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$750-1000 USD Photo-Editing Laptop

What's a good laptop with an i7 but not necessarily a dedicated graphics card that I can use for photo editing? I am willing to pop in extra RAM and an SSD as long as all the parts together fall under $1000.

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As the title says, I have a friend who is looking for a laptop which can edit photos to replace his old one (he accidentally overheated the CPU until it died). The budget is anywhere from $750-1000 USD.

Because he is editing photos, it should probably be of reasonably large size. His old one was 15 inches, so the replacement should be of approximately the same size. He wants some degree of portability for college (he's pretty strong, so weight is really not a big point). This implies a fairly large battery as well (or at least the ability to pop an extra one in).

He will not play games of any kind on the laptop (or at least, it'll be limited to the online flash variety, rather than something demanding like Battlefield 3). Instead, what he wants to do is edit and upload photos.

He has an external hard drive and believes that 250GB is a lot of room for his laptop (because he deletes photos or backs them up to his external drive after he uploads them).

He doesn't have any site preferences (and neither do I). Any advice would be appreciated.

He'll want to keep the laptop for as long as it is functional and does his desired tasks at a reasonable rate. He doesn't need the absolute bleeding edge, so he's thinking 3-4 years (I think he's pushing it).

An optical drive is totally optional. I was thinking I could ax it out and slip in a smaller SSD for a boot drive.

He has one major brand quirk: he will NOT buy from Lenovo. His argument is that it is owned by the Chinese and he refuses to support them. I argued that in the end his parts are going to come from China, Japan, or Korea anyway, but he won't listen to that. If a Lenovo product ends up fitting his needs best, I will need another argument to persuade him (advice would be nice, please).

My friend and I are US citizens.

From what I know, I think that his needs call for an i7 core with a sizable amount of ram (16GB is probably ideal, but he can probably scrape by with the gold standard of 8GB). Unfortunately, everywhere I look, I see notebooks labeled as "gaming" with gaudy colors, weird construction, and a huge price tag (likely because of the graphics card, which isn't even needed anyway in my friends case).

I think what I really need for a recommendation to him is a "this is what fits in your price range" option and a "this does exactly what you want" option which is outside his price range.
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  1. Best answer
    The best laptop in your price range, is the Dell Inspiron 15R, or the Inspiron 17R. The only real difference is the 15R has a 15.6 inch screen and the 17R has a 17.3 inch screen. The rest of their specs are pretty much the same. Both have 3rd gen core i7 processors, windows 8, 64-bit, 8GB ram, 1TB hard disk. The 15R is usually packed with a Intel HD graphics 4000 while the 17R is packed with a 1GB NVIDIA GTX 630M. Both are reasonable mid-level class 2 graphics cards, which is good, because you said he isn't going to be gaming much. For photo editing, the graphics card will be fine, and the i7 processor and 8GB ram will sort out the rest, in terms of speed. I would normally suggest getting a Hard Disk Drive that runs at 7,200 RPM, just for that little edge of speed and smoothness, while dealing with large photos etc, but for the price you want, you're only going to get the standard 5,400 RPM HDDs.
    So basically, just visit the Dell site (US, of course) and take a look at the options. Dell sells their stuff at least $200-$300 under the market price, if you buy it straight from them. Their customer service and warranty is really good, so you won't have any problems, once you buy it.
    Actually, here's the link.!facets=226291~0~14720665&p=1

    The only reason I suggest Dell is because they do offer some of the best specs for the under $1000 range. If you want anything better, you're going to have to spend more. The other thing is that laptops like Acer and Samsung who also have decent stuff in that range, have poorer specs than Dell offers.
    Anyway hope I helped :)
  2. To answer calmlikeabom's questions, he is using some form of Photoshop (he has to look up what version, but I can't imagine every version of Photoshop within the last few years being wildly different in hardware utilization).

    He uses it mostly to touch up the photos and apply effects when he's feeling artsy, so yes, I would imagine he uses a fair number of effects and filters.

    His old laptop was AT LEAST 4 years old. I believe it was a Core 2 Duo. It is old enough that nearly any kind of modern processor would be faster.
  3. Best answer selected by Sleepingforest.
  4. This topic has been closed by Maziar
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