Sculpting high res for normal bake

Hi, I’m trying to sculpt a hi res model for normal baking. My computer seems to be rather slow if I add too many verts. I’ve concluded that doing hi-res for a face or a head is reasonable. But I can’t do an entire body without the computer freezing.
Do I just need a better computer? Or is there another way to go about tackling this? I considered doing the sculpting in parts, but I’m afraid that the wrinkles will not line up. I wanted to add scales for the skin. I would imagine the scales would not match up at all if sculpted in parts. I’ve been advised not to upload a hand drawn bump map unless I want a mediocre model. I agree with this advise, and so to create a high quality piece of art, I am going to do all details in sculpt mode.

I agree that sculpting is the way to go for fine detail. The point is how far are you willing to go, and if your computer can follow you there. RAM is always an issue; the more the better. However, there is the Ctrl+Shift+Drag_Left_Mouse combo that will hide any unwanted parts of your mesh.Unlike Alt+B that just hides the polygon, this combo speeds up interaction as well. Give it a try.

I have also proposed at Blenderstorm that when you rotate a mutires-ed mesh the vieport could automatically switch to wireframe -which is super fast- and back to solid when you let go of the mouse button. This way there will be minimal delays when handling heavy meshes.

Just out of curiosity, what are your specs, and how many polys can you get at, before it becomes impossible to work with sculpring?
You might also want to have a look at this thread http://blenderartists.org/forum/showthread.php?t=131319&page=2

Excellent advise! I was not aware of these tricks. I will definitely check these out. I have a Pentium 4, 2.4 GHz, 1 Gig of RAM total, Radeon x1600. I’m at 264,000 faces on my mesh right now and its chugging pretty slowly.

After using Ctrl+Shift+Drag, how do I get the mesh back?

You can just Ctrl+Shift+Left_click anywhere on the 3D View and your mesh is back.
However 1GB of RAM seems really low to me for over 1m polygon meshes. Perhaps you should consider adding some