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JohnReid Mar 2, 2006 3:00 AM

Hi everyone

I'm going to be moving around quite alot over the next 2 years and I'm going to need a notebook to do the majority of my processing work.

For all my editing I use Photoshop CS 2 and Raw Shooter Premium. I shoot using a Canon 20D and do the majority of my work using 16bit Tiff files.

At the moment I'm using a desktop with a Pentium 4 3.2 processor, 512 ram and a 19in monitor and it can be painfully slow.

What should my minumum requirements be as far as a notebook be and are there any particular brands I should favour (not wanting to go with a Mac as there is not much support for them in SA)

Thanks in advance.

eric s Mar 2, 2006 11:32 AM

I've heard bad things recently about Dell's Technical support.
But in generally, the most commonly recommended laptop when I asked this question on another forum was the Dell 700m. The screen is a bit small, but its a good weight and had a lot of power. You can get desktop performance out of the CPU, but other subsystems are not as good.

Definitely get at least 1G of ram, and go for the highest RPM drive you can get. It makes a huge difference. Oh, and a spare battery. :)


JohnReid Mar 3, 2006 1:03 AM

Thanks Eric

I'm looking at a Packard Bell Pentium M 2.0 processor with 1 gig ram(may double it). Any thoughts on the Packard Bell?


Magnum Mar 4, 2006 4:10 AM

I have been a heavy notebook user for almost a decade. I have had different brands, big and small screens, and routinely do basic photo editing. Here are my comments on the info you provided so far:

Notebooks are slower than desktop PCs. If P4 3.2 gig is painfully slow -- a budget notebook will put you in agony. To check on the effect of your minimalist RAM setup, open XP's Task Manager to monitor RAM. Then open PS and some image files and perform routine processes until you exceed the 512 RAM. Your pain threshold begins, when you hear the system use the hard drive for memory because there is not enough RAM. You need what ever amount of RAM will allow you to open and process needed files without using the hard drive for memory.

If you need to work efficiently, select a fast CPU. If the notebook is your desktop replacement, you will have lots of other processes running, e.g. security; those new dual core processors are very attractive. For real-world comparison of CPUs on CS see: You should be able to find notebook and desktop comparisons also. I don't think a high-end graphics card, like those for gaming will help. That's for fast screen refresh of motion. You need adequate RAM and CPU power to process images in PS.

Greater than XGA screen resolution will be very helpful for image editing. I think SXGA+ (or WSXGA+) is just right. It provides over 100 dpi on most screens, but doesn't have the tiny font of UXGA that many people are uncomfortable with. If you are told that XP provides enough font size adjustable for UXGA, ask to see it first. Little 12 inch screens are fine if you connect up to desktop screens for serious work. Otherwise, larger notebook screens are important.

PC magazine does annual surveys of product and service satisfaction. Dell rates at the top every year. True, the first contact when you call may have an Indian accent, but it still works, and they have great policies and subcontract with local techs to prevent downtime. Whatever brands provide good service in your location should be favored.

Good Luck Shopping,


asr dude Mar 4, 2006 6:34 AM

this is where i did my research when i bought my lappy..

Aumma45 Mar 11, 2006 1:08 AM

In my humble view three things matter most in any computer: memory take big memory at least 1 gig; the processor, indeed a fastest processor and space a large storage space. Other things are important but that depends on what you are going to do. Cheers John hope this helps. Jaki.

Carskick Mar 12, 2006 10:34 AM

Laptops are equally fast when all is the same, but usually it's not. Magnum is correct to the extent that a buget laptop will put you in agony. A P4 3.2Ghz is not slow, and more RAM will really help your system. Also, running clean up programs such as spybot: search & Destroy, and AdAware, will clean off a lot of junk on your PC. Also, if you go to start, run, and type MSCONFIG, then click the start up tab, you can select which programs you can choose which programs you do or don't want starting when your computer does. Most you'll want to turn off.

Now, for the laptop. A Pentium M 2.0ghz will be similar in speed to your 3.2Ghz P4. A 2Ghz Turion will give you similar results as well. The main weaknesses in laptops that make them significantly slower are slower hard drives and shared memory video cards. If you don't need a powerful video card, at least make sure you get one that says "Dedicated Memory" for the video card, otherwise it will eat you system memory's space and bandwidth. I also agree you need the fastest RPM hard drive you can get. 5400RPM should be a minimum for something like photo editing, otherwise it will take almost a whole minute just to open CS2. Get as much RAM as possible. If you buy one with 1GB in it already, make sure a slot is available for future upgrades.

For Latops, I prefer Acer, Hpaq, Toshiba, IBM, Dell, and Sony pretty much in that order. Don't have much experience with packard bell. I am partial to AMD processors, which is why Hpaq is higher on the list. Their support sucks, but service is fantastic if you have a problem within the warranty period, much better than any other in my experiences.

JohnReid Mar 13, 2006 12:57 AM

Thanks for the help everyone - just ordered an Acer Travelmate 4604. Seems quite powerful on paper, can't wait to test it out. Cheers.

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