Laptop for 3D Modelling/Photorgraphy

Discussion in 'What Notebook Should I Buy?' started by Shadoo, Aug 2, 2019.

  1. Shadoo

    Shadoo Notebook Enthusiast

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    I made a post a long time ago but my purchase then was postponed and seeing how we're finding out more about some laptops and seeing new stuff come out I figured it'd be worth making a new post to get some extra opinions on the current landscape.

    Buying in Australia with a budget of around $2k~$2.5k (AUD)

    I'm after a 15" laptop but there's breathing room here too. For its screen I'd say a 1080p matte panel. For my own 'feeling' when buying the laptop I'd like to get greater than 90% sRGB.

    As far as brands go, Razer is what I'd mostly turn my nose up to. I'm apprehensive towards Dell (especially the XPS) due to general sense of security after the 9570 saga. I don't really oppose going for clearance or refurb options as long as the manufacture can assure new/near new battery conditions.

    I intend to use the laptop to model 3D environments and characters to be used in game engines (so I doubt I'd use rendering engines in Maya or Blender during my work). In those engines (mostly Unity) that involves some lighter programming work, setting up scene lighting and baking lightmaps (this is painful on my current PC) and building projects. I enjoy practising photography as a hobby so this does bring a couple of extra requirements.

    I'd mostly use the laptop in longer gaps between classes at Uni, and while working with a team at a friend's house. It'll be taken with me when I'm out of the country though.

    When it comes to games, I don't intend for this to be my main device for that. I'd like to use a desktop PC since that's a lot more comfortable. I'd say a few lighter 3D titles may be played on it but at the same time I guess the work I do puts the laptop through near the same kind of workload (maybe a little more cpu oriented).

    For battery life, while I understand my usecases are best used plugged in, I'd still like decent battery usage for photo editing or Maya work. If I can have my cake and eat it I'd say 5+ hours for web/video usage.

    If I can get a feel for the laptop before buying it, that'd be nice. That's kinda tough for some options though.

    No set OS.

    For design, I'm not fussed really. I mean I kinda cringe at some gaming laptops but if they're one of the only options then I wont get snobby. I would prefer something sturdy though. I've seen some videos on laptops and seeing insane amounts of screen flex on the lid and a laptop that appears 'floppy' when being held by just one side has me really worried for how long it'd last. Speaking of which, I'd want the laptop to last 4 years.

    For 'Timing, Warranty and Longevity'
    I'm looking at the next month or two. My desktop is in need of replacing too so I am at the stage of wagering which to prioritise first but that'll be something for me to figure out.

    As mentioned, I own a desktop and long term intend for it to do the heavy lifting for work and games so the laptop being out of action during a service isn't the end of the world.

    I'd like to consider purchase options that provide better support.

    And on a final note, am a student so if I can get a discount on pricing for that, that's a plus. If a retail store offers the same device they can price match that and I could get that over the counter too. (I've seen classmates do this exact thing with iPad Pros, getting Apple's student discount price while buying from JB HiFi)

    Very last thing is: I don't want to use liquid metal. This things gonna move place to place when needed in a backpack and whether I'm on a tram or a bike or whatever, I don't know if lm is the best thing to apply in a laptop that's gonna be 'vertical' and moving around a lot.

    If you're still here, thanks for reading through. So, now that's done, I guess I can mention a couple of options I found already. Maybe there's a red flag I'm overlooking or one could be just fine with a little compromise here or there.

    - XPS 15 7590 (1650, wagering i5/i7, 1080p with the larger battery)
    Iffy about this. The last XPS seemed to be such a mess and Dell are even more of a mess as a company, it seems. If this doesn't have the same suite of issues the last model had (albeit thermals) then it may be fine. It wins in screen and battery life and the form factor is more appealing. The thermals would probably be more annoying although I do wonder how often I'd push both the CPU + GPU full tilt.

    - Dell G5 (with the 144hz screen and 90whr battery | 1660ti )
    This may be better value. The SD card slot is slower but it's still there. If the 144hz screen option is similar to what we've seen in other 144hz IPS laptops then it may satisfy my 'sRGB' wants. I don't know about the 60hz options here and whether they still use the panels with 50 to 60 % coverage. Same deal with the battery, if I can spec it out with the 90whr battery that may give me more hours but at the same time this also depends on how much power the laptop its self draws when doing anything so it may end up worse than more efficient laptops with smaller batteries.

    - Lenovo Legion Y545 (1660ti)
    Looking at Lenovo's site, both the 60hz and 144hz screens offer my desired colour gamut in their screens. The battery is small but this laptop has a MUX switch so I guess I could just turn off the d-GPU and I've seen people squeeze 5 to 6 hours out of it. I don't know how 'strong' it is though... Also, no SD card slot! Not so nice.

    - MSI P65 Creator (1060)
    The price on this seems to have come down nicely. It's fine for its screen and battery life. I've read the thermals aren't great and it's a pain to open up though. In videos I've seen its rigidity is questionable and the lack of an SD card slot is a minus. However, again, the current price proposes a good value option here.
     
  2. otezs

    otezs Notebook Enthusiast

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    MSI certainly has good choices for content creation crowd; of all 4 choices you listed I would pick the MSI.

    I think one important aspect to look at is post-sale service. Do you have MSI repair centre in Australia? If not, what about Lenovo or Dell? You don't want to ship the laptop out of the country for a service and incur a long down time.

    Feel free to explore Lenovo P series, it is Lenovo's work station line but only if you truly need a workstation features such as certifications and quadro. In addition to those features, Lenovo ThinkPad line are for most part MIL-SPEC built with spill proof and drop protection. If you end up finding MSI has better post-sale support in your country then check their work station line, WS I believe is it.

    I too enjoy photography and shopped around for a laptop but I have recently placed an order for Lenovo Y540 with rtx2060 knowing I don't require a lot of battery time nor the extra shaders from quadro. Photo editing just requires good CPU and RMA as it is mostly static. You may ask how much ram do I need? For starter, 8gb is good enough but I'd opt for 16 gb so you have more headroom or have the need to work on multi large image files at once.

    Hope this helps you in anyway more than it confuses you lol
     
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  3. Shadoo

    Shadoo Notebook Enthusiast

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    Thanks for the response. The MSI seems like the better all round choice. I did hear they improved the structural quality of the GS65 after its release so I assume the same improvements carried on over here. I'll look into MSI service in Australia. Friends of mine have XPS laptops and when they've had issues, a Dell tech has come over to their house and performed the repairs on the spot.

    I was looking at the tougher Lenovos. Their prices get a bit steep but I gather they're far more well made than anything else out there. I don't know if I'd personally benefit from a quadro card. I'm not doing anything crazy with shaders, at least nothing my 970 in my PC can't handle. Still for a working machine it's hard to find better and if I had the money I'd pay up for that sense of security.

    Will have a look into Lenovo's service here in Australia too. Am sure it's similar to Dell but will make at least the Legion laptops can be fixed within the country.

    *Edit

    So did some searching. MSI have some kind of office in NSW (I'm in Victoria) but I can't seem to work out if it's a repair centre or just some kind of consulting/business wing and the laptop would still have to be sent to Taiwan for repairs if needed. There were some photos on google and it looked like a small building/office type thing. That brings a little apprehension as I know with The bigger manufactures (Dell, Apple, Lenovo) you can get repairs done on location.

    If this rules the MSI out then it initially appears to just be up to Dell but they've proved themselves beyond hopeless when it came to the XPS line. When I was writing this the X1E2 only had a super overpriced model for A$3k but they now advertise a A$2.3k model with an i7, 1650mq, 8gb of ram and a 256gb hard drive. I'd have to get a bigger storage drive and an extra 8gb of ram but I feel a Lenovo might be a more reliable choice than dell. I'd have to check how it handles 3D use cases but I feel like it's between something like this or one of the Legion models from Lenovo.
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2019
  4. otezs

    otezs Notebook Enthusiast

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    Sorry for super late response, I haven't checked the forum much. What did you end up picking? I am in Vancouver :) hello neighbour.

    I think MSI has decent support in Canada, don't quote me on this but i thought i had read MSI has repair depot around greater vancouver.
     
  5. Shadoo

    Shadoo Notebook Enthusiast

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    No need to say sorry. :p I haven't bought the laptop yet. There's an MSI support centre in another state that seems to receive good google reviews and they imply the repairs are performed on site. (Although MSI don't describe it as a service or repair centre) That said the general consensus about its durability has had me averse.

    I looked into the y540, as you mentioned you had it. As far as gaming laptops are concerned, it seems to offer the best value for money here in Australia. Hopefully I can find a store that will let me try one out in person. I'm also waiting on an NBC review of the 2nd gen X1E since I realised the price gap I saw before was because the store listing only showed the price for an i7 option (while I was comparing it to an i5 XPS 15). An education discount on that should hopefully bring it within budget.

    I can share what I go with once I make my decision and order it. I'm sure any of the options are perfectly fine and it's just about where to place compromise. Be it GPU power, battery life or chassis.
     
  6. otezs

    otezs Notebook Enthusiast

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    Y540 during the right promotion could be had for around $1600 CAD, that is with i7 9750h, 1tb HDD + 256gb SSD, RTX2060, 144Hz panel. There was a price error in Canada last month and people paid a little under $1300 dollars tax included for the above Y540 configuration. I don't think the X1E would ever come down that low in price :)

    Photography - this only only really requires a good CPU and RAM, video card has minimal impact on graphic editing.

    3D Modelling - this would definitely require a good graphic card, if your line of work involves doing 3D modeling all day long then a "work station" type of laptop would be more suitable due to the extra shaders, think of it as a purpose built laptop for 3d renders. I think Lenovo and MSI have great selections with Quadros for this.

    Having said all that, Intel just recently released the 10th generation of CPU, you may be able to get good discounts on your side of the world for laptops with 9th gen processor as I am seeing $300-$900 drop on higher end models.
     
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