I can't stand doing any CAD work on laptops. You cannot approach the
same speed as you can with a desktop, and then you have other
inconveniences, such as a strange keyboard, no mouse (unless you bring
one along) a small screen (where to anchor tool bars?) and other
factors. Of course, it doesn't pay well to attempt to drag around a
mid-sized tower and a 19" - 21" monitor, either.
I worked on an older Sony Vaio and found that assemblies with three
parts or more would reduce the thing to an unstable crawl--not worth my
time at all. Many laptops these days are much better than that, but
you'll find some limitations with the graphics cards available and
you'll probably also find that the same statistics/numbers for the
chips/RAM run much more slowly on the equivalent laptop.
If you have to have one, you have to have one. I don't think you'll
prefer to work on a laptop over a desktop with SW.
Industrial Designhaus, LLC
(Remove "GETRIDOFTHIS" from email address)
I appreciate Jeff's enthusiasm.
And I have as much enthusiasm for my Dell M60 (& formerly Inspiron
I've used them both with assemblies of 3-4 dozen curved parts and
admittedly that slows the 1 ghz I8000 to a crawl, but the M60 with a
much larger VRAM runs it fast enough to where I don't think of
If you need to move around, the M60 will work fine. Working at
toolmakers, in the shop, at customers, vendors...what are you going to
do with a desktop?
If you stay stuck at your desk 8 hours a day, then why consider a
laptop. If you need both, don't skimp on the video card. Either your
laptop accepts the highest end laptop nVIDIA card or forget it.
Get a desktop, not only will it be faster and upgradeable, but with the
money you save you can buy a spare monitor, keyboard, and mouse for home and
just cart the box back and forth. Just don't drop it :)
1) you can travel with it (that's about it really)
1) Not as fast, generally.
2) Few choices with certified graphics ( Quadro Go, FireGL go). Most of the
uncertified graphics cause serious problems that are hard (or impossible) to
3) Not upgradable. If you make the mistake of buying one with one of the
poorer chip sets (Radeon for example) you're stuck with it
4) Small screen (high resolution yields really tiny icons and text).
I'm sure others can add to this.
We have a couple of Dell M60's with Nvidia Quadro chip sets. We use them for
traveling to clients. They are designed for mobile CAD, and work really
well. We do some pretty heavy editing with them, but I couldn't see doing a
whole project on one.
I use a Dell M50 laptop for all my modelling, with 1GB of RAM (genuine Dell,
at prices which make your eyes water) and the nVidia Quadro4 GoGL500 card.
If it weren't for graphics bugs, life would be very sweet indeed, (this from
someone who always used to use a desktop)
When in my own office, I use a separate keyboard and optical mouse, and have
a stand which keeps the laptop up level with my eyeline, and about half a
metre away. The screen at this distance (1600x1200, 15") is very nice indeed
(I wear glasses, but have better than 20/20 resolution with them on, your
mileage may vary). Performance is OK for all but very large assemblies.
I use a USB dongle (if you're a US national, you won't be bothered with
this) and a second mouse and a USB numeric keypad live in the snatch-pack
along with a second power adapter, ZIP drive (the M50 takes an internal
hot-swapper), second battery etc., so that I can hibernate and move if I get
an urgent call (I do some work on clients' sites).
My main problem, in fact, my only problem, is graphics drivers.
Laptops and Solid Modellers are both RIDICULOUSLY fussy about drivers. Your
chances of getting one driver which will completely satisfy both parties are
Dell (and I believe this is typical for high end) laptops will NOT accept
nVidia's drivers from nVidia's site, but require either Dell-patched items
(which only come out VERY infrequently:
the last one was 16 months ago - GET A GRIP, DELL !) or an amateur-patched
item off the web.
The Dell-patched driver has crippled functionality (won't even drive a
second monitor properly), but works OK with SolidWorks, whereas all the more
recent ones I've tried (none of which coincide with versions approved by
SolidWorks) are fantastic but cause SolidWorks to crash and/or produce
spurious graphic artefacts.
It's a nightmare trying to backtrack versions, because the .inf file lists
never seem to be self-sufficient, and the installer is forever poaching dlls
from another version number because the current driver's dlls don't suffice
for the .inf file which is being run. Occasionally you will seem to fluke it
by using a .dll from a newer version, but it has always eventually ended in
tears, up to and including BSOD events.
So, a qualified yes: if you need mobility, an nVidia Quadro4 or better
equipped laptop can be made to do the business. If you can do it with a
form-factor desktop and a good LCD, you'll sacrifice some mobility but spend
less money (although admittedly the latest prices on the M60 look
exceptionally sharp) and probably have fewer headaches, provided you take
good advice on graphics card.
The other problem, now I come to think of it: if you buy a state-of-the art
laptop (as the M50 was when I bought it) despite paying way above the odds,
the next version of SolidWorks will be running so much more graphic and
processing overhead that you will not want to upgrade, unless you buy the
next generation of hardware. A desktop is more upgradeable, and usually more
capable, so you probably get two major version upgrades before you
absolutely forced to buy a complete new box.
If you get an M60, you will not be screwing around with the 128 meg
VRAM nVIDIA card, as it runs SolidWorks just fine.
If you need to travel with Solidworks then find someone nearby through
your SolidWorks VAR, and look at his M60 to judge what a high res
screen looks like and how it handles "large" assemblies (the size you
Though the 1920 pixel screen sounds like icons and text would be too
small (I thought so), it has worked out just fine, though my eyes
correct to at least 20-20.
Dell said when I bought the M60 with the 1920 pixel screen that if I
didn't like it, I could send it back for the lower resolution screen
that they offer in the M60 (1680 pixels I seem to remember).
I have been using an HP ZD7000, Media Center Edition XP, 3.06 MHz P4 with
HT(that I leave on), a 17" screen and 2 gig ram, 80 gig 5,400 rpm drive with
the NVIDIA 5600 card. Wow..... I had been using a workstation from Xi that
was about 1 1/2 years old. The laptop kills it period. I work on huge
assemblies (5000+ parts) all the time with SW2001+ and I have NO complaints.
(other than the 14 pounds it weighs with the power supply). Everyone should
at least look at these things. You can play with then at Best Buy.
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