Setting up desktop publishing in-house — hardware

Okay, so you’ve decided to take the plunge and do all your basic page layout yourself. If you don’t have adequate hardware you may need to upgrade or buy a new computer (or persuade your bosses to do so).

Mac or PC?

This is a real old chestnut — before I start on this can I say that I’ve no axe to grind either way. I’ve used Macs and PCs professionally and I’m writing this post on an old laptop running Linux. However, people can get very hot and bothered on this particular subject.

The simple answer is, it probably doesn’t matter. It’s very difficult to avoid having to output PDFs these days and if you’re sending print jobs as PDFs, your printer will generally not be bothered where they came from, as long as you’ve done it correctly.

Now, chances are you’re in an office on a PC network and your current set-up may be perfectly capable of running all the desktop publishing software you need. If you’re on a Mac network, then the same applies. Bear in mind that your PC network manager may not be prepared to have a Mac on the network, or may just not have experience of them.

On the basis of cost alone, if you’re buying equipment from scratch, the economics favour a PC. However, if you’re likely to be regularly swapping files with out-of-house designers — who will probably be working on Macs — it makes sense to get a compatible system. If you want to save money by sending native files instead of PDFs, then a Mac would make sense again, but as I’ve said, Adobe Acrobat is difficult to live without.

If you’re a Linux guru, you may well be running PC software through Wine — in that case, then you’re very clever and probably don’t need to read this website.

My specifications

I work on a PC running QuarkXpress 7 on Windows XP SP2. According to the System menu, it has a 3GHz Intel Pentium 4 processor with 502MB RAM. It would probably benefit from 1GB of RAM, as it can struggle sometimes when several programmes are running, but it’s generally okay. I’d say you’d need a 17″ screen as a minimum.

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