Need help choosing a laptop

Discussion in 'Computer Hardware, Devices and Accessories' started by R4Liam, Jun 19, 2011.

Jun 19, 2011

Need help choosing a laptop by R4Liam at 5:51 PM (3,040 Views / 0 Likes) 47 replies

  1. R4Liam
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    Member R4Liam Artsy Dude

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    Okay, i'm starting a Graphic Design course at uni in September and need help deciding what the best laptop to get is within the price range of £400-£500. I obviously can 't afford a Mac so don't go there I need to know what the most recommend specs are for a laptop used for Graphic Design. Thank you!
     


  2. Sausage Head

    Banned Sausage Head Lord Sausage LXIX

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    i dont see why you should need a high end laptop for graphics design courses

    probably because i have no idea what it is.

    anyway, my laptop, acer aspire 5742G was bought for 460 euros and its pretty good. however it was on a discount. the original price was 600 euros. if you ever see one discounted you could buy it
     
  3. R4Liam
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    Member R4Liam Artsy Dude

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    I wouldn't call a Mac high end it is just perceived that way because they are overpriced. I am just looking for a laptop that has decent ram and good GPU and storage so I will have a look at that suggestion, thank you [​IMG]
     
  4. R4Liam
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    Member R4Liam Artsy Dude

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  5. Originality

    Member Originality Chibi-neko

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    Are you sure Intel GMA HD (I'm assuming, it could be Intel GMA 4500HD which is only half as powerful) is enough for your graphics software? Last I checked, graphic design courses (at university level at least, dunno about college level) required a higher level of VRAM for displaying very large pictures (A2 or bigger) and would also involve animation and 3D rendering, which needs a lot of graphical power from the GPU.

    The more powerful the graphics card, the faster it can process those complicated rendering tasks (and basically, the faster it'll do your homework). It's no secret that Intel graphics are weak, and barely capable of outputting HD content like blu-ray.

    EDIT: On a side note, it's the first time I've seen a PB laptop in a long while.
     
  6. R4Liam
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    Member R4Liam Artsy Dude

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    lol oops i clicked on the wrong laptop, it a piece of junk lol sorry. So what laptop do you suggest?
     
  7. R4Liam
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    Member R4Liam Artsy Dude

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  8. Originality

    Member Originality Chibi-neko

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    I haven't made a suggestion because it's not so easy to. In the under £400 range, you're almost certainly going to end up with IGPs. If you want a decent GPU, you usually need to look in the £600+ range. Laptops with half-decent graphics do exist in the £400-500 range, but it's a matter of fishing them out... which is sometimes easier said than done.

    I suggest looking at the software you expect to use (Adobe Creative Suite, 3DStudioMax, Maya, etc) and seeing what specs they recommend. You probably can make do with integrated graphics (even though it'll prolly be slow), but I don't really know since I've never used any graphics software. All I know is that I've always heard - when it comes to graphics design, the more RAM and VRAM the better... and when it comes to rendering, the more FLOPS the better.

    EDIT: Please avoid double posting - it's against forum rules. The edit button is there for a reason.
    EDIT2: It's got a weaker CPU and Intel GMA graphics (again, I assume GMA HD, since it's a Core i3). And it costs more than the PB laptop. It's a worse choice.
     
  9. R4Liam
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    Member R4Liam Artsy Dude

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  10. I2aven's_Sag

    Member I2aven's_Sag GBATemp Otaku

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    It really depends on the level of graphic design. Unless you're going to be doing a lot of 3D/Engineering like material
     
  11. FAST6191

    Reporter FAST6191 Techromancer

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    Step 1) best to avoid PC world for anything computer related on principle if nothing else.

    Amazon, aria, dabs and maybe tesco (although I have never tangled with their warranty people and a quick scan has them outclassed by the first three) are the sites/places I prefer to point people at. At one time I might have said overclockers.co.uk and although me and mine have always had good experiences others who I trust have not but they are still ahead of PC world.

    This is where it gets tricky though as several things compete

    You say nice drive and I will agree however for images and the like I would look to a SSD drive as more often than not that will be the thing dragging you down (I am not entirely surprised to see a 5400RPM laptop drive even today). External drives and NAS units are big, cheap and reasonably reliable these days. SSD drives are a bit pricey but cut thing down and you do not need that much space (you can get a 64 gig for less than a hundred and for around £400 you can get a nice new little laptop). For most programs you will notice hard drive speed long before you notice anything else.
    I doubt you will find one with SSD from the factory but swapping one out is easy enough. Get a hard drive cloning program and a reader (I just saw them for less than the price of a pizza) and swap out whatever you get on the laptop.

    Screen resolution. Laptop screens took a big dive in screen resolution these last couple of years so you might have to hunt for one with a decent res (many will be 1366 x 768 aka WXGA or something along those lines- I usually say less than 1000 vertical res (900 at a push) and you can keep it but you might be looking for a while if you do that). Size of the screen factors more into how portable you want it to be, I am guessing you are not going for the full colour calibration test stage at this level (monitors alone there cost a fortune).

    I would also suggest you invest in a second monitor (especially as laptop screens are horribly low res these days)- I do not even want to think about doing graphics with a single monitor these days and all I do in the static image world is resize, a tiny bit of layers work, add a bit of text and maybe a light touchup with the smudge command. Even if you have to drag an old CRT you found in a garage to wherever you are at do so.
    On that subject I will echo Originality's request for the programs you are to be using. I know a couple of people on various design related courses and the programs they use vary wildly so I am hesitant to even guess but I will say that much like other aspects of compute the last few years have seen a bit of a stagnation so you can get away with a lot less until you have to start playing with high end adobe products and custom filters for various things.

    I will also say most universities will have machines you can use that will be up to the task so consider having something you can toy with (the odd bit of editing of small things to learn GUIs and relevant scripting methods as well as web and general office stuff) but you need not go completely overboard with a high end thing (press render and go for a swift half). Also if you "need" to use a given program bet on it costing a fortune and even the "student" version will be food money for a week or two.

    Also at least get yourself a good mouse (or maybe two- one as a backup or to drag with you to computer labs). Avoid the "gaming mice" and just find one for about £25 that you can get along with (more buttons and a scroll wheels are nice but up to you). Without it you will be back here in late November asking us how to fix a laptop that got thrown dropped from a roof. I am not such a fan of drawing tablets but you can have a nice enough one of those for next to nothing these days (maybe the price of a new game) and if you want a track ball that is your problem.
     
  12. I2aven's_Sag

    Member I2aven's_Sag GBATemp Otaku

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    Without giving you an extremely drawn out answer, Liam. I'll say this, for basic introductory level courses to graphics design, the computers that you have chosen will suffice. They won't excel by any means, but they'll suffice.

    The reason being is that dedicated GPU's tend to help when programs can make use of the dedicated hardware acceleration (think; 3D rendering). If you're not going to be doing 3D rendering, you could feasibly make due with integrated graphics.

    I'm still hesitant to recommend anything in the laptop department with integrated graphics, because it will be a waste of money should you decide to continue studying graphics design (if you haven't, already, in which case it already is a waste of money (and time) to be even considering laptops at this price range.

    edit: sorry for the double post, didn't realize it at all >_>.
     
  13. pistone

    Member pistone GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    firs of all i have a dell laptop(r17) its kinda great if you have a usb mouse coz the track pad is awful

    for me may want a laptop that has

    1.a great screen ,for a graphic designer its a must
    2.a laptop with 2 graphic cards one integrated one dedicated so if any new programs comes out that need same great specs just replace the card
    3.a great pentium i3/i5 & and at last 4 gb of ram
    4.also if you want to be a desktop replacement its ok a laptop with 2h of battery but if you want a portable at last 6 h is a must
    coz you may work with programs that eat your battery like photosho so yuo will have like 3-4 h of effective battery

    so for my opinion you should look one of this :
    Hp dvt series

    also id like you to wach this is ,it isn't cheap but is cool and sexy like hell [​IMG]
    Asus bamboo edition (sexy as hell)
     
  14. Originality

    Member Originality Chibi-neko

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    @Raven, keep in mind the standards for graphic design are different between the US and UK. In fact, the standards are different from college/university to college/university. Some graphic design courses can be passed with little more than photoshop, whilst others require software suites costing thousands for the "student" editions.

    I do agree with you that integrated graphics are a waste of money for most graphics students.

    @master00d, this may be nit-picking... but by definition, integrated graphics is not a graphics card. In fact, there are no graphics "cards" in laptops, which means replacing them is extremely difficult and, in all practicality, impossible. Laptops will have a graphics chip built into the motherboard. IGPs will have no memory of its own and instead shares it with the CPU. Core i3/5 will have the actual IGP built into the same chip as the CPU. Discreet graphics in laptops means it has a seperate chip/socket on the motherboard, usually withs its own exotic cooling system. This system is typically designed for one chip, so if you tried replacing it, you'll certainly face overheating issues.

    I agree that 4GB of RAM is highly recommended for any graphics course, but that's cheap and easy to get/upgrade. The CPU itself isn't that important, since almost all of the work in graphics will be done with the GPU. However, the only way to get a 6 hour battery is to use a CULV laptop (very low powered CPUs), and Core i3/5 is NOT low powered (although the IGP does allow up to 4.5 hours).

    If you did get a laptop with dual-graphics (probably with nVidia Optimus technology), the price would probably shoot above £600. Optimus doesn't come cheap. On the other hand, it does allow the IGP to be used for basic tasks (up to 3.5h battery) and discreet graphics for intensive tasks (like your graphics software). Just as an example, for the HP DV6T laptop you linked, it starts off at $600 and you need to add $100 to the base price for AMD HD6490M (and it doesn't mention Hybrid Graphics, which is the AMD version of Optimus).

    Also, the US HP site doesn't help someone ordering for the UK. The nearest UK equivolent I can find is this DV6 laptop. It has a HD5470 (512MB VRAM) and costs £450, so of all the suggestions so far, it's the best laptop for the needs of the OP. Personally I have some reservations about HP because of their frequent cooling problems and lack of customer service, but I'm still holding back from having a proper search of my own because I feel it's better if students seek out their own ideal laptop (with guidance) rather than have online people tell them what to get.

    EDIT: @FAST, I think you may have too much faith in scholastic/academic computers. The few institutes I've visited (in the Greater London area at least, which includes parts of Surrey and Epsom) that actually have graphics cards in their computers (rather than IGPs) usually have serious problems with their network (and when the network goes down, or at least one of the servers for the intranet, many of the more powerful graphics software stops working). Even Epsom University, which is supposed to specialize in graphics, fine arts and fashion (and the source of the little I actually know about graphics design), encourages their students to work from their home computers because the ones they have frequently encounter "problems".
     
  15. R4Liam
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    Member R4Liam Artsy Dude

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    @FAST6191 What is the principle? Thanks for all the other tips though about having a secondary monitor and you are right, I can do the more serious stuff on the provided computers at the uni.

    @I2aven's_Sage I know that I passed my foundation graphics course using only photoshop and premier so I agree that 3D rendering may not be a necessary part in the course if it's even there. However I hate slow computers and if there is a need for the dedicated graphics for the course or, I don't know say gaming [​IMG] would this laptop be ideal? http://www.pcworld.co.uk/gbuk/samsung-np-s...785367-pdt.html (click on product details for the specs)

    See I could get this laptop today but my mom isn't willing to give me an extra £99 to get it but it does have dedicated memory and seems pretty decent. Is Samsung a good make for laptops or is it one to be avoided?

    @master00d, Originality: Check out the link and give me your opinion
     
  16. Originality

    Member Originality Chibi-neko

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    Samsung are pretty good (they don't make the same mistakes HP and Dell makes) but they do have one somewhat glaring oversight. They don't supply their laptops with 64 bit Windows, which means you can only use around 3GB of RAM. If you do decide to get it (because it should be fine for your needs), see if you can talk to a PCW advisor about getting a free upgrade to 64bit Windows, since it'd be a real shame only being able to use half of the RAM provided.

    Although, that said, you can opt to buy a copy of Windows 7 Professional x64 for £30 once you receive your student email account.
    EDIT: Seems they've changed how it works. £30 for Win7 Home, £70 for Win7 Pro... Amazon still sells Win7 Ultimate for £60-80 though.
     
  17. FAST6191

    Reporter FAST6191 Techromancer

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    PCworld and list of reasons for disliking them are long

    Still

    Their computers are overpriced for machines built with far better components and sold on the back of bad warranties and worse software bundling.
    Their claims of online pricing in stores are based in misinformation at best and outright lies at worst. Indeed they have been taken to task by various watchdogs over the years for it.
    Their basic items are overpriced (granted I understand the logic behind it but it still unpleasant to deal with)
    Their stores are badly stocked and badly manned.
    Their staff are useless and prone to misinformation either through ignorance or something worse.
    Their repair shops worse- as a rule if they fix your problem it is a happy accident or they have some unfortunate trapped there.

    As a rule just about every computing type will only be at PC world to bait the staff or because it is an emergency (key parts died at 3pm on a Sunday afternoon leading into a bank holiday sort of thing).

    Re my faith in academic computers perhaps. I would certainly never suggest someone does not have their own machine to fall back on for a course like this and I would also be hesitant to rely on them being there at the last minute (quick word of advice- coursework was more or less optional up until this point in life but that changes at this point) but you should be able to get some time even it means a late night.

    Did you find a software listing yet (poke around your would be universities website and see if you can not find at least the stuff from last year). By way of example one friend has a course run on GIMP(shop)/paint.net and blender (the were having a bit of an open source experiment, not that there is anything wrong with those programs) where another has the multi thousand pound "studio grade" software Originality spoke of and everything in between.
    This being said if you are looking for the long term prospects thing (and as people have no doubt pointed out graphics design is a field not exactly understaffed or key to most business) if someone rolls up knowing enough to get stuff done in a variety of programs and another appears claiming, not unjustifiably, to have mastered [insert adobe product of choice] the second will clearly have no issue finding work should the current gig be denied to them.


    As for makes of laptop you get what you pay for them and the sort of money you look to be throwing down will get you something that will hopefully last the three years. All will be a pig to do anything more than replace/repair the hard drive, ram and maybe the wireless card (I hold just about anybody can replace parts of a desktop machine but fixing laptops takes someone who knows their way around a screwdriver).
     
  18. R4Liam
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    Member R4Liam Artsy Dude

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    @Originality Thanks for the heads up so the 6GB will be rendered 3GB if I use the 32bit version of windows 7? How do I know that it is the 32 bit version? It says nothing about it in the specs.

    @FAST6191 well you have well and truly convinced me about PC world :/ I think ill opt for online shopping. I still haven't found a laptop that can top the Samsung in my price range yet. I'll keep digging.
     
  19. Nimbus

    Member Nimbus sudo /usr/bin make-me-a-coffee --nosugar --cream=1

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    I cant really tell you for sure what you'd probably need, just make sure it's nothing less than a Dual-core with no less than 4GB of RAM (If you're going to be doing graphics editing, then 4GB will serve you well)

    Also, I've heard HP Laptops have a 30% fail rate in the first year, can't remember who or where I heard/read it from. Toshiba's tend to be pretty good for the most part, as are most Dells.

    Buying a Mac is out of the question with the price range, and completely unnecessary, and this mind you is coming from someone who uses a Macbook (Lol I use Arch Linux though).
     
  20. R4Liam
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    Member R4Liam Artsy Dude

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    @Nimbus yeah I can't really justify buying any sort of Mac at the moment even if I did have the money, they over price just so you can get the logo. That Toshiba I'm looking at has 6gb ram and 640 gb hdd and a dedicated graphics card. So I should avoid HP then?

    And in terms of processors as long as it is dual-core it doesn't matter what type? I'm generally looking at the intel i5/i3 but does it have to be one of those? I mean what would be better an AMD or Intel?
     

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