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Dissembled

join:2008-01-23
Indianapolis, IN

Help Me Spec a Laptop for My Wife

OK, so my wife is bound and determined to get herself a new laptop. I've offered multiple times to build her a new desktop and she just doesn't want to go that route. Well, I hate laptops an as a result know very little about them aside from translating system specs from a desktop. I mostly game, so I find laptops awkward and just lacking in every respect compared to my perfectly good desktop system. I realize it's a "to each his own" type thing, but that's where I'm coming from.

My wife doesn't game. At all. I know I'm cheating a bit here by posting in this forum, but I respect your guys' opinions and would like some help on what you think would get her what she needs while keeping the budget at a reasonable level. My wife does a lot of photo and video work. Photo work consists of downloading thousands of pictures off her SLR and organizing/editing in Photoshop CS5 and then burning to CD or posting to FB/Shutterfly. Video work is pretty simple. She doesn't do video editing or anything like that, but spends a lot of time transferring video from the home HD video recorder onto her machine and then backing them up/converting them to DVD. My goal is to keep the machine in the $1000 range. The problem is that when she gets on Dell and starts looking at a laptop, she's wants the best of everything and it ends up being a $2000 laptop. I just don't believe she needs that to have a machine that will do what she truly needs to do. The other problem is that it appears a lot of places like Dell have really cut back if not eliminated there customization choices when building a laptop.

CPU - It seems obvious to me that a solid CPU is required here. I really don't know if AMD or Intel is the better choice.

HD - I don't even know if they are doing SSD in laptops or not, but if they do, I think a smaller sized one for her OS an Photoshop would be really nice to have if possible and it falls inside the budget. A 1TB drive is going to be a minimum. And why are a lot of 1TB drives 5400RPM?

GPU - Doesn't need anything more than onboard video I wouldn't think.

RAM - I am thinking 8 would be enough for her, but I'm not familiar enough with Photoshop to know whether or not spending the money here to bump to 16 is worth the money or not. Also, I've never upgraded memory in a laptop before. Is it fairly easy? Is it more cost effective to just buy the base 4GB and then upgrade yourself? (I've seen places want a $100 to go from 4 to 8)

Well, that's what I have. Just hoping you guys can add your two cents worth and maybe help get me started not only with specs to aim for but also with suggestions on places where I can customize a laptop with what I actually want.


Krisnatharok
Caveat Emptor
Premium
join:2009-02-11
Earth Orbit
kudos:12
Maybe a custom site like CyberPowerPC, iBuyPower, XoticPC, Falcon Northwest, etc. (I know I am forgetting some) could help, as you can customize almost anything and everything.

I would suggest a 17" laptop capable of holding two drives internally (at least a 120 GB SSD + a 750GB/1TB 7200rpm data HDD). Go for a modest GPU but splurge on 16GB of ram and a good, four-core Ivy Bridge i7 CPU (3000 series, not the 2000 series).

Photoshop gobbles ram and could definitely benefit from a spacious SSD as a scratch disk.

Example: For $1264.88 you can outfit a Sager NP6175 / Clevo W170ER with the following:
• 17.3" FHD 16:9 "Glare Type" Super Clear Ultra Bright LED Glossy Screen (1920x1080)
• 3rd Generation Intel Ivy Bridge Core i7-3630QM (2.4GHz - 3.4GHz, 6MB Intel Smart Cache, 45W Max TDP)
• nVidia GT 650M 1024MB PCI-Express GDDR5 DX11 with Optimus Technology
• 16GB RAM - DDR3 1600MHz Dual Channel Memory (2 SODIMMS)
• SSD: 120gb Intel 520 Series Solid State Drive (SSD2 Serial-ATA III)
• HDD: 750gb 7200rpm (Serial-ATA II 300 - 16MB Cache)
• ODD: Combo Dual Layer SuperMulti DVDRW/CDRW Drive w/ Software
• Built-in 802.11 Wireless B/G/N - Stock Wireless Card + Bluetoothâ„¢ v3.0
• Windows 7 Home Premium 64-Bit (64&32-Bit CD Included (Supports up to 16GB of RAM)) + MS Office Starter 2010

You can easily get carried away and spend a whole lot more, but given the 17" form factor with multiple internal drives, I think it would be harder to get similar specs for cheaper.
--
If we lose this freedom of ours, history will record with the greatest astonishment, those who had the most to lose, did the least to prevent its happening.


CylonRed
Premium,MVM
join:2000-07-06
Bloom County
reply to Dissembled
Both companies make solid CPUs - Intel has more performance but this is a case of she does not need a ton. i3 from Intel - at most i5 and one of the faster AMDs will work perfectly fine - personalyl I think i7 is overkill.

SSDs certainly are in laptops question is if you can fit a 1 tb along with a SSD in the laptop. I believe the 5400 speed is for 2 reasons - keeps temps down (which is already difficult in a laptop) and help with battery life.

I can't imagine her needing more than 8 gigs of ram - most are easy to get to in a laptop - a access door at the bottom of the laptop. You could very well be limited as to how many you can change out. Some laptops have 1 slot or 2 slots you can change memory in and the rest is soldered to the board. Obviously - make sure you get a 64 bit OS.
--
Brian

"It drops into your stomach like a Abrams's tank.... driven by Rosanne Barr..." A. Bourdain


Krisnatharok
Caveat Emptor
Premium
join:2009-02-11
Earth Orbit
kudos:12
Just FYI, CS6 is multi-threaded and runs better on even more than four cores, so I would think anyone using it extensively would definitely want a quad core chip, given that we are already talking about laptops. Likewise with the ram--being able to use a ramdisk as a scratch disk (8GB scratch, 8GB for system) will drastically accelerate workflows.
--
If we lose this freedom of ours, history will record with the greatest astonishment, those who had the most to lose, did the least to prevent its happening.


Dissembled

join:2008-01-23
Indianapolis, IN
reply to Dissembled
What site did you use to build that one Kris?

No way in hell my wife is getting a better GPU than me. That's where I draw the line!!!! lol I'll save that cash or respc elsewhere.


Krisnatharok
Caveat Emptor
Premium
join:2009-02-11
Earth Orbit
kudos:12
Psst, the link in the post.

»www.xoticpc.com/sager-np6175-cle···gure=yes


Dissembled

join:2008-01-23
Indianapolis, IN
Ha


Krisnatharok
Caveat Emptor
Premium
join:2009-02-11
Earth Orbit
kudos:12
reply to Dissembled
said by Dissembled:

No way in hell my wife is getting a better GPU than me. That's where I draw the line!!!! lol I'll save that cash or respc elsewhere.

Places like iBuyPower/CyberPower offer an incredible amount of freedom in terms of selecting individual components (as selected above), and far & above the big brands like Dell/HP/etc.

That said, there is only so much flexibility you can get--the laptop I linked you only has one graphics card option. The 650M is probably one of the weakest mobile GPUs you can get in a BTO machine, given the 17"/multi-drive form factor.

Mobile GPUs are also far weaker than their desktop equivalents, as well, so I wouldn't get too hung up on the model of GPU your wife is getting.
--
If we lose this freedom of ours, history will record with the greatest astonishment, those who had the most to lose, did the least to prevent its happening.


drew
Radiant
Premium
join:2002-07-10
Port Orchard, WA
kudos:6
reply to Dissembled
As a fellow photographer:

•If she's shooting RAW (and she should be) the faster memory, disk and CPU are, the better.
•Get her a SSD.
•Get her AT LEAST 8GB of RAM, if not 16+.
•The kind of video work she's doing isn't complicated, but rendering is a long, long process and having fast equipment in both the CPU and GPU speed it up considerably.
--
flickr | 'Cause I've been waiting, all my life just waiting
For you to shine, shine your light on me


Dissembled

join:2008-01-23
Indianapolis, IN
said by drew:

As a fellow photographer:

•If she's shooting RAW (and she should be) the faster memory, disk and CPU are, the better.
•Get her a SSD.
•Get her AT LEAST 8GB of RAM, if not 16+.
•The kind of video work she's doing isn't complicated, but rendering is a long, long process and having fast equipment in both the CPU and GPU speed it up considerably.

The GPU helps speed that up Drew? I wouldn't have thought that.


drew
Radiant
Premium
join:2002-07-10
Port Orchard, WA
kudos:6
The GPU helps speed up rendering in CS4/5 (and I'm sure 6): »helpx.adobe.com/photoshop/kb/gpu···d_OpenGL

Lightroom (the popular RAW image library and editor) is NOT GPU accelerated: »forums.adobe.com/message/4171699

Most modern video renderers help offload work to the GPU as well - I forget what the technology is called but some 3-4 year old PowerDirector software I have makes use of the GPU and speeds up rendering 10-15%.
--
flickr | 'Cause I've been waiting, all my life just waiting
For you to shine, shine your light on me


Krisnatharok
Caveat Emptor
Premium
join:2009-02-11
Earth Orbit
kudos:12
Does the fact that there's a discrete GPU mean most of the performance boost, or would a GTX 680M provide significantly more computing muscle than, say, a more modest GT 650M?
--
If we lose this freedom of ours, history will record with the greatest astonishment, those who had the most to lose, did the least to prevent its happening.


drew
Radiant
Premium
join:2002-07-10
Port Orchard, WA
kudos:6
I don't know, but suspicion says discreet will add more.


Krisnatharok
Caveat Emptor
Premium
join:2009-02-11
Earth Orbit
kudos:12
Both are discrete, one is a top-end gaming GPU, the other is a middle-of-the-road, all-purpose GPU.


drew
Radiant
Premium
join:2002-07-10
Port Orchard, WA
kudos:6
Ah, yes.

I have no idea what the answer is. I imagine the most performance benefit comes from having something to offload to and there are diminishing returns on the performance of said GPU.

Caveat: I don't know about this, I am just guessing.
--
flickr | 'Cause I've been waiting, all my life just waiting
For you to shine, shine your light on me


Dissembled

join:2008-01-23
Indianapolis, IN
reply to Dissembled
Ended up going to Fry's on Saturday to look around at laptops. Suggested to the wife we go look and see what they had although I had no intention of getting anything from there. Cool place to go wander around anyway, so it was all good. I had checked out several custom build sites and everything I put together was similar to Kris' suggested build that was coming to around $1,200.

Well, we found one that she and I both liked and ended up getting it. It's a Sony Vaio with a 1080 17" screen and backlit keyboard. Specs are an i7-3632QM, 8GB, 1TB 5400RPM, 1GB Radeon 7550M, and BluRay read/DVD writer.

It was on sale for $950. So, I didn't get a second drive/SSD or the 16GB of RAM, and I think the 7550 is pew pew but at least it's dedicated and has some decent memory. She loved the screen and the backlit keyboard (a combo I was actually struggling to find). It did come with Windows 8 though.

All in all, it's a hell of a machine compared to her (my old) desktop that she's been on and as long as she's happy.....

demir
Premium
join:2010-07-15
usa

1 edit
reply to Dissembled
I can't believe the price on that Sager --- way nice.

But for $950, I'd say you got a fairly good deal.


drew
Radiant
Premium
join:2002-07-10
Port Orchard, WA
kudos:6
reply to Dissembled
If she's storing stuff off the laptop, just replace the HDD with a SSD. She's worth it, right?


Dissembled

join:2008-01-23
Indianapolis, IN
said by drew:

If she's storing stuff off the laptop, just replace the HDD with a SSD. She's worth it, right?

I wouldn't be nearly as comfortable replacing a drive in a laptop, but it is a possibility because she has a 1TB and 2TB external. The only real data that she needs HD space for is photos and videos which are easily offloaded to the externals.


drew
Radiant
Premium
join:2002-07-10
Port Orchard, WA
kudos:6
It's dead simple so long as you have OS install disks.


Krisnatharok
Caveat Emptor
Premium
join:2009-02-11
Earth Orbit
kudos:12
said by drew:

It's dead simple so long as you have OS install disks.

+1. I've done laptop HDD swaps several times--they are always easily accessible with minimal case deconstruction.
--
If we lose this freedom of ours, history will record with the greatest astonishment, those who had the most to lose, did the least to prevent its happening.


Dissembled

join:2008-01-23
Indianapolis, IN
reply to drew
said by drew:

It's dead simple so long as you have OS install disks.

Unfortunately, that would be the one problem then. This laptop didn't come with a Win8 OS disk. You think I could contact Sony (I doubt I'd get far with the retailer) and get one?


Krisnatharok
Caveat Emptor
Premium
join:2009-02-11
Earth Orbit
kudos:12
Every laptop comes with an ability to burn system restore DVDs. I would burn two copies ASAP and keep them in a safe place.

They will only be available from the manufacturer at cost.


Rifleman
Premium
join:2004-02-09
p1a
reply to Dissembled
This is steal of a price for this machine: »m.bestbuy.com/m/b/product/detail···scr=&id=
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