Choosing a laptop with programming and photography in mind (reloaded)

(Mica) #42

@patdavid I’m also looking at the XPS line, and having handled your XPS, it is very nice. What worries me about the XPS 15 is: battery life, what’s it like? And the nvidia card, how are the drivers? Are you using the “dell” Ubuntu, or the canonical Ubuntu (see what I did there? ;P)? 4k is nice, but again, battery!

In looking, it does not look like the 1080P version of the dell screen covers 100% Adobe RBG (the 4k version does).

(Alessandro Amato Del Monte (Aadm)) #43

that’s what I’ve found as well, about the lower res HD (1920x1080) panel being not even full-sRGB. Then I’ll start wondering if I really need that thing, i.e. the full AdobeRGB coverage. Maybe a good quality external monitor to plug it in once in a while to check for color consistency and/or critical work, is enough? And in the meantime I have a laptop which does not eat batteries for breakfast?

(Mica) #44

If you’re a little serious about editing photos, I think close to sRGB coverage is a must. Adobe RBG is a really, really nice to have. My few year old dell monitors that I use on my editing desktop are 100% sRBG, and I output to Adobe RGB and print without being able to really notice it.

(Paul) #45

I’ve been a professional freelance photographer for 20 years. In that time I’ve illustrated more than 1000 magazine articles and my work has been used in numerous regional ad campaigns, from print to billboard. I’ve also taught digital photography at the college level.

I started in digital imaging in 1994. And fully digital in late 2002. I bought my first LCD monitor in 2003. And began calibrating it about 6 months after that.

I say these things not to brag, but to illustrate my experience.

In my experience, nearly full sRGB (85-90%+) is all that is required as long as the delta E is good, the neutrality is good, it can reach 120cd/m and once calibrated can show a full tonal range ( I consider this to be dark blacks with tonal separation down to 1.5-2% L. And discernible highlights up 99% L)

Every monitor I have had for the last 8 years has been either fully capable of this, or just shy of meeting my dark tones requirements.

Any quality IPS based laptop monitor produced today, once calibrated and profiled, should be just fine for photo editing. Especially if the manufacturer goes out of their way to list it’s color gamut.

I’ve not once owned an aRGB capable monitor, and have never had an art director complain. And my patrons who buy my prints never complain of a lack of color gamut in my images.

edit: as an aside, your editing environment is just as important as the quality of your (calibrated/profiled) monitor when it comes to photo editing.

(Alessandro Amato Del Monte (Aadm)) #46

Hi Paul and thanks for the interesting and very appropriate comment! That’s exactly what I wanted to hear more or less. I’ll investigate a bit more to see if this Dell XPS ‘base’ display (not the 4K) is at least a good sRGB.

(Paul) #47

Hey @aadm, To my knowledge, the 1080p XPS displays claim either 99 or 100% sRGB. It’s been one the lines hallmarks for a few years.

I personally went the Asus route because for me, the 13" screen was too small, and the 15.6 was too big. That’s all you can get with the XPS line. The Asus offered all the same specs with a 14". But my understanding is that although the Asus is nice, the XPS line is built to very high standards. If there had been an XPS with a 14, I may gone that route instead. (Though, the Asus was also less than half the cost of the 13" xps, feature for feature)

Good luck!

(Paul) #48

I missed the comments about heat dispersion. I should add that after buying my Zenbook a few weeks ago, I put it through it’s paces, I had it build Standard previews in Lightroom. I let it run nonstop for about 3.5 hours and it churned out more than 8000 1450px medium quality preview images. The machine used all 4 cores/8threads the entire time. And the CPU usage stayed around 30-40% at between 3-4ghz the entire time (on all 4 cores). The fans spun full speed the whole time, and the case stayed moderately warm but not “hot” (it was on a hard, flat surface for good venting).


As temps rise with the season, it gets a lot hotter. The advantage of a new machine is that it is more efficient with lower thermals. I just turned down the max CPU and graphics usage of my old laptop because it is already burning my hands.


(Cranberry Carborundum) #50

The P51 looks pretty good to me, but does the Quadro card play well with FOSS?

I’m interested in such a laptop too, wish you all the luck in your search @Ofnuts

(Pace) #51

Hey everyone.

Well I’m so glad I found this thread, right now I’m in the market to get a new photo editing laptop. Actually I’ve pretty much just had it with the likes of Apple, Microsoft and Adobe, and wanted to go back to the open source community. (Which is how I found this forum).

I’m looking for a reasonably powered laptop, with good Linux support, great screen, and I would prefer 32Mb RAM, but I guess I would settle at 16 :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

So here are the options I’ve found so far, and in no particular order:-

ThinkPad X1 Carbon (6th Gen)
Intel Core i7-8650U Processor (8MB Cache, up to 4.2GHz)

Display 14.0" HDR WQHD (2560x1440) with Dolby Vision™, glossy, LED backlight, IPS, 500 nits,16:9 aspect ratio, 1500:1 contrast ratio, 100% gamut, 170° viewing angle

Thinkpad’s have always supported Linux well, and these seem to follow that trend.
Very well built, tough machine

Only 16Gb Ram not upgradable
Crappy Speakers (who doesn’t like listening to tunes when they edit

ThinkPad X1 Yoga (3rd Gen)
Intel Core i7-8650U Processor (8MB Cache, up to 4.2GHz)


Choice of:-
14.0" WQHD (2560x1440), LED backlight, 300 nits, 16:9 aspect ratio, 700:1 contrast ratio, 72% gamut, 170° viewing angle, IPS, Touch

14.0" HDR WQHD (2560x1440) with Dolby Vision™, LED backlight, 500 nits, 16:9 aspect ratio, 1500:1 contrast ratio, 100% gamut, 170° viewing angle, IPS, Touch

Very well built
Should support Linux well
Can fold into a tablet configuration,
Comes with Wacom pen included

Only 16Gb Ram not upgradable
Crappy Speakers
Not all of the functions currently work under Linux

Dell New XPS 15
8th Generation Intel® Core™ i9-8950HK Processor (12M Cache, up to 4.8 GHz, 6 cores)

15.6" 4K Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) InfinityEdge Anti-Reflective Touch IPS100% AdobeRGB 400-Nits display

32Gb Ram
Great display

May not support Linux

Dell Precision 5520
Intel Xeon E3-1505M v6 (Quad Core Xeon 3.0GHz, 4.00GHz Turbo, 8MB 45W, w/Intel HD Graphics 630)

15.6" UltraSharp™ UHD IGZO (3840x2160) Touch Wide View LED-backlit with Premium Panel Guarantee (100

Comes preinstalled with Ubuntu 16.04 (Long term support)
32 GB Ram

Dell doesn’t provide OEM Linux Drivers
Problems when installing other versions of Linux, or updating to latest version of Ubuntu

So that’s what I have right now, I hope it may be of some use to you. Its a bit of a dilemma for me as I really want to get away from Microsoft, Apple and Adobe. I guess better Linux support will come for these devices, as they are the latest and greatest for 2018. If anyone knows of any other systems that should be considered then I’m open ears… :smile:

(Pace) #52

Right now the New XPS 15 is looking pretty good, it may or may not be fully supported under Linux, but people seem to have had much success with the older XPS 9560, so maybe its a promising option.

(Christopher J Dubea) #53

LOL! Be careful of what you ask, for you shall receive it.

I’ve got a fairly old Dell M6400 laptop that meets or exceeds all your requirements. You can buy them off of E-Bay all day long for less than $200.

The caveat is the thing is really not portable. The power supply is the size of a small laptop in and of itself and the entire package weighs in excess of 5 pounds (2.2 kg)

To use in traveling I bought a Dell XPS 13 when they were first introduced. It weighs a fraction of what the M6400 weighs and slips nicely into a backpack for carrying. I’m typing on it from the kitchen table where the M6400 is downstairs on my desk. :slight_smile:

It meets only a couple of your requirements though. :frowning: Newer models may be better, but with the size factor, there is only so much that can be done.

I do a lot of my photographic work on it though. I’ve been careful not to load it up with extraneous capability so as to maximize its potential in working with my pictures.

Good luck with your search.

(Mica) #54

Welcome @Bp_Tec! If you’re looking at Dell, looks for the “developer” editions, as you can get them with Ubuntu preinstalled. The XPS 15, at least here in the US, has an Ubuntu version available.

(Pace) #55

From the Dell website I’ve only been able to see the XPS 13, and that screen seems a little small for me. I’ve also heard people have had issues installing other versions of Linux onto their Dells, But maybe that’s just a user issue…

(Pace) #56

Hey doobs, Thing is I will be running this laptop pretty heavy as it will be my daily driver. Also as I returned my MBP, the money is already allocated. I expect to be using the system for a good few years. The wife already approved the spend so im going to make the most of it :rofl:

(Pace) #57

As an update, I’ve done a little digging into Linux on the Dell’s and it doesn’t seem to be an issue, apart from a small boot config change regarding the graphic drivers.

So its going to be a Precision 5520 with 32Gb Ram… should be a fairly nice system once OpenSuse is installed…

(Mica) #58

I did my own digging as well, and my system76 galego pro arrives today.


@paperdigits Haven’t heard of system76 before. Specs check out though. Do you have any experience with the brand? Are the components upgradable? Or are all laptops fused together internally nowadays?

(Mica) #60

System76 is a boutique manufacturer that only make Linux computers. I played with a pre release of the Galego Pro two years ago (I think) at the SCaLE conference and thought it was nice. The people who work there are great and never pushy.

I was able to customize each part individually, unlike dell or lenovo. So I got the features I wanted without features I didn’t care about (I had considered the dell xps 13, which is a really nice machine, but getting 16gb of ram put me with a 4k screen, which I don’t care about, 1080p is fine). So I picked the screen, processor, ram, and hard drive separetly which is nice. The bottom pops off this laptop and all the parts are exposed and swappable (except the CPU I believe, but that’s the case on all laptops, no?), so that is awesome if at some point I want to upgrade to 32gb ram, I will :slight_smile:
I am traveling this weekend and needed a laptop. Both dell and lenovo don’t have rush options, but system76 does. They turned my laptop around in 3 days. Dell wanted to take 18 days, and lenovo 21 days. I don’t really understand why dell take so long, since you can’t really customize the Linux xps 13. You pick one and they build it… 18 days is a long time to assemble a laptop… Unless you’re soldering every transistor by hand :wink:

Bonus is that the system 76 machine has a bunch of ports and a full size Ethernet jack.


Sounds very nice. Hope you enjoy it. :slight_smile: I wonder how much more it would cost to buy and have it delivered to Toronto. Not that I am buying any time soon.

Being able to customize and swap parts like that used to be what I liked about Dell. The tower that I had had a “screw-less” design.