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What Windows Laptop do you recommend for Photo Editing?


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  • What Laptop do you recommend for Photo Editing?
  • I'm not interested in a Desktop, what Laptop should I get to edit photos on?
  • I need to be able to take my work with me, what Laptop should I purchase for editing Photos?
  • What technical specifications should I look for when buying a laptop?
  • I only have $500 to spend, what is a good laptop for photo editing?

I see this question so much, asked repeatedly over-and-over. So here is my answer to the above questions, or any of their variations. I will warn you, the bulk of this answer is more of a RANT than anything, you have been warned. :D 

So what do I recommend for a laptop that will be used to edit photos? Hmm...


(Collective Gasp Heard from the Audience...)

But why all the hate? I can hear it now...

"I love my laptop!"

"I need a laptop! I can't be chained to a Desk because I need to be free!!"

"I don't have ROOM for a Desktop!!"

My personal favorite, "I want to edit photos in the car on my way to vacation! I need to edit by the Pool!! I don't have time!!" (Yep, true story.)

Believe me, I've heard it all. People have a love-affair with laptops. For the longest time, I would never answer this WTB question, but people kept asking and I got tired of arguing. So here is my Manifesto. :) Before I get into the hardware specifications and things to look for, I want to share my thoughts on the caveats with editing photos on a laptop.

Here they are, in no particular order:

  1. The Screen itself. Laptop screens are meant to be viewed in a variety of environments, and in all sorts of lighting. From the Airport to the Coffee Shop, to your Desk at Home to the Kitchen Table, even on your lap during a plane-ride, flying somewhere. The portability is what Laptops are meant/known for and their screens reflect this. So why is this bad? The reason is due to the very nature of portability: In-consistent lighting conditions. If you care about color and consistency, the majority of laptop screens are not meant for editing photos. They are meant to browse the Web, waste time on Facebook, checking E-Mail, watching a movie, etc. etc. Basically, the general computing stuff. So the manufacturers will install screens that are usually very glossy and bright, which doesn't make a good screen to edit photos on. Why? Because you will be dealing with a "Skewed" device that shows your colors brighter/more saturated than they would be on a print, and a brighter screen will often result in dark prints. Even if you are a digital-only photographer, your delivered images will not look consistent on the client's computer.  Finding a non-glossy screen, or one that has a Matte Finish is like finding a Needle in the proverbial Haystack.

    In addition, Manufacturers will also use display panels that consume less power, (more on this later) and are usually a Twisted Nematic Display panel, (aka: TN Display.) The benefits of TN Displays is they work better in a variety of environments, have faster response times, which are better for video games, and are cheaper to produce, thereby reducing their costs. For these reasons, Manufactures love them. The downside is that a TN Display's colors and contrast are not consistent from edge to edge, which is bad when it comes to editing photos. See the dilemma?

    A better option is to get a IPS-Based Display Panel, but often those laptops are getting increasingly more difficult to find. Even models that I recommended in the past, the current versions of those models contain a TN Display Panel, rendering them useless for editing on the laptop directly. Why a IPS Based Display Panel and what does IPS stand for? IPS stands for "In-Plane Switching." This type of technology is usually opposite of a TN Panel: Colors and Contrast are consistent from Edge-to-Edge, viewing angle is much better and they aren't as "Fast" as a Display Panel for video games, but we are talking about editing photos & video. We want consistent colors. We want consistent dynamic range from edge to edge. An IPS Display Panel gives us the answer to those requirements as Artists.
  2. The Screen's Angle of View. No matter how hard you try, each time you open your laptop's display panel, the colors and contrast will change because the physical angle of the display has changed. Even if it was only a 1/2" (1.27cm) or so difference, the screen will "Look Different." Don't believe me? Try it. Have a photo open in Photoshop with a good swing of dynamic range, from Lights to Darks on a laptop. Then move the screen back and forth. Look at the shadows, how much do you see? Does it get better or worse each time you move the screen in and out? So what happens when your Cat rubs against the corner of your laptop? What happens when you close the lid for the night and then open it in the morning? Your edits will be inconsistent because your viewing angle has changed, and even though you never intended this...it just happens. I don't care if you "know" you never touched your screens, there are no guarantees. Gravity still continues to work and hinges wear out. ;) 

    Fortunately, someone has figured out an easy way around this and if you are still determined to purchase a laptop, please...I beg you, purchase the Acratech Viewing Angle Gauge. How this little gadget works is you attach it to the back of your laptop's display. (Don't worry, it attaches via Velcro and can be removed during storage. In fact, here is a Instructional Video covering how you install and use it. ) When you open your display to use your laptop, you look through the little hole of the Gauge. If you see part of the little "Nub" or can see through the hole clearly, you are at the wrong viewing angle. When the viewing angle is correct, the hole will be evenly filled with the "Nub." For less than $20, this should be on ANY Photographer's short-list of "What to Buy" if they are editing on a laptop. The alternative is for someone to build some sort of wooden jig, but that kills the portability aspect; in my honest and humble opinion just buy the blasted Viewing Angle Gauge, it's $17.
  3. Keyboards and Track-pads are usually terrible. It's an eye-opening experience when you physically go to a store and take a laptop for a test drive. Keyboards are quite cheap these days and are not comfortable to type on for long-term. I also can almost guarantee you, a mouse will be hooked up to a laptop for photo editing as Track-Pads are usually terrible and have been known to make the mouse cursor jump all over the place. I've personally seen this happen at my customer's sites; they are always complaining about the Track-Pads and the cursor flying across the screen. Not the best option when precision is required during editing. So that kills some portability right there. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, and Apple's Track-Pads seem to be "better" in this regard, but I still say a mouse or a Tablet / Stylus are better for Photo-Editing. Period.
  4. Horsepower and Reliability. Laptops are designed with low power consumption in mind, so they aren't always the fastest. This is especially true if the laptop is running off it's battery and not plugged-in. It will automatically slow itself down, and lower the screen's brightness to conserve power.  Heat…Heat is the enemy. The faster or harder something runs, the hotter it gets, and the longer things take to complete. So if you are someone who does a lot of batching, or CPU/GPU intensive tasks, that could be an issue, especially with a high Megapixel Camera. Video Memory is often shared with the RAM so the ability to power very large resolutions that drive 27" displays is non-existent. Meaning, you can't just simply go out and by whatever display that you wish; you'll need to pay attention to the maximum resolution that the laptop can produce for an external display. Laptops that have their own dedicated video memory increase Photoshop's performance, as it relies on the GPU for the boost, are a little better powering the larger displays. However most people aren't aware of this, and manufactures want to save money, those models are a bit harder to find and usually cost A LOT more.

    Laptops often only last about 3 years before they become "Too Slow" or start locking up or just downright fail on you. 3 Years is the average these days, and the laptops that are around the $1500 range fall into this category. Your $500 laptop? You'll get about 18 months or so, give or take. Spend a little more, like $1000 and you will get a little more life out of them. That said, where do you get them fixed when things go wrong? At least with Apple and Dell, they have Apple and Dell Repair Centers. Other laptop brands aren't as easy. If you take a laptop to a Box-Store, chances are they will send them out for repair, with no guarantees of quality, or the availability of parts. OEM Batteries aren't cheap either. They average about $150 or more to get a OEM replacement. Combine that with the trend of sealed-units, you just can't always have the option of popping in a new battery as you will most likely have to completely take apart the laptop to replace said battery.
  5. Product Lifespan and Upgrade Options. It's no secret that today's products aren't built to last and we are in a "Throw-Away Society." There is a term for this: Planned Obsolescence. Why create something that is repairable AND lasts a long time? It keeps you out of the market longer. Manufacturers really "Don't make things like they used to..." now more than ever. Just think of how many Smartphones you have owned in the last 10 years? How many laptops or computers? Cars? That Volvo which was built to last 20+ years, back in the 1980's now only lasts for about 7-8. Your Mom's blender that she gave you finally died last New Year's Eve and now you are on your third one in a year. I see this on a daily basis. You can FEEL the quality difference of the plastics being used today as compared to products that were made 20 years ago. Now things feel so cheap and flimsy. Don't believe me? Hold your camera from 10 years ago and compare the plastics used on your brand new camera. Can you feel the difference?

    From my personal experience, your $500 or less laptop will last you 12-18 months. If you spend a little more, say around $800, you'll get about 24 months out of the thing. Spend around $1500, and I can say with confidence anywhere from 24-36 months, maybe a little longer...about 4-5 years. Especially if your laptop stays on a desk and it hardly moved from place to place. That said, this does not apply to Apple's products. If you spend $3600 on a MacBook Pro, don't expect that thing to last for 8+ years. 4-5 is usually the average, and that's if they don't have any recall issues. Of course, there are exceptions, but this is my generalization of what I've seen from the last 20+ years. Now, I usually get the response, "But my last laptop was fine and it lasted 7-10 years…" My remarks stand: They do not make laptops with the same quality of the ones made 15-20 years ago, or even 10 years ago.

    It used to be that laptops, and desktops for that matter, had a "Spring Line" and a "Fall Line." Apple still follows this pattern somewhat, but the rest of the manufacturers...not-so-much. Laptops are "En-Vogue" for about 90 Days; meaning that laptop you have had your eye on won't be around a month from now, and it will be replaced by a completely different model, usually at a different price-point. Then that future model will be replaced by another one, then another one, etc. It's not uncommon to have 3-4 different versions of the same class/model laptop within a year. Plus, they aren't meant to be taken apart and repaired. Watch any repair channel on YouTube, and you can see what I mean when they create videos on a laptop disassembly / repair. Laptop repair is its own animal. Keep in mind, today's manufacturers "Orphan" products so much quicker today than they did years ago. So finding a upgraded video driver to fix a Photoshop problem, or updated firmware to fix a hardware issue may not exist a few years after you purchase the laptop. So staying on top of product updates becomes even more important; even then those updates will cease to exist. Of course, this holds true for desktops, but with the ability to replace components in the future, helps cut down from this happening. Basically, things...especially laptops, aren't meant to be repaired; laptops are meant to be replaced.

    Now comes for the upgrade-ability issues and hardware limitations. RAM...it's usually an issue. Most laptops come with a default configuration of 8GB and usually can't be upgraded more than 16GB. Sometimes, if you get a higher-end model, you can go up to 32GB, but this isn't always the case. Plus, today's laptops tend to be in a sealed unit configuration, so good luck upgrading them yourself. Usually, you have to purchase the extra RAM at the time of purchase, at a higher price-point. Apple is known for this. You could spend $600 on a RAM upgrade or purchase the same RAM configuration for $130 by going 3rd party. Main Hard Drives tend to be on the small side, usually 128GB - 256GB on the average, which in my humble opinion is way too small for editing photos.  General computing? Sure...a 256GB HD should be "fine." Unfortunately, one third of that is taken up by the Operating System, and pre-installed bloatware. After you add Photoshop, with its Scratch-Disks and then your Photo sessions, all of a sudden space becomes a commodity.  Upgrading the HD is even more difficult than the RAM. Not only for the lack of an access panel, you then have to transfer the contents of the existing HD to the new one. For someone technical and does it on a normal basis, it's not that hard. You just need the right software and hardware / cables to do it. For the average person with limited technical knowledge? Forget it.
  6. Be sure to budget for a Calibration Tool. If you don't already have one your colors are going to be a whacked until you get a baseline and get calibrated. THEN you will have to compare them to your physical prints. Expect lots of frustration and questions posted in "Ask Damien" on why your built-in laptop screen won't calibrate correctly. Since laptops change so quickly, as I've mentioned above, they are "orphaned" a lot quicker than desktops. Meaning video driver updates or compatibility issues with your calibration tool likely won't be fixed or addressed. (I can't tell you how many posts I have seen in Ask Damien on why Calibration Profiles just don't "stick" with laptops; this is usually due to their crappy drivers or display controlling software.) The only laptops that I've still seen get good reviews for being decent out of the box are the MacBook Pro's, but those laptops are insanely expensive and yes...Apple's products still need to be calibrated, as ALL Macs tend to run on the "Cool Side" of White Balance out of the box.

    Of course, the usual response is, "...but my Prints matched my laptop's screen pretty well!!!" (on my old laptop) or something along those lines. My response: YOU GOT LUCKY!! Don't bank on it happening again. As display panels change, so do the way they reproduce colors. Manufactures are always looking to cut costs and keep power consumption low on laptops, so the displays could be better…or more than likely worse with each newer model.
  7. The "Greatest Strength" can be the "Greatest Weakness." It's not secret that the appeal of a laptop boils down to one thing: Portability. This is probably the #1 reason why people want a laptop over a desktop. But there is one downside: You will be tempted to edit in all sorts of places, usually not in the best Ambient Lighting conditions. From your dining room table, the living room or my favorite, from the passenger seat of a car while headed to the Beach; moving and editing in different places is something you want to avoid doing. If someone truly cares about accurate colors, not only should they calibrate every 4-6 weeks, the very lighting around the computer should also be as consistent as possible. Read that twice if you have to. I'm dead serious. The ambient light around your computer affects EVERYTHING. From how you view colors, white balance to even how your calibration device calibrates things. Ambient light around your computer, desktop or laptop, is just as important, if not more important than "...getting it right in camera." You can't "fix" your mistakes if you aren't in a consistent lighting environment. In fact, Damien has written a whole article based on this topic titled, The Light around your Computer. In this article he touches on the very things that I'm talking about. Now, if you are the type who uses Photoshop Actions and doesn't truly edit, then you might get away with being in different lighting conditions. Running Jane Doe from CutesyName Photography's Amazeballz Color #5, then Vintage Piss-Hazy Looking Thing and then finally Super-Duper Sharpening for FB isn't truly "Editing;" you simily are just pressing a button and changing opacity levels. That's not "Editing," that is using someone else's methods and not your own.

Hardware Specifications - What to look for.

Believe it or not, a "Good" laptop for photo editing will have many of the same characteristics as a Desktop model would and we will cover them here. The main difference, is we will tend to look at a class of laptop known as a "Gaming Laptop." This is due to this class of laptop having the same requirements for decent video game performance as one would use to edit photos on. Be sure to read this article, "What is a good Windows Computer for photo-editing?" as many of the information that I'm about to write will be sourced from there, including the theories behind my selections.

Basic Minimum 2020 Requirements:

  • CPU - Intel i7 (or AMD Equivalent)
  • RAM - 16GB RAM (More is always better in this dept, like 32GB or the ability to upgrade RAM at a later date.)
  • Main HD - 500GB SSD (1TB Recommended)
  • Optional Second HD - A second "Data Hard Drive," either an internal or external, that has a capacity of 4TB or more, i.e. 6-8TB.
  • Video - A video card that has is own separate and dedicated Video Memory that contains at least 8GB of Video RAM or more.
  • Operating System - Windows 10 Home
  • Built in Display - An IPS-Based Display Panel. This option is non-negotiable!
  • External Display Port - Either a laptop that contains an HDMI or better yet, DisplayPort interface. AVOID using the traditional Blue VGA 15-pin port.
  • Calibration Device - Usually the top-of-the-line Calibration tool will yield the best results. (e.g. Purchase a SpyderX Elite vs a SpyderX Pro.)

When choosing a laptop, I am first looking for two things: IPS Display Panel and a Video GPU that has separate and dedicated video memory. This is non-negotiable. Period. I have many many members cry out in pain when I shoot down their laptop models with a big-fat "Skip It"  for the model that they are about to buy. The CPU, the HD, the RAM, etc. that's the easy part. The video GPU & Display stuff? Not-so-much.

I will say it again: Laptops that contain their own dedicated video memory in addition to the RAM is required. Not only from a performance perspective, but so you can power an external monitor and support resolutions on a 24" or 27" display. Which brings me to my next point: PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD AND GREEN, USE AN EXTERNAL DISPLAY TO VIEW AND EDIT PHOTOS ON. Especially if you simply can not find a model with a built-in IPS Display...an external monitor is always available, provided you have the horsepower to drive a 24" or 27" external display. I realize that this cuts down on the whole portability aspect, but by doing so, you will have a much better screen to work with and edit on.


"Why a HDMI Port or the newer DisplayPort? What's so bad about the 15-Pin Blue VGA Port? I've always used that port...

The Blue VGA Port...it's technology dates from 1989. I remember when it was new. 640x480 and 256 colors. Way better than the EGA (16 Colors) or even CGA (4 Colors). In 1989, that was cutting edge technology and it worked really well, but it was meant for CRT (Tube) Displays, up to 20 inches, not today's fancy flat-screens. VGA IS ANALOG. It's not digital like HDMI or DisplayPort. The Colors, Contrast, and Sharpness are ALL BETTER with a HDMI or DisplayPort Connection. Some of use will remember just how much better a DVD looked over a VHS Tape. It's the same theory. VGA is like a VHS tape. HDMI or DisplayPort is like Blu-Ray DVD. So having a laptop with either of those Digital Connections is key today. Plus, you need a Graphics Chip that can drive those ports correctly to use a larger display, like the common 24" flat-panel or even something like a 27" or greater display panel.

Manufactures like cutting costs and they will usually skip out putting in a fancy Video GPU with dedicated Video Memory. See a common theme here with laptops? But I'm digressing...anyway, Often a laptop will use a section of RAM for Video Memory and the GPU will be powered by the CPU (aka the "Brain" of the computer.) This usually results in a performance hit when it comes to Photoshop. It will usually complain about the Video Card and recommend that you turn off the "Use Graphics Processor" option altogether. This in tern really kills performance on the things that PS uses the GPU for: Cloning, Liquify, Content Aware, and other fancy tools. As time goes on, Adobe's products will rely on the Graphics Processor to do more and more. So if you are forking out the money for a laptop, no sense in wasting that money, only to replace the damn thing in six months because it's "Too Slow."


"I'm curious about the Calibration Tool part. Why not something like the SpyderX Pro, which is a cheaper model. Aren't they the same?

While it's true that the actual  hardware calibration device are the same between the SpyderX Pro and SpyderX Elite, the main difference is the Calibration Software itself. The "Elite's" software has every option enabled, which usually makes calibrating a laptop much easier. Combine that with the increased chance of using an External Display, the SpyderX Elite's software is built for calibrating multiple displays. Of course, sometimes you can get away with the SpyderX Pro, and it works fine, but that's not always the case. Especially with the different video cards and video driver software that Manufactures tend to use, even from model to model. Also, in my humble opinion, I feel that a SpyderX Elite will have a greater chance in getting a Laptop's Display Panel and External Display matching each other. Will it be a 100% match? Probably not, but it should be close. Of course, there is a 1st time for everything and if you get both matching, you'll get bragging rights and a Gold Star Sticker. ;)



Brian!! Just tell me what to buy!!!

OK, I've dragged this on long enough.

The short answer is this: Buy the Biggest and Best you can afford.

Usually that means spending about $300-$500 more than your comfort zone allows. There is no such thing as not enough RAM, CPU Power or HD Space. A realistic budget should be around $1500 to start with, MORE IN 2021!! Yep, you read that correctly. Remember that whole IPS-Based Display Panel thing that I went on-and-on about above? That's why. It's hard enough trying to find a Laptop with a IPS screen, and damn near impossible to find one on a $500 or less laptop. IPS Screens are more expensive to produce; you simply aren't going to find one on a $399 Box-Store Special. If you do, let me know. Stranger things have happened. :)

As for what model, I couldn't tell you. LMAO!! Even if I did find one with all of my required specs, that model will be replaced by another in about 4-6 weeks. That is the normal time-frame for off the shelf laptops. If you can get one custom built, go that route. You will spend more than $500, but you will get a better machine and have better support, plus be able to dictate what you want under the hood.


Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?! Really?!?!!
You are going to leave us hanging like that?

 Bwahahahah!! I'm not THAT mean. LMAO!! :D

In the next section we will go over buying a laptop together and I will post screen-shots of what I'm looking for and what search terms that I'm using. This way it avoids the multiple "Is this a good laptop? (With a bunch of links)" threads, and me going "Nope-Nope-Skip It-No...Yes, purchase that one." It just wastes time and creates unneeded threads. Not only am I a big proponent of the "Buy it Right...Buy it Once" philosophy, I am also keen on "Teaching a person to fish..." rather than me just making them dinner every night. KWIM?

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Let's go shopping.

First we will start out with a simple Google Search: "Best Laptops with IPS Panel in 2020."

Screen Shot 2020-04-21 at 5.00.23 PM.png

Seriously. That is the very first thing I do when asked, "What is a good laptop for Photo Editing?"  I might even put in 2019 if my searches don't give me many good models. I will also use a similar search term on Amazon, as well as B&H.


Screen Shot 2020-04-21 at 5.04.00 PM.png


Screen Shot 2020-04-21 at 5.08.03 PM.png

I know, really complicated stuff!! All that typing. Phew! I'm exhausted. :D

All kidding aside, that’s where I start. From there we find a model somewhat within our price-range and then go from there. Remember, when it comes to a laptop, it’s better to get one that is a little more expensive than your comfort zone allows, has great reviews and meets my minimum technical specifications. Once we find that laptop that catches my eye, I will usually take a quick look at the quick-specs listed and then head straight for the Technical Specifications section. I’m not falling for Marketing ploys or any other sales tactics. I want to know what is under the hood; WHAT am I really buying.

First thing I'm looking for: IPS Display Panel. Yes, I know this is the very search term that we used, but I assume nothing. IPS is a little more expensive, it's an "Upgraded" option. If a Laptop has it installed IT WILL BE LISTED IN THE TECH SPECS. Trust me. For example, here is one I just picked at B&H, listed for $1299. Remember when I said above to have a $1500 budget in mind? This is why:

Screen Shot 2020-04-21 at 5.16.06 PM.png

Right off the bat, we see two of my non-negotiable check-off items: An IPS Display and a Dedicated Graphics Card - NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060GPU (6GB). Remember, if a laptop has these features, they WILL point them out. They will not be hidden. The Manufacturer will brag about it.

  • IPS Screen? Check!
  • Dedicated Video RAM? Check! (The 6GB in parenthesis is a dead give-away.)
  • i7 CPU? Check!
  • Minimum of 16GB? Check!

So far this model is worth investigating. Onto the Tech Specs!

Screen Shot 2020-04-21 at 5.22.24 PM.png

  • CPU - Check.
  • RAM, comes with 16GB it's up-gradable to 32GB. "User-Replaceable." Big Check!!
  • Graphics? "Dedicated." Perfect! Big Check!

Now onto the Display:


  • Panel Type? IPS. Check!
  • Screen Finish: Matte!! Perfect! This is a Non-Glossy Display! Perfect for editing photos. Big Check!
  • We don't care about refresh rates or even the aspect ratio. We are just editing still photographs and not playing Video Games. Moving on...

Hard Drive & Other Items

Screen Shot 2020-04-21 at 5.30.09 PM.png

Wow! I am impressed. This particular laptop comes with a 1TB Main Hard Drive. More than enough for today's computer. It has a USB 3.2 Port, which is on-par with Thunderbolt 3 speeds. So that's a win. (Provided you have a EHD that is at least USB 3.1 to take advantage of those Speeds.) It has both a Mini DisplayPort AND a HDMI Port. So that's what we want. No media card slots which is fine, since I want you to use a Card Reader instead.

Moving onto the final couple of sections, it has typical WiFi Stuff and it has a Gigabit Ethernet port, so I'm not going to screen-shot that. But the battery section, I will, since the info is relative to what to pay attention to.

Screen Shot 2020-04-21 at 8.41.23 PM.png

OK, it has a typical Lithium-Ion Battery, and it lasts for about 4-5 hours. The only thing that I'm making a mental note about is the phrase, "Non-Removable." So when this battery wears out in a few years, the laptop will need to be taken completely apart and the battery replaced. It's not a user-replaceable / spare battery setup. Unfortunately, this is common place today. Boy, do I remember when people gave Apple Sh*t when they went over to this type of configuration with the iPhones. Funny how it is now a trend. But I'm digressing again. LOL!

As you can see, this particular laptop meets all the things that I look for and would be one that I might recommend. So is it one that I would tell you to buy? Possibly. The next step is to take a look at the reviews.

Most of the reviews seem positive, but a few of them I did pay some attention to. One of them seems to be a "Crackling/Static" issue coming from the speakers, which could be a design flaw or something as a bad electrical ground. Someone also commented on how hot this laptop gets, and that's to be expected, as the more horsepower you have at your disposal, the hotter things run. Other reviews seem to be real and mostly positive. There seems to be a few bad ones in the bunch, so be sure to read the fine-print for returns whoever you purchase from. Terms can vary greatly from store-to-store. Make sure if you do have a problem, don't ignore it. Contact the reseller and schedule an exchange immediately. Also, PLEASE be aware of any restocking fees; again...always read the fine-print. 

Bottom Line: This particular laptop would probably make it to some sort of list of recommended laptops. Edit: As I predicted, this laptop has been discontinued. I'm being 100% Truthful when I say laptops only have a 4-6 week life-span before they are replaced with a newer/different model. So if you are having trouble finding one you can afford, just wait another 6 weeks and save up some more. Not only will you have more money to spend on a higher-quality laptop, you will be looking at a current model.

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Now for an example of a laptop that I would utter my famous phrase of, "Skip It!!" I feel that it's important to demonstrate one that is almost there, but just misses a little bit.

OK, we begin our search the same way, Google, Amazon and B&H. (Or your particular store that you usually shop at.) Then we look for a IPS-Based laptop. We come across one that runs $599.99. Seems really affordable, so let's take a quick look:

Screen Shot 2020-04-21 at 9.05.33 PM.png

Right off the bat, I see a i5 CPU and even though it has a IPS Screen, it contains a Touch-Screen, which are known to be a Pain in the Ass to Calibrate. Will this model be difficult to calibrate? Probably. Will you be tempted to touch the screen because it is a Touch-Screen, possibly. But what really catches my eye is the 8GB of RAM, a 256GB Main HD and the Integrated Intel Graphics. So this one I'd tell you to "Skip It" within 30 seconds or less. I have no mercy. Buying a laptop is like dating, if you are a non-smoker and you don't want to date someone who smokes or vapes, chances are you are going to pass or "Swipe Left." I use these same tactics when looking at laptops. Once you get the hang of things, you will be able to do the same. Moving on.

Here is one that is $499:

Screen Shot 2020-04-21 at 9.11.09 PM.png
OK, the CPU is i3, so that's a "No." RAM is the BARE-MINIMUM AT 8GB, so no on that one. No mention of IPS Screen, even though I searched for it.  It also has Integrated Graphics, so that's a "No" as well. That's why you MUST pay attention and assume nothing. IPS-Based Laptops aren't common and you really have to make sure of what you are buying.

We now come across one that is $699. Using the same tactics, we look at the some key features again...
Screen Shot 2020-04-21 at 9.15.28 PM.png
OK, it's a i5, which is to be expected at this price-point. It's not a i7, which is something that I would prefer so that becomes a "No." It does mention an IPS Display, and it has a Dedicated Graphics card, so that's a positive. It's the 8GB of RAM and a 256GB HD. For today's standards, that would probably be ok for General Computing, but not photo-editing. That said, it doesn't have a Touch-Screen, which is a positive. Maybe it's worth investigating. Onto the specs...

I do not see any mention of being able to upgrade the RAM, nor is there an option to configure this model with a larger HD. So far this laptop is going to be a "No." But I want to take a quick look at the reviews just to be sure, and I noticed this one:

Screen Shot 2020-04-21 at 9.26.07 PM.png

I know this review is hard to see, so I will type it out:

Storage:512GB NVMe PCIe M.2 SSD | GPU:RTX 2060 | CPU:Core i7-9750H

Excellent laptop, upgraded to 64GB RAM, upgraded with Extra 1 TB NVME drive, very fast Laptop, excellent Gaming, but does get hot, seems to be able to handle all the games I throw at it at highest settings. video editing is a breeze, good all round Laptop

I copied and pasted that review verbatim. Notice something? The storage is 512GB and it has a i7 CPU!! That review is NOT for this laptop model!! (This laptop is also marked as "New Item - Coming Soon..." So it's a fake review. Or one that was generated by a "Bot." This laptop screams "Skip It."

I could go on and on, but I think you get the general idea at this point of how I look at things for people. With a little practice, stuff like this is easy. It's just a logical approach, that's it. For those visual types, here is that "Mental Checklist" written out:
Initial Search.

Main Target: IPS Based Laptop

  1. Find one that looks to be close to our initial price-point. Keep an open mind in terms of price.
  2. Take a look at initial specs, decide quickly if this model is worth pursuing.
  3. Check to see initial configuration matches the specs listed on the main page. See if there are any upgrade paths, e
  4. Compare my Minimum Requirements against the laptop. Note any Red-Flags!
  5. Pay attention to the Video Card, is it Integrated or Dedicated Video?
  6. Read multiple reviews, but take negative-reviews with a grain-of-salt. Pay attention to the Model / Configuration matches the laptop you are looking at.
  7. If something seems off, move onto the next one!! It's not worth wasting money.
  8. Rinse and Repeat.
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Final Thoughts...

Now, if you made it this far, THANK YOU. Hopefully I've given you the tools to search for a laptop that fits your budget, and meets my minimum requirements / specifications for a laptop. I'm sure some of you want a list with laptops that I can link to, and unfortunately, as soon as I create those lists, they become outdated. At some point I will create a WTB FAQ section with a few models listed, but I have other articles to write first. In reality, I want you to find one on your own.

Bonus: If you have read my whole article and have mad it this far, here is a laptop that I would purchase for Photo Editing. The downside is that it hasn’t been officially released yet. 

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Screen Shot 2020-12-05 at 4.52.04 PM.png

Screen Shot 2020-12-05 at 4.52.14 PM.png

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