A good College laptop (Gaming and 3d Modeling)

Jun 21, 2020
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I will be going to college in the fall, and i need a laptop.
Its main use will be for 3d Modeling with programs like auto desk inventor.

I have also heard stuff about base stations, not sure if im mistaken, but If there is a way i could just set my laptop down, connect a cable or two and essentialy turn it into a tower that would be great. Idk if thats actually a thing tho.

Another thing is that I would like to have a good amount of space, i dont want to carry around a external hard drive, I would love 1tb+ but i might beable to get away with 500gb+. (If possible, i could upgrade the internal hard drive/ssd myself)

I also would like to play games on it too. My main budget is around 1k, but can extend out if needed (+$500).

Thank you, i really dont know what laptop to pick...
 
Jun 21, 2020
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USA, ah, I dont think a external GPU would be cost effective/usefull for me. I guess as long as i can get 1 extra moniter I should be good, however i would prefer 2.
 
Jun 21, 2020
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My idea is to be able to use it throughout the day normally, but when i get to my dorm I can plug in 1-2 monitors, my keyboard, mouse, mic, a headset, and occasionally a USB drive. I dont think any laptop would have enough USB slots for all that tho. Could I possible use a USB splitter?
(I have an external mic because the headset mic broke, Headset is also USB)
 
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Jun 21, 2020
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Do you want a 17 inch or 15 inch screen. no matter which, for your uses something with an 8 core CPU, whether it's AMD or Intel, will be perfect (the more powerful the CPU, the better.

The ASUS TUF A15 is good, the Ryzen 7 4800h absolutely blows away any other CPU in the $1000-$1500 price point. https://www.bestbuy.com/site/asus-15-6-laptop-amd-ryzen-7-8gb-memory-nvidia-geforce-rtx-2060-512gb-ssd-fortress-gray/6408464.p?skuId=6408464

The new HP OMEN 15 with the r7 4800h is also great. I assume it has better thermals as HP aren't idiots like ASUS (the TUF A15 has a hell lot of blocked vents so you should definitely underclock it when not 3d modelling)
https://www.bestbuy.com/site/hp-omen-gaming-15-6-laptop-amd-ryzen-7-8gb-memory-nvidia-geforce-gtx-1660-ti-512gb-ssd-mica-silver/6407750.p?skuId=6407750

The ASUS G14 is also good but quite small. You will struggle to do extended workloads as it simply doesn't have enough air moving inside it to cool everything.
https://www.bestbuy.com/site/asus-rog-zephyrus-g14-14-gaming-laptop-amd-ryzen-9-16gb-memory-nvidia-geforce-rtx-2060-max-q-1tb-ssd-moonlight-white/6403816.p?skuId=6403816

You can get the dell g5 15 SE too if you want. it has an ish-ish GPU with (usually) problematic drivers, https://www.bestbuy.com/site/dell-g5-15-6-gaming-laptop-144hz-amd-ryzen-7-8gb-memory-amd-radeon-rx-5600m-512gb-solid-state-drive-grey/6409421.p?skuId=6409421

for ALL of these, you can significantly improve thermals by following the instructions in this video:-
View: https://youtu.be/6oS8kbG-oZU?t=253
 

Seaweed Monster

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Jun 7, 2014
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Hi @Mem Boi

@Mixer12000 has provided some good options there, so I won't comment about the laptop but more about the workstation set up you wish to achieve.

That 'base station' set up is definitely something you can do using a USB C hub. This allows you to simply plug in a single USB C cable into your laptop, to connect monitors, keyboard and mouse, smartphones, SD cards, USB devices and more, without plugging-in multiple cables into your laptop. I believe this is the solution you are trying to achieve.

Something like this (Link below) will give you the flexibility to add up to 3 displays, 2 via HDMI and 1 via VGA, along with a series of USB (2.0 and 3.1), SD/microSD card, USB C, ethernet port and so on - https://www.amazon.com/AUKEY-Adapter-Ethernet-Docking-Compatible/dp/B0841T9KC9/ref=pd_sbs_147_4/138-0242230-9907720?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B0841T9KC9&pd_rd_r=cd5ec092-53b4-4915-aa18-ba05af28f0ab&pd_rd_w=kKkEX&pd_rd_wg=GOLuA&pf_rd_p=d28ef93e-22cf-4527-b60a-90c984b5663d&pf_rd_r=MERGA4AHCVMV329E4TDW&psc=1&refRID=MERGA4AHCVMV329E4TDW

Just ensure the laptop you buy has a USB C port, so you can plug the hub into the laptop.

Hope that helps!
 
I will be going to college in the fall, and i need a laptop.
Its main use will be for 3d Modeling with programs like auto desk inventor.

I have also heard stuff about base stations, not sure if im mistaken, but If there is a way i could just set my laptop down, connect a cable or two and essentialy turn it into a tower that would be great. Idk if thats actually a thing tho.

Another thing is that I would like to have a good amount of space, i dont want to carry around a external hard drive, I would love 1tb+ but i might beable to get away with 500gb+. (If possible, i could upgrade the internal hard drive/ssd myself)

I also would like to play games on it too. My main budget is around 1k, but can extend out if needed (+$500).

Thank you, i really dont know what laptop to pick...
Would look at a desktop with a cheap laptop for notes if you really need it.
 
Jun 21, 2020
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Well right now I have a tower but it likes to blue-green every now and then (I think the motherboard has a faulty usb) and the parts in it are quite old. Thank you seaweed. That's what I was thinking about! Now all I need is to save up lol...
 

bridgeridoo

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Feb 27, 2013
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Yeah it's pretty easy to set up a "base station" with a monitor / keyboard / mouse / etc. One thing I haven't researched is multiple external monitors connected to a laptop.

I'm personally fine working primarily on my powerful desktop machine 75% of the time, and suffering an older slower laptop 25% of the time. I synchronize the 2 machines by storing my work files in Microsoft OneDrive, and with Firefox Sync. If I worked 50% or more of the time on a laptop I might opt for a powerful expensive laptop, with a base station.

Unfortunately I have no experience with Inventor, but I'm modelling with SketchUp on an old Asus K73 laptop from 2011 (upgraded to the absolute max) and it's definitely tolerable, although noticeably less smooth than my beastly desktop. But different programs, and furthermore different workflows, can have very different hardware requirements.

What's nice about the desktop is it's more bang for your buck, especially if you want to maximize performance with the overclocking allowed by a desktop's superior cooling, and it's more modular to upgrade in the future. For example, 2 years ago I upgraded my GPU with a $250 used GTX 1070. Now I'm selling that for $200 and upgrading to a $500 GTX 1080 ti. In a year or two I'll upgrade my motherboard and CPU, and if I'm lucky that motherboard will be compatible with the next CPU upgrade. I've had flawless luck so far with used parts off ebay (knock on wood).

CPU: Most tasks benefit from a fast CPU (high clock speed, ie. MHz or GHz). Multiple cores beyond 4 are currently under-utilized but I'm betting that it will become increasingly relevant. I personally would try and get a CPU with a high clock speed & with 6 or more cores. Check benchmarks (passmark, userbenchmark) for specific CPU models.

GPU: Whether a discrete GPU is important depends on the software you're using, even within the 3D realm -- research the particular software you expect to be using. If there is no discrete GPU, the laptop will be using the GPU chip integrated into the CPU, which is typically far inferior to discrete, but sufficient for some tasks. For my SketchUp usage, a discrete GPU is pretty important. Fairly recently (2019?), laptop GPUs stepped up their game and they can be somewhat comparable to their desktop equivalents. I'm familiar only with Nvidia, and so I would look for a laptop with a GTX 10 series or RTX 20 series GPU, or equivalent Quadro. The "max q" series are in this same upper class, with a slight compromise for the sake of power and heat. Quadro (pro) vs GeForce (gaming)? General consensus is that gaming cards, which are cheaper, are fine for most 3D tasks. I know it's fine for SketchUp and Revit.

RAM: This spec also varies in importance depending on software, but generally 8GB minimum, 16+ is nice. Often RAM is upgradeable after purchase, and sometimes it's cheaper to upgrade yourself.

As for specific laptop recommendations, I think it can vary a lot each generation, within brands. One consistent winner for me is the the Lenovo Thinkpad series -- I like the keyboards and the Trackpoint mouse, and for the durable, accessible build quality. But Thinkpads with GPU means Thinkpad with Quadro, which will be a bit more expensive. Maybe check out the Lenovo Legion gaming line -- I was recently tempted by their discounted 17" 5i model @ $1000. Another gaming-ish brand, more expensive than Legion: my friend is quite happy with his Maingear Element, which has a nice feeling mechanical/optical keyboard and a gaming GPU.

I am torn between 15" and 17", but definitely prefer modelling on my 17". Limits choice of computer backpacks.
 
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