Best budget laptop for graphic artist?

Alliecatastrophe

Estimable
Dec 1, 2015
11
0
4,560
0
I'm a graphic artist and I'm looking for the best bang for my buck. My budget is up to $800, willing to go a bit above, but I'd prefer not to.

Specs I’m aiming for:

8GB-16 of Ram; DDR2/3*
i5 or i7 dual core processor; at least 2ghz
SSD or HDSSD hybrid Hard Drive*
LED Monitor w/ at least 1920 x 1080 resolution*
IPS paneling; 8 bit*
And a dedicated graphics card*

Now, I know finding something like that under $800 is impossible, so I’m willing to be flexible so here are the specs I’m willing have some leeway on:

*Don’t need more than 8gb of ram, doesn’t HAVE to be DDR2/3
*SSD or HDSSD isn’t necessary but I would like to be able to switch out later
*I could use a LCD screen if I have to
*Don’t want to go lower than 8 bit, but willing to
*Might be willing to go a little under 1920 x 1080 resolution, but I’d really prefer to keep this
*Since I’m an artist, a dedicated graphics card is, again, preferred, but as long as I have a good processor, I think I’ll be okay

So, can anyone help out? [Keep in mind that I’ll be using this for digital painting, 2D animation, maybe some video editing and light gaming (Sims, dragon age, ect)].

Thanks in advance!
 
They're still selling the first-gen Thinkpad Yogas. The line has been replaced, I'm trying to remember the name of the newer models.
http://shop.lenovo.com/us/en/laptops/thinkpad/yoga-series/

The 14" and 15.6" models both fit your specs. Under $800, Broadwell i5 or i7, 8 or 16 GB (14" is soldered, 15.6" can be upgraded), 1080p IPS displays which in reviews cover about 95% of sRGB color space. nvidia 840m or 940m, comes with 16GB cache SSD which effectively turns the HDD into a hybrid drive, folds into tablet form factor. It doesn't support a Wacom pen. You could use a regular capacitive pen, but there'd be no pressure sensitivity.

The only miss is best I can tell it uses a 6-bit panel with FRC. Here's the spec sheet for the panel used in the original (Haswell) version of the 14".
http://www.datadisplay-group.com/fileadmin/pdf/produkte/Displays/AUO/B140HAN01.1_Datasheet.pdf

I had that first gen TP Yoga 14 for a couple months before selling it to a friend (I needed a better gaming GPU). It ran Dragon Age Inquisition acceptably at medium settings and 1366x768 resolution. Framerate got into the 20s if you tried to run it at 1920x1080. Best appearance was at 1080p but rendered at about 70%-80%.

Edit: Found it. Replacement is the Thinkpad Yoga 460. Very similar features, but supports a stylus. Not for sale yet, and will probably be out of your price range.
http://forum.tabletpcreview.com/threads/new-skylake-thinkpad-yoga-260-460.67477/

And while I'm at it, do not get a Macbook Air. I know it's tempting because it's Apple, but the MBAs are not designed for graphics work. The screen is a mediocre TN panel covering only about 60% of sRGB. Except for the $500 PC laptops, most PC laptop screens are better. The Macbook Pros have the screens designed for graphics work. Unfortunately the lowest price I've seen for one is $899 earlier in the year. The lowest I've seen this year is $1050.
 

Alliecatastrophe

Estimable
Dec 1, 2015
11
0
4,560
0


You said it folds into tablet form, but doesn’t support a Wacom pen. My understanding takes that to mean direct pen on laptop/tablet screen application right?

So if I have an intuos tablet, I can still plug it in the usb and use the tablet with the Wacom pen like that? I mean, I’d much prefer that to direct pen to tablet screen anyway since I’m not a fan of the 2 in 1’s they have popping up everywhere.
 
Correct, no pen on screen. It's a touchscreen so you could use your finger or a capacitive pen (or a hot dog), but doesn't have a Wacom digitizer for a pen. If you plug your Intuos into it, you'll be able to use that to draw on the Intuos pad, just not on the screen.

The Thinkpad Yoga 14 is basically the Thinkpad T450, except it can fold back into tablet mode. It's just a little oddity that Lenovo sells the Yoga 14/15 with nvidia GPU. The T450 is theoretically available with the nvidia GPU, but only in certain countries. The T450 keyboard is supposedly slightly better too (the Yoga keyboard has an interior hinge to retract the keys into the case in tablet mode). But if you want to use the TP Yoga 14 in laptop mode with your Intuos connected, you've basically got a T450..
 

Alliecatastrophe

Estimable
Dec 1, 2015
11
0
4,560
0


Oh, trust me, I heard all about the macs, with their eye catching glossy luminescent screens that promise colorful dreams but give you overly saturated nightmares. This isn’t my first time researching for computer, and back when I was looking for a desktop, my first instinct had been Mac, pretty bright colors, runs photoshop like a dream, plus, yeah, brand name. Everyone and their mother wanted a mac, including me.

Until I learned the horrid way it makes everything blindingly bright beyond any calibration fixes, how it over saturates the colors to the point of the tackiest of Best Buy’s flatscreen displays and if you plan on using it for anything other than photoshop, the interface is kinda shitty. I’ve been told time and time again that Macs look great at first glance, but if you’re aiming for true color accuracy they are just not the way to go and that pc laptops are way preferred.

Anyway that’s my take on Mac’s at least, I’d be interested to hear any differing opinions.

As for everything else, it sounds great, you’re meeting all of my standards!!

Well, except for the 6bit bit, but I’m not entirely worried about that since I’m not focusing too much energy on true print colors and all standard laptops seem to be good with self-calibrating.

I’m also not too hyped about the touch screen interface, but that’s an annoyance at worst. I’m a cranky old lady and resistant to change, but it seems like the whole market is diving more and more into 2 in 1’s or adding touchscreens to standard issue laptops so I probably can’t hold out much longer when considering what to buy if I want to keep up to date lol.

Just curious, DO you have any recommendations for non touch laptops with the same spec range? I’ll probably end up getting what you considered, since it sounds like a dream, but a little comparison never hurt!

Thanks again!

 
You can disable the touchscreen.
http://lifehacker.com/disable-your-laptop-s-touch-screen-in-windows-8-1-1588333600

But if you want to consider other laptops, the bottom of these pages have a list of laptops with the nvidia 940m and 950m.
http://www.notebookcheck.net/NVIDIA-GeForce-940M.138027.0.html
http://www.notebookcheck.net/NVIDIA-GeForce-GTX-950M.138026.0.html

And the Macbook Pro screens are calibrated for sRGB. The images on it should look identical to a monitor (most of them also hit 100% sRGB) and HDTV (they are also set to sRGB). If you find them to be oversaturated, perhaps you're used to undersaturated screens? That'd be rather unusual though, since TVs are usually set oversaturated, and when people see the images on a properly calibrated screen they complain it looks undersaturated.
 

Alliecatastrophe

Estimable
Dec 1, 2015
11
0
4,560
0


Well I /was/ gunna say that if I wanted all (or most) of my specs it would put me at a little above 800

The 15” -- if I want 8GB of ram, and SSD -- would have rounded off to $850 since the one that’s listed at $775 only has the 4gb and the regular hard drive, which, seeing as I’m going to be using photoshop, isn’t exactly ideal.
And the 14” was a nice price at $799 (lol, well it technically IS under $800), again, doesn’t have the SSD Drive that I’m looking for and there’s only one model for it so only one price.

Either way, I would have had to put myself at a bit over 800.

Was gunna ask if you thought the extra 50 would have been worth it for the SSD (going from the 14 to the 15) since both came with i5 processors.

At least, that’s what I would have asked last week. Now it seems the prices have been jacked up by a good $100-$200 , not sure if that’s because it was discounted last week for cyber week, or if its jacked up now that they now people are still doing holiday shopping and are most likely willing to pay more, but it seems that this… unfortunately is no longer in my price range :\

Any suggestions? What do you think of the Inspiron series by dell?
 
That's too bad you missed the sale. The lesson I've learned over the years from these Black Friday sales is to buy it immediately with a credit card to "lock in" the price, and leave it unopened. Then later if I decide I don't want it or I get something else, I can just return it for a refund.

There's a sale on the new Lenovo Y700 (the Y series is their gaming line) with an AMD R9 M375 GPU. It's $799 right now. It's new so I can't say how good the screen is or how upgradeable it is. But it's listed as IPS, and historically the Y series has been easy to upgrade.
http://shop.lenovo.com/us/en/laptops/ideapad/y700-series/y700-14-inch/

Bang for the buck, the Asus UX305 is the best ultrabook by far, 2.8 lb ultrabook, 8GB RAM, 256 GB SSD, but you lose the dedicated GPU. The newer i5 version is on sale for $750 at Amazon. The older version (with a Core M processor) had a great screen and there's no indication they changed it in the i5 version. You may need to calibrate the screen though, as reviews say the default colors are off.
http://www.amazon.com/Zenbook-UX305LA-13-3-Inch-Titanium-Windows/dp/B013KKANTE
http://www.mobiletechreview.com/notebooks/Asus-Zenbook-UX305.htm

The latest Inspirons don't come with a dedicated GPU as far as I know. You have to step up to the 15" XPS to get that, which is far out of your price range. I'm also unsure of the screen quality - they produce so many different models. MobileTechReview and NotebookCheck are the two review sites which regularly test color gamut in their laptop reviews.

http://www.mobiletechreview.com/notebook.htm
http://www.notebookcheck.net/Reviews.55.0.html

Though the first tests in CIE color space (bigger % means more saturation), while the latter tests in Lab color space (still haven't figured out what bigger % corresponds to - more accurate darker shades?). Anyway, most of the laptops which hit 95%-100% sRGB in CIE seem to get only 80%-85% sRGB in Lab. Of course you could always hook up an external monitor for accurate color work - nearly all of those hit 100% sRGB.

You may be able to find something decent in Dell's or Lenovo's outlet. Some of these are refurbished customer returns, but others are computers with a scratch or two on them, or custom orders which were canceled (they're not allowed to sell them as new). Availability changes hourly, and sometimes there are coupons to take even more off (you'll have to find them yourself, 25%-35% off is pretty common on Dell Outlet, and I believe they're running it right now as all the good laptops seem to be gone).

http://www.dell.com/us/dfh/p/
http://www.dell.com/us/dfb/p/
http://outlet.lenovo.com/outlet_us/laptops/#facet-1=1,2,3,4
 

Alliecatastrophe

Estimable
Dec 1, 2015
11
0
4,560
0


That’s a pretty good rule of thumb, I seriously have to remember that when I go shopping because I always worry about losing a product because I didn’t decide quick enough whether I wanted to make a buy or not lmao.

Okay, so I see the sale for the Y700, and it looks pretty sweet, but it would probably put me at just a bit cheaper than the Thinkpad Yoga if I want the SSD. The Y700 with the SSD is $949, and the Yoga 15 at $999, that is if I want the SSD, otherwise I could get the Y700 for $799 and the Yoga Thinkpad 14” at $849 with the regular hard drives.

My question is; do you think the extra money is worth it for the upgrade from HD to SSD? The money isn’t too much of an object, just a matter of waiting an extra week for my next paycheck, but if the jump to SSD isn’t worth the extra money in terms of performance, than I want to get the cheaper laptops before I miss out on these discounts too lol.
 

It looks like the Y700 has a 80mm M.2 slot in addition to the HDD. The 80mm is standard (2280), so you can just buy the $799 HDD-only version and buy your own M.2 SSD now or later. No need to pay Lenovo's price. A 250GB Samsung 850 EVO is just $80.
http://www.amazon.com/Samsung-850-EVO-250-MZ-N5E250BW/dp/B00TGIVZTW
https://forums.lenovo.com/t5/Lenovo-P-Y-and-Z-series/Lenovo-ideapad-Y700-15ACZ-M-2-SSD-Upgrade/td-p/2185652

The Yoga 14 and 15 have only a 42mm M.2 slot (in addition to the HDD). This is an uncommon size (2242), and the few SSDs available for it are slower and not as cheap, with the largest capacity available being only 256 GB.
 

Alliecatastrophe

Estimable
Dec 1, 2015
11
0
4,560
0


Okay, one last discussion before I make my decision, the piece of resistance;

Nvidia vs AMD Radeon.

The Thinkpad 14/15 comes with the Nvidia while the Y700 comes with the AMD Radeon, and I've been told that the Nvidia (at the moment) is superior when it comes to graphics and gaming, and since I'll be doing both (though I'd put my money more towards the graphics side of things like photoshop and video editing), I want to know what my trade off is going to be if I go with the AMD Radeon in the Y700.

Do you know if AMD is better for gaming whereas Nvidia is better for art and graphics? Does it even matter if all the other specs are good? This is my first time computer shopping so I'm just trying to cover all my bases, I don't want the computer to lag or something because I forgot to ask a question haha.
 
Honestly I don't know. I mainly use Lightroom, which doesn't use the GPU AFAIK. Occasionally I fire up Photoshop, but I don't use any of the filters which are GPU-accelerated. I know the GPU can make a big difference in video encoding, but I don't know which is better.
 

Alliecatastrophe

Estimable
Dec 1, 2015
11
0
4,560
0


And here I thought you were all knowing!

…Kidding of course; honestly, you went above and beyond my expectations, answering every question in such minute detail (and there were a lot), and at breakneck speed too! You provided me with a plethora of options and I think it’s safe to say with all the info you provided I can take it from here.

Thank you so much for your diligence and patience, I’ll be the first to admit I can be a bit of a pain when I get into question mode because I always have another one ready at the get go and it can be tiring, but you persevered and I’m really grateful for that.

So thank you for helping me with this, you are totally awesome! :wahoo:
 

velo3100

Distinguished
Moderator
I personally would recommend the asus n series with a gtx 850m if you can get one at that price. Or one with the 940m. These are made to do the things you said and they are very reliable. I have one of them and I have been using it for 2 years of heavy usage. I don't just mean by using intense software though. I really tested it against all the 4 elements that you can think of.
 

Alliecatastrophe

Estimable
Dec 1, 2015
11
0
4,560
0


Do you have any specific models in mind? I'm a bit unfamiliar with asus and it's all a bit confusing to go headfirst into right off the bat.
 

velo3100

Distinguished
Moderator
Try this laptop: https://www.asus.com/uk/Notebooks/N551VW/specifications/ or https://www.asus.com/uk/Notebooks/N551JX/specifications/.

I think they should be in your budget. Let me know if any of them are good for you.
 

Looks like those would work too. Reviews put the screens at between 90%-100% sRGB coverage.
http://www.notebookcheck.net/Asus-N551JW-GTX-960M-Notebook-Review.145820.0.html
https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=bg&u=http://news.laptop.bg/novini/asus-n551vw-ima-poveche-obshti-cherti-s-gl552vw-otkolkoto-s-predshestvenika-si-izpolzva-sashtiya-ips-panel-na-lg/&prev=search
 

Alliecatastrophe

Estimable
Dec 1, 2015
11
0
4,560
0


They look fantastic, but I can't seem to find a place to buy them? I live in the US, and a review dated just a month ago says they're available in Europe but not over here, and if I were to find one that ships here I highly doubt the shipping would be free, that plus tax... would push me over my budget (not to mention I can't even find a price on the website)

Suggestions?
 
Thread starter Similar threads Forum Replies Date
E Laptop General Discussion 3
Alan16 Laptop General Discussion 0
L Laptop General Discussion 3
A Laptop General Discussion 3
X Laptop General Discussion 3
D Laptop General Discussion 4
testtube5 Laptop General Discussion 4
M Laptop General Discussion 1
M Laptop General Discussion 2
S Laptop General Discussion 11
A Laptop General Discussion 7
M Laptop General Discussion 4
D Laptop General Discussion 2
F Laptop General Discussion 1
Muchaco Laptop General Discussion 1
Y Laptop General Discussion 1
D Laptop General Discussion 9
P Laptop General Discussion 1
E Laptop General Discussion 1
E Laptop General Discussion 1

ASK THE COMMUNITY