Last Updated on 07/13/2018 by Mark Beckenbach
There were some big changes to mobile processors at the end of 2017: make sure your 2018 laptop purchase is one you won’t regret
A laptop, not unlike a camera, is a major investment for a photographer in 2018 and if you are one of the many possibly looking to upgrade their laptop this year then you are going to want to have a look at this post. Towards the end of 2017, there were some major advancements made to the Intel processors used in most modern laptops. These changes saw improvements of up to 40% over comparable laptops sporting the processors being used in laptops throughout 2017. This sort of improvement is not your average year over year performance improvement; this one was major and something you need to pay attention to.
Your choice of a laptop could have major ramifications for your photography business, from simply how quickly things take to load, to how long it takes to render your finalized images. You wouldn’t want to buy a laptop from 2017 and leave 40% better performance on the table, would you? That is a lot more time that you could spend marketing your business, or working on the house, or spending with your family. So as we did about this time last year, we wanted to jump in and share what we consider to be some of the best laptop options on the market right now for photographers.
If you are in the market, we recommend having a look at this list if only to get an idea about the sort of specs you should be looking for in today’s laptop market.
Before we get into our specific laptop recommendations, we wanted to cover some of the important things to look for when you are purchasing a laptop you intend on using for your photography business.
Key Specs To Consider
- Processor: You want an Intel 8th Generation i7 or i5 processor
- RAM: 16GB – you can probably get by with 8GB but 16GB is still the sweet spot (basically, the more the better).
- Storage: 512GB SSD. Avoid laptops where the primary storage drive is an HDD.
The reason that you want an 8th generation Intel processor is due to the number of cores they have. Most 7th generation processors used in laptops utilize dual-core CPUs with hyperthreading. In 2017 (and previously to that) this was great for a laptop and offered good performance. But these newer 8th CPUs, the ones we are recommending anyway, are offering four cores, some of which offer hyperthreading as well. In other words, you’re getting twice the physical cores and twice the virtual cores. This means your laptop can process more things at the same time, and it can process those things faster.
The end result for photographers means faster importing and preview rendering in Lightroom, faster exporting of finalized edits, better performance in Photoshop – things like that. If you’re a photographer who also likes to dabble in video, or if you are a true hybrid shooter then you definitely want to do this because this processor upgrade could be the difference between a video rendering in 11 minutes instead of 30 minutes. That may not seem like much (though it is) if you render a video here and there, but if you are doing this often (for a youtube channel or client work) then those 19 minutes saved can really add up over a year.
But let’s move on to our laptop selections…
HP Spectre X360 13t
Pros: Processor, RAM, and storage are all right in the range we are looking for. Build quality is outstanding.
Cons: Only a 1080p Screen, black/copper color scheme may not be your taste
You can pick up the HP Spectre x360 13t over on Amazon right now for around $1,399.
Razer Blade Stealth 13.3″
Pros: Great screen, good internals, good build quality.
Cons: Maybe a little too “gamer” for some of you
You can pick up the Razer Blade Stealth 13.3″ over on Amazon right now for around $1,499.
Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon
Pros: Quality IPS Anti-Glare screen. Meets all of our spec recommendations.
Cons: Maybe a little too “business” looking for some of you.
You can pick up the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon over on Amazon right now for around $1,930.
Dell XPS 13 9360
Pros: Minimal screen bezel, good keyboard, and excellent hardware.
Cons: Poor webcam placement (if you do video chats with clients)
You can pick up the Dell XPS 13 9360 over on Amazon right now for around $1,500.
Nope, No Apple Products
You may have noticed a distinct lack of Apple products on this list. This is because Apple has not yet upgraded their systems to include the newer Intel processors just yet and as such, given their pricing in relation to performance, we can’t recommend them as a purchase for photographers or videographers right now. (See the video below for an illustration of just how underpowered they are right now.)
Hopefully, they update their offerings later this year. Until then, we recommend either holding onto what you’ve got or seriously considering a PC (Win10 isn’t so bad).
Finally, even if you end up deciding not to go with one of the options mentioned on this listing, pay very close attention to the specs of whatever laptop you decide to get. There are 7th generation i7 CPUs and 8th Generation CPUs, but a lot of websites only list the i7 name and you don’t want to end up purchasing a 2017 part thinking you are getting a 2018 part.
Good luck on the laptop hunting!