I've used a Dell M60 with the high-res 1920 pixel wide screen for the
last 2 years and wouldn't change it for anything less (currently
running SWks 2005 SP5). I design plastic parts exclusively and don't
work on a desktop anymore (5 years on Dell laptops).
Alienware, Boxx, Dell, and Sager have been mentioned by many people,
but price and warranty and support options vary widely. A fully
configured Dell will run above $4,000, and some people on the newsgroup
have touted the other mentioned (& HP & Sony, I think: You can search
these terms on the Newsgroup), and some of those are maybe $1500
cheaper than Dell. Some do NOT offer the compatible video card
SolidWorks requires for best work.
Regardless of the brand, I would be sure of the following:
1. Same or better nVIDIA video card as Dell M70
2. No less than 1.5 gigs DRAM
3. 7200 rpm fast hard drive
4. No less than 1600 pixel wide screen (I personally have good vision
and like the 1920 pixel)
5. Bluetooth and 802.11 WiFi cards built-in (or you will keep tweaking
external cards) (Bluetooth is invaluable for quick file transfers with
other computers without disrupting network connections and also
terrific for BT Mice and keyboards)
6. Gigabit Ethernet & FireWire for fast transfers and backups
7. Processor: Intels Pentium M (for mobile = Centrino) as fast as you
can get is no slouch compared to the PIVs offerred in laptops, but
consume much less power/fan time, and do seem to be as fast a many or
8. Laptop Bags: <Personal Opinion>Get one with a foam protective
separate sleeve to carry & provide extra cushion protection for the
laptop and you'll eventually thank yourself when the eventual dump off
the top of a desk ocurrs.
9. Docking Station: Dell offers them & some people love them, but I
haven't used one.
10. Warning: <Personal Experience> Don't put coffee and beverage
cups anywhere near a laptop, because sooner or later...you'll have to
replace something expensive.
11. SERVICE, SERVICE, SERVICE: I bought Dell's CompleteCare because
for an extra $300 or so I get 3 years of next day repair/replacement
service, and believe me it is worth it the first time something bums
out. I've had video cabling result in intermittent lines on the
screen, and within 18-20 hours a guy shows up and changes out the
screen, backlight cables, & video card. I thought just a cable or
maybe a video card would do it, but the repair guy says they play it
safe, as Dell loses big time if they have to come out a 2nd time and do
it over AGAIN.
There may be other options and choices but these are key to having a
happy productive life with SolidWorks and a Laptop.