Is the following question on topic?

What laptop specs are important for intensive image editing work?

How important is the following in purchasing a laptop that will be used for image editing:

  • processor speed
  • amount of RAM
  • integrated vs. dedicated graphics card
  • HD speed (SSD; or 5400/7200/10000 rpm)

I think it's okay. It's not my favorite question, but, eh, they can't all be. :)

  1. It's about resources for use in a photography workflow
  2. It asks what's important, not which one to buy

Specific numbers for processor and RAM will be outdated quickly, but the relative value of each is a longer proposition. Even the difference between smartphone pictures and high-end DSLRs doesn't really change that equation.

I respectfully think that the edit @dpollitt suggests tends towards making it much more localized, as the software versions will go out of date quickly and the combination of camera, habits, and software will necessarily match many other people. (Test: would it be useful to have a different question identical in all of the particulars, but with Lightroom 4 changed to Lightroom 5?)

It is kind of broad, but even then the class of things one does with photographs does narrow things down. It's different from the needs for software development or for gaming or even for video editing.

  • I think I'm just annoyed when people start talking about SSD and RAID on a photography website. Not that I don't do all of that(and FOR my photography), but it just has nothing to do with going out and taking a photo with a camera to me. People like to endlessly debate this stuff all over the net and every context wildly different than photography.
    – dpollitt
    Jan 29 '13 at 3:18
  • 1
    I am standing by with an upvote waiting for your "none of that really matters" answer. :)
    – mattdm
    Jan 29 '13 at 3:20

I see a few potential problems with this question as it stands:

Too localized - The question specifically asks about processor speed and ram, which obviously will quickly date answers. "Specific moment in time" is the localized aspect here.

Not a Real Question - The original question notes no specific software being used, image sizes, catalog size, OS preference, etc. It is overly broad, and can easily turn into a debate since the question is so wide open.

Not Constructive - The answers already have turned into extended discussions since nearly every technical person on this site has an opinion on computer hardware.

I know that some people disagree with my "problems" outlined above. I think that the question could be salvaged with the proper edits from the OP. For example what if the question was:

I currently have a 6 year old under-powered laptop. I am looking for a new one to edit Nikon D800 RAW images. I commonly shoot 2,000 photos or so per month. I will be using Adobe Photoshop CS6 and Adobe Lightroom 4 to edit photos. What type of graphics card should I look for to get the best performance?

So without edits, I think that it should be closed. With edits, I think it can be on-topic and useful to some photographers. Without edits this question is just as applicable to someone on stackexchange.superuser or a similar site, since we have no idea if the user is editing smartphone pictures or Nikon D800 pictures, 100kb or 10GB, Gimp or Photomatix Pro, etc.

  • 1
    It would really depend on the answers provided. It is possible to answer such a question rather generically, such that it is useful to the most people for the longest time: Get as much horsepower as you can that will last you for as long as you require. ;) In my experience, photo editing tools are increasingly becoming massive resource hogs, to the point where you need almost as much horsepower as a fairly powerful gaming rig to keep things moving fluidly. This issue is exacerbated by larger screens, and seeing as larger screens greatly improve post processing workflow...
    – jrista
    Jan 29 '13 at 0:59

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