what to look for when buying a laptop to run lightroom?

kenwood

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I am still using an old version of lightroom (5.x) on a 5 yr old dell xps 13 laptop. It is getting slower and slower when processing 30mb raw files from canon cameras. The response time to view photos (even with 1:1 previews built) is a 2-3 sec wait. The photo export function is extremely slow - about 1 hour to export 200 jpegs. The current laptop is a i5 with 8gb of ram and an SSD on windows 8. When buying a new laptop, what is the min spec I should look for? Specially the CPU size since their model is quite confusing to me (7th gen, 8th gen , not sure how to quantify the performance differences..)
 
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Ken wood,

I can't comment on CPUs. Intel alone has way too many choices, and I don't know anything really about AMD. However I would recommend getting at least 16 GB of RAM and Windows 10 Pro rather than Home if you have a choice. DO NOT get a laptop running Windows 10 S, however tempting the price might be. Windows 10 S systems are restricted to only those (few useful) applications available from the Microsoft Store. I don't think that Lightroom is one of those application, and other applications you currently use may also not be available.

Look for a system with a 15" screen and 1920 x 1080 resolution or better. Don't make the mistake I made by paying extra for a touch screen. I hardly ever use the touch screen feature, and the screen is pretty scratched up after 18 months of use.

I have been a Windows user since the days of Windows/286 and DOS before that. However, judging by various posts here, Apple MacBooks are quite popular with Lightroom users, and Lightroom plug-ins work with both platforms. Something to consider, especially if you have an iPhone or iPad.

Phil Burton
 

tspear

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Depending on generation you can normally expect between 20 and 40% improvement in performance.

A lot of Lr is still serial processing. So I would focus more on straight CPU performance then number of cores.

Last point, a lot of laptops are using cheaper DDR3 memory, this slows down the CPU significantly so make sure you get. A machine which is balanced




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There are a number of items I would consider when purchasing a laptop for LR use.
  • Will you be using an external monitor? If not, find a screen size and resolution you can work with and look for good color gamut. 100% sRGB should be your minimum if possible. Glossy or matte is a personal choice.
  • Try and find an 8th generation Intel processor if possible. Most are quad core and have notable improvements over the 7th generation. An i7 in most cases would be your best choice, but the ones in ultrabook sized machines are not always faster than i5 models. You really do need to pay attention to the different models as some are designed for low power and others for performance.
  • Look for a PCIe NVMe SSD. This should provide you with decent performance if the manufacturer does not go cheap on their OEM selection. Also get the biggest drive you can afford unless you can easily replace the drive yourself.
  • Get as much RAM as possible, and consider 16GB a minimum if you are doing any heavy duty work.
  • I have no issues with Win 10 Home. If you can get the Pro version for a small upcharge, then fine, but I would not let the lack of the Pro version stop me from buying a machine.
Lenovo has some nice machines in their T-series and X-series Thinkpads. You will end up paying in the neighborhood of $2KUSD when you load one up with a good processor, RAM and screen, but it should provide you with decent performance.

Good luck,

--Ken
 

Conrad Chavez

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I was about to post a lot of the same stuff Replytoken just said. The 8th generation Intel CPUs are supposed to be noticeably faster than the 7th gen CPUs.

Remember what Adobe has said about some of the performance improvements in Lightroom Classic: They try to take advantage of RAM amounts over 12GB, and more CPU cores, to get more done behind the scenes (like preview generation and caching previews of adjacent images). That makes 16GB RAM the minimum if you don't want to hold back the system; and it means the quad-core i5 is preferable over the dual core, and the 6-core i7 is preferable over the quad-core.

With a laptop, at some point you have to make a decision between performance and battery life. If you choose performance, you may pick DDR4 RAM with a high CPU core count and a discrete GPU, and have relatively short battery life. Or you choose battery life, specifying low-power DDR3 RAM and integrated graphics and a low-power dual-core CPU, but if you go down that road Lightroom won't be as fast as you want.
 
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I was about to post a lot of the same stuff Replytoken just said. The 8th generation Intel CPUs are supposed to be noticeably faster than the 7th gen CPUs.

Remember what Adobe has said about some of the performance improvements in Lightroom Classic: They try to take advantage of RAM amounts over 12GB, and more CPU cores, to get more done behind the scenes (like preview generation and caching previews of adjacent images). That makes 16GB RAM the minimum if you don't want to hold back the system; and it means the quad-core i5 is preferable over the dual core, and the 6-core i7 is preferable over the quad-core.

With a laptop, at some point you have to make a decision between performance and battery life. If you choose performance, you may pick DDR4 RAM with a high CPU core count and a discrete GPU, and have relatively short battery life. Or you choose battery life, specifying low-power DDR3 RAM and integrated graphics and a low-power dual-core CPU, but if you go down that road Lightroom won't be as fast as you want.
 
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If you do select a laptop with high performance and therefore low battery life, consider getting a spare battery. I have a Lenovo T560 laptop and it has a removable battery. Lenovo batteries will be more expensive than third-party batteries, but will last longer. All batteries will lose charge over time and die eventually.

If you do get a spare battery, don't forget that TSA bans lithium batteries in checked baggage.

Phil Burton
 

Conrad Chavez

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The subject of batteries brings up a new option that hasn't existed before.

More laptops have non-removable batteries now. To extend their runtime, in the past you had to buy an external battery with a compatible plug. Some of the newest laptops use USB-C Power Delivery for charging. This lets you use any USB-C Power Delivery source to charge the laptop, including a growing variety of wall chargers and power banks. It is now possible to travel with one high capacity USB-C Power Delivery power bank with multiple ports for charging a USB-C laptop and the family's phones and tablets at the same time.

If you get one of those, make sure the battery capacity fits within the TSA watt-hour limit for carry-on batteries. Most are designed to fit within that limit. And make sure its output wattage is matched to the power demand of your laptop (a 60 watt laptop will charge slowly using a battery with 30 watts output).
 
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Chris Wimlett

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I've just bought a 2018 Dell XPS-13 with the new 8th generation I5 processor - I needed to replace my mid-2012 MacBook Pro, which was struggling with Lightroom and was pretty much unusable with Photoshop. My budget was limited, so I went for an XPS-13 with 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and the 'ordinary' UHD graphics. I'm stunned by the performance I'm getting, and the display is wonderful (my old MacBook is pre-retina). The various reviews I've read suggest that the 8th generation processor is significantly faster than the 7th generation - it certainly works very will with LR and CC
 
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The subject of batteries brings up a new option that hasn't existed before.

More laptops have non-removable batteries now. To extend their runtime, in the past you had to buy an external battery with a compatible plug. Some of the newest laptops use USB-C Power Delivery for charging. This lets you use any USB-C Power Delivery source to charge the laptop, including a growing variety of wall chargers and power banks. It is now possible to travel with one high capacity USB-C Power Delivery power bank with multiple ports for charging a USB-C laptop and the family's phones and tablets at the same time.

If you get one of those, make sure the battery capacity fits within the TSA watt-hour limit for carry-on batteries. Most are designed to fit within that limit. And make sure its output wattage is matched to the power demand of your laptop (a 60 watt laptop will charge slowly using a battery with 30 watts output).
Also make sure any power bank or charging device is compatible with your specific device (by testing if at all possible). I have read about numerous instances of laptops that were not compatible with device that should have been.

--Ken
 

kenwood

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A lot of good advice here thank you

I would like to stay with a Dell windows laptop unless there is a huge price/performance difference with another brand. From what I have gathered the min requirement is an i7 cpu and 16gb ram. I use an external monitor so screen size is not an issue. I had my eyes set on a dell xps 13" laptop and waiting for the price to be more favorable.
 
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A lot of good advice here thank you

I would like to stay with a Dell windows laptop unless there is a huge price/performance difference with another brand. From what I have gathered the min requirement is an i7 cpu and 16gb ram. I use an external monitor so screen size is not an issue. I had my eyes set on a dell xps 13" laptop and waiting for the price to be more favorable.
One review site that I find useful is here: Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News . They do a decent job of reviewing and evaluating machines and they provide a lot of test results. If you have a couple of machines in mind, you may want to read the reviews to get a feel for both the machines and their review style. One thing that caught my attention is the impact of cooling on performance. If a machine cannot keep the CPU within the temperature range, it may throttle the speed, and that can have a big impact on performance. In a few cases, some i5 machines with better cooling provided more consistent performance than i7 machines with insufficient cooling fans. While cooling may not be a huge factor in your decision process, it could have an impact on that i7 that you might have been eyeing. I know they have tested a large number of XPS13 models, so you should be able to learn a bit about them if that is your final choice.

Good luck,

--Ken
 
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