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Processor for school laptop

WaffleMan22

Hello everyone,
I wasn't sure which thread this question should go under, so I put it here. I am purchasing a Dell Precision 15 7000 series 7510 to get me through all 4 years of architecture school with the following specs:

Nvidia Quadro M2000M w/4GB GDDR5
15.6" UltraSharp FHD IPS (1920x1080) Wide View Anti-Glare
Backlit keyboard.
512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe Class 40 Solid State Drive
16GB (2x8GB) 2133MHz DDR4 SDRAM, Non-ECC
6-cell (91Wh) Lithium ion battery with ExpressCharge

I will be using really intense programs like AutoCAD, Rhinoceros, and Revit. I am not sure which processor to order the laptop with. My options are the Intel Core i7-6820HQ, Intel Xeon E3-1535M v5, Intel Core i7-6920HQ, Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5, Intel Xeon E3-1545M v5, and Intel E3-1575M v5. I was initially planning to get the 6820, but on second thought, knowing how intense the software is, I am hesitating. Would the 6820 be able to easily handle what I need? Again, I want this computer to last all the way through undergrad. Thanks!!

 
Jul 9, 16 4:02 pm
Non Sequitur
I used olfa blades to sharpen my charcoal sticks for renderings while in school.
Jul 9, 16 5:03 pm
WaffleMan22

What?

Jul 9, 16 5:10 pm
anonitect

Dude, how much hand holding do you need? This is what, your third "what computer should I buy" thread? Just check the hardware recommendations for the software you'll be using. For instance

Jul 9, 16 6:00 pm
WaffleMan22

When you're investing $2500, you want to make sure that you are getting what you need. If you don't have anything constructive to say, then don't respond

Jul 9, 16 6:06 pm
WaffleMan22

Those specifications mention nothing about processors

Jul 9, 16 6:07 pm
Non Sequitur

... it's undergrad and you've not even started your first class: order the best you can afford keeping in mind that all the heavy graphic work will most likely be done on a real computer (aka tower PC), which is what everyone has told you in your last 14 identical posts.  

Backlit keyboard is the best option so that you look badass in the lecture hall when the lights are low and you're looking for easy answers to your assignments from internet forums.

I'd invest in a good set of sketching pencils/pens and leather-bound sketch book before dropping a fortune on a PC with specs you don't understand to run software you know little about. Unless you've got unlimited access to Daddy's VISA card, it's probably a better idea to get a decent gaming rig with the highest I7 CPU available c/w dedicated GPU, dual SSD and swap components as required. Also remember that I've already told you 17" models have better fan management in an earlier post.

Jul 9, 16 6:09 pm
anonitect

 If you don't have anything constructive to say, then don't respond

This is archinect. People with nothing constructive to say always respond. Anyway, I think that my post was actually pretty good. The link I provided actually did link to a page with CPU specs, you just didn't take the time to find it. Autodesk and Adobe also have recommendations and forums. Didn't check those, did you?

You'll be in college soon. Grow up, learn how to find the information you need by yourself. Its not hard to find - this forum has given you  plenty of advice, if the folks on it had more to offer, they would have given it on your other threads.

If you bother your professors this much with your needy bullshit, they'll think that you're a total pain in the ass.

Jul 9, 16 6:53 pm
WaffleMan22

How is the Intel Xeon 1505 processor for CAD? I already have invested plenty in analog materials, believe me (or don't. I don't really care).

Jul 9, 16 7:51 pm

Dude, how much hand holding do you need? This is what, your third "what computer should I buy" thread? Just check the hardware recommendations for the software you'll be using. Forinstance

Look at the recommended hardware of the most intensive and demanding software that would be used in any of the courses during the school year and make sure the MINIMUM memory is twice that of the recommended hardware with room to increase ram by at least twice that. In short, if the most demanding software requires 8 GB of RAM, make sure you have 16 GB of RAM and room to expand to to 32GB or more RAM. 

For the processor, make sure you have a laptop with a processor equal to in GHz and number of cores as a medium to high end office computer / medium level gaming laptop as they gaming demands a lot of cpu power. Also, don't use laptops for the heavy rendering. BUY A desktop tower with a motherboard designed for gaming and suitable processor with dual and quad core capability and at least i5 and capable of i7 level processing and the ability to use nvidia geforce 960gtx with 4GB or higher and potential for DUAL video card with SLI. The laptop not be a cheap pansy if you are going to use it for heavy rendering. Laptops aren't used for that in professional offices. They use desktop/workstations with big video cards and one or two CPUs with at least 4 cores of i5 or equivalent or higher level CPUs. 

Laptops are for mobile presentation so you should already pre-render animation sequences and do the rendering on the desktop. As for lightweight rendering, like Skype, the laptop is perfectly suitable for. 

I have desktop and mobile (laptop or tablet solutions). They serve different purposes. The desktop is for heavier work. Laptops in general do not have the same computing power of desktops of the same generation of hardware. The reason is laptop's requirements of lower power and battery life does not allow room for performance levels that a desktop that would be tethered to the wall outlet all the time would have. Laptops are not  intended to be used for the same level of performance criteria of desktop computer. 

Sure, a top of the line $5,000 to $10,000 gaming laptop will outperform a $399 cheap office desktop computer but a $5,000 to $10,000 top of the line desktop/tower computer will probably outperform the laptop by about a significant margin. Faster rendering. Faster processor. More memory capacity like up to 128GB or more DDR 4 or later RAM. Capability of using dual Titan video cards and SLI being possible upgrades or at least dual 970gtx video cards or even dual Geforce 1080 video cards with combined video RAM up to 16 GIGABYTES !!!! 

Of course, if I was wanting a machine for heavy-duty rendering, I'd invest in a desktop tower. If I want a computer to go with me for presentations then a decent laptop that I can do some work on the go and presentation whenever the work doesn't require the rendering performance power of the desktop. Google Sketchup presentation and stuff like that. Maybe a little photoshop / GIMP work but the desktop is the rendering factory.

Jul 9, 16 8:56 pm
WaffleMan22

I compared the CPU I was looking to buy and that of the Razer Blade (I think that qualifies as a medium level gaming computer), and they both have 4 cores, and mine is 0.2 GHz greater. I don't think I need a desktop yet. Especially since I will have to carry around my computer a lot. I don't think anyone would bring two computers to freshman year of college   o_O

Jul 9, 16 9:07 pm

Of course you don't need dual video cards in the computer for school. 

The desktop could do just fine with a single 970, 980 or 1070 or 1080 geforce card. I recommend starting memory on the desktop being 16 GBytes of RAM with 4 or 8 slots with per slot DDR 4 capacity of 8 or 16 GBytes per slot. I recommend the room for RAM upgrades up to 64 GB to 128 GB RAM or more.

I recommend 3+ GHz i5 or i7 processor with 4 or more cores but 4 cores should be sufficient for school use.

The laptop should be a 2.5+ Ghz i5 quad-core mobile cpu. The GPU should be an nvidia mobile geforce video processor with 2 GB or more video memory. The RAM should be 8 GB or 16 GB with room to expand to 32GB or 64 GB. 

The laptop should be adequate for lightweight rendering and sketchup, pre-rendered animations and presentation and some on the go/road working like CAD work but the desktop would be the rendering factory for the high end rendering and very VERY high DPI renderings for prints but you want to capitalize on the GPU's processing on top of the CPU on the desktop. Remember, your school work isn't necessarily nor should require that level of rendering setting. I seen people spending 2-3 FULL DAYS rendering on mac which they could have adequately rendered in 3 hours and printed out because you sure the hell won't get much better print quality between the 3 hour rendering and the 3 DAYS of rendering because the plotter just won't cut it and the ink bleed in the paper fibers including the vinyl. The poor old eyes of the critics will have a tough time telling the difference. 3 days could be better spent by doing better design than wasting on rendering.

Just a word of advice in not wasting too much time in all this rendering. I bet my computer with a 960 GTX and 3 GHz i5 quad core with I think 8 GB of RAM will still be adequate for the current range of software used in the class and it didn't cost $5,000. 

Jul 9, 16 9:15 pm

Waffleman,

Your laptop should be adequate for your first year and possibly 2nd year. You may use the school's desktop but at some point, you may want one to have it working on rendering while you do other work on the laptop and you'll be surprised or unsurprised how difficult it can be to get to use one of the desktops at the schools architecture department computer labs given how many people will likely compete for so few computers. The desktop can would be helpful to have tucked away in your dorm room doing the grunt while you can take the laptop wherever and work away while the long slow rendering tasks being worked on the desktop. Capitalizing on parallelism as you really don't need to babysit the desktop working on rendering especially if you have the computer lock out so others don't use that desktop while its working when you are away.

Jul 9, 16 9:22 pm
WaffleMan22

Great thanks!! I think I will just stick to a laptop for now. I am trying to make sure that I won't have to get a more powerful one in two years. That way when I go to grad school and get a whole new set of specs, I will be ready for a new computer as well :)

Jul 9, 16 9:23 pm
WaffleMan22

Also, the Nvidia M2000M is the biggest graphics card I could order with the computer (I could either get that or the M1000M)

Jul 9, 16 9:25 pm
WaffleMan22

I just saw your second comment. I will definitely look into it, although since I am dropping 2500$ for the laptop, I am reluctant to do so at this stage :/

Jul 9, 16 9:26 pm

WaffleMan22,

I have no issue with your graphic card choice. It'll work for your needs of the laptop for some time. A desktop just helps at some point in time so you can capitalize on parallelism. 

Just saying.

Don't confuse the rendering work with the CAD work. Okay. You don't need that much computing power for the CAD work and even the BIM work, it'll be fine as you don't need to worry too much about the high end rendering work. Most wire modeling work and CAD vector drawings just don't need all that much computing power. If I am using the laptop alot including my web work, I usually pass off the rendering task to the desktop and used my laptop or tablet for web browsing, on-the-go working, taking notes, etc. Rendering consumes a lot of processor overhead and designed by programming to consume all available CPU processing time causing even typing to lag. The idea is you don't browse the web, type in office documents, etc. and render in high level rendering at the same time on the same computer. Use a computer that can be effectively dedicated to that task.

Coming from experience, I have seen rendering literally freezing up other tasks including the pointer. That would be something to look into.

Jul 9, 16 9:35 pm
Non Sequitur
Ricky, where were you for the op's other 3 Pc query threads?

$2500 is steep since the rig will be outdated by the time you actually need the muscle (likely to be post 2nd year).
Jul 9, 16 9:35 pm
Non Sequitur
Also, waffle, please be aware that Ricky up there has never designed a building nor taken any real architecture education. His experience using CAD or BIM is non existent.
Jul 9, 16 9:40 pm
WaffleMan22

That is why I am trying to go overkill now: so that the machine will last longer

Yes I have gotten the point by now that I have created too many threads Non Sequitur. Apparently being overly-cautious about dropping 3k is frowned upon now

Jul 9, 16 9:48 pm
WaffleMan22

As I said: I am trying to get a machine that will last entirely through undergrad

Jul 9, 16 9:49 pm

Wait for next year if necessary.

Just something to work on. Even if the desktop of numerically the same GHz, RAM size and (same DDR type such as DDR4), same amount of GB of video memory, etc., number of CPU cores, the desktop will technically be faster performing (hardware-wise). It can be simply there to provide dedicated rendering when you can be doing something else and increase your productivity performance and even allow you to be getting stuff down like rendering when you need to take a nap or sleep or away for lunch or dinner.

Another word of advice, whenever possible, use the best effective rendering setting that will give you sufficient quality on print and not take 3 days when it can be done in 3 hours. Don't waste 69 or so hours when the result is barely even better than a 3 hour long rendering. If it doesn't make significant improvement in quality, don't waste unnecessary time that you can do something else. I seen stupid waste of time done by students when the quality isn't even better in any way that is visually detectable. 

Another word of advice, balance your exploration of ideas with decisiveness. If you don't, you can become too caught up in different ideas and not knowing which direction to go and wind up in bunch of all-nighters. Really, you do want to minimize all-nighters for your own health.

I've done them before.

Jul 9, 16 9:56 pm
WaffleMan22

Yes that is a good idea. I will definitely look into the desktop as well at some point down the road

I am just trying to make sure that I am not buying another laptop the year before I go to grad school. Thanks for your responses!!!

Jul 9, 16 10:03 pm
Non Sequitur
Ricky, you've not done one day of architecture studio.

waffle, great renderings, graphics and CAD can be achieved at half that cost. What people here are telling you is to educate yourself on what each part of the rig does. A beast of a Pc will not make you a good student and relying on expensive equipment is a bad plan. Mid-range 17" gaming rig, i7 quad @3hz with a gtx970 or greater gpu and dual hard drive should be enough and should not cost you your first born.
Jul 9, 16 10:07 pm

Waffleman2, 

I am not entirely sure you can get a consumer laptop that will get you through 5+ years of undergrad. That depends on many factors I can't elaborate about the program, class assignments, your choices, etc.

Computer hardware / Moore's law kind of makes that impossible and new generations of software takes advantage of every of these new capabilities.

While, you might be able to get by if you aren't called upon to use explicit features on the newest version of whatever software on your last year in undergrad in 5 or 6 or 7 years from now. 

It is conceivable but this laptop will be low end in 6 or 7 years.

It's like me using the Sony Vaio laptop I got back in 2001 in 2008 or my vista laptop in 2014 or now. It is possible if I have full choice on the software I use to fulfill the assignment and the means & methods but if I have to use some piece of software that MUST use Windows 11 or 12 or whatever comes out in 2021-2023. Most of the software we use in architecture requires using a computer less than 5 years old running an OS within the last 5 years. 

5 years.... maybe but if you take longer than that to complete.... it might be a little bit hard to predict adequacy at that point. 

Jul 9, 16 10:08 pm
WaffleMan22

I do not intend to rely on expensive equipment Non Sequitur. I intend to save myself an extra 1500$ from purchasing another computer before grad school because I did not get one powerful enough initially

Jul 9, 16 10:10 pm
WaffleMan22

Rick, my program is only 4 years

Jul 9, 16 10:15 pm

N.S.,

Laptops cost more than desktops and that has to do with the LCD screen and battery, etc.

I've been involved in studio format courses before. Some of them are contract time tables. As for the computers, yes, you can do it with a computer half the cost but it won't necessarily be sufficient for running the software over 4 years from now. You would have to upgrade. This computer would probably top out for the 4-5 and stretching to 6 year mark. 

While I agree with the desktop spec that you given but if I was buying a desktop now, I have to consider my upgrade-ability path. An i7 quad core or even i5 quad core will perform pretty close. Personally, if it was me, I could do fine with a laptop of half the price if my rendering work horse was a desktop with upgrade ability.

The reason I suggest desktops over laptops for heavy duty work is it's upgrade capability. A laptop is not as easy to upgrade their components. They aren't easy to open up like a desktop. As for the laptop, I really don't need it to do the heavy rendering when I can have a desktop to do that. I don't even need to use an i7 cpu when I can use a motherboard with a CPU slot that supports i5 and i7 and use an i5 now and upgrade to i7 in a year or two.  That's how I would do it.

Desktops aren't exactly mobile so the idea then is use a laptop or tablet for mobile application and work that I can do on the mobile side and let the grunt heavy rendering kind of stuff be done on the desktop. 

His choice of laptop albeit high end is probably being based on the ideas of having the computer with him all the time and working from that. You can't just plug in a new video card in the laptop without risk of cracking the flimsy plastic case that the laptop is in. I've had to do laptop work before where I had to open the case to get to the motherboard. It was not a fun, easy task. It was a lot of delicate prying after removing the screws holding the case together and all.

In that case, you would need as much video and processing power because you just can't easily pop out the cpu and the gpu and replace it with new one. Just getting into the case requires delicate hands and delicate use of tools to delicately pry open the can. Not something that is recommended for a non-experienced non-IT person. I have worked on computers for well over 20 years including old computers in old plastic cases which you had to delicately pry open without breaking the plastic tabs that snaps the top and bottom part of the case housing together aside from the screws used. These laptops can be even more delicate because of how thin the plastic is.

Usually, the factor has special tools custom designed to open the cases. If you don't have those special proprietary tools that are NOT sold to the public,  you have to be use non-proprietary tools and delicate handling. 

A laptop to be useful in 5-6 years will probably need to be the best hardware out there. A desktop can have components replaced as needed to provisionally upgrade it to keep it viable.

Jul 9, 16 10:37 pm
5839

Have you made contact with any current students in the program you'll be attending?  If not I'd advise contacting the school and asking if they can put you in touch with a friendly upperclassman, for their first-hand advice.  The problem with asking this question here is that you're not likely to find a current student or recent grad from exactly the school and major you're planning to attend. At least one person in this thread has no architecture school background.  Some others who have participated in your threads have been out of architecture school for 10 to 20 years or more. You're asking highly specific questions of people who are only going to be able to provide generalities and guesswork.

Frankly I'm surprised to see discussion of "computer labs" in this thread.  School computer labs are long-obsolete in the programs at which I teach.  But in one (a mid-ranked private university) this is because there are school-provided desktop computers at every student's station in the studios - i.e. one-to-one student to computer ratio - while at another program (highly ranked state university) the days of computer labs are also long gone but it's because students are now entirely on their own to provide their own computers, software, and peripherals.  A more robust laptop is obviously more critical to students in the latter situation. Without more information about what exactly is available at your school, and the requirements of its particular curriculum, nobody here can give you a definitive spec for your computer.

Jul 9, 16 10:41 pm
WaffleMan22

5839, I contacted a faculty member at the school and these were specs he gave me for a computer to last four years:

Quad Core i7, either fast Sandy Bridge/Sandy Bridge E (3770-3900) or Haswell 4770

• Network Card: Wireless 'N' Capable

• RAM 16 GB

• 500 GB or larger SSD (Solid State Drive)

• 2 GB Dedicated Video Card

• HD, 2x HD, or 4K display

• Video card: Quadro K2000 or GTX 770

• Windows “Professional” Operating system

Jul 9, 16 10:44 pm

5839,

The problem with just asking current specs for hardware is A) they are usually talking just desktop specs and B) they change all the time. Those specs are usually a recommended spec by the faculty and not necessarily the minimum specs of the software used or other configurations which require more sophisticated IT comparison. C) recent graduates and graduates of even 5 years ago is going to be necessarily capable of advising on specs for 4 years down the road. 

In case of laptop, you have to buy the hardware sufficient for needs throughout the intended life cycle. In this case, 4+ years. This is because you can't upgrade the CPU or GPU without certain level of IT help. Something the school's IT guys generally won't provide to students. The only consumer general upgrading is the RAM modules, sometimes the internal hard drives, and external hardware upgrades. 

Therefore, you want to have the hardware up front. UNLIKE A DESKTOP, LAPTOPS ARE NOT AS USER UPGRADE-ABLE. I can do this with a desktop with ease. It isn't so easy with a laptop. The reason is laptops are in cases that are not designed to be readily opened up. Laptop motherboards may or may not be design in such a way that you can just replace the GPU. Do you know if the GPU is on a separate circuit board module or is it on a single mono-PCB directly soldered to the mobo. Will a new GPU even be able to be field soldered on to the same solder pad points in that will it be "pin" compatible. Yeah, their some kind of ball grid array or something like that these days than physical pins. Oh lets imagine it just happens to be 'pin-compatible'.....do you have solder paste and a convection oven to use? no? Probably not.  You know, you just can't easily do this stuff by hand as a non-IT professional and even most IT professionals except for electron hardware engineers would even know how to do this.

In short, Waffleman2 isn't really doing a bad thing by buying a laptop with higher specs than is needed for the most current version of software needed for the class assignments. 

He's just wanting a doable hardware that will be usable in 4 years without being too far in the mud that the software will deny executing because of hardware being below specs.

Jul 9, 16 11:12 pm
WaffleMan22

Exactly my logic Rick ^

:)

Jul 9, 16 11:15 pm

5839,

BTW: Any room with a group of computers available to the students is considered a computer lab. Most schools (public colleges/universities) do still have them. They are in the library at the architecture department at University of Oregon. They also have a small lab on the second floor near where you get plotting done. 

It is still heavily competed for even though most students have their own computers.

Jul 9, 16 11:16 pm
5839

I didn't say ask a professor for current specs.  I said talk to current students to see what's working best for them - both in terms of suiting the curriculum and workload, and whether it's spanning their time there well or whether they've found that they need to upgrade.

There are no computer rooms/labs/whatever in the schools where I currently teach.  As I said, some schools have gone the route of providing the computers directly in studios (in which case there are printers and copiers in or near each studio) - so no competition whatsoever for computers, and others have eliminated all dedicated computers, equipment, and related space, leaving everything to the students to furnish - at this point at the latter university the only computers I know of on campus that are available to students are a few in the main library (at which I never see anybody), and a row of them for use in searching apartment listings at the housing office.  I don't doubt your account of the U of O.  It just isn't what I'm seeing.  

Jul 9, 16 11:46 pm

5839,

ok. Even current students are going to give different opinions and they can't know what the professors are going to require 4 years from now. Just to be certain that you understand, I don't doubt your personal experience at the school where you teach/taught.

Public universities tends to lag behind some of these trends like not having computer labs when requiring students to have their own computers. I understand this for private colleges that have predominately distant education student base or other schools where the program is a distant learning program. I understand that for sure. Public universities by large with huge student population just don't have public funding to provide every student with a computer so they have computer labs so even students who don't have that good of financial aid funding to buy these high end computers.

At no point when I had financial aid at the university was there ever enough money to buy a high end computer. Hell man, the amount of money minus tuition, fees, and housing and all (even when I had an apartment which I had to buy my own food and all was there that much money. I didn't have the money from these programs to buy a $1500 computer during any term and buy the required course books and materials. The best I have ever saw in a term was around $2500 from the reimbursement deposit from the Financial aid. So I had maybe $2500 in a term to spend. No way in hell to buy a $1500 computer, books & supplies, software and food and utilities. Go figure. Considering financial aid coverage is usually about 0.9x of the cost of attendance. This meant, I had about $2200-$2500 shortage to the minimum estimated cost of attendance which is MINIMUM in Oregon standards. These Federal based figures just are substandard.

I doubt that really changed that much over the past few years. 

I'm just saying if he is able to buy a decent laptop and still afford the other stuff, that's okay. Some of these specs given are rather minimal. Laptop will typically cost more than a desktop. 

I do understand your point. A desktop is easy to upgrade incrementally over the 4 years and be viable especially if you pick your mobo with upgrading in mind. I do agree with your assessment that it is difficult for any of us to explicitly give specific specification of computer hardware. With laptops, you have to be a little bit more overspec because you can't conveniently upgrade individual components of the computer such as the CPU or GPU. That's a bit harder to do for a student. While, I maybe able to pull off this advance stuff that I mentioned, I don't think any ol' student can easily do so.

I know there are trends at some colleges and universities where computer labs are becoming obsolete and even removed. 

Jul 10, 16 12:45 am

I'm not saying its right or wrong of the colleges to do so or not do so. Those are way outside the topic realm. I mentioned computer labs because it is still a real possibility of being present. Even though U of O had computer labs, I never fully relied on it. I did utilize the computers from time to time because I needed access to the printing systems because I didn't have a printer set up. When I got my plotter, I didn't need to use the lab so much except in limited capacity. 

I also didn't try to VPN into the university's network unless I really really had to. 

Honestly, I didn't need the student studio spaces. I had my own drafting table. I didn't even need the light table. I used the tall windows in parts of Lawrence Hall and use the sunlight for when I had to do trace over when hand drafting.

I sometimes commandeered a table and used the iPad to play music via Youtube while working on the work doing that ocassional all-nighter. Listening to music, while working. It helps me get into the work. It is what I use to relax the nerves and get my mind into the work. Especially when it's something that I am doing solo. I have used whatever table/chair and whatever was available to me at the time. 

Those who knows Lawrence hall and knows the open area near the library in the building on the 2nd floor, the nearby studio and the stair way down to the 1st floor, I had used the table there and the chairs and the nearby windows. It was interesting times, I'll say that much. During a charette, working in groups, I wouldn't necessarily be listening to music so much especially when the group in engaging and interactive and enjoyable. Otherwise, when I am on my own, I do what I need to and I have my own supply of tools to design.

Lets just say that much. 

I won't be surprised at some point in time that we won't need the computer labs. I usually had my own equipment partly for non-student related reasons.

Jul 10, 16 12:47 am
Spoons

Just buy the best computer that isn't going to completely bankrupt you.  Computers have diminishing returns, so likely a $1800 computer is going to get you 95% of the performance of a $2500 computer.  Is that 5% performance worth it? I'd say depending on how much money you have and what other things you have that may be dependent on your limited funds.  Only you can make that decision.  

"Last all 4 years"  Any of the computers you have floated will be fine for 4 years for the kind of work you say you will do, but know, no matter which computer you buy, it will feel slower in comparison to a newer computer 3-4 years from now.  It's inevitable.   

I had a Macbook Air for the last two years of undergrad and the first year of grad school,  this was several years ago, and it handled the majority of Autocad, Rhino, and Adobe work fine. Later I bought a Macbook Pro, which actually the majority of students in my top-tier program used, and used that for the last year of grad school and have used it do some personal/free lance work for the last several years.  

Quadro video cards are frankly a waste of money. Unless you use a GPU based rendering program, highly unlikely, like Octane, it's unlikely to be of much benefit over a gaming card.  And even in the off chance you do use a GPU based rendering program, even the top level laptop card would be smoked by a midlevel desktop gaming card.  You just need a fast enough video card to display your viewpoints, and mid-high gaming laptop card will be able to do it. Not worth a $500+ from a 970m to a quadro if that is option you are weighing.  

Also, I wouldn't never, never, never spend that kind of money on a cheaply made, sticker ridden, plastic pos Dell.  However, that's a whole other discussion.

Jul 10, 16 9:26 am
Bloopox

Oh for god's sake. Buy the best one you can afford. Look at the big picture: you're going to a school with 50k/year tuition, close to 70k/year with expenses - whether you're funding that out of pocket or managed to scrape it al together in financial aid, $2500 should be a drop in the bucket.  If it's not, and a few thousand dollars are truly going to make or break whether you can get the best experience out of college, then you should rethink whether a less expensive school might be a better move.

Balkins: stop making everything about you.  Nobody cares about how you traced drawings while playing iTunes. 

Jul 10, 16 12:11 pm
threadkilla

Balkins has never been to school. He doesn't know the meaning of the word 'learning'. I went through grad school armed with only a top-of-the-line Dell precision unit for computer work. It outperformed most macs and could handle nearly anything I threw at it for those three years, rendering overnight on 2 cores 4gigs of ram without dedicated graphics memory. It wiped the floor with most contemporary mac laptops, and it still works for half of the things I do, 8 years after I purchased it, even though it is insanely slow in comparison to new machines. Point is, you can't really go wrong with a top-of-the-line Dell unit.

Jul 10, 16 2:27 pm
shivasing

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Jun 21, 19 2:12 am
Volunteer

Ask your professors. Isn't that part of what they get paid for? Consider buying through the campus book store after you get to school for the discount and the easier possibility for a return or exchange if needed. 

Sep 10, 19 6:56 am

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