Dell is fine although my experience is that you are better off
if you buy the "Dell Precision Workstations" as opposed to the
stuff they hawk for the low-end, casual users. The "workstations"
tend to use more "generic" parts as opposed to
specialized-for-Dell el-cheapo components. They have tremendous
upgradability and much better support (often stateside as opposed
to someplace exceptionally offshore) as well as very high performance.

Note that Dell just replaced the whole Precision Workstation line with
new models, the T7400, T5400, and the T3400. The primary difference
between the models is capacity for expansion, power supply capacity,
and case size. (The T7400 has a massive case; the T5400 and 3400 easily
fit vertically under a desk or can be ordered for desktop horizontal
The T5400 is probably the best compromise unless you need multiple 
terabytes of storage or really extreme processing needs using the 64-bit
versions of Windows.

Assuming that your processing needs are use of FrameMaker 8, Acrobat Pro
typical e-mail and web browsing and perhaps also Illustrator and
I would recommend that you not necessarily spend the extra $$$ for
processors or even the highest speed processor (a single
gigahertz dual or quad core Xeon will do fine). I would recommend that
get the full 4 gigabytes of memory as well as a video card such as the 
nVidia FX570 (at a minimum) that supports "dual link DVI" such that if
ever want to splurge on a very high resolution 30" monitor, your video
card will directly support it (the Dell 30" LCD monitor is down to about

$1300 now!). In terms of disk, it costs a bit more, but the SAS
attached SCSI) disks at 15000 rpm make a tremendous difference in
performance - unless you are effectively running a server, a single 300
gigabyte 15000 rpm SAS driver will do (although you can put multiple
such drives in the chassis).

A single DVD burner will do fine.

I would MOST STRONGLY advise you NOT to go with Windows Vista at this
unless you are a real glutton for punishment. Until Microsoft works out
kinks with both Service Packs 1 and 2, expect major anguish. All these
high end products are still available with Windows XP Professional SP2.
Likewise, stay away from the 64-bit versions of the operating systems.
are still a "work in progress" (including Windows XP 64-bit edition) and

just too many drivers and programs just don't work quite right with
I would say use of any version of Vista and 64-bit Windows for typical 
desktop applications should be held off for at least 18 to 24 months
you don't value your own time. These Dell Precision Workstations can be
fitted with many more gigabytes of memory and will support 64-bit
of Vista if you need such support at that time. (Note that presently,
than having the support for more memory, there is not anything important
be gained by use of the 64-bit OS. Most applications are still 32-bit
and under the 64-bit OS, they run in emulation mode and can still only
2 gigabytes of memory at a time!

Wireless mice can be nice! But I would be very cautious of a wireless 
keyboard. I would keep a cheap wired keyboard around for emergencies,
especially if you have boot problems.

        - Dov

> -----Original Message-----
> From: framers Meredith, Ashley
> Sent: Sunday, December 09, 2007 12:34 AM
> I've just had a hardware failure that means I get to upgrade to Vista
Pro and the latest versions of
> FrameMaker and Acrobat Pro, as quick as I can get a new workstation
ordered. The only stipulation that
> my university makes is that it prefers Dell. I haven't been paying
much attention to hardware
> improvements lately, so I need to ask, does anyone have recent
experience with their offerings? I can
> pretty much have what I ask for, so which model of Dell desktop should
I specify? Which options? Are
> the wireless keyboard and mouse a hindrance? Also, would a SCSI drive
be much of an improvement over
> their default drive?

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