PDA

View Full Version : LW on Laptops / Powerbooks...?



Karl Hansson
09-30-2003, 12:11 PM
Hello I'm a student at a computer animation school. I need to get my self a computer. Due to my accommodation situation it would be best to have a laptop or a powerbook. Are there any good portable computers that will run LW and other 3D applications? Any tips?

Tronam
09-30-2003, 12:42 PM
Well, this thread may inevitably be doomed when you mentioned a PC or Mac laptop, but I'll throw in my few cents.

LightWave has been running beautifully on my Dell Inspiron 8200, P4-2.2GHz with the Radeon 9000 mobility. Especially after a few "modifications" and installing the FireGL drivers. ;)

I have a hard time recommending the Mac laptops for 3D. They are brilliantly designed, but their OpenGL performance is lackluster and CPU performance not up to par with equivelently priced P4 based PC laptops. It's not a flame, just real world observation. As an owner of both platforms, I get to love and hate both platforms equally.

Hopefully, IBM will develop a low-power derivitive G5 CPU for future Apple laptops to keep them competitive.

-Tronam

duderender
09-30-2003, 12:55 PM
Lets not forget that the hard drive performance in the apple notebooks is terrible at best. A 4500rpm drive??

The PC notebooks seem to pack more power, but in far less sexy clothing when compared to apple's.

Karl Hansson
09-30-2003, 01:24 PM
So your dell is running fine. I've been thinking about getting me a Dell. But how is the 3D performance compared to a desktop. I just whant to get an idea of what speeds and workflow I can expect to get from a laptop. My limit is about 2500 (thats some where around $3800 I think).

duderender
09-30-2003, 02:19 PM
Karl / Tronam

I have a Dell M50, which is their desktop workstation replacement utilizing a Quadro4 nVidia graphics card.

I can't speak about the quality of the Inspiron but as an M50 user, I was less than impressed with the construction and design quality. Flimsy, and the hardware was not as reliable as one would expect. Hopefully Dell's M60 (M50 successor) and 2nd gen M50's are better.

Karl, as far as 3D performance I must say it is stellar! I mean this sucker does just as well as our Precision workstation using a 780XGL card. I've loaded up large models, shaded and spun them like nobody's business.

The hard drives are slow, but with 1GB RAM you just wait for everything to be loaded and away you go!!!

If you're spending $3800, check out alienware.com and hypersonic.com, amazinglaptops.com and voodoopc.com. Most have optimized they're hardware and are utilizing workstation components in them (i.e. not mobility chips, and full 7200rpm IDE drives). They are a bit more noiser, but the displays and available RAM/video may make up for it.

mlinde
09-30-2003, 02:40 PM
Originally posted by Karl Hansson
So your dell is running fine. I've been thinking about getting me a Dell. But how is the 3D performance compared to a desktop. I just whant to get an idea of what speeds and workflow I can expect to get from a laptop. My limit is about 2500 (thats some where around $3800 I think).
Hey Karl. It's a good idea to post this in the open forum, and get both Win and Mac info, regardless of flame potential.

The 3D performance on any laptop will be less than an equivalent desktop. The busses are slower, the graphics cards are not as powerful, and the disk drives are slower. That being said, you said you needed a laptop for Lightwave. I have heard a large number of people speak highly of the Dell Inspirons.

The Mac powerbooks are sexy, but not as powerful -- less bang for the buck.

duderender
09-30-2003, 03:17 PM
The busses are slower, the graphics cards are not as powerful

mlinde, be careful there. As I've mentioned I've sustained comparable graphics performance as my workstation. Also, laptops do support 533 and even 800Mhz busses to equal workstations.

Either way, I think most will be impressed with laptops now. One further note, I have noticed that the M50 screens are fabulous for viewing angle. I found the powerbook to be decent and maybe on par. The inspirons are a bit less, but I've also worked with them less so maybe someone can fill us in more on this aspect.

mlinde
09-30-2003, 03:58 PM
Originally posted by duderender
mlinde, be careful there. As I've mentioned I've sustained comparable graphics performance as my workstation. Also, laptops do support 533 and even 800Mhz busses to equal workstations.


yeah, I was mid-writing when you posted. I saw your information. It's good to know, and I was wrong about the bus speed & graphics chips.

Tronam
09-30-2003, 03:58 PM
In the past, laptops have typically been several generations behind their desktop counterparts in performance, but that gap is becoming less and less noticable. While my Inspiron 8200 has only a 5400RPM drive (used to be standard on desktops), everything else is pretty much at parity with my P4 desktop. Now, granted, over the past year time has marched on and I could upgrade my desktop for even greater performance, but I've been exceedingly pleased with this laptop's overall performance, stability (no crashing at all) and flexibility. The modular bays allow for dual-batteries (meaning nearly 6 hours of battery life) and it's 15" ultrasharp TFT is clear and bright. It's been flawless for the year I've owned. What more could I ask? :)

-Tronam

duderender
09-30-2003, 04:29 PM
Tronam brings up a good point though, upgrading.

Typically, laptop components are more or less not upgradable. Any insight on the new Inspirons? Can you upgrade video/hard drive etc?

I think RAM is about it. I don't think you can put a 7200rpm drive in a laptop that was using a 4200 or 5400 rpm drive.

Tronam
09-30-2003, 06:10 PM
Yeah, this is unfortunately the achilles heel of anything this tightly integrated. We sacrifice flexibility for portability and convenience. Even so, I never regret my laptop investment for a second. It's certainly powerful enough keep me occupied for a long time. I mean, if I can't produce quality material with a 2.2GHz computer, then I should probably choose a different hobby. :) I bet a good portion of the NewTek gallery images were produced on less powerful computers than that.

-Tronam

Alliante
10-01-2003, 06:56 AM
You should be able to upgrade your hard drives, memory, CD drives and add 802.11x MiniPCI cards yourself to most new laptops without too much headache.

But video cards are pretty much OEM on-board chips and shouldn't be attempted by any sane person. ;)

CoryC
10-01-2003, 08:52 AM
I would recommend looking at Alienware's 51m. 3Ghz 800Mhz FSB processors and available with 1 Gb ram. I was told on the phone it will support up to 2Gb but they don't have the 1Gb sticks yet. The video card is even upgradable with both ATI and Nvidia chips. I only saw the NVidia 5800 FX 128meg listed but it is a new machine and everything may not be out yet. You can do 7200 or 5400 RPM drives. There are even options for DVD-RW and 5.1 audio. The one I ordered was a lot less than your $3500 limit. I am expecting it today or tomorrow so I can offer a better idea on how it works with LW.

Karl Hansson
10-01-2003, 09:45 AM
Wow that Alienware looks nice! CoryC, I'm looking forward to your report. Thats a P4 3.2GHZ desktop processor, whont it get to hot and what is the battery time?

cholo
10-01-2003, 11:46 AM
I have an inspiron 600m and all I can say is that it feels faster than any of the desktops I use regularly. Granted, they are 2 year old desktops, but nevertheless. I have yet to come across a lightwave project my laptop can't handle. The mobility radeon 9000 is very good, runs faster than the old radeon 8500 I use in my desktops. It is a 1.3 Ghz pentium M and has 1 gig of ram which is by my standards more than adequate for 3d work. My philosophy is... if you can't render it on a gig, you're doing something wrong ;) I also ordered it with SXGA+ screen which gives me the equivalent real estate of a 19 inch monitor, but crisp in a 14 inch package. Sure, viewing angles aren't that great, but for the money I saved who cares. My hdd isn't fast either, 4200 RPM, but again, if I was doing any video editing on it I'd probably care, but doing video work on laptops is futile, since you always need all that external gear and a TV to see what you're actually doing. I'll take my toaster workstation for video work any day of the week. :) So, in a nutshell, the inspiron 600m, it's small, portable, fast and good enough for doing serious lightwave work, play the ocasional game and surf the net while having breakfast in the morning at a local coffee shop.

Last, but not least, upgradeability is an illusion. Every time they come up with something fast enough to be worth upgrading ends up costing you almost the same as purchasing a new system all over again (you end up buying a new MoBo, CPU, RAM and video card). At least with a laptop you'll always have a good resale market (students, etc...), better resale value and you can buy yourself a new one when the time comes for you to do so :)
Selling a used desktop... well...

Hope this helps.

cholo
10-01-2003, 11:50 AM
Forgot to mention, render times. I get pretty decent rendering times, about equal to a 2 Ghz desktop, but I only do test renders on the laptop, and use the desktops for the brute rendering job. Probably not a good idea to leave a laptop running at 100% rendering for a month, but then again who knows?

CoryC
10-01-2003, 01:40 PM
Originally posted by Karl Hansson
Wow that Alienware looks nice! CoryC, I'm looking forward to your report. Thats a P4 3.2GHZ desktop processor, whont it get to hot and what is the battery time?

It's here and running (I have it playing Bladerunner DVD at the moment). I have used Dell laptops a lot and I have to say there is no comparison. The build quality and feel of the Alienware is way better than what I am used to from Dell. I have to install Lightwave on it yet but here are a few things I thought were of note.

I got the 15.4 screen (1680x1050) and it is very clean. A lot wider viewing angle than a typical laptop.

There is an external monitor port in the back and you can use it as a 2nd monitor.

4 built-in speakers instead of 2. Volume is not as loud as I would have hoped but not too bad.

The left and right buttons have a nice 'click' to them and there are scroll buttons that work as the middle button. There is also a scroll bar on the right side of the touch pad. The keyboard is built for regular hands and typing is way easier than other laptops I've used.

There seems to be good ventilation and it doesn't seem to be getting hot yet. We'll see how it gets with a serious render or with Medal of Honor running.

There is a nice wireless remote control that works like a wireless mouse as well as a bunch of other stuff. Nice for if you are giving a presentation or just too lazy to reach over the 2 feet to use the computer.

I'll test the LW benchmarks when I get it installed but here are a few of the benchmarks they provide when they test the system at assembly:
Sandra Dhrystone 6952 MIPS, Whetstone 2422 MFLOPS
HD read 2350MB/S 5ms access time.
Memory bandwidth 2502 MB/s
Quake III - 219.2FPS

I'll let you know on battery time. I have heard it is about 1-2 hours due to the components being desktop and not notebook.

duderender
10-01-2003, 01:51 PM
My opinion.... who cares about battery time?? I mean really, if you want mobility get a mobility focused laptop. All that I care is that if the power goes out my battery kicks in so I can save my work.

You will find battery is about 1-2 hours. Not my care for longevity as it is raw performance.

If you put the laptops into battery optimized, you may get 3-4 hours.

Cooling is definitely a noisy issue, because the Alienware laptops are running 4 fans (2 on bottom, 2 on back)

FYI: Alienware and Sager are made from a Taiwanese laptop maker. I will post site if I can remember URL. Alienware and Sager simply brand these laptops (i.e. Alienware puts fancy paint on theirs).

dablan
10-01-2003, 02:28 PM
Laptops have come a long way!

I use a Dell Inspiron 8500 P4, 2.4Ghz. I use it daily. I'm writing both Inside LightWave 8 and LightWave 8 Killer Tips on it. 3D performance is great - with the 64MB GeForce card.

I've researched them all, and this is still my 3rd Dell Laptop.

Best of luck.