Today’s post is going to be somewhat technical, just like the previous one, and dedicated to those of you who are at the beginning of their translation career path. I’m going to tell you more about the computer equipment which is good for translators at present. I’ll focus on PCs and laptops working with Windows, as they are what we use on a daily basis. The information about hardware I’m presenting here is really basic but it can serve as a point of reference for further research.
- The processor
The processor in your computer must be of good quality and efficient, but it needn’t be top-shelf. The most recommended processors are Intel 5 or higher (or equivalent), although there are varying views as to whether they should be dual-core or quad-core. If during your work you regularly use a lot of other programmes apart from the CAT, listen to music, and have your Skype on to be in touch with the clients, you could obviously consider the quad-core. As far as the clock signal is concerned, there are no special requirements – I use the i7 3,6 GHz and I’ve never managed to overload the processor so far, even with some really intense work going on.
The choice of RAM is more of a key issue. For instance, SDL Trados Studio 2019 requires 16 GB RAM for optimum work, the minimum being 4 GB. Similarly, memoQ and Wordfast Professional 5 require the minimum of 2 GB, and the optimum is 4 GB. As I use Wordfast Pro every day, I can say this is definitely not enough. If you add the search engine to it, with dozens of tabs open (which is my standard mode of work), and some other necessary applications, such as dictionaries, you’re likely to use up the 8 GB RAM quickly. This is why I would recommend at least 16 GB, so that you can rely on some spare space for the growing requirements of updated software.
- The hard drive
Another decision you need to make is the selection of the hard drive: HDD, SSD, or hybrid. Again, for Trados 2019, an SSD disc is recommended and I must say this is just fit and proper. My PC is equipped with a hard disk drive, whereas my laptop has a solid-state drive. When the TM or TMs used contain up to several hundred thousand entries, the lowering speed of loading each segment is noticeable. Of course, the differences are of decimal seconds up to one second, but if you’re dealing with a translation of 3000 segments, this takes 3000 seconds more with an HDD, which equals 50 minutes of time wasted on the prolonged TM loading. The SSD is the winner here, by all means.
- The graphics card
When it comes to video cards, the solution is simple. A computer for a translator is just a more advanced office computer which does not operate on any high-level graphic processes. Thus, it’s a good idea to save some money and instead invest in a more powerful processor, SSD, or an additional monitor.
Unless you regularly play video games after finishing your day’s work – well, that’s a different story 😉
- The screen
The final issue I’m going to discuss here is the screen and its resolution. When you browse through translators’ forum threads about hardware, you come across many voices saying that it’s better to work with large screens and high resolutions. I agree with that too. A big monitor (over 20”), Full HD (1920 × 1080), is a minimum. It allows you to divide one screen into two work areas, so you can work simultaneously with a CAT and a browser in a comfortable way – as you can see below. This is a perfect solution for those who don’t like working with two or three monitors, or can’t afford them.
This is all for today. I hope that all the details about the technical questions concerning the translator’s work have satisfied your curiosity in this respect and that they will make it easier for you to choose the best equipment for you and start off as a geared-up translator.