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Going into computer animation...

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February 24, 2010 11:21:06 PM

Hi! I have a question and I have yet to get a clear cut answer on it. I am going into computer animation and I need a top of the line laptop for a decent price (preferably anything under 2,000 USD). It's my understanding that ATi has OpenGL problems and has missing polygons, inaccurate displaying of geometry as well as selection issues. However, I've heard that ATi's Radeon HD 5870 graphic card is currently considered to be top of the line as far as graphics cards go. I'm not sure what to do or what computer to get now. Are there any computer animators out there that can PLEASE help me with this dilemma?

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a c 172 U Graphics card
February 24, 2010 11:31:36 PM

Why a laptop? Laptops are not the best out there for the job. Any decent workstation or MAC can get the job done for less than that.
a b U Graphics card
February 24, 2010 11:34:22 PM

Is computer animation the same as 3D rendering? If so then you will need a workstation card (FirePro or Quadro) and not a gaming card (Radeon or GeForce).

Depending on what programs you use for animating will greatly impact which manufacturer (ATI or Nvidia) you choose as the drives for the cards are highly optimized by ATI and Nvidia to run certain programs.

Any particular reason you need a laptop for your animation? (aside form portability) If you can afford to get a desktop then you could easily build your own and it would be at least twice as fast as any laptop you could buy for the same price.
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February 24, 2010 11:50:37 PM

I was mainly planning on a laptop due to the portability of it (going to DAVE in Orlando and don't want to leave my expensive equipment there 100% of the time not to mention i was hoping to be able to work on things while I was on the go rather than having to always go back home and work on things at a desktop.) I found what I thought was the perfect laptop for it (http://www.xoticpc.com/asus-g73jha1-order-p-2731.html) but was told that the ATi graphics card would be a problem for the reasons listed above. Are any of you in the computer animation (CGI/VFX) line of work? (DAVE uses all kinds of things... Photoshop, Lightwave, Maya, ZBrush, Motion builder, Nuke, Boujou, Fusion and After Effects are the main ones... So I need something that can handle it all while still having room for me to check my mail. Lol)

(And yes, 3D rendering IS involved in it!)
a b U Graphics card
February 25, 2010 4:28:24 AM

Id go with an i7 + that Moblility 5870 or a Quadro ####M for your laptop. Im not in the CGI or VFX line of work (studying the automotive and electrical fields, with computers being a big hobby of mine) but I do know that a gaming card will be enough to handle things like Photoshop and After Effects ok, while Maya is going to be a hard core 3D rendering program that will really make you wish you got that workstation card.
a c 172 U Graphics card
February 25, 2010 12:23:54 PM

Roxythespian said:
I was mainly planning on a laptop due to the portability of it (going to DAVE in Orlando and don't want to leave my expensive equipment there 100% of the time not to mention i was hoping to be able to work on things while I was on the go rather than having to always go back home and work on things at a desktop.) I found what I thought was the perfect laptop for it (http://www.xoticpc.com/asus-g73jha1-order-p-2731.html) but was told that the ATi graphics card would be a problem for the reasons listed above. Are any of you in the computer animation (CGI/VFX) line of work? (DAVE uses all kinds of things... Photoshop, Lightwave, Maya, ZBrush, Motion builder, Nuke, Boujou, Fusion and After Effects are the main ones... So I need something that can handle it all while still having room for me to check my mail. Lol)

(And yes, 3D rendering IS involved in it!)



That is a gaming laptop but will run just about any thing you throw at it. You can use ordinary graphics cards instead of professional cards. I ram 3DSmax on a 2400pro and CAD on a 9800gt.
February 25, 2010 4:44:16 PM

(Sorry, I'm afraid I'm not tech literate enough for all of this jargon going on here... ) So what you all are saying is if I got a laptop workstation that would be better, not portable, but better and I could find one with with a Bluray drive, 1 TB (or more) of hard drive space, a GREAT graphics card (someone told me that the GeForce GTX 285 graphics card is best for this line of work), HDMI capabilities... Basically EVERYTHING that the laptop had, if not better, but for the same amount of money... if not LESS? (Where would I go about finding such a thing? Is there somewhere that I can go to custom built a desktop like that?)

Or is there perhaps a way that you can change the graphics card in the Asus to a GeForce GTX 285...? (I really like the laptop and ALL of it's tech specs... It's the graphic card that I am most worried about... Someone told me that that was the only problem they had with that laptop...)
a c 172 U Graphics card
February 25, 2010 5:26:34 PM

Roxythespian said:
(Sorry, I'm afraid I'm not tech literate enough for all of this jargon going on here... ) So what you all are saying is if I got a laptop workstation that would be better, not portable, but better and I could find one with with a Bluray drive, 1 TB (or more) of hard drive space, a GREAT graphics card (someone told me that the GeForce GTX 285 graphics card is best for this line of work), HDMI capabilities... Basically EVERYTHING that the laptop had, if not better, but for the same amount of money... if not LESS? (Where would I go about finding such a thing? Is there somewhere that I can go to custom built a desktop like that?)

Or is there perhaps a way that you can change the graphics card in the Asus to a GeForce GTX 285...? (I really like the laptop and ALL of it's tech specs... It's the graphic card that I am most worried about... Someone told me that that was the only problem they had with that laptop...)



A GTX285 can do the work but is more of a gaming card but every thing else can be any thing you pick. I suggest that you do some research and build a rig your self while saving the money. I hate Dell and the rest of them they make cheap crap that is made to go bad. You can build the workstation to do a little bit of both gaming and professional 2D and 3D work. With a $2k USD budget you can build a very nice unit. A simple Core i7 920 and 6 or 12GB of DDR3 ram along with a 1-2TB drive. As for the gpu I am not sure that all the plugins are going to work on a non Quadro or FireGL card but are more or less the same physical hardware except for looks will run these apps at some reduced performance. Quadro and FireGL cards have specialized drivers for professional 2D and 3D apps.
a b U Graphics card
February 25, 2010 9:52:01 PM

Getting a prebuilt desktop will give you, Id say minimum twice the performance of a laptop you want, however it might cost you alittle more to get it form Dell or HP. Building you own will make it cost as much or less and still give you that double performance compared to that laptop you where looking at. You are basically gaining a massive performance boost in exchange for portability. And building it yourself will save you several hundred easily.

A rough estimate id say:
250: i7 920
300: mobo
75: 1tb hard drive
175: 6gb ddr3 ram
50: good cpu air cooler for overclocking
100: computer case you like
100: blueray
20: cd/dvd combo
100: 650w PSU
Thats $1170 for everything but the graphics card (assuming you already have a monitor, keyboard, mouse and speakers) Thats a large wad of cash left over for 6gb more of ram, a few more 1tb hard drives and a $400-800 card.

If you do choose to build your own rather than a laptop for portability, check out the Home Built Systems section to get further help.
March 9, 2012 11:31:30 PM

I'm currently a student looking to get a laptop for the same exact thing you're looking for. 3D Animating/rendering and VFX with Adobe CS Production Premium. A professional's opinion would be more valuable and helpful probably, but I have been vigorously studying hardware (and it's influence on software) extensively for nearly a month now and I think I have a fairly formed opinion on the subject. It really comes down to preference and what software you plan on using when it comes to picking a GPU, but in my opinion the nVidia Quadro line up is the best. Although gaming graphics cards can render and work with animating applications like Maya and 3ds Max, and in some cases can render faster than their professional counterparts (i.e. nVidia's GeForce series vs. nVidia's Quadro series) the professional series will perform, in general, faster and more stable than the gaming series of GPUs. Also, video game graphics cards are essentially EXACTLY the same as the professional GPU's except the drivers on the professional GPU's are optimized to run with programs like Adobe, Maya, and 3ds Max. This means that the Pro GPUs run a lot cooler than the game GPUs so they'll last longer and remain stable after working with them for a long period of time. Also, the Pro GPUs typically have much more cache than the video game GPUs which will be necessary as you begin to work with animating scenes that are a lot longer and have much more detail. But the GPU is the last thing to worry about and can always be upgraded later. Making sure you have a minimum of 8Gb RAM, any of the i7 processors, and a SSD drive will make the most noticeable difference. If you can afford the Quadro 1000M, you should go with that in my opinion. I'm getting a computer made by Dell (I would normally never do this but I need it for school and want the warranty info, plus I'm getting a great deal, marked to 2,500 from 4,000) that has the following specs for its main hardware:

i7 2760QM Processor,
16Gb RAM,
128Gb Solid State Drive
nVidia Quadro 3000M
as well as the hi-res screen.

All in all, it would probably be better to spring for a cheaper Pro Card than to get a high quality gaming card which would still be cheaper than the "cheap" pro card. The Quadro series 1000M would probably work perfectly although if you get a better set up now, then you can hold off on upgrading your system for longer. That's why I'm opting for the 3000M which I know I probably don't need. I want this computer to be able to support animating software 5 or more years from now which is asking a lot.
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