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February 20, 2012
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What desktop computer is best for a Digital Art major?

:iconfullmetalmeister00x:
fullmetalmeister00x Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Of course, this is always the never ending battle between Mac & PC; however, I've never had a Mac before. My school does not have a Mac lab, except the four Macs in our one library lab, but they aren't up to date.

I've had PCs all my life, and I'm comfortable with them, but I know a lot of companies and designers are now requesting to have at least some knowledge of Macs and the iOS software.

Right now, I have a Sony VIAO [ [link] ] that I got from Best Buy a couple months back, and I love the thing to death. It runs Photoshop, Fireworks, and even Autodesk Maya 2012 smoothly. The only reason I was looking into a Desktop is because it's difficult working in a small area, and to work with the track pad, etc. But, it's convenient to have for school and whatnot.

I've looked into Sony, HP, and Macs, but nothing else so far. I am looking for something that is up to date, with a big harddrive (over 1TB), great memory (like 6-8GB), and an insanely good graphics card (I'm not sure what qualifies as "good").

Or, if anything, would a MacBook Pro be easier? But that would defeat the purpose of having a seperate PC. So...yeah.

I'm open to suggestions, thanks! :]
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:iconjakobdam:
jakobdam Featured By Owner Feb 29, 2012  Professional Interface Designer
I would'nt buy a desktop computer if I were you.

Your laptop seems to be doing the crunching just fine, the way I read it - so spend your money on the following:

1) A good 24" screen (or 27-30" if you're rich). A GOOD 24" screen with VA-based or preferrably IPS-based technology. Currently, I'm recommending HP ZR24w for low-cost, and EIZO SX2762W for those who have the money.

2) Keyboard and mouse for your laptop.

3) NAS (Network Array Storage) of at least 2 TB, to be connected to your router at home, thus providing you with a reasonable and easily accessible data storage.

4) VAIO Docking Station. So you don't have to connect all the things (screen, keyboard, mouse, digitizer tablet etc.) every time you turn your laptop into a desktop.


As for graphics card; if you want the best for MAYA (and NOT for gaming), you should go with a NVidia QUADRO-series instead of the traditional GeForce (those are for gamers). The QUADRO have way better hardware accelleration for 3D applications such as MAYA, 3D Studio MAX etc...

As for memory; 8 GB is my recommended minimum. I'm working in 3D Studio MAX and Photoshop, and I can easily use every single byte of my 8 GB system. Hence, my next system will feature 16 GB as I'm tired of waiting for the @$£ swapping...

As for processor, the Intel i7 gives you the best overall price/performance ratio at the moment. I'm an old-timer fan of AMD, so this isn't some Intel-fanboy recommendation. Rather, I miss those days where AMD ruled supreme with their Athlon64 and Athlon X2's, forcing Intel to rebadge shitty architectured processors all the time (all the P4-generations, in short). Only when the Intel Core2Duo was launched, did Intel win the performance crown back from AMD. The P4's were a DISASTER for 3D-graphicians back then, but that's another story.

As for harddisk capacity; go with at least 2 TB. As soon as you make your first FullHD 3D-movie, you want to be able to render in frames, in PNG or BMP format, and also have a bump of each project in RAW, for editing purposes. Do that with a fx. 10 projects, and you'll see how fast your harddisk capacity is used up. Don't be cheap here; 2 TB is vastly cheaper than having to buy 2 pieces of 1 TB disks. My NAS at home features 4 TB, and I expect to double that capacity this year. I'm a photographer, musician and 3D animator - hence, my need for large storage options is pretty urgent. RAW photos from my fullframe 25 MPix cam are ~35 MB each, and each PSD-development reaches 300 MB in average. My musical projects are recorded in 24-bit 96 kHz, causing HUGE files - each around 25-30 MB, and each project features maybe 50 of those files. As for the 3D... well, I'm not doing that much 3D anymore to be honest, but I know how much space that stuff takes up...
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:iconironsocks:
Ironsocks Featured By Owner Feb 27, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I suggest you also consider AMD as well. They have a better power/cost ratio. You will get more for your buck but not necessarily the 'best' performance, but in this case, you don't need to spend all that money on a intel Chip-based system, and nor do you need to spend that much on power for what you say you'll be doing with it.
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:iconpr-imagery:
PR-Imagery Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Not quite, for the money and power draw, AMD doesn't have anything that competes on the same level as the i7. FX8150 offers only marginal performance gain overall over an i5 2500/k while costing more/using more power(8150) while the i7 2600/k, tho costs more performs noticeably better overall in single and multi-threaded programs such as Maya.
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:iconcinderblockstudios:
CinderBlockStudios Featured By Owner Feb 27, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Minus the graphics card the one you have looks fairly decent. But if you're going further (which doesn't seem nessesary) then take a look at anything with an i7 processor and some kind of decent up graphics card.
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:iconironsocks:
Ironsocks Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
What is your budget?
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:iconrayvinazn:
rayvinazn Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012
Apple doesn't have a desktop machine. They have a laptop without a keyboard, a mini-ITX box that uses mainly laptop hardware, a workstation, and actual laptop. They have nothing to compete with a standard desktop since none of their machines stick with strictly desktop-level hardware.
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:iconartemisobauldi:
ArtemisObauldi Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Apple has desktops...

iMac, Mac Pro come to mind.
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:iconrayvinazn:
rayvinazn Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2012
Laptop with no keyboard and workstation.
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:iconartemisobauldi:
ArtemisObauldi Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
For reference: [link]
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:iconslyfoxphotography:
SlyFoxPhotography Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2012
Mac Pro?
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:iconrayvinazn:
rayvinazn Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2012
Workstation.
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:iconfullmetalmeister00x:
fullmetalmeister00x Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks again for all of your feedback guys. :]

And I'm willing to spend enough money to get what I need, but probably not anymore than $2500.
I'll be using Maya, Blender, the Adobe Design Premium (Photoshop, Fireworks, Flash, Dreamweaver, Illustrator, InDesign), Paint tool SAI, Paint.Net, Anime Studio Pro 8, and I'm planning on purchasing Manga Studio Pro products in the future, along with a Wacom/Bamboo tablet.
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:iconpr-imagery:
PR-Imagery Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
That's a nice budget.

Monitor > Dell U2411 [link]

As for the computer, I'd go with something along this configuration:
Configure here > [link]
Case - NZXT H2 Classic Silent Black Mid-Tower Case
Power Supply - SEASONIC X-660
Motherboard - ASUS P8Z68-V LE
Processor - i7-2600K
Memory - G.SKILL 8GB (2 x 4GB) Ripjaws PC3-12800 DDR3 1600MHz
Graphics - EVGA GTX 560 Ti
System Drive - SAMSUNG 128GB 830 Series SSD
Storage - SEAGATE 3TB Barracuda®, SATA 6 Gb/s, 7200 RPM, 64MB cache
Optical - SONY AD-7261S Black 24x DVD±R/RW Dual-Layer Burner w/ Lightscribe (default option)
OS - MICROSOFT Windows 7 Professional 64-bit Edition w/ SP1, OEM

Default(included in package)
- COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus CPU Cooler
- SABRENT CRW-UINB Black 65-in-1 Card Reader/Writer Drive, 3.5" Bay, Internal USB
- CUSTOM WIRING Standard Wiring with Precision Cable Routing and Tie-Down
- GAMING PC Silver Warranty Package (3 Year Limited Parts, 3 Year Labor Warranty)
- SERVICE Standard Shipping (UPS, DHL, or Fedex)

Total: $2442
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:icon1and1isme:
1and1isme Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2012  Student Digital Artist
I want to add using a 3TB drive windows will not be able to use it as one drive, I found I had to partition a 3Tb hardrive in a 1TB parition give or take and a 2TB :(
This was on a friends rig using a sabertooth 990fx, is it any different on the Z68 chipset?
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:iconpr-imagery:
PR-Imagery Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
That's only if you're installing WIndows on it. If its a secondary drive it's not a problem.
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:icon1and1isme:
1and1isme Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2012  Student Digital Artist
Thanks for letting me know, i had been curious about that for a while ^^
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:iconpr-imagery:
PR-Imagery Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
More specifically the limit is imposed by older hardware and the MBR file table which has a drive size limit of 2.2Tb. On UEFI enabled motherboards you can install Windows(Vista and newer; 64bit only) to 3tb+ drives as it allows to to boot from a GPT file table which has a theoretical limit of 9ZB(zettabytes).
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:icon1and1isme:
1and1isme Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2012  Student Digital Artist
ok :) Thanks.
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:iconpr-imagery:
PR-Imagery Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Build it yourself, have a friend/relative knowledgeable build it for you, or use a builder such as AVADirect to build one for you.

Depending on your budget, i5 or i7(preferably since you're running Maya), 8GB ram or more, Z68 motherboard, GTX 560 graphics card, 650-850watt psu. Roughly $1800(including a decentt monitor) with AVA, a bit less if you do it yourself.

The iMacs are nice, but a bit limiting in their upgradability.

A MacBook Pro would essentially be your VIAO with a bigger trackpad.

How much are you looking to spend?
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:icon1and1isme:
1and1isme Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Student Digital Artist
If you want to get a desktop I would recommend you build it yourself, that way you can easily upgrade in the future. If that is something you would be comfortable with pelase let me know ;) Also what programs do you mainly use or want to use? that should matter for your choice as well. ^^
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:iconshadow2k:
shadow2k Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
If you're talking desktop OR laptop, it all comes down to personal preference.

My own personal preference is - both. I paint and draw on my Mac, and render (I do 3D work too) on my somewhat beefier PC.

All I'll say to you is, Macs tend to be more stable. The uptime on my Mac as we speak is - 2 days, 1 hour, 42 minutes (that's how long it's been on for without rebooting) - and it's still just as fast as when I booted it, and hasn't crashed. I've been known to keep my Mac awake for two weeks solid without rebooting.

In EITHER case, whether you choose to get a PC or a Mac, desktop or laptop, RAM. Lots and lots of RAM. Minimum 8Gb. Last year I worked on an image on my Mac which was so huge that it took up 2-3Gb of RAM. My Mac has 4Gb, but with the image and other overheads, the poor thing kept falling over when I tried to load it. So my PC has 14Gb of RAM now, and I use that for large images.
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:iconpr-imagery:
PR-Imagery Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
"The uptime on my Mac as we speak is - 2 days, 1 hour, 42 minutes (that's how long it's been on for without rebooting) - and it's still just as fast as when I booted it, and hasn't crashed. I've been known to keep my Mac awake for two weeks solid without rebooting."

I can say the exact same thing about all 5 of my Windows machines(24/7 operation, only restarts/reboots are for the monthly update, power outage, software installation/uninstallation), my Mac on the other hand, not so much. :shrug:
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:iconshadow2k:
shadow2k Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I must just be lucky with my Mac, then. I haven't tried the same 2 week uptime stint on this Mac (that was on a 2007 Macbook Pro, which has since been replaced), but this one is just as stable. I haven't had nearly the same luck with PCs; leaving my PC on for 2 days, working in Photoshop on it on-and-off caused it to slow to a crawl. I guess I'm like the polar opposite of you in that respect.
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:iconpr-imagery:
PR-Imagery Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I mean, you put them both under the exact same circumstances they're more or less gonna perform exactly the same.

The vast majority of slow-ups on a Windows system, isn't caused by the OS, it's the user and the 20 toolbars the average person installs in IE, dozens of programs they set to load up at startup(most programs that do, ask if you want it to run at start either during the install or on first starting it) and and are left running in the background.
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:iconfullmetalmeister00x:
fullmetalmeister00x Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Oh...sorry? Lol. I'm so used to using it.

But thanks guys, I appreciate the feedback. The only thing is the price on a Mac is so damn high. T.T
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:iconpakaku:
Pakaku Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012
Macs aren't any more expensive than other computers of the same hardware.
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:iconaposine:
Aposine Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I see you're slick enough to say "hardware" instead of "specs". That way, you can point towards specific, superfluity-ridden models when I point out that you have to be a complete idiot to pay 150 dollars for a single terabyte.
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:iconpakaku:
Pakaku Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012
Well yeah, hardware or specs. I don't think you can find me a laptop, for example, that is exactly the same as a Mac laptop in every way and be significantly cheaper.
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:iconaposine:
Aposine Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
No, but there are equivalent or marginally better specimens to be pointed out, unless you're steeped in moronic design decisions such as cases made of a highly conductive metal or sheets of non-shatterproof glass covering the displays, or indeed components that in addition to their specs have "a high degree of quality" which is meaningless in practice, mostly because it's total bullshit.
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:iconpakaku:
Pakaku Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2012
You get higher-quality parts that last longer, in an attractive exterior which, in my case, has not shorted out my Macbook Pro. The glass won't shatter unless you're extremely clumsy, go figure. Apple even offers you the choice for a non-glass matte screen if you care for that so much.

I still encouraging you to find a laptop that matches something like a 15" Macbook Pro in all specs, and is at least somewhat cheaper.
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:iconaposine:
Aposine Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Alright. As a matter of fact I bought a laptop recently, and I took a peek at the MacBooks while looking for one. Their selection, frankly, scared me away and pissed me off.

The low-bottom 15 inch MacBook Pro has a 2.2 GHz quad-core CPU, 4 GB 1333 MHz RAM, a 5400 RPM 500 GB hard drive, a 512 MB graphics card and a 7 hour battery. The screen resolution is 1440x900. For an extra 910 SEK (there's about 6.63 SEK to a USD) you can get a "high resoloution" screen (1680x1050 is not high!) - with a matte alternative that tacks on an additional 455 SEK, simply by calling it "antiglare technology". The whole thing (without the matte screen) costs 16,495 Swedish Kronor.

I have in front of me a 15 inch laptop with a 2.2 GHz quad-core CPU, 8 GB 1333 MHz RAM, a 5400 RPM 750 GB hard drive, a 2 GB graphics card, a 5 hour battery, and a 1920x1080 screen of remarkable quality (no light bleeding, perfect color balance). It also has twice the USB ports of the MacBook (two of which are USB 3.0, MBP has none of those - instead it sports the vestige that is the firewire), an HDMI output, and a VGA output (MBP needs an adapter for that). Price: 9,490 SEK. 57.53% of the, in most relevant categories, inferior MacBook Pro.

The glass sheet thing bothers me because there is shatterproof, scratch-resistant "Gorilla" glass available, and Apple quite obviously don't use it (personal experience attests), not even on their iOS devices. Why not? My initial guesses was that Gorilla glass perhaps didn't shine in the same way or didn't feel as cold against the fingertips, both of which would make total sense in the context of Apple, but that's apparently not the case, so there's not even a stupid excuse. Finally, I doubt as to the longevity of Apple components, or at least the use of their longevity, since Apple is the world champion of planned obsolescence.
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:iconpakaku:
Pakaku Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2012
Before we go any further with this, what laptop do you have? :B
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(1 Reply)
:iconhobbnob1:
hobbnob1 Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Student General Artist
Ummm care to back that up? I have a 600 quid advent CBE1401 that's the same spec as a 900 quid mac
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:iconrayvinazn:
rayvinazn Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012
You took it apart and directly compared ALL the internal hardware? Screen panel is the same? Hard drive specs are identical? RAM latency and speed the same?
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:iconpr-imagery:
PR-Imagery Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I have. My Toshiba had better hardware specs, faster hard drive + an SSD, more ram, larger higher resolution screen, better gpu, quad core i7 versus dual core i7. My MBP was $700 more than the Toshiba. Looking at the costs of a VIAO and Toshiba's magnesium alloy laptop, I would attribute $200-$300 of that to the "premium" you pay for the aluminum uni-body.
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:iconrayvinazn:
rayvinazn Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2012
Then you got a hell of a good deal on that Toshiba. Dual-drive laptops tend to be heavy though, but that's not a big deal if you don't have to move them around much.
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:iconpr-imagery:
PR-Imagery Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
One of the rather common deals on a quality Windows laptop with better specs for less than a Mac. :shrug:
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:iconrayvinazn:
rayvinazn Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2012
I find all laptops to be pretty piss-poor for the money. I suppose if you really need one for work or school it could make sense, but for what I do they really are an awful deal. To me it seems more like levels of getting screwed, not getting screwed or not.
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(1 Reply)
:iconhobbnob1:
hobbnob1 Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2012  Student General Artist
Yes, and no it's not all exactly the same, the screen's bigger (which I forgot about on macs, so the system is actually 850 my bad)
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:iconl-inc:
L-iNC Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012
You know, I really don't give a fuck if you think small font looks nicer, that's why you have the ability to change the font size on your monitor. Just don't ruin the internet for the rest of us by abusing sub/sup tags.

As for your question Macbooks (pro) are nice. The trackpad is a lot better than on any other laptop I've used. On some tasks it's even better than mouse. I guess you'd have to consider what software you have/are going to use. It would be shame if you get Mac and then the software you need isn't available.

If you do get desktop maybe you shold build it youself, or have someone build it for you, as that way you can get lot more bang for your buck. Pre built machines are usually pretty bad, except for Macs. :)
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:iconrebnic:
rebnic Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Student General Artist
MAC!!!
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:icon1and1isme:
1and1isme Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Student Digital Artist
Why?
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:iconrebnic:
rebnic Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Student General Artist
Macs are more Adobe-Friendly in my opinion!!! I have used all adobe products on both MACs and PCs!!! I also think they are easier to organize!!! Plus I am a Graphics Art Student and have been told my teachers that Mac is the better chose of graphic artists!!!
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:icon1and1isme:
1and1isme Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Student Digital Artist
Kind of odd, I live in holland and it seems most graphic designers use windows, there seems to be little to no difference between the 2 as far as usability of the software package of adobe.
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:iconpr-imagery:
PR-Imagery Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
"have been told my teachers that Mac is the better chose of graphic artists" - irrelevant. know for yourself.
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:iconrebnic:
rebnic Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Student General Artist
I also mentioned that I prefer working on a mac to a pc... thank you very much, but my teachers are professionals in the field and so I thought I would share their opinions as well
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:iconpr-imagery:
PR-Imagery Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
And that's great, that's your preference; whatever anyone else thinks is subjective and irrelevant.

It's a well known fact that many creative professionals and design schools use and highly recommend Macs; That really has always been the market segment that Apple targeted with the Mac line and accompanied software from the beginning; creatives, the fashionable, for a lack of a better term - uppity types, with a price to match.

But the whole Macs are better for design adage, is dated and stems from when Macs actually were better; better software, better hardware. But that doesn't really hold true, with today's software and hardware. Side-by-side computer X running OSx and computer X running Windows is going to run the same software more or less exactly the same. I see that every single day.
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