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Laptop Help Please?

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Hi Brian,

I think I've read all of your laptop spec recommendations here, but I'm having trouble pulling the trigger and hoping you can help. And I apologize in advance, I have not been in the market for a computer in the past 6 years and haven't bought a laptop in over a decade so my market knowledge is looong out-dated.

I see Asus recommended a lot here, but to be honest the online reviews I've read (and 1 personal friend review) have not been positive about the brand overall. Is Asus generally the cost-effective way to get all the specs you recommend within some of the budgets posted here ($1k-1500)?

I've had HPs for the last decade and have always been happy, but I've never seen that come up as a recommendation here or on other photography sites. I'd love to stick with HP due to positive experience and familiarity/learning curve, but if that's not a smart move these days I will happily try something news.

Any thoughts on the HP ZBooks? http://store.hp.com/us/en/SearchDisplay?client=&searchTerm=zbook&search=&charset=utf-8&storeId=10151&catalogId=10051&langId=-1&beginIndex=0&pageSize=50

My budget is ideally under $2k, but I could go up to $2500 if it's something that will last me for years and has minimal risk of needing repairs.

Also worth noting, I'm not ready to switch to Mac.

Thanks for your help!




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The biggest reason that I recommend the Asus laptops are these two things:

  1. Display. The screen is IPS-based. This is important for editing photos as IPS screens colors are even and consistent from edge to edge. The cheaper laptops usually have TN screens, which is great for everything...except editing photos.
  2. The laptop has a dedicated video card with its own video memory. It's not using the CPU or RAM of the laptop. Adobe's products utilize the Graphics Processor and Video Memory to help improve performance. So believe it or not, this part of what makes up a laptop is just as important as how fast the CPU chip is.

Now, I want to make something absolutely clear:


I just got tired of arguing. :)  I've also come from a different POV, as I've seen my share of dead HP laptops. ;)

In reality, they do not make things like they used to. Laptops today only get about 3 or so years of use, before they become "Too Slow" or just stop working altogether. Laptop batteries are another thing. I have never experienced a 3rd party laptop battery working well...ever. So if you do buy a new laptop, budget for a 2nd OEM (Name-Brand) HP battery. They aren't cheap, usually around $150-$200 or so.

As for the link, they seem fine. Just make sure IPS is mentioned in the technical specs. For example:


Screen Shot 2016-07-09 at 2.20.48 PM.png

See how it says 15.6" UHD IPS UWVA display? It also mentions a NVIDIA graphics card wtih 4GB dedicated video memory. 1-2GB is fine for the majority, so don't sweat it if a laptop that you are interested in only has 1GB of video memory. If it's dedicated, fantastic...that is the important part. 

As for the other specs, here are some guidelines:

  • i5 or i7 CPU. There is only a 5%-10% performance increase with a Intel i7 vs an Intel i5 when it comes to Photoshop. If a program isn't coded to take advantage of the features of the Intel i7 that makes it so fast, those things get ignored.
  • Main Hard Drive Capacity. I don't care how fast a SSD drive is and all the super-stupid buzzwords the sales literature states. If it's only a 256GB model, it's not going to do you a damn bit of good if it's full. You want at least 500GB, preferably 1TB. Yes, even if there is a second hard drive in the laptop. People are creatures of habit. You have to make a mental note to not do a "Next-Next-Next-OK-OK-Finish" when it comes to software installations. Or storage of your files. When the main drive is small, like 256GB...you are going to need to be ANAL on what gets installed on it. Otherwise you are just going to come in here asking questions on why Photoshop is complaining about the scratch drive and why is your new laptop so slow and locking up and blah-blah-blah. LOL! Save yourself the stress. :) 
  • Operating System & RAM: Windows 7 Professional 64-bit or Windows 10 64-bit. You DO NOT GET WINDOWS 7 HOME EDITION. The RAM caps out at 16GB. That being said, if the laptop only goes up to 16GB, this becomes a non-issue. In reality, a laptop that comes standard with 16GB of RAM is preferred these days, with the ability to upgrade to at least 32GB. As camera sensors get more Mega-Pixels, RAW file-sizes are going to increase. Today's entry level cameras start at 24MP and it's only going to get worse.
  • Screen: IPS based. It should be mentioned in the tech specs. If not, I would assume that it's not a IPS based screen.
  • Dedicated Video RAM. 2GB or 4GB is fine for the majority. Especially if you are just editing photos.
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This is so helpful, thank you Brian!! And yes, I should have mentioned that I do know your stance on laptops and editing -- it certainly won't be my primary editing station, but I travel a lot and need something that can run Bridge/PS for some batch editing before getting home to my desktop workstation. So again, super helpful and I appreciate the feedback!!

Thank you!!



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