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

(Mica) #62

It looked like just a flat shipping charge to get it to Canada.


It adds up quickly after USD→CAD, and import and sales taxes. But we will see…


It’s assembled in a country, far, far away.

(Martin Scharnke) #65

Will the BIOS/UEFI details scroll into nothingness on a background of stars? :grin:

(Morgan Hardwood) #66

Many high-end laptops come from Clevo, an original equipment manufacturer from Taiwan, and get rebranded and sold by various distributors with minor customizations - Sager (USA), system76 (USA), Eurocom, Dell Alienware, etc.

Clevo N130BU = system76 Galega Pro = Sager NP3130 = etc.

I own a Clevo W870CU from 2010 (not rebranded, so I didn’t pay a markup just for a name as would have been the case had I bought the same rebranded model from Dell). Having spent so much money on it, it took a while for my defensiveness to wear off, before I could admit that it was quite a problematic laptop - a bad investment. A big issue getting it in Europe was that distributors would pop up and fade away like mushrooms, so you could not depend on replacement parts. The GPU (GeForce GTX 285M) has issues where it occasionally “locks up” and usually requires powering off and on again. The battery dies after about 3 months. It runs for 45 minutes when new. Once the battery becomes faulty, the keyboard occasionally stops responding; remove the battery, and the keyboard works again. I used it for the last two years without a bettery, just running off mains. The fans (one on the GPU, one on the CPU) are uncomfortably loud. The screen covers <75% sRGB (though common in 2010).

A friend has a Dell Alienware, and, like mine, the buggy laptop is now gathering dust in a closet while we work on less powerful but more usable laptops. I really hoped that the issues my laptop had were uncommon, but browsing forums eight years later I see people reporting the same old problems - faulty components, loud fans, dying batteries.

I installed and used Gentoo on mine, no issues with the software.

(Flössie) #67

I own (and occasionally run) an ten year old Acer Extensa 5220 where I upgraded the CPU from a crappy Celeron single core to a more powerful Core2Duo T7x00. These were the good old days where CPUs were socketed and batteries could be replaced. And hey, the hardware is still working with a new HDD and more RAM. :+1:

(Chris) #68

I did a lot of research regarding laptops for photo processing and looked at what would hopefully last me at least 5 plus years. All my old computers that I had been using, including my desktop, are more than 7 years old. Only my desktop is 64-bit but maxes out at 8GB of RAM. While still usable it does take some time to process the large files of modern cameras.
My choices were narrowed down to the dell xps series, 5520 and 7520 precision series and Lenovo P51. I really liked the dell xps series, and the precision 5520, because of the screens but the RAM was only upgradeable to a max of 32GB. The Precision 7520 and Lenovo P51 are both upgradeable to 64GB. I was able to view both machines and preferred the dell precision 7520 laptop. I purchased the dell precision in April 2018 with the following configuration:
I7-7700 Quad Core 2.8GHz - 3.8GHz Turbo 6MB with Intel HD Graphics 630 plus NVIDIA Quadro M2200 with 4GB GDDR5
256GB M.2 PCIE SSD plus 1TB 2.5" 7200 RPM HDD
Windows 10 Pro 64 bit
32GB (2x16GB) 2400 MHZ DDR4 non-ECC SDRAM (expandable to 64GB)
15.6" Ultrasharp UHD IGZO (3840x2160) Screen (stated as 100% Adobe Color) Non-touch
Ethernet Port
SD Card Reader
Decent keyboard, in my opinion, plus a joystick in the keyboard similar to the Lenovo
A full description is available on dell’s website (Canada or US sites) for additional ports and options

While the laptop comes pre-installed with Windows 10 Pro, I shrunk the Windows partition and installed Linux Mint 18.3, which I run 99.5% of the time. I have not tried installing any other distros (except in VirtualBox) so I can’t speak to how well they would work. So far, I have been more than pleased with its performance.

I believe there is a new version of this laptop called the Precision 7530 that includes an upgraded processor, GPU, and expandable to 128GB RAM plus other changes.

Hope this helps.


I am wondering if anyone had a chance to put hands on a KDE Slimbook? I see they have updated them recently too…

(Morgan Hardwood) #70


I am interested in hearing feedback from those who purchased high-end laptops, how you feel a month or two after the purchase regarding:

  • whether it’s everything you hoped for,
  • whether it’s silent,
  • whether the battery life is anything as advertised,
  • whether you would have made the same choice in retrospect.


Not made the jump yet, but several colleagues (neither programmers nor photographers) have tried the Dell XPS and looked very satisfied, my son (normally a Mac addict) is also moderately jealous which is a good sign. Just waiting for the fall and possible seasonal discounts.

(Mica) #72

I have the System 76 Galego Pro. I am enjoying it. It is not silent, but the fan is smooth and doesn’t bother me. Battery life is good, ~6 hours of average use.

I would buy again!


If a Thinkpad counts as high-end then I can give some data points, too: it’s six years old and still working fine. Earlier this year I bought the 2nd battery as the last one was down to less than one hour runtime. It’s still fast enough for regular use, but then I am not a gamer. Minesweeper and Sudoku is all it has to do. It’s not super silent but I couldn’t care less, I wear headphones anyway. If I would make the same choice again is a tough question. The build quality isn’t what I was used from IBM, and especially the X230 seems to have a palm rest that is brittle like crazy, I know others with missing plastic pieces, too. But as it’s from 2012 I have hopes that they upped their game again.

(Mica) #74

The thinkpad line seems to be getting neutered into a macbook style laptop.


Gone are the days of structurally robust devices, unless you in the market for niche rugged laptops. You could murder someone with anything back in the day. Was it the candlestick or the lead pipe? Nowadays, it is more like the movies where things break when you whack the trespasser in the head. But who uses anything for more than 10 years? (I do, actually. :stuck_out_tongue:)


Which means I have to look for something else with a nipple. :sunglasses:

(Tobias) #77

I have a Dell Precision now since 4 years. It is a replacement for the TinkPad I dad before. It’s heavy, but I don’t care that much. The battery is getting down, but that is OK for a 4 year old device. And the batty can be easily replaced. Every thing else worked fine. I had a dead green pixel in the display at the beginning, but Dell send a technician who replaced the display for free and without discussions.

The reasons I bought it were:

  • the nipple :wink:
  • good keyboard layout (with a number block for blender, real “F” keys, arrow keys,…)
  • 3 mouse buttons
  • DVD drive (I like to use my notebook to watch DVDs in the vacations or in a train without an internet connection)
  • matt display
  • fast CPU (i7)
  • 16 GB RAM
  • dual GPU (Intel/AMD)
  • good Linux support