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- Laptop for architecture student
June 4, 2015, 2:23 pm
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I'm on a tight budget and wish to get the best bang for the buck.
They use AutoCAD, Revit, Lumion and similar programs. I believe
these are CPU-intensive tasks and will appreciate help in
evaluating what's available. I'd like to keep the whole thing
within US$1000 if that's a realistic target.
I've been looking at CPU benchmark charts. They all seem to be
about 3DMark, Cinebench, x264 rendering, SuperPI, wPrime, etc
etc. Which benchmarks are most relevant for my purpose? Are they,
in fact, reliable indicators?
What about the graphics? I've heard that some nVidia GPUs have
powerful rendering capability. Does this apply to 3D CAD work?
Will the money be better spent on the fastest processor within my
For simplicity, please ignore factors like storage type and size,
RAM, screen resolution, battery life, gaming performance. I can
make my own judgments about those.
Thanks in advance.
Re: Laptop for architecture student
Try a "mobile workstation".
For me, the key item in that example, is
AMD FirePro W4170M with 2GB GDDR5 memory
AMD/ATI FireGL or NVidia Quadro graphics, include certified
OpenGL graphics drivers. Some high end software insists
on that sort of thing. Gamer video cards won't work as well,
and this is a software issue (a scam). The OpenGL driver
on a gamer video card, mysteriously bogs down and becomes
slow, for large numbers of objects in CAD designs. There is
no excuse for it, but for the video card companies, it's
how they can sell FireGL and Quadro solutions (promising
a driver that won't bog down).
Talk to the architecture school, and see what they
recommend for a computer. Doing this in isolation
yourself, is a mistake.
This is a randomly selected mobile workstation
with Quadro GPU from NVidia. This would come with
a certified OpenGL driver, which makes professional
software for architecture or CAD, very happy.
For equipment of this pedigree, you might use
SpecViewPerf for benchmarking, but you might not
be too impressed with the results. On ordinary
(home) graphics, that runs like a slideshow,
at one frame per second or less.
The thing is, from a hardware perspective, the GPU
hardware is not all that impressive. You're paying
a wad of cash, for the software side of things, and
you're paying that money for no good reason. It's
the same kind of scam as breakfast cereal (it costs
more to make the cardboard box, than for the cereal
inside the box).
If you were buying the CAD software, and the computer
yourself, you would have control over which programs
(picky or not) mix with your "cheap" hardware. Some
CAD programs can successfully be used with gamer
graphics cards. But at an architecture school, some
afternoon the instructor will say "we're loading a
new program this afternoon to specify and test trusses".
Now, your machine had better be "professional grade
mobile workstation", so it has the video driver to
support the software. When the instructor randomly
chooses a program, and has the students load it, you
want the computer the architecture department specified,
so it'll be compatible. If for some reason, I could
not get the advice of the architecture department,
I would select computers of the type above.
I don't like to promote machines of the type above,
but... you asked.