Laptop for design student

Discussion in 'Computer Hardware, Devices and Accessories' started by Reiten, Aug 2, 2018.

  1. Reiten
    OP

    Reiten Member

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    Feb 28, 2014
    Germany
    I was asked to help pick a laptop for someone, who will start studying design soon.

    Seems like the main software that will be Adobe Illustrator, CorelDRAW, AutoCAD, Adobe Photoshop, 3DS MAX, Blender, SketchUp. After checking the sys requirements for the software and googling around what is generally considered specs for a designer rig, I came up with the following specs:
    • CPU - Intel ix(where x is 5 or 7) with at least 4 cores;
    • RAM - min 4GB DDR3 or DDR4, recommended 8GB or more;
    • HDD - at least 500GB;
    • GPU - not integrated nVidia GPU with at least 512MB, preferably something with 1 to 2GB;
    • Display - 1920x1080
    I figure that should give me and my friend a decent guideline, what to look for. Will these specs be ok for a design student?

    Thanks for the help.
     
  2. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer

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    Nov 21, 2005
    United Kingdom
    Your school should have enough computers for anything high end you need to do. Any computer you have will more be used for computer driven lectures, typing essays, internet and general day to day stuff. Any computer that was vaguely decent when it was new will do for basic.

    Those specs are what I would suggest anybody gets if they are looking for a laptop today, though they can probably skip the GPU part (a basic intel thing will do for most). You might have a hard time getting a screen that resolution, they certainly exist nowadays but they are not standard. That said most laptops will have a HDMI out so you can get a standalone monitor. Not to mention you will then have two monitors which is almost essential for design work. Hard drive wise I would also take 320GB, especially if it is a SSD -- you can always get external drives, indeed I would suggest them for backup of stuff anyway.

    I would instead look at getting, or more accurately spending some extra, on a drawing tablet and maybe a 3d mouse ( https://www.3dconnexion.de/products/spacemouse.html ). Those will serve you far more.

    That is a curious mix of software -- several of those are redundant if you have another (autocad and sketchup are both engineering inclined 3d editors, 3ds max and blender are more art focused 3d editors but all do much the same thing. The others are vector image editors or bitmap image editors). I am glad they are teaching you a mix of them though; hopefully they learn how to do things rather than how to do specific tasks in specific software.

    Still for a student you don't need anything too crazy -- start trying to do forces analysis on a 6000 part complicated assembly with curves and stuff (granted that is more engineering than straight design) and it will take its time to do anything. Student wise then 5 layers as you are learning about colour theory, the golden spiral and general concepts of things will not take anything too drastic.

    If you want to save some money and get a better laptop for it then the business class refurbished laptops (generalüberholt I think is the term in German). They are built like tanks, easy to service and usually run really well, refurb ones go for reasonably cheap as well.
     
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  3. TotalInsanity4

    TotalInsanity4 GBAtemp Supreme Overlord

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    Agreed with FAST, you're going to want to look at the older HP ProBook line, those things should be easy to find because they were a staple for colleges and businesses for ages

    If you want something more modern, though, I can set up a filter on Newegg or Amazon or something so we can narrow stuff down by cost
     
  4. Reiten
    OP

    Reiten Member

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    Feb 28, 2014
    Germany
    Thanks for the info. Since my friend is willing to splurge for his kid, might as well try to get something with which he doesn't have to sit in the PC lab for homework, though I agree that one should not go overboard for a student PC.
    Currently the bast thing I found is an ASUS for a bit over 600€: ASUS X542UF-DM040T 15.6 FHD i5-8250U 8GB 500GB+128SSD MX130

    @FAST6191 I was also surprised by the software, when I was checking what specs are recommended for them. My guess is the same as yours that they introduce more then one software for the same purpose. Not sure how this figures into the software list, but seems like it mostly focuses on interior/graphical design and stuff like that.
     
  5. TotalInsanity4

    TotalInsanity4 GBAtemp Supreme Overlord

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    The laptop you found definitely isn't bad by any stretch, especially at the price you found it for, but there are a handful of features you're paying for that you really wouldn't need (I'm looking at the DVD burner here), so I'm thinking there may yet be a cheaper alternative. I'll do some looking later today
     
  6. JordenNixNix

    JordenNixNix GBAtemp Regular

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    Feb 11, 2012
    Belgium
    Like FAST6191 already told you,
    the college or university would have a recommendation list or laptop program. These laptops should be fine to do all courses.

    A HDMI port for is indeed really recommend. I am more a programmer type but an extra monitor is alway really recommended!

    Enough usb ports is a must. There will always one occupied for your drawing tablet. And maybe lose one for an external mouse. If you only have 2 USB ports, you can't use your external HDD anymore.

    I definitely agree with his recommendations.


    My recommendations:

    - When using Adobe Creative Cloud programs and 3DS MAX, I recommend a good CPU. The more CPU, the better
    You won't need it but your experience would be noticeable better.

    If you have different choices for the same model, choose the one with the best CPU.

    When I use Photoshop on a laptop with an Intel core i5 (5th gen), I sometimes encounter some stuttering and lags while using the spot healing brush. (especially with more layers) It is definitely noticeable in Lightroom.

    - 450GB SSD free space (or HDD to cut the costs but I definitely recommend SDD!)

    .psd files could get very space consuming. Keep in mind that your software consume some Gigabytes well.


    - When you work with projects with a lot of history steps I recommend some extra RAM. However during the studies, you mostly have small projects. You definitely don't need more than 8GB RAM.

    - You could save some money for the GPU and dvd, disc drive.


    Also keep in mind as a student,
    You definitely don't need a killer high end laptop. I bought a brand new high end business ultrabook laptop and I regret it. I could save a lot of money when I went for a normal recommended laptop.

    Also keep in mind, my recommendations are for design usage. For game or (mobile) app development you need I recommend other specs.
     
  7. TotalInsanity4

    TotalInsanity4 GBAtemp Supreme Overlord

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  8. Kingy_

    Kingy_ Mr Guy, Destoyer of Shintel

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    England I guess
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  9. TotalInsanity4

    TotalInsanity4 GBAtemp Supreme Overlord

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