New laptop for student

Hi Everyone !

I’m new here but i’ve been searching for a -recent- post about this and I haven’t found one… so here it goes,

I’m looking for a new laptop cause I’ve had mine for 4 years and it’s starting to get slow and not able to run all the software I’m currently using; so I’ve been thinking I should get somethig like this:

15 inch display
+2 Ghz i7 processor, 2, 3 or 4mb cache?
16 gb RAM (is it too much?)
Dedicated graphics card (should be CUDA capable, so, NVidia, cause I want to try this new Octane Render engine, ever heard of it?), don’t know if I should get 1 or 2 gb
Hopefully thin-ish … I don’t need a workstation but I need something powerful and somewhat lightweight… A macbook pro would be ideal but they’re too expensive !.. XPSz are kinda thin…

So, I’ve been seaching for PCs with those specs, the price is about 1300-14000 (dell XPS, asus, etc) … a Mac with the same specs costs about 3000 or more, so I think i’m sticking with a PC… plus i need to run SW, Alias, Inventor, CATIA, Pro E, etc… plus all the Adobe software we usually use…

Any suggestions? My original budget was around 1000-1200 dollars, but I don’t think that’s realistic… or maybe i’m asking too much… anyway, ANY feedback would be awesome,

Thanks !

Something like this:

Might fit the bill…

Also check out the Sager machines - most of them are pretty big, but I’ve heard good things about them and they’re very customizable. They also have an IPS panel upgrade on most of their machines with a matte screen, which is worth it if you ever have to work on the actual laptop display.

With all that said - splurging on the MB Pro would be pretty nice and could meet all your requirements.

Regarding RAM - you should be able to tell how much ram you need by opening up your most intensive programs that you’d realistically use at one time and hit CTRL+ALT+DEL and view the peformance tab in the task manager - it should show you how much of your physical memory you need.

With that said 8 gigs is usually plenty, and upgrading is fairly cheap if you need to do it down the road. But if you do a lot of work that is memory intensive then its an easy upgrade (unless of course you do get a Macbook)

Thanks for the tips!..

I’m still considering the MB Pro… i just refuse to pay hundreds of dollars for the new screen resolution (which I probably will not ever take full advantage off since i’m not in the movie editing sector or do similar activities)… I also think 8gb could do the trick, but I’m still undecided on the graphics card, (1 or 2gb) … mine is currently 512mb and I really can’t complain…

Truth is, the MB Pro meets all the requirements except for the budget… so it’s gonna be either blowing up my budget or getting the next best thing, which would be something with the same specs, but thicker and heavier, and with Windows 7/8… like a XPS z … plus I need to get a new screen cause I’ve been working on my laptop screen all this time and (i know), it’s horrible hahaha… I also googled a bit for gaming computers, but they’re HUGE and HEAVY… this is a major problem for me so yeah, no gaming laptops for me…

Thanks again ! I’ll let you know of my decision :smiley:

P.S. What about the screen size? do you think it could be wise to get a 13 inch laptop and a larger additional screen (22 inches?) … cause I was aiming for 15 inch laptops but a 13 inch MB Pro could meet budget

If you’re mostly using an external screen the 13" laptop would probably do. But keep in mind the 13" macbook does NOT have a dedicated Nvidia card, only the onboard Ivy Bridge 4000 video.

Yeah, I just found out about that little -very important- detail… this sucks, I refuse to pay 800 dollars just for the eye candy, I know they have better materials and build quality, but I’ve had this Dell for 4 years and never had a problem with it… the other problem is that Apple says their MBs have quad-core processors and Dell does not specify the type of processor, so I’m assuming it’s dual core and not quad core ?.. this is a huge difference I think, plus the video card on the macbook is supossed to be better than the one on the Dell (2 vs 3 x compute capability… whatever that means…)

So yeah, I know it’s not just about the aluminum case and the size and stuff, Macs do have better components, but I still feel like I’m getting ripped off !

Of course Dell specifies the processor - if they don’t list the # of cores, just take the processor name and google it (ie i5-XXXX) that will give you the exact specifications. Keep in mind there are both cores and threads (hyper-threading) a hyper threaded processor will perform better (can do 2x things at once). The Intel specs will show you.

Ex: The Dell 15z ranges from: i5-2430M which is a 2 core, 4 thread CPU, to the i7-2640M which is also only a 2 core, 4 thread CPU - but with slightly higher clock speeds. Jumping to a true quad core CPU like they have in the 15R series would give you a 4 core, 8 thread CPU.

Also the 15Z you mentioned has not been refreshed with the 3rd gen (Ivy Bridge) CPU’s, and the Geforce 525M Graphics has 4x fewer CUDA cores than the 650M in the macbook. That means if you actually plan on using a GPU based renderer like octane for anything serious, it’s going to choke up pretty quickly - again, this is where a gaming laptop will have an edge since it will have a proper GPU, not a thin and light GPU which is meant for basic video acceleration and light duty gaming.

Thanks for the explanation.

So what you’re saying is that not even the MB Pro’s GPU is “good enough” for GPU based rendering? … you mean I should get a gaming laptop if I want to render like that… for example, the Asus Republic of Gamers product line or Dell’s Alienware laptops? …

I rather have a desktop computer if I’m gonna buy a laptop that huge and heavy, cause it will not be wise to transport to school… Having said that, I’m a student and I won’t be rendering huge complex scenes or geometry, (I guess). Also, the 15R comes with an AMD Radeon GPU and not a Nvidia one haha… I’m gonna go crazy with all this options… truth is, if I had the 2500+ dollars, I’d just go with the MB and that’d be the end of it, even if the GPU is not that good…

The 650 in the MBP is pretty good, if you google the name of the video card it will show you what the performance is.

Frankly, unless there’s a real specific reason you want to use Octane for rendering, you can probably stick to a CPU based renderer (which is what 90% of the market is) and not worry too much about the GPU.

The MB Pro with the retina can also be had for $2000 + tax if you use the educational discount. Not a bad investment - when I went to college the crappiest Dell laptop that met the university requirements was $2000…a Pentium 3 with a whopping 128 megs of ram. We take for granted these days that a cheap laptop is $500.

OK, I’m gonna give less priority to the GPU, I’ve used vray a lot with awesome results…

I can’t apply for the educational discount cause I don’t live in the US, but I’m using US prices cause they’re WAY cheaper than in my country… for instance, a $1500 MB in the US costs about $3000 in my country, so I rather have it shipped than buy it here and pay (even more) for the same thing… but yeah, educational discounts are out of the picture, even Dell has some interesting educational deals but only for US students… thanks for the tip though :smiley: you’ve been very patient haha…

OK what about this one?

http://usa.asus.com/Notebooks/Multimedia_Entertainment/N56VZ/#specifications

The N56 (15 inch) or N76 (17 inch)

Both have 3rd generation 2.3 quad core, 8 thread 6MB Cache i7 processors
With Nvidia 650M 2GB (same as on the macbook)
8GB RAM
750GB HD


I think this one covers pretty much all I ask for and it’s about 2.6lb heavy and 3.5 cm thick… at $1300

Can you suggest a trustfull online store where I might find these?, I found one at Amazon but it’s not sold by Amazon only through Amazon lol


Thanks again :smiley:

That machine looks pretty solid as spec’ed but that weight is definitely a typo it’s 2.7KG - 6lbs.

For comparison, a 13" macbook air is 3 pounds.

Also make sure if you buy it you get the display that’s spec’ed at 1920x1080 - not 1366x768 because that’ll be pretty miserable.

Buying is up to you, Amazon vendors are pretty reliable though in my experience.

Yeah, I suspected the weight was too low but then again, I don’t think it’s fair to compare a 13 inch MB Air with this computer, a more equivalent computer would be the 15 inch MB Pro at 5.6 pounds (2.56 kg) … so it’s only slightly heavier but way thicker (1cm), this is not really a surprise however.

Thanks for the advice on the screen resolution, that’s a must these days :smiley:

As a student I will select a laptop which is not too much expensive but durable.

I think this wasn’t meant for this thread :wink: