Help Me Buy A Laptop!

Butch Moore wrote on 3/29/2009, 10:16 PM
I'm shopping for a new laptop. In addition to general purpose applications, the machine will be used for Vegas SD and future HD editing (currently Vegas Pro 8), Photoshop CS4 and similar graphic intensive software.

I've become dizzy choosing the right processor, OS, 32 or 64 bit, etc.

Here's my questions:

1. Will Vegas and other 32 bit programs operate under Vista 64, or should I stick with 32 bit Vista or XP (or XP 64)?
2. What is the minimum processor I should look for? Not necessarily the fastest, but the best "price point". I've always had good luck with Intel...should I look elsewhere? Is the 6400 listed below adequate?
3. Are internal BD burners worth the bucks, or should I go the external route?
4. Depending on the operating system, what size and type of memory is appropriate?
5. Dell, HP, Gateway, Toshiba...who builds the highest quality machine?

I'm looking at a HP 16t:

Genuine Windows Vista Home Premium
Intel Core 2 Duo Processor T6400
2GB memory
250GB hard drive
512MB NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT
LightScribe SuperMulti 8X DVD+/-R/RW
Optional Blu-ray, Integrated HDTV Tuner

Wireless-N card
Integrated webcam, fingerprint reader, & microphone
full-size numeric keypad
ENERGY STARĀ® qualified

Price is less important than getting a quality, fast computer that will stand the test of time for a few least.



Gede wrote on 3/29/2009, 10:51 PM
I bought my Dell XPS M1730 a year ago, and it still one of the fastest around.

1920-1200 2,8ghz Core2 Extreme, 2x8600gt video (SLI) card, 4gig, Raid Disks, a worthy desktop replacement.

But heavy.

Tom Pauncz wrote on 3/30/2009, 5:38 AM
Haven't explored laptops recently, so don't know if they make them with Core i7 processors yet. That's the proc (940 or 965) I am looking at for an additional "under-desktop" box for HD.
Laurence wrote on 3/30/2009, 7:56 AM
I have a similar HP laptop. Overall I really like it. If you are going to spec it out on the HP page, here is my advice for specs:

There are some good deals at places like B&H, Costco, New Egg, etc. You'll get more for your money than you will at

Get 4GB RAM expandable to 8GB. 8GB is too expensive right now because it needs to be done with two 4GB chips, but in the future you are sure to want it.

Get at least a 320GB hard drive. There are two drive bays in the 17" HP laptops. There is a discount version at Sams Club that has two 250GB drives for a total of 500GB. You are better off getting one 320 and adding a second 7200rpm drive yourself in the future.

Get a version with a 512meg Nvidia graphics card.

Get the Blu-ray drive rather than the Lightscribe DVD+-R.

Forget the TV tuner unless you see yourself plugging in either an antenna or a cable TV wire.

The finger print reader is useless. Don't get it unless it is part of a bundle you can't live without.

Get the 64bit windows version. Eventually 64 bit Vegas is going to work properly.

Depending on how HD you are and how good your eyes are, you might want to consider the higher screen resolutions. I have a base 1440x900 model which works fine for 1440x1080 HDV, but if you are shooting in 1920x1080, a higher resolution screen will show you what you are actually shooting at full resolution. On the other hand, on a 17 inch screen, unless your eyes are really good, you aren't likely to see a difference. In any case, be aware of this when you are looking at systems.

A real advantage of HP laptops is that they work well with HP docking stations so you can alternate between a permanent and mobile setup with ease.

musicvid10 wrote on 3/30/2009, 8:51 AM
"the machine will be used for Vegas SD and future HD editing (currently Vegas Pro 8), Photoshop CS4 and similar graphic intensive software."

Besides the obvious biggie for NLE, CPU power -- the next obvious consideration is screen quality.

Go into the big retailers, take some of your own media on a usb drive (those preloaded videos of the bear, lake, and butterfly are caca), and compare the images on the screens side-by-side until you find the brand and size you like. If you are going to be staring at this thing for hours at a time and making critical decisions as to colors, levels, and the like, it had better be right from the get-go.

There are lots of highly-rated laptop brands out there with mediocre screens. Given the uses you stated, if you get one with a so-so display, none of the other bells and whistles are going to make up for it. I have an average laptop with a great screen, and every time I go into a store I am reminded why I chose it.
Tollkuhnator wrote on 3/30/2009, 12:02 PM
If you need Firewire/1394, be really careful that the model you choose is equipped. Many recent 17-inch HP laptops do not include the interface. It depends on whether you upgrade to a more capable graphics controller. Looks like the HDX 16t you reference includes it.
Laurence wrote on 3/30/2009, 12:36 PM
Be aware that with Vista 64, you may not be able to capture from a given camcorder to a given computer even if it has firewire. I have to go back to an old desktop to capture from my HVR-Z7 for instance.
Brad C. wrote on 3/30/2009, 1:05 PM
MIcro Express is a company that is consistently pulling good review scores in PC World magazine for the bench testing. You wont get a desktop/laptop that looks pretty but the features and specs are what you're after. They have a pretty wide selection to choose from and you can customize from there.

I'm not exactly in the market for a new PC right now, but if I were, I wouldn't hesitate to check out Micro Express.