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Time to Get a New Computer

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Hi Brian! I really appreciate all your help and info on here as I am completely clueless on computers.

My old computer is an Asus ROG laptop I bought in 2016. It’s done well so far, but I have noticed it freezing a lot more and programs shutting down quite often. I’m guessing with all the new requirements it’s about time to get a new computer. I basically only use it for photos and for my Silhouette vinyl cutting program. Once I updated that to a more advanced version I started noticing problems with it randomly quitting on me.

I do feel completely clueless, but I have read your article about what to buy so I have that checklist of what to look for. 

I’m trying to decide if I should move over to a desktop or stick with a laptop. I feel like my past two laptops end up having battery issues and I have to always have them plugged in to work, so I might as well just have a desktop. I have heard desktops are better to edit on than a laptop, but is that still true?  Plus my Asus was a large 17” which made it hard to carry around anyways. But I liked the option to have it be transportable while the battery still worked.

Any other advice as I begin my foray into researching a new computer? 

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16 hours ago, strawberryred said:

I feel like my past two laptops end up having battery issues and I have to always have them plugged in to work, so I might as well just have a desktop.

Yep. This is done for battery performance; often things like the CPU and other components do not run at full power when on battery, because people want laptops to be portable at all times and fast components draw more current. :) Unfortunately, if you have real work to be done, you will need them to be plugged in.

16 hours ago, strawberryred said:

I have heard desktops are better to edit on than a laptop, but is that still true?

This is a loaded question, and the answer will be determined on who you ask. Personally, I HATE-HATE-HATE Laptops for Photo Editing! In fact, there was a time period that I wouldn't give any recommendations at all, but I finally gave up. Why? Because people have a stupid love-affair with Laptops. They must be able to edit in the Living Room, Kitchen, in the Backyard by the Pool while watching their kiddos swim...one person wanted to edit in the passenger seat of her husband's car on the way to the beach!! People don't want to be chained to a desk!! They must be free to edit photos wherever they choose!! Who gives a sh*t about the ambient light around them which will affect their edits and white balance choices?!?! Being forced to be plugged in is for Losers!!! Consistent Lighting Conditions in the area that they edit is for Nerds!!! Besides, they bought an Action from Cutesy Name Photography that will fix that!!!

It got to a point that I was beaten down by the inevitable, "What's a good laptop for photo editing?" question...over-and-over-and-over again. So I caved. Speaking of which, I need to write the 2024 version of that article. :D Spoiler Alert: IPS Screen, i7 or i9 CPU, NVIDIA RTX 4070 or RTX 4080 with at least 8GB Dedicated Video RAM, 1TB Main HD and at least 32GB of RAM is what you need in 2024.

All kidding aside, regardless on what you edit on, it is far more important to edit in consistent even light with paint color on the walls that is neutral enough to not affect your editing choices. In fact, Damien wrote a really good article: The Light around your Computer about this very subject, give it a read. 

This is one of the reasons why a Desktop is better to edit on, you are in the same area for editing each and every time. If you edit in a room that has say...red on the walls, then go move to the Kitchen Table where walls are Yellow, with a warm overhead light fixture, you are going to have a color shift with the ambient light. Which affects the way you see things on screen. The other thing that makes Desktops better than Laptops, is the performance / horsepower of things. I don't care how much money you spend, Desktops run better not only because of faster/better components, the reason that they run better is due to one thing: Airflow. Heat is the enemy when it comes to electronics and the hotter something runs, the slower it performs. Desktops just have more physical area and way bigger fans to move air. Of course, this is subjective, as the type of Desktop that you would purchase determines this; A mini PC with a Tiny Fan vs a full Desktop with 4 big and powerful fans, there is a difference in operating temperatures. I don't care if you have the most expensive and fastest laptop, if that air duct / fan gets clogged with dust/hair/funk, it's not going to run well...regardless how new it is or how much you paid for it.

Now, the other thing that I dislike about Laptops is one thing: Batteries. I'm sorry, Lithium Ion Batteries really haven't changed a whole lot technology-wise since the 1990's, and they wear out over a given period of time. Yes, even if you leave them plugged in, they have a "shelf-life." A good set of Lithium Ion Batteries will get you 36 Months or so of lifespan. Some go a little more, but don't hold a charge when they get to around 48 months, that's why it seems you are always buying a new laptop every three years or so. On a good day, a Lithium Ion Battery will just cut out unexpectedly, on a bad day, the battery materials inside the battery start to mix together, causing the battery to balloon and possibly catch on fire. This is how planes fall out of the sky if Lithium-Ion Batteries catch on fire and why Fire Departments can't put out a Tesla that's on fire, same difference.

So what do you do?

The #1 thing you need to answer is: What is your budget? Then increase it. Why? Because the days of the "$999 Special" from a Big Box Store that's "Good Enough" for Photoshop are over. Adobe keeps adding all sorts of crap and AI modules in order to 1. Stay current and 2. Keep you hooked on the Subscription Model. Personally, I recommend a budget of around $2500 for either a Laptop or a Desktop in 2024, give or take a few hundred. $2500 is a good target. Why? Because you need to be able to click "Buy" at a given moment's notice. You see, Laptop Models don't hang around as long as they used to; it's about 90 Days or so before they are replaced by a different model. 30 years ago, Manufacturers had a "Spring Line" and a "Fall Line," Apple still does this with the Early / Late Models, but the other manufactures keep changing things. So picking a Laptop, drooling over it, reading review article after review article, followed by YouTube Reviews and saving up each month to ultimately purchase what you desire...those days are from 20-30 years ago. Now?

You see it - you like it - you click BUY!!

Otherwise, it might be gone next week. This is why I always start with a price/budget first.

Case in point: This Laptop I've been recommending over the last 3-4 months, and now it seems to be running low on inventory since "Limited Supply at this Price" is written at the top. Plus, this laptop is way less price-wise than it used to be. So it sound like it's due for replacement. This model checks all of my boxes and I would buy one myself. How about waiting for the new model? Meh...It's about the Laptop Screen: It must be an IPS Display Panel and those suckers are really hard to find in a Laptop.

So really a Laptop and Desktop aren't THAT much different.

  • The Latest Intel i7 or i9 CPU
  • 32GB of RAM / 64GB Preferred
  • 1TB of Main HD Capacity. (Do NOT buy a unit that has a 500GB or smaller main HD, laptop or desktop.)
  • NVIDIA RTX 4070 or RTX 4080 with 8GB-12GB of Dedicated Video RAM
  • A IPS Screen (I like 27" 2560 x 1440 resolution) or a IPS Display Panel in a Laptop. (Again, THIS is the tough part when buying a Laptop for Photo-editing, it's the damn IPS screen.)


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Thank you for all that. I might have to go ahead and switch over to a desktop. Now just to figure out which one to get and to find a monitor! Off to do some research!

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