IPS Laptops for Photo Editing -- Finding the Best Deal

Started Feb 9, 2013 | Discussions thread
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Luke1
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IPS Laptops for Photo Editing -- Finding the Best Deal
Feb 9, 2013

I'm looking to upgrade my crappy inspiron and want to spend around $1200 at most. Below is the incredibly anal research that I have done so far. Mostly I'm just summarizing what I've researched so far, but I'd really appreciate opinions on this and a few things I'm unsure of!

First: Screen

After some research I found these great articles that list available laptops with IPS displays.

http://www.laptopreviews.com/laptop-guide-advantages-of-ips-display-laptops-and-where-to-find-them-2011-12

http://www.squidoo.com/best-photo-editing-laptop

I also found these forum threads that describe other models with high-quality panels. What intrigues me most is this guy rates a SAGER and HP unit with high-gamutt TN panels above a couple models with IPS displays:

http://forum.notebookreview.com/what-notebook-should-i-buy/681010-notebook-photography-work-high-end-ips-laptops.html#post8757196

http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1432348 (this link shows various screen quality ratings)

Of everything here, the HP Envy 15 seemed like the best option but I've since found it is indeed too good to be true; despite it being IPS the color gamutt doesn't even cover sRGB colorspace. I believe matte would be best for photo editing -- but what do you guys think; is it important? Also while I'd prefer full HD 1080p, and a 15" minimum screen size, it's of course not critical.

​Second: Performance

RAM on my current laptop is jut 4GB and is all used up when I run Firefox with Lightroom; with Photoshop as well you can forget about it. Granted my processor performance probably affects this too. Anyway, based on other opinions I've heard (e.g. this and this ) I'm thinking 8GB would be great, but 6GB would be a fine amount.

As for the processor: I've found this great summary of varying processor speeds:

http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/desktop-cpu-charts-2010/3DMark-Vantage-Overall-Performance,Marque_fbrandx14,2416.html

and there seems to be a big overlap between i5 and i7 performance. My impression is that i5 will suffice for most photographic work, but what do you guys think? Compared to my current laptop performance, it will be night and day regardless.

Finally, the harddrive. My understanding is that having SDD drives for editing files improves speed as much as a better processor/RAM would. Is there any truth to this? Or is there a huge overlap like with i5 vs. i7 performance in HDD vs. SDD performance? I'm not sure if I should make this a priority or just worry about the size. For the foreseeable future I will be editing ​16MB RAW files​ from my pentax k-5. As far as size goes, at least 500GB would be ideal.

​Conclusion

With all this in mind I'm thinking of pulling the trigger on one of three models: the Lenovo Thinkpad x230 (caveat: small screen/resolution), upgraded/customized Sager unit or Asus N56VM (caveat: no technical "IPS"; however the specs make me drool), the Asus Zenbook UX31A/UX32VD (caveat: 4GB RAM; would probably upgrade), the Sony VAIO SE25FX (best one so far, only caveat: no matte screen). All of these would be around $1200. I could also get a customized Dell M6700 in the ~$1400 range (but HP Elitebooks with dreamcolor screens are too overpriced).

Right now, I'm leaning heavily on the Sony VAIO or the Asus/Sager models.

Leica X2 Pentax K-5 Samsung i7
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