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Looking for Laptop Recommendations for Print Design

Explorer ,
Sep 30, 2020

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I am a Photoshop junkie but ocassionally need Illustrator. My current Windows laptop gags and chugs and well, its time on this earth for this purpose is limited.
So, I am looking for laptop recommendations.

~Windows

~up to $3500
I routinely work in the 300 to 600dpi range with file sizes from 20MB to 1GB but would also like to improve on my 3D skills---all on a Windows OS.

Thoughts?

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Performance, Windows

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Looking for Laptop Recommendations for Print Design

Explorer ,
Sep 30, 2020

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I am a Photoshop junkie but ocassionally need Illustrator. My current Windows laptop gags and chugs and well, its time on this earth for this purpose is limited.
So, I am looking for laptop recommendations.

~Windows

~up to $3500
I routinely work in the 300 to 600dpi range with file sizes from 20MB to 1GB but would also like to improve on my 3D skills---all on a Windows OS.

Thoughts?

TOPICS
Performance, Windows

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149

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Sep 30, 2020 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Sep 30, 2020

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The current minimum system requirements are at the links below:

https://helpx.adobe.com/uk/photoshop/system-requirements.html   Note though that the Photoshop system requirements make no mention of scratch disk space. You need at least 250GB preferably more.

 

https://helpx.adobe.com/uk/illustrator/system-requirements.html

 

 

Dave

 

 

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Sep 30, 2020 1
Explorer ,
Oct 01, 2020

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Thank you for the links. Yeah, my scratch disk limits are routinely met which I generally only learn about when trying to save a file (Thats a happy time). Basically it looks as though I will need to double the recommended PS system requirements if am to include any of the other Adobe SW like Illustrator. 

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Oct 01, 2020 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Sep 30, 2020

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Take it for what it's worth, but for serious Photoshop use I really would not recommend a laptop. One thing is inherently limited disk space (important for the scratch disk, as Dave points out) - but also because all components in a laptop are throttled down to keep it from heating up too much. It's just a matter of physical space and airflow. So a laptop is generally slower than the nominal specs would indicate (but of course they don't say anything about that).

 

1 GB is a very big file. It'll have a hard time on any laptop.

 

There's also the screen to consider. Laptop displays are not suited for critical use - again, a simple matter of physical space. It's not possible to make a good display 4mm thick. Although that can be solved with an external monitor, that sort of defeats the purpose.

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Sep 30, 2020 2
Explorer ,
Oct 01, 2020

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I have experienced the exact things you mention firsthand. I have resorted to a 5TB external HDD for scratch disk and file storage, but also use a second monitor. The amount of space PS uses to save the UI, Layer Styles, Shapes, etc...is surprisingly large too. I may have to switch to a tower. Thank you.

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Oct 01, 2020 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Sep 30, 2020

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A laptop is fine, people have been using them for print design for many years. Most of my print design computers have been laptops. But there are unhappy laptop-using print designers, and happy ones. The key to being a happy laptop-using print designer is to understand the limitations of a laptop and compensate for them.

 

Your starting point is always the system requirements for the applications you want to use. But that’s just a starting point, because as a print designer you want to edit high resolution files. Therefore your starting point is not the minimum system requirements, but the higher recommended system requirements.

 

On top of that, you need to pay attention to each area where a laptop is limited compared to a desktop:

  • Memory (RAM): For print design, 16GB RAM minimum. If you want to keep multiple print applications open (for example, Photoshop + Illustrator + InDesign), go for 32GB RAM. That used to be rare, but more pro laptops can now have 32GB RAM.
  • Storage: Big Photoshop files need a lot of scratch disk space, so buy as much storage as you will need for the next few years, plus another 250GB or so to be on the safe side for scratch files. Never do print design on a computer where storage is almost full. In a pinch you can attach fast external storage like a USB 3.2 Gen 2 SSD, and use that as a Photoshop scratch disk or additional storage.
  • Display: Cheap laptop displays are not good for print production. High-end PC or Mac laptop displays, especially the wide gamut laptop displays, can be good enough for print production, especially if custom profiled. Or you can connect a laptop to a very good profiled desktop display, and that works as well as a desktop.
  • Graphics: Graphics hardware acceleration is becoming more important. Discrete graphics is best, but most laptops don’t have that, they only have integrated graphics. Integrated graphics work well enough, especially the latest versions, but a laptop with discrete graphics is preferred. A computer with a Thunderbolt 3 port can also use an external GPU (eGPU), which is a discrete GPU in an external case.
  • Cooling. When a laptop works hard, it can’t cool itself as easily as a desktop because there isn’t as much airflow space inside. If they get too hot they have to slow down. Larger, thicker laptops tend to be easier to cool, so they can generally run faster.  Thinner laptops tend to run fans more often.

 

I am currently doing print level work with camera raw files (Photoshop, Lightroom Classic, InDesign, Illustrator) on a recent thin, light 13" MacBook Pro with 16GB RAM, and that works quite well. Especially on my desktop where it’s attached to external drives (including an external scratch SSD), two large calibrated and profiled displays, and an eGPU, all through a hub connected with a single cable to the laptop.

 

On the $3500 budget you stated, you should be able to buy a Windows PC laptop that easily meets all of the requirements above, and it will probably be much more powerful than what I use.

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Sep 30, 2020 2
Explorer ,
Oct 01, 2020

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Excellent break down. Thank you.

I do routinely use multiple Adobe programs to get projects done (PS, LR CLassic, and Illustrator) and have routinely run into the very issues you mention---almost to the letter. I want to expand more into 3D'ish work but obviously that's just not an option right now. Creating project-related videos is also a bit nerve racking.

Background: I am what most would call a "shade tree mechanic" designer in that I am largely self-taught, working on a limited budget (cutting corners has proven to be a less than wise decision), and with limited time (Dad, husband, day job---you get it). I started out with a 2005 Alienware (both RAID-0 discs crashed), and used a MacBook Pro 17" in 2007 (heat issues and all) up until last year. But this time around, I went with a Dell XPS (with touchscreen) because I was buying two and I liked the idea of being able to use a stylus for the more creative endeavors. The XPS 15 9575 2-in-1 handles 300dpi | 200MB and below imagery work rather effortlessly. BUT, since I often purchase 3rd party stock (overlays, templates, etc.) which more times than not come in .AI files, I installed Illustrator---and---Chitty Chitty Bang Bang---here we sit.

Right now it is looking like I will stick with the Windows OS and either max out a new laptop or reconfigure a tower to handle 3D design and rendering which "should" answer the proverbial mail.

Thank you again.

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Oct 01, 2020 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Oct 01, 2020

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Hi

You CAN manage on a laptop, many do, but it's not ideal for serious work for the reasons already explained here.

 

For me (and as D. Fosse explained) the biggest issue is the screen, its very hard to view a Laptop screen consistently, which means many users end up adding an external screen (ideally a good one like an Eizo Coloredge model).

 

SO, if you need portability can accept the compromises brought by using a laptop  and are willing to add a good external screen you'll be fine. Of course whilst viewing images on the laptop screen only (whilst travelling perhaps) you'll have to accept compromises in accuracy of appearance.

 

I hope this helps

thanks
neil barstow, colourmanagement.net :: adobe forum volunteer
[please do not use the reply button on a message within the thread, only use the blue reply button at the top of the page, this maintains the original thread title and chronological order of posts]

 

 

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Oct 01, 2020 1
Adobe Community Professional ,
Oct 01, 2020

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One more comment. You mentioned an interest in 3D. If that is your intention then you need a GPU with dedicated Video Ram (not an integrated GPU that shares system RAM). The reasons are:

1. Photoshop will disable 3D functionality if you have less than 512MB VRAM

2. If you move to using a full 3D application, such as Blender 3D,  then the ability to render on a modern GPU with a lot of dedicated VRAM can take render times down from hours on the CPU to minutes or even seconds on the GPU.  (Unfortunately Photoshop does not use the GPU for final ray traced renders so is incredibly slow for that purpose).

 

Dave

 

 

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Oct 01, 2020 1
Explorer ,
Oct 01, 2020

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THAT is good to know. I also experienced the incredibly slow renderings in PS even with small files. Thank you.

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Oct 01, 2020 0