From photography to slideshow creation, your computer is a critical tool in the creative process. To get the most out of it you’ll need the right hardware and some good software to minimize frustration and maximize your potential.
Whether you’re looking for a brand new computer or just need a few upgrades, prioritizing what you need from your next computer can get you to that next level without breaking the bank. Let’s take a quick look at a few of the most important components for a quality multimedia editing computer that really zips!
The workhorse in any computer is the CPU. It controls when and how quickly things happen on the system. The difference between one CPU generation and the next can be stark. It is also a component most often upgraded when purchasing a new computer.
For the best performance, look for a CPU of the current generation, although you don’t need the most expensive model. The best performance for your money is often near but not at the top of the market. A quality i5 CPU, for instance, can outperform a slower i7 CPU at a much lower cost.
Many websites provide CPU benchmarks (performance evaluations) along with price estimates and can be quite helpful in determining which CPU is right for your next computer. Here is one example:
Processing power, as important as it is, doesn’t mean much if you can’t run multiple applications at the same time. Making this happen is the job of your RAM, where programs live while they’re being used. If you find that your computer is too slow when working in multiple applications then a RAM upgrade might be just what you need. The processor can be easy and inexpensive.
You’ll need a 64-bit operating system to utilize over 4 GB of RAM, a bare minimum for serious multimedia work. The amount of RAM necessary to keep a system from bogging down varies by usage. Most people will find that 8 – 12 GB keeps them working efficiently.
Some applications go a step further when it comes to delivering a rich multimedia experience and utilize the extra power of the video card (GPU) to ensure high quality content without sacrificing performance. For these applications, like ProShow version 5, it is important to use a dedicated video card, rather than a GPU that is integrated into the computer’s motherboard.
As is true with CPUs, a video card of the current generation is often the best option. Modern video cards typically come in a tiered product line where the lowest-end is appropriate for basic computer operation and the highest-end is designed for intense tasks like video games. A video card from the middle of the product line is typically sufficient for all multimedia applications. Here is a resource to put these tiers, and generations, in context based on benchmark scores: