Gaming laptop for graphic design?
March 10, 2017 12:54 PM   Subscribe

Is there something weird about the way gaming laptops are configured that would make them less good for graphic design than their specs indicate?

I've been looking at the Asus ZenbookPro UX501VW for graphic design. I'm a little concerned about lackluster reviews and the 4K screen not being compatible with photoshop menus. Thought about a 13" MBP refurb, but discovered that since I last used a mac they've removed traditional usb ports altogether, which is annoying. I still use thumb drives for many things.

I then got to thinking that maybe a gaming laptop like a ASUS ROG Strix GL502VS-DS71 15.6" might solve all the problems. Costs $1,500. Has an i7 quad core processor and enough RAM. No touch screen, but I can live without that - especially if I still get usb ports.

Use will primarily be adobe cc Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign - often running simultaneously. With some browser windows open for research, etc.

Is there some gaming-specific configuration that would make this horrible? I care SO MUCH about speed.

posted by lodie6 to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The screen on a gaming laptop is probably better at refresh rate than color rendition, but specs wise, a gaming laptop will be excellent for the Adobe Suite.
posted by gregr at 1:00 PM on March 10, 2017

That's a pretty solid laptop, with 2 caveats: 1) It weighs almost 5 pounds, so it's more of a "portable desktop" than something you'll actually want to schlep around with you and 2) Asus gear is famous for top-tier specs and middling-to-poor warranty support, so don't be shocked when two years in something fails and you simply can't get it fixed.
posted by Oktober at 1:23 PM on March 10, 2017

Also be aware that gaming laptops often have horrible battery times (the ones I looked at averaged 3-4 hours).
posted by FiveSecondRule at 2:23 PM on March 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

Color accuracy is going to be one of the most important concerns. Can the laptop's screen be calibrated correctly? If I had to guess, its default is probably overly bright, contrasty and saturated.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:51 PM on March 10, 2017

How much do you care about portability? Once you get into the powerful gaming laptop or "desktop replacement" segment, high weight, low battery life, high fan noise and large size mean you're getting less of a laptop and more of an expensive, underpowered, strangely-shaped, semi-portable desktop in a worst-of-both-worlds situation.

At some point you might be happier with a no-compromises desktop plus an ultrabook, especially if you care "SO MUCH" about speed.
posted by lozierj at 3:39 PM on March 10, 2017

Came here to say, but also to expand on what fivesecondrule said above.

a lot of gaming laptops have dedicated graphics chipsets, but leave them on all the time. There's no intelligent switching to shut them off when you don't need them, and they suck down power.

I'd honestly recommend looking in to a refurb 2015 15in macbook pro. they're glorious. I have a slightly older one of that same series, and it's disappointed me in nothing _but_ gaming.(where it still did ok when new, and does alright-ish on now)

I've owned a bunch of gaming laptops, and a bunch of other laptops. Gaming laptops are only really good if you want to game. They've gotten better, but they're often just the cheapest box you can shove a good CPU and GPU in with that sucking up nearly all of the available budget for parts. The screens are often borderline disappointing in all but the high end ones, and they're often kinda flimsy and cheap feeling(and being, i've had several fall apart in silly ways that were a pain to repair). There are thin, lighter, well made gaming laptops... but they aren't the $1000 ones, they're the $1500-3000 ones. Gaming laptops also often have horrendously huge ungainly power bricks, which greatly increase the weight when lugging them around. My last one had a brick that was basically the size of a larger external hard drive.

If you plan to mostly do work, get a work machine. A refurbished thinkpad from lenovo outlet would also be a good call here. I feel like this is sort of like comparing a small truck to a car-based SUV. You really want a truck here.
posted by emptythought at 4:25 PM on March 10, 2017

the 4K screen not being compatible with photoshop menus

I'm not sure if this is the same thing as I only have a QHD+ screen, but both Photoshop 5 and Lightroom 5 incorrectly reports themselves to Windows as being high DPI compatible. As a result, everything comes out microscopic because Windows assumes that the programs are going to do the scaling to a readable size. The blame lies entirely at Adobe's feet.

It's fixable. You can use a combination of a registry edit and a "manifest" file to force Windows to scale those programs upwards. However it makes all the text a bit blurry and probably isn't the best when you're doing high quality photo editing.

Both Photoshop 6 and Lightroom 6, naturally, don't have this problem.
posted by mr_silver at 2:41 AM on March 11, 2017

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone. We ended up getting an Acer Predator 17. The only reason we need a laptop instead of a desktop is so that we can move around the house - so the heaviness isn't a problem, nor is the battery life. Everything runs and looks great on the anti-glare IPS display! Got in on sale for $1,300.
posted by lodie6 at 6:18 AM on March 12, 2017

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