laptop specs for artists

I’ve been talking about buying a new computer for almost a year now. My old 2011 HP Pavillion was worn out, and I knew I wanted to buy a new one before it died completely. But there were all sorts of new specs available and I realized I had to learn what it all was so I could make an informed decision.

First,  I had to wait for the new intel processing chips to be installed in the next line of computers. In 2016 and early 2017, most computers used Skylake processors, but I knew that by May, a lot of new lines would be introduced with the updated Kaby Lake processors. How can you tell if you have a Kaby Lake processor? It’s the seventh generation processor, so you want to look for a number that starts with 7 after “intel i7”. It may not seem like a big deal, but the Kaby Lake processor is FAST, and when you are painting with lots of photoshop layers, fast is good.

I had a wishlist of items for my new laptop:

  • touchscreen capabilities (preferably with pressure sensitivity)
  • an HDMI port
  • at least two USB ports
  • NVIDIA Graphics Card
  • A Solid State (SSD) drive
  • Intel Kaby Lake Processor

I needed to wait for the Kaby Lake processors to become available in more computers. Since the new processor chips weren’t out until late 2016, I knew that I’d have to wait until Spring 2017 releases to really have some good options.  I heard rumors that Microsoft would be releasing a new surface product in spring of 2017, and had my fingers crossed for a new surface book with the latest processors.  What they released what a Surface Laptop, and while it looked like a nice machine, it didn’t suit my needs. A friend of mine had recommended Lenovo’s Ideapad Y700 series, so I went on the Lenovo site and instead found the Lenovo Flex 5 15″ laptop. It met all my main wishlist items, and though the touch screen isn’t pressure sensitive, I could purchase an active pen that did have pressure sensitivity. As an added bonus, it is smaller and lighter than my old laptop.

Things I like about the Lenovo Flex 5 (besides my wishlist items)

  • The PCle SSD drive. This means a more storage that can be accessed quickly, but taking up a smaller amount of physical space in the laptop, keeping it lighter, and making more room for additional storage or potentially more battery cells.
  • Wireless and Bluetooth connectivity: I can finally take the USB wire off my printer and put it somewhere else! This means more desk space to spread out and do some traditional drawing.
  • 360 degree hinge. I can choose to work on my laptop in a traditional position, put it up like a tent for drawing and watching videos or flip it flat the other way for drawing in my lap. This means I can work at my desk with my Cintiq, then unplug and walk over to the couch and continue working while watching Master Chef.
  • The keyboard is so quiet! There’s no distracting tappity tap tap while I type, so I don’t feel like I’m disturbing anyone else around me if I want to work at the library.
  • The Screen resolution is amazing. I went with the UHD screen and it’s so crisp to read and easier on my eyes. It’s like getting a new pair of glasses.
  • The price tag. With the faster processors and top amounts of storage, this lap top only cost $1650. That’s still expensive compared to some computers, yes, but it’s a lot less expensive than Microsoft’s surface series, or some of the Macintosh options.
  • It runs pretty cool compared to other laptops I’ve tried. While the fan vents are on the bottom of the laptop, they run almost the whole length, keeping it nice and cool. The fans are pretty quiet too. I can put the laptop in my lap without being too uncomfortable, but I would still use a lap desk just to avoid unnecessary pajama lint getting up into the vents.

Some things that I don’t like as much:

  • The keyboard feels like its back really far. I think this would be good for actually typing in my lap, but on a table top surface, I feel like I’m reaching over the computer to type. Then again, this might be to my poor typing posture 🙂
  • Higher resolution screen means some of my programs look TINY. I’m definitely going to need to tinker with the settings.

3 months later, I still really enjoy this laptop. It runs all my programs so smoothly! I have not cursed at this computer once while I’ve been working. Photoshop runs so well on it, and I can run three different programs at once and it doesn’t even hiccup. The action pen is pressure sensitive, and while it’s not Wacom sensitive, it still surprises me how well it works. I love the easiness of it.

Have a wonderful day!

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