Gaming laptop for SU2018?

advice
hardware
components

#1

I’m looking at replacing my aging desktop with a laptop and would like to limit my choice to what’s available thru Costco.com - for their outstanding return/warranty policies. Seems gaming laptops often come with graphics cards that are well-suited to SU renderings but I’ve really got no idea what would be irrelevant features or wasteful expense for a complete non-gamer like myself. If this is a reasonable track to be on, anyone care to scan through the current 17 laptop offerings and help me spot a good choice/value?

Graphics cards offered are 4-8GB GTX 1050/60/70/80; CPUs are fitted with 8 - 32GB RAM; CPUs are mostly i7 with one or two i5s. I’m not looking to cheap out, but don’t want to overspend for features that are gaming-specific. See https://www.costco.com/laptops.html?computer-type=gaming-laptop&refine=ads_f34501_ntk_cs%3A%22Gaming%2BLaptop%22|

Thanks - Dave


#2

Totally overkill unless you are going to be rendering with 3rd party software then that’s another kettle of fish.

You will hit a point with Sketchup where it does not really matter when you go from a good PC to a great PC (using it natively).


#3

SketchUp is very CPU-centered, so I would perhaps pair an i7 processor (number of cores is only relevant if you use third party renderers) with a not quite highest-end graphics card (a GTX 1050 would IMO be quite enough).


#4

I bought a gaming laptop to be my department’s “loaner” laptop 4 years ago. It was a good investment. It was about $2k when we bought it new but 4 years on it has not missed a beat. Asus N550J
i7-4710HQ HT Quad 2.5 GHz
16 GB DDR3
SanDisk 256GB SSD
Nvidia GTX 850M
As for rendering, it depends if you are using a CPU or GPU based rendering engine. I think you’ll be just fine.


#5

15" or 17" ??
How much bulk/weight is acceptable?
Work or hobby use?
Do you want something to last 3-4-5 years, or will a new model 2 years from now be OK?

For work, I build large and ‘messy’ models (lots of stuff imported from other software). the lowest spec I have is similar to the Alienware 15, and it’s pretty good.
Anything lower and I do notice my models becoming more sluggish - in many areas. Everything will still run, but the performance suffers in a general way. Lack of RAM is the biggest factor - if you use a lot of textures in your models, and have other software open at the same time, then run out of RAM then you really get punished.

Without knowing your budget, i’d go with a spec with a GTX1060 graphics, 16gb system RAM and one of the 8th Gen CPUs (if possible…a lot of new models are being released this month). Lenovo Legion Y720 looks about right.

Also consider other general features - overall build quality, screen quality, battery capacity, SSD capacity, oh and it MUST have a numeric keypad for sketchup (not all 15" gaming laptops have one)…

If you want to do rendering, you benefit from finding out what the rendering software you’ll use has for a system requirment. Some software (eg Indigo and Octane) have an option to use only the GPU when rendering (very fast). Others use the CPU (more cores = better) and many can use a combo of CPU+GPU (hybrid). If it’s a GPU or hybrid renderer, then video ram is important - 4GB usually won’t be sufficient…


#6

Thanks Sam, and others - lots of good stuff to consider there, eg the numeric keypad, which I never think of until it’s too late.

Screen size isn’t too important because I’ll seldom/never need to use the ‘stock’ screen vs an accessory desktop screen when using for CAD. I often work on construction jobsites, with most of my work NOT being CAD, but more run-of-the mill web-browsing. Sometimes it’s from a car or truck, but 15" is prolly OK for most or all of that - better in fact, for mobility - but I’m only now seeing that the Costco.com options are mostly 17", so maybe that’s moot.

I’ll mostly use this for my own work & hobby stuff, after my current project is done - it’s usually the case that an employer will provide me a laptop (for better or worse…they’re seldom new or current-generation) and I’ll have to use that to comply with their hardware/email protocols, but not this time. The one I’m working from now is mine, and……let’s just say I’m going to donate it to someone or some agency when I get a replacement, and hope they don’t come find me to give it back.

As to longevity, I tend to hang on to hardware until some economically-irreparable defect or damage occurs, and then move on to something new, vs offloading anything while usable, even if it’s become a lot less than leading-edge in speed, etc.

I’m quite prone to keeping large numbers of browser tabs open and multitasking any PC to death, so I guess I can’t have too much RAM.

Lenovo kinda creeps me out, what with repeated reports of baked-in spy-■■■■. It’s not like I work for DOD or do intelligence work, but I’d still rather minimize my data exposure…so as an alternative I’m looking at the Acer model, a couple of notches lower in cost (https://www.costco.com/Acer-Predator-Helios-300-Gaming-Laptop---Intel-Core-i7---6GB-NVIDIA-Graphics---1080p.product.100368662.html). I did the four-model comparison and noted that it’s still got the 256GB SSD and 1TB HD like the Lenovo, though not the 4K display - but at $400 less than the Lenovo. Maybe there are other comparison items I should know about?

I’m thinking I might max it out with 32GB RAM for about that price-difference (Crucial has 32GB kit for $370) so I would in theory not be blaming any slowness on lack of RAM.

A recent Sketchup project - one that I’m far from being done with - centers on drone survey topo data (Liam, above, assisted a lot with that initial foray, BTW). It’s quite likely that will come back to focus for me soon, while working remotely with whatever laptop I buy now. The resolution of the 3D contours can pretty quickly result in very sluggish modeling, I found. I’ve not really “done” anything yet with the raw model/data, just poked at the model enough to discover my old desktop setup was barely able to deal with it (though much better now with a 32GB memory upgrade).

Anyway, maybe that gives a more useful picture of how I would be using the new machine, whatever it might be. Any hateful issues with Acer?

–Dave


#7

Thanks, Sean, that’s encouraging. Sounds like it’s a tough machine to be able to put up with lots of users.


#8

Anssi - Good, thanks - looks like that’s the direction I’m headed.


#9

Yes I assumed 15" is ideal - you often get the same performance & features in a smaller size.

I’ve had an Acer predator 17" in use in our team for about 2.5 years and it’s been good (but heavy).
I also trialled an Acer Triton for a while and found that to be a very nice machine (but it’s more than double the price of what you’re looking at).

Battery life is maybe one area where the Predator may not be quite as good as some other options (Gigabyte/Aorus). It’s 54wh battery is nearly half the size of the Gigabyte Aero (96wh). Laptops with Optimus technology will last a bit longer on battery (this shut down the main video card when not needed…eg browsing the web/emails)

Here’s a useful review of the 17":

And here’s a review of the 15" version (which sounds like a better machine overall):


#10

Just bought a Dell Inspiron 5000 Gaming laptop for son’s high school graduation present and for college in the fall, he’s taking mechanical engineering. Intel i7-7xxxx something ht quad, 8 GB ram, 128 sdd and 1 tb HDD with 4 gb gtx 1050. Got it for undrf $700 USD . I’ll put SU on it soon and give it a go.


#11

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