desktop vs laptops - pro and cons

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by pcnilssen, Aug 31, 2011.

  1. Dear friends, my previous search has just brought up some older threads, and as the computer technology is going fast, I therefore try asking this question again. If this already has been debated to death, please forgive me, and please direct me to the newer threads.... :)
    So, My Dell desktop is close to 6 years old, and I fear that it is approaching the last part of its ife span, and I have to buy a new computer. What are the pro and cons of desktop vs. laptops apart from the obvious: You can carry the laptop everywhere.
    Please note that I am not a professional photographer, just an enthusiast, so money/budget matters. I do not want to stir up a pc vs. mac debate here, so please, let's us discuss windows-pc's only. I do not want to learn a new system now.
    Help me out here, guys, please!
     
  2. Laptop displays usually have a poor viewing angle. Just moving your head slightly can cause the brightness to change significantly. Battery life is usually a higher priority than a bright uniform display.
    If budget matters, for the same performance, a desktop is cheaper, in a laptop you are paying a premium for miniaturization.
     
  3. I have to say what I say to all my University users, which is that the ONLY reason to buy a laptop is portability.
    In almost every case, a desktop will give you more for your money, be easier to maintain and upgrade, last longer, and be unlikely to get lost, stolen, or dropped.
     
  4. The best computers all have the i7 chip but the laptop ones are usually degraded with slower speeds to conserve battery life. And if you do a price comparison for a decent modern configuration between a desktop vs laptop both with i7s, 8gb ram, 1gb video card and 1tb hd you'll find that the desktop is about 1/3-1/2 the price of the laptop.
     
  5. As Matthew said, the screen can be a big problem. Nearly all external monitors are better than notebook LCDs (except a few exotic expensive notebooks).
    Notebooks sure have gotten fast enough, so the combination of a notebook with a good seperate screen (and keyboard and mouse) is a valid solution - but more pricey. It can however be the good balance between portability and having a good working environment. If you do not care for portability, by all means: get a desktop and save yourself a lot of money.
     
  6. 6 years?
    Effective life of a computer is 3 years.
    Anyway, you can plug most laptops into a real monitor, so laptop monitor issues are really a non issue(what Wouter said). What you lose with a laptop is processing speed(dollar for dollar).
     
  7. It is now as it as always been. Other than portability, you get a lot more computer for your money with a desktop than you do with a laptop. In addition to what you get right out of the box, the desktop is much more easily and cheaply maintained/repaired whenever necessary, its various components are more easily upgradable, and dollar for dollar, it is a faster, more powerful computer. I say this from personal experience, having been convinced to buy a laptop the last time, 5 years ago. I regretted that decision within months.
    At this point, I think it has become arguable that many of the things you do with a laptop because it's portable can be taken care of with a smartphone and the "cloud"... especially if used in conjunction with a desktop at home.
    On the other hand, if you need to have a full-featured computer with you to process raw images wherever you are, that's another story.
     
  8. I have both a laptop and desktop. Photoshop CS5 is on both and I do all processing starting with the RAW file from a D700. I use the laptop to check images to make sure I don't need to reshoot, but I find the laptop is not acceptable for adjusting images due to the monitor. I do have both the laptop and desktop monitors calibrated using monitor hardware calibration equipment, but viewing angle on the laptop is not acceptable. I readjust everything using the desktop. I also have a monitor with an IPS panel for the destop, which makes a huge difference when adjusting images. You can find a laptop with an IPS panel, but they are very expensive.
     
  9. I have both a laptop and desktop. Photoshop CS5 is on both and I do all processing starting with the RAW file from a D700. I use the laptop to check images to make sure I don't need to reshoot, but I find the laptop is not acceptable for adjusting images due to the monitor. I do have both the laptop and desktop monitors calibrated using monitor hardware calibration equipment, but viewing angle on the laptop is not acceptable. I readjust everything using the desktop. I also have a monitor with an IPS panel for the destop, which makes a huge difference when adjusting images. You can find a laptop with an IPS panel, but they are very expensive.
     
  10. I agree with all the above: Laptop for portability and checking your work in the field/on the road, desktop for serious post-processing. The only way to make a laptop usable for editing is to add an external calibrated monitor. But, then there's the processing speed issue...
     
  11. Sounds like I'm outnumbered here. I'm for the laptop (with an external monitor tucked away for extensive processing). Yes, desktops are faster and cheaper. But my Toshiba Satellite (Intel i3 processor) has not shown any lack of speed whatsoever, and is super convenient thanks to portability. If I want I can compute while sitting on the couch, at the table, in the kitchen while cooking, or even on the patio while enjoying a nice sunset and a glass of wine. Then when I need the external monitor for more delicate PP I just carry the laptop into the office or bring the external monitor out to the table. I like that I'm not forced to sit in the office, shut out from my family, whenever I want to do any kind of computing.
     
  12. You can now get laptops with the memory and CPU power to handle photoshop. However the problem as everyone has noted is getting a good display as the ones that come with most laptops are not good enough for serious photo work.
    One solution is get an ipad/ipad2. With an app such as airdisplay, you can use the ipad as the second screen in a dual screen setup with photoshop. The ipad is one of the best screens for accurate high resolution images. It is better than most external monitors for desktops. You get an uncluttered image of the photo as all the photoshop menu controls are on the laptop screen. airdisplay uses a wifi connection so there are no messy cable to connect. I know several pro photographers who use such a setup. Airdisplay works on both Macs and PCs. And you can use the ipad as an ipad with all its apps.
    This is the setup I now use.
    Danny
     
  13. Unless you absolutely need the portability of a notebook, don't. A desktop will be faster and cheaper.
     
  14. stp

    stp

    I had a Mac laptop and desktop. The newest MacBook Pro outclassed my 4-year-old desktop. I sold the desktop but kept the large monitor for the MacBook Pro (17"). That's what I'm using now, and I'm very happy with it. When I travel, I just unplug the large monitor and take off (with two bus-driven external drives for back-up storage while I'm on the road).
     
  15. If you are a person who keeps a computer a long time, and only has one -- as you appear to be from your original post... go desktop, and preferably not one with too much proprietary hardware in it. I fit that description myself, and my experience has been that a good desktop computer with a fast processor, a big hard drive and extra slots for cheap RAM is a lot more future-proof than any laptop you can buy. Ever try to upgrade anything in a notebook computer?
    The latter seem to be obsolete before you get home with it to read the reviews telling you why you shouldn't have bought it... just like phones and cameras.
    You don't need a superpowered gaming computer, though. Spend the money you save on a better monitor.
     
  16. In my experience any system, laptop or desktop, that has at least a 2.4GHz dual core CPU with 8GB of memory is perfectly fine for photoshop work. You would have to be doing medium format size images to need more CPU and memory. This is not a particularly powerful system by current standards and there are plenty of laptops who can meet this specification.
    Laptops will cost a bit more for the same "power" but you get portability which allows you to process your images on the road rather than wait until the end of the trip. The difference between wading through 300 images at the end of the trip and finishing off the last dozen you took makes a huge difference in whether or not the post trip processing is a major chore to be dreaded or a simple task to be quickly done.
    The only serious limitation of a laptop is the poor quality monitors but as I pointed out, using an ipad/ipad2 in a dual monitor setup solves this problem. Laptops are not upgradeable like desktops but I have never upgraded my last 2 desktops. In the past when it cost $5000 to get a top grade system, buying a lesser system and upgrading made sense. Today you can buy a top grade system for $1500. As a result by the time I need to upgrade my system, it is so behind the power curve that it makes more sense to simply get a brand new system that is state of the art and pass on the old system to a family member.
    The only upgrade that I have needed recently has been more disk space but with 1TB external drives available for $80 and 2TB drives for $100, it is easier to buy them rather than upgrade the internal drives in my desktop.
    So there really is no big advantage to a desktop over a laptop for power and expandability. I still have a separate laptop and desktop setup mainly because a low power laptop is smaller and lighter than a power user laptop. They are also more expendable. Anything you take on a trip can be stolen or broken.
    Danny
     
  17. Dear PN-friends,
    Thank you so much for all your comments. I have read them with great interest, and they will definitely be the basis for what I decide to buy. I have deliberately not stated any budget, as I live in Norway, and the computer costs are quite different from other countries. If you (or other new readers of this thread) should have further comments, please do not hesitate to post.
    You guys rock!
     
  18. students and people on the go all the time may prefer a laptop
    but remember that everything is soldered together in one big LUMP.
    and if one part fails the whole computer usually cannot be "repaired"
    with a desktop, if the video fails, you can replace the video card ( a few machines
    will be so dead that replacing the card will not fix the pc)
    but usually due to the construction of a desktop something can be done.
    Connectors like power/charging connectors are more fragile on laptops.
    so I feel a desktop is easier to deal with .
    Dell is a good choice as Dell systems permit you to re-install the OS
    and not have to pay money to buy a new copy of windows
    ours never ask for the cd key and activate immediately.
    A hassle free way to work. Updates to drivers are sometimes automatic.
    HINT: when you install windows after a drive failure. connect the Internet cable.
    It will find a connection and start getting required updates.
    if you delay it will often be hard to install network connectivity.
    to save money DELL offers refurns and scratch and dent.
    it may be a year old model.
     
  19. The perception that desktops are faster is general here, but this is not the case. There are many very expensive laptops that will work faster than most of desktops.
    Stronger hard discs with 10,000 PRM were usually advantage of desktops, but newer even faster solid state discs reversed the speed advantage in favour of laptops.
    Your computer, either laptop or desktop is faster if it has faster components. The desktop form by itself does not guarantee fast computer.
     

Share This Page