Quit My Job, Need a $1000 Laptop Recommendation :)

Hi all,

I’ve combed through the forums for a few days and need your advice.

I quit my job in NYC after 8 years to go full time freelance! I’m a designer: architectural and interior and have a steady lineup of freelance work.

I only have $1000 dollars to spend right now on a decent laptop. Are the Dell gaming laptops the best options for under $1000?

I only use AutoCAD, Sketchup Pro, VRay and Photoshop. That’s it. If I need to I can render in various render farms in the cloud.

I need 15 inch screen and something I won’t have to replace next year. Weight isn’t a huge issue as it will normally sit on a table, but I am travelling a bit and need something I can take with me…

Any help is greatly appreciated…



Dell still has a good reputation, and if you make a purchase through them for a refurbished laptop, then I think you’ll have some nice options to pick from.

CPU speed, Memory, and a dedicated Graphics Card are the key features here.

For search purposes… I would focus primarily on finding a laptop with a dedicated graphics card… and you want to buy an Nvidia model graphics card since they have far better driver support, compared to the AMD cards.

Generally speaking a computer that includes a dedicated graphics card will also have a fairly decent CPU, and Memory Specs to follow suit… But of course you should double check that, and not just assume it’s an automatic thing.

16GB of RAM would be nice.

For the CPU, look for the intel series… and get as fast as you can. i7 series (nice), i5 series (decent).

Last time I looked at this the prices of laptops which started to include dedicated graphics they were about $750 or so.

Post up a screen capture of what you find, if you’d like, and you’ll get some nice feedback from the forum here.

Ok that is in line with what I’ve been researching so thank you!

Do you think there is much of a difference between these two computers?


And this:


I would go for the Dell, mainly as the CPU and GPU will be slightly better performing than the Acer.

You should be able to hit ok time for small Vray renders too, sending the larger ones up into the cloud as you say.

Good luck, but I think you will be fine with either.

I recently got the Dell xps 15 4k touch version which is great.
I think the non touch is about a $1000, but if you look in their refurbished section you might get a better deal?
You could also get the smaller version for less if most of the time you are at home and attach it to a monitor.

Bonus: it looks like a mac so it deflects those who normally ask why you’re not working on a mac as a creative person !

Ok that is great to hear. I’ve never had a problem with Dell, so that’s what I will pick. Thanks so much!

Glad to Hear you are managing to get out of NYC., 𝘈𝘕𝘋 have your work ‘lined up’ and defined.

If you are able, would you share how you accomplished this? There are likely several other old farts like me that 𝘥𝘰𝘯’𝘵 want full time work or to compete, but might enjoy an occasional project that was actually useful and wanted by someone — and would enjoy hearing about your progress…

I’d recommend the Mac Mini with 2.8GHz Processor & 1TB Fusion Drive. :astonished:

"Plug your own display, keyboard, and mouse into Mac mini. Turn it on. And just like that, everything works together. "

The Mac mini is very under powered, has not had an update in many a year. I used to love mine but it fell behing the times.

You want to be aiming for at least 16GB RAM, i7 and a non integrated GPU.

That would be $1399 almost before you invest in a screen and the other bits and bobs, easy going to double the budget to $2000.


" Windows 10 the most recent version and has a longer period of extended support which is the period in which Microsoft will stop supporting security updates for the Operating System. With Windows 10 you get 2 years more than Windows 8 and five years more than windows 7.

This may be a great help when it comes to solving crashes but does not stop the crashes itself. One can recall the KB 3081438 update which was forced on users shortly after the launch of windows to fix a bug that caused frequent crash loops. There were reports popping up in the web that not only did the update force a reboot but would install only partially, and after the reboot would re-install again."

“Generally, Mac OS X are seen to be safer in terms of security compared to windows. In the past, it was even thought to be immune to viruses or malware. However, this is no longer the case. One advantage a Mac OS X has over others is that it’s drivers are very stable due to the fact that they can only be targeted to very few devices. Again this makes the system less susceptible to crashing. However, as little chances there are of a Mac OS X crashing, it still does crash. The crash can be caused by software bugs and incompatibilities, there might not be enough system memory for applications to run, too many applications running at once or applications vying for disk access.”

Here’s a used 15.4" MacBook Pro for $897 on Amazon
It has 16 GB RAM & i7

If you don’t mind a few dings and dents on the computer casing, then it’s probably a good deal. Chances are it’s still got a long life ahead. The sellers seem to be electronics companies and the one I’m looking at has a 5 star (96%) reputation.

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Hi all

I have decided that it is worth spending a bit more money and not replacing for a long time. I just want to make sure this will run my copy of Sketchup and Vray (and Photoshop) as I have never used a computer with “Windows Pro Workstation for 4 Cores”…I assume it just uses the processor? And all standard Windows apps work? Thanks again…

Mobile Precision 7530
Dell Precision 7530 XCTO Type C SC Base
Intel Core Xeon E-2176M, Six Core Xeon 2.70GHz, 4.40GHz Turbo, 12MB 45W
Operating System
Windows 10 Pro for Workstation (4 Cores Plus) English
Office Productivity Software
No Productivity Software
Video Card
NVIDIA Quadro P2000 w/4GB GDDR5
32GB, 2x16GB, DDR4-2400MHz SDRAM, 2 DIMMS, ECC
Systems Management
No Out-of-Band Systems Management
Hard Drive
512GB M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD Class 40
Additional Hard Drive (2nd HD)
Additional 2.5" 2TB 5400RPM SATA Hard Drive

Hi Jessica

The Mobile Precision system will run those programs. It’s a ‘workstation-class’ but in real world tests it wont perform faster than gaming machines which cost less. Actually the Quadro P2000 is slower than a GTX1060 (i’ve tested it with sketchup) Workstation machines do tend to be a bit sturdier, heavier, quieter and more ‘professional looking’ than gaming machines of the same price, however. The operating system offers a few more options for networking (usually large companies have layers of security and remote access that Windows 10 Enterprise or Workstation versions make use of). You can probably ignore all that.

I also use those programs daily. I went for the following spec:
*the 8750H cpu is perfect…stick with that.

  • 16gb ram , but upgradeable to 32 in future (it’s an easy upgrade…why pay now if you dont have to?)
  • 512gb SSD, if possible (128gb is too small). Also budget for an external backup hard drive in case of lost/stolen/damaged laptop!)
  • gtx1060 (6gb ram) is fine - or if you can put up with some increased power drain and noise, a gtx1070.
  • screen resolution 1920x1080 FHD (a 4k monitor is no good on a 15").

Really though, ;laptops are all about useability. Weight, battery life, keyboard layout, ‘sturdiness’, quality of screen. The internal CPU speed means little if the laptop gets too hot to run at full speed for any length of time :slight_smile:

Of the many laptops i’ve used recently, the 15" ones I like most are:

  • Asus ROG Strix GL
  • The new-generation H.P. Omen 15t
    They both come with GTX 1060 (6gb) or 1070 options ( I have the strix with the 1060 and the omen with the 1070…the omen is a bit faster but the fan noise is a noticeable more often).
    They both render quickly but i dont let them render for more than about 20mins at a time…they get so hot!..that can’t be healthy.

I have not used a Dell. I’m sure there’s an equivalent spec by Dell that would work. All these ‘high end’ gaming laptops compete very closely across the different brands and there isn’t a clear “best” model…just minor pros/cons.

(i just did a quick amazon keyword search and am not recommending these retailers or their pricing)


Sam thanks for your note! You think getting a less expensive gaming system is the way to go then?

The Dell site is such a mess, and impossible to understand the configurations. I assume that is intentional. What about the XPS15 with 32 gigs of ram…

There is 4k display, which needs more GPU resources to display your graphics. I think better is full HD.

I’m not sure what the price is for that Dell workstation so it’s tough for me to say exactly…but yes, generally, the gaming machines are better value when it comes to sketchup, primarily because they use GTX video cards instead of quadro. (GTX=gaming/sketchup, Quadro=medical, engineering and mathematical software).

Decent quadro graphics cards (the p3200 model and higher) make the laptops very expensive. Larger companies typically buy these sorts of workstations and get generous discounts and other corporate benefits…for individual buyers they are quite overpriced in my opinion.

To generalise, workstations are designed to be ‘simple and robust’…not the fanciest or most compact… or even the best value. They do the job and don’t complain. Gaming machines have the latest tech and more features, and better pricing, but can be more prone to a few more issues because they’re not ‘tested’ as thoroughly during the design process… If you compare a Workstation laptop to a gaming one, side by side, the workstation looks like it’s body was designed last century…because it probably was! Luckily for us, these days the automatic Windows Updates seem to solve technical problems and consumer warranties take care of the rest …so i wouldnt worry at all about using a gaming laptop for work.
My team has everything from $4900 HP Zbooks to basic gaming machines…and theyve all been working well for many years, 8hrs+ a day.

If you want to see a lineup of good models at various pruicepoints, there’s plenty of guides online like this one:

Just remember those specs i posted above. 8760h, 16gb+, gtx1060 or gtx1070 .

My company also issues Zbooks (models not quite as expensive as that). If I had that kind of money to spend, I would probably buy an ultracool whizbang desktop computer plus a decent lightweight laptop for days on the move. Even as my Zbook is a recent generation model, I still prefer to leave it at the office instead of lugging it around. The 15" Zbook weighs almost double the 17" ProBook I had previously.
Before switching to the Zbooks with a recent owner change, we were seriously aiming for a switch to a system with virtual workstations run by a server with serious power combined to lightweight “business” laptops for running the workstations remotely. The tests we did were encouraging. We had decent performance even when connecting to the system using a mobile phone as a 4G modem.

Lots of good deals on today if you have not bought anything yet: