New Laptop: faster CPU or more RAM?


it will most likely be a 15" ubuntu system. Shall I spend the last hundred Euro on an upgrade from i5 to i7 or add to the RAM from 8 to 16 GB?

what works best for Darktable and Gimp ?

The difference between i5 and i7 varies by generation and specific model. For example, in 10th gen Ice Lake laptop CPUs, the i7 has faster integrated graphics and a bit more cache, but that’s it.

I’m not sure if Darktable is multithreaded; if it is, I’d go with more cores over more memory, assuming you already have at least 8 GB.

This would be the “standard” solution: Intel Core i5-10210U (4x 1.6-4.2GHz Quad-Core, 8 Threads, 6MB Cache, 15W TDP

versus: Intel Core i7-10510U (4x 1.8-4.9GHz Quad-Core, 8 Threads, 8MB Cache, 15W TDP

Price difference is basically the same as 16 GB instead of 8 AND a faster HDD

If you can go for an AMD ryzen 3000 series based system atm. Intel seems to have a lot of problems with their CPUs still. even the very latest CPUs are affected by the recent round of CPU bugs. no need to buy a CPU that will get slower over time because they need to implement yet another round of work arounds for hardware bugs.

Also for photo editing consider a GPU. You will not have the laptop just for a year or 2 and if you see experiments like vkdt … (which is mile faster than darktable atm) it will be the future.

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I read somewhere that the 10 series is actually worse in some areas. Depending on whether the RAM is soldered or not, you could upgrade it later. Even with soldering, if you learn how, it could be undone.

I would go for the RAM. 8 GB is like a minimum now. I think 8 -> 16gb will be better in the long run than i5 -> i7. Is the laptop one that soldiers the ram to the mother board?


Nope. Real ports and exchangeable boards. I think I will end up with the Tuxedo 15 (a Linux-specific brand) and they offer to add 116 or 28. Apparently 2 boards of 8 are an advantage over 1 board of 16 GB…

Depends on the motherboard and how the RAM slots are connected. If they share lanes, then the throughput of each slot is limited and it would be better to put in parallel RAM modules. If each slot is connected to enough, then it won’t matter. There is probably a better way of describing this; I am not a hardware nut.

That reminds me to mail tuxedo when we will see AMD Ryzen laptops from them.

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Yes, likely the system can use 2 “channels” of RAM. Think of it like 2 cores on a CPU, allows more things to happen simultaneously by spreading reads and writes.

I’d go with the RAM too. I recently went for an i5 with 16GB instead of an i7 with 8. I chose the new Ice Lake processors though.

I fit is the TUXEDO InfinityBook Pro 15 v5, and you think you will be happy with an i5, I would go for:

  • 1x32 GBytes memory (+180€)
  • no SSD (-75€ for removing a 250GB SSD)

If you have that laptop more than 4-5 years, one thing is clear: everything (video, images, …) will be bigger (think about bigger sensor pixel count, or pixel shift with multiple shots), and although the processor will struggle a bit, most probably you won’t be able to load huge pictures with 16GB of memory.

And you have very good SSDs around 500GB for 60-65€, right now (e.g. Crucial MX500 500GB).

It’s another option, I think.

I would go for a better CPU, because RAM is easy to change/add later.

BTW, I have two nearly identical PCs, one with DDR3 and one with DDR4 RAM, the DDR4 is noticeable faster. So RAM technology makes a different too.

This said, the speed on my Gen 8 i5 8Gb RAM notebook for dt/RT I find absolutely OK, my 50Mb RAW files load smooth.

I changed and got me a used Thinkpad 15.6" with an I7 and 32 GB from 2016. Not the newest PC, but well priced … and still four years younger than the one I use now ;o)

I will install Budgie, though

Thinkpads don’t have great screens, but you can pick up am IPS and do a swap for ~100 euro or so.

thanks - I will keep that in mind

Definitely! As I configured my AMD FX8350 (8 cores) machine in 2013 I went for 32 GB of slower RAM instead of 16 GB of faster RAM. Of course having 32 GB RAM is nice when processing large files or running a virtual machine with a different OS, the slower RAM clearly made optimizations to RT harder (though at the end for a benefit), because I had to rule out or overcome the memory bandwidth limitations…


I would wait till next year. AMD will release notebook CPUs at the beginning of next year. As they are producing with 7nm they eat less battery and don’t have all the CPU bugs Intel has. Each new Intel bug reduces performance by ~3%. So with a current Intel CPU you loose 18-30% performance the mitigations depending on the workload. So if you can, wait for the notebooks with new AMD CPUs and go with more and fast RAM. The AMD stuff will probably be cheaper and faster than what Intel provides …

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I say this every year. :rofl:


Beside @afre’s straight to the point comment, if you are on a budget, or like me, rarely buys the latest and newest I doesn’t really matter what the latest is. I am watching it from the sideline.

What looks interesting to me though, hardware with TB3 and a external GPU. Specially interesting if you have several PC and could swap the GPU with a cable click.

It looks good but so far I didn’t really investigated if it makes sense. RT/dt run quite well on my low power hardware, where I like to see some speed improvement would be Blender. Not sure what type of GPU RT/dt really need. Really hate the all the talk is always around gaming, gaming and more gaming.

If you are curious about external GPU, this was to google top link: (ok, most are just just cases and you still need to buy a graphic card, damn)