid-range offer will do Jun 9, 2015

Provided that your main use is conventional translation work.

The bigger the (non-glossy) screen, the better. A video card with two ports allows you to hook 2 monitors.
Keyboard, mouse, screen and chair are as vital as the processing power.
Standard integrated audio is enough for using voice recognition or listen to music while working.
Look for plenty of USB ports (both at the front and the back) for devices.
A UPS is also helpful (laptops users don't know what a power cut is), together with some remote/redundant storage (not the cloud).
An SSD or hybrid drive could make the thing a bit faster.

I am running a no-name type with 8GB of RAM and an average quad-core. No reliability issues. It has all the power I need to run Trados, MemoQ, TO3000, Outlook, a browser, dictionaries, Copernic, Dragon, Office apps and whatever else all at once. For some reason, I always seem to have more than 80 processes running.

I probably can't play modern graphics-rich games, design CAD stuff or do heavy video-editing, but then I use it for work, Internet and hardly anything else.

All in all, I can cope with a budget of €600-800 for the box. But more for the rest (printer, scanner, screen(s), UPS, storage...).

In the early days, I used to buy components and build my desktops according to my needs, but it's too much hassle to keep up with hardware specs for so small a difference in day-to-day work compared to an off-the-shelf model. I don't even know what chipset or graphics card I have now.

Philippe


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hollycrichton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:48
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you all, very helpful info. Jun 9, 2015

Phillipe, I'm going to look into all these details you outlined. I really appreciate it. Muchissimas gracias.

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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:48
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
I second Philippe's point about the screen Jun 10, 2015

Get the biggest screen you can. It may be cheaper to buy it independently of the PC itself.

Dan


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:48
Member (2008)
Italian to English
This screen is really good Jun 10, 2015

Dan Lucas wrote:

Get the biggest screen you can. It may be cheaper to buy it independently of the PC itself.

Dan


After a lot of thought, I bought the BenQ GW2760HS:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00BPL0558/ref=pe_385721_37986871_TE_item

It's REALLY GOOD: big, non-shiny, excellent performance, and...cheap ! Macworld called it "The best-value 27-inch monitor on the market - a 27-inch monitor that’s technically on par with the Apple Cinema Display (SRP £899) with a matte screen for just £210."- here's the review (I got mine for £167.99):

http://tinyurl.com/nkcl2c2

I've been using it since last July and it's wonderful not only for translating (I can display 2 A4 pages side by side) but for watching movies and everything else.

[Edited at 2015-06-10 10:17 GMT]


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Andreas Morgenstern  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:48
English to German
+ ...
A few tips Jun 10, 2015

Most shops that I know will build a PC for no extra cost.

A few tips for the PC:
-Translators usually do not need a powerful graphics card, so you could make your computer almost completely silent. Silence is bliss. (search for fanless graphics cards, silent pc etc.)
-SSDs are really handy. Copy everything important on these smallish, but very fast hard drives. Having your PC boot up in 10 seconds is very handy.


For the Monitor:
Get a huge screen! I bought a 40" screen with UHD resolution (3840x2160 pixels) a while ago and it is glorious. Glorious!! My eyesight has improved a lot and even my back seems to be getting better.
Plus, the working space is just insanely huge. It is no problem to open 2 dictionaries, 1 glossary, target and source documents, the work environment and a few other programs all at the same time.

Most graphics cards will support UHD at 30hz and the newest ones even at 60hz with HDMI 2.0. (just remember to switch to 30hz if the cursor and/or other things look weird, might be the color range).


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B D Finch  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:48
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Check out current discounts Jun 10, 2015

I got an Asus PC about a year ago, because it was on a very special offer, seemed to meet my requirements, didn't have a large graphics card and was not constructed for gaming. I have been very pleased with it; it boots up fast and has been completely trouble-free (touch wood). I was considering Dell, but found that they are expensive and have a really bad reputation for after sales service. Another factor I found important was having four of the USB ports conveniently situated at a 45° angle on the top front of the case and having a tray on top for my bluetooth microphone headset stand.

I prefer not to have one gigantic screen. Instead, I use two screens side by side but at a slight angle, because I think that is much better ergonomically and more restful on the eyes. I can use the mouse to drag windows from one screen to the other. When I am not multitasking, the graphics card lets me switch to single screen operation, saving on power and distraction. My screens were both purchased separately and one of them can be physically rotated through 90°, giving a portrait-style display, which can occasionally be useful.


[Edited at 2015-06-10 11:37 GMT]


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Neptunia
Local time: 22:48
Italian to English
reviews can be useful Jun 10, 2015

It sounds like you haven't yet narrowed down what your preferences are. Do you have plenty of space for a tower-style desktop or do you prefer the all-in-one style? Do you have strong feelings about making later hardware upgrades or connecting more than one monitor? Are you sharing with other members of the family? Do you just want to make a single purchase and get everything in the box at once? Would no wi-fi be a deal breaker? My recommendation is to get a sense of the market from skimming reviews in the major computer magazines like: http://www.pcmag.com/reviews/desktop-computers or http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2401541,00.asp
but then to do a little follow-up googling of the particular models you are considering and try to find some customer reviews on a site like Amazon. They are often good for pointing out things like a noisy fan or cables that are too short. I think any modern computer is going to have more than enough power for normal translation work. The variables that count end up being the monitor and sometimes accessories that are very subjective like keyboards and back-up systems. To answer your question about Dell - yes, they are certainly one of the most established brands and always seem to have some models that score well in comparative reviews. I used them for years in my employed life but at home I chose an Asus (to replace an old Compaq/HP) because I was looking for a model with a certain video card. My main computer is an iMac though


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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:48
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Envy strikes Jun 10, 2015

Andreas Morgenstern wrote:
Get a huge screen! I bought a 40" screen with UHD resolution (3840x2160 pixels) a while ago and it is glorious.

Glad to hear that, because as soon as money allows this is going to be my next major purchase. What did you get, the Philips BDM4065UC or one of the Korean brands?

Dan


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Andreas Morgenstern  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:48
English to German
+ ...
Monitors Jun 10, 2015

Dan Lucas wrote:

Andreas Morgenstern wrote:
Get a huge screen! I bought a 40" screen with UHD resolution (3840x2160 pixels) a while ago and it is glorious.

Glad to hear that, because as soon as money allows this is going to be my next major purchase. What did you get, the Philips BDM4065UC or one of the Korean brands?

Dan


A Korean one, Samsung. Works great so far, acts just like a monitor when the input is set to PC, already HMDI 2.0 compatible, great viewing angles... couldn't ask for more. Much better than any UHD-'monitor' that I've seen lately.

Which reminds me:
To anyone reading, do not try out those new UHD-monitors with TN-panels (or any other monitor or laptop with a TN-panel for that sake). Their viewing angles are extremely bad. Starting from around 24", almost a third of the screen starts to shift colours, if you are looking at the screen at only a slight angle. They may be a bit cheaper, but they are not worth the hassle.


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Robert Rietvelt  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:48
Member (2006)
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
Brand doesn't really matter that much Jun 10, 2015

Most brands are using the same parts from the same factory, only the name on the computer is different.

What you should look at is (as already mentioned) speed! The 3 most important things are:

1) Enough RAM
2) Enough space on your hard disc (how much depends on your work/hobby. If you work with a lot of videos or you like gaming, you need more space, and yes a SSD is faster and more silent than a traditional hard disc, but also tends to have a shorter lifetime and is more expensive).
3) Fast processor.

So, I would suggest you first make sure where you want to use your desk top for, before you are paying too much for all kind of features you don't need/use anyhow.

Screen - BIG, absolutely!


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Dominique Pivard  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:48
Finnish to French
Which path? Jun 10, 2015

hollycrichton wrote:
I'm translating full time and would like to buy my first PC desk top computer.

Just curious: have you been using laptops only so far, and this would be your first desktop? or have you been using Macs only so far, and this would be your first PC? This is strange, because most people tend to "upgrade" from desktops to laptops, and/or from PC's to Macs, rather than the reverse


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Aelf
Poland
Local time: 22:48
English to Polish
+ ...
Silence Jun 10, 2015

As someone has already said it, all modern computers will handle translation tasks.

That's why you should look into how to make your work as comfortable as possible. IMO, it's all about ergonomics. In case of hardware, I'd make an effort to get the quietest components:
- upgraded active CPU cooling,
- fanless graphics card, (if any, as many mobos and some CPUs have GFX chip/components in them),
- SSD,
- quiet power supply,
- a case with sound dampening pads ('cause I'm that crazy about it).

As for a Dell computer, it would be hard for the brand to satisfy me, so I'd opt for a PC made to my specifications in my local computer store.


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George Hopkins
Local time: 22:48
Swedish to English
Odds and ends Jun 11, 2015

As already mentioned, a large separate screen (60 inch) is recommended, allowing you to work with different programs simultaneously, eg, dictionaries (WordFinder) on the laptop screen and text (Trados) on the larger screen.
A separate keyboard is also a big plus.


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