Mobile workstation (perhaps Alienware)

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  11 November 2013
Mobile workstation (perhaps Alienware)

Hi,

Trying to choose a mobile workstation for traveling. (I know it won't compete with my desktop workstation, will be heavy, costly.)

I am mainly concerned with handling of particle simulations and lots of geo. I am not concerned with render times, because I will render remotely.

I am open to any suggestions, but at the moment am looking at Alienware Haswell laptops. Anyone have experience, and in particular, a suggestion about which graphics card to go for? And if I go for the 16 GB of memory, will Maya utilize it? Anyone running sims in Maya very satisfied with a different laptop?

Many thanks.
 
  11 November 2013
Maya will use the 16gb of RAM yes and depending on the size of the simulations you may want to consider more memory than 16gb. I previously owned an M17X after I managed to kill an M18X GPU and it was a fine performer with Maya though I found the screen a bit lack luster and the machine to be a little bit too bulky for travel purposes. Anything beyond the M14X is really a 'desktop replacement' and not something I'd want to be carrying with me on planes and stuff.

A word of caution and I don't know if Alienware addressed it but I had a 680M in my M17X and it required a larger power brick that couldn't be used on airplanes or train socket as it drew too much power.

Simulations are going to be heavily CPU dependent so the fastest CPU you can jam in it would be best. Geometry is GPU dependent so again the biggest GPU you can get is also beneficial.
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  11 November 2013
I was just looking at the Alienware 18... 12 lbs!

holy crap... you would literally be caring around two clay bricks with you.
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  11 November 2013
Was a great workout lugging it to and from the office for the couple days I had it before one of the GPU's went out
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  11 November 2013
Very helpful. A workout is no problem. But I'm concerned (though not surprised) about that GPU failing in a few days! Do you feel the M17X is more reliable? Do you feel there's an inherent reliability problem w Alienware as a result of heat? Perhaps it's better to go w a slower GPU?
 
  11 November 2013
Originally Posted by laurenAleza: Very helpful. A workout is no problem. But I'm concerned (though not surprised) about that GPU failing in a few days! Do you feel the M17X is more reliable? Do you feel there's an inherent reliability problem w Alienware as a result of heat? Perhaps it's better to go w a slower GPU?


I have a 14x and 17x, (actually got them for my sons).. i've had to replace the hard drives in both in just over 12 months... and heat is a major issue. You will definitely want to consider either ordering "with" a SSD (if available..or), put one in yourself (my preference, and keep the original as a secondary original state backup).

I would also recommend getting one of the laptop cooler pads, even for use on your desk.. it doesn't have to be expensive, just direct airflow on the bottom of the unit. If you choose to actually put it on your lap without one, you will suffer.
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  11 November 2013
Ah thanks for this info. Between these anecdotes and the Alienware rep for (lack of) reliability, I am concerned about the heat issues. Reviews suggest the following runs cooler. I'm now leaning towards ...

Asus G750JX-DB71

Intel Core i7-4700HQ (3.4GHz)
16GB DDR3
1TB HDD + 256GB SSD
NVIDIA GTX770M 3GB
Win8

Any thoughts or experience is very much appreciated!
 
  11 November 2013
I recently bought a Metabox laptop http://www.metabox.com.au/, which is a a rebadged Clevo http://www.clevo.com.tw/en/index.asp. They are also put together by Sager http://www.sagernotebook.com/ . They are really good value and extremely configurable. I got the W350STQ which is on the lower end of their range, but still has 16Gb of RAM with a spare 8Gb slot.

Most of the time it runs quietly and very cool. When the fan kicks in it does get noisy. It is also a lot lighter than my last laptop (HP HDX16). It does feel more plasticy, but I can live with that.

They should definitely be on the list of considerations.

Simon
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  11 November 2013
Originally Posted by laurenAleza: Very helpful. A workout is no problem. But I'm concerned (though not surprised) about that GPU failing in a few days! Do you feel the M17X is more reliable? Do you feel there's an inherent reliability problem w Alienware as a result of heat? Perhaps it's better to go w a slower GPU?


The M18X was fairly new on the block when I got it with the first run using dual Radeon cards and it didn't seem to be a highly frequent occurence with everyone. Dual GPU's produce a ton of heat so it wouldn't surprise me if heat was the major factor in the failure.

The replacement mx17x they sent me had a GTX580M inside of it and ran just fine though as other people have said it did get fairly toasty and still wasn't the most portable machine. I've since moved to just using a 15" Retina Macbook Pro as my daily workhorse which fares well for my needs and is also nice and portable plus usable on a plane which is critical for my job.

If you're after just raw power then any of the M6700's from Dell or m17x's or Sager/Clevo high end models should do you just fine. A while back Sager offered a full desktop replacement that could run a 6-core i7 chip (desktop brand) inside of it but I don't know if they still offer that model. Was aimed at working professionals in our field.
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  12 December 2013
Has the belief of owning an Alienware = 'more money than brains' passed?
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  12 December 2013
If you're interested in something even more powerful with an even better cooling subsystem, check out the new Panther 5D from Eurocom. Highly customizable, you could even toss some Xeons in there if you were so inclined. I've not seen its equal. Nobody has.

Panther 5D mobile workstation




And a teardown shows the ridiculously excellent cooling solution. I've not seen better, even the RazerBlade Pro doesn't focus so heavily on thermals:


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Last edited by InfernalDarkness : 12 December 2013 at 12:12 AM.
 
  12 December 2013
Lol!, 2.5 inches thick!?, requires two 330 watt psus.... and the battery lasts less than an hour at idle or 27 minutes if you actually do anything with it.
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  12 December 2013
I got me a Dell Inspiron Haswell book. It's about 80% of the speed of my workstation.
Somehow i don't think these "mobile workstations" are as needed anymore as they were a couple of years ago. Current mobile CPUs are FAST.
Cheers
Björn
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  12 December 2013
Hah! Yes, Mash and Srek... I only posted that mobile since it was the fastest one available. I can't imagine anyone actually lugging that monstrosity around! It's horrific.
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  12 December 2013
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