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Laptop for rendering in RhinoCam and Solidworks?

Last response: in Laptops & Notebooks
November 30, 2011 11:01:26 PM

Hey guys,
I need to buy a laptop, for I am off to college in a few months. What I would really like is a laptop with a mid-range cpu, for example an i5-2430M, about 6GB DDR3 RAM, from what I've read the RAM is primarily used in the cutting/copying and pasting function of rendering software, and a mid to high range discreet GPU. I'm willing to spend $700, $800 max, on this laptop, I already have a pretty high end desktop so there's no need to go crazy here, I need it while I'm in class or on the go. That being said, battery life would need to last at least 4 hours under work load. I've been looking for quite a while, but I can honestly say I have no idea what video card is sufficient.
The computers that I currently use in High School are Core 2 Duo's runnig 2.2 ghz, I believe, with 4GB of RAM, and no GPU. Now these things get the job done, for most students at least, but I need something that can handle high end rendering with plugins such as brazil and flamigo.
So, laptops suitable for rendering in 3D?
Thanks in advance.
December 2, 2011 3:32:14 PM

cloudy, I don't think the integrated graphics will meet his needs with Solidworks.

jstek117, the CPU is responsible for most of the work in rendering, unless you're using a package that explicitly offloads much of the computational work back to the GPU in the form of CUDA or OpenCL(? whatever AMD/ATI's version is called). Of course, you could just do your final renderings from your more powerful desktop, but I suspect you might find a use for the extra processing power of the i7's during the next couple years at college.

For the minimal price difference, I would opt for a machine with one of the i7 quad CPUs, and at least a GT520 video card to help with the interactive (not final rendering) presentation while you're working on things.

Something like this would do the trick, but watch the holiday sales and you can find more options, similarly configured:
(you can trade in that $25 gift card, plus a few bucks and upgrade to 8GB, and still be under $800)

If you really want to stick with the i5, adding a moderate GPU (to help with interactive displaying) doesn't add much to the price. See this 15" lenovo for $650:

Something else I would harp on, if you plan on logging much time designing and building models on the laptop, would be to go for one with a higher resolution screen so you can have a bit more pixel real-estate to work with. 1600x900 is a reasonable compromise for most folks on a 15" laptop (I use 1920x1080, but some people find that too tight). If you plan to do most of your work on the desktop, you shouldn't be too annoyed with the 1366x768 that most laptops come with.

Happy hunting!