View Full Version : Dell Inspiron 8600 laptop fir 3D

Karl Hansson
12-16-2003, 11:55 AM
Hello I'm looking for a laptop to do 3D (Lightwave and Maya) on. I've come across a Dell Inspiron 8600 with

1.7mhz pentium-m processor,

1024mb ram,

128MB DDR NVIDIA® GeForceFX™ Go5650,

screen: VT - 15,4'' TFT WSXGA+ (1680*1050),

but the harddisk(80GB Ultra DMA/ATA 100) is slow only 4200rpm :/.

Would you recomend this system or not? Anyone with experience of 3D on laptops? If this is not a good system stop me now!!!;)


12-16-2003, 01:43 PM
I just recently bought a Sony VAIO Laptop with the 64mb version of that NVIDIA card and it works great with Lightwave. So I'd say that is a good buy. My laptop has a 4200rpm 40gb hard drive and so far it hasn't really been a problem.

What is the price for the laptop you are thinking of buying?

Karl Hansson
12-16-2003, 04:02 PM
My budget is round £2000 - £2200. I've been configuring the laptop at Dells homepage. And the config with the specs I listed was just under £2000.

12-16-2003, 04:24 PM
Not tried to really work from a laptop but I'd raise the concern on heat dissapation from a processor used for rendering. I've done a little work on a laptop while traveling and noted how hot the machine gets when used full tilt for a length of time. Maybe this isn't a problem, but I'm also proposing that laptop cooling is not designed for this type of use.

that being said, I love modeling on the go. The 8600 is a chunky machine. I use an old 4100 and an old 4150 when traveling.


Karl Hansson
12-17-2003, 03:30 AM
well thats a good argument. Does anyone knows if making long renders on laptops damages the laptop? The thing is that I'm a student and I live in a little student room and I don't have enough space for a big desktop.

12-17-2003, 03:41 AM

I have a Lattitude D800. In spite of some lower specs (Go4200) I really love the machine; I don't use it as a render node though !!! If you're planning to do a lot of rendering just get the 3 year warranty !!! Be sure to contact a sales rep before ordering online: you may easily earn some $300-500 by some whining about being a student and all that !! These you can spent on a 3GHz rendernode barebone.

And make sure you get a Sharp screen; there were some Samsung screens that had burn-in problems (Check the Dell forums).

12-17-2003, 09:14 AM

Don't give it a second thought. If mobility and LW are a priority, the 8600 will be great.

I have used both dell and apple notebooks to run LW and like them both for different reasons.

If you can get the extra cash the Dell M60 with it's NVIDIA® Quadro FX Go700™ is the mother of them all.

Anyway as long as you get plenty of ram ( buy it from crucial as dell prices are silly) and a good Video Card you won't be disapointed.

Karl Hansson
12-17-2003, 09:33 AM
Thanks guys. The m60 is a bit out of my budget. Hey sculptactive do you think doing long renders on a laptop to be a problem? I'm talking weeklong renders. Do you think it will damage from heat?

12-17-2003, 01:45 PM

I render out on my mac laptop and have no heating problems.
This is because although the render speeds are slower than my PC notebook, the new Mac OX system will happily render any file size I throw at it.

That said, I do not believe you will have any heating problems.
I would worry more about making sure that you have enough Ram, so that you don't get the dreaded "out of memory" half way through the render.

12-18-2003, 08:02 AM
Hello Karl

The pentium (Centrino) processors run super cool.

I was in the same boat a couple of months ago (Went for a version of the Compaq NX7000). The heat output of these machines is incredible. I had someone over last week who put his ear to the keyboard because he couldn't believe how quiet it was running.

NO FAN NOISE :D - silent running :cool:

The fans will switch on if you accidently leave them on a soft surface that blocks the air intakes (and then only after a good few minutes). The centrino's stay cooler because of their very low power consumption.

As for using Lightwave on a centrino, no problems at all, they're way faster than their desktop equivalents. In fact, when I was shopping around, the centrino 1.6 was outperforming laptops with the desktop 3.06 GHZ processor.

I tested LW rendering between my main machine and the laptop. The centrino took anything from 5% to 45% more time than the main machine. I'm not sure how centrinos and P4's are built, but the percentage difference may be down to the fact that lightwave is written to take advantage of the specific features of the P4 processor. Either way, It was actually better than I was expecting.

The hardrive speed should be OK, As far as I'm aware, some Sony laptop hardrives run at this speed and they're designed to edit DV. (I bought the compaq to edit DV on the move and it's as fast as my main machine, although I think the harddrive speed may be the next one up (5200?))

Hope any of the above helps.

Have Fun and Prosper :)

12-18-2003, 11:04 AM

I have a Dell C840 and it runs LW fantastic....

P4 2.0 Gig, 512 M Ram, 40 Gig drive, Nvidia card 32M Ram...

I only paid 2200 from Dell directly...last year this time

I think you can get a better PC for that money now...

12-19-2003, 06:55 PM
Guess I'll throw my 2 cents in. I own both a Dell D800 and a Toshiba 5205. The 17" screen on the Toshiba makes modeling a bear because it is only 900 pixels high (1440X900), but its 3 GHz CPU & 800 MHz frontside bus make this thing a rendering monster. The 17" wide display does allow you to open modeler or lightwave full screen and open other panels on the side without covering the screen your working on. If your looking for a desktop replacement both the HP and Toshiba models can be found for under $2500 with 3Ghz CPUs. The D800 has a 1920X1200 screen... man is it sweet, but if your eye sight is not great don't consider this puppy. Several coworkers of mine have real trouble reading normal text on it. I don't render on the D800, so I can't coment on its rendering abilities. I like to model on the D800 becuase it has both a touchpad and pointer stick, and the screen is huge... did I mention it is 1920X1200?
Karl - your going to like the video card. If you do buy the 8600 check the display setting to make sure they did not change the default DPI. Some people have trouble reading the displays, so the DPI has been set to 120(large)... it should be set to 96(normal). I don't find that the slower RPM hard drive makes much of a diffrence for 3D, but get the largest they offer, so you can store textures and other things without having to lug around too many CD. Overall the spec on the machine you listed should make you pretty happy as long as you don't plan to render out huge amounts of frames or high radiosity images. For modeling and light rendering you should be quite happy with that system. Hope that helps.


Karl Hansson
12-20-2003, 08:33 AM
Thanks guys you all have been very helpful. I'm probably going to buy the 8600 on monday. We have double xeon workstations at univesity with network rendering where I can perform the real heavy renderings. Only problem is that they do "only"(;)) have Maya Unlimited and not Lightwave. So I guess I'll have to do all my LW renders on the laptop even the heavy ones. I use Maya for schoolwork and LW for my own personal projects wich has no deadlines. So I guess can live with a bit longer render times.

Does anyone know if LW network rendering work on linux? If so maybe I could steal some processing time from my computer lab, that would be great - 52 dual xeon workstations (linux though) in our network really makes rendering a blast.

12-20-2003, 09:15 AM
There is a linux network render client. I would only caution you that you need to check with the lab's system adminstrator before using thier machines. If the admin is willing he could even allow you to set up cron jobs to run when the system has low usage.

Karl Hansson
12-21-2003, 06:06 AM
Of course I need to speek to the administrator. I'm sure that he wouldn't mind installing the render clients for me because he Is such a great guy. I don't know how it works but I'm told there is a application on linux called "nice" wich runs the renderer or whatever task in the backround and will pause when someone else is using the workstation. That way we can do network renders and still be friends:)

12-23-2003, 10:34 AM
If I am not mistaken nice only drops the priority of the process, and does not adjust to user usage. It might be easier to just use the Windows scheduler to schedule the render for a time when the lab is not in use... like in the evening or early morning. That way you get the full power of the machines without causing anyone too much grief. You might want to look into spider from stationx. I hear they have released it as a free tool.

01-09-2004, 09:40 AM
Karl -
not sure if you decided yet - but I've worked on Dell Laptops for a couple of years now.

Currently, I'm writing both of my new books on my Dell Inspiron 8500 - P4, 2.5Ghz, 1G Ram, 60G HD, 64MB GeForce. Bluetooth, Wireless 802.11b and g. 15.4" Wide 1600 screen.

It's awesome. Highly recommend it. The 8600 is s different chipset, but technically it's a step up.

Great systems and service.

Karl Hansson
01-09-2004, 10:12 AM
Thanks Dan. I've ordered it and its on the way. I'm so excited.

01-09-2004, 10:15 AM
They've really worked out the kinks with the 8600, as the 8500 was a new model. The keyboard was springy - which I had replaced. They did it without question within 24 hours.

Great forums on their site too.

01-10-2004, 12:59 AM
I am a mac user and am ready to move to laptop as a desktop replacement, but Apple IMO is lagging with technology/innovation (it is a company driven by shrewd <read cocky> marketing at the expense of its brilliant engineering dept.) necessary for a serious 3D work (subpar video card and Moto G4 processor). It does not offer at this time what I am looking for in terms of computing power (G5 not ready yet for Powerbooks). Therefore I have red with great interest your thread (especially Dan Ablan's recommendation). Today I have also found in 3d magazine a raving review of another "super laptop". Here's a link:


Does anyone have experience with rockdirect?

01-10-2004, 03:55 AM

It really depends on your criteria for purchasing a notebook.

There are quite a few companies like rockdirect who offer excellent value for money. I like the Alienware range.
I am sure LW will be a joy use on them if this is option.

However if money is no object and performance / LW is your number one priority, a quick look at the specs show that the Dell 8600 or M60 are better buys.

I like you was/am still a mac lover, but would not swap my Dell M50 for any current mac laptop. LW is a joy to use on it.

01-10-2004, 08:49 AM

Thanks a lot for fast reply. Yea, I like (love?) Panther, but their hardware policy leaves me frustrated (latest example is the minipod price fiasco at Macworld, a prime example of a corporate greed...). That's the price I guess one pays for Apple's monopoly (since S. J. killed licensing) as well as fanatical and over zealous user base ("PC communists") that gullibly accepts what Infinity Loop propaganda feeds them with. Hence no pressure on the headoffice and the senior management can do whatever they fancy but the rest of us "suffers"...

01-10-2004, 08:55 AM
Here's an email I just got from a computer expert friend of mine, that corroborates Sculptactive's opinion:

"I would recommend the Dell Precision Mobile Workstation M60_over the Sony Viao,_because_it's essentially a multi-media powerhouse in that_it is the only computer on the market that uses the Quadra 700 128meg video card. It is qualified by the major animation software companies for creating 3D Animation. You can also get a 7200rpm 60gig HD, DVD+R Burner, 1920 X 1200 Res screen, firewire, USB2, upto 2 Gigs of Ram, Built in WiFi and 15.4" widescreen. This computer is a true desktop replacement and ideal for video and multimedia production. Also,_Dell offers a resaonable complete care service plan that gives you_ on-site repair_it in case you drop the notebook.:)

The M60 is not cheap, but you get a lot for your money! I hope this helps in you in_you decision making process."

01-10-2004, 10:04 AM
If I could justify purchasing another notebook at the moment, it would be the M60, or i'd wait till march when Dell should have updated their stock.

01-10-2004, 10:55 AM
Sorry, folks, but I've had bad experiences with Dell products for my studio. The customer service is terrible (all calls for tech support are shipped oversees to India and Central America -- the last call I made had a tech support guy in Panama City who didn't have access to a computer to help me, and tried to work out the problem on paper!). Also, Dell re-writes all graphics drivers to work with "Dell-sanctioned" versions of the OS -- sometimes upgrading the drivers from the card manufacturers directly can have disasterous results (like loss of video capabilities, etc.).

I purchased a high-end Dell M60 last November, and had to send it back after multiple tech problems and support staff that I couldn't understand due to the language barrier. Also, the system would not run Maya (half of the program would not load due to limitations with the Dell-re-written graphics driver) -- as Maya is one of the programs (in addition to LightWave) that my stuio uses, the computer was useless.

Dell screwed up the return delivery, leaving my computer sitting in Airborne Express's shipping dock for almost 2 weeks, until I did personal follow-up to locate the missing shipment!

Basically, 2 cmputers from Dell I bought were substandard, and non-upgradeable. I would sincerely advise checking out HP/Compaq instead -- they are geared more to the professional. I'm sorry, but Dells are low-end consumer products -- won't touch them with a 10-foot pole at this point, due to so many problems I've had with them.....

01-10-2004, 09:28 PM
Originally posted by Karl Hansson
well thats a good argument. Does anyone knows if making long renders on laptops damages the laptop? The thing is that I'm a student and I live in a little student room and I don't have enough space for a big desktop.

I do a lecture circut around to the schools and universities
here in Japan and I always render and do setup in the motel
the night before so I'll be super fresh with the setup and always
have new material for each lecture. Basically I'm selling the
school on the prospects of teaching LW and also enticing
new students to join the school. Anyway I always do my
work on a laptop and so far every model but one I forget
just now which, has overheated on me. Just rendering
alone is not enough to overheat it tho. If you render AND
edit scenes or model with it at the same time however - :(

Usually the symptom is crazy function for about 30 sec. or 1 min
and then -- Black screen - nothing. Power down, wait 30min
and it's back to business.

Does this actually damage the laptop? Mmmm, maybe the
harddrive? I don't really know and haven't cared as they don't
belong to me. But yes, heat is a problem for long intense