Hi. I am looking to buy a new computer for under
The answer to this question depends on one thing - which requirement is more firm, your budget or your capability needs? The simple truth is that sub-$1,000 computers, especially those of the Dell variety, are not exactly workhorses that will power through Maya, HDV etc., and that is especially true if you expect them to perform "seamlessly and smoothly" as you mentioned. The problem with Dell is that, well, they use cheap crap, but also most of their components on their sub-$1,000 machines are "integrated." This means the video card shares RAM with the main computer, etc. You could do all of the things you listed (I run Maya on my wife's cheapo Dell occasionally) but it isn't very fun.
To answer the question of what is more important, that varies by application type:
Maya - Needs a good amount of RAM, but this mostly depends on what you are doing. If you intend to work with datasets above, say, 1,000,000 polygons, you will definitely want more than 2Gb RAM. If you intend to render these same large Datasets with GI using Mental Ray, then you will want even more RAM. Maya also likes a workstation-quality graphics card. The standard gamer cards are notorious for having all sorts of issues in Maya, such as certain windows not showing up, odd display quirks etc. Your best bet is an NVidia Quadro, but these run more than your entire budget. Go to Autodesk's website and check out their list of supported GFX cards. Dell's built-in standard video cards are a NO-GO. At least upgrade to a separate, non-shared memory video card option.
HDV/Video Editing - Editing apps need a decent amount of RAM, ideally 2GB or more. They also like a fast CPU, but fast access to your hard drive, where your video files live, is very important as well. For HDV footage you will probably need a second hard drive for video storage because you don't want the application running off the same disc as the footage. And if you intend to work with multiple layers of HDV in your timeline you may even need several drives striped together into a RAID set. Video cards are less of a concern here since most editing apps don't really take advantage of them.
After Effects etc. - These types of programs like RAM (2GB or more) but CPU is important too.
All of that said, I would think these are the minimum specs you want to consider. But as it goes with minimums, this still won't get you flying through video work in record time:
CPU - Dual-core, ideally core 2 duo or equivalent
RAM - 2GB or more
OS - on PCs, use Windows XP or XP 64-bit. I would avoid Vista since it's a massive resource hog
Video Card - At least one that supports OpenGL 2.0 and is on the Maya recommended list
Hard Drives - One 100GB drive for the OS and applications, plus 1 500GB 7200RPM media drive.
Hi. Thanks so much for taking time to help me. It is greatly appreciated. So i dont think i will be getting a Dell! Also, my budget is
I kinda forgot that you weren't talking dollars as I wrote my reply. So what is that, like $2,000 US?
Personally, I don't like Dell computers as much because they are known for using very cheap components to keep prices on their base models low. When you visit their site you are initially wowed by the low prices listed. But once you start actually building out a system that uses the type of components needed for anything beyond web surfing and office applications (such as a decent graphics card instead of a built in "shared memory" card), the cost ends up being much more than other brands. As an example, here's an apples-to-apples cost comparison between HP and Dell machines.
From HP, for about 1,078 pounds you can get:
HP d4890y series machine
Intel Core 2 (Quad-core 2.4Ghz)
512MB NVIDIA GeForce 8500GT graphics card
320GB main hard drive
From Dell, here's the best you can get for the same price:
XPS 710 series machine
Intel Core 2 (Dual-core 1.86Ghz)
256MB nVidia GeForce 8600 GTS graphics card
320GB main hard drive
20" LCD Monitor
Wow. Same price for twice as many processors (all running at higher speeds), twice as much RAM, and a better GFX card? The Dell DOES come with a 20" monitor, but at the expense of a machine that can handle media effectively. For an extra 100 pounds you can get a comparable monitor from HP. That same extra 100 pounds won't bring the Dell anywhere close to the performance of the HP machine, however.
The HP machine above will probably do exactly what you need, and I would recommend it above any Dell.
Hi. Would the lowest version of Nvidia Quadro run Maya well?
It would almost certainly be preferable, but the best way to gauge this is by checking Autodesk's list of certified cards. Some consumer-grade cards actually work fine, such as the ATI Radeon x1900 XT. The list is here: