Building It from Scratch!
There are so many pre-built computers and parts out there, where do you begin? Here is a list of specs to consider when shopping for your new computer or parts if you plan on putting it together yourself.
Intel: Core 2 Duo (2.8 Ghz or higher) or Core i3, i5, or i7
AMD: Quad Core Athalon or Phenom X4
Motherboard: If shopping for parts, look for reputable brands like Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, EVGA, Foxconn, or DFI. As a general rule, make sure the socket matches your CPU, it has enough ports and features (usb 3.0, firewire, eSATA, etc) that you need.
Memory: Get a computer with 4-8GB of DDR2 or DDR3 RAM.
Graphics Card: Do not get a computer with “integrated graphics." You want a “discrete graphics card." ATI: 4600 or higher
Nvidia: 9600 GT or higher
Hard Drive: Get something with 500GB or more depending on your needs.
Power Supply: 380W or more will be plenty. Check the +12V rail specification and make sure it has at least 25A.
Operating System: Go for Windows 7 Home Premium (or Ultimate) 64-bit Edition. The 64-bit edition will allow you to use more than 3GB of RAM.
Monitor: Obviously choose something that will fit in your workspace. I would recommend something in the 22" range with a minimum resolution of 1680 x 1050 so that you can fit more windows, frames, documents, and pictures on your display.