What Computer Should I Buy?

The actual specifications for Adobe Captivate are relatively low. For Windows, Adobe recommends a 2 GHz or faster Intel processor, and you should be running The 64-bit version of Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 Or newer. For Mac OS, you need a multicore Intel processor, Mac OS X v10.13.5 (or later). Regardless of which platform you choose you will need 8 GB RAM, 10 GB of available hard-disk space, a display capable of 1024x768 resolution, although Adobe recommends 1280x1024, and the video card needs to be compatible with WebGL Graphics.

Those specifications are what I would describe as the bare minimum. When I buy a new computer, I do so with the future in mind. I want my computer to be able to run well for at least three years of new versions and software updates, preferable though, I want it to last five years.

And while Adobe Captivate is the core application for me for eLearning development, eLearning designer, developers often have to wear many hats. For example, you might be called upon to record your webcam for an explainer video at full 30 fps HD (something Captivate 2019 can't do). You also may need to edit and publish the resulting video in Premiere Pro CC, an application that is hugely processor hungry and requires a much higher set of specifications and who knows what else. You need to prepare for these types of requests. Don't forget that at the time I'm writing this article the most up to date version of Adobe Captivate in 2019 update 1. It's safe to assume that there will be a major release before the year is through and several more over the next three years.

So my short answer is to buy the best computer that your budget will allow. If a hundred more dollars will make a difference, then bite the bullet and go a little beyond budget but if spending a bit more right now can stay off the purchasing of your next replacement by a year or more, it might be worth it.

I just completed this exercise, and here was my decision-making process. Three years ago I purchased an HP Pavilion with a 17" display. I made some wrong choices when I bought this machine. I bought it with the thought that I wanted a desktop computer but in a portable package since I couldn't afford both. The reality was that a 17-inch laptop is difficult to use when going mobile. I only travel for work about three or four times per year, but there is nothing more exhausting than lugging around a giant notebook from your hotel room to a conference facility. Unfortunately, I'm not important enough to always get a place in the same hotel as the conference. I know, first world problems. This time I decided to return to a 15" display and in as small a package as I could get.

The first decision was Mac or PC. If you do a lot of video demos and software simulation and the desktop you need to be capturing is a PC, this makes the decision easy. Another factor is cost. While Macs are designed to be beautiful, they usually cost about $1,000 more than the PC equivalent. Since the money for any equipment for my company comes out of my pocket, the decision is pretty easy for me.

My previous laptop came with a 2GB hard drive, which I soon replaced with a 500GB SSD. This time around, I wanted an SSD right from the start. I looked for SSDs that used the M.2 standard, which is significantly faster than the SATA III SSDs from a few years ago. Ideally, I wanted a 1tb M.2 NVMe drive, but I knew I could get away with 500gb and upgrade later.

I knew I wanted at least 16GB of RAM. Again, this is an area you can upgrade but the machine needed to start at 16GB. A lot of YouTubers are also serious video editors for apparent reasons. Many spoke and upgraded to 32 right from the start. Knowing that video editing is part of my workflow, I will be keeping an eye on RAM prices and jump on a reasonable price when it comes along.

Again I was willing to give up my 17" display for the advantage of something portable. I want quite prepared to go for a 13" but I knew I used to have 15" for many years.

When I purchased my 17" HP Pavilion, I choose it because it was an intel core i7 processor. I learned after the fact that not all i7 processors are the same. The HP used an i7 6500U, which is only a two core processor and somewhat underpowered. I started looking at laptops that had the i7-8750H. While not the latest chip from Intel or the fastest, it is up there. It's a six-core processor that runs at 2.21GHz with a max turbo frequency of 4.1GHz, so I expected to see an improvement with multitasking and performing tasks like rendering my edited videos.

I looked at many models of machines. Some important choices were the Razorblade 15; It was slim and had all the specs I was looking for; several gaming laptops had a great video card and the aforementioned i7-8750H processor, but they were bulky. I started to notice that when looking at various machines, I was always comparing them to the Dell XPS 15 9750. I decided that instead of trying to find a less expensive version of the Dell, I should buy the darn thing. I was lucky and noticed a few ways to justify making the purchase right away. First, it went on sale for about $250 of the regular price. Second, signing up for email notifications on the Dell website for me a further 10% off. Also, Dell offers 12 months no interest if you pay it off within that period.

The XPS 15 arrived this week, and as you can tell from unboxing video, I was very excited to have my new hardware. I hope this article helps you with your decision-making process whenever you need to make it.