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  • Laptop suggestions

    I am currently looking to do freelance design work but I am opporating on a budget (aren't we all?). I am in desperate need of a laptop since the last one I had was destroyed. I can probably spend up to $1,000 but I'd find it difficult to go much higher. The programs I use most often are Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. I'm working more and more on Dreamweaver as I learn about web design as well. So, I'm open to suggestions on the best laptop I could invest in for this (hopefully under $1,000). And if I go above that budget, will I see a dramatic difference in what I can achieve?

  • #2
    Hello Charlie, welcome to GDF

    We ask all new members to read
    very important links here and here. These explain the rules, how the forum runs and a few inside jokes. No, you haven't done anything wrong, we ask every new member to read them. Your first few posts will be moderated, so don't panic if they don't show up immediately. Enjoy your stay.


    Are you running Adobe CC or do you have a lesser version of the Creative Suite? If you're not on CC you probably want to stick to the same OS as your last notebook
    Design is not decoration.


    • #3
      I do not have Adobe CC yet but that definitely looks like something I want to invest in. Honestly, while I was in college I had access to Adobe CS6 and since then I have run a few trials of CS6 on my own laptop to do work. In college we used Macs and my laptop was Windows so I have experience in both operating systems.


      • #4
        If you don't already have a copy of Creative Suite suited to one platform or another then what platform you go to doesn't really matter. I didn't want to suggest a PC notebook if your copies of CS were for mac or vice versa.
        Design is not decoration.


        • #5
          Hey Charlie!

          I recently went through exhaustive reasearch when searching for a gaming laptop under $1000 for my son. Plus, I do a lot of coding, website speed audits, and graphic design for web incliding web video.

          My son plays all the top "hardware taxing" games with 3D render engines, HD high-motion graphics, plus the added strain of rendering online multiplayers from all over the world... on screen and in real time. Yeah, graphics powerhouse for sure.

          Here is what I bought from for $549. It rocks and has better graphical specs than than the latest base model iMac:

          1) ACER V3-572G-54S6 : $549 at ( best price online right now)
          • Intel Core i5 4210U (1.70GHz /2.7GHz with "turbo boost")
          • 8GB DDR3L Memory
          • 1TB HDD
          • NVIDIA GeForce GT 840M w/ 2GB DDR3 memory
          • 15.6" 1366 x 768 "CineCrystal" screen (just under full HD)
          • Windows 8.1
          • No touchscreen, no cd/dvd drive
          My only complaints: The screen is not HD and has touchy viewing angles. No backlit keyboard. That's it!

          It has been turned loose to a pre-teen every since Christmas. No problems, no lagging, no graphical issues. It runs all the 3D engines from Valve/Steam, Unreal, Frostbite, etc. Plays it everyday...for at least 2-3 hours.

          I'm about to buy another one today...just for me. But Im upgrading the RAM to 16GB, and may get the full HD version.

          *This page from helped A LOT (no affiliation)! Be sure to read all the specs and disregard their posted prices - shop around. Heres the link:

          *Others I considered:

          2) Acer V17 VN7-791G-7484 "Nitro Black" edition: $999 at
          • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M 2 GB GDDR5
          • Intel Core i7 4710HQ (2.50GHz)
          • 16GB Memory
          • 1TB HDD
          • 17.3" 1920 x 1080
          • Windows 8.1
          • 8X DVD-Super Multi Double-Layer Drive (M-DISC enabled)
          3) Lenovo Y50-70 59421855-Black : $999 ($1500 reg price) at Lenovo's webstore:

          • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M - 4 GB GDDR5
          • Intel Core i7 4710HQ (2.50GHz)
          • 16GB Memory
          • 1TB HDD + 8GB SSD hybrid
          • 15.6" 1920 x 1080 (full HD)
          • Windows 8.1
          • BEWARE: Lenovo has a non-HD screen option that is horrible.
          Lenovo also has an option to upgrade your screen to 4k Ultra HD for a few hundred bucks. Since you are getting a discount, it May be worth it to get something on par with a retina screen. *They have other Y-50 models on sale. Check out the different ones.*

          Tips and Helpful info:

          #1 - Pick a good processor.

          All "i7, i5, i3" are Not created equal. The 4th gen Intel "Haswell" chips seem to beat any AMD chip. Apple started putting Haswell Intel chips in all their computers last year.

          a) Look for Intel i5 or i7 that start with a "4" . For example, the Intel i5 4210U (4th generation Haswell chip - the "4" denotes a Haswell chip). Haswell chips are extremely faster than their predecessors. Thats why my mid-grade graphics card performs so well.

          In general (but not always):
          i7= Higher-end
          i5 = Midrange
          i3 = Budget

          b) Pay attention to the last 1-2 letters of the chip model. The i5 4210U - "U" is the "Ultrabook" model...not bad.
          "HQ" - is a top model "High? Quad-core" (Q means "quad", but not sure about H )
          "MQ" - is pretty awesome too "Mainstream/Mobile Quad"
          "M" - is a little better than "U"; "Mainstream/mobile" (some call it "Mobile")

          You may run into letters like "K" (for over-clocking), "T" and "S". These are lower level models you are more likely to see in budget PCs. "Y" is a lower level model found in tablets.

          The "best" Intel Haswell chip is something like "Intel Iris XXXX". Not in our budget!

          #2 - GRAPHICS CARDS:

          This can be a mess, but I'll try to summarize. Try to stay away from "integrated" graphics. You want to aim for "dedicated". However, a lot of the Macs out there run on an integrated chip such as the "Intel HD4400" and do just fine.

          But those are Macs, and they seem to have some kind of "Ju-Ju" that makes them work better than the sum of their parts.

          *As a general rule, a better/faster CPU (especially Haswell chips ) can make up the difference of having a slower graphics card or integrated graphics chip.

          Suggestions based on $1000 budget:

          *Dedicated Graphics Cards

          a) NVIDIA GeForce 860M (best in our budget, but still awesome)
          b) NVIDIA GeForce 840M (very good, but far from best)
          c) NVIDIA GeForce 750M, 760M (ok)
          d) AMD Radeon R9 M275 (dont go lower)

          (A newer 900 series NVIDIA model became more prevalent this month, but those are out of our price range.)

          *Integrated Graphics

          a) Intel HD4600 ( built-in to some Haswell chips)
          b) AMD Radeon HD 8650M

          c) Intel HD4400

          (Again, these suggestions are based on a $1000 budget. Plus, I made sure everything I reseached was equivalent or better than what Apple uses in their newest machines)

          Why not Apple? Why not buy a Mac? My primary reasons: lack of upgrading ability and small hard drives. They are super fast Solid State hard drives, but I have thumb flash drives as big as their ssd/hdd. Not impressed.

          And yes, some of the higher end Macs give you easy acess to RAM, HDD, etc but those are out of the $1000 range. Another dead end.

          Why not a MacBook Air? Those are around $1000, right? Well, they only have 11"-13" screens. Its like an iPad with a keyboard. As a designer, you need at least 15".

          Macbook Pros have 15"-17" screens, but they get out of the $1000 range... real quick-like!

          *A quick note about Adobe CC:

          Using Adobe CC is the only "new" option you have (its like $45 a month for almost every Adobe product). If you are starting fresh and not latched on to your old CS6, this is the way to go.

          CC lets you install the programs to your computer, store your work in their cloud, easily display and share with online graphics communities like Behance and Dribbble, free updates, etc. It's different than what we we've been used to. Times are a-changin'!

          You can still buy CS6 on Amazon or ebay if you want, but no more updates (or support?).

          Dont forget to check out that link (no affiliation). I found it to be be very helpful!

          Also, you can check the ratings, speeds, comparisons of any CPU and graphics card at Another excellent resource.

          Good luck and I hope this helps!

          - Blaine Wilkerson (GammaRay)
          Twitter: @blainewilkerson


          • kemingMatters
            kemingMatters commented
            Editing a comment
            I'm fairly certain you can still buy CS6 from Adobe

          • StudioMonkey
            StudioMonkey commented
            Editing a comment
            Wow great summary GammaRay :-)

        • #6
          Quick Addendums to my post:

          1) The best/fastest Intel chip is called an "Intel Xeon". It has various models but ranks at the top of the charts. Very expensive. The "Intel Iris Pro HDXXXX" refers to one of their integrated graphics chips-a darn good integrated chip, by the way.

          2) Intel Haswell chips that end in "K" (for over clocking) are very fast. "T" & "S" are all over the place as far as ranking, but mostly found in desktop PCs and some high-end laptops. (I think I called them "budget PCs" by mistake).

          3) I left off one more common letter designation for Haswell Chips: "H". A very decent model. It stands for "high-end/high quality" (clarified that too).

          Here's a link that has all modern high-end CPUs in an easy to read speed comparison chart. See where yours stands. This is only a speed test -and it includes the fastest chips in the world...ones that most people will never see. So, if yours is close to the bottom, it doesnt mean it bites!


          • #7
            Wow, GammaRay, thank you for the wealth of info you provided. I have a lot to consider but I have good idea as to what direction to go.


            • #8
              You are very welcome!
              Let me know what you end up getting (if you remember).


              • #9
                After a ton of indecision I decided on the Acer Aspire V15 Nitro Black VN7-591G74-LK from for $899. Your suggestions led me in the right direction, GammaRay. The one I chose is nearly identical to the second one you suggested minus 8gb of RAM but I think it still has enough to do what I want. If not, it has an open slot so I can add more. I just ordered it so I'll let you know if it holds up once I get it.


                • #10
                  I suggest taking a look at XPS 13. I got one and it works great for freelancing job


                  • #11
                    Hi Puniu1acc and welcome to GDF.

                    We ask all new members to read very important links here and here. These explain the rules, how the forum runs and a few inside jokes. No, you haven't done anything wrong, we ask every new member to read them. Your first few posts will be moderated, so don't panic if they don't show up immediately. Enjoy your stay.
                    Shop smart. Shop S-Mart.


                    • #12
                      If you plan to have several programs open at once and doing high end production work, you are gonna sorely wish for that additional 4gigs of ram...
                      The other thing you will need to do is keep a good chunk of your hard drive available for scratch. Photoshp and Illustrator are both Ram and Scratch hogs. If you don't want your redraws to hang, keep a big chunk of scratch available.


                      • #13
                        Originally posted by KitchWitch View Post
                        Hi Puniu1acc and welcome to GDF.

                        We ask all new members to read very important links here and here. These explain the rules, how the forum runs and a few inside jokes. No, you haven't done anything wrong, we ask every new member to read them. Your first few posts will be moderated, so don't panic if they don't show up immediately. Enjoy your stay.

                        Thanks, I will take a good read about the links.






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