View Full Version : laptop

04-06-2004, 09:00 PM
i am thinking about buying a laptop so i can take LW around with me. I know Laptops are much slower than desktops, and the screens are smaller. I remember about a year ago a company releaseing a laptop with LW on it or something like that. i think it was a sony vaio or something like that??? does anyone know and have a recomenation for laptops?? the only experaince i had with a vaio was negitive because of the amount of crap programs that had to be installed inorder for windows to run correctly... the computer was reformated and all this crap was installed too. thank god it wasn't my computer. i build my desktop comp and don't like anything on it that i don't install on it. i use xp pro at home. so if anyone can help i would really appreciate it
thank in advance

04-06-2004, 09:20 PM
I have a Dell Inspiron 8200 laptop. It's not the fastest laptop (wasn't the most expensive either), but it's great for LW for the main reason that it supports 1600 by 1200 resolution. Yeah, it could have been faster, but a 2x (if even that much) render boost wouldn't make up for the screen I have in this baby.

It keeps me modest, anyway. I do a lot of complex modelling. But modelling productivity really drops when everything gets real slow due to the amount of stuff going on. So I've become more attuned towards making efficient models. I've had to work in a more structured environment. I'm surprised as to how well it has paid off even when I hop onto my honkin dual desktop machine.

In any case, not telling ya to buy an underpowered laptop, but rather to consider more than just processor speed. I spent $2,000 on this laptop and another $1,000 building a dual machine. I get about 3x the rendering done than I would have with buying a $3,000 laptop. I even had an accidental breakage warranty for a year. neat, eh?

04-06-2004, 09:48 PM
check out www.powernotebooks.com

-you can get it without the operating system

-when you order a laptop from them, it doesnt come with 456654654 programs installed. instead they are on CD and you can install them only if you want them (includes Open Office!)

-you can get it preinstalled with mandrake linux if you'd like

(i hope to order the 8790 shortly http://www.powernotebooks.com/specs/Sager/8790specs.php)

the only downside to their laptops is that they don't have any 64-bit athlons... only intel chips (dont worry, no Itaniums)

04-06-2004, 10:12 PM
Hello Koots.

It's all a matter of choice. When I'm looking at buying anything technical these days I read as many reviews as possible before even focusing on a particular machine. Try laptop magazines and PC magazines with laptop reviews. Don't know if you're a MAC fan, but Apple Laptops are usually covered in the same reviews. If it's a PC laptop you're after then look for reviews on -

Processor types.
P4 and AMD have fast clock speeds, but don't let that put you off a Centrino, A Centrino will leave a P4 or AMD desktop processor for dust (GHZ for GHZ). A centrino also operates with less power, meaning your battery life will be substantially increased.

Graphics Card.
Be wary, A lot of laptops have cards utilising system memmory, (especially centrino models), ALLWAYS, check system comparisons and relative app speeds before putting one of these on your final list.

The latest P4 3+GHZ with Radion 9500PRo GFX card and a 17" Widescreen TFT, might sound like the best machine you can buy, But you'll soon regret it on a long haul. Some of these machines are so heavy, once you get them in their case, there's some international airlines that won't let you take them on as carry luggage - BE AFRAID. (There's a 5Kgs Max in Europe - some airlines are more pedantic than others)

Screen and Size.
Purely personal. Widescreens look good and are excellent for presentations (Fantastic with LW too). But some people still prefer the more regular 4:3 aspect ratio. Watch out for a very high res screen, A 1900+ pixels across resolution might sound like a good idea, but on a 15/15.5" inch screen, you just might end up spending a fortune on migraleave.

Usual and Misc.
Hardrive (usually upgradable but go for the biggest within your budget). Memmory. CD/DVD Writer - take care on which version (+R -R etc), Floppy (Do you need a floppy? - Not really standard anymore). Physical connections - How many and of which type - Parrallel, USB or USB2, Firewire, Media card slot/slots (which types). PCMCIA.

WiFi and Bluetooth.
Don't know the situation around the globe, but this form of data transfer is certainly growing in Britain. Watch out for the different formats (a,b,g). Do you need it?, An unsecured WiFi laptop can be hacked in a very short amount of time, So if you want this, look into it, or kiss your private files goodbye. (ps - some laptops have an on/off button for this feature)

Well, that's about it, when you have a short list, Check for personal/professional reviews of the products (AND) the manufacturers on the Internet before going any further.
A friend of mine bought a laptop over Christmas last year, It was from a small/medium sized computer vendor, they went bankrupt within a month, a couple of weeks later the laptop died. Be wary.

ps - My Baby :cool:

HP Compaq NX 7000 706a
1.6 GHZ Centrino
Radeon 9200 GFX
60GB Drive
500 MB Memmory
15.5" Widescreen 1680*1050 display
JBL Pro speaker system
XP Pro
Weight - a little over 3Kgs

The final selling point for this machine for me was the battery life, 4-5hrs Approx, (and that's in my own tests :D )

Good Luck and happy hunting. :)

Karl Hansson
04-07-2004, 11:04 AM
Hello I bought a Dell inspiron 8600 this januari. I have never used 3d on laptops before. But I was very happily surprised to find that it ran Lightwave and other 3d apps really good. Not at all as slow as you might think. Im very happy with my dell inspiron 8600.

The screen is a 15.4 widescreen ultra sharp (1900x1200dpi). I know the resolution is insane but still it runns lightwave with very good speed. Graphic card is a ati 9600mobile 128mb. 1024mb ram. DVD+RW.

The problem is maybe that the default resolution is so high that things become very small on screen. But you can easily change display resolution.

Again im very happy with it.

Karl Hansson
04-07-2004, 11:05 AM
oh and the processor is a pentium m 1.7

04-07-2004, 11:25 AM
Hi Koots, I use a laptop all the time (Sony PCG-GRT716S) which is a P4 2.8 / 512MB. It's a great laptop - 16.1" screen is very nice and goes to a resolution of 1400x1050 which is fine for lightwave (for me at least).

Before I bought this one I had two laptops which I sent back.

#1 was also a P4 2.8 but I just couldn't work with the fan noise which is something you must consider when buying. The fan was constantly on and quite noisy. When you ran a graphics app it got louder still. Just when I thought I'd heard the loudest it went up another step and I thought it wouldn't be long before it took off! Sent it back - other people had complained too.

#2 was a Centrino which was brilliant coz of the 5+ hours battery life. It was also VERY quiet. Sent it back though because when you hit some of the keys in the corners of the key, the computer wouldn't register it - took it back and it happened with their demo machine too and another which they got out of the box.

#3 I ordered another computer but was in Tax Free Shopping in Dover UK on the way to France for the evening and saw the Sony. It was all I needed and a great price (tax free) but also very quiet too.

With all laptops the fan noise will increase when doing any intensive graphics stuff coz the thing will get very warm if the fan doesn't kick in. So when I launch Lightwave the fan noise is OK but increases if I switch on FPrime or start rendering for example. Unlike a desktop the fan is not far away in a box under the desk. It's much nearer your ears!

Also, there are lots of cheaper laptops I could have bought but most may have a larger screen but their maximum resolution is only 1024x768 or 1280x??? which wasn't enough for me.

Hope this helps

04-07-2004, 11:44 AM
this is the one Im thinking about getting..

"desktop" processor..
Good graphics card (and I think its one time upgradable when the new graphics chipset comes out)

I would use it as a desktop replacement.. so im not worried about battery life


04-07-2004, 12:01 PM
Oh, and a note on the Centrino: don't buy the hype from Intel. It's good for Office and for battery life. But a P4 will get you far better performance for 3D/LightWave.

I use a Dell Precision m50 (mobile workstation) laptop. Great screen (1600x1200), P4, GIG of RAM. The fan isn't bothersome, in fact I rarely notice it. Oh and the Quadro4 700 GoGL card in it keeps LW moving smooth as silk.

04-07-2004, 01:21 PM
does the hard drive speed change anything?? i know the higher the number the faster the hard drive is... right?? should i spend the extra $$ and go with a faster HD. as of right now i am thinking about getting a laptop from www.powernotebooks.com i hate when windows is pre-installed.... there is always crap on the computer that i don't want. i am sure some of you have had this problem?? maybe i am just weird.. anyway, thank you everyone who has helped out.. any other info you can think of please let me know

04-07-2004, 01:26 PM
A faster hard drive is going to be more "responsive"..

04-07-2004, 01:37 PM
Like Meaty I use a Sager
Though mine came from http://pctorque.com

Adam, over there, is a top notch guy to buy from. It runs LW like a dream, I would recommend getting a faster HD. That is really the bottleneck on laptops IMHO.

These systems are ment as replacement workstations. As a sacrifice for power, lower battery life and higher heat output are the trade offs.

Good luck!


04-07-2004, 01:42 PM

When I ordered mine from Dell, they pre-installed WinXP Pro -- however, they did not even boot the thing up afterward. When I booted it up, I got the "Finished installing XP" screen... which is really nice, because it means they never went in and preinstalled any horrible software. It was a clean XP Pro install. Saved me a lot of time.

04-07-2004, 02:20 PM
I too have a Dell Inspiron 8200, refurbished by ex dell employees at Mr. Notebook right here in San Antonio de Bexar.. 2 Ghz P4m, and a gig and a half of ram. I love the 1600x1200 screen, and they even thru in a wireless mobile card. around $1400 total w/ 512 ram. The 8200 motherboard can actually take 2 one gig memory chips. Same as the M50....Great with Avid DV also. XP Pro.

04-07-2004, 02:25 PM
I too can vouch for the Dell Inspiron 8200, I have a 2.2 P4 one myself which has been rock solid for the last year and a half.



04-07-2004, 02:35 PM
I'd rather have faster than bigger, but I work in After Effects a lot.

04-07-2004, 10:47 PM

These are nice. I just got the M6805 and now the M6809 is out. Frankly, I'm a little freaked out by the speed of this system as it faster than my Dual CPU workstation.

AMD 64 3200+ cpu, ati 9600 graphics card 15.4" widescreen.
DVD+/-RW drive, 80GB HD, 512 MB PC2700 ram, usb2, wifi, firewire, 6 in 1 card reader, pcmcia slot, svhs out

for ~$1550 after $100 rebate.

David Mitchell

04-09-2004, 04:50 AM
My advice is to get a laptop with a good video card (minimum ATI radeon mobility 7500) and screen (mine is UXGA 1600x1200).

My laptop is a Dell Inspiron 8100 1GHz with the Radeon Mobility 7500 with 64MB. The laptop only has 256MB memory, but this seems OK. Get at least 512MB though for future proofing.

One of the things you'll find with laptops is finding video drivers which are recent. Dell only provides drivers for generally new models so if your laptop is older you're out of luck and have to live with any driver bugs.


There is a great site with the latest drivers which have been modified to work on laptops and other machines. They are called OmegaDrivers. These drivers probably saved me from using ancient drivers written in 2001.

Check it out:

04-09-2004, 06:07 AM
I would caution about a Dell or Vaio. Both are cheaply made, and Dell especially is a real risky buy. I purchased a Dell Precision M60 laptop (top of the line) and had to return it for a refund. Would not run all my 3D programs properly (and cost me over $3,000!). Also, ALL of Dell's customer support goes overseas to India, and in some cases, even South America (the language barrier led to many tech support problems in my studio with our M60 purchase before we returned it, and they even screwed up the shipping labels because the person couldn't speak English well, leaving the computer on a loading dock unlabeled for 3 weeks, until I personally investigated it's whereabouts and corrected the problem. Had to initiate a company credit card dispute in order to get my studio's $$ back. Terrible!). Very poor service, and cheap, low-end parts inside the case. I run a professional studio, and the two times we bought high-end Dells, we were very disappointed, and have since returned or re-sold them them and have initiated a strict, "No Dell" policy. (Also, my studio is strongly against the exporting of American jobs overseas -- Dell is one of the largest offenders, and hence, sacrifices quality customer service and qualified American workers to prop up their profit margins. Shameful!)

Sony Vaio's are consumer, low-end notebooks with cheap graphic cards that will run LightWave, but not Maya, XSI, or any other high-end stuff (they go with GE Force cards, which, IMHO, are crap).

For a top-of-the-line workstation in a notebook, your best bet is an HP NW8000. This is a complete high-end graphics workstation, with ATI T2 128 MB graphics card, up to 2 GB of RAM, and Pentium M processor (all this in a notebook!). Designed and tested for animators and top graphics professionals. I use one for my studio (have to work a lot onsite for a client in the aerospace industry), and have never had a single crash since I got it 3 months ago. I run LightWave, Maya, RealFlow, After Effects, video editing suites, DVD burning, etc. Costs around $3,300 - $4,500, but, you get the most powerful notebook on the market that's stable, reliable, upgradeable (important!), and has customer service and tech support here in the states (if you don't live in the U.S., this won't matter to you.....).

04-09-2004, 06:38 AM
"This is a complete high-end graphics workstation, with ATI T2 128 MB graphics card" - jevinstudios.

That's a nice card. :cool:

I waited about three months to see if HP Compaq were going to change the card in the NX7000, I then had word from them they had to stop production because of a 'parts' distribution problem. Looked around and managed to get a 706a for the price of a 706t. Saved about £600. :D

As for customer service, you're right, HP Compaq are second to none.

04-09-2004, 06:44 AM
T-Light --

You're not kiddin'. This is the best computer I've ever used, and is smooth as butter. A great investment!

Karl Hansson
04-09-2004, 08:09 AM
Personally im very happy with my Dell Inspiron 8600. With ATI radieon 9600 mobile 128. I dont have many other laptops to compare with. But it runns LW and Maya very well and without any problem. The shipping here in sweden was very quick - about a week and a half from online order to i had the laptop in my hands. Also I think the quaity of the computer is ok.

Oh there was one problem with maya i guess but not serious: My screen a ultra sharp (1920x1200) so the display resolution was set to 120 DPI in order to make the things on screen abit bigger. Maya however dont like higher DPIs than 96DPI (normal), because if it is bigger than 96DPI some menues and some other features in maya wont show (silly maya). So what i did was to set the display res to 96DPI and it worked.

04-09-2004, 09:46 AM
I'm on my 4th Dell Laptop. Currently I use a 8500, 64MB GeForce - 1600 res. It's great. I've written two books on it, do training on it, even some projects.

Doing it again, I wouldn't get the 1600 display - it's just too tiny for me now. Also, 1280 res will perform better too, using less video mem.

In either case, I've had great experiences with the Dell Laptops for LightWave.

04-09-2004, 10:36 AM
I just configured a dell laptop that looks good so far.


2.8Ghz P4 w/ HT
512MB Ram 400Mhz
64MB Radeon 9700
24x cdr/dvd
dell wireless mini pci
WinXP Pro
Display is a WSXGA+ which is 1680x1050.

This is exactly $1500. (they are having a 10% off sale so I think this is a good deal. originally lik $1660)

The only thing is this is like a 9lb unit and most of the dell, compaq and hp laptops all seem to be hovering in the 7.5-9lb range.

I got a viao from work that is ancient (PII 400Mhz 128MB ram 4MB 2D vid card) that i can tweak models on and test rigs but not much else but its like 3.5lbs. Are any of those thin laptops good for lightwave or are they going to underperform for the same amount of money?

04-09-2004, 11:38 AM
Funny -- I visited my tech guyz at their shop this morning and mentioned this thread. They showed me a whole wall of Dell's waiting for repair service. They said 70% of their business is done replacing failed parts on Dell systems -- way more than any other brand on the market.

My main client (aerospace) has also set in place a "No Dell" policy because of problems in the past with hadware failure (and two other colleagues recently swapped out their Dell's for better systems). Personally -- gotta stand by my comments wholeheartedly. If you like your Dell -- great. Wouldn't touch 'em with a 10 foot pole myself for my studio, however.....

04-09-2004, 11:57 AM
"Are any of those thin laptops good for lightwave or are they going to underperform for the same amount of money?" - claymation.

Most of the ultra thin laptops are centrino's, the processors are good but they tend to fall down on the graphics chipsets. The ultralights are designed mainly for business travel (so MS office etc is the name of the day). I had my eye on one until I saw a review with benchmarks. It compared a Sony viao 1.7GHZ against the HP Compaq nx7000(1.6GHZ).

The Sony was about 5-6 times slower in GFX apps!

[edit - 3D GFX benchmark tests]

04-09-2004, 12:28 PM
Is the IBM T41 suitable for 3D ? It uses a Radeon 9000 Mobility. Would you buy this or spend the money on another Laptop ? Is it a good idea to wait a bit longer, for more AMD 64 Laptops to come out ?

IBM T41 Details (http://www-132.ibm.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CategoryDisplay?catalogId=-840&storeId=1&langId=-1&dualCurrId=73&categoryId=2072541)


04-09-2004, 02:28 PM
GHopper --

The Processor looks good, as does the OS, but the card does concern me a bit, being only a 32 MB card. For the price of this machine, you can get a 128 MB card elsewhere (ATI T2, for example). I checked to see if you could select from additional cards on this model via customization, and didn't see an option.

If you can get 1 GB of RAM + a 128 MB Card on this puppy, looks promising. I'd say give 'em a call and see if they can offer more options over the phone. Also, never hurts to ask for free shipping (2nd day air) too. I did that on my HP/Compaq, and they threw it in at no extra cost. Hey, you're spending thousands after all -- get as many freebies or discounts as you can, but don't skimp on the specs of the machine itself (you'll regret it in the end if you do)!


04-09-2004, 08:10 PM
Thanks Kevin. I've noticed it as well, that you can't select a different graphics card. There is a T41 with a ATI FireGL 2 128 Mb or something, but it bumps up the price quite a bit, more than $500 if I'm not mistaken. Need to find out whether you can replace the gfx card later.

I just really dig the IBM case, no fancy stuff ;) and I think the build quality is very high as well, according to some reviews.

I was gonna get it from ebay though, there are a few T41s with 3 year warranty.

04-10-2004, 09:11 PM
What do you think of these 2 notebooks, they are cheaper than the IBM T41 and somehow have more features:

Acer Aspire 2003 (http://www.acer.com/APP/AKC/INTERNET/AACPubli.nsf/allDocs/RWPDB351DC1A59FD36588256DB000675B73?OpenDocument) ( ~ $1800 )

Intel® Pentium® M processor 1.6Ghz
Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional
15.4" WXGA (1280 x 800) TFT display
ATI® MOBILITY RADEON 9200 graphics ( 64Mb)
60GB1 hard drive


Acer Aspire 1712SMi (http://www.acer.com/APP/AKC/INTERNET/AACPubli.nsf/AllDocs/B222B6B5F539666588256E370003E404?OpenDocument) ( ~ $1800 )

Intel® Pentium® 4 processor
Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional
17" SXGA (1280X1024) TFT display
NVIDIA® GeForceTM FX Go5700
120GB hard drive
DVD-Dual drive (DVD+ /- RW)

The bad thing about the AS1712 though is the battery time, only around an hour and it weights more than 7Kg I think.

04-11-2004, 12:18 AM
I'm working with a Dell Inspiron 9100
P4 3.2Ghz
1G Ram
80G hard drive
Wireless a/b/g
CD/DVD burner
15.4 Widescreen
128MB ATI video graphics
solid case - heavy, but solid.

damn fine machine.

04-11-2004, 02:40 AM
A gig of RAM on a laptop? Heavy $$. How much did you pay for it Dan?

04-11-2004, 07:43 AM
Mmmm... about $3k.

I do everything on it now. All books, magazine, web sites, and training. Also, email and digital photography.

At work, the main system is a dual Xeon with a VT3 and we have a couple of Macs and some other PC's. But, I'm in and out of the office so much, I really rely on the laptop. It's truly amazing how far these portable systems have come. The built in wireless is great, and sometimes I go down to Starbucks and hook up to the t-mobile hotspot. Airports are wi-fi, McDonalds, and Borders books, among others.

I highly recommend it. I did however get the 1280 x 800 display. In the past I've had 1400 and 1600, and even the 1900. Honestly, it hurst my eyes at that high res. The bonus of teh 1280 along with a 128MB video card is that the opengl is just dynamite.

04-12-2004, 02:00 PM
I got a fully loaded Alienware Area 51m Extreme back in November and have been very, very happy with it. Plus it's the only laptop (that I know of currently) in which you can upgrade the video card. And you have your choice of ATI or Nvidia 128MB.

The specs have changed a bit since I got mine, you can find more current ones here:


It's a smoking fast machine and I've pretty much left my desktop system to being a file server and render box. Now that laptops are this powerful I don't think I'll ever use a desktop as my main machine again.


p.s. if you buy one, have a parallel port hardware lock, make sure to activate the parallel port in the BIOS.

04-12-2004, 02:28 PM
I think the latest Dell Inspiron ( XPS or something ) also lets you upgrade the GFX card.

Can't you get the Alienware Laptop with a completely different case, something like the IBM case or similar ?

04-12-2004, 03:03 PM
Im actually going to order a Dell Inspiron XPS tonight..

Will probally get the 512 meg version, then buy some crucial memory at half the price that Dell wants..

not to mention 10% if you order online..

04-12-2004, 03:31 PM
XPS lets you upgrade the video card. Pretty cool.
The resolution is too high for me, so I went with the 9100.

Be careful upgrading RAM. I've found that many motherboards like the same ram at the same time. Upgrading memory often leads to random bsod's.

04-12-2004, 04:35 PM
Woo Hoo!
I just ordered it, found an online 15% off code online that I used.. and free shipping!