What laptop do I need for photo and video editing (and playing Minecraft at a higher framerate)?
February 29, 2012 7:54 AM   Subscribe

What laptop do I need for photo and video editing (and playing Minecraft at a higher framerate)?

I'm a photographer, and I need to upgrade my laptop. I'm useless with hardware stuff, so I don't know what sort of specs I should look at. I suspect the answer is more than just "add ram." What do I need in a laptop for photo and video editing (and playing Minecraft at a higher framerate)?

I'd prefer a PC because that's what I'm familiar with. I regularly use Photoshop, Photo Mechanic, and Lightroom. And I'll be starting to do video editing and will probably be using Adobe Premiere for that. I deal with large volumes of 12-20+ megapixel raw files, and often need to have 10 or 20 images open at the same time in Photoshop.

I'd like a smaller screen (14" or 15"), and extra USB ports are a plus. I'd also like to play Minecraft and relatively modern FPS games with a decent framerate.

I've been using cheap Dells in the past, but I think I can do better. Can you recommend a laptop for me? If not, what sort of specifications should I look for that will be make photo and video editing a breeze?

I've got a decent bit of money to work with, but I also don't want to spend $5,000.
posted by msbrauer to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
I know you said PC, but you really, really should check out a Macbook pro at the nearest Apple store. All the Adobe stuff is on OSX, and the screens are so much nicer and more accurate than the kind of screen you'd get on a dell. You're not going to want to bother with an air because of drive space (and also minecraft runs on it, but it's a bit laggy on my air).
posted by empath at 8:30 AM on February 29, 2012

Response by poster: I've got a couple of programs I rely on that are Windows only, so Macs are out for now.
posted by msbrauer at 8:37 AM on February 29, 2012

There are like, a dozen different ways to run windows inside of macs.

Not that you should or shouldn't get a mac! Just that windows only programs are not much of a reason, one way or another.
posted by jsturgill at 8:56 AM on February 29, 2012

Soon-to-graduate student photographer here. I just ordered this Sager notebook last week. Not cheap but there are many customization options.

Great for gaming, great for PS, and I'm pretty sure I'll be able to fly airplanes with it, too.
posted by mcbeth at 9:09 AM on February 29, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks, all. Maybe I should ask my question more specifically. What specs on a computer most effect performance when working with hi-res photos and video?
posted by msbrauer at 10:10 AM on February 29, 2012

posted by empath at 11:00 AM on February 29, 2012

Response by poster: What about video memory? Is that different? Is any video card good?
posted by msbrauer at 12:32 PM on February 29, 2012

My understanding is that one of the most important components for video editing is the processor and that video editing benefits greatly from hyper-threading. So, you should take a hard look at a machine with an i7 processor, either the i7-2735's, the i7-2770's or the i7-2820 or 60. The processors alone are in the $300 range, so the finished machine will be pricey.
posted by rtimmel at 2:25 PM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

1) memory / RAM
2) display quality
3) disk space
4) processor speed

Squidoo likes the MacBook Pro line. You can use BootCamp (from Apple) to install Windows on the machine and get a completely Windows environment if you so desire. The quality of the hardware is difficult (but not impossible) to match from traditional Windows vendors.
posted by blob at 3:46 PM on February 29, 2012

If you really don't want to consider a Macintosh, I would look for the following specifications:

* Sandy Bridge (i7) processor
* the best screen quality you can find.

The other bits can be expanded (i.e. I would recommend 8Gb of RAM and a fast large capacity hard drive). A SSD instead of a traditional hard drive will improve performance while lowering capacity (due to the fact that SSD is much more expensive than traditional rotating hard drives.)
posted by blob at 3:51 PM on February 29, 2012

Response by poster: These answers are much more helpful. Screen quality isn't a big deal to me. Other people do the fine-tuning of any color work.
posted by msbrauer at 4:42 PM on February 29, 2012

An SSD is the biggest improvement you can get, it makes a world of difference. Get an i7, something with an ATI Radeon or NVIDIA card with say 512MB video ram, 4-8GB ram, and a display with a decent pixel density. Also, is weight / portability important to you?

I've got a late 2010 Vaio z, the best part is the SSD and the 1080p 13" screen, the pixel density is fantastic (170dpi) I love it for photos.
posted by defcom1 at 6:46 AM on March 1, 2012

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