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a new p.c. or laptop ? enlightenment sought


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I have to replace my ancient PC. Discounting Apple Macs on grounds of cost, could anybody recommend something on a budget of £600 ish - either a specific model or a list of essential specs or a good supplier to start looking at.

I'm a complete technophobe but one thought I'd had was a decent laptop ( for use on those extended foreign travels that I like to think I'll start taking soon ) coupled with a decent desk top monitor that I could link it to when at home. Or are there too many limitations with laptops ?

In general at this price point is it better to try and pick up a deal from a big supplier rather than getting the local pc man to supply one ?

Any light that can be shone into this warehouse of mystery would be appreciated.  

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I have the luxury of getting the use of so much kit being in the IT sector. I'm not an expert on the kit because business procrument follows a different path to personal matters based on the cost vs requirement aspect. Out of all the kit i've used, from £300 Fujitsu and Toshiba stuff to Mac Book Pros I cant fault the Apple stuff at all. I switched over to Apple recently and my life just got easier. 

 

I detest Windows 8 with a passion and feel it's where M$ has fallen down, however, Windows 10 is said to address the annoying issues, while maintaining the metro look. 

 

In my experience though, whether you detest windows or not, most of time you can get away with a Core i5 CPU, and at least 4Gb of RAM. Storage options are your call and I'd advise a hybrid SSD, gives you speed and larger storage. Price will depend on the extras like build quality, super duper sounds system, IPS display and the like. 

 

I have an iMac 27" but I also use a little 14" Dell E6400 laptop with Core2Duo and 4Gb Ram and SSD and it's a flier. Works on Photoshop no bother. 

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I think that it is still true that you will get a better specified machine for the money by buying a desktop.  You will have to decide for yourself whether the portability of a laptop is worth the expense.  Also, you will have easier upgradability with a desktop, so that extra hard drives can be added, for example.

 

Also, it does depend on how much post processing you do.  I use a very old MacBook which is beginning to show its age when using Lightroom, but I am sure that there is many more years left in it.  Whether it will cope with Lightroom's next version is doubtful, though.

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...

 

In my experience though, whether you detest windows or not, most of time you can get away with a Core i5 CPU, and at least 4Gb of RAM. Storage options are your call and I'd advise a hybrid SSD, gives you speed and larger storage. Price will depend on the extras like build quality, super duper sounds system, IPS display and the like. 

 

...

That sounds right by my thinking (long time in IT and a PC pioneer) except I would go for a fully SSD boot disk (I use a 250Gb very happily) and a large conventional disk for storage (better still a pair of mirrored disks if budget/storage need allow). I would not worry about too high a spec graphics card unless you are editing video seriously. BTW: I have used a hybrid and it is worthwwhile upgrade especially for a laptop (which is what I have done for my wife's machine).

 

As to processor i5 or equivalent AMD should do but I would put in as much RAM (4gb is minimum really) in as you can afford, or specify initial RAM to leave slots so that more can be added when budget allows. Once you are up to the i5 level of cpu RAM will probably give more benefit than higher spec cpu - I use an 8 core AMD Phenom with 16GB ram and rarely push cpu at anywhere near full load.

Edited by Martin P Wilson
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I've found Photoshop to be pretty much unusable on a 4GB machine so I personally would not get anything less than 8.

 

Alan

No problems here, but I'm still on LR4, CS2 and PS7.

Edited by spacecadet
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I've recently gone through the upgrade process myself - see http://discussion.alamy.com/index.php?/topic/3407-whats-the-current-thinking-about-a-pc-for-image-processing/?hl=computers

 

A lot depends on how you use the computer, what software you use, etc. I was using Lightroom a lot and Photoshop plus various plugins a little, and tended to have large numbers of documents and browser tabs open (from my other work) at the same time as working on photographs (it was too time consuming to close everything down and open it up again later). 10GB memory wasn't enough - as well as the computer running very sluggishly at times, I kept getting memory errors and crashes. 

 

I've found that 32GB RAM makes a very big difference, though my accounting software crashed today apparently due to an out of memory issue (despite not using all the memory available). Generally, howoever, things still run quite snappily with several documents, lots of browser tabs, LR, Photoshop and Nik all open at the same time. Would 16GB of memory do? To be honest, I doubt it - Task Manager generally shows twenty odd GB of memory in use at any one time. 

 

A full SSD also seems to make a big difference. LR's library module especially runs much better than it did on the old computer, which makes my keywording and captioning much, much faster - thereby effectively saving me money. 

 

I second the idea above that a desktop will almost certainly give you more bang for your buck/pound than a laptop.  

Edited by DHill
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I've found Photoshop to be pretty much unusable on a 4GB machine so I personally would not get anything less than 8.

 

Alan

 

In that case a 64Bit OS is a must too. Most come with it but most second hand older WIn7 machines have home premium 32bit. No leg room to expand the RAM. 

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My current laptop is a bottom of the line Acer. The only thing I did was add an additional 4 gigs of RAM as PS was next to impossible on 4 gigs. It has its limitations, but does the job.  I have a 24" monitor as I cannot edit photos properly on a laptop monitor as the angle of view constantly changes how the screen looks.

 

Of course a lot will depend on what else you use your computer for. I do find if I am running PS and my embroidery software at the same time, I can run into memory issues, but that doesn't happen very often. I use my laptop like a desktop. It sits way over on the other side of my desk as I use a bluetooth mouse and keyboard with the 24" monitor. Or when in PS I use my Wacom tablet. My laptop doesn't leave my desk very often (except for trade shows) and I keep power cords for the laptop in 3 different areas of the house so I never have to move the cord, just the laptop.

 

I do plan to get myself a desktop as expansion on a laptop is limiting and I always seem to have so many things plugged into the USB ports. And I want 32 gigs of RAM. So I will still have my laptop which I use when going to trade shows, and just have my desktop permanently on my desk.

 

Jill

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I have an HP laptop that is about three years old that I spent $800 on.  It has an i7 Intel processor with 8gb of ram and a 1tb hard drive and supports a second monitor through an HDMI port.  Look for USB 3.0 also as it speeds up data transfer to external drives.  It runs Lightroom and Photoshop pretty well and with the HDMI port you can plug it in to more modern TV sets in hotel rooms to use as a second monitor.  I have Windows 7 on it right now but have had Windows 8.1 on it and even Windows 10.  Windows 8.1 takes some getting used because everything is in a different place and it looks so different, but it looks like Windows 10 will be more familiar to most Windows users.  The newer Intel processors also help extend battery life.  You might try tigerdirect.com to get some ideas as you can sort by price.  Make notes of model numbers and then look for UK retailers.  I am sure there are similar sites in in the UK that some other contributors can recommend.  

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I've found Photoshop to be pretty much unusable on a 4GB machine so I personally would not get anything less than 8.

 

Alan

No problems here, but I'm still on LR4, CS2 and PS7.

 

 

My experience is with Elements. It gobbles up memory and doesn't always release it all after each image. It ends up eventually hitting the buffers (even after quitting all other apps besides PSE) and then it slows to tortoise speed as it starts using the hard disc for temporary storage. So far I haven't had a problem with 8GB, even after long sessions.

 

Alan

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I have just gone through the same thing. I had an old HP, which while was reasonably fast in general use, but for Lightroom, it ground to a halt, every adjustment took up to 10 seconds to render. I have a half decent laptop, but I cant trust the screen.

 

So I got one of these. http://www.scan.co.uk/3xs/configurator/ready-to-ship-budget-value-intel-home-office-pc-v20i and upped to 16gb RAM and an SSD. I cant believe the difference. I thought it would be fast, but not this fast! Everything is instant, Lightroom adjustments happen in real time and LR and PS both load in about a second. It has Windows 8, which I hate, but it is more efficient than 7 and by installing Classic Shell, you never have to go near tiles or those stupid side menus.

 

Great service too, would definitely recommend.

 

Andy

Edited by FCUM
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Geoff,

 

I've been a big Lenovo laptop fan since the $2,500 new T-21, I'm still using my T-62 running

XP Pro and I'm going to be replacing it soon.  I also have a Dell 0600, XP Pro, that I bought

new and two children have used and one child is still using.  I will tell you that Lenovo has

the best support, from my experience.  I also go on to eBay when I am looking for a PC and

find someone who will build the machine to my specs.  I am currently using a Dell 8700

running Windows 7 Pro with a NVIDEO (sp) graphics card and 16GB's of RAM with two

TB's of drive space and I paid less than $800.00 for it new.

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How ancient Geoff? Mine is going on seven years, It seemed to be on its way out a few years ago, Programs would freeze, system would shut down etc, Seemed to be the end. But then I took the tower cover off and discovered the microprocessor was overheating from accumulated dust. Cleaned it out (with system off and unplugged, of course), and my 'ancient' system once again runs good as new.

 

More RAM the better btw.

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I would echo many of the thoughts above. I replaced my aged PC with a win 7 machine, 64 bit, with much more ram and it transformed my use of PS. I went along to our local friendly independent computer store and asked for advice, explaining what I wanted to do with it, and they sold me a mid range games machine of some indeterminate parentage. It wasn't expensive and it works fine.

 

I also have a Toshiba laptop, and I went for a largish screen, but it's not a patch on the box and decent pair of monitors for processing pix. It will run PS and LR so can be used for editing at a push, but its primary use is as a TV in our caravan. I will use it for news uploads, but for general stock, I wait until I get back to base.

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Thanks for all the replies so far.

I will make notes and pop along to the local independent as a first stop.

 

I have realised that I have no choice but to change the machine as mine runs on xp and with my new XT1 there is no way to get RAW images onto it. (And before you suggest it, I've tried a DNG converter but that won't run on it.). So although it works ok it appears to be obsolete.

I have been using the DNG converter on my son's laptop and then transferring those files to my p.c - a bit of a pain in the backside plus he has re-claimed the laptop now.

I imagine that I will be using LR ( currently using Elements 7) on new machine. I don't do a lot of post-processing and don't do anything else on the computer (ie no gaming, films, video etc ) which is why I wondered if a laptop hooked up to a decent monitor might be adequate.

Proving very helpful as you all know infinitely more than me.

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Laptop + Monitor is a good way to go for portability plus home/office setup. 

 

Try and not skimp to much on the laptop. If you can, go for a laptop with SSD, min 8gb of Ram with a quadcore chip. The SSD will make a big difference in terms of performance, more so than chip size.

 

I'm using a BenQ 27 2560x1440 monitor as a 2nd screen for my iMac or main screen for my MacBook Pro. It's a nice screen, matt not gloss finish. If you want to keep price down further, they also do a good 1920x1080 version at half the price!

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You could start here.  There are other recommended models as you scroll down the page.  I have owned Toshiba, Dell, and HP laptops and they have all been fine computers.  Chuck says Lenovo has worked well for him so there is another recommendation. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

For me, buying a laptop, apart from already mentioned full ssd and loads of memory, give some thought to the graphic engine (card / graphic on chip memory / performance) and the display. I would rather have a somewhat slower laptop in exchange for good graphic performance since editing in an environment where screen is so-so takes more time and kills the advantage of the shorter processing time.

 

Personally, I'm done with stationary computers and will soon upgrade my aging Lenovo x220 (which has a very bright and matte, but horrid viewing angle screen (not ips).

 

A good laptop paired with an external monitor and you have 2 screens to play with, 1 for tools and 1 for editing

 

I've been wondering if gaming laptops would also be suitable for editing, not that I game but I assume the processing / graphics would need to be a priority.  

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