To Mac or not to Mac? High-end laptop (or portable workstation) for 3D modeling and some gaming.

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kwrenna

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Mar 26, 2014
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Hi! I'm looking to replace my 2011 15" Macbook Pro (2.3 ghz, AMD Radeon HD 6750M) with something with a bit more power and a ssd. I use FormZ for 3d modeling but I'm not rendering much at all so (I think) what I need is cpu speed with loads of memory not more but slower cores.

I'm a long time Mac user but I've been booting into windows for games and I'm considering switching to or adding Rhino3D to my workflow which is windows only. (I like the ease of FormZ and the idiot-proof solids for printing, but Rhino3D has a plugin designed for my field) So I really need to at least consider a Windows machine but I'm totally lost in all the reviews.

For laptops I've been looking at top-spec'd 15" macbook pro retina (2.6 ghz) , the dell xps 15, or razerblade pro (the switchblade ui on the right would free me from needing a mouse all the time).


1. What is your budget?
< $3500
2. What is the size of the notebook that you are considering?
15" - 17" Or a super portable workstation. ... ok so I lust after the new mac pro... I'm just not sure it's right for me.

3. What screen resolution do you want?
Very high. If I'm looking at a windows laptop rather than a macbook pro retina it should have competitive resolution. Also I figure if I'm going windows 8 I might as well do the touch screen thing.

If a portable workstation, I have an older cinema display with 1920 x 1200 resolution that I'll upgrade in about 6 months (let my finances recover first). I'm also going to be taking it with me in the car to someplace where I'll hook it up to a HDtv as a monitor.

4. Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop?
Er... portable desktop replacement? I use a mouse so it'll live on either a desk or a coffee table, but if I can't easily shove it into a bag and take it to a coffee shop to work I'm not sure I see the point of a laptop. If I get a workstation I need it portable enough I can easily pick it up and put it in my car to take with me. (So light and small, like the mac pro or a mini Origin tower)

5. How much battery life do you need?
eh, this isn't a big deal, I can always find a plug. I don't use it on airplanes.

6. Do you want to play games with your laptop? If so then please list the games that you want to with the settings that you want for these games. (Low,Medium or High)?
YES! Gaming is very important to me. But I do rpgs and mmorpgs so they're not gpu crushers. I'll be doing Elder Scrolls Online for a while. (Skyrim, FF whatever-it's-on, etc)
High.

7. What other tasks do you want to do with your laptop? (Photo/Video editing, Etc.)
3D modeling as I said. Some photoshop editing, some illustrator for reference designs for the modeling. And the usual email, etc.

8. How much storage (Hard Drive capacity) do you need?
512 ssd minimum. I'd prefer a terabyte, but I think that might blow out my budget.

9. If you are considering specific sites to buy from, please post their links.
Other than mac, I'm also looking at dell, origins, razerblade etc..
http://www.dell.com/us/p/xps-15-9530/pd?oc=dncwx1249h&model_id=xps-15-9530
http://www.originpc.com/workstation/desktops/chronos-pro/
http://www.razerzone.com/gaming-systems/razer-blade/
http://www.razerzone.com/gaming-systems/razer-blade-pro#
http://www.originpc.com/gaming/laptops/eon15-s/

10. How long do you want to keep your laptop?
2-3 years for a laptop, closer to 5 for a workstation.

11. What kind of Optical drive do you need? DVD ROM/Writer,Bluray ROM/Writer,Etc ?
eh, I never write out on one, and if I do need to read in I can always use a plug-in if I have to.

12. Please tell us about the brands that you prefer to buy from them and the brands that you don't like and explain the reasons.
I'm used to Macs and feel like the hardware is reliable and customer support is great so I'm a bit nervous about the reliability of the Razer. And the Origin laptops look... clunky.

13. What country do you live in?
USA

14. Please tell us any additional information if needed.
It MUST have good wireless. Also attractiveness and impressive features are strong pluses. My spouse has a tendency to gloat over new gadgets and computers and I'd like to gloat for once over having something nicer. ;-D
 

kwrenna

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Mar 26, 2014
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That does look nice and might be a good choice over the Razer. And you're right about the switchblade, a good concept but I might be better off just putting the extra money into a really good mouse.
But I am worried about the 2.4 ghz chip the Ghost and the Razer share. I know it's a lot newer but I'm not sure the 2.4 ghz chip will provide enough of a power/speed boost in 3D modeling over my older 2.3ghz I7. (Did the older chips turbo boost like these do?) I would love the newest graphics that the Ghost has for gaming, but I can't really justify a new computer unless I ALSO get a boost in my modeling and lower the lag some of my compute heavy operations cause. I admittedly don't understand chip reviews, so I'm hoping you guys can tell me if I'll see a difference in chips.
 

mcgee101

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Sep 2, 2013
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I work in Zbrush/Maya/Photoshop/Illustrator/AE and understand exactly where you are coming from.
I do and I dont like Macs.
If I had your money right now what I would do is 12-1500 get a highend i7 processor with 16gb of memory that can be upgraded to 24gb..
Probably a dell.
I would go with an apple as well for presentation. But that brings me onto my next point.
With the rest of it I would get a wacom companion.. I was in awe by it when I was playing with it.. I was drooling over it and its ease of use its kindof like having a laptop and a tablet in 1.
Its a cintiq but without a cintiq and you have easy portibility.
Someone wants to see an idea you can sketch it right in front of them in Photoshop without having to ask for paper or having to move your laptop around sooooo simple..
 
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