Computers & Electronics

Need help to find a laptop for son’s first year in architecture

  • Last Updated:
  • Jun 12th, 2021 7:26 pm
[OP]
Jr. Member
Jan 24, 2009
108 posts
8 upvotes
Ottawa

Need help to find a laptop for son’s first year in architecture

Son is looking for a laptop that will run the programs in his university architecture program.
Theses are some of the specs he is looking at based on what the advisor in the program said would be needed.
Requirements:

SSD (Solid State Drive)

500 GB SSD (Minimum)

32 GB RAM (Minimum)

4 GB (Minimum) Dedicated Graphics (Not Discrete)

14-17" Screen (Touch Screen not necessary but nice)

HD Screen (4K not necessary)

Processor: Intel i7 and up or AMD Ryzen 7 and up.

He saw this

https://www.dell.com/en-ca/shop/dell-la ... 500-laptop

I was wondering if anyone here can suggest other possible options like sales or discounts that may happening during the next while like Father’s Day or Canada day.
Thanks in advance
Last edited by duffer on May 30th, 2021 11:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
65 replies
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Oct 21, 2006
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I can tell you the specs he listed for RAM are out of touch. The likelihood he needs more than 16gb are slim to none. He's also likely be completely fine with Ryzen 5 as long as its one of the newer 5xxx generation chips.

Meanwhile, a good discrete video card is much more likely to accelerate 3d rendering/photoshop/etc.

The XPS laptops are great laptops. If your son registers for an account through unidays he can likely also generate a dell 10% off coupon code that would apply to most of what you bought.

There will probably be many sales in the future. Nobody knows what they will be. As it is, these are pretty poor deals right now unless you're specifically looking for that model. If it were me I'd get something with a beefier video card.


Here's an asus zephyrus notebook about 1/2 a lb heavier with an AMD Ryzen 9 5900HS, 16gb of ram, 1 tb SSD, rtx 3060 6gb, and 165hz QHD screen for approximately the same money, and it's not 'on sale' that's just the regular price. That CPU will smash the intel competitors in your dell link, and get better battery life doing it.

https://www.amazon.ca/Zephyrus-GeForce- ... 08V12GX92/

I'm not recommending this laptop per se, just using it to juxtapose to your deal link. The dell XPS laptops are very overpriced right now. You're paying a lot for their design.
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Jun 27, 2004
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ThinkPad P series

FYI, discrete graphics = separate GPU = dedicated graphics

FYI #2, RFD Fs up dell.com hyperlinks because they add their referral crap to it.
Sr. Member
Dec 6, 2020
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duffer wrote: I was wondering if anyone here can suggest other possible options
You son will greatly benefit from a workstation-class laptop, such as a Lenovo ThinkPad P or Dell Precision, that has adequate cooling to run intensive loads for long periods without thermal throttling. These kinds of systems will also last long enough that he will be able to use them throughout his training and into his early career.

Status-symbol laptops, like the XPS, are not technically suitable for sustained heavy workloads and will not perform well in this application.

Gaming laptops, like the Asus Zephyrus, will likely hold up better under heavy workloads but may not look professional enough to use at work and might need to be replaced when your son graduates.
[OP]
Jr. Member
Jan 24, 2009
108 posts
8 upvotes
Ottawa
All very helpful comments and suggestions guys.
I will make it a point to have him look into it further and contact the guys at the school of architecture. Carleton University—
He just doesn’t want to invest in something and find that it does not perform as needed and he gets frustrated because we didn’tI get the proper equipment in the beginning.

Keep the suggestions coming,
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Mar 4, 2007
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Hi,

Is there any way for your son to find out what architectural software he will be using for his studies? That will determine what graphics card & cpu will be required in his laptop.
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Jan 12, 2017
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There are education discounts with a lot of vendors (eg Apple, Microsoft - I'm sure other manufacturers have them too).

A few comments based on what you've put in your post:

Discrete there is a typo/incorrect. Discrete = dedicated graphics. And yes, you most definitely want dedicated graphics. Integrated graphics is what you do not want. In the dell link, Intel UHD graphics is integrated (you don't want this). The other three meet your specs.

It's often far cheaper to upgrade ram yourself. (eg you could pickup 32gb ddr4 sodimm's for $100 during Christmas this past year). May not be worth the effort if you're not comfortable doing this.

Most laptops use m.2 sata or NVMe drives. These are ssd's. Either would be more than fast enough, NVMe being the faster option. These drives are another place where you can save by upgrading it yourself. You can pickup a WD SN750 500gb drive for $85 on Amazon right now. Or 1TB for $179. Again, you might not be comfortable doing this.

GL
duffer wrote: Son is looking for a laptop that will run the programs in his university architecture program.
Theses are some of the specs he is looking at based on what the advisor in the program said would be needed.
Requirements:

SSD (Solid State Drive)

500 GB SSD (Minimum)

32 GB RAM (Minimum)

4 GB (Minimum) Dedicated Graphics (Not Discrete)

14-17" Screen (Touch Screen not necessary but nice)

HD Screen (4K not necessary)

Processor: Intel i7 and up or AMD Ryzen 7 and up.

He saw this

https://www.dell.com/en-ca/shop/dell-la ... 500-laptop

I was wondering if anyone here can suggest other possible options like sales or discounts that may happening during the next while like Father’s Day or Canada day.
Thanks in advance
Jr. Member
Mar 11, 2007
106 posts
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Toronto
I'm prefer windows myself. But for price/performance, I'd go with the m1 macbook air. If you have specific windows apps you want to run, use Parallels.
Sr. Member
Dec 6, 2020
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admiraltictac wrote: I'm prefer windows myself. But for price/performance, I'd go with the m1 macbook air. If you have specific windows apps you want to run, use Parallels.
The majority of professional architecture software is Windows-only and is very hardware intensive. Running this kind of software in emulation is an incredibly bad idea and will result in extremely poor performance.
[OP]
Jr. Member
Jan 24, 2009
108 posts
8 upvotes
Ottawa
Thanks, good idea on upgrading on our own
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spiralspirit wrote: I can tell you the specs he listed for RAM are out of touch. The likelihood he needs more than 16gb are slim to none. He's also likely be completely fine with Ryzen 5 as long as its one of the newer 5xxx generation chips.
If it's for an architecture program, I believe they use something CAD-based or similar. Those are one of the few usages where more RAM would actually benefit the system. 32GB is probably a good fit here.

I'd suggest sticking to an i7, and I'll be crazy enough to even suggest an i9 if it is within your budget. Again, the type of software used in these programs would probably benefit from that extra horsepower. This is one of the few instances where an i9 is actually useful, because in reality it is overpriced for most applications.
c'mon get happy!
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middleofnowhere wrote: The majority of professional architecture software is Windows-only and is very hardware intensive. Running this kind of software in emulation is an incredibly bad idea and will result in extremely poor performance.
Have a look at this:
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While ultrabooks are super handy and look cool, I wouldn't suggest it if you want REAL horsepower. Machines like the XPS15 even with a discrete GPU, will suffer because the cooling isn't there to keep the GPU and CPU cool enough when it's being pushed. The CPU will throttle for heat management.

Get a Dell Precision machine for true desktop replacement if you want to stay in the Dell realm. I'm partial to Dell, so I wouldn't recommend an Asus machine. The Lenovo machines are workhorses as well, just stay away from the X series for the same reasons as the XPS.
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Get a good gaming laptop and upgrade the RAM to 32Gb. The Zephyrus mentioned in another post would be good or a Strix laptop for even more performance. This is the most cost/performance value and should still be $2k or less.
XPS or other thin and light notebooks are likely not a fit for this level workload.
Higher performance than a gaming laptop would be Workstation Studiobook class and those are expensive and normally feature a Xeon processor and even higher end graphics. And they are heavy.
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vernonco wrote: Get a good gaming laptop and upgrade the RAM to 32Gb. The Zephyrus mentioned in another post would be good or a Strix laptop for even more performance. This is the most cost/performance value and should still be $2k or less.
XPS or other thin and light notebooks are likely not a fit for this level workload.
Higher performance than a gaming laptop would be Workstation Studiobook class and those are expensive and normally feature a Xeon processor and even higher end graphics. And they are heavy.
I agree a gaming laptop is a great place to start, and at that price you are right. He might have to pony up for the RAM is all. The problem with a lot of gaming laptops is they look gaudy, all RGB'd and badged up. Depending on his son, he might feel self-conscious in a Uni class with a pimp machine Smiling Face With Open Mouth And Smiling Eyes

That Zephyrus looks OK, almost businesslike. I would recommend against MSI unless you want to save money. My teenage kid has an older one and although they can have great hardware inside, some are made with a creaky and flimsy plastic body and look like they were designed by a teen.

I have a year-old Dell G7. It is very non-gamer and boring looking, but still powerful.
c'mon get happy!
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BernardRyder wrote: If it's for an architecture program, I believe they use something CAD-based or similar. Those are one of the few usages where more RAM would actually benefit the system. 32GB is probably a good fit here.

I'd suggest sticking to an i7, and I'll be crazy enough to even suggest an i9 if it is within your budget. Again, the type of software used in these programs would probably benefit from that extra horsepower. This is one of the few instances where an i9 is actually useful, because in reality it is overpriced for most applications.
I studied architecture and then civil engineering, and I am in engineering and have previously worked for architects. Nobody has 32gb of ram in their laptops. The only situations where it helped were hugely dense GIS datasets that this person is unlikely to run into in an architecture workload. 32gb is overkill being asked for by people who aren't paying for the laptops and think it's 'nice to have'.

In most architecture workloads I've seen, the real bottleneck is in the CPU and GPU primarily, and CPU performance has increased dramatically these last couple of years. Rendering visualizations is likely the most intense task these laptops will be subjected to and system ram is not the limiter there. Programs like AutoCAD or Revit are only somewhat multithreaded and benefit more from large L3 cache, and won't make use of anything beyond 2 available cores.

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