Windows Laptop choice!

I’ve been doing a lot of research lately about the latest laptops that are out in the market.
of course it would be difficult to find THE PERFECT one. but I am trying. Please feel free to pitch in to share your knowledge or experience.

I currently own MacBook Air mid-2011. Which has i5 core clocked at 1.7GHz.
4GB memory, with 256GB SSD.
I still am quite happy with my setup (hardware performance), but I feel the need to move back to Windows side.
I have big fat windows machine at home and work, it’s a drag to have a Mac in between.

YES, you can use bootcamp and parallels stuff, and I do use it. but all of my shortkeys messed up, some things are still iffy. and ultimately, why bother using a Mac if im using Windows all the time? anyways, back to the point.

So, I’m happy with my current hardware performance.
As I move I would like a laptop that’s as light (mobile) as MacBook Air. Because I will be carrying this one with me at all times.
I am seeing a lot of high resolution laptops on the martket. I do like them as I will also be doing a lot of graphics work.
I think touchscreen is something that will come really handy.

Softwares I use day to day:

and others, but they wouldn’t be as fire power demanding.

Here are three laptops that I have been looking lately.

Dell XPS 13 - i5, 8GB, 256GB SSD, QHD+ touchscreen

  • love the mobility and its screen with thin bezel
  • killer performance
  • bummer it doesn’t allow tablet mode with flipped screen even with nice resolution touchscreen.

Lenovo yoga 3 pro - core m, 8GB, 256GB SSD, touchscreen

  • Love the fact it can be versatile to be a tablet also
  • i feel that it would be a bit too big to carry
  • worried that the performance (core m)may not be as good as my trusty i5

Microsoft Surface Pro 3 - i5, 8GB, 256GB SSD, touchscreen

  • performance would be good
  • this is a tablet gone wild rather than a laptop that has tablet function
  • like its integration with tablet pen, although I may not end up using it much

Some of my points may not make much of sense (sign of me struggling). I know new line of laptops will be released towards the end of the year, but I just wanted to see what other people are thinking of them. Please share your awesome knowledge!

Your suggestions are very attractive devices, but they are also ultra-portable, built to be thin with long battery life with a compromise on performance (especially the combination of an integrated chip + QHD display, so more pixels to calculate).

Consider that:

  • the current iteration (as of today) of SketchUp does not handle well high-dpi displays, button sizes and point/edge click areas are unusably small if you don’t reduce the screen’s resolution

  • there is no extra benefit in SketchUp when using a touch screen (like gesture support). You can use it with a style just as you would click with a mouse.

Performance-wise, the new Intel chips are astonishing, that you can watch videos, do 3d modeling and gaming in 3K or QHD. But the more demanding a game is I tend to reduce the resolution to full HD. For modelling, the Yoga 2 Pro (with i5, also available with i7) has so far been performant for me. But depending on the complexity and organization (components, layers, visibility) of your models, expect you will maybe hit limits and you should already be experienced in managing your model for performance and efficiency.

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I rarely click on SketchUp’s icons as I use a lot of shortcuts, so them being tiny for rare use isn’t problem for me at all.

I understand there would be no gesture support, it’s just for me to watch videos on the train and take some notes on the go. :smiley:

The new intel chips, are you speaking of 5th Gen or 6th Gen skylake? I don’t know if there would be significant different in two for i5s. I go quite far to have my models organized. I consider myself a bit OCD. and that has served my macbook air well. I never had issues running my big fat projects.

Do you feel that Yoga 3 pro would have significant performance drag as it went to core m? I love its mobility and finishes comparison to the Yoga 2 pro. I am hoping they may jump up the performance on end of year release.

In addition to icons, also the inference aperture (the distance tolerance around a 3d point to pick it) is too small. At the moment, it at least is 2× miss and 1× hit. So for example to draw an edge from A to a point B, it gets drawn somewhere near B if you don’t click very very carefully and precisely. But that might change in future releases of SketchUp.

I have a Haswell chip and newer generations are known to be more power efficient and still faster. I didn’t know the Yoga 3 Pro switched to an Intel M chip. I am no expert and can not judge how good it is (although it mentions “mobile+performance”). The non-Pro Yoga 3 still offers up to i7.

All in all, the these mobile devices are ideal for consumption, pdf reading, photos viewing on the go, and to some extent for light 3d model viewing.
If modeling with heavy models is a major aim, I wouldn’t have too high expectations from an ultrabook without dedicated graphics card.

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that is very true, I think the design and their features are deceiving me a bit.

Thank you!

I have generally been quite happy with my Asus ultrabook from 2013 that has an i7 (2 cores, 1.9 GHz) and a Nvidia mobile graphics card (GT 620M) but my models are small. If you are looking to do heavy Vray rendering I think that you should look for something with 4 processor cores or more. And, yes, a Nvidia-based graphics card. Today even SketchUp 2D image output seems to rely on the graphics card.


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Without spouting a lot of technical specifications, I will say that I have used 5 different Dell Precision Workstation laptop machines over the last ten years or so and I have been very satisfied with the performance of each. In addition to running SU on them, I have made use of AutoCad, ArchiCAD, Vectorworks, Revit, Photoshop, Acrobat, various renderers, various video creation software packages, MS Project and the MS Office suite. I typically will have several of these programs operating simultaneously, just like any other power user, and have had very few issues over the years.

The only drawback i can point out is that, with the exception of my latest Dell, the Precision series is usually a bit heavier than many of its competitors. It has exceptional battery life, can be configured to have very large memory capacity, is quite fast and is just a joy to use.

Here is a link to the most recent iteration of the Dell Precision. This unit has a 17 inch screen…there are other models that have smaller screens and weigh less, but the larger screen is always my preference.

Personally, I strongly recommend this Precision series as it was designed specifically to be used by engineers and architects. An added plus, is their warranty coverage. My systems all have coverage that repairs or replaces any problem by the next business day.

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well, that would be an issue, as precision modeling essential. would that problem subside if I scale the entire OS to 150% or 200%?

I think I need to correct myself. Maybe a bit more that what you have listed, but yes, it is not to do any heavy modeling or anything requries dedicated graphics card. My Macbook Air doesn’t have dedicated graphics, but i’ve been happy with the level of handling it has.

Thank you for the reply Anssi,

I feel that I wouldn’t be using V-ray as much on my laptop as it just to fill in the gap between my work and home.
I’ve notice remote access to those two powerful machines work well, I often just set the scenes and render them away with 8-12 cores there.

And, i think it is a very good point, I have seen even the 2D export and the edges of sketchup receives graphics card’s anti-alias settings.

Thank you for the reply,
I’ve look at their smallest which was 15 inch. I would need something equal or less than 13 inch. carrying that around everyday will cause me to have a hunch back.
good to know there is a model very specific to engineers and architects.

Hi there

Yes I swear by the precisions - great for my SketchUp and presentation work