Which Laptop for CAD and Graphics Work?

Hi all,

I'm looking for a reasonably fast laptop for Autocad, Sketchup, & Photoshop work and have found the two 17" (1600x900) machines below. Which would be faster, and which would run hotter?

Dell Inspiron 17R $899: i7, 8GB RAM, 2GB VRAM (585 Passmark G3D benchmark), 640GB HD (5400 rpm), BD read /DVD/CD RW, Webcam, 2 speakers & subwoofer, (2) USB 3.0 (1) USB 2.0, (1) USB 2.0 with E-SATA, HDMI v1.4 Port, VGA Port, 8-in-1 Media Card Reader, 1 year warranty (upgradeable.)

Acer Aspire AS7750G-6871 $699: i5, 6GB RAM, 1GB VRAM, (2,848 Passmark G3D benchmark), 750GB HD (5400 rpm), DVD Writer, Webcam, (1) USB 3.0, (2) USB 2.0, HDMI, VGA, 5-in-1 card reader, 1 year warranty
13 answers Last reply Best Answer
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  1. Hello rhizome;

    Probably the more expensive model but you've done a poor job giving the necessary details.
    Provide links to the laptops or more detailed technical info.
    Things like webcam, warranty, etc have nothing to do with your basic question.
  2. Dell: Core i7-2670QM 2.2Ghz quad core CPU, 8GB RAM, GT 525 GPU
    Acer: Core i5-2410M 2.3Ghz dual core CPU, 6GB RAM, Radeon HD 6850M GPU

    For gaming the Acer would be superior.
    For your Autocad, Sketchup, & Photoshop work the Dell is going to be faster in most circumstances.
  3. rhizome said:
    which would run hotter?
    Not a factor in performance. Temps won't be excessive.
  4. Subwoofer in a laptop?

    Sorry, couldn't resist
    BUT! Autocad and Photoshop do need lots of RAM to work within the battery life of your laptop. Probably a more important feature than webcams or speakers.
  5. AutoCAD performance will be almost identical between the two. AutoCAD will do a lot with 4GB of ram, so you have plenty of ram with either one. Also AutoCAD predominately uses only one core so quad core doesn't help you there.
  6. Thanks, folks for the comments. I neglected to mention I may be doing some rendering with Indigo or similar, thus the interest in a quad core.

    Re: speakers, ya gotta have tunes when you're drafting ;) .
  7. Rendering and video processing are in general the apps that are most mentioned as benefiting from quad core processors. That doesn't mean that Indigo definitely uses multiple cores but you can probably find out with some research.

    Personally I like quad core processors for anyone that uses their machine to do a lot of stuff, but there might be an affect on heat output and battery life in a laptop.
  8. Indigo indeed uses multiple cores, as well as CUDA and OpenCL technologies supported by NVidia and AMD respectively.
  9. DelroyMonjo said:
    Subwoofer in a laptop?

    Sorry, couldn't resist
    BUT! Autocad and Photoshop do need lots of RAM to work within the battery life of your laptop. Probably a more important feature than webcams or speakers.

    yeah when I purchased my sager I was like wtf, why would they put a sub on a laptop, those crazy chinese engineers :lol:
  10. Best answer
    Rendering, redraws, database activity and exporting are multi-threaded functions where extra cores add performance to programs like AutoCad.
  11. Best answer selected by rhizome.
  12. I purchased an XPS15z from Dell (4 actually) and I am sending them back today. I have had nothing but nightmares with troubleshooting the integrated graphics card and the Nvidia 525M. Even though there is an Nvidia control panel that allows you to select which programs should run with the nvidia and which ones should run on the integrated gpu, it doesn't matter! I have been on the phone with Dell (tier 3 still is trying to diagnose - they sent me 2 new ones today but i have decided that i'm done). Nvidia has NO SUPPORT at all. Go to their website and look for the Optimus forum. They have a FEEDBACK sticky and everyone is complaining about this yet no one is responding from Nvidia.

    Before i went investigating with benchmarks and the like, i knew something was wrong when i launched autocad and saw it behaving very poorly. Just dragging the cursor across the screen presented shadowing, and horrible regen times and this is only with 2D. I have not even tried to open a 3D drawing with that machine. When you do a 3dconfig, it shows that the card being used is the intel hd 3000 (integrated card on the cpu). No matter what options are induced, the intel card is still the one being used.

    Now, Sketchup runs like a champ! I mean it was awesome opening up the 100+MB file and flying around the screen, orbiting etc. without hesitation. Truly impressed, but if Autocad and other programs are so horribly slow without any support for this Optimus, then I can't be their guinea pig.

    Sorry for the rant, but i hope this helps someone else out.

    Oh, besides the performance end of things for this laptop, the build quality is just terrible too. The first 2 laptops we got were twisted to the point where you had to put a quarter under one of the rubber feet to balance the twist. The chrome bezel is glued on and was already showing signs of coming off. I have had these computers for 14 days. The casing was very thing to the point where i know i couldn't carry this around with one hand. My old precision M90 was a brick and was built to last. I don't get the same feeling about this laptop.

    Hope this helps someone out.
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