Ad
Ad
Ad
Pages: [1]   Bottom of Page
Print
Author Topic: New travel computer - swings and roundabouts.  (Read 2033 times)
kencameron
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 669



WWW
« on: June 17, 2012, 04:01:57 AM »
ReplyReply

My elderly 11" Sony Vaio is on its last legs and I am thinking about a replacement.

Macs are out for me because they won't run some of my favourite software natively.

I am looking at either a Ultrabook, or a machine only slightly heavier than an Ultrabook and with the same processor but with more memory and a standard disk drive rather than an SSD.

To expand on that, Ultrabooks tend to have 4gb of non-expandable memory, and come with SSDs. The alternatives I am looking at have expandable memory up to 8gb, and standard disk drives. There are a few intermediate machines but those I have identified have other disadvantages, in particular no illuminated keyboard, or a higher price than I am willing to pay. The weight/size difference is not significant to me.

My question is essentially whether, running Lightroom and occasional PS5.5, I will get better performance out of 4gb of memory plus an SSD, or 8gb plus a standard disk drive.

My cameras are 16 megapixels maximum.

Suggestions about alternative ways of framing the question would also, of course, be welcome.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2012, 04:03:35 AM by kencameron » Logged

Steve Weldon
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1460



WWW
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2012, 04:24:52 AM »
ReplyReply

I think your question was fine as is.

What you're telling us is you're choosing between two types of laptops, and you want to know if LR will benefit more from one of these types than the other.

It depends.

In Lightroom is depends on how you set it up, and your work flow.

IF you're using the drive as an only drive, for your libraries, database, cache, image files, etc.. then you will certainly experience the overall difference a FAST SSD can make if properly configured, and for some tasks even more of a difference, while for other tasks no difference at all.

If you were using this drive only for your OS/Programs and you were plugging in additional drives, then depending on how these are configured and the tasks divided, you 'might' not notice much difference.

I mention a FAST SSD because some which are included with laptops are fairly slow and the impact felt.  If you keep in mind that an average laptop hard disk transfers data at 50-70mbps, and a fast SSD can exceed 500mbps (not all laptops, but any supporting SATAIII can) you can see there's a difference.  But the real speed difference isn't in the raw data transfer speeds, it's in the 4k speeds.

Try this:  Google AS SSD, it's a SSD benchmarking utility.  Basically, it processes a certain amount of files, and then tells you raw transfer speeds, 4k speeds, IOPS, etc. It transfers the same amount of files if testing an SSD or a regular hard disk.  Using this program to run a benchmark on an average laptop can take well in excess of an hour, often several hours.  Try it.  With a fast SSD on my Lenovo x201s it completes the test in roughly 15-18 seconds.  Obviously there is a huge difference in the time it takes to move data around.

How YOU personally will feel this difference depends on what tasks in LR use file transfer (some of them), or what tasks could benefit from a fast cache (virtually all of them).

And of course you'll see significantly reduced boot times, faster times to load programs, and better performance from any program using the SSD as a scratch or cache disk.  Most describe an SSD as changing the total character of their laptop, or feeling the difference normally felt when upgrading to a next generation machine.   So.. going to a next generation machine AND using a fast SSD.. big big difference for you.

About ultrabooks.  I think for most people these make a lot of sense.  They're a great value and offer really good performance.  But as you've noticed they are limited, and this is when a higher spec laptop in a 'near' size/weight category can make a big difference.. both in price and performance.  My x201s with the cost of adding a fast SSD costs nearly double what an ultrabook costs.  It's been worth every penny.
Logged

----------------------------------------------
http://www.BangkokImages.com
kencameron
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 669



WWW
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2012, 05:03:13 AM »
ReplyReply

Many thanks, Steve, for a lucid answer.

I take you to be saying that there are SSDs and SSDs. It seems that with Ultrabooks you take the SSD you are given, and  it won't necessarily be best in show. Your core scenario seems to involve upgrading to a good SSD.

The other half of my question was about 4gb vs 8gb memory, and there are plenty of threads about that as a separate question. Am I right in thinking that the benefits you see in doubling the memory would not be of the same order of magnitude as those that could be had from a good SSD?

My typical Lightroom usage is that of an amateur who isn't much concerned about the speed of import, does little or no batch processing, and tends to work intensively on single images - so the dimension of performance that matters most to me is the responsiveness of the sliders in Develop, particularly after a lot of edits have already been done.
Logged

Steve Weldon
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1460



WWW
« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2012, 05:19:34 AM »
ReplyReply

Many thanks, Steve, for a lucid answer.

I take you to be saying that there are SSDs and SSDs. It seems that with Ultrabooks you take the SSD you are given, and  it won't necessarily be best in show. Your core scenario seems to involve upgrading to a good SSD.

The other half of my question was about 4gb vs 8gb memory, and there are plenty of threads about that as a separate question. Am I right in thinking that the benefits you see in doubling the memory would not be of the same order of magnitude as those that could be had from a good SSD?

My typical Lightroom usage is that of an amateur who isn't much concerned about the speed of import, does little or no batch processing, and tends to work intensively on single images - so the dimension of performance that matters most to me is the responsiveness of the sliders in Develop, particularly after a lot of edits have already been done.

1.  On average no.  But depending on your work flow and how many other programs you have open when using LR, it could have the same impact.  As you can tell it becomes very hard to quantify a response without knowing a specific work flow, and even then if you haven't used that work flow on the configurations you're asking about and paying attention at the same time.. then its hard to know for sure.

2.  Really, if a modern machine is set up properly sliders shouldn't be a problem in either configuration.  But you need to understand, LR is hardware intensive and you get a certain level of performance from a certain levle of hardware.. which is why you're asking.  I can tell you this.  I have LR on my i7/8gb/SSD Lenovo laptop x201.. and I enjoy a performance experience significantly improved over the performance of my Core 2 Duo/4gb/hybrid drive Dell Precision Workstation, but not as good as my i7/12gb/SSD workstation.  And I wouldn't consider the sliders a problem on either.  They just provide a performance experience which is different and expected for their hardware configs.    And also keep in mind, most of the threads talking about the slider and performance issues you've been reading about.. are a product of the RC version of LR4.1 which has been greatly improved with the release of LR4.1.

3.  Ultimately, if you can afford it, look for a sub 3 pound 12-13" upgradable laptop, buy it with the least memory and any drive.. and then upgrade it yourself.  My x201s is a 2.4 pound (with the 6 cell, you can get 4 or 9 cell batteries for more/less weight) slice of heaven. With an i7, 8g RAM, and a fast SSD.. it's quickly became my best friend when away from my main workstation and has been for over a year now..  Ultrabooks weren't yet out when I purchased this, but if they were I would have went the same route anyway because I'm willing to pay for it.  Some aren't.   Unfortunately they don't make the x201s any more and there are precious few sub 3 pound equivs out there.. but there are many 3.4-4 pound models if that doesn't bother you.
Logged

----------------------------------------------
http://www.BangkokImages.com
dturina
Full Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 152



WWW
« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2012, 09:42:51 AM »
ReplyReply

My first response would be a Mac Air with the addition of an external 1TB HDD, but as you ruled a Mac out, it makes matters a bit more difficult, especially since you also need an internal HDD, which rules out most ultrabooks. Might this, then, be good enough?
http://www.samsung.com/us/computer/laptops/NP530U4B-A02US

It's a 14" machine with a 0.5TB HDD and an optical drive. If that's too bulky for you, my next recommendation would be to run Windows on a Mac Air because all the alternatives are the netbooks, and they are usually underpowered for photography.

Maybe the best match would be a 13" Mac Pro running windows - an awkward combo but possible: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVfRQ0YIDUI
« Last Edit: June 22, 2012, 09:51:55 AM by dturina » Logged

Danijel
kencameron
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 669



WWW
« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2012, 10:10:05 AM »
ReplyReply

My first response would be a Mac Air with the addition of an external 1TB HDD, but as you ruled a Mac out, it makes matters a bit more difficult, especially since you also need an internal HDD, which rules out most ultrabooks.
Thanks for the input. I have been looking at the Air again, with keen interest, but have what may be misconceived reservations about buying a mac and then mainly running windows on it. My current thinking is a sony vaio t series,  with an HDD and a small SDD for caching, and 8gb of memory, something like this which, like the latest Airs, has an Ivy Bridge processor. But I am in no big hurry and I expect there will be a crop of new ultrabooks to come out in coming months. I also like the look of the Microsoft Surface.
Logged

dturina
Full Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 152



WWW
« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2012, 10:52:59 AM »
ReplyReply

Thanks for the input. I have been looking at the Air again, with keen interest, but have what may be misconceived reservations about buying a mac and then mainly running windows on it.

Yeah, it wouldn't be my first thought either but apparently it works fine, some people even go so far as to claim that Mac is the best machine to run Windows on. I haven't tried it myself, as I prefer unix systems but it seems to work great. Why do I recommend it vs. the current crops of the ultrabooks - well, first of all, the stuff that is cheaper is signifficantly less well made, and the stuff that is as well made is actually more expensive, which makes Air surface as the well balanced option. The SSD is insufficient for photo storage but the new Air has both the thunderbolt port and the USB3 port, and if you get a 2.5" 1TB drive, it will run so fast you probably won't notice it's not internal. And finding an ultrabook with enough internal space for a HDD might be difficult.
Logged

Danijel
dturina
Full Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 152



WWW
« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2012, 11:32:09 AM »
ReplyReply

And only now do I see that the new Air's SSD maxes out at 0.5TB, so this more-less settles the matter because that's the expected HDD size.
Logged

Danijel
David Sutton
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 898


WWW
« Reply #8 on: June 23, 2012, 05:34:34 PM »
ReplyReply

Getting the priorities right for a travel laptop can be tricky. What sort of travel? I need to have my laptop in my carry-on backpack for up to a month, so here's my priorities:
weight/screen size
hard drive size
Performance isn't listed at all because I'm backing up to an external drive and I'm limited by the write speed of that drive, so perhaps I should add “usb 3” to the list. It's for travel, so processing speed takes second place. The sweet spot weight/screen size seems to be about a 13 inch screen.
My solution in the past was to buy second hand and pull out the hard drive and replace it with a 750 gb  7,200 rpm hard drive. My back up goes on that drive and my master files go on a portable usb 3 drive ready to connect to my desktop when I get home. I tried 1tb usb 3 drives on my last trip and one failed immediately due to overheating by having it sitting on a bed. Apparently they need airflow around them! I think 750gb is still the ideal size for reliability.
My last purchase a few years ago was a second hand Dell Latitude at 1.6kg, but the brick brings it up to 2kg. Running Windows XP with 2 gb of ram it will connect to an external monitor and run Lightroom 3 and CS5 fine. It came with Vista and a smaller drive, neither was suitable for travel. If I've used hotel wifi I re-install the C drive from a back up when I get home. It's amazing the malware hotels have.
I'm also looking for a new travel laptop now as I would like usb 3. I think the Ultrabooks may be overrated. I really like how light they are, but the SSD drives are too small for storing my files, so it means having to carry yet another external drive and having to keep track of that. And Intel's new Ivy Bridge CPUs look like offering more horsepower than Ultrabooks at twice the price. But the weight issue again. The next month or two looks interesting. Meanwhile, there are some high spec bargains with usb3 starting to appear on the the second hand market.
Logged

andyptak
Full Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 240


« Reply #9 on: June 23, 2012, 07:07:25 PM »
ReplyReply

Might I suggest that you look at Fujitsu?

My model is no longer made, but I'm sure something similar exists in their model lineup.

Mine's about a 12.5" screen. Windows 7. It's also a convertable tablet - finger and stylus sensitive. It's only an i3, but such is life. I have 4 gigs of RAM and a dual battery - I gave up the DVD bay to install the optional second battery - lasts a long, long time. No USB 3, but it has an Express Card slot and I have cards for USB3, Firewire and eSata, as well as a CF card. I stuck an SSD in it and it works great for Lightroom and Capture 1. I shoot tethered and it's perfect for editing and such back in a hotel room. It has it's shortcomings, mainly because of the processor, but it's small, fast enough and really versatile with the right gadget attachments.

Couldn't live without it.
Logged
Pages: [1]   Top of Page
Print
Jump to:  

Ad
Ad
Ad