Photographer girlfriend wants to ditch the MacBook Pro

Uncle Humjaba

Limp Gawd
Joined
May 6, 2006
Messages
428
So my girlfriend is fed up with her MacBook... she's had the motherboard go out once, charger went out, and now one of the ports is going bad. It's a 2017 model so she's gotten her use out of it - time to replace. She's over Apple, and has asked me to suggest a windows replacement. Use case is primarily photo editing in Lightroom (huge catalogs, exporting), with email and typical social media productivity stuff as well. She wants something durable, with a color accurate screen. Portable is nice as well, but she's been lugging this 15" MBP around for 3 years so that's all relative I suppose.

Top contender is the XPS 15. I really wish it came with a Ryzen 3rd gen processor, but the huge battery makes up for the power-hungry i7-10750H. That battery with an R9 4800H would be amazing, though.
My other thoughts were an XPS 13 for added portability, but I'm not sure how well that i7-1065G7 can handle lightroom? She's regularly exporting 200-image sets for her clients (weddings).
In left field with a notable mention is the Thinkpad 14s (AMD) for the AMD processor and seemingly well-reviewed screen option, as well as durability.

Any obvious picks that I've missed?
 

dvsman

2[H]4U
Joined
Dec 2, 2009
Messages
3,365
I'd go for a 15" just so your / her eyeballs don't go crazy trying to read the tiny fonts. I've had both 13xps and 15xps and the build quality for both were great. Though you trade the super thin form factor for performance. It can only cool so much heat from the CPU/GPU, but if super thin is your game, that's the way to go.

I've also used:

-The Gigabyte Aero 15x (which I think now comes with an OLED option nowadays) and while the build quality was pretty good a Mac user will definitely think its a downgrade since its plastic. This one is all about specs, but you trade plasticky build quality to keep the price down.

- My current main laptop is from Razer - the metal build quality is about the only PC that can match up to a Mac. I'm using the 17 Razer Pro at the moment and the build quality is great. Definitely worth checking out before you pull the trigger, though all that machined aluminum build quality makes it nearly as $$$ as a Mac too.
 

IdiotInCharge

NVIDIA SHILL
Joined
Jun 13, 2003
Messages
14,710
I'm flipping coins on Dell vs. Razer in the 15" category myself. Lenovo would probably be fine as well, but off my radar due to being a Chinese company.

In general, I'd prefer the XPS15 but with high refresh rate and VRR, but neither of those are really needed for photo editing.

And the main reason I'm looking as large as the XPS15 is that Dell shrunk this model year. I'm coming from a pair of 13", one ASUS and the other an XPS13.
 

KATEKATEKATE

Limp Gawd
Joined
Jan 20, 2019
Messages
500
I vote sticking with 15" options and 6/8 core CPUs. Having a larger and heavier laptop is IMHO a fair tradeoff for less waiting around while LR renders- if she was working with just a few images at a time the Ice Lake XPS13 would be totally adequate but importing/exporting hundreds will be a lesser test of patience on a full size laptop with more cores. I second your wish for more AMD options... a 15" with a 4900H/HS, no dGPU, and lots of battery would be perfect for this kind of thing.
 

Uncle Humjaba

Limp Gawd
Joined
May 6, 2006
Messages
428
Razer wasn't really on my radar as I've heard pretty terrible things about their longevity... for whatever reason, the initial build quality is solid, but they seem to crap out pretty early on. My Lenovo X1 Carbon lasted 6 years of daily use, for example... that's the sort of thing I'm looking for.
Lenovo laptops are still designed in the US for the most part, by the same IBM Thinkpad people as before. It's just Chinese-owned now, for whatever that's worth.
The Aero seems interesting... but is out of stock and actually just as expensive as an XPS 15.
 

dvsman

2[H]4U
Joined
Dec 2, 2009
Messages
3,365
The older Razers were expensive paperweights but the newer ones are really nice. I've got the last years (2019) and it's a tank. The trackpad is almost as good as my Apple Macbook Air - Apple historically have made the best mouse/trackpads. But I'm sure there are Monday / Friday builds out there like anything else being assembled.

With that being said, the CON against Razor is that they have no repair facility anywhere AFAIK. It's ship everything back and wait, should your system go down. This is a big issue compared to Dell for sure. Also a big negative for professional users.
 

vegeta535

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Jul 19, 2013
Messages
5,475
Razer wasn't really on my radar as I've heard pretty terrible things about their longevity... for whatever reason, the initial build quality is solid, but they seem to crap out pretty early on. My Lenovo X1 Carbon lasted 6 years of daily use, for example... that's the sort of thing I'm looking for.
Lenovo laptops are still designed in the US for the most part, by the same IBM Thinkpad people as before. It's just Chinese-owned now, for whatever that's worth.
The Aero seems interesting... but is out of stock and actually just as expensive as an XPS 15.
The older Razers were expensive paperweights but the newer ones are really nice. I've got the last years (2019) and it's a tank. The trackpad is almost as good as my Apple Macbook Air - Apple historically have made the best mouse/trackpads. But I'm sure there are Monday / Friday builds out there like anything else being assembled.

With that being said, the CON against Razor is that they have no repair facility anywhere AFAIK. It's ship everything back and wait, should your system go down. This is a big issue compared to Dell for sure. Also a big negative for professional users.
While razor laptops are nice I still wouldn't recommend them of reliability is a priority which should be of she is a professional photographer. I would avoid Razor til they can prove they are reliable.
 

dvsman

2[H]4U
Joined
Dec 2, 2009
Messages
3,365
I threw Razor out there because I know Mac people like a certain design aesthetic - machined metal, blah blah blah. I don't think there are any 100% PC-side equivalents if you want to replace a Mac's point for point - build quality, Apple store ease of repair, software.

With that being said, in my case for professional use (lots of spreadsheets and data crunching) and heavy gaming on the road, I have only had one laptop (Dell Alienware m18) actually die and need service across 2 decades of mobile use. All my other laptops simply were replaced due to obsolescence. I believe most Tier 1 manufacturers offer next day / 2nd day service contracts as options (Dell, Lenovo, HP) though you may have to go up to their business line and not their consumer line.

I also had the opportunity to use a Lenovo X1 Carbon for a weekend and would consider that one as well, if you're not a tin-foil hat / China China China user.
 

Aurelius

2[H]4U
Joined
Mar 22, 2003
Messages
3,076
So my girlfriend is fed up with her MacBook... she's had the motherboard go out once, charger went out, and now one of the ports is going bad. It's a 2017 model so she's gotten her use out of it - time to replace. She's over Apple, and has asked me to suggest a windows replacement. Use case is primarily photo editing in Lightroom (huge catalogs, exporting), with email and typical social media productivity stuff as well. She wants something durable, with a color accurate screen. Portable is nice as well, but she's been lugging this 15" MBP around for 3 years so that's all relative I suppose.

Top contender is the XPS 15. I really wish it came with a Ryzen 3rd gen processor, but the huge battery makes up for the power-hungry i7-10750H. That battery with an R9 4800H would be amazing, though.
My other thoughts were an XPS 13 for added portability, but I'm not sure how well that i7-1065G7 can handle lightroom? She's regularly exporting 200-image sets for her clients (weddings).
In left field with a notable mention is the Thinkpad 14s (AMD) for the AMD processor and seemingly well-reviewed screen option, as well as durability.

Any obvious picks that I've missed?

I would lean toward the Dell XPS 15 for the display, basic design and overall balanced approach, but I'll be honest: your girlfriend isn't guaranteed to have a more favorable opinion of Windows PCs after this.

The dirty "secret" is that Dell and others not only have these problems, it's that they're sometimes worse. You just don't hear about them as often due to both the plethora of models at any one brand (where Apple has only a few) and, quite frankly, because people are more tolerant of this in both lower-cost PCs and the Windows PC market as a whole.

This isn't to say that XPS will be an unreliable trash heap, but you should make clear that there's no guarantee it'll be more reliable.
 

Uncle Humjaba

Limp Gawd
Joined
May 6, 2006
Messages
428
Well, we're replacing the MacBook at this point anyway, and I got her on a cloud backup service if shit hits the fan again. An equivalent MBP is still a good chunk more expensive, so I think the xps 15 is our answer.
 

Jinto

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Aug 10, 2006
Messages
1,729
The new Envy 15 is also an option. 15inch 4k OLED with a RTX2060 at 4.5LBs for $1.6k (though out of stock at this moment from HP).
 

dvsman

2[H]4U
Joined
Dec 2, 2009
Messages
3,365
I'm glad someone necroed this thread - I have been reading up on the new Macbook Air and Pro with the M1 CPUs and they are pretty freaking cool. Cheaper than previous gen to boot.

If she is still in the Apple ecosystem, I'd go take a look before jumping to PC masta race. If no gaming, no point in going PC.
 

Aurelius

2[H]4U
Joined
Mar 22, 2003
Messages
3,076
I'm glad someone necroed this thread - I have been reading up on the new Macbook Air and Pro with the M1 CPUs and they are pretty freaking cool. Cheaper than previous gen to boot.

If she is still in the Apple ecosystem, I'd go take a look before jumping to PC masta race. If no gaming, no point in going PC.
Sounds like she's not. With that said: I'm very curious to see how the larger MacBook Pro makes the leap to Apple Silicon. It's easy to imagine beastly performance yet having enough battery to do heavy-duty work all day.

(Also: the Air and Pro cost as much as their predecessors, it's just that you don't have to buy more than the base Air to get brisk performance.)
 

dvsman

2[H]4U
Joined
Dec 2, 2009
Messages
3,365
(Also: the Air and Pro cost as much as their predecessors, it's just that you don't have to buy more than the base Air to get brisk performance.)
Sorry I didn't mean that the way it sounded. I meant the barrier to entry to the pro series since they have a smaller 13" screen vs the old previous gen intel which I think was 16" (and more spendy). But yeah I get what you're saying :-D
 

Aurelius

2[H]4U
Joined
Mar 22, 2003
Messages
3,076
Sorry I didn't mean that the way it sounded. I meant the barrier to entry to the pro series since they have a smaller 13" screen vs the old previous gen intel which I think was 16" (and more spendy). But yeah I get what you're saying :-D
There have been 13-inch MacBook Pros for over a decade (I should know, I have a 2013 model I ought to replace soon). The 16-inch model was only introduced in late 2019... before that, there were numerous 15-inch models.

This is basically the previous-gen 13-inch MBP from early 2020 with a chip swap and USB 4 ports. Not necessarily a problem, but it's not a significant rethink of the platform, either! I suspect Apple wanted to use familiar designs so it could focus on getting the ARM internals nailed down. Next year is when Apple will really show what it can do.
 

dvsman

2[H]4U
Joined
Dec 2, 2009
Messages
3,365
Thanks for the info, man. I'm not an Apple-head, and normally just surf the headlines until the whole M1 switch caught my eye.

I've been this close to pulling the trigger a few times but still can't figure out specific specs to go with - especially since nothing is upgradable after the fact. 8 or 16 gigs ram, 7 or 8 core GPU or how much space do (non-gaming) Macs normally need for storage? Does 8/7/1tb make sense for an email/text editor/spreadsheet or powerpoint appliance? I dunno.

Some people say the 7 core GPU is just binning right now and they'll go to all 8 core GPUs once production stabilizies (/shrug).

If I wait (since this is really a toy / for personal use and not something I immediately need or for work) will they possibly go to M1x / M2 in the spring?

I'll go back and wait for spring, do PC things until I feel more confident that I know what I'm doing / I'm getting :-D
 

mnewxcv

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Mar 4, 2007
Messages
8,068
I saw the m1 macbook pro for $1249 last week on Amazon. It was the 8gig model but 8 core gpu since the 7 isn't an option on the pro. Honestly I'm pretty anti apple but for photo editing I don't know if there is a better system. The weight, size, power usage/battery life, and screen quality are all top notch imo.


Edit: that being said, I don't think you'd regret the 999 macbook air wirh the 7 core gpu unless comparing it to the 8 core. I doubt you'd notice a big difference unless you use a stopwatch.
 

dvsman

2[H]4U
Joined
Dec 2, 2009
Messages
3,365
Here's a thing which I don't know if any other old-timers are doing. My local college lets older folks take / audit classes for cheap. Which I do now and then (I'm taking an interesting Global Terrorism class right now. Will I ever do anything with it? Nope, but its feeding the old brain cells.).

The kicker is you get to use their edu email, so you can buy stuff off of the educational store. So I can cross shop the sales / corporate pricing (via my office) and educational pricing to see what is cheapest.

Not everyone's cup of tea for, sure but I thought I would throw it out there.
 

Aurelius

2[H]4U
Joined
Mar 22, 2003
Messages
3,076
Thanks for the info, man. I'm not an Apple-head, and normally just surf the headlines until the whole M1 switch caught my eye.

I've been this close to pulling the trigger a few times but still can't figure out specific specs to go with - especially since nothing is upgradable after the fact. 8 or 16 gigs ram, 7 or 8 core GPU or how much space do (non-gaming) Macs normally need for storage? Does 8/7/1tb make sense for an email/text editor/spreadsheet or powerpoint appliance? I dunno.

Some people say the 7 core GPU is just binning right now and they'll go to all 8 core GPUs once production stabilizies (/shrug).

If I wait (since this is really a toy / for personal use and not something I immediately need or for work) will they possibly go to M1x / M2 in the spring?

I'll go back and wait for spring, do PC things until I feel more confident that I know what I'm doing / I'm getting :-D
Welcome. I'm in the ecosystem and follow this stuff closely regardless, and I wouldn't expect everyone to be that familiar.

If it's just an email/productivity machine, 8GB of RAM will be enough. I'd get 16GB only if you either tend to juggle a lot of material at once (say, a ton of browser tabs plus multiple other apps). I suspect 256GB might be enough if you aren't saving large files, but if you're in doubt, 512GB should be plenty.

I don't think Apple will bring 8-core GPUs to the entry-level Air this time around. As it stands, you won't really notice the difference if you aren't gaming or otherwise pushing the graphics hardware to its limits... and if you want a 512GB SSD, there's already a stock config with that and the 8-core GPU.

As for spring? I think Apple might introduce higher-end 13- and 16-inch MacBook Pros based on newer M-series chips, but it's hard to say exactly when they'll arrive. I'll say this: if you don't intend to do some heavy-duty work and don't need a large screen or extra ports, the current models are just fine.
 

mnewxcv

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Mar 4, 2007
Messages
8,068
Welcome. I'm in the ecosystem and follow this stuff closely regardless, and I wouldn't expect everyone to be that familiar.

If it's just an email/productivity machine, 8GB of RAM will be enough. I'd get 16GB only if you either tend to juggle a lot of material at once (say, a ton of browser tabs plus multiple other apps). I suspect 256GB might be enough if you aren't saving large files, but if you're in doubt, 512GB should be plenty.

I don't think Apple will bring 8-core GPUs to the entry-level Air this time around. As it stands, you won't really notice the difference if you aren't gaming or otherwise pushing the graphics hardware to its limits... and if you want a 512GB SSD, there's already a stock config with that and the 8-core GPU.

As for spring? I think Apple might introduce higher-end 13- and 16-inch MacBook Pros based on newer M-series chips, but it's hard to say exactly when they'll arrive. I'll say this: if you don't intend to do some heavy-duty work and don't need a large screen or extra ports, the current models are just fine.
Pretty sure they already offer the 8 core gpu in the air when configed with the 512gb ssd, but I could be wrong.
 

tived

Limp Gawd
Joined
Aug 31, 2006
Messages
177
So my girlfriend is fed up with her MacBook... she's had the motherboard go out once, charger went out, and now one of the ports is going bad. It's a 2017 model so she's gotten her use out of it - time to replace. She's over Apple, and has asked me to suggest a windows replacement. Use case is primarily photo editing in Lightroom (huge catalogs, exporting), with email and typical social media productivity stuff as well. She wants something durable, with a color accurate screen. Portable is nice as well, but she's been lugging this 15" MBP around for 3 years so that's all relative I suppose.

Top contender is the XPS 15. I really wish it came with a Ryzen 3rd gen processor, but the huge battery makes up for the power-hungry i7-10750H. That battery with an R9 4800H would be amazing, though.
My other thoughts were an XPS 13 for added portability, but I'm not sure how well that i7-1065G7 can handle lightroom? She's regularly exporting 200-image sets for her clients (weddings).
In left field with a notable mention is the Thinkpad 14s (AMD) for the AMD processor and seemingly well-reviewed screen option, as well as durability.

Any obvious picks that I've missed?
Smart girl, she is a keeper!(y)
 

dvsman

2[H]4U
Joined
Dec 2, 2009
Messages
3,365
The XPS series is great choice. It's one of the few that IMO offer comparable build quality to Apple. And those thin bezels!

The only downside from what I've read - and I've never noticed any deficiencies personally from my own XPSs - is that the speakers are tinny. Apparently PC most makers continue to cheap out on laptop audio for some reason compared to Apple.
 
  • Like
Reactions: tived
like this

tived

Limp Gawd
Joined
Aug 31, 2006
Messages
177
The XPS series is great choice. It's one of the few that IMO offer comparable build quality to Apple. And those thin bezels!

The only downside from what I've read - and I've never noticed any deficiencies personally from my own XPSs - is that the speakers are tinny. Apparently PC most makers continue to cheap out on laptop audio for some reason compared to Apple.
If it’s only the speaker, then I would say you are doing ok. I don’t think you will find many small laptops with good sound, it is obviously very subjective

if it was battery or power, cpu, GPU or ram then you would have an issue

Dell are making some nice laptops imho but only used them in work environment
 
Top