When it comes to design or even photo editing, most people would look at purchasing a MacBook Pro from Apple as we have been lead to believe that they are the best tool for the job. While they are beautiful pieces of design and generally sport great hardware specs, there are some amazing Windows based laptops that offer more bang for your buck.
What To Look For:
When it comes to designing, I personally look for a few things before I purchase a new laptop. At the top of my list is of course processing power and RAM. Processing power is at the top of my list as most laptops can be upgraded with more memory later on. There are the very rare cases where the RAM modules are soldered to the motherboards, which is the case of the new MacBook Pro. I would recommend a minimum of 8GB of RAM and I personally see 16GB as being the magic number currently. Most of the time if you are working on extremely large design document that requires even more memory, then you should be working on a dedicated workstation. The second most important thing that I look for in a good laptop is the actual display. I try and look for display panels that offer the best possible sRGB, Adobe RGB and NTSC color gamuts. Ideally you would want to have 100% sRGB coverage or higher. However, anything above 80% is usually acceptable. If you are not familiar with color gamuts, it is a certain subset of colors which can be accurately represented by the physical display panel of your laptop. I also tend to look for dedicated graphics cards over the integrated Intel or AMD GPUs. The last thing that I look for is a solid state drive, these are nice to have, however they are not a necessity. Worst case scenario, you can purchase one separately and migrate your Windows onto the new storage drive.
Dell Inspiron i7559-5012GRY
Now not everyone can afford to spend over $2000 or even over $1000 on a laptop. Luckily some of the top laptop brands have you covered with a great selection of laptops that won’t break the bank. One of these laptops is the Dell Inspiron i7559-5012GRY which offers decent hardware and a 4K touchscreen display. What sets this display apart from many of the laptops in this price category is the fact that it offers 90% sRGB and 58% Adobe RGB color gamut coverage. This is far higher than the average with the added benefit of a touchscreen panel and a maximum resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels. You will also get the added benefit of the powerful Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor which is a standard with most gaming laptops. It comes standard with 8GB of DDR4 2133MHz RAM, however you might want to look at upgrading to 16GB for snappier performance. The dedicated NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M graphics card will allow you to efficiently run all of your design applications and play any current gaming title if needed. While you might not get a superfast SSD, you will get a Hybrid storage drive which offers better performance than the slower 5400rpm drive that most laptops under $1000 ship with.
ASUS ROG Strix GL502VM:
ASUS offer a wide range of laptops and their ROG range of laptops are among the top gaming laptops on the market. The new ASUS ROG Strix GL502VM is a 15.6-inch gaming laptop that offers the latest Intel and NVIDIA hardware for all of your designing needs. The IPS display offers 93% sRGB, 69% NTSC and 72% AdobeRGB color gamut coverage, which is perfect for any designer. While you might not get the 4K touchscreen display of the Dell, you do get a great Full-HD display which offers maximum resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. The ASUS ROG Strix GL502VM also features the latest Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor which offers slightly better performance than its predecessor. You also get 16GB of DDR4 2400MHz RAM, meaning that won’t have to purchase a second 8GB RAM module. The newer NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 offers better performance than the older GTX 960M and will easily handle more intense rendering. You also get the added benefit of both a 1TB mechanical hard drive and a superfast 128GB SSD. While the SSD is tiny for modern standards, it will allow you to install all of your design applications, allowing them to launch in seconds.
ASUS ZenBook Pro UX501VW:
If you are after a sleeker looking laptop, then the ASUS ZenBook Pro UX501VW will be the better choice for you. Like the Dell, you get a 4K touchscreen display that offers a maximum resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixel. With a 100% sRGB, 72% NTSC and 74% Adobe RGB color gamut coverage, the ZenBook Pro UX501VW is a firm favorite of designers and photo editors alike. You get the same great Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor that powers the Dell, however you get double the RAM of the cheaper Dell laptop. You also get the same dedicated NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M, which will easily allow you to render your designs. The superfast solid state drive offers 512GB of storage space, however this might fill up fast and you might want to consider using an external hard drive to store all of your work on.
Top Of The Line Choice:
Razer Blade Pro RZ09-01662E53-R3U1:
Described as the pinnacle of gaming laptop perfection, the latest Razer Blade Stealth is well worth looking at if you have extremely deep pockets. Costing around the same as the top of the line 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, this laptop is not cheap. However for $3999 you do get a whole lot of power under the hood. Not only is this laptop extremely powerful, it also manages to squeeze all of this into a very thin 0.88-inch aluminum body. The 4K touchscreen display offers rich and vibrant colors due to the fact that it covers 185% sRGB and 100% Adobe RGB color gamuts, which is far higher than the latest MacBook Pro. These kind of figures are a designers dream and with a larger 17.3-inch display it is also more comfortable to work on. Powering this sleek laptop is the same Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor as many of high-end gaming laptops and for the price it would have been nice to see something from right at the top of Intel’s range. Regardless of this, the i7-6700HQ processor is more than capable of running any design application on the market. You also get 32GB of DDR4 2133MHz RAM, which is almost overkill for most design tasks. You also get an extremely powerful NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card, which will make light, work when it comes to rendering and out performs the MacBook’s AMD Radeon GPU. To store all of your work the Razer Blade Pro RZ09-01662E53-R3U1 features two superfast M.2 512GB solid state drives, giving you a total of 1Tb of storage space.
Despite being lauded as ‘gaming laptops’ by most, all four of these laptops are great alternatives to the new MacBook Pro as they offer great performance and good color gamut coverage. At the end of the day there are more choices when it comes to the choosing the best Windows based laptop and this can make the choice slightly harder. Hopefully our selection of powerful laptops will make your choice slightly easier when considering your next upgrade.