Electech has given a great list of items for consideration. Here are a few more to compliment the list, to add with the list, or just simply to ponder:
I have found a lot more people using a Mac Enviroment for Graphics type work - and I haven't got a clue to what Mac Hardware and Software is considered to be The Bomb!
These users are [from what I have seen] high end users / power users / professional work based, and never dabble in any other apps than Graphics-Based stuff [such as image editting and manipulation, Desktop publishing or cartoon making].
This gives me no advantage, since the most Image-Based stuff I will be involved with is considered to be "Below Basic" in comparison to their aspects of hacketry.
Not sure if the push towards Mac Machines in Graphics related areas is due to stability of Enviroment or if it's simply an anti IBM / Microsoft based attitude biasing.
Having said that, need to ask a very simple - but maybe not so apparent question:
What type of interface is being used for the downloading of images from the Digital Camera to the PC???
[*]If using Serial Port "COM1,COM2", this would result in Eons passing while downloading (Toooooooooo sloooooowwwwww). A mixmatch of port settings on either end will further add tar to the already slow snail used to transport Bits, plus toss in other wonderful errors.
[*]If using USB type Ports (USB, IEEE1394 "Firewire"), this would have fast transfers O' Bits, and may suggest the Tortise Speed problem(s) are more rooted in the Hardware areas.
[*]If the images are downloading just fine, or are scanned but are extremely taxing on the Operating System while in a Graphics Enviroment (wait days to zoom or open file), look at the Core components of the Board and what redundant drivers are running around behind the scenes.
[*]If there are Scanner issues, try some driver upgrades and patches, along with verification of proper image transfers.
Suggestions for a nice Intel-Based Graphics tool PC would be similar to machines used for CAD, Database and Spreadsheet work, but would be somewhat different than what makes a Bitchen Gaming PC.
Use a CPU with L2 Cache ability - such as the Intel Pentium II thru IV processors and equivalents. Stay away from the Celerons, since they have little or no access to L2 Cache.
Motherboard from any good aftermarket company - such as Asus - which accepts the CPU desired. Intel boards are such a major pain in the boot,,, err,,, butt
most of the time, so keep clear of those.
DRAM size of 128 MB would be nice, 256 MB if the application could benefit, but going too large may lead to latency.
Since the CPU / Chipset will be PII or better, memory would begin at SDRAM PC100 type and move upwards from there.
Don't forget to verify proper CMOS BIOS Flash version / stability, along with external Cache size and if more should be added.
If the Disk file transfers will only be for writing as downloaded or edits, and reads only for opening files, the more simpler and least expensive interfacing option of IDE based stuff would work just fine.
Be sure the drive data cables can handle the output of the drive [i.e. Don't use drive cables from an old 540 MB IDE drive on a 80 GB UDMA 100 drive unless you want to choke the data and you are really fond of error dialog boxes or losing data transferes!].
Drive quality [or quantity if you take the RAID approach] should be key issues.
Get a dependable and known reliable CD-R or CD-RW with stable software / drivers, or try your luck fighting with Tape drives and / or floppies!
Display Adapter [AKA: Video Card] doesn't need the 3D and similar tweeks of a Gaming PC's Video Adapter, so get a down-to-earth model with a stable and reliable background.
Drive it from AGP unless you absolutely must go thru PCI bus.
Also there is really no need to watch TV and do Graphics work at the same time on the same display monitor, so consider adapters without the A/V inputs and outputs unless planning on diving into Video dumps to a VCR.
If there will be any more machines to share files with [or printers];
* For LANs: Use Nics of at least 100 Base TX / T4 on PCI bus for networking local machines,
*CAT 5 / 5e for cable standards @ 100 MBPS,
*Internet work can be done using ADSL equipment and structure [simplified to public as "DSL"] via the Ethernet LAN, through a Bridge Router.
* If Analog work is needed to be transcieved - such as Faxes and remote file transfers, use V90 Internal types on either PCI or ISA bus [some V90's work a little better on the ISA bus] which include proper Fax protocols and possibly voice MODEM stuff [not even missed if Voice MODEM is never used].
*If a printer is shared and it's used a lot, consider some type of print server to drive it. Server could be dedicated PC or terminal type with lots of buffer space.
*Same goes for sharing Disks and Files - if the sharing drags machine performance to Tortise speeds, dedicate a File Server. Not sure if your friend would have this problem, but it may pop up when other machines browse.
Put all the Hardware into a sturdy and well made case and try not to let in "Angry AC Power"
[Protect from TVSS and noise].
User Input / Output and Display [SVGA Monitor] items should be comfortable for the user, plus ergonomically set up.
Size the display no less than 800x600. Look at 16 Bit Pixel Depth for simple yet low resource taxing color settings.
Tweek the Color Temp on the Monitor [directly from it's controls] to a comfortable level which works with the surrounding ambient task lighting. Verify the other Monitor tweek settings by showing the user how to adjust the monitor's on-board settings.
Point guns at ANY user who attemps in any way, or has admitted to in any way, adjusted and/or played around with the Display's settings within the O/S!!!
If there is any mention to "How easy it is to right-click the desktop and bring up the properties box", begin loading the Gun!!!
If the user has thrown the machine into "Blue Screen Death" or "Black Screen / VGA 16 Color Mode", consider pulling trigger!
Let's see - what else to list??? Oh, I believe all this stuff above was intended to do more than occupy an enclosure with stuff piped to an ATX form factor board, so maybe a little machine language is needed to turn on and off the digital switches!
Need a stable full version of an Operating System. Windows 9x works for me, have been called to remedy more machines using Windows Me than any other O/S version - including Win 98 first release!!!
Have no idea how stable Windows XP's version types are except that XP does not like to have a Self-Extracting 32 bit zip file made with PKZip version 2.60.xx anywhere near it!
[problems at extraction process].
Windows 9x, Me, NT4 and 2000 have no quarrels with said files.
Graphic editting software is very expensive if professional work will be expected. Adobe Photoshop 5.0 cost around $500.00 for a one seat license. The better ones start at $1K!
Graphic inporting by either scanner or camera is another Software and Hardware issue. Look for the ones with the least amount of added "Things to go terribly wrong" and focus on simple to use and stable as solid concrete peripherial devices.
I'll add some specifics later on if you throw some information about the user's expectations of generated quality plus what you are able to piece together for building the "Frankenstein's Monster" [AKA PC built of misc. and random parts from or intended to be used for many, many, MANY other machines].