05-24-2012 10:54 AM - edited 05-24-2012 10:56 AM
I need to make a quick decision on which laptop to get for a friend, am confused about the new options offered by HP.
Apart from normal application the laptop will be used for CAD, 3dmax, rendering etc.
I am looking at 2 models:
1) Thinkpad W520 2760QM with Nvidia Quadro 2000M card, FHD display (currently with my specs USD 1,680)
2) HP dv7t (3rd gen.) 3610QM with Nvidia GeForce GT 650M 2GB GDDR5 (currently with my specs USD 1,200)
- While the price difference does not matter much I wonder if the combination of faster 3rd generation CPU and the newer 650M GPU is just better than the W520 specs and improve performance ?
- I personally always used Thinkpads yet HP can last quite long, too. Main question is if the HP specs are better for the CAD.rendering applications..
Any help and feedback is of great help!
05-24-2012 11:07 AM
05-24-2012 12:10 PM
You are comparing apples and oranges. The W520 is a mobile workstation; the dv7t is not. The comparable HP mobile workstation is the EliteBook series such as the 8560w. Like the W520, the 8560w has features not included in the ordinary notebook. Firewire, Quadro video card, 3 year warranty are just a few of the upgraded features not found in the dv7t.
05-24-2012 03:27 PM
Netguru, the 15" HP workstation machine with Ivy Bridge is the Elitebook 8570w, so you're one generation behind. Plus the W520 has a 15.6" display, and the dv7t that Alobar mentions has a 17.3" display.
From a display/performance standpoint, if the above dv7t has the same great 17.3" 1920x1080 matte display as this unit, then given the much faster GPU, and the fact that it's using Ivy Bridge/Kepler processors which are more power-efficient, I think the dv7t wins. Here's the the review of the W520 display, from the same website. The wider gamut of the W520 display may be of no use for Alobar's apps and, if they're non-color-managed applications, then you may see distorted colors on the W520's wide-gamut display when running those applications [1, 2]. So I would definitely check to see if the applications in question are color-managed or not.
If the dv7t instead has the 1600 x 900 display, then forget about it.
Below, the last four numbers in each row are:
3DM Vant. P GPU
3DMark11 P GPU
47* NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M Kepler 384 735 - 850 735 - 850 900 128 11 20395 13519.6 7899.8 2102
88 NVIDIA Quadro 2000M Fermi 192 550 1100 900 128 11 21287 11659.3 5410.5 1261
And here are benchmark comparisons of the CPUs in the two machines:
Also, here's some info on the Quadro vs. Geforce debate for cad and rendering:
You're at a disadvantage for being in a hurry, Alobar, because the Kepler graphic processors are so new, and it will take more time for people to try them out and for vendors to make sure they're compatible with their products.
I would check the return policy of whoever you would buy the HP machine from. If you can check out the dv7t with the apps in question, then easily return it if there are significant incompatibilities, that would be a plus. I haven't researched the reliability of the dv7t line, so I can't comment on that. You can see the reliability of the W520 by viewing this forum. Note that Lenovo will likely declare the W520 "end-of-life" (EOL) about one year from now (they currently do that about one year after production ends), and it will no longer receive tested software updates once declared EOL.
05-24-2012 05:03 PM
Jimbo, you are correct. The EliteBook 8560w was the HP model I looked at when I was deciding what to buy. My bad.
That being said, the dv7t comes standard with the 1600 x 900 display...the 1920 x 1080 FHD display is extra cost. The GT 650M that comes standard has 1GB of memory with the 2GB version at extra cost. Win 7 Professional is also extra cost. It also has a 2 year warranty standard, not 3 year.
The dv7t is a Pavillion model and not a workstation. I have first hand experience with other Pavillion notebooks and I can honestly say that the build quality and the component quality is nowhere near the level of the W520 (or the EliteBook for that matter).
Lastly, I will also say from first hand experience that HP does not do a good job support-wise with the Pavillion line. After-sales support is an important feature to consider in deciding what to buy.
05-24-2012 06:26 PM - edited 05-24-2012 06:28 PM
I agree with Netguru, in that you should ALWAYS check the forums of a computer's manufacturer before buying the computer, to see how happy users are with the machine. If there are design flaws in the machine, that's where you're most likely to find out about them.
Also, many (although not all) of the ThinkPad models are tested against MIL-STD-810G for durability, as are HP Elitebooks, and the Dell Latitude and Precision lines (check to make sure the exact model line you want to buy was tested against the Mil standard). So if resistance to liquids, dust, etc., are important to you, then that's of course an important point.
I would also compare the WiFi cards of the two machines. The Intel 6300 card is definitely the best, because it uses 3 antennas for WiFi beamforming, which provides better connections. I know that, in the past at least, HP has skimped on the WiFi cards with some of their machines.
05-25-2012 01:47 AM
Base from your post you mentioned that you friend uses 3D max, Cad and for rendering stuff. In my experience with 3D modelling go with the Quadro. U cannot go go wrong. I do fair bit of 3d modelling on the Software MAYA. When using hardware rendering as compared to the Software rendering, Quadro Does an absolutely fantastic Job.
I hope this helps you decide on which one to pick. By the end of day it all boils down to cost vs what you're comfortable with :-)
Let me know should your require further assistance. :-)
05-25-2012 04:30 AM
Great comments so far, thank you!!
I'd only get the 1920 x 1080 FHD display and and the best 2GB graphics card on either system, also similar warranties, hence those specs would be pretty much the same.
I'm personally a huge (IBM) Thinkpad fan, even though I never tried the Lenovo Thinkpads, thus understand the point about quality and durability very well (even though my girlfriend might find the HP "prettier" but that's not my consideration).
From what I've read HP's DV7T models can often have issues right out of the box which require replacements. As my girlfriend lives in a country where HP and Lenovo have no office or service at all quality and reliability is an important factor. I'd need to try to test the system first as much as I can in case it requires early service or replacements etc.
05-25-2012 06:42 AM - edited 05-25-2012 07:36 AM
Alobar, I usually weight reliability heavily when making a computer purchase, because computers are often expensive, and because downtime can be very expensive. In your case, it sounds like reliability would perhaps be the number one factor, since the inconvenience of repair/downtime could be fairly severe.
PC Magazine ( www.pcmag.com ) runs reliability/customer-satisfaction surveys twice a year, once for desktops, and once for laptops (around June and December, as I recall). I would definitely look at that. Consumer Reports also runs an extensive computer reliability/customer-satisfaction survey each year. Laptopmag.com I believe runs a customer support survey once a year, where they test each major manufacturer's support. Plus it's very valuable to look at user reports in manufacturer forums, because not all machines within a brand have the same level of reliability (particularly the more powerful machines, which tend to run hotter, which can reduce reliability).
Because the industry is in the middle of the transition right now between Intel's Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge CPUs, and Nvidia's Fermi and Kepler graphics processors, it's sort of a tricky time to buy a laptop. See this for more info. So, if you need to buy right away, you'll have to choose between the higher performance of the new systems, vs. existing systems that run slower and hotter, but have had more time for the bugs to be shaken out. Plus it may take awhile for cad software vendors to certify use of their software with the new processors, although that should eventually occur with the Quadro processors. So, like you say, it will be important to make sure the required applications run acceptably on whatever machine you choose, before you ship it out.
I also recommend creating a separate data/documents partition on the machine's storage drive(s), to isolate documents from the system partition. That tends to isolate documents from many sources of corruption on the System drive. We also create a "backup" partition on all of our systems, and store a compressed backup "image" of the system drive there, so that users can completely restore their system within a half-hour in the field. See this for more information on backups.
That backup scheme provides a quick solution to a large number of problems, such as corruption of the System drive due to crashes, and a quick way to remove most viruses. It also solves problems like "two months ago my computer worked fine, but a week or two ago it started exhibiting strange behavior X." You just restore from the system backup, and the strange behavior goes away (or, if it's due to a hardware problem, then it doesn't go away, which is useful to find out). Then you can see if it's due to some particular software update, etc. Otherwise, you can spend forever trying to recover from those various scenarios. You don't have to backup the system very often, only after major updates or software installs. Plus you can backup data/documents to the backup partition as well. But you need to keep backups of the system/data/documents on external media as well, in case the laptop is stolen or an internal drive fails. I've never lost, or had a user or client lose data using this backup scheme, and downtimes have been almost non-existent, except for occasional hardware failures.
And tell your girlfriend NOT to install any BIOS updates from within Windows. Only update the BIOS if it provides a fix for a problem you're having, and only update it from a boot CD (i.e., created from an "ISO" image of the BIOS updater).
Anyway, these are the things I do to make my users' computers bullet-proof, which should help to make your girlfriend's computer bullet-proof as well.
Best of luck with your research and decision!
05-25-2012 06:55 AM
In my last post I forgot to mention that the dv7t also comes standard with a 5400 RPM drive. You will want to upgrade to a 7200 RPM drive for CAD.
Jimbo has given you some excellent advice that most people only find out about after they run into trouble. I hope you follow his guidance.