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3 powerful laptops built for serious business

John Brandon | Jan. 9, 2014
Looking for a laptop with serious processing power? put three high-end laptops -- the Soni Vaio Flip 15, the HP ZBook 15 and the Acer Aspire V3 -- to the photo- and video-editing test to see which offers the best bang for the buck.

In business, the faster you can deliver on a promise, the better. The three powerful, high-end laptops discussed here deliver data in microseconds. Each rates a chart-topping 5.9 on the Windows Experience Index, a score you can see in the Control Panel for each model. They're packed with the fastest Intel Core i7 processor available. They all max out on RAM, too.

So if each one hits the highest score, how do you know which one is really blazingly fast? How do you know which one will work best for finishing a sales video or touching up a photo you need for a marketing brochure. To find out, put these workhorse machines through a few photo and video editing tests. One clear winner emerged.

Sony Vaio Flip 15: Gorgeous Display, Great Extras
Two unique features on this powerful high-end laptop set it apart. One is that the screen rotates into tablet mode; you just grab the screen, flip it up and it fold over. Unlike the iPad Air or a tablet such as the Nokia 2520 - neither of which run desktop apps - the Sony Vaio Flip 15 ($1,799) has a fast Intel Core i7 1.8GHz processor, not a slower mobile processor. Secondly, images look incredibly crisp on this laptop's high-resolution 2800 x 1620 screen.

Sony Vaio Fit 15A Flip PC
The Sony Vaio Fit 15A Flip PC. (Image via Sony.)

In our Adobe Photoshop CC test, an image resize to 600 percent took 1 minute, 16 seconds. In Adobe Premiere Pro CC, exporting five seconds of a 4K movie took 1 min, 7 seconds. Overall, that's the slowest of the three laptop models tested - though it's still plenty fast for such high-end work.

As with any upper-end laptop, the Sony Flip 15 is equipped with quite a few extras: Bluetooth 4.0 for low-power connections to accessories like keyboards and mice, near-field communications (NFC) to sync gadgets quickly with a tap, and Intel Wireless Display (Intel WiDi) for connecting to an HDTV in a conference room over wireless. The Flip 15 we tested lasts five hours on a charge, has 12GB of RAM and a 1TB drive, and weighs about five pounds.

This laptop wins hands-down for extra features and the most spectacular display you'll find on a PC. Only Apple makes laptops with a better display. For speed tests, though, it was a bit slower than the rest.

HP ZBook 15: Powerful and Speedy, But No NFC or WiDi
The HP ZBook 15 ($2,999) is intended for serious photo editing, video post-production and even data analytics work. The unit we tested has a Blu-Ray optical drive for burning a 50GB data disc for backups or even an entire feature film. There's a high-end graphics card, the NVIDIA Quadro K2100M, which can handle intense photo and video workloads. (Usually, that kind of graphics card is only found on high-end workstation desktops.)


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