Computer for ID student

So I start as an ID student here pretty soon and I need a computer for both class and studio projects. I’ve read some posts on here about some workstation laptops that would be good. However, with the advent of these new hybrid/2-in-1 laptops, I wonder if investing on one of those would be better for a student since I have access the school computers for any complicated renders etc. Also I can use the hybrid as a mobile sketching platform.

The two systems i’m currently looking at are the Thinkpad Yoga or the Surface Pro 2. Any others I should consider? Or should I just focus on a laptop and not a hybrid?

Really depends on your use case. Is this going to be a CAD computer? If so, don’t get anything unless it has a graphics chip in it; so that means the Surface, etc, are probably out.

If it’s just going to be for notes, surfing the net, etc, you can get a cheap tablet for that instead. If you want a good stylus, you can get the Galaxy Note 4 quadrillion or whatever version they’re on now.

Also, since you mentioned renders; you can use Lagoa (.com) to render in the cloud, so local power doesn’t actually matter for you. That being said, if it is a CAD computer, refer to my first sentence; you’ll need at least some sort of graphics chip in there to work in SolidWorks/Rhino/etc. Of course, if you’re doing CAD you’re going to need a Windows OS.

What I would recommend you consider is getting an $800 desktop, which is powerful enough to game and run CAD (though if you don’t game I’d recommend getting a workstation card), and then get a $200-400 tablet or laptop for school use. It really depends on how often you’ll see yourself breaking out your laptop to do serious CAD work, Photoshop, etc, on the school grounds. If it’s a lot, you want a powerful laptop. If it’s a little, you can probably get a wimpy laptop and put less money into getting a more powerful workstation.

Sorry to hijack the thread, but i would really like to hear some more about Lagoa

@invertedVantage, are you using Lagoa? how does it compare to something like keyshot and what do you think about the workflow? saving time? worth the cost?
looks like it can do pictures only, right? no videos?

Hey JanD. Yea I use it. Directly comparing to Keyshot, hm…I haven’t used Keyshot much, I used to use modo for renders (still do, for things that are so small they’re not worth uploading).

But from what I have used of Keyshot, I would say that the interface is a bit easier to use, but Lagoa produces better quality images. Keyshot also has a huge library of materials, plastics, etc pre-made. You can make all those materials (and more - check out the skin shader) in Lagoa, but you’ll have to get a bit more into the details of the materials to get precisely the look you want (protip: any plastic is going to be Diffuse or Glossy Diffuse).

Lagoa does produce really amazing images though, and some of their measured materials, like car paint, are out of this world. Way better than what Keyshot has, with some really fine controls over flaking, orange peel, etc.

Workflow wise it’s pretty good. The only hangup that you might get vs. keyshot is the upload/re-upload for model changes, but if you have a decent Internet connection that’s not really a big deal. The cool thing about Lagoa is the rendering embed and guest editing capabilities - so that’s a big workflow improvement there. If you’re working with someone else who isn’t right behind you, it’s great to send them a guest editor link and they can help you edit the scene at the same time as you. Think of it like working with someone on a Google Doc, except with a 3D rendering. Then the rendering embed lets you send a live render to someone else (like a client) - so you don’t have to render out a dozen still images, you can just send them the embed and they can check it out themselves.

Time-saving, yea, it does help when you can work with someone else concurrently. The rendering is also stupid quick, and background rendering is great. I can fire off three renders at the same time, shut my computer off, and walk away or go play a game like Battlefield 4; since it’s all processed elsewhere, my local machine isn’t tied up. So that’s pretty awesome.

Cost wise, it’s cheap, like $50 a month for the pro version, and the free version is similar in functionality. The major differences are in terms of numbers; limited rendering time (2 hours), 1 background render instead of 3, half the speed, and less rendering priority. Honestly I’d say just try it out and see what you think.

Yea, it only does stills - no videos yet.