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Surface Pro 7 vs Surface Book 3 for Lightroom Classic

Community Beginner ,
Nov 09, 2020 Nov 09, 2020

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I am considering moving to a Surface for Lightroom Classic. It's really the only thing I use a computer for these days. I have a Nikon D750 and shoot in RAW (not a pro, just personal photos). I do not have patience for slow computers, however. I probably already know the answer to this question, but I'll ask it anyway....

 

Considering these two machines. Is the Book 3 going to be a lot better?

 

https://www.bestbuy.com/site/microsoft-surface-book-3-13-5-touch-screen-pixelsense-2-in-1-laptop-int...

 

https://www.bestbuy.com/site/microsoft-surface-pro-7-12-3-touch-screen-intel-core-i7-16gb-memory-1tb...

 

Let's assume you will tell me the Book 3 is the way to go...will I be happy with it? Or will it still feel slow?

 

My current laptop is an Alienware 15R2 with an I7 6700HQ @ 2.60 Ghz, 16 GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M graphics card.

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Performance, Windows

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LEGEND ,
Nov 09, 2020 Nov 09, 2020

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How nice of BestBuy to not list the CPU make and model for the Surface Pro 7. And they don't list the GPU for the Surface Pro 7! I'd say, without that information, I couldn't even begin to answer your question.

 

Generally, my feeling is that you want the fastest CPU that you can afford.

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Community Beginner ,
Nov 09, 2020 Nov 09, 2020

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Sorry, here I thought it would have all that LOL.

 

Here's a comparison. They'd both have the same processor (Quad-core 10th Gen Intel® Core™ i7-1065G7 Processor). Biggest difference would be graphics card (Intel Iris Plus Graphics vs. NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 1650 with Max-Q Design w/4GB GDDR5 graphics memory) and RAM (16 GB vs 32 GB).  I'm not sure how much each of those components would affect the performance.

 

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/surface/devices/compare-devices?&cdresult=1-9

 

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LEGEND ,
Nov 09, 2020 Nov 09, 2020

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"Intel Iris Plus Graphics" is not a graphics card, it is a brand. Inside that brand are many different graphics cards, each of which is different. So, how could I make any sense at all of this?

 

Really, no one can tell you with any degree of certainty which computer will be better or will either or both run fast enough for YOU. Since the CPUs are the same, I would get the one with the better GPU, if only we knew which one that is.

 

RAM above 16GB rarely has any benefit for Lightroom Classic (except perhaps for panorama and HDR).

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Community Beginner ,
Nov 09, 2020 Nov 09, 2020

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Well, I can only give what Microsoft publishes and I don't see anything more specific. These are basically both the 'top of the line' of each model. I was hoping to hear from people who may use these devices. I appreciate the help - I would have thought more RAM would be helpful, good to know it's not. 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Nov 09, 2020 Nov 09, 2020

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I want 32GB RAM in my next laptop, but not because Lightroom Classic alone needs it all. It’s because I often run Lightroom Classic alongside other applications that want a lot of RAM too. That’s what should affect your decision: If you run one application at a time, 16GB RAM is enough. If you want to run several pro graphics apps at the same time, or leave 57 tabs open in a web browser while editing photos, 32GB RAM is probably better.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Nov 09, 2020 Nov 09, 2020

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That NVIDIA GeForce card with 4GB graphics memory should make a difference for anything in Lightroom Classic (or Photoshop) that is GPU-accelerated, which is only the Develop module for now but maybe more in the future. The NVIDIA GPU should make more of a difference if you shoot with a high-megapixel camera (roughly over 20 megapixels), and if you will be connecting one or more 4K desktop displays to the laptop.

 

If you mostly edit images under 20 megapixels, you never attach an external display, and you value battery life, the Surface Pro 7 might save you some money. However, Lightroom Classic can keep a CPU/GPU very busy, and I don't know how effective each model stays cool when busy, how loud the fans are, and how much they limit the CPU when hot. You said you don’t like slow computers, but many ultrathin laptops and tablet-style computers are so thin that they don’t have the space for effective cooling, and have to hold down performance to help stay cool. Do some research on reviews about how well these models maintain high performance for intensive uses like video editing and gaming.

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Community Beginner ,
Nov 09, 2020 Nov 09, 2020

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Thanks, helpful info. I never attach to an external monitor. I would like something smaller than my gigantic Alienware, but the lack of effective cooling could be an issue. My camera is 24.3 megapixels.

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Community Beginner ,
Nov 09, 2020 Nov 09, 2020

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I found this article, which may be helpful for others that would find this post. What speaks to me personally, unfortunately, is this "If you’re out shooting 1,200 photos in a session, uploading them all, and then culling out 100 that you’ll need to edit and export for a client, you’ll run up against this computer’s limitations in a big and frustrating way."

 

This sounds exactly like my vacation photos, though I'll output way more than 200, frequently (like 900). Curious to check some benchmarks though, against my current laptop which is more than 4 yrs old now.

 

 

https://petapixel.com/2020/06/26/microsoft-surface-book-3-review-a-great-laptop-flawed-by-design/

 

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Community Beginner ,
Nov 09, 2020 Nov 09, 2020

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What I did find interesting was that comparing benchmarks between the CPU in my Alienware and the book 3, they were pretty comparable, with the book 3 being a little bit faster. I don't notice particular slowness on my Alienware. 

 

Then I looked at the specs for my husband's Surface Pro 7 and it has the same CPU. So the bigger difference is that it only has an integrated graphics card. So I may run a test at some point this week to see how bad the import/export seems.

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Community Beginner ,
Nov 18, 2020 Nov 18, 2020

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I thought I would update this thread for others. I went ahead and ordered the Surface Book 3 with 1 TB SSD, 32 GB RAM, and the i7 processor. I did some testing for my typical work flow. First I tested an import of vacation photos. Since I'm a terrible photographer, I take a LOT of photos and delete many. A 10 day trip to Korea and I imported 2619 photos (RAW format, 24.3 megapixel camera). It took only 4 minutes to import them all. I was able to start editing them at that point, though Lightroom did take an additional 12 minutes to "fetch initial previews". Not sure exactly what that meant, but it continued working in the background and didn't prevent me from editing photos.  Acceptable performance for me (and this is definitely on the high side of an import for me - normally it's only hundreds). Typically for a vacation like this, I import all the photos, edit one day at a time, and then export a single day, as a 100% JPG, while renaming the files on export. In this test, I edited only a handful of photos (around 5 to 10) very lightly, then exported two days worth of photos, which worked out to be 123 photos. The export took 4 minutes. What I typically do while an export is running is to go on editing more photos while it's running. I was able to do that without issue and saw no system lag while editing as the export ran in the background. This was all run from and to an external SSD.

 

This initial test went well enough I felt good about moving all my data to the new computer and setting it up. I then did a full month of editing, which is how I normally do it (a non-vacation month, so not more than 100 to 200 photos. I saw no issues in the performance during that exercise so I'm keeping the new computer.

 

I suppose there are faster computers out there for this type of work, but I am happy with the performance here, since it is the same or better than my Alienware laptop, but in a smaller and lighter package.  Thumbs up from me.

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LEGEND ,
Nov 18, 2020 Nov 18, 2020

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Thanks for the report!

 

It's also a true statement, as you said, that Lightroom performance depends on what type of photography you do and how many photos you are working with and what your expectations are ... none of which depend on the computer's specs.

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New Here ,
Jun 24, 2021 Jun 24, 2021

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Thanks for posting this. Getting this laptop today. Another thing to note is exporting from the ssd will result in quicker exports. Your export from the external drive was pretty quick anyway! Your post put my fears aside. 

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