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Design Laptops


CS85

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My laptop gave up the ghost last week, which despite sucking has afforded me an opportunity to invest in a new machine. I've looked around online but a lot of articles about design laptops are somewhat dated, and for the active designers on here who do use laptops I'd like your help here. I'm willing to spend around $2000 and would prefer a windows machine. Any help or suggestions on what you'd advise I look for would be very welcome.

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How computer savvy are you? HP Remarketing is a good place to start— you can get a pretty solid laptop for about half what you're looking to spend, if you're willing to take the "refurbished" label— and if you can decode their listings (if it's Chinese to you, let me know and I can help haha). My DT is an HP refurb, and it's been great so far. Paid $459 for it, and it's got a 2TB HD, Core i7 2600, 1GB Radeon video card, and 8GB of RAM. The place is hard to find, but here's the link: HP Business Outlet. Call early in the AM when they open, or you may lose out on something you like. Happened to me a few times.

If you want totally new, never touched stuff, Dell/HP seem to be the best from my experience. I prefer HP's styling to Dell's (especially on laptops), but it ultimately depends on what you need. I would say for design, you'll want a Quad Core CPU (i5 or i7 [better]), at least a 1 TB hard drive, and at least 6 GB of RAM. The more RAM the better, especially with stuff like Photoshop and Illy. Better processors will help with multitasking between programs, too. I'm a desktop guy, though, so I may have lofty expectations for what a laptop can handle.

If you go new, make sure you check in to MS's current promotion— you can get a free XBox with a $699 or higher PC right now. Whether you're the gaming type or not, XBox has a lot to offer right now, too.

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I have a beefy desktop that I play my games on. I want the design portion of it on a mobile machine.

Here's the one I'm looking at right now, but I'm taking suggestions. What I want is:

  • 1080p resolution
  • 4+ GB memory
  • SSD drive would be preferable but I'd prefer storage over performance at least in this regard
  • Windows 7 OS

The main problem I have is I'm not sure what processor and GPU to go with.

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I gotcha. Did you mean to post a link? I would highly recommend the newer Core i5 or i7, they seem to be the best options out there right now for users like us? and even AMD's "super awesome" 6-core processor is slower than the i5 in a lot of testing (especially graphics-intensive programs).

As far as GPU's go, I'm not too savvy on them. But if you're in the higher-end laptop market, you're going to get a pretty solid one regardless.

SSD's are nice, but the capacities are so low right now for what you pay for. One of those "wait and see" things for me. Hell, I remember when a 32GB HD was like $50. Price should come down, but it seems silly right now to pay $100 to $200 more for a drive that has about a tenth of the storage space? you know?

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If you wait until the fall you can buy a Windows 8 machine, likely with a touchscreen monitor. Might not be something you want today, but could be useful as computing evolves in the future.

Vizio (the TV manufacturer) has some pretty nice-looking machines coming out. Best part is they ship without bloatware.

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I gotcha. Did you mean to post a link? I would highly recommend the newer Core i5 or i7, they seem to be the best options out there right now for users like us? and even AMD's "super awesome" 6-core processor is slower than the i5 in a lot of testing (especially graphics-intensive programs).

As far as GPU's go, I'm not too savvy on them. But if you're in the higher-end laptop market, you're going to get a pretty solid one regardless.

SSD's are nice, but the capacities are so low right now for what you pay for. One of those "wait and see" things for me. Hell, I remember when a 32GB HD was like $50. Price should come down, but it seems silly right now to pay $100 to $200 more for a drive that has about a tenth of the storage space? you know?

Derp, I fixed that last post with the updated link, here it is again:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834127571

If you wait until the fall you can buy a Windows 8 machine, likely with a touchscreen monitor. Might not be something you want today, but could be useful as computing evolves in the future.

Vizio (the TV manufacturer) has some pretty nice-looking machines coming out. Best part is they ship without bloatware.

I have no interest in windows 8 or a touch screen, but more likely than not I should probably get used to it...

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I use a Windows 8 RC laptop. You can use it in desktop mode and it's the same thing as Windows 7, except even faster.

I think most new laptops that come with windows 7 offer a free upgrade to windows 8 upon purchase.

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I use a Windows 8 RC laptop. You can use it in desktop mode and it's the same thing as Windows 7, except even faster.

I think most new laptops that come with windows 7 offer a free upgrade to windows 8 upon purchase.

Yeah, probably, but I think Windows 8 is going to bring in a new era of convertible laptops/touchscreen laptops. Just a hunch, but I bet touchable screens will go from novelty to expected. That's all.

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I highly recommend Asus netbooks. After months of research, I got an Asus N53S. Out of the major laptop brands like Dell and HP and all those, Asus has the highest durability over the course of 3 years.

If you're willing to dish out $2000, you can get a pretty damn good rig for design and games. The one I got was a little under $900 and it's extremely powerful. Look for a quad-core Intel i7 processor, lots of RAM and a separate graphics card that is not integrated. That was my main criteria, and considering your price range, you're bound to find some powerful laptops.

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Not a bad choice, but off the bat, I can already tell you'll be wanting more memory right away. 4GB RAM will handle enough, but it'll get eaten up fast when you are running Adobe/Video/things of that nature. The chipset will only handle 8GB RAM, too, so upgrading would be limited. You'd do well to look at the manufacturer sites, too. They often have good prices, and a lot of customization available. For about $1,000, here's what you can get from HP directly: DV7T-7000. Double the storage, double the RAM, double the GPU power, and some pretty badass features (like a backlit keyboard). The chipset is also upgradeable to 16GB RAM, but I'm not really sure why anyone would need that much in all honesty. Regardless, updatability in a laptop is always a big plus.

I swear, I don't work for them— just always had great luck with their products haha. With your budget, though, you could probably turn this into a monster (those are just stock specs). I would upgrade to a 9-cell battery, too. Not sure how much on-the-go stuff you do, but it could come in handy.

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Nice setup. You'll have to let me know how the SSD thing works out. 160 GB scares me, only because I'm not disciplined enough to manage files regularly :P

And make sure you get that free XBOX, son!

Well since this is exclusively for design it shouldn't make a difference with file size. I can always export fluff to my external HD.

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I've had nothing but subpar experiences with HP laptops. They come with a lot of bulkware (preinstalled manufacturer software that take up space), they have terrible customer support, and they statistically breakdown far more quickly than other laptops.

http://smidgenpc.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/squaretrade.bmp

Laptop Reliability Ratings: Which Laptop is Really Most Reliable?

In my opinion, I would not go for an HP.

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I'm not getting a mac.

I'm going to take a few days to consider my options and inhale various testimonials. If you have suggestions by all means keep producing them. Thanks for the input so far folks!

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I know you don't want a Mac, but I feel obligated to say that my machine is an 8-year old specimen; a 1.33 GHz iBook G4 with 512 MB of RAM. I've never had a problem with it and it is still totally functional as my primary designing tool at home. Like it or not, Apple is the standard for design for a reason.

It'll probably die on me tomorrow now that I'm saying that, but I still don't think anyone has ever had an experience this good on an HP laptop. 8 years strong.

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I have no doubts or misgivings that macs are fundamentally superior to windows for design purposes, but the cost is simply outrageous, plus I'd have to relearn all my hotkeys. Trivial, I know, but simply not my style.

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