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After Effects Laptop

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Thomas AlbertiAfter Effects Laptop
by on Dec 7, 2014 at 11:36:28 pm


I'm in the market for a laptop, mainly for After Effects and some Premiere Pro CC.

I had been strongly considering the MacBookPro Retina 15in. 2.8GHz 16GB RAM configuration at $2700 until I found out about the Toshiba Satellite S55T: 17in Full HD, 2.5 GHz, 16GB RAM at $1000.

One of my general questions is what's really behind the price difference? When I check out HP Z Laptops, they are also are in the $2K+ range for video editing, but on paper look kind of similar to laptops like the Satellite at less than half of the cost. Is the difference because of build quality? Cooling? Just Full HD vs Retina? I don't understand.

Also, I had not been intending to get a laptop until recently, but rather had been considering a workstation from ADK for $4000 (3.5GHz, 32GB DDR4 RAM). But because I travel and because I am still just getting into and learning motion graphics (not taking on clients), I think a laptop would be a more versatile/long-term tool until I really have the basis for the full workstation. So I am looking for a laptop that would be able to serve as my main workhorse as I continue learning After Effects and making demo videos--could a Toshiba or any laptop <$1000 do that? If not, what is the explanation of its processing speed and RAM being comparable to a >$2000 machine?

Thank you so much! I really appreciate your time and advice.


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Tudor "Ted" JelescuRe: After Effects Laptop
by on Dec 8, 2014 at 8:03:04 am

I use laptops for pretty high intensity AE and Premiere work for over 4 years now. I used to be an all Mac guy, but lately I switched to PC. I used Alienware, Origin and MSI laptops.
What I have right now at work is a Origin machine- pretty sweet, but for $6000 is kind of pricey. I found a good deal on an MSI machine for my private work/home machine. I built it through For under $2500 I got a machine that is for all practical purposes so far, as fast as my much more expensive work machine.

Here is a quick overview of specs for both machines:

MSI 17 inch Full HD matte
i7 4910MQ
nVidia 870 6GB RAM
3x128 GB SSD in Super Raid2
1Tb HDD 7200 rpm
Win 8.1

Origin PC 17 inch full HD matte
i7 4940 MX
dual nVidia GTX 880 / 8GB VRAM
Win 8.1

RAM is crucial for AE, so I went for 32 GB (first recommended option from the builder - I know there are some folks who will argue that a well known brand will be better, however I did not notice a difference when compared to my Origin machine who does have "better" RAM)

Processor- the difference in performance vs price makes the 4910MQ a much better upgrade vs the 4940MX

Although the GTX 880 is a more powerful card with more RAM, the 870 does the job just fine for both AE and Premiere. The dual config doesn't do much for either. You should look for a 900 series card though since they are available now.

What brings the MSI up is the triple SSD configuration in Super RAID 2. It really makes a difference and working from those drives makes AE and Premiere fast. For storage the classic 1Tb HDD is good enough.

I hope my 2 cents are helpful.

Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Senior VFX Artist

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Thomas AlbertiRe: After Effects Laptop
by on Dec 9, 2014 at 3:20:14 am

Thanks for the details, Ted. Those are helpful setups. Do you think I would regret a rMBP? I mean, it is a bad idea in any way for AE?

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Tudor "Ted" JelescuRe: After Effects Laptop
by on Dec 9, 2014 at 8:05:48 am

Mac still has a great appeal and the screen is great. You can however find plenty of Win laptops with high density displays. I think you get more for the money with a windows machine.

Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Senior VFX Artist

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