Tech that can run Adobe Suite, that is cheap, sturdy, and in bulk?
November 16, 2013 10:59 AM   Subscribe

I need recommendations for a all in one desktop or study laptop that can run the Adobe Suite (not the newest in the creative cloud) for a new proposed Digital Arts course. These would purely need to run Photoshop, Illustrator - some sort of video editing program, and potentially a light game design program. (Doesn't need to be Flash) I know about different specs needed but am lost how to find what would work best and for 32+ students in one classroom. This would be a huge investment for the High School so if I can quote under 30,000 for all the new technology it would be more likely considered.

I'm a California Highschool Technology Arts teacher and I'm planning to propose a new class based off something I currently teach in a nicely funded academy program in my highschool.

Now, there isn't really any money outside of this academy program for technology. All the Common Core money is routed to PD or testing supplies - and generally large sums of money will not be directed towards the arts.

I'm currently teaching this fantastic curriculum which the use of large high speed 2010 Macs within the technology academy.

I would like to be able to offer this course or something simular to the general population as an Intro to digital/media arts, and the curriculum is set up to be used without the aid of technology.

I preparing the class proposal draft and I want to provide the technology option and a quote if they were to buy in to a long term Digital Arts course.

In my outside of technology academy classroom I'm currently running 32 circa 2000 Mac G4's (Lampshade style) that will mostly likely not make it the year - and there are no backups. I've clean installed OX tiger on all which brought a few back from the dead... but they are slow and are just for Photography to run Photoshop CS2.

These computers will most likely be used by 90-140 students daily for 7 hours a day. So, sturdy is a must.

I've read this question from a three years ago: and a few others but all were for single users.

I'm fluent in both Mac and PC for most trouble shooting and installation of hardware.
posted by mariecheri to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I don't think you'll be able to get 32 new macs for under 30k even with academic pricing.
Is the 30k just for hardware, or do you need money for software too?

Another thought is to look at some external funding for this project. A small grant of 20k from an organization promoting computer tech or arts in the schools, with matching funds from your school could get you some extra money.
posted by demiurge at 11:40 AM on November 16, 2013

I would definitely lean towards getting desktops over laptops. Much more capable of putting up with that amount of use/abuse. (I've done a lot of laptop hardware repair in the past.) I'd probably also avoid all in ones (built in monitor). More heat, harder to work on, can't just swap a new screen....

If macs are not in the budget, best bet in my opinion would be a small desktop from Lenovo or maybe Dell. Even machines in the $400-$500 range will handle all the software you mention. 4 gigs ram minimum, 8 would be preferable.

Another thing, look intoDeepFreeze or similar, which will make it easy to restore the machines back to a working state. You could run it automatically nightly/weekly.
posted by meta87 at 11:55 AM on November 16, 2013

Response by poster: Demiurge - 30k just for hardware. We have software - or can get it easily.
Myself and another teacher have looked through many possible grants last summer and continue to. We haven't found a cent that would work for our needs of that large of a sum.

I realize this task is near impossible, I'm just hoping someone out there knows of resources I haven't heard of.
posted by mariecheri at 11:57 AM on November 16, 2013

I know that Macs are kind of the thing for creative stuff, but if you say you know PCs well enough--is there a reason it needs to be an all-in-one? I mean, you could probably find one but separate desktop machines and monitors are generally cheaper and easier to maintain over the long run, and getting them for <$1k apiece that could run this stuff would be quite simple if you don't mind them not being the quickest thing ever at video rendering. And even there, they're not going to be that bad if you aren't trying to put together anything particularly long.
posted by Sequence at 11:59 AM on November 16, 2013

Response by poster: I think I'm using all-in-one incorrectly, it is just what we currently have. Desktop and Monitors can be separate. Ideally all the computers would be the same desktop model. I prefer PC's.
posted by mariecheri at 12:04 PM on November 16, 2013

I know that Macs are kind of the thing for creative stuff,

Hasn't been the case for years. At this point there is next to no difference between the platforms, as far as Adobe products go. At least for new buyers - you may have fifteen years' worth of Mac-only fonts if you're a creative firm or a freelancer, and if maximal font compatibility is a thing for you then Macs are the way to go. But that's pretty much it.

4 gigs of RAM is not enough for any recent Creative Suite usage. If you have the suite you'll have Photoshop and Illustrator open at the same time, right? 8 is a reasonable barebones minimum.
posted by BrunoLatourFanclub at 12:10 PM on November 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Easy then - it looks like CS6 can run on almost anything you buy as long as you have 4-8gb of RAM (8gb strongly recomended). Probably avoid Windows 8. It should be easy to spec a desktop Dell with 8gb ram, keyboard, mouse and monitor so that 32 of them come in under budget.
posted by wotsac at 12:19 PM on November 16, 2013

Response by poster: I'm thread sitting - I know...
Would this work: Lenovo Refurbished
It only allows me to buy 3 at once though.
posted by mariecheri at 12:27 PM on November 16, 2013

Best answer: If you're gonna go the lenovo refurbished route get it form the horses mouth at lenovo outlet.

That core2duo thinkcentre is hideously outdated now, that's 2008-9 tech. For only $4-500 you could get a bunch of 1080p 23in display lenovo b series all in one(tried to link here, dunno if you can link directly to a search)

The $500 ones have a quad core i5 and 6gb of ram in addition to the 1080p display.

i could not come within even $900 and get anything remotely close to this.

For what it's worth, i don't think you'd be suffering and crying if you got the dual core ones with 4gb of ram either. That's still a MASSIVE performance increase, and i've rather fluidly done work like this on several dual core laptops(windows and mac) of recent generations of hardware. Just get at least a core i3 model, not the pentium.
posted by emptythought at 12:36 PM on November 16, 2013

You could practically dumpster dive to find upgrades to lampshade G4s, but 30,000 is a very reasonable budget for ~33 new PCs.

For Photoshop CS6, I think you'd like as much RAM as possible, a decent separate graphics card (not onboard but also not dual/SLI), and a decent CPU. They're not perfect, but these benchmarks will help you evaluate what you're getting for your money. Evidently, Windows 8 has been a problem for some CS6 users, so Windows 7 Professional might still be ideal for the OS, although I'd expect either graphics card driver updates or an eventual patch from Microsoft to resolve it.

Just as an aside, I compared the Lenovo education discount with Newegg and found Newegg to have better prices in the few cases I checked. I don't know anything about their refurbs.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 12:47 PM on November 16, 2013

Yeah, I guess I was mislead with all the talk about Macs. if you prefer PCs, talk to a educational rep at Dell, HP and Lenovo. I bet you could get something with 8gb of ram and a core i5 in the $800 range. I wouldn't use one of the outlet stores, because you are much better off getting 32 identical desktops than getting piecemeal systems from the outlet.
posted by demiurge at 1:05 PM on November 16, 2013

You needn't buy new Macs. I run both CS5 and CS6 (not creative cloud) on a mid-2009 iMac running Snow Leopard 10.6.8. with 8G RAM. Both Photoshop and Illustrator run great.

Have you looked at Apple's Refurb section?
posted by Thorzdad at 1:21 PM on November 16, 2013

Best answer: Yeah +1 to demiurge's last comments. Desktop PCs nowadays are pretty cheap for the horsepower. I see Dell PCs, at retail, starting at $700 (excluding monitor) for a Core i5 and 8GB of RAM. For a school purchasing 32 at once, you should be able to get the desktops, halfway decent LCD monitors, and extended warranties within your price limit. The same should be true for HP or Lenovo, as well.
posted by maxim0512 at 1:23 PM on November 16, 2013

When I'm on the go, I run CS6 Suite ( and often have InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop all open) on a $500 Asus Win8 laptop with a mid level i5 CPU and integrated HD4000 . Works fine, though not as fast as my desktop with a big-ass, expensive GPU. I have 16 gigs of RAM to help, but it was seriously OK with 6 gigs. Not as snappy, but entirely serviceable.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 1:23 PM on November 16, 2013

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