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Thread started 07 Jan 2015 (Wednesday) 23:55
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Help choosing a laptop

 
sandwedge
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Jan 07, 2015 23:55 |  #1

Help! I can't pull the trigger on anything because I am too overwhelmed! I know VERY LITTLE about computers. I've done a lot of reading in this forum (and learned a lot), but a lot of it is over my head.

First, my uses: Basic surfing, Facebook, email, watching videos. No Gaming. However, I use Lightroom 5 to process my photos. Usually single photos at a time, but also some batch processing. I recently did some timelapse stuff, and would like to be able to process that fairly quickly also. That means I would also need to be able to do some basic video editing.

For the last 5 or so years, I used a $400 Sony Vaio that I bought at Walmart. It recently died. It actually did pretty well, albeit sometimes slowly.

I am on a tight budget, so when I read in here about ssd's and such, I know I am over my head and budget. I recently bought my daughter a Toshiba satellite - basic Pentium processor, 8GB Ram, for $350. I've used it with Lightroom for some individual photo editing. It did fine, but I think I will probably need something more powerful in the future.

My budget is in the $600-$800 range. I would like to know your opinion on a couple of laptops:

http://www.bhphotovide​o.com …indows8_1_17_3_​black.html (external link)

I like that it has an IPS display. Is the i5 powerful enough?


Would I see a big improvement in performance in going with this?:

http://www.bhphotovide​o.com …8_1_15_6_gray_s​ilver.html (external link)

It has a more powerful i7 processor with quad core. Does the dedicated graphics card matter for me? For the extra $200, will I see a lot of increase in performance?

Many, many thanks in advance for your replies or suggestions on other laptops.


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Jan 08, 2015 00:32 |  #2

What really matters is the amount of memory you can install in the machine and the quality of the monitor. The Asus is the better machine, but the Lenovo is better where it counts. Both machines come with 8 Gb of memory, but the Lenovo can be expanded to 16 Gb. The Asus just says 8 Gb.

For photo editing an ISP monitor is the bare minimum in my opinion. If you are going to add a second monitor then it doesn't matter that much if the built in monitor is an IPS or not. But, if you plan to only use the built in monitor, then best to make sure it is an IPS. Being that it appears the Asus's memory is not expandable and its monitor is not IPS, I would save your money, buy the Lenovo and with your savings buy a calibrator if you don't already have one.


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Jan 08, 2015 00:46 |  #3

Since you mention some photo editing, keep in mind that no laptop is GREAT for photo editing if it uses only its built-in monitor, rather than using an external monitor with hard controls for Brightness and Contrast!

You read many complaints in general about 'why are prints too dark compared to my monitor?', especially since most all monitors come from the factory with cranked up settings designed to impress viewers in brightly list stores...so imagine when you CANNOT control monitor brightness (as you cannot for most all laptop monitors).


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RHChan84
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Jan 08, 2015 15:44 |  #4

Between an i5 and i7 for just Lightroom, I would choose the i5 and pick up more RAM or SSD.

Adding more RAM is like night and day difference while doing a lot of batch editing and SSD is like Winter and Summer difference.


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sandwedge
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Jan 08, 2015 17:57 |  #5

Thanks for the replies. Obviously, an ssd is out of the question right now. It sounds like I really don't need to worry as much about i5 vs i7, and should be more concerned with RAM. I'm leaning toward the Lenova with the IPS. I'll also look into getting a monitor in the future.

I did find another option - Dell, i7, 16GB RAM for $799. It has a touch screen but I doubt I would use that feature much (and not with editing). I would add a monitor at some point.

http://www.bhphotovide​o.com …ndows8_1_15_6_s​ilver.html (external link)

Anyway, I appreciate your help and I think you are steering me in the right direction.


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Jan 08, 2015 18:05 as a reply to  @ sandwedge's post |  #6

Looking at the dell you linked its a very nice machine for your budget. The only downside I see is the display is not an IPS display which may not be that important to you especially if you are going to pickup a larger external display for editing in the future.


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Jan 08, 2015 23:24 |  #7

sandwedge wrote in post #17372935 (external link)
Thanks for the replies. Obviously, an ssd is out of the question right now. It sounds like I really don't need to worry as much about i5 vs i7, and should be more concerned with RAM. I'm leaning toward the Lenova with the IPS. I'll also look into getting a monitor in the future.

I did find another option - Dell, i7, 16GB RAM for $799. It has a touch screen but I doubt I would use that feature much (and not with editing). I would add a monitor at some point.

http://www.bhphotovide​o.com …ndows8_1_15_6_s​ilver.html (external link)

Anyway, I appreciate your help and I think you are steering me in the right direction.

You might not need touch screen but since it's Windows8 then touch screen is very useful but once Windows 10 comes out, it would be easy to use either Touch screen or the mouse.


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tkbslc
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Jan 09, 2015 00:17 |  #8

sandwedge wrote in post #17372935 (external link)
Thanks for the replies. Obviously, an ssd is out of the question right now. It sounds like I really don't need to worry as much about i5 vs i7, and should be more concerned with RAM. I'm leaning toward the Lenova with the IPS. I'll also look into getting a monitor in the future.

As someone who designs systems for an I.T. department for a living, I don't know if I fully agree. More RAM only speeds up performance when you are out of it, and editing a single photo or batch processing photos will not run you out of RAM with 8GB. Think of RAM like a bucket to hold running programs and files. If you don't have more open than can fit in the bucket, there is no benefit to having a larger bucket. Zero. As a 10 or 20 gallon bucket can both transport 6 gallons of water with ease.

Now the processor situation, just saying i5 or i7 is not really helpful. All laptop i5 processors have two processor cores. Many i7 processors also have two processor cores. The performance difference between dual core i5 and i7s is negligable. However, some i7 processors have Four cores. That makes a HUGE difference in processing video or batch processing. Like pretty much double the performance. The i7 model you linked to first, the Asus, has a Quad core. The i7 you linked to below is a dual core. The 16GB of RAM is nice, but as I said above, it only comes into play if you manage to run your system out of RAM. The Quad core processor will come into play ALL the time.

I did find another option - Dell, i7, 16GB RAM for $799. It has a touch screen but I doubt I would use that feature much (and not with editing). I would add a monitor at some point.

http://www.bhphotovide​o.com …ndows8_1_15_6_s​ilver.html (external link)

Anyway, I appreciate your help and I think you are steering me in the right direction.

As I said above, it's a dual core. Little benefit over a cheaper i5 dual core.


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tkbslc
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Jan 09, 2015 00:36 |  #9

Here's a pretty good deal right now:

HP ENVY 15T

http://store.hp.com …ctId=640655&sto​reId=10151 (external link)

Leave it on the i7 Quad core, 8GB of RAM and default HDD. Upgrade the display to 1920x1080 (important!) and it shows up at 949 but when you add it to cart discounts and sales take it down to $699

You can monitor RAM usage and if it becomes an issue it has a second slot to add another 4 or 8GB later, easily and for less than HP charges upfront.


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tim
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Jan 09, 2015 02:14 |  #10

Agree 8GB of RAM is enough. Two cores is enough if you're processing images one at a time, or even for small batches. Honestly even for large batches, when you output them you just leave it running for say an hour instead of 40 minutes if it had more cores (double the cores isn't twice as fast).

I'd go two cores, 8GB RAM and an SSD over any other combination. SSDs are snappy. You can add one later if you're PC literate or know someone who is.


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dkizzle
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Jan 09, 2015 09:07 |  #11

A lot of people made valuable input but failed to mention the most important component - video card. Most laptops come with onboard video card (built into the motherboard) but some can get a dedicated video card that has its own resources. With onboard video card you use CPU and RAM on the laptop to process video while with dedicated video card you have GPU & RAM on the card itself that gets used first.

CPU type (i7 quad core), amount of RAM (16GB), hard drive type (SSD), screen (IPS) and type of video card are the most important components if you want to do image editing on it.


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tkbslc
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Jan 09, 2015 11:03 |  #12

Graphics cards are NOT important for a machine that will not play games, or do heavy GPU-accelerated tasks.

Yes it will use a small amount of RAM, but the CPU has dedicated graphics cores which means the CPU will not get used for graphics. The onboard Intel graphics is very high powered for a machine that will not play games or do 3D modeling.

I'll argue a bit on the SSD, because while it does add a bit of "snappiness" as mentioned above, Windows has prefetch technology that caches your most frequently used programs automatically in RAM. If you only use a few programs, you'll find that a few minutes after booting they are all in RAM and start faster than they would on an SSD. Booting is much faster with an SSD, yes. Tasks like virusscan or installing apps is much much faster. But how often do you do those things? So you wait 10 seconds for Lightroom to launch instead of 2. After that it is all in RAM. (simplified description, but it makes the point)

Obviously, the ideal is to get an i7 Quad with 16GB of RAM and an SSD. However on a budget, I'd trim the RAM down first, then skip the SSD and then the processor. Laptop brands charge way too much for SSD, so I'd ALWAYS skip it and add one myself. RAM, I think 8GB is plenty, but get something where you can add more for future proofing. I would not run a dual core because the mobile chips are quite slow already. A dual core i7 laptop benchmarks like a desktop Pentium chip. Slower than a desktop i3. A quad i7 benchmarks like the best desktop i5's.


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Jan 09, 2015 14:54 |  #13

Sandwedge I don't want to high jack your thread. I also have been reading lots on this site and you are looking at about what I have. I have allowed myself a little more on the budget tho if needed.

I read a little while back on another thread here that this computer was well received.
http://www.bhphotovide​o.com …indows8_1_15_6_​black.html (external link)

I have almost ordered it a couple times but I keep going mainly back and forth between it and this one.
http://www.bhphotovide​o.com …indows8_1_17_3_​black.html (external link)
It has similar specs, but larger and touch screen display. The graphics resolution is much lower? Though.

Anyone care to comment on either/both. ?

I lost all my computers in wildfire in 2011 and been using a loaned aspire that has a screen that is all but worthless(move head slightly and colors, etc change).
Thanks and hope any info about these will help your choice as well sandwedge.
Best and good luck with your search!
James




  
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dkizzle
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Jan 09, 2015 15:10 |  #14

Photo editing is a memory intensive task. With onboard video only your computer has to use portions of CPU & RAM to process video related tasks. When the computer is not able to handle everything it also creates an additional amount of storage used for processing by creating a swap file. A swap file is a large file on the hard drive that is being used in lieu of physical memory (which is a lot faster). A computer with onboard video has to put more load on CPU, RAM & HDD to accomplish above average tasks, which photo editing is. A computer with dedicated video card has dedicated GPU & vRAM which handles all video processing instead of computers own CPU & RAM.

You either have additional Graphic Processing Unit & video RAM helping your computer's CPU, RAM & HDD or you dont.


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Jan 09, 2015 15:40 as a reply to  @ dkizzle's post |  #15

On board graphics when using programs like lightroom and photoshop are going to use a minimal amount of ram.

The main reason to buy a laptop with a dedicated graphics card is if you want to game with it playing newer games.

If the laptop will be used for photo editing, web browsing and similar a laptop with integrated graphics will be less expensive have better battery life and have no noticeable performance difference for those tasks vs. a laptop with a discreet graphics card.


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