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  1. #1
    Captain of the Ship Photo-John's Avatar
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    Laptop With No Optical Drive - Risks?

    I'm shopping for a new laptop and I'd really like to get something with two hard drives, for better Adobe software performance. I'm looking at Lenovo machines right now and really like the specs. However, it looks like I have to sacrifice the DVD drive for two hard drives. This makes me a little nervous since I know you need an optical drive to install Windows. If I have to reformat (actually, it's not if - but when), how will I install Windows with no optical drive? Is this as much of a risk as I think? Is there any problem with using an external optical drive instead of an internal one?

    Thanks in advance for your help!
    Photo-John

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  2. #2
    Be serious Franglais's Avatar
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    Re: Laptop With No Optical Drive - Risks?

    A collegue just bought a LENOVO X220 portable, which he has customised heavily:

    - 2 SSD drives (no DVD reader, no mechanical hard drives)
    - LINUX system

    He says:

    - You can get the system to boot off any peripheral, including a DVD reader on a USB port
    - If you buy the Docking Station you can put a DVD reader in the Docking Station
    - LENOVO is a good choice, serious

    Any other questions? Tomorrow is a public holiday here and after tonight I won't see him till Monday

    BTW I use Lightroom on a portable with a "normal" hard drive and my RAW files on a SSD in a USB3 box. It's fast enough for me - and I still have my DVD reader on the portable.

    And nowadays with Windows 7 you don't usually put a DVD in and reinstall Windows. There is a hidden, minimal system on the C: drive that you can use to repair your Windows. It may ask you for the Windows DVD but it knows about USB readers.
    Charles

    Nikon D800, D7200, Sony RX100m3
    Not buying any more gear this year. I hope

  3. #3
    Captain of the Ship Photo-John's Avatar
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    Re: Laptop With No Optical Drive - Risks?

    Thanks, Charles! I am looking at a customized ThinkPad W520 but you have to give up the optical drive for two hard drives. In the online configurator you have to get a RAID setup to get two drives. But I'm going to see if they can give me one big fast hard drive and one SSD drive. I'll also look at the X-Series to see what they're all about.

    Thanks! This is a big help
    Photo-John

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  4. #4
    Member dl4449's Avatar
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    Re: Laptop With No Optical Drive - Risks?

    John i don't know if this will help but my son is going to use a 32 usb drive for recovery of his Windows PC.
    I will ask him when he gets home tonight how he did it.

  5. #5
    Be serious Franglais's Avatar
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    Re: Laptop With No Optical Drive - Risks?

    Quote Originally Posted by dl4449 View Post
    John i don't know if this will help but my son is going to use a 32 usb drive for recovery of his Windows PC.
    I will ask him when he gets home tonight how he did it.
    I did that with my first Windows 7 laptop last year. Some video decoder freeware (ffdshow) did something to Windows and I couldn't create valid user profiles any more. Wierd. I had to do several reinstallations of Windows 7 (to factory defaults) before identifying the problem.

    I have the impression that what you get on the USB key generated by Windows 7 is about the same as what you have on the hidden RECOVERY partition on your hard drive. It seems to be a minimum Windows system (WINPE?) that you call up whenever you have a problem with your normal Windows installation.

    The "recovery" system knows about USB drives (though I seem to remember it only worked with the USB2 ports and not the USB3 ports). And it seems to be able to repair your Windows 7 system pretty well, most of the time without needing a DVD (you do need the DVD if you change your disk to prove that you have a valid license of Windows). I now have two "factory" Windows 7 systems and each time I had a problem (usually after Windows Update) and the system failed to boot it just went off into recovery mode, went back to the last checkpoint or whatever and after a few minutes gave me a working system.

    I don't think it's a good idea to do what we used to do - boot up off the Windows DVD, completely format the disk and reinstall just the Windows partition. I think that the computer hardware expects to find the recovery partition.

    I have a third Windows 7 system which I use for testing software. It started out 3 years ago as a vanilla Vista 32 portable. I've changed the disk (hybrid SSD-mechanical), the memory (8GB) and configured a dual boot Vista 32 and Windows 7 64. Whenever I get a problem with Windows 7 I'm on my own. The Recovery partition is for Vista and it won't do anything for Windows 7. I still run the Vista 32 system from time to time and it is AMAZINGLY slow compared with the Windows 7 system on the same hardware. Windows 7 goes from system choice in the BIOS to user logon in 16 seconds...
    Charles

    Nikon D800, D7200, Sony RX100m3
    Not buying any more gear this year. I hope

  6. #6
    Woe is me! wfooshee's Avatar
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    Re: Laptop With No Optical Drive - Risks?

    If you get a RAID setup they will probably ship it configured as mirrored drives (2nd drive does everything the first drive does, so if either fails there's no data loss,) which you don't want. Specify separate single drives if you can when ordering.

    As for "risk" in not having an optical drive, I picked up a USB CD/DVD writer, dual-layer, at Wal-Mart for 38 bucks last week. There's your optical drive, external USB, not expensive at all.

  7. #7
    Woe is me! wfooshee's Avatar
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    Re: Laptop With No Optical Drive - Risks?

    If you get a RAID setup they will probably ship it configured as mirrored drives (2nd drive does everything the first drive does, so if either fails there's no data loss,) which you don't want. Specify separate single drives if you can when ordering. It can be changed after fact when it arrives ("breaking the mirror") but that may require reloading the system to accomplish, depending on the controller.

    As for "risk" in not having an optical drive, I picked up a USB CD/DVD writer, dual-layer, at Wal-Mart for 38 bucks last week. There's your optical drive, external USB, not expensive at all.

  8. #8
    Be serious Franglais's Avatar
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    Re: Laptop With No Optical Drive - Risks?

    Quote Originally Posted by Photo-John View Post
    I'm shopping for a new laptop and I'd really like to get something with two hard drives, for better Adobe software performance..
    I'm just reviewing in Lightroom 4 the 800 pictures I did at the wedding last weekend, mostly on the D800 (36Mpix).

    - I started out in the field with my lightweight travelling system (Corei5 processor, single SSD drive). Performance was OK but a bit slow. The system was obviously working hard
    - Now I'm back at home I'm on my Corei7 (mechanical drive) with the photos on an external USB3 SSD drive. Performance is OK but not instantaneous. I've been doing side-by-side comparisons of images to chose the best of two and I have to wait for a second or two for both images to become stable. It seems to me that the disk read is going quite quickly but then the 8 processing units are hammering away to process the image for display

    The D800 is an extreme example but it seems to me that Lightroom 4 is very compute-intensive. Normally I would expect a Corei5 to be enough for photo editing but if you have the option to take a Corei7 then I would go for it.
    Charles

    Nikon D800, D7200, Sony RX100m3
    Not buying any more gear this year. I hope

  9. #9
    Senior Member OldClicker's Avatar
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    Re: Laptop With No Optical Drive - Risks?

    Quote Originally Posted by Franglais View Post
    I'm just reviewing in Lightroom 4 the 800 pictures I did at the wedding last weekend, mostly on the D800 (36Mpix).

    - I started out in the field with my lightweight travelling system (Corei5 processor, single SSD drive). Performance was OK but a bit slow. The system was obviously working hard
    - Now I'm back at home I'm on my Corei7 (mechanical drive) with the photos on an external USB3 SSD drive. Performance is OK but not instantaneous. I've been doing side-by-side comparisons of images to chose the best of two and I have to wait for a second or two for both images to become stable. It seems to me that the disk read is going quite quickly but then the 8 processing units are hammering away to process the image for display

    The D800 is an extreme example but it seems to me that Lightroom 4 is very compute-intensive. Normally I would expect a Corei5 to be enough for photo editing but if you have the option to take a Corei7 then I would go for it.
    I would think that your USB 3.0 connection would be, by far, your limiting link. - Terry
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  10. #10
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    Re: Laptop With No Optical Drive - Risks?

    It's not that hard to turn a USB stick into a bootable Windows install. Lots of tutorials out there in Google-land.
    Here's the official word from Microsoft: Installing Win7 using a USB Stick | TechNet Edge

    I've done it a few times and it works very well. It can also be faster than an optical drive.

  11. #11
    Be serious Franglais's Avatar
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    Re: Laptop With No Optical Drive - Risks?

    Quote Originally Posted by OldClicker View Post
    I would think that your USB 3.0 connection would be, by far, your limiting link. - Terry
    I pass for the time being, I need to look at it more closely.

    On my systems I can easily do 100MB/sec on my USB3 mechanical drives during long operations like backups. (Theoretical limit of USB3 is 500 MB/sec)

    I checked this evening and Lightroom was only doing about 10MB/sec of disk I/O while the CPU was peaking at 100%. I think it was spending most of the time with the cpu's interpreting the image and applying filters. But I'm not sure at all
    Charles

    Nikon D800, D7200, Sony RX100m3
    Not buying any more gear this year. I hope

  12. #12
    trailguy
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    Re: Laptop With No Optical Drive - Risks?

    I use a ssd for all programs to reside, a nice 1tet mech hdd for the work / storage, and it is very fast.
    If concerned about a DVD drive, I'd simply buy a cheap one to plug into if needed.

  13. #13
    Captain of the Ship Photo-John's Avatar
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    Re: Laptop With No Optical Drive - Risks?

    Thanks everyone for your feedback on this. My laptop video card died last weekend so I'm forced to make a decision. Right now it's looking like an i7 Lenovo with an SSD drive and a standard hard drive (no RAID). It's gonna cost a fortune but hopefully I'll be able to use it 4+ years like the one that just died. One of the things I like about the Lenovo is how configurable it is. Plus, they actually address monitor calibration for imaging pros. Most computer companies don't even know what you're talking about if you mention monitor profiling. Lenovo actually lists calibration hardware as a laptop option. I like that. A lot.
    Photo-John

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  14. #14
    Panarus biarmicus Moderator (Sports) SmartWombat's Avatar
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    Re: Laptop With No Optical Drive - Risks?

    I was looking around, and found today everyone is going for HD+ screen form factor, so 1920x1080 at 17"

    For image viewing that's not what I want, as most of what I shoot is 3:2 ratio.
    The old 1920x1200 was better for me, giving more image in Lightroom loupe mode and still room for the sidebar windows.

    Now I'm really stuck, as the macbook Pro 17" has 1920x1200.
    Yes it's going to cost a fortune, but I hope it'll last a few years.

    But there are rumours of a new faster lighter macbook pro ... is there ever a good time to buy new kit?
    PAul

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  15. #15
    banished Don Schaeffer's Avatar
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    Re: Laptop With No Optical Drive - Risks?

    You can buy an external dvd drive.

  16. #16
    trailguy
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    Re: Laptop With No Optical Drive - Risks?

    I'm a bit off topic, but since we are talking about laptops, I'd like to hear an experienced opinion about a new ultra-book for some LR & CS5 work.
    I love the looks and weights of Samsungs and Asus, but I'm wondering if a 13" screen is large enough for working with photos? I want one, but would hate to end up with a $1300. headache!

    Thanks

  17. #17
    Be serious Franglais's Avatar
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    Re: Laptop With No Optical Drive - Risks?

    Quote Originally Posted by trailguy View Post
    I'm a bit off topic, but since we are talking about laptops, I'd like to hear an experienced opinion about a new ultra-book for some LR & CS5 work.
    I love the looks and weights of Samsungs and Asus, but I'm wondering if a 13" screen is large enough for working with photos? I want one, but would hate to end up with a $1300. headache!

    Thanks
    I picked up a Samsung X900 Ultra Book in the sales in January for 699 Euros. 120GB SSD, 4GB RAM, Corei5 processor, Windows 7 Pro - now that was REALLY a good deal, I think they were delivered with the wrong version and they had to get rid of it. Since then I've used it quite a lot both for my computer job and for photography

    Some things about Ultra Books to be aware of:

    - mine doesn't have a Kensington lock slot, so I can't leave it unattended in an office
    - mine has one USB2 and one USB3 slot at most so I can attach a mouse and an external drive and that's it
    - no DVD reader/writer of course
    - no standard plugs for an external monitor or network (at least on mine). You have to use a specific cable.
    - the 13 inch screen is enough to work on Lightroom for a couple of weeks when I'm out in the field. For everyday use I prefer my "normal" 15 inch laptop with a 24 inch monitor attached.
    - the Corei5 processor is enough for 10-12 Mpix cameras. For a 36 Mpix camera it's a bit slow.

    I really like it as a travelling system. I don't know if I could live with it as my one and only system, however.
    Charles

    Nikon D800, D7200, Sony RX100m3
    Not buying any more gear this year. I hope

  18. #18
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    Re: Laptop With No Optical Drive - Risks?

    USB stick will do the job if I have to reinstall Windows or else. I haven't touch my DVD drive for ages now.

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