Help me pick my next portable workstation for EDA/CAD (HP vs Dell vs Lenovo)

Discussion in 'What Notebook Should I Buy?' started by steve_77, Jun 9, 2018.

  1. steve_77

    steve_77 Newbie

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    Looking for some feedback for a portable laptop that will serve as my primary workstation for CAD/Engineering tools. Was looking at Dell, Lenovo, msi and hp (leaning more Dell and lenovo), as ive used an HP in the past and it was junk, my current engineering laptop (at work) is the HP Zbook studio g3 its meets all the criteria but i have gotten BSOD a few times and had some other issues so wanted to look at offerings from Dell and Lenovo.

    Any thoughts would be appreciated...


    General Questions

    1) What is your budget?
    2k-2.8k

    2) What size notebook would you prefer?
    c. Thin and Light; 13" - 14" screen
    d. Mainstream; 15" - 16" screen
    e. Desktop Replacement; 17"+ screen

    I already have a MSI GT780DXR - but its a beast to lug around and gets cruddy battery life - think I am looking at screen in the 15"-17" range as im only going to use the small screen on-the-go

    Leaning to 15 as i have 2 samsung 28" UHD monitors to use at my home office that hope to use on thunderbolt docking station.


    4) Are there any brands that you prefer or any you really don't like?
    Was looking at the following brands HP vs Dell vs Lenovo - although not a big fan of HP but the 3 machines below were the ones i was looking at..

    here are a few examples:


    1. HP Zbook 17.3" G4 IPS FHD Mobile Workstation, Intel Quad-Core i7-7820HQ
    2. Dell Precision 7720 Mobile Workstation i7-7920HQ
    3. Lenovo ThinkPad P51 Mobile Workstation i7-7820HQ

    Which brand and or laptop best?



    6) What are the primary tasks will you be performing with this notebook?
    workstation for EDA/CAD - engineering programs, CAD/ EDA tools - require 32G ram

    Need the following:

    • 4k display
    • 32G ram
    • 512G ssd
    • 1T+ second drive
    • I7 (latest Gen)Thunderbolt port
    • Decent battery life (5+ hours )
    7) Will you be taking the notebook with you to different places, leaving it on your desk or both?
    Both - also require thunderbolt (for docking station), displayport, and a few USB 3 ports

    8) Will you be playing games on your notebook? If so, please state which games or types of games?
    No, mostly engineering programs, CAD/ EDA tools - require 32G ram

    9) How many hours of battery life do you need?
    (as mush as possible) min 5 hours

    11) What OS do you prefer? Windows (Windows 7 / 8), Mac OS, Linux, Chrome OS, etc.
    WIN 7, Linux CENTOS/RHEL


    Screen Specifics

    12) From the choices below, what screen resolution(s) would you prefer?
    4K

    13) Do you want a glossy/reflective screen or a matte/non-glossy screen? (Scroll down to see explanations.)
    Matte - im out in CA and its always bright out (When out and about it would be great for a screen that works well in the sun)

    Build Quality and Design

    14) Are the notebook's looks and stylishness important to you?
    NO

    16) How long do you want this laptop to last?
    6-10 years

    Notebook Components

    17) How much hard drive space do you need? Do you want a SSD drive?
    256G + SSD boot drive
    1TB+ HDD or SSD secondary drive for work files


    18) Do you need an optical drive? If yes, a DVD Burner, Blu-ray Reader or Blu-Ray Burner?
    Not really, (ill still have an older PC with a DVD burner)
     
  2. RampantGorilla

    RampantGorilla Notebook Evangelist

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  3. steve_77

    steve_77 Newbie

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    I will definitely check that out. I have been a big fan of MSI and asus - but they just seem to not be on par with some of the other options in terms of quality. I know Lenovo Bought out the old IBM thinkpad series and my partner has a Lenovo which she kinda abuses and has never gotten a BSOD. I like dell in terms of support options and will definitely take a look at the dell 7730 was hoping to hear from some Lenovo P51 users, or some other feedback in terms of quality of the overall products of some of the brands mentioned.

    Thanks Rampant
     
  4. Kent T

    Kent T Notebook Virtuoso

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    MSI and Asus make consumer grade laptops and gaming laptops. And support is likewise. Parts harder to find for them too when more than a few years old. Dell Precision 7730 is a logical choice for what you need, and Dell's warranty and support options are superb. And parts very available for older machines.
     
  5. steve_77

    steve_77 Newbie

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    So sadly the Precision 7730 seems nearly out of my price range for the base package:

    advanced:
    https://nofile.io/f/TCoqXOdVQQa/Pre...e+Workstation+Laptop+_+Dell+United+States.pdf


    base:

    https://nofile.io/f/r3VApEPYu1M/Pre...Workstation+Laptop+_+Dell+United+States_2.pdf




    Plus im not so sure how long the battery would last, which is why i was looking at 15" units...
    i must say though it has pretty impressive hw spec



    even the smaller 15" isnt much cheaper:
    https://nofile.io/f/WGWNDwDU4BP/Pre...e+Workstation+Laptop+_+Dell+United+States.pdf
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2018
  6. steve_77

    steve_77 Newbie

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  7. Fred_Huang

    Fred_Huang Notebook Enthusiast

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    I tried configuring the Precision....Bump to 32 GB memory and SSD is really expensive. Other things seem ok. Not sure if you change RAM and SSD yourself without voiding warranty. If so I think you can get base model with 4k resolution and a 6cell battery pretax under 2k. But you need that extra 800~ for a set of 16GB RAM and 250GB ssd for OS.
     
  8. rlk

    rlk Notebook Consultant

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    Well, in the US those "void if opened" policies are illegal: https://techcrunch.com/2018/04/11/f...oid-warranties-over-using-3rd-party-services/

    That said, on the Lenovo P70/P71 (and presumably beyond) the RAM and SSD are explicitly listed as CRUs (customer-replaceable units). Even the keyboard is, although I think Lenovo will replace that upon customer request (some of the CRUs Lenovo will not replace -- customer has to do it). The Dell Precision M6500 was very easy to open and work on, and I doubt very much Dell has changed that even though the 7xx0 machines are very different.

    I would either order 32GB to start with or buy a pair of 16GB DIMMs for about $300. You can get a 2TB SSD for about $500, much less 250GB.

    Finally, if you need lots of storage (I do), the ThinkPad P70/P71 has two 2.5" bays (by means of replacing the optical drive, which again is a CRU). The Dells (at least through the 7720) only have one 2.5" bay and no optical bay to replace. I really do need a pair of 2TB drives; I could use an external but that's a PITA.

    I doubt battery life on 15" units is much better than on 17" ones. Same components.

    I bought a used/refurb P70 last fall for personal use at a good price, with similar specs to what you want. The P71 simply doesn't offer much more; the difference between Skylake and the corresponding Kaby Lake processors isn't that great, and the really high end GPUs are extremely expensive. Nice machine. Sure, I wouldn't mind a 6-core system (much of what I do really does parallelize very well), but those will be steep for a while yet. By the time I'm ready for a new laptop (same kind of 6-10 year lifetime), who knows what the landscape will look like.
     
  9. Hossbando

    Hossbando Notebook Enthusiast

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    I've heard good things about the Dell Precisions. I would recommend Lenovo, based on my own experience. If you buy refurbished, you'll save a lot of money, and if it's just a portable workstation for you (like the old luggables), then having an older battery shouldn't matter. A lot of the refurbished resellers on Amazon seem to be running some sort of scam, so I'd recommend checking classifieds in your area or local wholesaler/refurbishers. I haven't seen much online to support buying refurbished online. The online resellers seem less eager to sell at a steep discount than the local people I have dealt with.

    The Thinkpad lines are superb, but any of the higher end Lenovos should do the job, depending on your hardware requirements. I'd definitely get a workstation level (Nvidia Quadro etc) video card instead of a "gaming" card for CAD stuff though, there should be fewer headaches with those cards, from what I've heard.
     
  10. Fred_Huang

    Fred_Huang Notebook Enthusiast

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    You are right. I never read into those stuff haha. Nice mentioning the extra 2.5" bay in Lenovo. Used to having T510 I almost forgot about that convenience. And that extra bay can be used for extra battery pack on some models.

    But I think for the amount of money OP is spending, trying to buy 6 core and 1060 to 1070 makes sense. It's a lot of money anyway. But performance-wise, 7th gen + 1060 might be more than sufficient, or the Quadro series + Xeon offered by P71. Not sure if quadro are good to push 2 UHD 28" external monitors though.

    P71 looks so beautiful lol. I would pick one if there is one in the outlet store. Oh there is, starting t 32 GB:
    https://www3.lenovo.com/us/en/outle...d-p-series/ThinkPad-P71/p/20HKCTR1WW-PF0WYFE1

    Or if you can settle with 15", this is almost everything you asked at 2.5k:
    https://www3.lenovo.com/us/en/outle...c/thinkpad-p-series/P51/p/20HHCTO1WW-PF12H7UJ
     
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