Laptop for Photography Advice... Budget $2500-$3000

Started Feb 2, 2013 | Discussions thread
Jim Cockfield
Forum ProPosts: 14,565
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Nope-- you can't get that display from any other manufacturer
In reply to image2paint, Feb 7, 2013

image2paint wrote:

Hey DP,
Basically I've built my own PC's for the last 15 years and am hesitant to go with an apple macbook pro with retina, due to having to get all the mac software as well as my PC versions. For example CS6 photoshop and Lightroom, Photomatix, oloneo, and all my other photography software... will have to purchase all again !!! ouch

The thing is the screen ! is amazing for photographers... and the weight is like a feather. I use my ASUS PA248Q monitor on a Desktop to edit photos and the big thing for me there is 100% sRGB and love a laptop with 100%sRGB

If you get the 16GB 2.6GHz and 512GB RAM version of the MPB, its perfect for a travelling photographer.

So my Question: "Does anyone know of a windows laptop which can match the MBP with the screen and the light weight ? "

I have found ones like the alienware but they weigh a tonne, or lenovo...

Nope. Apple is the only company offering that type of display (nobody else I'm aware of has a 15.6" 2880x1800 resolution display with 99% or so coverage of the sRGB color space).

It's an incredible design, and as time passes, more apps are being designed to take advantage of it, automatically scaling up text and other elements from 1440x900 to make them easily readable on it's display size, while allowing native 2880x1800 resolution for your images and video (e.g., Aperture, Final Cut Pro, Safari).

Windows laptops don't have anything to compete with it (at least not yet).

Would I buy one. Heck no. It's too pricey. Personally, I'd probably go with something like this Vizio CN15-A5 Model for $999 instead:

http://www.amazon.com/Vizio-CN15-A5-VIZIO-15-6-Inch-Laptop/dp/B009PJHD3Y

It's Core i7 3610QM CPU is "close enough" (within around 10% of what you'd get from the Core i7 3720QM it sounds like you want with the higher end Apple model). Ditto for the video (it's got an Nvidia GT 640LE chipset, which is also a Kepler design and should get you within about 20% of the GT 650M in the Apple; with the GT 640M LE testing roughly 4 times as fast as the integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics). For most purposes, that's "close enough".

It's also got a 1080p IPS Display (which should eliminate issues like color shift with viewing angle), and calibrates nicely from user comments I've seen.

I've seen some complaints about the wireless and trackpad. But, user reviews indicate that driver and firmware updates solve that (so just make sure to update them if going that route).

Construction Quality appears to be excellent with it's Aluminum Unibody construction, too; with size and weight well managed.

I've also seen forum posts confirming that the Vizio CN15-Ax (A1 through A5) models do have two DIMM slots (contrary to what you see in it's specs), and that this memory works in one if you want to bring it up to 16GB total:

http://www.amazon.com/Corsair-Vengeance-Laptop-Memory-CMSX16GX3M2A1600C10/dp/B0076W9Q5A

You could also use a Mushkin or Crucial mSATA SSD as a primary drive, replacing the included 32GB mSATA SSD used for Cache (and I've already seen it confirmed that the Mushkin mSSD models work in that Vizio).

You can get the new 480GB model for $429 at Newegg (sold out now, but expecting more of them in next week):

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820226379

That would put you at $1526.88 delivered for a laptop with a 15.6" 1080p IPS Display, Core i7 3610QM CPU, 16GB of 1600Mhz DDR3, 480GB mSATA SSD with the latest Sandforce SF-2281controller (also used by other high end SSDs, including Intel Models), and you'd also have a 1TB Hard Drive for additional storage.

IOW, you could almost buy two of those for the cost of a single Macbook Pro like you're looking at (and you wouldn't have the extra 1TB of storage with the Macbook Pro).

Issues with the Vizio --- Trackpad sensitivity and usability not the greatest (pretty much solved via an available firmware update from what I can gather of feedback on sites about it), Wireless not the greatest (solved if you update the drivers); and you don't get a keyboard quite as good (for example, not backlit), and battery life isn't quite as good as the MBP (expect the Visio to last around 5 hours on dimmer display settings). Also, the only display output is an HDMI port (but, that would be fine for use with your existing Asus display).

I also have *not* seen any tests of the 15.6" 1080p IPS Display used in the CN15-Ax series Visio models. So, I have no idea about sRGB color space coverage. But, I did see one buyer indicate it calibrated nicely with an Xrite Pro setup.

Hopefully, some of the review sites will test it's IPS display soon so we can see how much of a bargain it may be compared to similar models.

In any event, you're really not going to find anything with a display as nice as the 2880x1800 Retina Display used with the MBP you appear to be looking at (nothing else available comes close to that resolution, and it almost perfectly covers the sRGB color space).

But, that loaded MBP is *very* expensive. So, I wouldn't consider it (I'd be willing to compromise a bit on the display and find something offering better "bang for the buck" instead, since you can come very close to buying two nicely equipped laptops like the Vizio I mentioned for the price of one MBP like you're looking at, and end up with more storage with a very fast 480GB mSATA SSD and a 1TB physical hard drive if you're willing to open it up and upgrade it yourself).

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JimC
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