Portable Laptop For Mechanical Engineering Student

zepfan_75

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Jan 3, 2011
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This next semester, I am going to be a junior in college seeking a mechanical engineering degree, but I am now in need of a new laptop. I have been searching for an ultrabook/portable solution (3 1/2 pounds or less) with an i5 or better, 256gb SSD, Full HD screen, with ~8 hours of battery life. My budget is not engraved in stone, but I would like to keep the MSRP to $1500 or less.

Usage: Solidworks 3D Modeling, Microsoft Office Student Edition 2010 (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, OneNote), LabView, coding for Arduino micro-controllers, movies, web-surfing and researching.

I do have a Sandy Bridge based home-built computer that I can use for intensive tasks, but I travel a lot and would like to be able to take my work with me. However, I don't want a "Desktop replacement" because I want to carry the laptop to class and not feel the heft of a 5+ pound laptop.

Based on these criteria, I have found what I think may be a really good deal, but I wanted to check with the Toms community to see if there isn't an option I'm missing.

Acer Travelmate TMP645-MG-9419
OS: Windows 7 Pro
Processor: Intel® Core™ i7-4500U processor (1.8GHz/3.0GHz w/ Turbo Boost)
RAM:8GB DDR3L memory
Storage Disk: 256GB solid state drive
Display: 14" IPS LCD display (1920 x 1080)
GPU: AMD Radeon HD 8750M graphics
Features: webcam - Wireless - Bluetooth® - card reader - fingerprint reader - 3-Cell 4850mAH Li-Po battery - 2-year limited warranty

*Note: comes with full size Ethernet, VGA, HDMI, three USB 3.0, SD Card slot and separate jacks for headphones and microphones, and Kensington lock.

Heighth 0.8"
Width 12.9"
Depth 9.3"
Weight (Approximate) 3.35 lb

Price before tax and shipping: $1279.99

Again, If there is a better alternative based on my criteria please let me know. I also would appreciate comments on this laptop.
 
The only concern is SolidWorks. It works best with OpenGL cards, and most (all?) laptops sold these days come with gaming cards at most. So - it will serve you well, but don't expect astonishing performance from SolidWorks.

Edit: If I was you, I would check with SolidWorks what videocards are supported.
 
The only concern is SolidWorks. It works best with OpenGL cards, and most (all?) laptops sold these days come with gaming cards at most. So - it will serve you well, but don't expect astonishing performance from SolidWorks.

Edit: If I was you, I would check with SolidWorks what videocards are supported.
 

zepfan_75

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Well, DS Solidworks Corp, is pretty particular with their "certified" sticker. Since Solidworks is a commercial application they won't allow anything but the best performing laptops to be certified. In short, this means the likes of the Lenovo W540 and other "Desktop Replacement" laptops. Since I am going to use this for college, I don't need to have an enterprise certified machine necessarily. My last laptop was a Pavilion DV6 that was given to me as a graduation gift. It had an i5 2450m, intel HD 3000, 4GB of DDR3, a 500 gb 5200 RPM drive, and 1366 x768 screen. It was hot, loud, heavy, and week on battery life. However, what surprised me is that the HD graphics never posed a problem. What I have come to find is that Solidworks is more dependent on processor core clock and ram than graphics when using small models. The largest Solidworks model I have done to date was a Perplexis 3D maze ball with 15 or so pieces. Even after the assembly file and drawing files were made the computer was decently fast.

As far as I can see, the Acer Travelmate is lighter, quicker, faster, and offers some longevity to last a couple years for a price that seems reasonable compared to HP, Lenovo, Apple, and Dell.

The 8750M is a 2GB mobile GPU with OpenCL1.2 which I would think is much better than HD 4400 or Iris 5100....
I'm still waiting on other suggestions though. :)
 
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