View Full Version : Z-brush memory question.

09 September 2004, 10:27 PM
Which would be able to handle more polys in realtime : A Toshiba m200 Tablet PC with A 1.6 ( M 725 ) Centrino with 2 GB of PC2700 RAM, or the same computer configured wit a 1.8 ( M755 ) Centrino , but with only 1 GB of RAM ?

( I know Z-Brush relies a lot on memory. )

I dont care so much for overall speed, as much as being able to have high poly counts editable in realtime.

( BTW : I can't afford the 1.8 with 2 GB )

Thanks in advance.

Rabid pitbull
09 September 2004, 10:54 PM
well that is a tricky question, but more ram definitly makes a difference. Of course I can't say much for those cpu, don't know how they will do. I would definitly double check at zbrush central even call them directly. I am not to sure if zbrush will have full support of the tablet part of that setup..... I think I read somwhere that it has no pressure support for tablet pcs!!:eek: Double check before you buy!

09 September 2004, 10:37 AM
The 2GB ram will let you handle more polygons. The 0.2 GHz processor speed difference is marginal. I would definetely go for the 2GB ram as once zbrush runs out of ram you are at the mercy of the harddisk, and on laptops/tablets they tend to be slower than their desktop counterparts.

I recently bought the Toshiba M200 (1.6 GHz) and the speed is admirable when zbrushing. Although not an entirely accurate benchmark, the Multithreading test in the zbrush preferences palette gives a timescore of 10.41 seconds for single threading, not bad at all (note: The tablet was running with highest battery settings/drain).

If you are going for a full desktop replacement you might want to check the harddisk speed of the two Toshiba models. Even with 2GB ram you will eventually need to rely on the harddisks speed, that is if you are going to be doing 5-6+ million polygon models. AFAIK the M200 1.6 GHz has a 5400rpm harddisk if the 1.8Ghz version has a spedier disk you should consider that and then upgrade to 2GB ram some other time. Of course you could also replace the harddisk in the M200 1.6Ghz. Check the ( forums for more info on ram and harddisk replacement.

To get pressure sensetivity with Zbrush/Photoshop/etc you need to download a special tablet PC driver from the Wacom site. Here ( is the one I got for the M200. It will not impact other Pen Enabled programs but allows non tablet PC compliant programs to take advantage of the pressure sensetivity.

My tablet PC is mostly intended for work(Non CG related) but the zbrush doodling I have done while in tablet mode has been enjoyable. And lying on the couch watching TV while sketching and surfing is like being on holliday... well a geeks holliday:D

Edit: I just revisited the Multithreading Benchmark thread ( over at ZBC and the above timescore is very respectable, even better than my P4 2.8Ghz. Strange. I also compared rendering the same Zbrush document on both machines and the P4 2.8Ghz took 2min7secs to render while the centrino 1.6Ghz took 2min19secs to render. It apparently is not that far off. Slightly off topic but more info is good no?

09 September 2004, 02:14 PM
Thanks to both of you for the information.

This is just what I needed.

One further question : The Wacom driver is free isn't it ? How does Wacom profit from it ?
Do you have to buy any $special$ Wacom pens to make it work ?


09 September 2004, 02:43 PM
Wacom produce/have patented the hardware in the screen and pen. The driver is free. Of course it should only be used for tablet PCs with Wacom hardware in it.

The Toshiba M200/205 use the Wacom hardware, as does most, if not all, newer tablet PCs. Although, if you go for another tablet PC manufacturer be sure to check the hardware specifications. It should tell you wether or not the pen interface is by Wacom.

If you want to hear about my experiences with the M200 and Zbrush, and/or my general impression let me know.

09 September 2004, 03:07 PM
As said above, invest everything into ram, I've worked with 256 , 512 , 1 gig and 2 gig and the performance changes drastically.

09 September 2004, 07:08 PM
If you want to hear about my experiences with the M200 and Zbrush, and/or my general impression let me know.[/QUOTE]

Yes, please !


09 September 2004, 01:46 PM
First of all, if you have not already, visit the ( forums. There is a forum for each of the Tablet PC manufacturers and many questions are answered there. There is also a fair amount of user reviews/impressions of the Toshiba M200 and other Tablet PCs.

I'll try and break down my experience.

Size and weight :
This is of course highly subjective. Weighing roughly 2 Kg it is not the lightest nor the heaviest Tablet PC out there. It is light and small enough to carry around in a backpack/case and it is perfectly possible to stand prolonged periods of time with the notebook in tablet mode (Left arm holding the tablet, elbow in towards body and hand at corner of tablet). Anytime I can find a place to rest my elbow I can hold the tablet without fattigue.

The screen at 12.1" is the largest you should go for with a tablet PC, IMO. You tend to be closer to the screen so the physical size does not make such an impact and the 1400x1050 screen automatically draws you closer.

The dimensions of the M200 are also the largest I would go for, the HP TC1100 probably has the best size and weight, but only a 1024x768 screen.

Screen Quality :
The recommended viewing distance is at least 40 cm, as far as I remember. And that is not without reason. Color shifting, as with all LCD screen, becomes more prominent the closer you get. The closer you get the harder it is to find the "sweet spot" where colors do not degrade. The M200 has a great screen but it can be difficult to keep that perfect viewing angle if you get to close. Color shifting is more prominent on the M200 than on other notebooks I have seen. Setting a higher screen brightness helps. Check the TabletPCBuzz forums for homemade videos of the screen in action.

Performance and battery life :
Performance overall is good to very good. The slower harddisk speed means applications take a little longer(a second or two) to start but with enough memory you will not notice the harddisk when you are up and running your application. LightWave and photoshop run excellently. Zbrush works great and takes a fair amount of polygons before things slow down. I currently only have 768 of ram and can "only" bring a model up to the 2 million polygon mark. At 2 million the model is still interactive but I am not sure how it would handle at 6 million polygons. I am pretty sure it would be slower than my P4 2.8Ghz due to the memory and CPU bus speed of the M200/205.

Silo (trial version) is speedy and apart from an issue with flipping the screen while running, works fine. Good performance.

Battery life is very good to acceptable, all depending on the brightness you set the screen to. I usualy have the brightness at 2-4(out of 8) and the M200 battery will last me a good 2.5 to 3 hours of sketching in Zbrush. Alias Sketchbook Pro takes even less resources and lasts at least 3 hours. Running a wireless network will of course affect battery life.

Tablet and Pen interface :
First of all my experience is fairly limited as I have only had the tablet for 5-6 weeks but the first thing I would recommend you to do is install the Windows XP service pack 2. The service pack includes a very significant upgrade to the Tablet PC software (after installing it will be a Windows XP Tablet PC 2005). Hand writing, especially, and speech recognisition is much more efficient. Even my all CAPS handwriting is recognized properly now.

The handwriting in MicroSoft Journal and OneNote(which come with the M200) is pleasant and very useful if you do a lot of note taking with symbols, mathematical equations or diagrams. Organizing and looking up notes is easy especially with OneNote.

M200 and Zbrush :
I mostly use the M200 in tablet mode to quickly sketch a model or just waste time. If I want to take it further I still bring the model over to my desktop system. That might change.

As said earlier the performance in Zbrush is admirable. But workflow is a slightly different matter. Working in tablet mode I have the side button of the pen mapped to ALT but you will also need a CTRL and Shift key to manipulate the viewport and model optimally. For pure modeling only using the ALT assigned side button is ok but you will feel more at home in Zbrush with all three readily available.

Luckily there are four buttons outside the screen that are activated by the tablet pen and which can be assigned keyboard shortcuts for individual application. They are not ideal but they work. There is also a joystick on the side of the M200 which can be programmed. I have mine set to activate 5 (you can also press the joystick down) different zscripts which change the edit modes, Z intensity, presses undo and saves the tool within zbrush.

A final note, the pen/screen only has 256 levels of pressure, as with all current Wacom Tablet PC interfaces. It might not sound as much but I find it sufficient, not as fluid as 1024, but sufficient to work with pressure in Zbrush. Also the pen supplied with the M200 is thin, much like a standard pencil. It is fine and serves its purpose but if you are used to Wacom's other pens you might want to consider the Cross Executive Pen ( I still use the M200 pen but at some time I will probably order the Cross pen.

If you have an old Wacom PenPartner then the pen from that tablet will work with the M200. The pens from the Intuos range will not work. I do not know about the Graphire range.

Hope that is of some help to you.

09 September 2004, 08:57 PM
Thanks for the information.
How does the interface look when you have a model in the viewport, and then flip the screen ?
Is it possible to be working on the face of your model, and then flip the screen to work on the area below the face ? ( I am assuming that the screen has a 'zoom to fit ' feature which would zoom out on the model to make it fit into the viewport . )


09 September 2004, 01:21 AM
Obviously you can physically turn the tablet and continue editing. You can also flip the windows interface to whichever orientation you want, i.e horizontal, horizontal flipped, vertical, vertical flipped.

Zbrush has a 'zoom to fit' function. Alt+click an empty space of the canvas.

There are no issues with zbrush and flipping the sceen/windows interface.

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