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Laptop for Photoshop - GPU (Nvidia vs AMD) + Display (IPS vs TN) questions - please help

Jul 6, 2013 4:33 PM

Hi, I am helping someone with getting a new laptop for PhotoShop work, and am very confused about a couple of things.


Hoping that the pros on this forum can help.


1. Dedicated Graphics card - needed or not?

    If needed, AMD Radeon/FirePro (difficult to find on laptops) or Nvidia GeForce GTX 6xxM/7xxM or Quadro?


2. Suggestions on laptops with an IPS panel and wide color gamut.



Re. 1 - this is very confusing. From what I researched, the new Photoshop versions (CS6 and above) do use the GPU very effectively, and are using OpenCL rather than CUDA. Yet there are people on some forums that say that a GPU is not needed unless editing video.


My friend is not editing video - he is using Photoshop to create Digital Art. He does use all of the Photoshop features in his work. No 3D work, no video editing. The end result is Printed artwork - sometimes large prints 3 ft x 4 ft printed with geeclee on canvas/high quality paper.


Is a GPU needed, and if so is it better to get the AMD cards (Radeon most likely) that seem to completely outperform the GeForce cards in OpenCL at least?


Most of the laptops available seem to have the GTX 6xxM or 7xxM cards, and I read on one forum that the OpenCL functions are disabled on these cards. Read on another forum that it can be re-enabled with a hack. Thorougly confused. Please help.


Re. 2 - This too is confusing. Seems like an IPS panel has the best color rendition, but then they do not cover the entire color spectrum - or at least not as widely as the TN panels. If this will be the only monitor for work, is an IPS panel the best way to go or is it better to get a TN with wide gamut? Are there laptops with both - an IPS panel and a wide color gamut - without breaking the bank?


Currently the Sager/Clevo machines, and some MSI models, and ASUS models seem to be the best candidates. Had to rule out Dell Precision 6700/4700 and HP Elitebook 8770W/8570W due to price, but considering refurbished ones.


I am working with a $1200 budget with maybe some stretchability. Any advice/suggestions will be much appreciated.

  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 6, 2013 5:34 PM   in reply to seeingmind0

    #1.  The GPU uses OpenGL and Open CL but the latter is not as essential and not every card can run it.  Photoshop does not use CUDA, but some video programs like Premier Pro do.  OpenGL is essential for full use of CS6 and CC.  See this link for GL and CL features.


    Onboard GPU will work in normal situations, but the real key is the driver.   ATI and nVidia have more frequent updates.


    See this site for GPU.  Try to get score near 1000.  Over that you may pay more than you gain in speed.


    Hope this helps lower the confusion index.

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  • Trevor Dennis
    5,905 posts
    May 24, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 6, 2013 9:29 PM   in reply to seeingmind0

    Having said that Photoshop with its use of Open GL and its Mercury Graphics Engine, is different to Premiere Pro which uses CUDA for its Mercury Playback Engine, I'd still have a look at sites like ADK and VideoGuys where they specialise in making hardware for PremPro, including custom laptops.


    There's a spec list here


    And some recommendations from Videoguys HERE


    Something else I have noticed is that Scott Kelby and ‘The Photoshop Guys’ over on Kelby TV, all seem to use Mac Book Pros, and I understand that for most of them, it’s the only computer they own.


    I am looking for a laptop right now, but I want it to run most of the Creative Cloud apps, and after looking into it for a couple of weeks now, I still feel a long way off from committing dollars to a decision.


    [EDIT]  Just read the VideoGuys link again, and I see the Mac Book Pro is their number one choice.  Hmmmm...

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  • Trevor Dennis
    5,905 posts
    May 24, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 6, 2013 11:46 PM   in reply to seeingmind0

    After reading the Video Guys comments about the Mac Book Pro yet again, I am wondering why they were bying so positive about them. 


    This is what I am leaning towards at the moment.  TradeMe is New Zealand's answer to eBay.  This is a factory refurbished Alienware M17x R4, and the sepcs look pretty good for the money


    i7 3830QM

    32Gb RAM

    256Gb SSD for OS and programs

    1Tb HDD for data etc.

    GTX 660M with 2Gb DDR5

    17 inch 1920 x 1080 screen



    (1x) Power/DC-in Jack

    (4x) SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Ports

    (1x) eSATA 3Gb/s + USB 2.0 Combo port (with PowerShare Technology)

    (3x) Auto-sensing jacks for Line-out (2 line out; 1x SPDIF/Headphone)

    (1x) Microphone Input jack

    (1x) RJ-45 (10/100/1Gb IPv6)

    (1x) HDMI-1.4 output with Audio

    (1x) HDMI-1.3 input with Audio

    (1x) mini-Display Port

    (1x) VGA Port (DB-15)

    (1x) 9-in-1 Media card reader


    I can get this for NZ$3300  (US$2540)



    They are heavy at 9.4lb (without PSU and case, but that wouldn't be a problem for me.  They are apparently good with Photoshop because of the decent processor speed and the nVidia card.


    My one concern is that they have a shiny screen.  Any thoughts from anyone on this and the rest of the spec?

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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 7, 2013 1:54 AM   in reply to seeingmind0

    At the potential risk of your pretending to kick me off what you misguidedly perceive as your thread—which by the way you would have no right to do, since you do not own a thread just because you started it—I'll have a couple of comments on your original thoughts.


    There's no reason to be "confused" here.


    1.— Utilization of the GPU is indeed always beneficial to using recent versions of Photoshop, regardless of whether you work with video or not.  Whether you "need it or not" is a different discussion.


    2.— Of course it's absolutely necessary to be able to work with a monitor that has a narrower gamut than your working space or even your output target profile.  In my case, for example, as I'm 99.9% concerned with high quality prints, I work exclusively in ProPhoto RGB.  I'd be in a pickle if I were to restrict my work to just what I can see on any monitor regardless of how wide its gamut were.


    One just has to learn how to work in Photoshop.  That's what  Gamut Warning and Soft Proofing are there, for example.  Printers are capable of printing some colors that are not visible on any monitor.


    3.—  If both the video card and/or its driver fail to support Open GL and Shader Model, no "hack" on Earth can make up for it.


    4.— If someone came to me for advice on a laptop on which to run Photoshop  well, my main and perhaps only goal would be to dissuade that person from wasting his or her money.


    I know there might be flak from some laptop users for that immediately preceding paragraph, but hopefully not as much as you're likely to get—and deservedly so—from Mac Pro users for your astonishingly uninformed comments on those machines. 


    One thing is having a laptop as a second machine on which to show your Photoshop work to clients and prospective clients when forced to, and another one is trying to use a laptop as one's main, working Photoshop machine.


    Going to a laptop publication (which I gather the obscure, niche-market "NBR" you cite is) for information on whether to use one or not is like seeking theological religious advice about world religions from the Pope in the Vatican or the Ayatollah in Tehran. 


    5.— In the past I had run Photoshop on a variety of different nVidia GeForce cards with up to 512 MB of VRAM, but with Photoshop CS6's more advanced utilization of the GPU I have moved to a mutant, factory-overclocked, flashed ATI Radeon HD 5770 with 1 GB of VRAM driving side-by-side dual 22" monitors in my current desktop Mac Pro 2.66 GHz under OS X Lion 10.7.5 and I couldn't possibly be happier.


    I do run my second copy of Photoshop on my Mac Book (not "Pro") laptop with its stock Intel GMA 950 video circuitry and its paltry  64 MB of shared system memory, and it works just fine for the aforementioned purposes of showing  Photoshop work to others.  I wouldn't want to do any editing in Photoshop on that machine other than for minor touch-ups in an emergency, however.


    • — — —

    Lastly, I feel compelled to add that, in my opinion, basic human decency would dictate that you offer Trevor some sort of apology for your presumptuousness in asking him to leave this thread.  If I hadn't already begun typing this post before you posted your #6, I might have just ignored your thread.  Considering the overall anti-laptop tenor of this post, you may well wish I had. 

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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 7, 2013 3:01 AM   in reply to seeingmind0

    That post honors you, seeingmind0.  Thank you.

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