I personally use remask from Topaz. It makes short work of masking out large areas with moderate to poor contrast between back- and foreground, and seems to ‘know’ what you are trying to keep or cut. The smart brush tool is VERY cool. It’s great for everything from large smooth edged items all the way to trees with lots of little branches.
When trying to cut out a blond haired woman with fine, wispy hairs every which way, I’ve found I’ll spend just as much time in Remask as I would have in CS6 using all the refine selection tools.
I have a Mac Pro with 8 cores and Topaz goes like lightening, but it will run very fast on a laptop, no sweat.