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Author Topic: Need a new PC - laptop or desktop?  (Read 2571 times)

GreggP

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Need a new PC - laptop or desktop?
« on: February 02, 2018, 01:38:02 PM »

My current PC is about 10 years old. It's served me well but it's time for a new PC. I'm looking for a little advice.

My budget is around $1500 and the most demanding applications I plan to run are Photoshop and Lightroom. I am trying to decide if I want to go with a desktop or a laptop computer. I've built nearly a dozen PCs, so am pretty comfortable with that option. However, the portability of a laptop is really appealing.

If I decide to build a PC, I would eventually like to replace my old LCD monitor with an IPS display capable of nearly 100% Adobe RGB color gamut. There's a really nice 27" 4K 100% Adobe RGB from ViewSonic that I'm lusting after but it is over $850. That will not fit into my overall budget and would need to be a future purchase.

If I go with a laptop, I'd still like to find one that has a display capable of nearly 100% Adobe RGB. The Dell XPS 15 can be ordered with a 15.6" 4K 100% Adobe RGB. However, the reviews are mixed with several negative comments. I haven't read any reviews from people using it for editing photos.

So I just wanted some feedback from fellow photographers. Do you use a laptop as your primary tool for processing photos? If so, is the screen size adequate? Am I making too much of a deal out of Adobe RGB capability? Should I (god forbid) consider moving to the Mac world?

Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk

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MattBurt

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Re: Need a new PC - laptop or desktop?
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2018, 01:55:36 PM »

Unless I really need the portability, I prefer a desktop just for the ease of upgrades and repairs. I've been on the same desktop case for 10+ years at home but have probably replaced all the components a couple of times over since the initial build. I also have a old MS Surface tablet for travel which is under powered, but will do until I get back home. If it gets broken or stolen I'm only out a few hundred dollars instead of a few grand.

If I was getting a laptop as a desktop replacement, I'd look into docking stations which allow you to leave a monitor, keyboard, mouse, and whatever you use all attached to the dock and the computer just pops in and out with a single connection. Actually that is what I'm doing at work (software engineering) later this month. That makes it so you can have a small portable laptop AND a spacious workstation with the same machine.
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aderickson

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Re: Need a new PC - laptop or desktop?
« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2018, 04:16:16 PM »

You could build a really small PC based on a mini itx board, put a powerful Intel i7 CPU on it and just use the internal graphics.

Or just buy an Intel NUC.

For an IPS monitor there's the ASUS MB169B+ 15.6" Full HD 1920x1080 IPS USB Portable Monitor but it's not wide gamut.

Allan
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tonysiciliano1

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Re: Need a new PC - laptop or desktop?
« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2018, 10:51:39 PM »

I use a 15 inch laptop to edit photos when travelling; at home I use a desktop computer with a 27 inch monitor. I find editing on the laptop very unsatisfying; the screen is just too small. If you are used to editing on a screen of a decent size, you will find using a laptop screen (even a 15 inch one) impossible.
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GreggP

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Re: Need a new PC - laptop or desktop?
« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2018, 08:21:34 PM »

I use a 15 inch laptop to edit photos when travelling; at home I use a desktop computer with a 27 inch monitor. I find editing on the laptop very unsatisfying; the screen is just too small. If you are used to editing on a screen of a decent size, you will find using a laptop screen (even a 15 inch one) impossible.
I'm also considering using a laptop and then when at home, connect it to a nice 27" monitor. No need for the desktop computer, right?

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Joe Towner

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Re: Need a new PC - laptop or desktop?
« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2018, 11:22:47 PM »

What are you currently working with, and what upgrades are already in place? (as I type this on a 2011 15" MBP)

What types or sizes of files are you working with?  What do you notice to be slowing you down?

What other photo gear are you looking at adding in the next 24 months?

Do you currently have a laptop for field work or is this never a concern for you?
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DougDolde

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Re: Need a new PC - laptop or desktop?
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2018, 07:48:28 PM »

I've had my eye on the HP Z Mini series.  Very small desktop unit.
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GreggP

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Re: Need a new PC - laptop or desktop?
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2018, 09:41:55 PM »

What are you currently working with, and what upgrades are already in place? (as I type this on a 2011 15" MBP)

What types or sizes of files are you working with?  What do you notice to be slowing you down?

What other photo gear are you looking at adding in the next 24 months?

Do you currently have a laptop for field work or is this never a concern for you?
I'm looking to replace 3 tower PCs. Over many years, I've kept the same cases and swapped/upgraded motherboards, added RAM, replaced failing power supplies, and added storage capacity.

The most current system is:
Intel core i3 @3.07GHz, 8 GB RAM.
Graphics card - AMD Radeon HD 5700 Series.
Monitor - ancient Dell 2405FPW 24" 1920x1200.

Another one has:
Intel core 2 duo E6750 @2.66GHz, 8GB RAM. Graphics card - NVIDIA GeForce 8600 GT, Monitor - ASUS  VS248 24" 1920x1080.

The 3rd:
AMD Athlon 64 x2 dual core 3800+ @2.01GHz, 4GB RAM.

For storage, they all have a variety of hard drives. None have SSDs. All of these are running Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit.

I use the first for editing my photos, primarily with Lightroom and occasionally Photoshop. The 2nd is an all purpose PC used for general apps and surfing the web. It's also connected to a whole house audio system for playing music. The first PC is located in a home office on our 2nd floor. The 2nd and 3rd are in the family room in our basement. I have to spend a lot of time in the family room watching our 2 puppies, so it isn't easy to work upstairs.

None of these systems are very stable. The office PC crashes if I try to export more than 16 photos at a time from Lightroom. The 2nd PC is also crashing randomly (about once every couple weeks). They all are fairly slow and take quite awhile to boot up, so I basically leave them on.

Ideally, I'd like to replace these with a single more portable solution. If it's a desktop PC, them I'm interested in a form factor that's easy to move. I'd like it to have a decent processor - Intel Core i7-7700, 16GB RAM, a 512GB SSD and I'll just migrate whatever hard drives I need from the old systems. Eventually I need to upgrade my graphics. I could start with the integrated graphics and upgrade to an NVIDIA GTX 1050 Ti later. If the ViewSonic VP2785-4K 27" IPS UHD monitor is to expensive, I might consider the Dell Ultra HD 4K P2715Q 27" monitor.

As for the photography questions, I shoot RAW with my Canon 5D Mark III. The file sizes are typically 27MB per image. Over the past year, I sold my 7D and a couple EF-S lenses to upgrade to the 5D and a EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens. Eventually, I'd like to buy a nice 200 or 300mm lens but it's not a huge priority because I do a lot of street photography and the 24-105 is excellent for that. I also have a EF 50mm f/1.8 STM, which I'm satisfied with but would be nice to upgrade to the 1.4L. I use to think a really wide angle lens that goes down to 16mm was essential, but not so much any more.

At this point, I don't need a laptop for field work because I don't go off on any professional assignments. The portability of the laptop around the home is appealing, though.

Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk
« Last Edit: February 05, 2018, 10:39:19 PM by GreggP »
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GreggP

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Re: Need a new PC - laptop or desktop?
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2018, 10:03:32 PM »

I've had my eye on the HP Z Mini series.  Very small desktop unit.
I like that. However, I could build a PC to my spec for a lot cheaper than HP's price. Their price comes to $1,698.74. The Dell XPS 15 or an ASUS Zenbook UX501VW-DS71T laptops are cheaper.

The Cooler Master HAF XB EVO case isn't as small but has handles.

Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk
« Last Edit: February 05, 2018, 10:35:02 PM by GreggP »
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Joe Towner

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Re: Need a new PC - laptop or desktop?
« Reply #9 on: February 06, 2018, 01:04:49 PM »

Perfect, now we know where you're coming from.  Honestly, I'd consider doing a refurbished gaming laptop, as they're horrible on the battery life, but pack a lot of power.  You'll want a large monitor no matter which direction you go.

Keep in mind the fun of the latest gen Intel chips with Windows 7 - they're not supported, and drivers can be a ***** if you can find them.
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GreggP

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Re: Need a new PC - laptop or desktop?
« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2018, 02:24:25 PM »

Perfect, now we know where you're coming from.  Honestly, I'd consider doing a refurbished gaming laptop, as they're horrible on the battery life, but pack a lot of power.  You'll want a large monitor no matter which direction you go.

Keep in mind the fun of the latest gen Intel chips with Windows 7 - they're not supported, and drivers can be a ***** if you can find them.
Yeah, that's where I'm leaning. I discovered an ASUS ZenBook Pro UX501VW new in original unopened box for about half price. Still trying to figure out why price is that low. Since it is being sold third party it makes me wonder but it's through Amazon and seller says includes full warranty, etc.

https://www.asus.com/us/laptops/ASUS-ZenBook-Pro-UX501VW/


Update: The 1/2 price offer on Amazon ($800) appears to be a scam. Classic too good to be true. Oh well.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2018, 03:30:08 PM by GreggP »
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DP

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Re: Need a new PC - laptop or desktop?
« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2018, 05:20:33 PM »

Do you use a laptop as your primary tool for processing photos? If so, is the screen size adequate?

I use a "gaming" (means heavy) 15" notebook with external NEC PA monitor ... I use a notebook because it is still easier to haul vs a desktop and I was not able to find a mini PC of a similar size that can pack 4 x 8 Gb RAM = 32Gb RAM, 4 x SSD/HDD inside, discrete Nvidia GPU and i7 CPU ... notebook can do this (and also notebook has keyboard + LCD in addition) - but no standalone miniPC of similar size (even w/ external adapter)... beats me why... otherwise I'd go for mini PC
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luxborealis

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Re: Need a new PC - laptop or desktop?
« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2018, 07:28:53 PM »

Easy: get a laptop plus a good quality desktop monitor. Then you have the best of both worlds. Works for me.
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GreggP

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Re: Need a new PC - laptop or desktop?
« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2018, 09:41:50 PM »

I use a "gaming" (means heavy) 15" notebook with external NEC PA monitor ... I use a notebook because it is still easier to haul vs a desktop and I was not able to find a mini PC of a similar size that can pack 4 x 8 Gb RAM = 32Gb RAM, 4 x SSD/HDD inside, discrete Nvidia GPU and i7 CPU ... notebook can do this (and also notebook has keyboard + LCD in addition) - but no standalone miniPC of similar size (even w/ external adapter)... beats me why... otherwise I'd go for mini PC
What laptop do you have?

Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk

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GreggP

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Re: Need a new PC - laptop or desktop?
« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2018, 09:44:56 PM »

Easy: get a laptop plus a good quality desktop monitor. Then you have the best of both worlds. Works for me.
What laptop are you using?

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GreggP

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Re: Need a new PC - laptop or desktop?
« Reply #15 on: February 06, 2018, 11:28:15 PM »

BTW, I've been told that if I eventually want to use a monitor that has a wide color gamut, like Adobe RGB, I will need a "professional" graphics card. These are found in workstation class computers and use either Nvidia Quadro or AMD Radeon Pro.

If this is true, the gaming laptops I'm considering only have the consumer/gaming GTX line and can't display an Adobe RGB color space.

Is this correct?

Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk

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luxborealis

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Re: Need a new PC - laptop or desktop?
« Reply #16 on: February 13, 2018, 12:28:17 AM »

What laptop are you using?

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MacBook Pro (personal) and a MacBook Air (for work). Both can run my full gamut BenQ monitor.
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Terry McDonald -

Dave Rosser

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Re: Need a new PC - laptop or desktop?
« Reply #17 on: February 13, 2018, 07:51:12 AM »

BTW, I've been told that if I eventually want to use a monitor that has a wide color gamut, like Adobe RGB, I will need a "professional" graphics card. These are found in workstation class computers and use either Nvidia Quadro or AMD Radeon Pro.

If this is true, the gaming laptops I'm considering only have the consumer/gaming GTX line and can't display an Adobe RGB color space.

Is this correct?

Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk
Quick answer No.
Someone is confusing you by not seemingly knowing the difference between color gamut (sRGB, AdobeRGB etc.) and the 10 bit display capability of certain high end monitors.
Capture One, for instance, recomend the biggest baddest gaming card you can afford for best performance.  As far as I know the only photo editing software that supports 10 bit displays and needs a (very expensive) pro video card is Photoshop.
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armand

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Re: Need a new PC - laptop or desktop?
« Reply #18 on: February 13, 2018, 12:47:45 PM »

I was just looking at some of the XPS desktops and a top of the line is 2500, much cheaper than I could come up with if I was to build it myself.

You can get a very good configuration under 1500, although if you need a monitor it will be more difficult.
You can make it under 1000 but you will have to give up a more powerful video card but still better than what I have now and it works fine. Processor for this would be a 8th generation i5 (6-cores), 16GB RAM (upgradeable to 64GB) and a 256GB SSD (bring your own HDD).

GreggP

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Re: Need a new PC - laptop or desktop?
« Reply #19 on: February 13, 2018, 03:39:36 PM »

Thanks everyone for all your advice.

I decided that the flexibility and portability of a laptop were more useful than the cost savings of a desktop with good components. I ended up buying a used gaming laptop. It is an MSI GS73VR. It has a 17.3" 1080p screen, an i7-6700 cpu (this is the 6th gen i7 and the latest version of this laptop uses the i7-7700, which is 7th gen), 16 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD, 1 TB HD, and an NVIDIA GTX-1060 graphics processor with 6 GB of DRAM.

Buying this used laptop cost about the same as it would have cost for all the components in a similarly configured new desktop PC. The biggest performance compromise is the 6th gen vs 7th gen Intel i7 processor. And from what I understand the biggest difference between the 6th gen 'Skylake' vs the 7th gen 'Kaby Lake' is the video performance of the integrated graphics and since my laptop also includes an NVIDIA GTS-1060 graphics processor, this performance improvement shouldn't make a difference here.

I've ordered a 4K replacement screen that is supposed to be plug-in compatible with my laptop. I'm going to give it a try and if I find the usability of a 17.3" 4K screen is worse than I can always switch back to 1080p and sell it on eBay for a little loss. I still plan on saving up for a larger 27" or 32" external monitor.

I've been able to finance all of this by selling off a bunch of my Hi-Fi gear which I can no longer appreciate because of hearing loss (damn old age!).
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