Computers are tools, and while most look similar, their different internal components make them more suited to particular types of work. For graphics, you will need a powerful computer with a good screen and a large amount of RAM. Professional video cards can also offload a large portion of the work to be done from the processor. A graphics computer also needs a large hard drive with some sort of data security such as RAID 5.
1. Choose a motherboard with a minimum of four memory slots, and two PCI-E video card ports. Be sure to choose a motherboard with enough USB port for all you external hard drives, graphic tablet and keyboard/mouse.
2. Choose a quad core processor that fits in your budget. Go to http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/processors,6.html and check the performances for the processor you are considering for the software type you will use.
3. Purchase 6 or 8 GB of memory. Purchase memory sticks of 2 or 4 GB each, depending on your budget.
4. Purchase one fast hard drive as a system drive. A 128 GB to 256 GB SSD (solid state drive) will be significantly faster than even the fastest regular hard drive. Purchase a RAID card with four or eight ports with Hardware RAID 5. Purchase four 1 TB hard drives for storage.
5. If you are mainly doing 2D graphics, purchase a video card with three digital ports (DVI, HDMI or DisplayPort). For 3D work, purchase one or two professional graphics cards from NVIDIA or AMD.
6. Purchase a high-quality LCD screen with an IPS panel. IPS is the LCD technology that allows for the best color accuracy and viewing angles. For multi-display workstations, you can purchase a lower-quality LCD screen if the other display will only be used for tools, communication or other non- graphic use.
7. Purchase a computer case, high-quality power supply, DVD/CD/BlueRay drive and a UPS (uninterrupted power supply).
8. Open the boxes on a large table and take the components out of the box. Put the motherboard in front of you, open the CPU socket and discard the socket protector.
9. Insert the processor in the socket, making sure the tongue on the socket aligns with the groove on the processor. Insert the RAM in the memory slot, again aligning the groove and the tongue, and press down on both sides of the memory stick until it “clicks.” Install the processor heat sink by following the manufacturer’s manual.
10. Open the case and install the power supply. Secure the motherboard inside the case using the screws that came with the case. Connect the power cables to the motherboard. Connect the case cables to the motherboard using your motherboard’s manual.
11. Insert the hard drives and CD/DVD drive in the case and secure them with screws. Connect the storage hard drive to the RAID card and the system hard drive and CD/DVD drive to the motherboard. Connect the power cords from the power supply to the hard drives and DVD/CD drive.
12. Open the video card port latch on the right of the port. Insert the video card in the port and press down. Secure the video card with a screw. Check the video card manual to see whether you need to connect a video card power cord to the video card.
13. Connect the power cord to the computer and turn the computer on. Make sure the fans are spinning and the hard drives are turning on. Disconnect the power cord and close the case. Connect the power cord to the UPS and the UPS to the computer. Plug the computer to the display and mouse/keyboard.
14. Turn the computer on, insert the CD/DVD of your operating system in the drive and follow the on screen instructions to install your operating system. Read the RAID card manual to know set up a RAID 5 or RAID 6 array for your storage needs.