Looking for a laptop on a budget for photo edition in 2018

Documenting my search for a Photoshop & Capture One laptop on a budget.

I knew my old laptop was not in shape lately, but he’s about to pass away. He began feeling weird with an unexpected and abrupt black out one night. I did not feel particularly concerned and asked him to restart. That’s when he asked to reinstall Windows from scratch. I did not like this at all, but had no choice. So Ok we went and reinstalled everything : windows system, and windows patches. Bunch on patches after bunch of patches. This took more than one day until Windows Update finally said there was no more new patch to be installed…

Then I reinstalled the photo editing programs : Photoshop 2018 CC, Lightroom Classic CC, Capture One, Bridge. But my small laptop was different and unstable. He now crashes a lot, does not recognize drivers temporarily, has unresponsive delays… I decided to give him his retirement, and let him work on less demanding jobs.

So I had to look for a new laptop I can take with me for remote jobs and travels : when I do backups and photoedition on the road.

I checked the system requirements on the editors’ sites :

As a summary, here are the prerequisites for both programs :

  • CPU 2 cores
  • at least 8Gb of RAM
  • a good screen
  • GPU if possible
  • windows 10

I then made this list of characteristics of my dream pc :

  • enough cpu
  • graphic card
  • SSD storage for windows
  • at least 8Gb of RAM
  • windows 10
  • screen : good enough for pics and big enough (my old 13 inch was too small)
  • tough
  • on a budget (less than 800$)
  • that’s all… 🙂

My old laptop is a 13 inch laptop F301A. I could manage but the screen was very small for working on images. It was small though, sturdy and light. On the cpu side, it could barely handle Photoshop. I had to wait a lot.

When I started to look for a new laptop, I visited online stores and noticed that a laptop name does not mean a lot. Every model is declined in a multitude of options, that are far from details, like the nature of the screen tile, connections, version of the processors, presence or absence of a GPU, of an SSD disk. In a word, I was in the jungle !

I spent the day analyzing the state of the market, looking for instance at :

And I chose a gamer PC… The Lenovo Legion Y520-15IKBN. I did not think about looking at gamer pcs at first, because I do not play computer games at all. But if you think they are designed for calculation power, and good display, it seem logical after all. Here are the details of the config I chose :

  • Screen: 15,6″ Full HD 1920×1080
  • 8 Go RAM, Hard drive + SSD : 1000 Go + 256Go
  • Intel core_i5 (i5-7300HQ) Ghz
  • GPU Nvidia GTX1050 2 Go
  • 1 port(s) HDMI 1 port(s) USB 2.0, 2 port(s) USB 3.0 0 port(s) VGA

I could not test this pc yet. But I already know I made some compromises : its autonomy is very low, I will have to be near a power plug every 2 hours, and the screen, even if the color and contrast rendition are supposed to be good, lacks a bit of luminosity.

Here is the list of programs I install on my laptop for photoediting when in travel :

  • antivirus
  • Chrome
  • Photoshop CC 2018 + Bridge & Lightroom + plugin Nik Software (DXO) and Lumenzia
  • Capture One 11
  • LRtimelapse
  • Hugin (panoramas)

I will keep you informed about the tests of this laptop and its config !

Thank you for your visit !

Stay tuned !

Update on june 12nd, 2018 : I just come back from an #UnexpectedNomad session in Ouessant. I took my Lenovo Y520 with me. A bit of a hassle to carry it in a backback, it’s quite large even if not too heavy. However once on site, I could perfectly work with it on the images. Worked with Capture one on batches, developped. Great PC, we’re friends !