If you’re using your laptop to run heavy programs such as AfterEffects, Photoshop and Premiere Pro, you’ll know the frustration of a slow laptop. Luckily, hardware companies besides Apple have begun to realize that creatives are an important and reliable consumer base, and new options are beginning to destabilize Apple’s monopoly on the ‘creator’ laptop.
An unfortunate side-effect of this is a lot of marketing hype that sometimes disguises less-than-optimum hardware and poor design choices. Let’s look at what you should look for in the laptop that’ll catapult your creative career forward.
A Dedicated GPU
A good graphics card is essential if you’re going to be working with… you guessed it – any kind of graphics. High-quality video editing software such as those offered by Topaz Labs and the like, often requires a graphics card in order to help render clips and process effects. Any 3D work such as visual effects, 3D modeling, or working with game engines also needs a graphics card to render the virtual space in which you’re creating.
Certain Adobe products actually work better with Nvidia graphics cards due to their ability to conform to the number of Cuda Cores present in the GPU. Other gpus will have a different way of measuring their processing power, leading to less efficient rendering.
USB C cables are capable of moving data between devices at previously unimaginable speeds. Most creative jobs involve handling large quantities of data, and your machine’s ability to handle and process this data and industry-standard speeds will directly affect the perceived quality of your work.
Make sure your laptop is equipped with at least 2 USB C ports so you can work with faster external hard drives and future-proof the next five years of your career against increasingly USB C oriented equipment (cameras, phones etc.).
SD Card Reader
If you’ve worked in film or photography, you’ll know the value of a laptop that has a built-in SD card reader. This feature allows you to quickly move footage and images into an editing software whilst on location. Obviously, HDMI cables allow for a similar amount of access, but being able to move large raw or log files onto a laptop quickly guarantees the safety of the files.
Having a Card Reader will make your laptop (and you) an invaluable resource if you’re working in these industries, leaving you more time to register to play.
A Fast CPU
If you’re planning on running multiple heavy programs at the same time, you’ll want a newer generation i5 or i7, rather than an i3 or an older model. Be aware of this! Different CPUs have different purposes and not all i7s are made equal. Do some research to make sure you have the right hardware for the right processes. There’s no need to invest in an expensive new CPU when you’re not trying to run a server.
Looking for a new laptop might seem like a daunting task but understanding what you need and why is the best first step to finding the machine that works for you.