This article is from the CD-Recordable FAQ, by Andy McFadden (firstname.lastname@example.org) with numerous contributions by others.
If you're about to buy a computer system and are seriously thinking about
buying a CD-R, here are some things to keep in mind. (See the next section
if you're interested in Mac hardware instead of an IBM PC.)
CPU: buy a mid-range Pentium-class machine or better. In general it's a
good idea to buy a fast machine, since systems tend to be outdated after a
year and obsolete after three or four. A '486 is a *minimum* configuration
for a CD-R system; a Pentium gives you some breathing room. Pentium II and
above is more power than you need, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Motherboard: for SCSI, anything with PCI slots is fine. For IDE, anything
above UDMA/33 is overkill. See section (5-15) for configuration notes
and a warning about certain bus-mastering drivers.
SCSI: the SCSI interface remains a popular choice for CD recorders and
CD-ROM drives, though improvements like UDMA/133 are changing the way people
build high-end computers. Whether it's built into the motherboard or on a
separate card, make sure the host adapter supports ASPI and ASPI for Windows
(see section (5-7)). Wide Ultra-SCSI is useful if you're buying a fast
hard drive, but CD recorders don't move data fast enough to require it.
Bus-mastering SCSI cards are preferred over non-bus-mastering cards,
because they can move data to and from system memory directly, without
the CPU's involvement, making things faster.
Parallel: some vendors are selling parallel-port CD-R drives. You should
have an EPP-enabled parallel port (if you have a Pentium or later, chances
are you have one).
Sound: the Creative Labs SB16 and AWE32 boards are widely supported and
very popular, but if you're thinking seriously about recording sound
through it, you'll want to consider alternatives. See sections (3-12)
and (3-13) for other options.
Hard drive: needs to be reasonably fast, and large enough to hold whatever
data you plan to put on a CD. IDE hard drives work fine. See section
(5-6) for more details.
Video card and monitor: depends on what you want to do. A PCI-based video
card is practically a requirement these days, and 17" monitors are
inexpensive now. If you're planning on creating multimedia products, scale
CD-ROM: SCSI and IDE both work, but some drives work better than others.
See section (5-5).