Linux laptop, touchscreen, 3:2

OK I’m to-tal-ly out of the hardware loop and now want to upgrade a (otherwise great) HP 12b Chromebook (N5000 8GB RAM Intel UHD 605, can’t get opencl going) to something more sinister.

Darktable and Rawtherapee are both performing decently (debian inside Chrome OS LXC) but I want a faster editor and more NR options.

The 3:2 display ratio is perfect, as is touch, particularly to avoid darktable scroll bars up/down and in general also faster for me.

I have no clue about GPUs.

I’m shooting 16MP M43 and Pentax (15-25mb ORF, RW2 and DNG) for the foreseeable future. Need some basic 1080p video editing as well, nothing fancy.

Budget is meager, used or refurbed, max €350.

@mikae1 mentioned Universal Blue elsewhere, they’ve got nice Surface (3:2 touch display) images to get started with.

I’ll have a look around for other contenders, maybe there are some 3:2 Yoga models or other Chromebooks ready to be freed.

Your suggestions and notes are appreciated.

1 Like

Still in the GPU dark here, found some refurbed Dell laptops with NVidia, haven’t checked further, just sharing for now if any expert comes by.

Besides RAW editing there’s also some 1080p video editing required. Editor still to be decided, nothing fancy though.

Dell Precision 5530
Intel Core i7-8850H (6x 2,60 GHz)
NVidia Quadro P1000 (4GB GDDR5)

Dell Precision 5540
Intel Core i5-9400H (4x 2,5 GHz)
NVidia Quadro T1000 (4GB GDDR5)

Dell Precision 5520
Intel Core i7-6820HQ (4x 2,7 GHz)
NVIDIA Quadro M1200M (4 GB GDDR5)

  • all with 32GB RAM and 3840 x 2160 (4K UHD) 15.6"
1 Like

I missed seeing your post somehow, back in January…

This is maybe not applicable for your needs, but I was in a similar situation a couple of years back and ended up getting a secondhand Dell Optiplex mini tower, and extra stick of 8GB RAM and a Geforce GTX1650. The Dell was $95 AUD, forgotten what the rest cost but fairly sure it was under your budget.

Still need a monitor though.
That system is still going strong. But obviously not portable! I got lucky in that I didn’t realise how tight the mini tower was for space, but my GTX1650 just squeezed in after trimming a connector back slightly.

I did eventually end up buying a more expensive laptop when I had the means, but 80% of my photo work is done on that old desktop.

1 Like

thanks Steven, I’ve seen fairly cheap more-or-less-mini desktops around and wouldn’t mind getting one if GPU requirements are called for. AFAICT now it’s relevant for noise reduction, depending on choice of editor, the free OM Workspace f.ex. So I need to figure that out vs. cost of more capable cameras and high ISO tolerance as well.

Have done light video editing before on old school i5 with integrated graphics, certainly doable with proxy files.

Good call on the monitor, that may also prompt a desktop mini tower of sorts if the only GPU laptops with real good displays are out of budget anyway.

1 Like

Also in darktable, the popular, complex but powerful diffuse or sharpen module kind of needs GPU power to run reasonably quickly. Of course one can get by without DorS but it can do a superb job of sharpening and local contrast type enhancements.

Good point. My desktop monitor is a relatively affordable Lenovo 32 inch screen, with no special qualifications except 100% sRGB coverage, and I’m happy with that, especially after getting a Spyder for calibration. Although to be honest, it’s fairly close without calibration anyway, as seem to be most screens with a decent gamut coverage.


good notes, thanks again. I’ll shuffle the decks.

For other media projects an ipad (and some specific apps) also almost sneaked in recently so I might try to test one of those. Recent ones with bus powered USB-C aren’t as expensive as expected.

There’s a good budget and convenience advantage If iMovie (or whatever) works out fine. Still gonna get the 3:2 Linux/win laptop though to move Darktable/RAW over from the Chromebook.

1 Like

CPU metrics, from the 3:2 refurb pool (Surface Pro, Dell 5290)

Intel Core i5-8350U @ 1.70GHz vs Intel Core i7-6650U @ 2.20GHz

The 4 core i5-8350U Dell is some €30-70 cheaper than the Surface, which has 16GB RAM vs. 8. Single Thread Rating about the same for my music software, maybe photo/video as well.

Not sure about Iris vs. UHD GPU, to be checked.


Surface is without keyboard (€100 type cover joke), SD reader and 1x USB 3 only.
Dell is with clamp-on keyboard and 3x USB-C, micro SD reader, 1.3kg with keyboard.
Dell it is.
All parts are replaceable, there’s a simple hack for adding a 2nd nvme drive to the WWAN slot.

Maybe relevant, maybe not. One thing that will prevent me from buying a Dell laptop is lack of proper S3 sleep. Things like that can really bite you in the bum if you are mobile and away from a power source or make your own off-grid power for instance…

1 Like

right, to be considered flags above average heat and battery life

as does MobileTechReview Lisa Dell Latitude 5290 2-in-1 Review - the Smarter Surface Pro - Invidious

OTOH it’s super cheap refurbed, €200 (max €250 with shipping and pen), SSD & battery are replaceable, there’s an empty WWAN m2 slot where a 2nd SSD can be fitted.

There might be some contenders from the next generation though, I’ll try to dig them out with the perf. charts. A Matebook with NVidia MX 150 popped up f.ex. (touch but no digitizer). If they’re €400+ refurbed/used I’ll get the Dell.

Thunderbolt port would be nice to have also. There’s a i7-8650U 16 GB RAM 512 GB SSD in the Dell series with Thunderbolt, hard to find, only found one so far at about €400 (Brexit fees applied)

USB-C ipads are out of budget and/or scope for now. At least €450+ used w. Apple Pencil 2. €800+ refurbed. Still intrigued by touch video and photo editing in a super tight user interface. File management maybe not so much and I don’t want my RAW archive tied to a proprietary app db (vs. sidecar files).

For the record & FYI:

  • iPad Pro 11-inch (1st generation or later)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation or later)
    ** Pro 11-inch (3rd g) and Pro 12.9-inch (5th g) also Thunderbolt
  • iPad Air (4th generation or later)
  • iPad mini (6th generation)
  • standard iPad (10th-gen) in 2022

Huawei used to have 3:2 laptops with touch and Nvidia graphics, Intel i5 and i7, probably called Matebook. Not cheap, but you may be able to find a used/refurbished one.

I found them yesterday, lovely builds and design, NVidia MX 150 (2GB), good used prices, but Matebooks are touch only, no digitizer which is needed for pressure sensitive stylus. Last time I checked (years ago) it was night and day difference in handwriting and editing precision, for tracing and masking for instance.

re. 3:2

I spent most of today on a borrowed Ideapad with a 15.6" 16:9 display. Very nice spread, definitely easier on the eyes and mental focus than my usual 12" chromebook.

It made me reconsider 3:2 hard spec slightly, at 15.6" it doesn’t feel half as narrow as my old Asus 13.3" where vertical space is constantly crammed.

Adjacent ratios are 16:10 (1280x800 (WXGA), old school thinkpads and macbooks.

3:2 is 1280x854 and 1920x1280 (WUXGA)) and 4:3 1600:1200 (UXGA)

-as gathered from Graphics display resolution - Wikipedia

1 Like

A 11" ipad pro in good condition popped up during the day, priced some 30-40% below rest of the used market. I bought it. With a pencil 2 added total should be around €375. Should be an easy resell if it’s not for me after all. lists geekbench scores for all devices, I’m not sure how to pull up comparisons there so here are passmark scores instead. Vs. my current hardware it’s +500 single thread perf. and +muchomax for apps that knows how to get all 8 (!) cores going.


The ipad thing is not happening.

Everything inside this closed box is so locked down (doh) and I just don’t have the bandwidth to merge another OS workflow and figure out file import, export and formatting workarounds. If a true killer app emerges I might consider getting an older model or iphone.

The display quality is stunning so that’s been valuable to discover at least. The HP 12b chromebook is so dull next to it while the Lenovo 500e (16:9) isn’t too bad. The old 2012 Macbook Pro still kicking to my surprise.

There’s a great free windows wifi/usb display driver from that turns ios/android devices into an external touchscreen monitor. On macOS that’s an option with thunderbolt 3 macbook pro/air (sidecar, Use your iPad as a second display for your Mac - Apple Support). I’ve also tried a generic HDMI capture card through a USC-C hub with no issues but then you loose touchscreen capability.

For my DT setup that would enable an 11" darkroom image window on the ipad (, maybe portrait/landscape flippable as well, didn’t try that.

Scrubbing the timeline in iMovie with the touchscreen suits me fine but should also be possible on a windows/linux laptop. M1 or later models are required to extend ipad desktop to an external display (and all apps aren’t full screen compatible yet, Move, resize, and organize windows with Stage Manager on iPad – Apple Support (MY)).

If my retro hardware can’t handle large video projects there’s a proxy editing workaround.

I didn’t even consider the ergonomics beforehand either, even as I discarded the 2-in-1 Dell for the same reasons (Surface models are the same). Without a rigid keyboard hatch it’s almost impossible to adjust to anything but a flat surface in front of you.

I would invest in a slightly pricier laptop than my budget would allow and then use the heck out of it for more than a decade. Such a strategy would broaden your options.

Agree, however, any possible excess budget will be used on camera or optics. My current DT performance margin is quite low so I’d prefer to test a slight CPU and RAM upgrade first. But might splash x% extra for above average display quality if such an option appears on the used/refurbed market.

It also depends on my audio setup (w/wo Thunderbolt 3, adapted to host older (and excellent) firewire interfaces), I might get a x86 SBC with PCIe slot for that and use the chromebooks as display(s) with spacedesk or HDMI capture card.

I’ll ask the local refurb shop for test units with return shipping allowed first.