figured i'd put in my two cents hehe. what makes a good workstation for
maya... well really that's vague... it really depends on what you want to
get out of it. if you only use it for certain things you don't need a heavy
system all around. for example if you're making a render machine only, you
only need a fast cpu lots of ram and a big hd. so here's a little list of
what's important to consider...
high end graphics card: this is worth a substantial investment. it
controls your workflow all the way from modeling to interaction, viewing
textures, and even hardware rendering of particles. the faster the better.
the more memory the better. you don't want to wait 20 seconds or more to
see a change in rotation. i tried a bunch of cards out at siggraph last
year and the quadro series put out by pny seemed to be the best of the
medium to high range cards before you hit the $1500-$4000 cards. i have a
quadro4 750xgl and it takes quite a bit to slow it down. oh i'm not sure
about the new ati cards but when i was still in college everyone in the
dorms who had ati cards had problems with the hypershade in maya...
cpu: okay, obviously faster is better, it controls how fast scripts run,
but mainly it's the single most determining factor in reducing your render
times... do you want to see an image in 5 minutes or 40... if you're
planning projects that have fur i'd recommend something rather fast because
the ipr render doesn't work for fur, you have to do a full render each time
to make adjustments. that can add up to over 4 hours pretty fast.
memory: well how much memory do you really need? there's alot of factors
that depend on this... if you're just starting out, you probably don't need
more than 512 mb of ram. i'm sure people will disagree with this but unless
you're writing and using global illumination scripts and constructing
massivly detailed scenes you should be okay with about a gig or under. if
you use alot of image maps painted in photoshop for textures you suck up
memory alot faster too :)
hard drive: it would probably also be worth your time investing in a decent
sized hard drive has animations suck up space rather quickly
monitor: well yeah sure you've that old piece of junk laying around and
money is tight but think about it, if it doesn't have decent colors and you
can't port your animations to other machines accurately its not very useful.
decent monitors are a worthwhile investment. computers change and become
obsolete overnight. a good monitor will last you a long time and through
many future upgrades.