Photographer's Laptops

A quick comparison

Originally, I developed this page for my own use, as a brief summary to help me choose a replacement for my trusty Alienware gaming laptop which is expected to die any day now after six years of service.

Some of my friends were also interested, so I made the page accessible by invitation — as long as you know the URL. Now I decided to make it public, hoping it may become of interest to a few people with needs and preferences similar to mine.

Those are mostly related to portability and performance; the former limits the choice to narrow-bezel 13-inch screens; the latter — to the recent-generation Intel mobile processors (more on that will follow).

Strictly speaking, CPU performance is not so important if your laptop is dedicated to photography alone (storage/retrieval, postprocessing), but even some of these tasks will benefit from it (raw development, panorama stitching, and more). My particular needs exceed those, though: I want to be able to run the GNU C++ development environment smoothly, as well as to use our flight analysis software, and that, with more than 40 000 flights per day in the States, is not so trivial.

In addition, I would very much like to be able to play some not-so-cutting-edge games, even if in low-quality graphics mode and in reduced resolution.

Good source of information: notebookcheck.net !!

Legend:
  • CPU — the digit following the dash is the Intel processor generation
  • RAM — speed usually depends on CPU
  • GPU — DRAM, if any, shown after slash
  • SSD — any type
  • Size — diagonal
  • Sp — special attributes; 'g' for no-glare surface; 't' for touch screen
  • Res — resolution, FHD if available
  • WiFi — 'ac' is the newer standard, as opposed to 'n'
  • BT — Bluetooth version; 4.1 or 4.2 preferred
  • Ports: U2, U3, U31 (USB 2.0, 3.0 or 3.1), C3, C31 (USB 3.0 or 3.1 type C), CT (C+Thunderbolt), H, h (HDMI: full or micro), A (Audio: headphones and mic), S (SD card), s (Micro SD)
  • W, D, H — dimensions as per maker's data
  • Wgt — may be rounded to nearest .1 lb
  • Batt — battery energy in joules or Wh
  • Dur — battery duration, often wishful thinking
  • Price — if possible, includes an i7 CPU, 8GB RAM, 256 GB SSD, and no-touch, 1080p display
Last Update:

2017/10/18

Base Components Display Connectivity Size [mm] & Weight [g] Power Price
($US)
Notes
CPU RAM
[GB]
GPU SSD
[GB]
Size
[in]
Sp Res WiFi BT Ports W D H Wgt Batt
[Wh]
Dur
[h]
This is my 6-year old gaming laptop I want to replace:
Alienware M11X R3 i7-2637M 8 540M/2GB 0 11.5 - 1366×768 n 3.0 2×U3-U2-H-S-s 286 233 33 1996 63 8 1420 [1]
Here are 13-inch travel laptops I checked:
Dell XPS13 i7-8550U 8 HD 620 256 13.3 g 1920×1080 ac 4.1 2×U3-S-CT-A 304 200 15 1305 60 22 1170
HP Spectre 13 i7-8550U 8+ HD 620 256+ 13.3 t 1920×1080 ac 4.2 C31-2×CT-A 308 224 10.4 1110 43 11.6 1400
Razer Blade Stealth i7-8550U 16 UHD 620 256-512 13.3 3200×1800 ac 4.1 U3×2-CT×2-A 321 206 14 1350 321 206 14
LG Gram 13 i5-7200U 8 HD 620 256 13.3 t 1920×1080 ac 4.1 2×U3-H-s-A 307 211 15 939 60 11 1100
Samsung Notebook 9 i7-7500U 8 HD 620 256 13.3 g 1920×1080 ac 4.1 2×U3-C3-H-s-A 315 218 12.7 862 54 11.5 1200
Xiaomi Mi Air 13 i7-6500U 8 940MX/1GB 256 13.3 t 1920×1080 ac 4.1 2×U3-C3-H-A 310 211 15 1280 40 9.5 990
The new great thing from Microsoft, somewhat bigger and heavier:
Surface Book 2 i7-8650U 8+ GTX1050/2GB 256+ 13.5 t 3000×2000 ac 4.1 2×U31-C31-S-A 312 232 23 1642 ? 17 2000 [2,3]
And this is the wunderkind pocket Windows computer:
GPD Pocket Mini x7-Z8750 8 HD 405 128 7 t 1920×1200 ac 4.1 U3-C3-h-A 182 109 19 503 26 5 480
Notes
  1. The Alienware also has separate headphone (×2), and mic sockets, Ethernet, DisplayPort and Firewire. None of these are used in current models.
  2. The Surface has also 2 proprietary Surface Connect ports.
  3. Surface with 16GB/512GB is priced at $2500; 16GB/1TB at $3000.
  • All models except the GPD Pocket have backlit keyboards.

About CPUs: Dell and HP are using the recent 8-th generation processors. While these were expected to be a minor upgrade of the last year's 7-th generation, this may not be the case: most benchmarks show speed improvement of 30 or even 40 percent. I'm expecting the other companies to catch up by the Black Friday; this may be worth the wait.

The Surface uses a slightly better 8-th generation CPU, the i7-8650U. It differs from the '8550 (Dell, HP) only in the closk rate, zbout 5% faster, and this is reflected in a 5% improvements in speed benchmarks.

The GPD Pocket runs an Atom processor, designed for low power use, not speed. It uses just 2 W when idle, 4 W "typically" (whatever that means). The power usage of the i7-9550U is about four times higher than that — but so are the CPU benchmarks CPU Mark of 8126 versus 1892

About screens: There are very few things in computing that I dislike more thah highly reflective screens.


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Posted 2017/06/18, last updated 2017/10/20 Copyright © 2017 by J. Andrzej Wrotniak