Realtime: Computer Recommendations

The following are general guidelines to help you start to wade through the process of updating your equipment. For your specific hardware needs, please be sure to check with your CAT software vendor to ensure your computer purchase meets the minimum requirements needed to run our software at optimal levels.  The information below is meant to be a starting point for reporters when looking to purchase or upgrade existing equipment.

First, you need to decide how large a computer you want. If you are an official and rarely move your computer from place to place, you may want to choose a larger screen size. If you're a freelancer and travel with your computer, you may want to choose a smaller computer. Many reporters, especially freelancers who are often transporting equipment, are opting to go with a tablet. You must be certain that you choose a tablet that runs the correct operating system in order to run your CAT software properly.


  • Hard Drive: Minimum 256GB solid-state drive, 512GB or 1TB is preferred.

  • Processor: Look for at least an Intel Pentium I5 at a minimum.

  • Memory:  A minimum of 8GB of RAM. Of course, 12GB or 16GB would be better so you don't have to upgrade as quickly.

  • USB Ports: Some computers no longer offer more than one or two USB ports. A small USB hub may be used to give extra USB ports, if needed. Adapters are another option available to reporters to give extra USB ports. Do verify whether the ports are 2.0 or 3.0 USB ports.

  • Operating System:  When purchasing a new laptop, look for one with the newest operating system available. The current PC operating system is Windows 10. Of course, if you're buying your computer very soon after a new operating system comes out, you should check with your CAT vendor to be sure your system is working in the new environment before you buy.

  • Microphones:  There are many more choices for external microphones on the market. Here are the recommendations of the Realtime and Technology Resource Committee.

  • Sound card: Another very important feature is the internal sound card and speakers. Here is another area that can vary greatly from computer to computer. If your computer’s sound card is not as good as you had hoped, you can purchase an external sound card.

  • Mac computers: Some reporters are choosing to go with a Mac computer. There are two distinct ways to use a Mac. One way is to use Fusion or Parallels, which allows you to use your Mac and your Windows operating systems simultaneously. The second way is to run it through Bootcamp, which only runs one operating system at a time. You are either in Windows or in Mac – you can’t be in both. Many vendors will load your software and adjust your settings for a small fee on new computers. Check with your software company and find out all of your options before you make a purchase.



Last updated 8/1/2018