Advice needed: which PC features should I look for when buying?
Thread poster: Aurélie Geldof-Eke

Aurélie Geldof-Eke  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:08
English to French
Jan 10, 2014

Hello,

Although I am only a student, I am looking into buying a new machine (PC with windows).

I don't know computers very well and I am simply wondering which features to look for when buying to make sure that the machine will cope with potential translation software I will buy in the next few years.

I guess I need to look out for RAM, memory and processor but this is all Greek to me.
So if anyone can give me some advice, I would really appreciate.

Thank you very much.

Aurélie

ps: I am looking into buying a desktop first. I'll update my laptop later.


 

Recep Kurt  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 00:08
Member (2011)
English to Turkish
+ ...
My recommendation Jan 10, 2014

Hello Lily,

My basic recommendation would be to go for a Intel® Core™ i7 Processor with 10MB Level 3 cache and at least 8 GB of memory (the more the better). This will give you plenty of power. Depending on whether you will work with software such as Photoshop, InDesign etc., you might opt for a PC with a decent video card.

Regards


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 18:08
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Find a computer guru among your friends Jan 10, 2014

It's hard to tell from a distance. What do you intend to do with your computer?

Recep Kurt's suggestion is pretty safe for a power user, however it may be an overkill for you. Of course, a 44-seat bus with AWD and a 12-cylinder turbo engine would take a lot of people over difficult terrain and under inclement weather, however it is definitely an overkill to take you and one friend to the beach in summer.

So the best solution is to find someone local you can talk to, explain your intentions, and get some tips on what to buy, possibly on where as well.

As computers are engineered to become obsolete after a while, there isn't much to gain from eventually having ancient but overly powerful hardware.


 

Peter Linton  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:08
Member (2002)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Two screens Jan 10, 2014

I would strongly recommend doing what you suggested – get a workstation, leave the laptop for later. And I would recommend what I did – spend most of your money on having two screens. Spend the rest of it on cheap equipment, Perhaps even second-hand. 2 Gbytes is adequate for translating and for running the kind of software you might use in translation (excluding InDesign etc). You do not need giant disk drives, though a spare portable USB drive for backing up would be sensible. Get a cheap printer. Get older versions of software.

Your friends will sneer at you, but I think you will find, as I did, that this sort of setup with 2 screens will increase your productivity far more than having a fast CPU and large amounts of memory.


 

Radu Nicolaescu  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 00:08
Member (2006)
German to Romanian
+ ...
memory eaters Jan 11, 2014

be careful not to undersize

the generation Studio 2011/2014 is performant but very greedy on memory; you will need a reserve for large projects

not only InDesign, but also the last generations Adobe Pro are greedy

2 monitors are a must,

a good video-card is very important, not only for performance, but also for ergonomy


 

Dominique Pivard  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:08
Finnish to French
Display requirements Jan 11, 2014

Radu Nicolaescu wrote:
2 monitors are a must,

Just because you happen to see value in using a dual-monitor setup doesn't mean it's a "must" for everyone else. Many people (me, for instance) are doing just fine with a single monitor.
Radu Nicolaescu wrote:
a good video-card is very important, not only for performance, but also for ergonomy

Please educate me: what is a "good" video card and in what way a bad one would affect ergonomics? I was under the impression video cards can be fast or slow: if you are into games, or video editing, you would want to have a fast one; otherwise your game would drop lots of frames, it would take forever to render your videos etc. But what good does a super-fast video card do for a translator (except generate extra heat)? Likewise, my understanding is a video card needs enough RAM to support all the monitors you are going to connect to it; if you're one of those crazy people who need three or four monitors, that would probably be a valid concern, but if you're happy with a single monitor, I guess even cards with modest specs would work just fine.


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:08
Member (2008)
Italian to English
My 10c Jan 11, 2014

Make sure the screen isn't shiny. Shiny screens are a PITA.

 

Josephine Cassar  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:08
Member (2012)
Italian to English
+ ...
2 monitors and shiny screens Jan 12, 2014

I agree with both. You have no idea how much faster you can work by having 2 monitors-even an old one would do for one of them-you will have the text to be translated on one, and the other for translation. It avoids minimising and maximising and losing your place, etc. Also a shiny screen tires your eyes out and dries them out quicker. I find i5 enough.

 

Kieran Sheehan  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:08
Member (2008)
German to English
Two-in-one solution: laptop with docking station Jan 12, 2014

I would recommend using a laptop with docking station. When you are at home you can attach two monitors to the docking station, along with mouse, external drives etc. And when you need to travel you can simply "unhook" the laptop and take it with you. All major PC vendors offer good business models with the docking option. Furthermore, these business laptops usually have a non-shiny screen.

[Edited at 2014-01-12 15:06 GMT]


 

Radu Nicolaescu  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 00:08
Member (2006)
German to Romanian
+ ...
display performance Jan 12, 2014

1. I do technical translations: I need 1 monitor for the reference document (pdf) and 1 monitor for the CAT file; in this case is a must to have 2 monitors. When the layout of the actual file or reference is not very relevant it depends of your working style if you really need or not the second monitor.

2. A good video card is always useful, even for 1 monitor: some memory-consuming CAT tools or jobs may generate long subliminal response-time of the screen. A long use with a low-performance video system may be very tiring for the eyes.
An extreme overloaded video may even generate erratic response of the prompter on the screen.


 

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 23:08
English to Polish
+ ...
... Jan 13, 2014

For just simply CAT work I'd get some serious CPU, RAM and a fast hard disk (7200 RPM or higher, not 5400), possibly some sort of RAID configuration for easier backups and such like. This is not really necessary but makes your life easier by not forcing coffee breaks on you, not as likely getting overloaded and hanging up and so on.

On the other hand, if you get that type of horsepower, you might as well get yourself a decent video card and start a Steam account.icon_razz.gif (Don't forget to put it in your CV. You're basically training for video-game translation, you know.icon_razz.gif)


 

Aurélie Geldof-Eke  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:08
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Jan 14, 2014

Thank you everyone,

I really appreciate your help.

I am a bit confused by some replies but I will do what I can to take the best out of your suggestions and get a good computer.

I have no knowledge of translation software and my point was to ask professionals who use them on a daily basis and know whether they take a lot of memory space or if they need graphics, etc.

Some of you gave me very valuable information and answered my question.

Thank you.


 


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