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Laptop replacement - all options considered


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I have a Microsoft Surface Book 2 13-inch which is showing bad signs: occasional freezing, the keyboard section is unresponsive for a minute after opening, restarting or reconnecting the two halves, loud fan noise when using Lightroom CC. So I'm thinking about options for a replacement. The Surface Book line has been ended, so that is not an option, even though, despite everything, I love the functionality.

What it's got to do:

  • Casual use on the sofa at home for web, social media etc. What most people do.
  • Travel: importing to Lightroom CC, occasional editing with Photoshop, syncing with the cloud, posting to social media. I might ask a more powerful device to do more (LR Classic, Topaz DeNoise, DaVinci Resolve etc).
  • Zoom/Teams meetings.

What it doesn't have to do:

  • I have a powerful desktop PC for most photo editing with a calibrated screen. I've tried combining a powerful laptop with a large external monitor at home, and it doesn't work, for me, so I will keep the laptop small and light for travel, and the desktop large and adaptable at home.

Options I'm thinking about:

  • Surface Pro 8. I had the Surface Pro 3, and liked it, but it couldn't easily handle Lightroom. The Surface Pro 8 reads as if it could - perhaps with some limitations. Small and light.
  • Surface Studio: looks nice, but larger and heavier than the Surface Book, and that's not the direction I want to go.
  • MacBook Air M2: I'm not OS-ist, and this looks like it should have all the performance and features that I might want but, and it is a BUT - IT IS NOT TOUCHSCREEN! HOW CAN APPLE OFFER A PORTABLE DEVICE DESIGNED FOR CREATIVE USE IN 2022 THAT IS NOT TOUCHSCREEN FFS? 
  • Other Windows touchscreen laptops: Dell XPS 13, various HP models etc. Microsoft integrates Windows 10 and 11 so well with a touchscreen/stylus in the Surface series that I would be cautious about trying someone else's offering.

I would welcome comments on these options, especially from those with the same wants, or have worked through the same thought processes.

And specific questions on the MacBook Air. How much RAM is needed or desirable for Lightroom/PS/Topaz - 8, 16, 24? Aside from the touchscreen issue, are there any other things I might find disappointing in the MacBook Air? Software that is not optimised to M1/M2?

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5 minutes ago, frame-it said:

id go with this, small, and quite powerful for what you need:

Thanks - I should have added the MBP to my list - it is already in my comparison spreadsheet! I left it off because I couldn't see why one would want a MBP when a MBA looks as though it can do all I want, and would be lighter. So that's another question: what does a MacBook Pro bring that a MacBook Air does not?

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15 minutes ago, LocalHero1953 said:

Thanks - I should have added the MBP to my list - it is already in my comparison spreadsheet! I left it off because I couldn't see why one would want a MBP when a MBA looks as though it can do all I want, and would be lighter. So that's another question: what does a MacBook Pro bring that a MacBook Air does not?

for one, less chances of overheating

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I absolutely wouldn't go with the 13" Macbook Pro vs the new Macbook. Other than price and a slightly larger battery (slightly better battery life), in every other respect it is inferior to the Macbook Air in a newer, thinner enclosure. The new Macbook Air has a newer generation display.

The 2022 MacBook Air has a new display that is larger and brighter (500 nits vs 400 nits) than the M2 13" MacBook Pro, and a leap from the display on the previous generation MacBook Air.

The Air is slightly lighter than the pro (2.7 vs 3lbs)

The Air is fanless vs the the 13" Macbook Pro has a fan.

I would add that the fan in the 13" Macbook Pro allows it to run slightly faster than the fanless Macbook Air in processor intensive tasks.

 

Erik

 

 

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1 hour ago, LocalHero1953 said:

BUT - IT IS NOT TOUCHSCREEN! HOW CAN APPLE OFFER A PORTABLE DEVICE DESIGNED FOR CREATIVE USE IN 2022 THAT IS NOT TOUCHSCREEN FFS? 

Apple's Tim Cook will not tolerate this heresy; he has already decided for you that you don't need a touchscdreen.  And don't think Apple will allow you to connect a touchscreen monitor to your desktop computer either.

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Posted (edited)

I've never used this phrase. But for the Apple M1 chip, I do it: game-changer.

Anything the windows world offers in similar usability for image editing is more expensive, draws much more power and is much noisier (fan). I use the MBP Max16" for everything, including video editing (I never heard the fan even once). It's faster than my HP Z840 with the latest and greatest Nvidia Quadro graphics from 2019, which cost over 4k. I can even run my ADSK Flame for over 2 hours only on battery. That probably doesn't mean anything to you, but in the VFX world, that's spectacular. 

Attach a Wacom tablet (the Intuos line is their pro line, they outlast anything electronic, fantastic quality, buying used is a no-brainer) and a nice Eizo 27"  (as a good as the Wacom, buy used but only the pro stuff) and you will be in editing heaven. 

Edited by hansvons
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Posted (edited)

I use a 13" MB M1Air .  The touchpad  is extremely responsive and is the fastest computer I have ever used.  I use it for everything.  Battery life amazing- except when I am processing a lot of images and transcoding files. then the battery life is only "good"  Basically same machine as 13" MBpro (no fan in the Air) 

Edited by prk60091
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Posted (edited)
19 minutes ago, hansvons said:

I use the MBP Max16" for everything, including video editing

A short while ago I had a nice stable IT system that worked well: a desktop PC for photo and video editing with good monitor, storage and backup, a laptop for managing images while travelling, and a docking station to allow me to use the laptop with the monitor and printer for normal 'office' type work. I realise that almost any change I make now will be destabilising: a powerful laptop that could do video editing could make the desktop redundant, and show up the limitations of my old 27" Dell monitor. And then my in-house facilities manager might demand the space back. 😢

At a less than 'total clear-out' level, I have just realised that the MBP M1 Pro 14" comes with an SD card reader, and is almost exactly the same size and weight as my Surface Book 2 (which also has a card reader). Pricy, but tempting. A laptop with a SD card port is a great benefit for travel - one less thing to forget or lose.

Edited by LocalHero1953
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6 minutes ago, prk60091 said:

I use a 13" MB M1Air .  The touchpad  is extremely responsive and is the fastest computer I have ever used.  I use it for everything.  Battery life amazing- except when I am processing a lot of images and transcoding files. then the battery life is only "good"  Basically same machine as 13" MBpro (no fan in the Air) 

How do you get on with photo editing with a touch pad? Or is a mouse pretty much necessary for fine work? (e.g. mask adjustments in Photoshop)

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1 minute ago, LocalHero1953 said:

A laptop with an SD card port is a great benefit for travel - one less thing to forget or lose.

I travel with my MBL16" all the time and often work in remote locations, which gives me tons of new freedom. As I wrote above, it does all I can wish for and more. I use an OWC Envoy SSD as my frame store (video), which can be dropped from the Eifel tower and is even waterproof. But more importantly, it's enterprise-grade and thus suited for editing. For backup, I use SanDisk Extreme SSDs. 

I've been where you are, a powerful workstation for editing and a Laptop for the rest, but that's so 2020. And how brilliant is the MBP screen? This time, Apple totally nailed it. I have used the laptop since December, and I'm still floored.

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57 minutes ago, LocalHero1953 said:

How do you get on with photo editing with a touch pad? Or is a mouse pretty much necessary for fine work? (e.g. mask adjustments in Photoshop)

I have no issues, and no mouse  Apple has a 14 day no questions asked return policy and in the US no restocking fee (I dnk if that is true everywhere in the world).  I would go to a local Apple store and play with one (assuming one is near to you and is not covid closed).  With the M1 MBAir RAM  is maxed out at 16GB, I provisioned mine with 16GB of RAM  and 1TB of storage. 

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2 minutes ago, prk60091 said:

I have no issues, and no mouse  Apple has a 14 day no questions asked return policy and in the US no restocking fee (I dnk if that is true everywhere in the world).  I would go to a local Apple store and play with one (assuming one is near to you and is not covid closed).  With the M1 MBAir RAM  is maxed out at 16GB, I provisioned mine with 16GB of RAM  and 1TB of storage. 

My wife has an old MBA but there is an Apple store in town, and I will go and check different models. 

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Posting this here as an commentary I found helpful on the choices between the different Macbook M1 options for a photographer. 

After the comments in this thread, further thinking, and a quick visit to a local IT store, my choice is currently between:

  • Surface Pro 8. Pros: size, weight, touchscreen. Cons: GPU is Intel Xe, and may not be up to power editing (e.g. HDR/panorama merge, Topaz apps); no longer has SD card slot.
  • MacBook Pro 14" M1. Pro: all the power I might need for photo editing; more ports, including SD card slot, battery life. Cons: not touchscreen, a bit pricier than I was hoping for.

My video editing needs will most likely be met by my current desktop - I don't need video editing on the go, and I wouldn't find the 16" so easy to shove in a rucksack or holdall..

I looked at the specs of a couple of other laptops (Dell, HP), and they are compromised in ways I would find unhelpful e.g. lower res screen.

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When editing photos I try hard to keep the screen of my desktop machine clean.  Otherwise I find myself trying to heal spots that aren't actually in the photo.  I've mostly given up on keeping my tablet screen clean, but I don't edit on my tablet.   A touch screen on a device I'd use to edit photos is not something I'd desire.

Perhaps I'm a dinosaur.  

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Posted (edited)
6 minutes ago, marchyman said:

When editing photos I try hard to keep the screen of my desktop machine clean.  Otherwise I find myself trying to heal spots that aren't actually in the photo.  I've mostly given up on keeping my tablet screen clean, but I don't edit on my tablet.   A touch screen on a device I'd use to edit photos is not something I'd desire.

Perhaps I'm a dinosaur.  

Each to their own🙂. I guess there's a whole world of Macbook photo editors out there who manage without touchscreen, and I may join them. I use finger, stylus, touchpad and keyboard, often all in the same session, whichever is most convenient in the moment.

I find that dust and smears on the screen disappear if you rub them with a finger😁. Occasionally the sun catches my screen and I am disgusted by what I see.

Edited by LocalHero1953
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On 6/21/2022 at 4:39 AM, LocalHero1953 said:

Posting this here as an commentary I found helpful on the choices between the different Macbook M1 options for a photographer. 

After the comments in this thread, further thinking, and a quick visit to a local IT store, my choice is currently between:

  • Surface Pro 8. Pros: size, weight, touchscreen. Cons: GPU is Intel Xe, and may not be up to power editing (e.g. HDR/panorama merge, Topaz apps); no longer has SD card slot.
  • MacBook Pro 14" M1. Pro: all the power I might need for photo editing; more ports, including SD card slot, battery life. Cons: not touchscreen, a bit pricier than I was hoping for.

My video editing needs will most likely be met by my current desktop - I don't need video editing on the go, and I wouldn't find the 16" so easy to shove in a rucksack or holdall..

I looked at the specs of a couple of other laptops (Dell, HP), and they are compromised in ways I would find unhelpful e.g. lower res screen.

I own the 14” MacBook Pro M1 Max (32 cores) with 64GH of RAM and a 4TB SSD. It’s a workhorse and is extremely fast. 
 

Erik

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