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I am a new media teacher with dreams coming true - we are upgrading the school and I am getting a new lab. I have been asked to make a wish list. However, I am very novice, so it is a big task to take on. We have the Adobe CS6 suite and the division has some sort of (tragic) contract with ACER for computers.

What specs should I be requesting for the computers that the students will use in the classroom? They will be working in Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesgin as well as basic stop animation in movie maker or another comparable (or recommended) program They will be taking photos and editing, designing and drawing characters, logos and basic imagery, and will be working on layout and design for print

I am requesting a (Wacom) graphics tablet, basic photography backdrop, lighting and camera, and a large format printer for the classroom.

Our current lab has touch screens - is this worth maintaining in a media lab? (To me, it has seemed gimmicky rather than functional)

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    Hey Mrs. Sturch and congrats on the upgrade! With that being said, HarwareRecs.SE is likely a better fit for this question though it gets less traffic. I'm not sure how this community will accept a hardware only question, especially one as broad as this – Zach Saucier Mar 10 '16 at 20:22
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    This is mostly opinion, but, in general, Max out RAM and Processors until you reach your budget. Solid state drives are a nice addition if you can afford them. I agree, touch screens serve no real purpose. As an aside, if you can...it'd be nice to have a perpetual 'maintenance' budget where every year or so you're allowed to upgrade a % of the machines. That way you always have at least some relatively new machines in the lab. – DA01 Mar 10 '16 at 21:04
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If you are working in Adobe tools, you might want to use Adobe’s System Requirements for Creative Cloud, at least as a starting point. They have specific requirements for each app.

The easiest thing to do is just buy iMacs. They meet all the requirements, color management is built in, they require very little I-T support, don’t have viruses, and they are guaranteed to be a tested configuration at Adobe. That is why you see so many graphics studios filled with iMacs and Mac Pros. You can be up and running in a very short time and have a reliable system with minimal downtime and no disappointments.

If you do Windows systems, be sure to do your homework to make sure you are buying a system that is designed and built for graphics because most are not. Generally speaking, you should spend iMac money even on a Windows system if it is for graphics. The way a system gets really cheap is they remove the stuff you don’t need to run Excel, but do need to run Photoshop.

  • I'm sure you'll get some "Macs do have viruses!!!" and "PCs are just as good for half the price!" comments, but for what it's worth I totally agree. – Cai Mar 10 '16 at 21:50
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  • +1 Just to add a precision, the iMac 5k have a good graphic card and is still cheaper than Mac Pro. Plus, there's no need for a display! The other versions that are cheaper are not as good. Also, the new iMac ram memory can be updated easily but the versions from 1-2 years ago are a nightmare for this (eg. $$$$) if they're not ordered full memory! Just thought I should mention in case the refurbished or buying older but new models options is something the OP get suggested! Lifespan of a Mac is really worth the investment. – go-junta Mar 10 '16 at 23:16
  • I don't know why, but our school division won't buy Macs. It would make it all so much easier. Thank you though - I will pass on the sentiments and hope for the best! – Mrs. Sturch Mar 11 '16 at 15:32
  • @Mrs.Sturch The network guys usually have a strong influence in the final decision for that kind of thing! – go-junta Mar 12 '16 at 17:16
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I would work with your School's IT admin to see if there are issues on the Mac/PC front.

I would need more information on your school to answer a few other things but.

At work as a professional graphic artist. I am equipped with a 3rd gen i5 and 8 gigs or RAM, and a dedicated video card. I use Illustrator CC 90% of the day and rarely run into issues.

Of course my computer is a few years old and well my company is a bit cheap.

For equipping a new lab I would go with PCs based on cost alone. I would push for 16gigs of RAM, get Intel i5s. Make sure the CPU is the true desktop that gives 4 physical cores. A run of the mill video card will do to finish it off.

As for HDD, optical drive, etc. It really doesn't matter that much.

However monitors may be an issue and in need to be upgraded as well. At a min. aim for 23inch 1080p monitors.

  • I would actually concentrate on the monitor, really you want something thats extremely color stable possibly self profiling. – joojaa Mar 12 '16 at 17:12
  • Of course if you can get IPS panels and monitors tailor made for graphic art. – jminterwebs Mar 12 '16 at 17:14
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    I also forgot to mention you may want to push for a Mac Pro, or a much much higher end PC for the animation worm. But it might not be worth the cost – jminterwebs Mar 12 '16 at 17:15

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