Need help choosing a laptop to run ANSYS Maxwell

Discussion in 'What Notebook Should I Buy?' started by MrManhattan, Sep 15, 2016.

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  1. MrManhattan

    MrManhattan Newbie

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    I am currently working on my master's thesis and need a personal computer that will allow me to use ANSYS Maxwell. I have read that ANSYS works closely with NVIDIA, but I have not been able to find any details about ANSYS Maxwell.

    I should start off by saying I am by no means an expert in these things, so I don't really know what this interaction is, just that the pairing makes ANSYS run faster. I am aware that NVIDIA Tesla and Quadro GPU's are good for ANSYS Mechanical and Fluent. Is there a specific GPU that works with Maxwell? I have found this group of Lenovo laptops which seems on the right track, and some of them list NVIDIA Maxwell GPU's. Does the NVIDIA Maxwell GPU work with ANSYS Maxwell in the same way that NVIDIA Tesla GPU's work with ANSYS Mechanical and Fluent?

    I have spoken with NVIDIA and am trying to speak with ANSYS. But I'm guessing that because electromagnetic modeling is not as big right now (though it's getting there) there is no dedicated card for ANSYS Maxwell. Given this, I am looking at comparisons between high-end gaming laptops and low-end workstations. I was suggested this ASUS ROG laptop over on /r/SuggestALaptop. At my price point, this would compare to the cheapest version of the Lenovo P70's. The CPU is the same in both, but the graphics card on the ASUS is an NVIDIA GTX 1060 with 16 GB of VRAM. The graphics card on the Lenovo is an NVIDIA Quadro with 2 GB of VRAM. What does this tradeoff look like? Can the GTX run a simulation at the same speed or faster than the Quadro?

    If the NVIDIA GPU is so focused on working well with ANSYS, does that make it less capable for other high performance tasks like gaming or other modeling? Is there any way to quantify this difference (that I could understand)?

    Would a laptop like the Lenovo workstation be more future proof? Would I be able to simply upgrade it with more RAM instead of replacing a laptop like the ASUS ROG one?

    • Total budget and country of purchase: Max is USD 1800 (country of purchase is USA)

    • Do you prefer a 2 in 1 form factor, good battery life or best specifications to your requirements for the money? Pick or include any that apply. Best Specifications, but value is also a priority

    • How important is weight to you? Not at all

    • Which OS do you require? Windows, Linux, Mac. Windows (preferably 7)

    • Do you have a preferred screen size? If indifferent, put N/A. I prefer 15" or above, but if there is a capable laptop that is 13" or 14", I would like to know about it

    • Are you doing any CAD/video editing/photo editing/gaming? List which programs/games you desire to run. If you have no requirements, put N/A. ANSYS Maxwell, MATLAB, SolidWorks (to a lesser extent Photoshop, MAYA, or Blender), no specific games, but VR capability would definitely be a plus.

    • If you're gaming (leave blank if you put N/A above...), do you have certain games you want to play? At what settings and FPS do you want? If I could play games at or above their standard setting for consoles I'd be happy. This isn't being purchased for gaming, but I imagine being able to run, say, Fallout 4 at 60 FPS and 1080p is necessary to get a good VR experience.

    • Any specific requirements such as good keyboard, reliable business grade build quality, touch-screen, finger-print reader, optical drive or good input devices (keyboard/touchpad)? USB 3.0 and HDMI out are necessary, I'd like this to last me a good few years (~4-5), and a finger-print reader would be nice.

    • Leave any finishing thoughts here that you may feel are necessary and beneficial to the discussion.
    I'm mainly concerned about getting a computer that will let me effectively do ANSYS Maxwell simulation. If that computer has a small screen, is bad for gaming, and (for some unholy reason) doesn't have a USB 3.0 port, then so be it.

    I mentioned Lenovo at the beginning, but I have no particular devotion to them.

    Lastly, I am significantly interested in value. If we call a $5,000 industry computer having 100% capability, and I can get 90% for $1,800 or 85% for $1,500, I'd probably go with the cheaper option.
    Thank you in advance for any help you can provide. If anyone is interested, I am using ANSYS Maxwell to do railgun force simulations.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2016
  2. Galm

    Galm "Stand By, We're Analyzing The Situation!"

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    Yeesh this is always tricky, high end gaming vs low end quadro is tough. Can you give me the exact graphics cards in the Asus vs Lenovo you were talking about (Also 16GB of VRAM in the Asus is wrong, 1060 is 3GB or 6GB).

    So like the correct VRAM amount for the 1060 and the model in the Lenovo?

    Do you mind a bulky machine? That gives us more options.

    The Asus is definitely not what I'd recommend for serious reliability, even for gaming laptops (which are always less reliable than workstations).
     
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  3. win32asmguy

    win32asmguy Moderator Moderator

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    The Pascal (GTX 10 series) CUDA Toolkit is still a release candidate. If it is released then you should see the next major revision of ANSYS apps support Pascal in theory. However they will likely only test Quadro / Firepro cards as those are the workstation options provided by Nvidia / AMD.

    Based on this document, anything with a current generation AMD Firepro / Nvidia Quadro should work. So you could find a refurbished Lenovo Thinkpad P, Dell Precision, or HP Zbook with such a card for a good price.
     
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  4. tijo

    tijo Sacred Blame Super Moderator

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    You should wait for Ansys' reply. Couple of years ago, you needed an extra license for some of their programs if you wanted to run them using CUDA on top of the normal license and buying a license for modeling software like that is pretty expensive. At least I think it was for some ansys software, check the licensing options carefully as there can be some weird stuff there.

    Honestly, you're better off with something that is officially supported hardware if you're entitled to service from Ansys with your license of the program. Another thing you have to take into account is that you'll need a good CPU and plenty of RAM to start with. Check whether there are specific suggested system specs. I've seen things along the lines of 4 GB RAM or more per physical core for finite element modeling software.

    If I were you, I'd go for reliability, CPU and RAM first with the video card taking the backseat.
     
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  5. MrManhattan

    MrManhattan Newbie

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    I put links in the text, but its understandably difficult to see.

    Here is the ASUS I was recommended:
    https://shopineer.com/laptops/ASUS-ROG-GL502VM-DB71

    Here is the Lenovo I was looking at (the cheapest listed):
    http://shop.lenovo.com/us/en/laptops/thinkpad/p-series/p70/

    No, I do not mind a bulky machine. Helps me get a better workout in walking to/from school :D.
     
  6. Galm

    Galm "Stand By, We're Analyzing The Situation!"

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    Yeah uh... The cheapest listed is garbage, thats a super weak quadro, you should probably be way better off with a GTX series card.
     
  7. MrManhattan

    MrManhattan Newbie

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    Does that document mean that these cards will run with ANSYS, or that they will run well? The reason I was interested in the Quadro / Tesla cards was because I saw the document linked below, which says ANSYS and NVIDIA worked together to synergize the Tesla cards with ANSYS software.

    http://www.nvidia.com/object/tesla-ansys-accelerations.html

    Okay, understood. How much better of a Quadro would be necessary to beat out that level of GTX card? If I look around for a different computer with a better Quadro for the same price, what would be a minimum card?

    Also, for reliability what would you suggest? Is the unreliability in gaming PCs because they are just pushed harder? Or is it just a reference to the fact that games increase in demand so quickly?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 15, 2016
  8. win32asmguy

    win32asmguy Moderator Moderator

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    For Maxwell Quadro's, they are clocked very competitively to their GTX counterparts. The largest different you will notice is game fixes and compatibility. M3000M is probably the best price / performance mobile Quadro. If you want the Lenovo P70, drop the SSD and add a M3000M. Don't worry so much about longer warranty, you can add a 3yr next business day onsite warranty to your machine at a later date via a separate purchase for about $140. The P70 is incredibly finicky with aftermarket ram. I would suggest either getting matching sticks from eBay, or buying it from Lenovo directly. Its stupid but you can actually brick a mainboard with certain aftermarket ram (don't ask me how I know...)
     
  9. tijo

    tijo Sacred Blame Super Moderator

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    It's a matter of materials and design. Better, tougher materials and a design where everything is held in place with screws goes a long way for reliability, but this is more expensive to design and make.

    The video cards listed on the Ansys website are cards that were tested and confirmed to work without any weird behavior.

    One thing you have to understand about using a GPU for calculations is that GPUs are massive parallelized processors, but very specialized ones meaning that in some scenarios, they will greatly speed things up, but will perform badly at other tasks. GTX are targeted at gamers, Quadros are targeted for the professional market and Teslas are basically GPUs meant to be used for processing, not for graphics. Now, GTX cards and Quadros are in the end pretty similar, there are minor differences in components and the Quadros are tuned towards pushing out stable performance at slightly lower speeds compared to their equivalent GTX for the sake of reliability. nVidia also knows they can charge more for Quadros because of the targeted market, so they're also more expensive because of that.

    Again, before you even consider buying something with a GPU for calculations, wait for Ansys' reply, no point in buying more GPU if you can't even use it for that.
     
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  10. MrManhattan

    MrManhattan Newbie

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    Well it seems as though they will not respond to me. I may need to send in another request telling them I'm not a student. They list a fair amount on their website that, because they provide a free download for students, they will not provide individualized support (bottom of the page here). I only have access to Maxwell through a professor who is letting me use his license when his students are not, so getting direct contact may be difficult. I will try telling them I am something other than a student though.

    With your reference to CPU, do I mainly focus on speed (#GHz), or is the line important outside of that? In other words, if I could get a Xeon that is 2.9-3.8 GHz, or an i7 that is 2.7-3.6 GHz, will the Xeon be substantially faster? (For reference I'm looking at this page)
    Here is what I found as far as minimum specs. I think I can get what they suggest for a "64-bit desktop" at my price point, but because these specs are not too hard to satisfy, I'm worried that it is equivalent to minimum specs for gaming. I'm not worried about being able to start up ANSYS (since I'm going with NVIDIA cards which they seem to work closely with) I'm more worried about a relatively simple simulation taking a day to run.
     
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