the Black Monarch wrote:You will want:
Windows XP Professional (Home can't handle multi-core and Vista just plain sucks)
The fastest dual-core CPU available (XP Pro can only use 2 cores)
A high-resolution screen
DDR2-1066 or faster memory
Not much else matters. You probably won't be using more than 2GB of RAM, nor will you notice any improvements in speed past DDR2-1066. The video card is wholly irrelevant, as it's not where the rendering and encoding are done. You're using an external hard drive, so HD size is irrelevant. Just get that 3.33GHz Wolfdale and a big screen, and you're gold.
I would usually just ignore such a necropost, but when you spread bad information it really gets me going.
XP (any version) can support up to 32 cores* (personally, I have my Core2Quad running XP Pro).
However, Home can only use 1 physical cpu while Pro can use 2 physical cpus** (which is seen primarily on server mobos)
If you do extensive work in AE, 2 GB of ram can run out pretty quickly.
Internal HDD >> external HDD for editing (save for firewire 800 and esata externals, which should still give you enough throughput)
Seeing as rendering and encoding can easily load a processor, you'd want to stay away from integrated graphics (not to mention integrated graphics siphons some of your system ram) if you want to do something besides rendering/encoding while you wait.
You probably won't be playing crysis while rendering, and the gain you'll get from a dedicated card if you play something like solitare is negligable, but it isn't completely irrelevant.
*I get this number from the task manager of XP pro. When you choose processor affinity for a process you see 32 checkboxes.
**If you go according to Microsoft's licensing terms