I am a new user (struggling to get authorized since last year but finally on), I have been using Finale for longer than I can remember, and two years ago moved to an ADK desktop and cubase SX3, Kontakt2, GPO, Garritan strad and Vienna solo strings. My left hand does not allow me to play piano anymore (for 2 years now), so I am concentrating on getting my composing going again (mostly classical chamber and symphonic).

P&G let me go a year ago after 25years with them, the last ones in their pharmaceuticals division. I have just joined a consulting firm and they are getting a Dell Vostro 1500 (win XP, Core2duo T7300, 120GB HD) for me to use while working (and traveling). I would like to use Cubase and finale on it and I assume that a second copy will work with the dongle plugged in. I have used my wife's inspiron dual core laptop with Finale and it was OK, but never tried cubase.

I have really enjoyed all of the comments here, most everyone seems really helpful. Questions that I could use helpt to modify the computer they get for me:

Is an external USB2 drive sufficient for samples (I actually used the internal sata drive on the inspiron with the strad and gpo orchestra and it did fine)? Someone suggested getting an esata express card and that would be better (but more expensive, I am mostly unemployed still).

Ram is 1GB, but I can upgrade to 2 for $150, worth it? My wife had 1GB and did fine with the strad/GPO.

Is the T7300 overkill (it adds $80 over a lesser core 2 duo)? It has 4MB cache, which probably affects performance significantly.

I am assuming that the vostro with XP is better than a dimension with vista (my choices). The dimension would be smaller and lighter (helping my hand somewhat).

Thanks in advance for your advice and it is great to finally be on board,