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04-01-2011, 07:41 PM   #1
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Laptop specs for PP???

My brother is looking at getting a Windows laptop to do some basic PP with Photoshop Elements, and maybe Lightroom 3. He works at a job where there can be a lot of downtime, so he's been looking at cheap laptops that he can do some basic PP work on. He's looking at a Lenovo Ideapad Z560, but he's not sure if it will have enough oomph even with a 4GB ram upgrade (to 8GB). He's not too concerned with the 320GB HP space, since he'll probably work off of an external. What's your experience with using Elements and/or Lightrooom on a PC based laptop, and what kind of specs should he be looking at?

EDIT: He just enrolled his daughter at a rather expensive private school, so he can't afford to get a high end laptop. He can probably spend no more that $500 - $600. The Lenovo at $449 caught his eye, but he's not sure about it having enough horsepower. Thanks for any advice.


Last edited by HawaiianOnline; 04-01-2011 at 07:44 PM. Reason: Did not want to double post.
04-01-2011, 10:48 PM   #2
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Although I have Elements 8 installed on my newest laptop, it still aggrevates me to use it for more than a single pic. I had hoped that with a 7,200 rpm drive, 6GB ram and the fastest of 3 procs you can get with the HP model that it would be snappier but no joy. Microsoft Live Photo Gallery is more fun on the laptop.

Specifially the I3-380 proc in that lenovo you mention was the slowest option for my buy and I chose the I5-470UM which is still "only" a dual core with hyperthreading to make it appear as 4 cores. Yes, I am spoiled by the response of the desktops I build but I would still rather eat glass than work on more than a single picture in Elements on a laptop with components SLOWER than what I currently have. So my response in short is - have low expectations. Or consider the free editors for laptop work (Picassa, Microsoft Live Photo Gallery). All this is just one guy's opinion though. Maybe somebody with a similar model can give you a rosier outlook. I do not know how much the version of Elements matters since I have 9 on the desktop and 8 on the laptop.
04-02-2011, 12:03 AM   #3
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I hope he's aware that very few laptops have a screen that's anything approaching accurate, which can be a problem for serious photo editing. Also RAM beyond 4GB is only directly of use if the editing program itself is a 64-bit one - I know CS4 installs an x64 version, CS5 will, but have no idea about Elements or Gimp.

However the most important thing for him to understand is that he never, ever alters the original. The first thing he does is 'Save As', and then he works on the copy. That way if he ever gets flush and can afford a screen with an IPS panel and hardward calibration he can easily rework the images when he looks at them on the new setup and goes OMG!
04-02-2011, 06:58 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by HawaiianOnline Quote
My brother is looking at getting a Windows laptop to do some basic PP with Photoshop Elements, and maybe Lightroom 3. He works at a job where there can be a lot of downtime, so he's been looking at cheap laptops that he can do some basic PP work on. He's looking at a Lenovo Ideapad Z560, but he's not sure if it will have enough oomph even with a 4GB ram upgrade (to 8GB). He's not too concerned with the 320GB HP space, since he'll probably work off of an external. What's your experience with using Elements and/or Lightrooom on a PC based laptop, and what kind of specs should he be looking at?

EDIT: He just enrolled his daughter at a rather expensive private school, so he can't afford to get a high end laptop. He can probably spend no more that $500 - $600. The Lenovo at $449 caught his eye, but he's not sure about it having enough horsepower. Thanks for any advice.
There are a lot of great deals right now. I was with my daughter looking at laptops yesterday and saw an HP with a CoreI7 for $569 at BJ's Wholesale Club. There were Toshiba's with Core I3's and AMD's for well under $500. All of them have enough juice for photo editing. Photo editing doesn't require all that much power. They will run a little slower than a desktop but that's the trade off for the laptop portability. Even the cheapest netbooks have a monitor port. When my daughter was in college, her laptop did everything. She had external speakers for her tunes and plugged in a monitor for watching movies and streaming video and doing photo editing. My little Acer Netbook runs Elements fine. I bring it on trips. I can plug in my desktop monitor and do some serious editing if I want to. It runs a little slower but still faster then Elements 6 on my older Pentium 4 desktop. Also consider the build quality when looking at laptops. My daughter's Gateway Tablet survived 4 years of college with much of that traveling with the Rowing team. It's still going. The $500 dept. store laptop won't hold up to that.

04-02-2011, 01:51 PM   #5
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Thanks for the input. He's aware that laptops don't have the best screen for photo editing. However, he was thinking of getting a couple of decent monitors to edit with (one to bring to work, and the other for home). He just wants the laptop for portability. We'll try to calibrate the screen anyway.
04-03-2011, 06:37 PM   #6
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Well I don't know if this will help you out but I do everything with my laptop,(AMD Turion dual core 2.2 Ghz 4gig ram, 500 Gb HD,
I have Adobe CS5 design suite installed on it and have done my whole Graphic Design schooling on it, it never missed a beat. I do all my images in RAW and PP them in Camera Raw 6 via Bridge.
The only times it gets slow is when I am doing work in 3D or when I really build up a Photoshop file really big. You should not have too much of a problem doing your photo work on todays computers, mine is two years old and I am not even thinking of getting a new one yet, although I really want to build my own desktop strickly for my Graphic design.
04-04-2011, 12:09 AM   #7
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find the cheapest laptop with an I5 or I7 processor. a 4GB RAM is sufficient enough to run such photo applications, although not quite as fast with an 8GB RAM, but it does the job efficiently.

I'm upgrading my 8GB RAM to 14GB since a lot of applications are running on the background and do a lot of multi-tasking. RAM memory is important to avoid slow downs generated by memory demands by particular applications. so basically, more memory means less time for the application to do a given task. it does not make the application run faster but makes it run efficiently.

since some i5 processors are limited by 4GB of RAM (maximum), you can use a cheap alternative if you need more RAM by using ReadyBoost. ReadyBoost requires you to have an SD/SDHC card with atleast Class 6 speed (preferably Class 10) for read speed and a card reader with atleast USB2.0 speed or much preferably a USB3.0 if the laptop has a USB3.0 port for best data reading which would result for faster access of data which would avoid any delays or lag. the SDHC's capacity will acts as additional RAM or storage to process data immediately. this won't cost your brother a leg.
04-04-2011, 12:23 AM   #8
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Big drawback of laptop PP work is their monitors are no where as nice to work on as a decent desktop monitor. I recently started using my Samsung 20" monitor hooked to my newer laptop for PP work because the 15.6" built in screen varies so much upon viewing angle.. that drives me nutz! The laptop I'm using is just an Acer Spire 5741-5302 (Intel i3-350M) with 4GB Ram and a 500Gb HD. I intend to build a desktop for better PP work, but this isn't that bad for any work I've done lately... But then again my other computer is a AMD barton 2500+ that is so tragically slow it was below min requirements to run CS5, I had to patch it to get it to run, and even then it is painfully slow to even view a RAW file @ 100% crop. Next setup is an i5 or better with 16GB Ram!

04-04-2011, 12:43 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Chex Quote
Big drawback of laptop PP work is their monitors are no where as nice to work on as a decent desktop monitor. I recently started using my Samsung 20" monitor hooked to my newer laptop for PP work because the 15.6" built in screen varies so much upon viewing angle.. that drives me nutz! The laptop I'm using is just an Acer Spire 5741-5302 (Intel i3-350M) with 4GB Ram and a 500Gb HD. I intend to build a desktop for better PP work, but this isn't that bad for any work I've done lately... But then again my other computer is a AMD barton 2500+ that is so tragically slow it was below min requirements to run CS5, I had to patch it to get it to run, and even then it is painfully slow to even view a RAW file @ 100% crop. Next setup is an i5 or better with 16GB Ram!
what do you mean viewing angle for the laptop?
04-04-2011, 05:03 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Pentaxor Quote
what do you mean viewing angle for the laptop?
Google is your best friend:

Viewing angle - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
04-04-2011, 09:06 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by cats_five Quote
thanks. this is my question, can't you adjust your laptop's viewing angle? I'm sure mine does. however, there is a truth that some of the older laptop screens does a poor job on that even with the provided display driver tweaking tool. I made a past comparison between my older laptop which exhibit less contrast and undesirable viewing experience. my new one is sufficient and efficient enough for viewing, although I must admit that I have seen better using an HDTV as monitor thru HDMI connection. I don't think even a regular external monitor can compete with those.
04-04-2011, 09:58 AM   #12
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Of course you can adjust it. Screen rake, desk height and so on all let you adjust it. But the point about a lot of laptop screens is that even normal movements of the head alter the viewing angle enough to affect the appearance of the image.
04-04-2011, 05:38 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Chex Quote
Big drawback of laptop PP work is their monitors are no where as nice to work on as a decent desktop monitor. I recently started using my Samsung 20" monitor hooked to my newer laptop for PP work because the 15.6" built in screen varies so much upon viewing angle.. that drives me nutz! The laptop I'm using is just an Acer Spire 5741-5302 (Intel i3-350M) with 4GB Ram and a 500Gb HD. I intend to build a desktop for better PP work, but this isn't that bad for any work I've done lately... But then again my other computer is a AMD barton 2500+ that is so tragically slow it was below min requirements to run CS5, I had to patch it to get it to run, and even then it is painfully slow to even view a RAW file @ 100% crop. Next setup is an i5 or better with 16GB Ram!
Ya....what he said......like I said earlier I do EVERYTHING on my laptop, I forgot to mention though that I jack it into a nice View Sonic 23" monitor that displays color the way I want it to, and I even have my Wacom Intuos 4 tablet jacked into it as well.
Whatever you do......don't rely on a laptop monitor to make all your photo decisions, I made that mistake and when I posted many of my images they all came out way to over saturated and bright because I was adjusting them using my laptop monitor and thus I was trying to compensate for this dim screen.
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