First of all, I would like to apologize for my provocative posts about VEX. It was not my intention to bash VEX for being a greedy capitalist corporation. It was an observation that I find to be common in many corporations, not specifically VEX. Again, I apologize.
If you were in the Math division and on the practice fields early on Thursday, you may have seen me react to a very tragic accident. Our robot was plugged into my laptop while we were testing our autonomous program, and started running of its own free will. It dragged my laptop and destroyed the screen.
Now I’m thinking about getting a new laptop, since a $700 Thinkpad Edge can’t do much anyways. I’m looking at a decent future-proof laptop, since I can’t keep upgrading every year. Our team is also interested in doing more serious cadding work. And with CAD, comes, of course, great hardware requirements. I’ve never done too much CAD work, so I’m not too familiar with the requirements and the resources necessary for 3D modeling and animation.
I’m looking at a $1200 laptop with:
Core i7 2630QM
500GB SATA 7200 RPM
NVIDIA GTX 570M
Is this decent enough for cadding? Or should I go with a Thinkpad W520, which has a Quadro 2000M graphics card, optimized for AutoCAD?
If the specs you describe aren’t future resistant (never say proof), I don’t know what is. i7 sandy bridge processor is pretty top of the line (unless you want to hold out for ivy bride). 16GB is an awesome amount of RAM, you’re fine. The hard-drive doesn’t really matter too much for CADing unless you’re storing thousands of models, and 500 GB is fine. The graphics card should be OK as well. Remember that there’s no way to change out the graphics card on a laptop though.
There are also certain graphics cards that are supposed to help CAD type programs such as the Nvidia Quadro and ATI Firepro lines which I see you’ve mentioned. I don’t know how to adequately explain the differences between the main Nvidia GeForce or ATI Radeon lines with those though. I’ve heard that programs like Inventor won’t benefit from them much, whereas supposedly there’s a huge difference for Solidworks and Creo Parametric (and I think the main difference is DirectX vs OpenGL). Depending on your application though, you kind of have to weigh the cost vs the benefit of having them since they tend be to much pricier.
Generally though, you’ll have a much better time with CAD programs than I with those amazing specs. I run a Core 2 Quad Q8300, 4GB of ram (ugh!), and a 120GB Intel 520 SSD. Even that though is manageable.