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what's the best notebook for art and graphics programs

by allison021 / August 3, 2005 8:15 AM PDT

Besides Macs, what are the best notebook computers for video editing, photo editing, illustrating, gaming, and animation programs?

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(NT) (NT) dell xps
by saurabhs / August 3, 2005 11:50 AM PDT
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High-end laptops
by jas0nhe / August 3, 2005 1:04 PM PDT

If you really want to do all of those tasks well, you're going to have to spend a lot of cash on a pretty high-end system.

Like the previous person said, the Dell Inspiron XPS Gen 2 is a pretty good choice, but it's significantly more expensive than the Inspiron 9300, which--if configured well--should suffice.

As always, desktops would be more powerful at these tasks.


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by damasta55r / August 3, 2005 1:30 PM PDT

You don't exactly need a high-end notebook for art and graphics programs. Just a decent gfx card and screen. Also has to meet system requirements of your software.

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(NT) (NT) That would mean a good CPU and ample RAM
by jas0nhe / August 3, 2005 3:37 PM PDT
In reply to: RE
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Most CPUs are pretty decent. I agree with the ram though.
by damasta55r / August 3, 2005 4:43 PM PDT

now that he said hes multitasking.

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Still, though...
by jas0nhe / August 3, 2005 7:55 PM PDT

You're stating what's required for his uses; if he wants the laptop to perform very well and if he can afford it, surely a better CPU would be great.


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Graphics users need a hardcore CPU, RAM and Screensize
by ihs97 / August 4, 2005 5:53 AM PDT
In reply to: Still, though...

Anyone working on graphics needs these things. If he is working mostly in 2D (i.e. photoshop etc.) then the Graphics Card isn't that imperative. These kick *** graphics cards only REALLY help gamers and 3D graphics producers. Otherwise, its all about CPU speed, RPMs on that harddrive, RAM and ample screen resolution.

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by damasta55r / August 4, 2005 11:34 AM PDT

video editing, photo editing, illustrating, gaming, and animation programs

implies mostly 2-d. Animation, he didn't exactly specify, so i said decent, not best. CPU speed, how much do you really need? Can't be as much as video editing. RAM, notebooks always have slower ram, just get 1gb or 2gb. Definitely good screen.

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A good operating system is best plus lots of ram
by dougdoug / August 3, 2005 4:17 PM PDT

I've used pc and macs for years and always have problems with the pc (running windows) and rarely with my mac. If you want speed with reliability, the mac OS is solid. I'm a graphic designer (20yrs) and a poweruser of Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Freehand, etc. Haven't used many video editing programs but have used sound editing programs and games. The former programs can't be beat on a mac, the latter programs are sometimes equal on a PC and as far as games go, the PC platform has best selection. When I mean better, I'm talking about OS freezing up, not being able to run multiple programs (a necessity in my business), etc. Whatever you go with (I'd get a desktop for most bang for your buck), max out the ram. If you're running several of these programs at once you need at least 1 gig of ram. I have 2.5 gigs in my G5 tower. If you need a laptop, get a Powerbook 15 or 17". If you can wait until early next year, mac will most likely be updating these with new Intel chips.

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PCs have come a long way in 20 years
by ihs97 / August 4, 2005 6:00 AM PDT

Not to get into a huge Mac/PC debate but...

I work on both machines, and have for over 10 years. In my experience, ALL of the graphics editing software (EXCEPT for Quark, which does run better on a Mac) run equally good on high end Macs as they do on PCs. The whole OS stability thing is some serious propoganda too. I've crashed the Macs easily as much as my PCs have crashed, its not a design flaw exclusively to PCs, its a design flaw inherent in human beings for not being perfect. That said, you could spend over $3000 dollars on a mac laptop that would be the equivalent in performance to a $1700.00 PC. In fact, I would argue that the 3000 dollar mac would underperform in some aspects (.i.e. the Graphics cards offered by mac are slightly a generation behind, they use ATI 9700s and such, while the 1700 dollar PCs use Nvidia 6600s). Also, I'm not too sure if Mac even offers a screen resolution of 1680, unless its on the 17" laptop (you can get up to 1920 on many PC laptops, even 15 inch ones).

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Best Graphics Laptop for only $2000.
by ihs97 / August 4, 2005 5:50 AM PDT

Hands down, the best laptop for your money is the ABS Mayhem G4 ( Their quality is excellent, just as good as the more commercial companies. They use Asus parts (i.e. chassis and motherboard), and if you know about Asus, you would know that they are one of THE premiere motherboard manufacturers.

I myself, am also a designer that multitasks like crazy. Running 300 dpi images in photoshop, while having Illustrator, InDesign, Outlook, an MP3 player and World of Warcraft running in the background. I don't actually have this laptop, but I know that if i had 2000 bucks, this would be my purchase. So here's what you get for $1751.00 dollars:

-15.4 inch widescreen with 1680 screen resolution!! (screen resolution is just as important to many designers as ram or CPU speed. Having ample monitor real estate on your computer will speed up your workflow)
-New Intel Sonoma Pentium M 750 1.86 GHZ processor
-1 GB Transcend Ram
-128 MB Nvidia 6600 PCI Express Graphics card
-80GB 5400 RPM hard drive
-8x Dual DVD +/- RW
-Windows XP Home
-1 year Warranty

If you are still in the market, this computer deserves some serious consideration.

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Get a Mac
by mini87 / August 4, 2005 7:55 AM PDT

I would personally recommend getting a Mac. For $2,000, you can get a very nice Apple PowerBook 1.5GHz G4, 512MB RAM, 80GB Hard drive, Combo DVD/CD-RW drive, ATI Radeon 9700, etc. Or you could wait until the new Intel Macs come out. But I wouldn't use a Windows PC for all the stuff you have listed except for gaming. The Mac OS is a much more solid OS than Windows.

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Only get a Mac if you HAVE to have a Mac
by ihs97 / August 4, 2005 11:30 AM PDT
In reply to: Get a Mac

2000 bucks just doesn't cut it in the Mac realm. If you are going to be doing some serious multitasking you need a machine with a much faster processor than last generations G4s (These are the current processors, and have been for years, because they can't figure a way to cram a G5 into the powerbook), AT LEAST 1GB of ram, and good screen real estate.

About the stability issue...again, most mac users that complain about stability haven't actually tried hardcore multitasking on a PC recently. They probably had an isolated bad experience a few years ago and switched to the Mac platform.

Apple's marketing team should get an A+ for effort. They have done a great job fabricating this notion that you can't do graphics on a PC. It coincides with their target market which is the graphics community.

If you are unsure about the PC hardware compared to Mac, remember, Mac just "switched" to Intel. The CEO of Adobe responded to Steve Jobs move with this little ditty, "Steve, it's about time".

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Anyone who's not tech saavy should buy a Mac
by dougdoug / August 4, 2005 11:53 AM PDT

Most everyone here voting for a WIndows based platform obviously has some computer know how. But I doubt any non technical person can set up a new Windows system in an hour and have it run without problems. Any novice can set up a Mac in an hour, as well as add programs, periferals, updates with ease. No viruses on the Mac, Windows always gets viruses unless your tech saavy and know how to work around this. Of course the Mac has always been more expensive, but better designed and built with few PC exceptions. If you just want speed, and your priorities are more towards gaming and 3d modeling buy a PC. Otherwise the graphics cards, processor speed are fine for any graphics program you can use. (of course a great designed package and interface make the Mac most attractive to graphics professionals.) Afterall, designers appreciate design. That is why they are drawn toward the Mac. Sony is the only other design oriented computer company I have seen (VAIO) and it shows in their laptops. Of course they are expensive as well.

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Saavy or not...
by Nooorm / August 10, 2005 6:10 AM PDT

...MAC is the best choice for graphic work. They software is designed for thre platform and the platform is designed for this type of activity.

A fast processor, lots of RAM and high end graphic card do not necessarily result in a good system for graphics work.

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by SoftGuitar777 / October 16, 2008 5:44 AM PDT

I recommend you look at the brand new HDX series that Hewlett Packard puts out. They have both a 16" and 18" model. It comes to you with high definition and a host of features. The only drawback is that these monsters weigh alot.

If you only plan to keep it docked..then I would seriously consider the HDX series. The high definition will stun you !

Jesse Jr.

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by exon111 / August 10, 2005 2:46 AM PDT

apple powerbook!

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Compaq R4000 - not for graphics/image/photo/video editing
by pathfinder2005 / August 10, 2005 1:43 PM PDT

Even though Compaq R4000 comes with very fast CPU, lots of RAM and pretty decent graphics card, I don't recommend it for graphics/image/photo/video/illustration/annimation editing. It may good for gaming but it doesn't have the vivid graphics quality and doesn't look great in comparisson to my old Compaq 700 and HP 5440 that I am still using for image editing.

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by batavier / September 15, 2005 6:08 AM PDT

Most graphics professionals, studios, and ad agencies use Macintosh (hint....)

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The "graphics professionals" got sold to
by ihs97 / September 19, 2005 3:46 AM PDT
In reply to: Hint:

Just because the industry as a majority is using it, does not necessarily make it better. Understand that Apple targeted designers as their demographic. From the slick ad campaigns to the attractive, tactile design look--apple has been selling a design EMOTION more than it is actually selling well priced TOOL for designers.

I just find it funny that the people in the industry know that their job is to make their customers' products look better than the competition, regardless of whether it actually IS better. The same holds true for Apple. The hardware for Apple computers is overpriced, and inferior to the PC architecture period. Just ask the CEO of Adobe when he spoke in regards to Steve Jobs "switching" to Intel, "Steve, its about time."

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If you're determined...
by culture_of_one / September 19, 2005 11:38 AM PDT

not to go the Mac route, I would go Sony, Fujitsu, Sharp, or custom gaming laptop. The graphics requirements for gaming usually toast the requirements for design.

Wink JDM

P.S. However, I still think Mac is your best choice. Windows Vista should eventually help PCs move forward, but until then Mac rules.

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The real point is...
by spareplanet / October 14, 2008 6:47 AM PDT


By far the biggest issue with trying to use notebooks for art applications is the fact that the brightness and contrast changes radically as your angle of view changes. That does not occur at all on decent quality LCD desktop monitors. Consequently, serious graphics pro's never do critical work on notebooks (unless they have no other choice). It is simply impossible to know the actual brightness/contrast/hue/saturation you are getting.

All the other issues raised on this thread are extremely petty --virtually meaningless compared to the screen consistenty issue. You should only do pro graphics on a hooded, hardware-calibrated LCD monitor of 19" or more. If you travel, you should take it with you.

Other than that, any old laptop will do. You can get the cheapest HP, Compaq, Dell or Toshiba @ Target or Walmart and it will perform just as good as the priciest MacBook Pro or high-end PC notebook for 99% of on-notebook work. The only difference you might notice with a higher end notebook is if you used the external monitor output of your notebook to drive an external display (such as the afforementioned desktop LCD) The higher end model would likely have a better graphics chip and therefore support higher resolutions on the external monitor. But finding out which external resolutions are supported on different models can be very difficult and the price difference is as high as buying a desktop box to to support the desktop monitor.

The only choice you really have with today's technology is to use a desktop sytem or to redo your work after you see your work posted out on the internet (on a monitor other than your notebook's) and relaize the color's/brightness/contrast are not what you thought they were. Since you probably meticulously slaved over the color tones, option B is not very desireable. Best you can do is just go with the largest notebook display available. That alleviates the issue to some degree. Most important, make sure your display (notebook or desktop) is hardware-calibrated.

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Watch those dates. This is 3+ Years old.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 14, 2008 7:45 AM PDT
In reply to: The real point is...

Let's hope they picked out a laptop by now.

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