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Thread: Laptop technology - a good time to buy that desktop-replacement machine?

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    Laptop technology - a good time to buy that desktop-replacement machine?

    I'm in a professional creative line of work. I'm in the process of moving to the States to put myself there on a more permanent basis, but it's going to take time. Until then, I'll be going there and back. The last time I spent a chunk of the year out there, I shipped my desktop PC. I won't bore you with the details, but that was a nightmare I'm never going to repeat. In any case, a laptop makes so much more sense professionally, to be able to easily move my working system to other studios. I think I'm ready to move on from desktop PCs for good.

    Most laptops don't have remotely enough storage. I need a system SSD, at least one second SSD for the libraries of large files that I use in my work, and about 4TB more in SSHD/HDDs for other storage/archiving. I don't care about having a slim laptop, or a pretty laptop, and in fact I'd rather have a fat laptop with decent cooling and a machine that's reasonably quiet. If I'm spending that kind of money, I also want it to be able to play games well. So I've found two configurable laptop companies who appear to use pretty much the same components and exactly the same chassis: Origin PC's EON in the US and Schenker's XMG range in EU/UK.

    For the configuration I want, I'm looking at spending about £3500. Given that I'm spending rather a lot for this, I'd like it to be a purchase that will last me a while. I don't need to buy immediately, so I could wait until the next journey. I see that the GTX10 series has been a breakthrough generation for laptop GPUs, and they're finally getting close to the desktop equivalent in power. I've seen the price trends in memory and storage, which appear to be set to rise for a couple of years to come. With that in mind, is now a good time to jump in with a purchase of this size, or is there tech around the corner that's going to make me kick myself for not waiting another few months?

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    Re: Laptop technology - a good time to buy that desktop-replacement machine?

    Quote Originally Posted by Otherhand View Post
    So I've found two configurable laptop companies who appear to use pretty much the same components and exactly the same chassis: Origin PC's EON in the US and Schenker's XMG range in EU/UK.
    The Chassis ODM is Clevo and just about every minor laptop maker/assembler uses them. There are dozens of them, not just those two. I'm not sure about the US but some more prominent names in the UK/Europe are PCSpecialist, Cyberpowersystems, Scan, Novatech and Eurocom.

    Quote Originally Posted by Otherhand View Post
    I see that the GTX10 series has been a breakthrough generation for laptop GPUs, and they're finally getting close to the desktop equivalent in power.
    They're very similar in terms of improved performance at the same power level/price to the last few generation changes, it's not been anything exceptional. Judging by desktop parts it seems to have been a slightly smaller improvement than average.

    nVidia have bumped the numbering down one so they're now in line with desktop naming though, hence all the silliness about them now being equivalent.

    Laptop cooling systems have gradually been improving in their ability to gracefully cope with more heat so they've been able to release the higher end chips, hence the naming change.

    Quote Originally Posted by Otherhand View Post
    With that in mind, is now a good time to jump in with a purchase of this size, or is there tech around the corner that's going to make me kick myself for not waiting another few months?
    In the first half of the year there's not much. We might see Clevo release a machine that takes Ryzen desktop processors as they do with Intel's LGA1151 models which could open up 6 core and 8 core options.

    We've also got the Vega GPU launch, but I while it may be better than a 1080 I wouldn't expect it to be hugely better. nVidia will also likely launch a 1080ti but whether they'll squeeze it's 200W+ into a laptop I've no idea.

    In the second half of the year we've got Ryzen Mobile, potentially Intel's 6-core coffee lake mobile CPUs and 18 month updates to Pascal and Polaris.

    So it might be worth waiting for the first power consumption tests of Ryzen to see if the desktop chips are viable in a laptop, although even then there's no guarantee that a laptop with them will be released soon.

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    Re: Laptop technology - a good time to buy that desktop-replacement machine?

    Useful advice. Thanks, EndlessWaves!

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    Re: Laptop technology - a good time to buy that desktop-replacement machine?

    I would add that I had a Novatech laptop - I don't know if it was the Cleveland chassis, but while the performance and spec were OK, (and it wasn't expensive) the case and keyboard were rather flimsy. To be fair, it has lasted 5 years, but I'm not sure how it would have stood up to lots of travelling, (but then when I was travelling a lot, I was using a Panasonic Toughbook!)

    So worth looking at things like keyboard and case construction before you buy.

    (The Novatech has been replaced by a refurbished 2015 MacBook Pro which has Thunderbolt and USB 3 for high speed external storage, but there are other Windows laptops with those, and unless you want to game using windows in a VM or set it up to dual boot, it probably wouldn't suit you)
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    Re: Laptop technology - a good time to buy that desktop-replacement machine?

    Thanks, Peter! Unfortunately even the most expensive Novatech models don't meet my needs, but I will bear in mind the potential issues about keyboards. It's likely that I'll just have to trust reviews on the build quality, since I'm leaning heavily towards the mail order configurable models.

    Because my creative software is multi-page, I plan to get a proper 4K monitor for home use plus a proper hardware keyboard and mouse. This would allow me to have the laptop away to one side, where I'd be glancing over to it as a second monitor, and I'll keep my main windows on the big screen and a minor one on the laptop.

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    Re: Laptop technology - a good time to buy that desktop-replacement machine?

    If you need something soon(ish) and can't wait for later in the year as to see what AMD Ryzen laptops have to offer, then I'd recommend looking into the Aorus brand. They're made by Gigabyte, who are reputable, and their premium line offers 3 M.2 slots as well as a Sata if I remember correctly. You have a large budget for sure, so if you go with a GTX 1070 (MXM) laptop, which I know to be excellent for alot of animation/CAD work, you would still have ample room for Samsung/Plexor/Toshiba M.2's and SSD's.

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    Re: Laptop technology - a good time to buy that desktop-replacement machine?

    In addition OtherHand, I forgot to mention in my previous post, but if you're moving stateside, and can prove the purchase is work related (contracts, receipts, checkstubs?) then you can write off in your taxes (at least here in the U.S.) a fair amount of the laptop purchase, as well as several travel/moving related expenses. This can increase your budget or at least your savings in regards to your life. I would consult a professional tax consultant or at least a forum on that though, I can only offer so much . GL regardless m8.

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