need laptop for grad school-budget $2500


Dear Community,
I'm pretty heavy on the Rhino Make2d, and sometimes I panic when Adobe runs out of memory. My machine was top notch 4 years ago but I need something that can bust out an all-nighter drawing before 10pm now-partly because nobody stays young forever. And it's not that I'm taking my time, I find myself waiting for the death wheel to stop turning after every careful click. I know I probably need like 16g of memory and an SSD drive, but that's just because that's what I've been told at BestBuy. Budget is $2500-3000 for a laptop that can hopefully last another 3-4 years. Your recommendation will be much appreciated
Uber thank you,

Do you care about size/weight & portability? I mean .. that is one hell of a laptop budget...
Go crazy!, and customize to your hearts content. You can grab the top processor, 32gb a ram, a SSD and have the 4gb video card without going over 3000.
Even at their base model ($1719) I think you'd have an adequate system for your needs, that would last you 3-4 years. If you upgrade to the SSD, you'll want to look at the read/write speeds, and at least on this machine, stick to the Intel drives.
I'm jealous, I could never justify spending 2500-3000 on a laptop to myself. I think the 1800 range is already a lot.

You can definitely get something great for around or less than $2000, the one Joseph linked is a good option. I would have suggest Sager, but technically Sager and Clevo are the same thing, Clevo is manufacturer that sells to various PC makers, Sager included, Malibal is another company that makes laptops from Clevo shells and parts, so they're another option.

Thanks Joseph and jll3 for the advice. I mean if I can come under budget than that would be great too. That Clevo looks like a complete beast. I would love to have something under 5lbs and looks somewhat more demure, but that isn't really important to me.

I'd go MSI. I have the MSI gt70 and works great!

Build your own computer... you can build a much better machine for that kind of money than you can buy one from a manufacturer. I did it. Here is my configuration:
Motherboard- Asus Sabertooth 64 Bit (Windows 8 Ready)
CPU- Intel Core i7 3960X (3.3 Ghz per core)
Corsair Liquid Cooling
32 GB of RAM
(3) Hardrives- Western Digital; 1 OS Drive (120 GB) + 2 Storage Drives @ 500GB ea. Having an OS drive means that if your computer crashes, you don't lose your information. You can copy your .exe files onto your storage drives, reformat the OS drive, reinstall windows, and then reinstall the programs.
Kaspersky AntiVirus- by far the best antivirus out there... don't get McAffee, Norton, or AVG... they suck.
Windows 7 Ultimate
NVIDIA GeFORCE GTX - 2 GB Virtual Memory and SLI Compatible
These are the basic components.

MacBookPro 15"

Xenakis, I have a mac and loved it, but it's a nightmare to work on (for me)
Joseph, was wondering what you thought of this configuration for the clevo p150em at $2900 on should I also get a 2-3 year warranty, and window ultimate or pro? anything i should add or remove? Thank you so much,
- 15.6" FHD 16:9 "Matte Type" Super Clear Ultra Bright LED Anti-Glare Sager Screen w/ 95% NTSC Color Gamut (1920x1080) (SKU - S1R303)
- Standard Dead Pixel Policy
- XOTIC PC Professional Monitor Color Calibration (Operating System is required) (XPC Service - requires shipment to XOTIC PC: will add to build time)
- Sager - 3rd Generation Intel® Ivy Bridge Core™ i7-3840QM (2.8GHz - 3.8GHz, 8MB Intel® Smart Cache, 45W Max TDP) (SKU - S2R203)
- IC Diamond Thermal Compound - CPU + GPU (Cools better than all Compounds)
- nVidia GeForce GTX 680M 4,096MB PCI-Express GDDR5 DX11 with Optimus™ Technology [User Upgradeable] (SKU - S3R406)
- No Copper Cooling Upgrade
- No Video Adapter
- No External Mobile Display
- 32GB - DDR3 1600MHz Dual Channel Memory (4 SODIMMS) (Windows 7 Pro OS Required) (SKU - S4T844P)
- Remove All Branding
- Standard Laptop Finish
- 240GB Intel 525 Series mSATA SSD - Preconfigured as an OS Drive ( Operating System – Drive C: )
- 750GB 7200RPM [Serial-ATA II 300 - 16MB Cache] - Default (SKU - S5T306)
- 750GB 7200RPM [Serial-ATA II 300 - 16MB Cache] in Optical Bay (SKU - S7R412)
- No Extra Optical Bay Hard Drive Caddy
- No Back Up Hard Drive
- External USB 2.0 Slim DVD±R/RW Drive
- Internal 9-in-1 Card Reader (MMC/RSMMC/SD/Mini SD/SDHC/SDXC/MS/MS Pro/MS Duo)
- No Back Up Software
- Bluetooth Included *With select wireless cards only* (See “Wireless Network” Section Below)
- Sager - Bigfoot Networks Killer™ Wireless-N 1103 (3x3) (SKU - S8S056)
- No Network Accessory
- Built in 2.0 Megapixel Camera
- No TV Tuner
- Sound Blaster Compatible 3D Audio - Included
- No Carrying Case
- Smart Li-ion Battery (8-Cell)
- No Car Adapter
- No Spare AC Adapter
- No Dock/Hub/Adapter
- Integrated Fingerprint Reader
- No Headset
- No External Keyboard
- Standard Sager/Clevo Non Chiclet Backlit Keyboard
- No External Mouse
- No Notebook Cooler
- No Thanks, Please do not Overclock my system (Overclocking will add 3-6 business days to build time)
- Yes, Redline Boost My Operating System (Operating System Required) (XPC Service - requires shipment to XOTIC PC: will add to build time)
- ~Windows 7 Ultimate Premium 64-Bit (64&32-Bit CD Included) + MS Office Starter 2010
- None
- No Antivirus Essentials Software Bundle
- - No Microsoft OFFICE Software
- No Software Bundle
- LIFETIME Ltd Labor* 1 Year Parts Warranty Lifetime 24/7 DOMESTIC Toll Free Telephone Support (Labor through XPC)
Includes FREE Shipping Both Ways for Parts Warranty Repairs (SKU - X9R009)
- No thanks, standard double boxed packaging is okay with my order
- No Outside of US Shipping Coverage
- Rush Build (Ships in 1-4 Business Days After Order Is Successfully Processed) (Subject to Parts Availability) [List Unique Delivery Requirements in Comments Box] (XPC Service)
- No Xotic PC Gear

It looks like a solid build to me.
I'm curious about the "Redline Boost" on the OS. As far as I'm concerned, as long as the OS can make use of the 32gb of RAM, you're fine, so the Pro should be sufficient (others like the added benefits of ultimate, I'd check the chart to see if you'd use any of them).
As for the warranty, I've heard great things about the build quality coming out of xoticpc (haven't used them myself, but I know people who have, and I trust their reputation). I might consider overclocking and taking the extended warranty. I see the rush shipping though, so maybe the time table is a concern for you.
Is there a reason you chose not to overclock? I'd take overclocking over their OS boost, myself.

The Clevo sounds interesting, but I wouldn't go for that brand unless you know someone that has one it and it's happy about it (although the components might be the same than other laptops, the assembly, cooling, extended warranty and that kind of stuff might not be as good as with larger o more known companies). The MSI G70 I have has similar if not better specs:
256gb SSD RAID 0 hard drive (it doesn't get any faster)
750gb 7200 rpm secondary HDD
16GB RAM (not sure if you'll ever use 32gb)
Intel I7-3610QM 2.3ghz processor
The rest of the stuff kind of similar. Anyway, for the kind of money you are willing to invest everything will run smooth, so I think the difference will be the quality of the laptop itself. I'd go to notebook review to check the specific models you are interested in. The usually have official threads for most of laptop brands and models, so you'll be able to learn from the users themselves.

MSI and Clevo are both top quality. I've heard that the clevo "feels more solid, has less plastic parts, etc." while the MSI has "nicer speakers, a better keyboard, etc." I'm guessing if you run a search on clevo vs. msi, you'll come up with personal preferences.
that said, jpugarte1 is absolutely right, spend an hour or so on notebook review. Even if it is just minute things like speakers and keyboards, it's an important decision for something you'll be using for the next 3-4 years. (are you overclocked, jpugarte1? I've only heard about effects on gaming, never CAD applications, I'm curious of the effects, maybe I'll research that later)
It's a shame best buy doesn't get into this level of laptop, so you can go play with them in their store.

You are right Joseph. I just made that comment because I don't know anything about Clevo in terms of quality.
About performance in design applications, there are three things worth mentioning (everything will be in comparison to my old laptop, an ASUS G73 jwa1):
a) Regular use of Autocad, Rhino, 3dsMax, etc. will feel practically the same than with a 2 year old computer. This, because GTX GPUs are not optimized for viewport performance (which is one of the main differences with TESLA or QUADRO GPUs). And I said "feel" because it's mainly a perception issue. All the things that require real processing are really fast. However, when it comes to using QUDA Cores (e.g: rendering with certain rendering engines - such as 3dsMax iRay, when rendering with those engines in realtime, using Adobe Premiere, etc.) the bust in performance, thanks to NVIDIA Cuda technology is mind blowing.
b) The overall speed when it comes to reading from the hard drive is increidible. This is specially noticeable when I'm booting windows, starting applications and dealing with large files (and thus really relevant with photoshop).
There were just two points :D
PD: Not overclocked yet, but I'm considering overclocking the GPU (there's an integrated NVIDIA tool for that) to get a boost in rendering times.

The big question is why you need a laptop. For this price you can get a solid core i7 desktop with two video cards and 64 gb RAM, and with two monitors, maybe 4.

great point doctor, the thing holding me back from getting the Clevo right now is the body, it's huge and ugly, so a $1500 ultra portable (to bring to studio) and a $1500 desktop (at home) with the same spec as the clevo would probably be a better option

That's a totally viable option as well. I rather like the raw utilitarian look of the high end laptops, but I can see how that could be a turn off to others.
If you go that route, just be sure that you can access your desktop remotely. Far too many times have I seen someone forget to transfer all their work from the weekend from one machine to another, only to realize it the minute the professor walks in. Other concerns might be rendering materials being accessed. Both simple mistakes, and easy to avoid, but given a couple all-nighters, just as easy to forget about. On the plus side, if you're laptop gets stolen, you've only lost half your investment. Maybe a huge and ugly laptop could deter theft, hmm... anyways... as long as it fits your work flow, and you can make it work, go for it.
I think the point everyone's made, is that with that budget, there are a lot of options, and their nearly all good ones.

Get a good 2000$ desktop to keep home, and buy a cheap laptop for school. You can always do things like logmein to access the desktop that is home, and run operations like make2d on it, and render on it as well. Remote access can work wonders. I use a core2duo lenovo at work and on the road, while the beefy desktop stays at home and keeps working!
As for the data being co-ordinated, just get a program like sugarsync (or even dropbox) to continually save everything on the cloud. But with logmein that is a moot point. you can always log in and email files to yourself...

Just to update I want to thank you everyone for giving me advice specially Joseph. In the end what I needed was really one powerful work laptop, so I bought the clevo/sager n150em. Came out to be $3400 with the top processor, 240ssd for os drive and another 750gb hd for storage, 32g for memory, and a boat load of other things the website made me think I needed but probably don't. I thought about the laptop and pc option but if this was suppose to make me work faster and more productive than that would be defeating the point. THanks everyone, and I probably would have never found this clevo/sager brand if you hadn't pointed it out.

Holy shit! I got my laptop for about $900 and ran 3d studio, formz, photoshop, and autocad while in grad school and very much finished all my projects on time.
What the fuck happened!

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