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Good Choice For a Laptop to Run A:M

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Hey guys,

I'm considering the option of getting a Windows laptop just to run A:M on for modeling/rigging/animating. Not so much for rendering.

I see there are a number of reasonably priced laptops out there, but I'm not sure if they're up to snuff. Since I have no experience with Windows, I wanted to put it out here to ask what would be a good choice. Ideally, I'm looking for one that will do what it needs to do, but on the low cost side, since it's going to be just a supplemental thing.

Any opinions/suggestions?

Thanks!

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Hey Mark,

do you plan on carrying it around or do you want a desktop replacement (not very long battery time but pretty powerful for a laptop)?
If you plan on staying at one place with it, I'd say you might want to consider a desktop instead (in general you get more performance and upgradeable parts with a desktop, but of cause you loose the portability with it, even the one of a desktop replacement)

Do you have a price point you thought about? Is it more $400, $600 or $800?
Do you want a 14", 15.6", 17" or even 19" device?

Best regards
*Fuchur*

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Personally i think the screen size of a laptop and the lack of the  numeric keypad are counter to the task of using A:M

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I'm going to continue with my iMac as my desktop computer, and can't really see having two desktop computers. Having a laptop would allow me to make use of downtime at work and when I'm away from home. Obviously A:M runs better on a PC, so it makes sense to get a Windows laptop. I keep seeing these Windows laptops advertised for under $500 and wonder if they would have the power to do the basic A:M stuff.

I'm literally only going to use A:M on this machine, so I don't want to invest a whole lot. 

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Computationally, they should be no problem since we were doing A:M on way less back in the day.

The wild card seems to be the graphics. Roger had a laptop that worked fine for A:M until Windows updated something and then the shaded mode was always inside out.

4GB RAM out to be plenty. An SSD of 128GB ought to be fine

You'd want one that doesn't need a power brick when you want to plug it into local AC power.

A monitor out so you could potentially use any available larger monitor.

Two USB outlets so you can plug in both a mouse and full keyboard.

Pressure-sensitive pen input, because you might like to draw on it, too?

 

Can you show an example of what you are looking at?

 

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Well, what got me to thinking about it, was a spam email from Costco this morning, that included this listing:

 

$225 isn't a whole lotta' money for a computer, but not being savvy on the Windows side, I wasn't sure if this was adequate.

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2019-01-09 at 10.10.26 PM.png

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This one has a number pad:

https://www.lenovo.com/us/en/laptops/thinkpad/thinkpad-e-series/ThinkPad-E585/p/20KVCTO1WWENUS0/customize?

I'd recommend the Ryzen 2500U, 1080p screen and 8GB RAM as a bare minimum.   That config comes in at just a hair over $500, at $529.    It has a 65W power adapter which is much smaller and lighter than a desktop replacement laptop power brick would be.  

 

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The Costco laptop would probably be adequate but just barely.    You really wouldn't be able to put much of anything but AM on it, for sure.   

I would try to get at least 8gb  RAM, a quad core Intel or AMD cpu, and a 1080p display panel.   If you don't have a full keyboard with numpad, you will want a plug in USB numpad for AM use.    

I don't know that I would want to try and use a dual core with 4gb, you might be ok with it at first but I think you'd become frustrated over time.   

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I dunno... I used A:M for years with 2GB and twos core including all my AnimationMentor exercises and all of my TWO scenes and I rarely felt the computer was under powered.. That was with Windows 2K.

About ten years ago I moved up to a quad core with 4GB and windows 7 (because A:M wouldn't run on Win2K anymore) and that was fully functional for A:M.  Now I have 8GB in it but I never really went past the first 4 until I tried rendering things for huge resolutions or with huge bitmaps.

Does the Mac have a system monitor so you could see how much RAM you are using when you are doing your A:M things?

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28 minutes ago, robcat2075 said:

I dunno... I used A:M for years with 2GB and twos core including all my AnimationMentor exercises and all of my TWO scenes and I rarely felt the computer was under powered.. That was with Windows 2K.

About ten years ago I moved up to a quad core with 4GB and windows 7 (because A:M wouldn't run on Win2K anymore) and that was fully functional for A:M.  Now I have 8GB in it but I never really went past the first 4 until I tried rendering things for huge resolutions or with huge bitmaps.

Does the Mac have a system monitor so you could see how much RAM you are using when you are doing your A:M things?

Yeah but Win 2k is much lighter on system resources than what Win 10 is.   Win 2k I think will work with a minimum of 128 to 256mb RAM where Win 10 has a minimum requirement of 2GB.    So Win 2k with 2GB is using much less of the total system RAM than a Win 10 system with 2 or 4GB. 

2 cores is probably just fine for AM on the go but I'd try for sure to get a minimum of 4gb RAM and either an i3 or i5 dual core.   Ideally you would want whatever cpu you get to have a fairly high base clock speed.   

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Now that I see it's an Intel "Pentium"... that seems pretty primitive.

I didn't know they were still making Pentiums.

 

What are some other options for a cheap windows laptop?

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This one sounds like it might suit. 4gb of Ram, 128gb emmc (like an ssd just not as fast), quad-core at just under 2ghz, detachable keyboard and a touch screen with a stylus and it comes in at $356.99 US.

I might be biased coz I love being able to draw right on the screen.

https://www.amazon.com/Transformer-T103HA-D4-GR-Touchscreen-Quad-Core-keyboard/dp/B07CHLD8M8/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1547069973&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=Asus+T103HA-D4-GR+10.1”+Transformer+Mini%2C+2+in+1+Touchscreen+Laptop%2C+Intel+Quad-Core%2C+128GB+SSD+Slate+Grey

 

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9 hours ago, robcat2075 said:

Now that I see it's an Intel "Pentium"... that seems pretty primitive.

I didn't know they were still making Pentiums.

 

What are some other options for a cheap windows laptop?

That was my main concern with the laptop Mark posted, that is a lower-end chip I'm pretty sure.  

If he doesn't mind going used, he can get an X220 with a 1 year warranty for right around $200, I think this one might even have a tablet mode.   Throw in an AM license and he is still under $300. 

 

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Lenovo-Thinkpad-X230-12-5-INTEL-CORE-I5-3230M-2-60GHZ-8GB-128Gb-WINDOWS-10-PRO/222499822453?hash=item33ce05db75:rk:24:pf:0

 

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15 minutes ago, Roger said:

 

If he doesn't mind going used, he can get an X220

That has the Intel graphics however... which sometimes works and sometimes doesn't for A:M.

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25 minutes ago, robcat2075 said:

That has the Intel graphics however... which sometimes works and sometimes doesn't for A:M.

 I have bad news:   virtually every laptop, that isn't advertised as a gaming laptop or workstation/desktop replacement laptop, has Intel graphics.   That is how they keep the prices so low. 

With that in mind, Mark might be best served getting a laptop with a Ryzen 2500u or Ryzen 2700u, those are mobile chips with Vega graphics.   They should be quite suitable for mobile AM work, but unfortunately I have never tested these personally. 

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And one last word about the budget laptops using the low-end dual cores (generally at the sub $300 price point):   they tend to be lower power than a dual core system from back in the day.   An AMD E-120 was a popular chip to put in budget laptops, but it is a sub 2ghz dual core chip.    Other things that they do with these lower end systems to save on costs is they use single channel instead of dual channel RAM, slower 5400rpm hard drives (unless they use flash, in which case they tend to use a lower emmc flash module) and other measures to keep the costs down. 

If budget is really tight you're better off getting a used higher end system with a discrete chip that won't cause problems with AM, or trying to get a more modern budget system that makes fewer compromises. 

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What is Costco's return policy?

How much would you be out if you ended up with inside-out graphics and wanted to return the cheap laptop?

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I haven't read all of the responses but when I saw 4GB RAM that caught my attention.

That pretty much cancels out any benefits gained elsewhere.

 

I wouldn't want a computer with less than 8GB and would prefer 16GB... the more RAM the better-er-er-er.

 


 

Quote

 

 I have bad news:   virtually every laptop, that isn't advertised as a gaming laptop or workstation/desktop replacement laptop, has Intel graphics.   

 

 

 

I've never understood the issues with Intel graphics as they've worked better and more consistently for me than higher dollar cards.

It's a good foundational card that every application should be able to run well on.

It's not cutting edge or fancy but it gets the job done.

 

An additional note on RAM:

Be careful about systems that state they have x amount of RAM as not all RAM is treated equally and the advertised RAM may not in fact be what is needed.  I'll let the experts weigh in and explain more about that.

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Costco return policy...

 

Quote

 

On Merchandise: We guarantee your satisfaction on every product we sell, and will refund your purchase price, with the following exceptions:

  • Electronics: Costco will accept returns within 90 days (from the date the member received the merchandise) for Televisions, Tuner-Free Displays, Projectors, Major Appliances (refrigerators above 10 cu. ft., freezers, ranges, cooktops, over-the-range microwaves, dishwashers, washers and dryers), Computers, Touchscreen Tablets, Smart Watches, Cameras, Aerial Cameras (drones), Camcorders, MP3 players and Cellular Phones (return details will vary by carrier service contract).
    • Our Costco Concierge Services representatives are available to assist with technical support and warranty information for many of the products above. You’ll find a list of eligible items here.

 

  •  

 

90 days ought to be enough to know if it works or not.

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I think this one would be pretty much perfect for A:M:
https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834850877
But it costs $499.

This is pretty good too and costs $389.99:
https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIAA0S7XB3555

Refurbished once like this one are pretty nice too (but this is not the most modern technique... I own a similar HP Elite Book 745 and it is pretty good too):
https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834269117R
It costs $271.99. Still I do not really like buying refurbished stuff and it just is an older technique.

I would not recommend going below those prices... everything that comes below that is just not meant to be used for graphic software.
All of the above a AMD based. If you really want to go with Intel (especially for the Ryzen once there is no good reason for that if you ask me), you might consider one of those:

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIAEYA8M52010&ignorebbr=1
(costs $569.99)

In general look for a laptop which includes an AMD A10-APU (or better), AMD Ryzen (close to anything will do here) or an Intel-Chip (i5, i7) but WITH a dedicated graphic card from Nvidia or AMD. The included graphics of Intel are really worse than anything else.
Go with a SSD (not really important which one) and 8 GB of RAM (or more).

Best regards
*Fuchur*
 

 

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Lotsa stuff to ponder, guys. Thanks for the good info. I'll weigh how important it is for me to get one against the cost. 

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regarding the keypad issue, I carry around a small USB keypad for navigation on any Mac or PC laptop - works great and it's cheap

 


I was thinking of getting a Surface Pro (not my fav) or the Wacom Tablet PC (very nice) for on-the-go Photoshop, Painter, and AM 3D duties

not sure what to get, maybe neither  :-)

they are all expensive but the direct drawing/splining is cool and easier/more comfortable than a mouse - the Wacom stylus has several modifiers switches for complete control

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I decided to hold off on the laptop, but have been working to install Windows on my Mac via Boot Camp today. A much easier process than the one I remember from the olden days (which involved burning an install disc and lots of hoops to jump through.)

Everything seems to be fine, so far. I've set up a Dropbox folder that I can use to share files with my Mac and I think it'll be good for my productivity to have a kind of distraction free workspace when I'm working in A:M.

 

 

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So, I ran the Benchmark 2017 (180p single thread) and got a time of 16:40. That's compared to the 21:51 time on the Mac. A whole five minutes faster.

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I have really really hated my desktop and after the last couple years been using a little dell 2:1. Though it is only a 4 core i5 it is incredible stable and snagged an hdmi adapter and got it rigged to my cintiq. Bang for the buck I think Dell makes a really solid machine especially as far as laptops go. They don't ship with SH@#$ ware installed and hardware wise are built well.

Check their certified refurbs that have full warranty, some good deals there for precisions that are really nice. Their gaming series are also competitive.

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