To start with, I know this has been asked here a lot, but I need a little guidance with selecting a laptop for primarily Photoshop work. I don't have a desktop and the laptop will be my primary machine, so it needs to be powerful enough. A desktop is not a feasible option for me right now. Also, I am a student and don't want to blow my dad's wallet, the budget I'm aiming for is $1300 (which I still think is pretty high).
I will be talking in terms of USD rates.
My main usage of the laptop will be for web design, but I will also be creating digital art (paintings) on a large scale. I also do fractal art, and the rendering would be CPU intensive. I have some projects that I couldn't complete and are just lying around on my current laptop because a single brush stroke in those files takes 10-15 seconds to register (it's a four year old budget laptop, 4GB RAM, slow HDD, Core 2 Duo). I might print some of the paintings but only for personal use, not for commercial purposes.
From my search on the internet, I have decided to go for what people call a "gaming laptop". This is mainly due to the fact that I can not afford a mobile workstation, and a gaming laptop is probably the next best thing there is. I am not considering MBP because of the price / performance. I know they are stable, and would probably last long, and they use quality components, but the performance wouldn't be as good as, let's say, a gaming laptop for the same price ($1300 budget)
The laptop I am considering right now would have a good processor (Intel Core i7 4700MQ), plenty RAM (16GB, upgradeable to 32GB), and one HDD bay and 2 mSATA slots for SSDs. The GPU is overkill for my needs, the nVidia GTX770M. The screen is a TN panel, with an option to go for a 95% NTSC gamut display, but it is still a 6 bit TN without Hi-FRC, so I don't see any point going for that since my major work is web design and I'll (probably) see a lot of banding with a 6 bit high gamut display (even with dithering to 8bit). I can clearly see banding on my current display screen with standard gamut in gradients, so even the thought of a higher gamut with lower bit depth scares me.
This setup is for ~$1300 (excluding the SSD which I will be paying for from my savings so I'm not counting that).
Another setup, which has an IPS panel, a lower-end GPU (GTX 750M), and 16GB RAM but NOT upgradeable (2 DIMM slots), is for around $1100 but it has a lower build quality overall and bad heat dissipation as well.
According to you, do I require more than 16GB of RAM? I intend to use this laptop for at least 4 years. The projects I have on hold have PSDs 1.7GB in size, and I plan to go the PSB route with the new laptop. Having 16GB RAM with an SSD for scratch disk, would that enable me to work normally without frustration?
Should I keep the display panel above the memory size in my priority list? I feel that performance should come first - what's the use of a beautiful screen if the computer itself doesn't perform smoothly?
From my understanding, the ideal system for me would be:
Standard gamut IPS display
Core i7 4700MQ
16GB RAM for now but upgradeable to 32GB if I need to
nVidia GTX 750M (Quadro and FirePro are really out of my budget and I'm definitely not going to use 10bit displays for a while)
256GB SSD for OS, Photoshop, scratch disk, and active project files
750GB - 1TB 7200RPM HDD for storage.
And a decent build quality, of course.
I do not care much about the battery life, and noise levels; although good heat dissipation is a must.
Sadly, I can not find anything with this configuration. To say I am seriously confused would be an understatement.
Can you guys help me out with your experience? Any recommendations about specific laptop models would also be greatly appreciated.
EDIT: These are the models I'm looking at right now: