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Recommendations for Ultra Portable/thin-and-light Graphic Design Laptop

EDIT: I have gone with the Lenovo X1 Carbon. Lenovo's outlet had an amazing deal on a $2,000 spec for $1,200 brand new. Thanks for your help!

 

Every time I look for this answer, people keep recommending larger format laptops and I cannot seem to find a review that has helped me figure out what computer is right for my specific use case and hardware desires. I've also read through some of the stickies on this forum, not can't get a clear guide to what I should get.

 

Thanks in advance for any advice you can give!

 

Size & Portability:

I want a 13-14" inch laptop. Portability is key here.

 

Power & Use:

In addition to basic every day tasks, I will use this laptop for some graphic design, so it'll need to handle the following programs (in order from most to least critical): Illustrator, In-Design, Photoshop, After Effects/Premiere. I have a desktop for heavy loads, so this is more for when I am with a client and they want to tweak something or see an alternative layout, or if I need to do some basic work on a plane, or when I want to work at a coffee shop for the day.

 

I am pretty set on having at least 16gb of RAM (dual channel, please), as I often have a lot of instances of chrome open while also running Illustrator and Photoshop simultaneously.

 

As for the processor and GPU combo, this where I get lost. I have no idea what processor is really right for my use case. I feel like a dedicated GPU will help with some of my workloads, but I honestly cannot tell if something like intel or AMD's integrated solutions would actually be enough.

 

Keyboard & Touchpad:

Touchpad feel is REALLY important to me. The last laptop I had was a Mac, and I've never used another computer that felt so good to use. But I refuse to buy a Mac now. So instead, I want the most fluid, accurate pad possible on a Windows platform. And the buttons shouldn't shake, wobble, or otherwise be a nuisance to use.

 

For the keyboard, my biggest concern is that I do NOT want mushy keys or a flexible chassis. I'd rather not have a number pad, and back-lighting is a plus.

 

Screen:

1080p is fine (don't need 4k at this size). However, it absolutely needs to be bright and color accurate. I prefer a matte finish, thin bezels, and 144hz if possible, but those are not critical.

 

FutureProofing

I like to buy nice and buy once. I am not interested in budget items that will last me two years and then fall apart. I want to buy hardware that will last me several years without falling apart or getting bogged down by future applications.

 

Battery:

I cannot stand laptops that die after a couple hours. It doesn't have to go all day, but it needs to get me through most of it.

 

Budget:

Rather not spend more than $1,600. Doesn't mean I want to spend that much, but am willing to if that's what it takes.

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I really love the look and sound of the new Razer Blade Stealth 2019, but is it overkill? Would something like a Lenovo Ideabook or an XPS 13 without dedicated graphics actually work just fine and be a better fit? I've got information overload at this point, mixed with a deficit of information on my specific use case, and it's crippling my ability to make a decision.

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Where are you from? Preferred max weight in kg/lbs and min battery life in hours?

My Desktop specs:

Spoiler

AMD Ryzen 5 5600 Nvidia RTX3060Ti 8GB PNY XLR8 Gaming Epic-X RGB 16GB (8X2) 3200MHz CL16 Team Group MP33 Pro 1TB
ID-Cooling SE-224-XT White Gigabyte B550M DS3H mATX Tecware Forge M2 mATX White Case Montech Century 650W Gold

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8 hours ago, GeneXiS_X said:

Where are you from? Preferred max weight in kg/lbs and min battery life in hours?

Thanks @GeneXiS_X

 

I live in the U.S.

 

I am not really concerned with weight as much as I am total footprint and build quality. I'd rather have something really heavy, but super portable and incedibly durable, than something super light weight and flimsy. 

 

As for battery life, I am not super picky. If I can get anywhere from 5-10 hours of straight work done without having to charge, that would be great! I'm willing to be on the low end of that spectrum if it ticks all my other boxes. 

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Your best bet would be a Thinkpad T480, but I don't know about the trackpad though

CPU: Intel Core i7 10700K 8C/16T @ 5.2GHz All Cores -- CPU Cooler: EK AIO 360 D-RGB 

 Motherboard: ASUS ROG STRIX Z490-F Gaming -- RAM: G-Skill Trident Z 32GB (16x2) DDR4-3000 

SSD#1: Samsung PM981 256GB -- HDD: Seagate Barracuda 2TB -- GPU: ASUS TUF GAMING RTX 3080 10GB OC MSI GTX 1070 Duke

PSU: FSP Hydro G Pro 850W -- Case: Corsair 275R Airflow Black

Monitor: ASUS TUF Gaming VG27AQ 1440p 165Hz -- Keyboard: Ducky Shine 7 Cherry MX Brown -- Mouse: Logitech G304 K/DA Limited Edition

 

Phone: iPhone 12 Pro Max 256GB

Headphones: Sony WH-1000XM4 / Apple AirPods 2

Laptop: MacBook Air 2020 M1 8-core CPU / 7-core GPU | 8GB RAM | 256GB SSD

TV: LG B9 OLED TV | Sony HT-X9000F Soundbar

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12 hours ago, SeraphicWings said:

Your best bet would be a Thinkpad T480, but I don't know about the trackpad though

I don't think the integrated intel graphics are enough to handle my workloads, and it does not appear that the T480 offers a dedicated option. I don't need a GTX 1070 or anything, but a 2-4 gb dedicated card will go a long way when working on the go. 

 

I think I've pretty much seen every computer out there that might work for me. And although for this budget, I could easily get a powerhouse computer like a Aero 15x or MSI GS65, I don't really need a desktop replacement, and I value the portability over the performance value at this point. The four computers I am most interested in right now are:

  • New Blade Stealth is basically perfect on paper, but quality control and price tag have given me pause. 
  • Lenovo Ideapad 720s (14') is also almost perfect. However, screen brightness and accuracy seem to be less than ideal. 
  • Asus Zenbook 15 is slightly bigger than I wanted, but it checks most other boxes. The big drawback that I've read that screen color accuracy is pretty bad, which is pretty important for me. 
  • Matebook X Pro gets really close to perfect, but I am worried about customer service and touchpad frustrations. Also, I am really weirded out by their whole company right now.

 

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Have you considered a Z-Book or X1 Carbon? I think both offer dgpus (old dGPUs, but a gpu is a gpu :))

My Mi Notebook Air runs AutoCAD and Fusion 360 just fine, and we are migrating over to solidworks soon (I tried the damo, seems fluid)

If you can spare the money, a gs65 or its prestige counterparts might be reasonable.

Current Project: Xbox 360 Ryzen Sleeper Budget Build

Daily Driver: Asus ROG Flow X13 - 5900HS/3050Ti

Gaming Desktop: NCase M1 - 5800X/3060Ti

 

Past Devices:

Razer Book 13 - i7-1165G7, 16/256GB

Gigabyte Aero 15x - i7-8750H, GTX 1070MQ, 32/512+512GB

Dell XPS 13 9360 - i5-8250u, 8/256GB

Mi Notebook Air - i5-8250u, MX150, 8/512GB

Ideapad S500 Touch - i5-3337u, GT720M, 8/256GB

Macbook A1181 (Late 2006) - C2D T7200, 4/512GB

 

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On 12/9/2018 at 11:07 PM, RobertSaget said:

Touchpad feel is REALLY important to me

 

hardware that will last me several years without falling apart or getting bogged down by future applications.

TBH it's quite hard to find an' excellent' touchpad on Windows laptop, also the feel is personal preference

 

Also, if you want more future proof, more powerful hardware is the go, however it usually found in 15 inch gaming/performance laptops. So which would you prefer, regular laptop/Ultrabook or gaming/performance laptop?

10 hours ago, RobertSaget said:

it does not appear that the T480 offers a dedicated option

it has optional MX150

My Desktop specs:

Spoiler

AMD Ryzen 5 5600 Nvidia RTX3060Ti 8GB PNY XLR8 Gaming Epic-X RGB 16GB (8X2) 3200MHz CL16 Team Group MP33 Pro 1TB
ID-Cooling SE-224-XT White Gigabyte B550M DS3H mATX Tecware Forge M2 mATX White Case Montech Century 650W Gold

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