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For After Effects, the main considerations are 1) amount of RAM, 2) number and speed of processor cores (CPUs), and 3) speed and number of disk drives.
All of these computers have 8GB of RAM. You didn't mention the CPUs for all of the computers that you listed, so I'll assume that they're the same. Look at hard drive speed. Also, don't skimp on monitor size. You're already going to feel cramped on a laptop screen; dont make it worse by getting a _small_ laptop.
> What should I be looking at in terms of graphcis chips for use with after effects?
That should be the last thing on your mind. After Effects doesn't use the GPU for much, and the features it does use are common features that are on any stock card. Don't waste money on an expensive GPU for After Effects.
> ...which means I won't be able to log and capture video content on the machine...
If you're concerned about this sort of functionality, you should ask on the Premiere Pro hardware forum. Folks on that forum will be able to answer that sort of question better than folks on the After Effects forum.
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Do you have any links for the laptops? That way we can take a look and at least see what extra options they have. (Particularily for your Firewire problem, as that can be solved by adding a PCMCIA card with Firewire ports).
Monitor size is a big deal with laptops! From my experience using a Dell 15.4" laptop, I always wanted at the very least, more resolution. It depends on how your eyesight is too. I'm confortable with using a 1920x1080 monitor in 15.4" size, but not everyone is.
I'm not sure where Adobe is at with certifying mobile NVidia cards, but if you are using Premiere Pro, Mercury Playback Engine is a big deal for graphics cards. You might have to do a little research on that one, or be patient if Adobe is planning to update supported mobile graphic cards.
I would think majority of the laptops you are looking at have two hard drive slots. Properly setting those up for project files, source, cache, OS, etc will help with you Disk I/O problems. Also make sure you get 7200rpm drives. Two 7200rpm drives will be the ideal setup. If you can also get an eSATA port on the laptop, that will give you even more options for hard drive setups. PCMCIA cards also come in eSATA flavors as well (but you only have so many of those!) I'd also make sure the laptop has all the ports I need, then worry more about performance or included RAM, as those can usually be upgraded without a problem.
As for a processor, I would stick with an i7 (i5 at the very least if your budget doesn't allow for the i7). By the way, what is your budget?
And what is nice with laptops too, is you always have room to add an additional monitor if you like that workflow!
I probably wouldn't post in the Premiere Hardware forum. They will look down at you for trying to use a laptop for video work. I'd be glad to answer questions you may have about hardware and performance. I'm still learning quite a bit about CS5's performace gains so we will work this out!
> I probably wouldn't post in the Premiere Hardware forum. They will look down at you for trying to use a laptop for video work. I'd be glad to answer questions you may have about hardware and performance.
That's misleading. For one thing, I'm on that forum.
If you have questions about hardware for capturing with Premiere Pro, the Premiere Pro hardware forum is the right place for the question.
As the original poster stated, we all know that a desktop computer is better for some things, but a laptop is necessary for some purposes. With that said at the outset, there's no reason to fear the folks on the Premiere Pro forum.
I would never say all members are like that, but a few most definitely are (like any forum really) They tend to be a bit nearsighted in how they recommend things, where only what is best for them is best for the OP. Todd, you are not one of them! You are very much, a great help! I don't feel it's wrong to mention to 'thehhh' that there will be a few people that may make him/her feel somewhat belittled. Outside of recommending the best, they aren't much help. I just wanted the OP to know that and be able to take what some of those guys say, with a grain of salt.
Granted, if one of the many other people helps him/her out, he should be able to walk away quite satisfied with the replies! I want to offer what knowledge I may have to him/her.
Thanks for the good feedback guys.
I definately understand the pros of a desktop. I currently have a mac setup for video editing at home and a PC based setup at my works studio. I do a fair bit of travelling so I would really like the laptop for this reason. I'm pretty keen to stick with a PC and hopefully I can find a laptop that suits my needs, then I can get rid of the mac and transfer projects files etc with works setup.
Definately understand what you saying about screen size, so preferably the bigger the better.
I really like the look and sound of this laptop:
But as i mentioned earlier, and may post in the other forum, it is lacking a firewire port, which means I can't log and capture footage, unless there's some workaround that I havent looked into yet?
No real downside that I can see?
Here's a Dell that I didn't include in the first post
Would be keen to hear your thoughts guys? Haven't really set a budget yet and these are all around the same price. I do believe that the likes of alienware etc are out of my price range though.