Old 08-24-2012, 10:36 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Posts: 1,099

Default What should i look for in a computer/graphic card for a inspiring animator/ graphic artist?

Hi, I'm looking to becoming an animator/ digital artist. And I'm looking at possibly replacing my desktop computer due to the fact that I'm not sure if it can handle the programs (and games) i'm intrested in. So I would like you're opinion cause I really don't have much of a idea of what to look for.
Do i need a New tower or should i just upgrade the graphic card?

My System: Referbished Dell
Operating system Windows XP Professional service pack 3
Processor:x86 Family 15 Model 4 steping 7 GenuineIntel~2793Mhz
BIOS Version:DEell. inc 2006
Total virtual Memory: 2GB
Total Physical memory: 2048 MB
Graphic Card: Intel (R)82945 (I think having a hard time find it...all i know is it won't run high graphic games and has a hard time running photoshop CS3.)

(Fyi I don't have don't have much of a clue if any of that is really good or not..)

Programs interested in running: Adobe Photoshop/Flash/Dreamweaver etc., SAI Easy Paintool, And other animator programs (suggestions would be great). Then my game: Mabinogi, Skyrim, and Dark Souls, Asassins creed (note the only game i can play right now is mabinogi and technically it not even running correctly.)
Note: I got my computer 3 years ago off of criegslist as a gift. I have no way to contact the seller.

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Old 08-24-2012, 10:36 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default What should i look for in a computer/graphic card for a inspiring animator/ graphic artist?

Just ask the seller or technical person or its developer he will be able to answer good about this issue.
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Old 08-24-2012, 10:36 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default What should i look for in a computer/graphic card for a inspiring animator/ graphic artist?

You're going to need a dedicated graphics card. Your current PC has integrated graphics, which is overall bad for games and video editing. You're better off building your own PC.

This online forum will more than gladly help you, just register an account and post a topic asking what type of specs you'll be needing. Just remember to be very specific about what you'll be using the computer for, and what your budget is:
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Old 08-24-2012, 10:36 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default What should i look for in a computer/graphic card for a inspiring animator/ graphic artist?

Just to get your feet wet, you may want to play around with Blender (available for free from - video tutorials are available (also free) from and Although Maya and 3DSmax are the current 'industry standards', they also cost several thousand dollars. Despite operating a bit differently, Blender can do everything the commercial programs do - and then some!

Now, as to system requirements... The modeling and animating portions will work fine on your existing system. The chief benefit of upgrading would be reducing how long it takes to render - from baking textures to full scene renders. Keep in mind that movie-quality CG is intense!! Pixar and Dreamworks run huge render farms (1000+ systems doing nothing BUT renders) and it takes DAYS to produce a single scene.

The principal bottlenecks when it comes to real-time (non-rendered) playback are:

1 ) Graphics Processing Unit / Video Card
While techies can compare more detailed specs (such as GDRAM bandwidth, pixel and vertice clocks, etc), the clearest figure on the side of the box for the layman is the Fill Rate. While different programs utilize different interfaces (Direct3D, DirectX, CUDA, 3Dvision, etc), the Texture Fill Rate (usually scored in billions per second) provides a generalized benchmark of the type of performance you can expect - the higher this number, the better.

nVidia has pretty much cornered the graphics market and is the most widely supported - though they have licensed the technology to various manufacturers.

2 ) Graphics Memory and System Memory
RAM is crucial to graphics performance - GDRAM (the memory on the video card) in particular. Not only is it usually much faster than system memory, but it is accessed directly by the GPU. It goes without saying but, generally, the more the better - though a 48.1 Fill card with 1GB of GDRAM will smoke a 36.5 Fill card with 2GB of GDRAM.

System memory is also important as it prevents needing to access the system cache (on your hard drive) which is much, MUCH slower. 2GB barely cuts it nowadays - 8GB should be the minimum you want to look for, with 16GB being far preferable. Currently, there's not much benefit to going beyond 32GB. But also be aware that the 64-bit versions of XP/Win7 are required to access system RAM beyond 3GB.

3 ) Main Central Processing Unit (CPU)
Though less an issue for games (ie - playback), a more powerful CPU is very important on the creation side - rendering in particular. A good layman benchmark is to simply multiply the processor speed times the square root of the number of cores - the higher the better in this regard, though L2/L3 caches factor as well. (The reasoning being that there's only so much that can be achieved by adding cores due to the fact that everything enters and leaves single-file.)

4 ) Hard Drive Interface/Spindle
The fastest drives available are Solid-State Drives (SSDs) which use memory (much like RAM) which doesn't erase when you turn the power off. While not as fast as GDRAM, or even DRAM, it's scores faster than standard hard drives. Sadly, however, they're still pretty expensive. Still, it's a good idea to get the fastest 90GB-120GB drive you can and use it only for the operating system.

SATA (the current standard) comes in several flavors, though the higher versions generally perform better (SATA-2 being faster than SATA, etc). Within this, it boils down to spindle speed. Most run at 5400 RPM, though models vary from 3600RPM to 17,000RPM - 7200 RPM is the fastest you'll find without a sizable price jump and, by that point, you're getting into SSD prices. Even if you can't consider an SSD (due to finances), you can usually get a 1TB (1024GB) 7200RPM SATA-2 (or better) drive for under $100.

To summarize:

You can get by with your current system for a bit longer while using Blender to get the hang of modeling and animating. When you're ready to upgrade, expect to spend $1500-$2000 on a complete new system, as there's very little that can be done to upgrade your current one - Dells are good, economical computers, but they tend to be proprietary (meaning they're very limited in regards to what industry-standard components they can use).
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