Laptop Recommendations for PL7 - Sub $2500 budget

First time poster here. I am brand new to photography as well as photo editing, so I have kind of jumped into the deep end of the pool and having a good time learning. I am shooting a Canon 5D MkIV, primarily doing macro (herps), wildlife and landscapes. Purchased PL7 since I am not fond of the subscription model and a co-worker (who is a photographer recommended it. Current laptop is ~ 4 year old Acer Aspire i5 with a separate video card (low level) that I bumped up to 32G RAM and a 1 TB SSD m2 drive. It is still pretty slow, especially exporting, so I am planning on a new 15.6-16" laptop with either OLED or miniLED. Budget is ~$2.5K. I don’t play any computer games, so it would be for general use and photo (possibly video down the road) editing. Windows only, not a Mac/Apple person.

Minimum specs are OLED/miniLED w/ at least 3200x1200 resolution, 15-16" screen, i9, 32G RAM, 1 TB nvMe, and RTX40XX video card.

Current ones I am looking at are Dell XPS15 OLED, Asus ProArt16, Lenova SlimPro9i and Gigabyte Aero 16 OLED.

I realize a desktop might be a better choice, but that is non-starter. I assume that these specs should easily handle PL7, but looking for some real-life feedback. The other thing I am struggling with is OLED vs miniLED. I am leaning towards the OLED, but wonder about the refresh rates w/ OLED or the bloom w/ miniLED. Looking for any feedback on these choices or alternative laptops I should be looking at. I am looking for the best laptop I can get for my needs in the $2-$2.5K range.

The key to decent PL performance is the graphics card. My desktop PC is old, it only has a third gen. Core I5 CPU and only 8GB RAM yet because it has a dedicated graphics card it exports RAW files from my Canon 90D in about 30 seconds. The dedicated graphics card is nothing special either, it is technically below DxO’s minimum requirement, it is an old Nvidia GTX 1050ti.

I realise upgrading the graphics card in a laptop might not be straightforward but before you spend ~$2-$2.5K on a brand new machine you might want to consider upgrading the card in your Acer.

If you are set on buying a new machine then you should be looking for something with

  1. a dedicated graphics card but the GPU on that card doesn’t have to be state of the art, a modern mid range one will be fine.
  2. a monitor that covers as wide a colour gamut as possible, so as close to 100% sRGB as a minimum.

That was how I recently ended up buying a Lenovo LOQIRH8. It has an Nvidia RTX 4050 GPU and a 100% sRGB compliant, 2K res, monitor and all for about £GBP 1.1K. HOWEVER! I cannot recommend this model because despite Lenovo claiming the battery life is 5 hours, the battery life is a joke (and still is a joke after a free of charge battery replacement under warranty). Mind you, if you are happy to use a laptop as a desktop, i.e. plugged into the mains, then this machine is great.

Hope this helps.

I think we already had a few posts about laptop recommendations. Searching for those could fast forward the topic…maybe.

I did search, and found a previous post on laptops for PL6, but it wasn’t super helpful to my specific questions.

Thanks! I considered upgrading the video card, but probably would need more power and it would just snowball from there :slight_smile: I was okay risking $150 to see if more RAM and a bigger/faster drive would help, but any more than that and it’s new laptop time. The current one is sort of a “shared” resource with my wife as it is; so it’s a good excuse to buy another one :slight_smile:

I am definitely looking at the calibration as well.

…if you know your specific criteria, you seem to be pretty sure about what you want. Forum input is (also) about looking out of the box, reading with an open mind could widen the palette of suitable devices, but again, if you’re sure about what you want, you might as well buy one of the devices you have in mind.

As for customising images, almost anything should do. Exporting images that are treated with DeepPrime and DeepPrime XD ask for loads of GPU power though.

As for starters, I’d check if you need DPXD and for what percentage of your images. You could save a few bucks if you can size the device for 80% of all you do instead of sizing for 120%, except of course if you get power for 120% within your budget.

Sorry - I definitely didn’t mean to come off as close minded. I did a lot of reading on various laptops for editing and came up with a list of criteria that seemed like it would a good compromise of getting sufficient speed, power (especially in the GPU) and resolution without getting into the more extreme $3K+ gaming laptops. I am definitely more of a “buy once. cry once” person and I don’t have a problem spending money within reason. I would rather have something that’s in the 100% to 120% category than save a few bucks and get something that was 80%. It’s kind of like my camera. A beginner photographer probably doesn’t need all the bells and whistles of the 5D MkIV, but I found one for a great price ($1500 for a lightly used one w/ a 24-105 Canon IS II lens). Now I have something that I know will do everything I could possibly want unless I went mirrorless.

I played with the DeepPrime/DeepPrime XD and that is part of the reason for going for something better - It was taking 5-8 minutes to export one photo. To your point, I don’t know how many photos I will use it with, but I would hate to spend $1-1.5K on something with lesser specs and then be frustrated and wish I went big to start with :slight_smile:

I was hoping that someone had one of the models I was looking at and could provide feedback or recommend a different one w/ similar specs that they were happy with. There are so many different ones out there I was trying to narrow the field a bit :slight_smile:

I did a lot of that too!

As I said, the key to good PL performance is the GPU but you don’t need one at the cutting edge. A modern mid-range one will reduce export times from ~5mins to ~20 secs. A high end GPU will shave a few more seconds off the export time but only you can judge if the extra time saving is worth the extra cost.

To get accurate colours you need a high end panel but don’t look for badges like OLED /miniLED. What you need to know is the colour gamut coverage of the panel and getting that information is not always straightforward. If you want to, and you have mentioned it, profile the panel then I suggest you want a panel with a minimum 100% sRGB coverage. If your budget allows it, then a panel that covers the wider Adobe RGB or DCI P3 gamuts would be even better.

Both of these criteria will draw a lot of power so the third essential criterion is a for big battery. Without that, you’ll be forever recharging.

There are many different laptop brands, models etc. and some models exist for a year or two before being taken off the shelves. Several models have been mentioned in other posts and the posters seemed to be happy with what they got.

Getting lots of Power plus a huge battery is key for mobile use, but this combo will probably make the device fairly heavy. Anyways, stick with one of the bigger manufacturers, buy once and cry once (if necessary) and enjoy what you got.

Testing on a 2020 M1 MacBook Air, I get average export times of about 7.5 seconds per image in a first test run (testing again would yield shorter times due to caching benefits) with 60 images (1.3 GB on the drive), the “No Correction” preset, with DeepPrimeXD at its default settings and 16 bit TIFF as a target format, again with default settings.

Note that the times are for a mix of CR2 files from EOS 5D and 5DIII cameras, the bigger files of your 5DIV will probably take longer :wink:

Tested with 10 images from a 5IV. Export was 12 seconds per image as averaged with 10 images treated as above.

shame that Parallels is a subscription software… actually running Windows on M*-notebook ( and mixing Mac and Win apps as needed ) might be a good idea

Thanks for all the advice! Looking forward to continuing to learn from this community!

PL6 ran very nicely on my Apple M1 MacBook Air ($999, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD) and Mac mini ($1099, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD). It’s a bit faster on my new Apple 14" M1 Pro MacBook Pro ($1200 refurbished, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD) and M1 Max Mac Studio ($1200 used, 32GB RAM, 512GB SSD). On the latter, it also runs Lightroom Classic nicely while PL6 is cranking out large batch exports in the background. It takes about 5 seconds export time per 33MP image with DeepPRIME (not XD) and lots of other adjustments applied.

PC users will tell you the GPU is key, but on Apple Silicon it’s actually the Neural Engine that does most of the heavy lifting in processing DeepPRIME. As a result, in the Mac world, the best way to get faster noise reduction is to use a newer processor, not necessarily one with more GPU cores. The M2’s Neural Engine is 40% faster than the M1’s (base, Pro or Max), and the M3’s is faster again.

Nonetheless, I opted for an M1 Max Mac Studio rather than an M2 Pro Mac mini because the extra GPU cores help with Lightroom.

FWIW, I’m a professional event photographer, and I crank out several hundred high-ISO images at a time on tight deadlines.

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I’m hoping for advice on the same topic. I do not own or haven’t tried PL7 yet but I’d like to. My current laptop would definitely not work so I’m considering a new laptop upgrade. I am a hobbyist photographer. I would not be processing anything greater than 25mp. Due to my budget, I’m considering the following:
Acer Nitro
processor: i5-12450H
RTX3050 (only has 4gb VRAM)
24gb ram and I can upgrade to 32gb.
I wouldn’t be doing a lot of volume but am very interested in the DeepPrime and DeepPrime XD options.
Any thoughts on the specs above as it relates to PL7?

@giles45shop – Lenovo has a line of laptops they refer to as “Slim Pro” machines which are generally advertised as for “creators” and other hipster terms.

I bought the Lenovo Slim Pro 7 (14") a few months back specifically to use with PhotoLab. That machine is in the $900 - $1100 price range, depending on disk and RAM size. It contains an AMD processor plus an AMD “iGPU” as well as an NVIDIA “dGPU” (the iGPU drives your display, the dGPU is used for computations → processing images). The dGPU is an NVIDIA® GeForce RTX™ 3050 Laptop GPU with 6GB GDDR6 of dGPU RAM. So far I’ve been very happy with the substantially increased export speed (I work with 16-24MB RAW images). The biggest problem I had with this machine was the AMD enhanced audio device. It would not allow the machine to go to sleep and would keep the fans running – not a good thing. I removed the driver for that piece of hardware and no more overheating and dead batteries. Losing that enhanced audio was not a big thing for me, it still supports regular audio, but with a different audio device, in plain old stereo, not enhanced audio. The display is also billed as 100% RGB palette. The display is a 2.5k resolution.

There is a $2200 model that goes by the name Lenovo Slim Pro 9i (16″ Intel). It is a larger 16" display with a 3k resolution, also 100% RGB as well as 100% AdobeRGB and includes an "NVIDIA® GeForce RTX™ 4060 Laptop GPU with 8GB GDDR6 of GPU RAM. It has a very substantial CPU and lots of regular CPU RAM. I cannot tell if the CPU includes an iGPU or if the NVIDIA card is used for both display and computation. I assume it has both, allowing you to dedicate the NVIDIA GPU to computations.

The 16" has an SDCard slot, which is very handy. The 14" does not.

I got the 14" because I want to be able to occasionally travel with it and use it for non-photo work in front of the TV, etc. I don’t game, so I cannot say anything about that capability. For photo editing I always use an external monitor and configure the laptop to stay awake when plugged into the wall and the top is closed. In that case it’s more like a desktop.

Thanks for theedback on the slimpro series! The i9 is definitely one that I am considering.

Any apple Silicon macbook. Storage and ram are expensive though. And 16gb of ram is the absolute minimum.

Or in Windows world, anything with a dedicated Nvidia GPU. Be it 3000 series or 4000 series. I’ve found 16gb of ram to be fine with PL7, but maybe more ram cam be useful if working in photoshop with layers or something.

Remember that there is very little difference between a 4050 , 4060 and 4070. It depends on how much power they can draw.
But I’m using a 3050ti with absolutely the lowest wattage available at 35watt, and I’m quite happy with the performance. A 4050 with 35watt or more is going to be fine (they often have around 50 watts what I see these days ).

The macbooks can get expensive quickly , but they are always quite a complete package. Good trackpad , good screen, good speakers , good build, good performance , AWESOME battery life and good performance when on battery.

Windows machines can get close or even match it, but then they often cost as much.
Which means you can go cheaper, but you are giving up on something somewhere. That can still make it the better buy for you.

Intel CPU laptops tend to give worse battery life and worse performance when on battery. AMD CPUs are not far behind in performance (or even perform better ) but also tend to keeptoe of that performance when on battery and the laptops seem to have better stamina.

I’m a windows guy myself, but I hope that I’ve been objective in this post.

Thanks for the info! I realize that Mac’s are very popular, but I am just not willing to go down that road. My top choice right now is the Asus StudioPro 16 as it seems to check all the boxes, w/ the exception of battery life, but I realize that is the penalty I would have to pay for Windows vs Mac. In reality, the machine will spend a LOT of time plugged into the wall, so it is not a major show stopper. The XPS15 OLED would be a littler better in battery life, but trade-off is a little lower performance and higher cost than the Asus w/ the same 4060 (~ $200 more).

The info on graphics cards is helpful as I am torn between the Asus with the 4070 and the one w/ the 4060. With 32G of DDR5, the 4060 is $2200 and the 4070 is $2500. The 4070 does come with the stylus pen and its DDR5 is a single stick of 32 vs 2x16 for the 4060, so it is easier to expand memory if I had to.

I am tempted to go all-in on the 4070, but it is $300 over the 4060 machine and probably not really worth the added price for my usage. Plus i wonder if the higher performance of the 4070 would result in incrementally lower battery life as well.

Just wanted to follow up on this post. After a lot of looking, I settled on the Asus ProArt Studiobook 16. It has an i9 13980HX chip and the RTX 4070 GPU with 32G of DDR5 memory and a 1 TB hard drive. OLED 3.2K display with 120 hz refresh and 100% DCI-3P w/ Delta E < 2. Originally, I was going to go with the version that had the RTX 4060 and 32G as that was $2200 and the RTX 4070 was $2500. However, the 4070 version went on sale for $2300 and it came with a backpack carrying case and a stylus pen. The RAM on this one is a single 32 vs a pair of 16’s that the 4060 version has, so doubling RAM to 64 is easy.

Overall, first impressions are very favorable. Display is awesome, keyboard and haptic touch pad are very nice. I got PL7 loaded and did a couple quick comparisons to my Acer i5 with 32G ram and an Nvidia GeForce 940MX video card.

I too the same 35+ meg raw image on both systems, did a slight crop, a couple exposure adjustments and then processed them both with Deep Prime XD and then exported them at 100% size as JPEG’s. Here’s the numbers:

i5: ~22 seconds for Deep Prime XD from when you push the button to completion.
i9: <2 seconds for the same

i5: 14 minutes to export the file
i9: 5 seconds for the same.

I tried the same thing with a couple other photos and the export times on the Asus ranged from 4-6 seconds. I did not have enough time in the day to try that more than once with the i5 :), but previous exports were ~ 10-12 minutes.

So as you can see, the new computer is a HUGE improvement. I know it is expensive, but I wanted a new laptop anyway and now I have one that will do everything I will ever need and do it very quickly, lol.

These time differences will be due to the upgrade of ‘video card (low level)’ to ‘RTX 4070’, not the upgrade from an i5 to an i9 CPU.

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It’s probably true that most of the speed improvements are from the GPU, but I’d expect that other components of the new laptop likely also contributed (e.g., CPU, storage speed). If important to know, you could test w/ timing some non-GPU-dependent features like exporting High Quality or PRIME. I’m not sure it’s worth the effort, though, as you’ll notice the extra speed in other applications.