high end Mac vs PC laptops (or what?) for Industrial Design

Ok Folks, I am new to this but here we go.

The short questions:

What laptop would you buy for us in Industrial Design if Money was no issue?

Is a Nvidia Quadro Video Card needed for someone who only spends about a 1/4 of their time in 3D software?

The Long question (if your interested):

My problem: (this is the short list, I am sure my wife would have a lot more to add)

I am currently running a 17" Alienware P4 3.6 gig with a Nvidia Quadro FX1400 256meg video, with another 2gigs of ram. two HDs.

I spend most of my day in Adobe CS3, next painter and a bit in Rhino4.0. This system runs Rhino well, never had a problem with Painter, but Adobe (mostly illustrator) doesn’t seem to run very well. I have Illustrator crashes every few days. I have done clean installs of XP about once every 6 months to keep on top of the problems. Both my company IT department as well as Alienware help had been through this laptop without anything really improving. So I went shopping.

In addition, I run at a breakneck pace here at work. I have worked out renderings in deadlines as short of 2 hours. Thankfully, they are willing to spend some pretty big money on supplies to support the speed.

Brings me to the big question, What computer (laptop) do I buy???

I am currently looking at two different systems:

M-Tech (Clevo) M901C $4325
17" WSXGA 1200
2.4 GHz quad core
4 gigs of Ram (800MHz)
2X (SLI) GeForce 8800 GTX with 1024MB DDR3
Windows XP Pro

MacBookPro $4049
17" WSXGA 1200
2.6 GHz Core 2 Duo
4 GB of Ram (667 Mhz)
1 (single video) Geforce 8600M GT with 256MB DDR3
OSX Leopard (and) Windows XP
Running all art programs in Mac OSX and Rhino with a few other PC programs in XP (anyone done this? is it a pain in the…)

Well, what do you guys think? If price was not a concern, what laptop would you get? Other thing, Neither of these systems have a Nvidia Quadro, I am watching another Blog here asking that questions. Should I look for computers with Quadro’s? We are a few months (maybe as long as 6 months) away from getting SLI Quadro video cards for the M901C… should I wait?

Sorry, a lot here, just wanted to get the whole story… advise welcome!!! Thanks all.

Don’t let illustrator be one of your deciding factors. I use it a lot on mac and pc and it is very buggy (cs2 is, I don’t know about 3).

A lot of it is personal preferences. I’d buy the Mac, but its what I prefer to work in. My partner uses a macbook and is able to do rhino using parallels (virtualization)- its clunky, but for simple edits and most pc programs it is good 'nuff, and for serious work there is bootcamp. The ability to fire up windows as needed is a real benefit, while the usability and simplicity of OS X is where its at for me. Rhino 5 will be OS X native. Quadro is certainly not needed for rhino, but a decent video card is- the card in the macbook pro is more than adequate. Not sure why you would go for dual SLI in the pc version unless you are using this for gaming more than ID. Creative Suite programs are as likely to crash on both platforms, something that Adobe should focus on more than more feature bloat in future versions.

Apple’s hardware is beautiful if that matters (most ID people care). If you need a serious render rig though, a laptop is probably not the best solution.

Sorry if that is all over the place, my mind is at the moment.

Theres no reason for an SLI card - CAD applications will not take advantage of it properly.

Outside of that Mac will perform the same as a PC if they both are equipped with the same hardware (CPU, video card, Ram, HDD).

The flip side is the Mac is nicer designed, better to carry than most giant luggable desktop replacement laptops, runs OSX, but costs a good chunk more.

If you’re going render heavy then the quad core will help a lot in most software. If you’re mostly modelling then it might just be overkill.


I can see how people can get a lot of great info from folks on this site.

This is good stuff, I have only been at this (ID) for about 3 solid years. A few more before that in light product and mostly graphics… but all was done on a PC. Mostly, what I was going on, before this, was how the hardware seemed it would be like “on paper” no real world experience, and the somewhat bad assumption that the problems I was experiencing were due to old hardware.

I think I am going to sit here and listen to some great input for a bit (instead of waking up in 6 hours and running to the store) and make my decision in a week or so. when I feel comfortable.

Thanks a lot

Evidently everyone but me… That is all I use to do when I use to build PC towers but I never have felt that comfortable opening up laptops. I think I do now, thanks. The massive size of PC desktop replacements is very, very true. My current Alienware laptop weighs in at 12.5 lbs not including the 3lb power supply… yeah, and I made the run from concourse A8 to concourse C43 at Detroit Metro in 9 minutes door to door (about a mile and a half) with the 25 lbs of Alienware boat anchor on my back… I knew 8 years of football would come in handy… certinly didn’t help me draw! Thanks,

[quote=“grimble”]A lot of it is personal preferences. I’d buy the Mac, but its what I prefer to work in. My partner uses a macbook and is able to do rhino using parallels (virtualization)- its clunky, but for simple edits and most pc programs it is good 'nuff, and for serious work there is bootcamp. The ability to fire up windows as needed is a real benefit, while the usability and simplicity of OS X is where its at for me. Rhino 5 will be OS X native. Quadro is certainly not needed for rhino/quote]

Thanks for the input, do you (your friend) run into any corporate problems with software that you have not found a solution for? I know there are a few things, like product view built for ProE, that I will have trouble with. I would think Parallels will be the solution for that. I don’t mind running into problems, its just that I, like many, don’t like problems there is no solution to. I am the only guy in ID at my place (other then my boss, product director, that does not do production work) so no one really cares what I buy but they will once I run into a problem that I can’t solve that my old PC could… I just don’t know what that might be… Well, if you (OR ANYONE) knows about issues that would help. Thanks a lot, I appreciate the help.

We haven’t found any problems so far in parallels, apart from the fact that you need as much RAM as possible. They added 3d acceleration a while ago which helps alot, before it had to emulate any 3d hardware, but now it can use the actual hardware. And any problem you might have disappears as soon as you boot into windows with bootcamp(performance is the only reason we would), since the mac becomes a pc and is capable of running any software that a similarly configured pc would.

I should clarify that my describing parallels as clunky in my earlier post was simply performance based- and thats with quite a bit of software open on both OSs. As a piece of software, its pretty damn awesome, working between to platforms is seamless, and windows programs can show up in the dock in os x. I’m still running an older power mac and a separate pc for rhino and can’t wait to jump to a mac pro to take advantage of the dual boot and parallels. The towers are long overdue for an update at this point, but probably won’t come out until macworld in January.

I would prefer the 15" mac with a 20"+ monitor, wireless keyboard and mouse connected. I have this configuration with my pc laptop at my office.

At your office you have a full-size set-up, on the road your not lugging around a huge laptop.

I also have an Imac at home. I run bootcamp and parallels. Parallels, while in mac, runs the bootcamp partition. I use this to run quickbooks. If I do cad at home I restart into bootcamp. It runs perfect. Parallels running bootcamp is not as smooth/fast.

Like others are saying, with bootcamp on a mac you can get that stylish mac without sacrifice. Also, these days the price gap is non-existent.


Still, there is a bit of a price difference. The two laptops above are only about $300 different and the PC his roughly twice as much more power (quadcore, 800MHz ram, and (3) 120Gig (2 stripped one as scratch disk). That is an amazingly fast computer… Is MAC OSX and about 5lbs worth it? I know the stats on the Macbook Pro are pretty awesome, but comparing the two systems what are the thoughts… with the speed differences is it still just a user preference?

Oh, by the way some folks did pull of a Macbook Pro docking station:
Kinda clunky, but might be pretty nice to have (in a drawer).

Nonetheless, I guess I am going to have to make a decision… not sure why it isn’t a big deal to decide on all the parts of a million dollars of NRE in some project but I get so caught up in a laptop choice.

Thanks all for the help, I will defiantly keep watching here, any more input welcome.

Any chance you think they might have some changes in laptops next year? should I wait until January and see?

You might want to check on 32 bit vs 64 bit. I don’t think boot camp on OS X supports 64 bit windows, which will be a HUGE performance drain running 32 bit applications on the mac. You’ll be limited on the amount of RAM 32 bit windows supports (4GB I believe). 64 bit is virtually limitless.

not an issue with the laptops as their limit is 4gb regardless, but something to consider if you get a tower, yes.

yeah that pc laptop is a godzilla, if you don’t mind toting it and really don’t have any preference in OS, go for it. There’s always a chance the laptop will get a speed bump, but it just got a fast processor option earlier this month, so I doubt it. If you need it, get it.

Regarding laptop + large screen at office, I know most people prefer this- everyone at my firm uses a laptop and a screen, but I prefer the added power and expansion of a desktop workstation. Someday I might change my mind, and the performance gap is narrower now than it ever was, but not quite there yet in my opinion. I’ll take an iphone and a desktop.

I’m not clear on something: are you replacing your desktop with the laptop or are you just getting the laptop to be mobile?

I would go PC for the added performance. I know they are ugly, but we are getting paid for results, not taste in PCs. If you are getting the laptop for the mobility and expect to use it for less than 20% of your work, then I would consider going Apple. I mean, why not?

As for Illustrator: CS3 is buggy. I’ve surfed the Adobe forums and everyone is complaining about stability in the CS series. In fact, I just got an laptop at home that I don’t plan to use for work. I installed my old PS 7 and Illustrator 9. They don’t crash, but they do everything I want to do (render up, paint, photo touch up, etc). In fact, PS 2 did everything I want, and loaded super fast. hmmm.

I am replacing my old, mobile, laptop with a new one. My old one is having problems, won’t even shut down properly, still after many scans and clean installs. I have been beating on it for over 3 years now. I very much need to stay mobile so I can work at home/work. Just asking myself the question if PC is still the thing for me? I am buying my first computer with this company and finally get to ask that. I am glad I didn’t have to at the get go, there was enough new things going on here being the only production designer for a while.

I think my thought is to stay mobile, then when I can see spending more, getting a tower to cover extra power. Mostly just looking for the best, most well rounded solution to computing. Thanks,

Yeah, I think the mobile thing really helps me right now. I even take my laptop to meetings around the building to help with notes or do presentations (the computer in our media center sucks) so mobile is still the way for me. Though i looked at towers, 8 processors is pretty sick! maybe later. Currently I have a 9x12 wacom and a 26" high res Acer monitor, well and an epson stylus 7800 pro printer (that thing rocks). Just need the brain to run it all… I mean computer, my brain is usually her (arguably)… I was looking at functions in OSX and knowing my buddy’s G3 ibook still pulling strong really made me even question staying with PC… I think I am going to go sit for an hour in the Mac Store down the road… maybe make a decision tomorrow.